Every Sunday, I sit on the same bar stool in the same bar and watch almost every snap of every NFL game. (I'm like Norm from "Cheers," only worse--I'm Cliff.) It is a wretched existence, made more wretched by the fact that, in the weekly avalanche of sometimes exciting, sometimes exasperating football, I cannot take my eyes off the gridiron cataclysm that is the New York Giants.
The Giants are, I believe, the worst 5-3 team in the history of organized sports at any level on any continent, including Antarctica.
That they are tied for first place in the NFC East at midseason indicates a division in disarray tumbling toward dissolution.
Coach Jim Fassel is often called an "offensive genius," a curious label considering the Giants' offense is sometimes mistaken for a roadblock.
The Giants have two running plays: "off tackle" and "off tackle for a loss." Their passing game requires the quarterback, Kent Graham, to make several reads before throwing the ball away. Giants receivers are more likely to catch colds than catch passes.
In the Giants' playbook, the third-down section is subtitled, "Natural Disasters."
The Giants' two-minute drill resembles musical chairs, without the chairs.
To its credit, the Giants' defense--despite the distraction of camera-chasing Jason Sehorn--is quite stout. The Giants have won three in a row. But, my friends, if there is justice in the swamps of New Jersey, this is a 5-3 team headed for a 6-10 crash.
This week the Giants are home against the Indianapolis Colts. The Giants are like a bad quarter-horse being asked to go a half-mile; the Colts, meanwhile, are en route to galloping ingloriously into Super Bowl XXXIV. How is Indy favored by just three points? This is Mister Ed vs. Secretariat. I just hope my Colts can again survive the horror that is the Meadowlands, the unhappiest place on Earth other than Disneyland. Take the Colts.
(Random Rant: You want to know another bad effect of soccer in America? The disappearance of the straight-on kicker. Thus, we get side-winding stiffs such as Chris Boniol and Richie Cunningham instead of real men such as Jim Bakken and Mark Moseley.)
As always, the following picks against the point spread are for recreational purposes only:
Redskins (-6 1/2) at Eagles: Eagles offense to disband huddle altogether and instead will form small discussion groups. Pick: Redskins.
Jets at Patriots (-6): At this point, Jets' best quarterback is probably punter Tom Tupa. And the Jets' best punter is probably peanut vendor Wes Sanders. . . . Rick Mirer lives by two rules--open no wine before its time, throw to no man before he's open. Pick: Patriots.
Ravens at Jaguars (-13 1/2): It's difficult to reach my lovely nieces Jennifer, 16, and Lisa, 14--they're constantly on the phone and screen their calls--but word on the street is they don't think much of Brian Billick, either. Your Uncle Man loves ya! Pick: Jaguars.
49ers (-1 1/2) at Saints: I don't want to say the 49ers are trying to rush Steve Young, but "turn to the left and cough" does not constitute medical clearance. . . . Topic of this week's Bill Walsh Tuesday lecture series: "Scripting the First 15 Plays: Pen or Pencil?" Pick: 49ers.
Browns at Steelers (-15): Browns' "bend-but-don't-break" defense replaced with "break early and get it over with" defense. . . . New Line Cinema rejected a pitch for "Being John Jurkovic." Pick: Steelers.
Packers (-3) at Cowboys: Sometimes there is a fine line between a bump in the road and a pothole. Losing Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman? That would be a pothole. Pick: Packers.
Titans (-10 1/2) at Bengals: Let me tell you the best thing about Bengals games: At halftime you can go get something to eat and not worry about getting back in time for the third quarter. Pick: Titans.
Panthers at Rams (-10 1/2): Rams fans, don't fret--the team is still playoff-bound, so long as Kurt Warner's immune system continues to protect him from impurities in Earth's atmosphere. Pick: Panthers.
Broncos at Seahawks (-6): The judge who ruled Microsoft was a monopoly also ruled that Seahawks WR Joey Galloway should be paid with Monopoly money. Pick: Seahawks.
Chiefs at Buccaneers (-3): Chiefs' Gunther Cunningham vowed "full investigation" on who switched offensive game film for Gotti prison tapes Wednesday. Pick: Chiefs.
Lions (-6) at Cardinals: New feature at Sun Devil Stadium: Sundial at midfield, to help Jake Plummer make it to postgame dates on time. Pick: Cardinals.
Chargers at Raiders (-7): Kid Coach Jon Gruden spent Raiders' bye week getting in touch with his inner control freak. Pick: Chargers.
Dolphins at Bills (-3): Playing Scrabble with his family Tuesday, Jimmy Johnson challenged his son Brent's use of "obsequious." Pick: Dolphins.
Vikings (-7) at Bears: On Jeff George's wristband: running plays, passing plays and a list of what-beats-what in poker. Pick: Bears.
Last week: 6-8.
Season record: 56-63-7.