(This is an excerpt of an article that appears in the current addition of Every Edge Magazine)
Here's a thumbnail sketch of the three best games on this upcoming weekend's agenda:
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Chicago at New York Giants (-3)
For more than three weeks I've been saying that the first game that Chicago would lose would be on Nov. 12, in the Meadowlands, against the New York Giants. I guess I was wrong.
Last week the Bears got handled by those perennial underachievers from South Beach in what was the most surprising development since learning that one of President George W. Bush's close friends is in love with rented boys. Well, I guess that last part isn't shocking since Bush's buddy was a preacher, but work with me here. Chicago cracked a six-pack of turnovers for the second time in its last three games, and no matter how good you are that's nearly impossible to overcome.
Oh, and the best part about watching the dreams of an undefeated season die for my beloved Bears was having Dan Dierdorf give the eulogy. It was as fun as a crucifixion.
While barely beating Houston 14-10 in Week 9, the Giants acted like they spent Saturday evening beating up hobos in Times Square. The truth of the matter is that half of their team was receiving Asian massages to help sooth their soreness. And though NY didn't cover for the first time in four games, it still scored a win.
The G-Men have been the most impressive and consistent team not named Indianapolis over the course of the past month. It's shocking to utter "Giants" and "consistent" in the same breath but they've played outstanding ball. They're not better than the Bears, but if they're remotely healthy (they need Osi, Plexi, Strahan, and at least one or two linebackers) New York could win big. Their tall wideouts are a tough match-up for the Bears quick corners, and the pressure the Giants front four can generate is good for at least two more INTs by Rexy.
San Diego (-1.5) at Cincinnati
Cheer up, Chad Johnson. At least you had a better Sunday than Saddam Hussein.
Over the course of the past month I've been ranting to anyone who would listen that the Bengals are a team to be faded. They can't stop anyone on defense and their offensive line is in shambles. The result: a 0-4-1 run against the spread. And they've looked bad doing it.
The Bengals are currently eighth in the AFC and are staring at a brutal second-half schedule. This game against San Diego becomes a must-win with clashes at New Orleans, against Baltimore, at Indy and at Denver on the horizon. Reality has its icy fingers wrapped around the throat of the Bengals as this group of misfits and malcontents is starting to realize that the hangover isn't nearly as much fun as the party.
Will that futility from Cincinnati come to a close as a home dog? I think it may, but only because the Chargers defense is even more decimated than the Bengals'. The Chargers struggled to put away Cleveland in So Cal last week and now could be without another starting linebacker.
Basically this game is a catfight between Amber Waves and Rollergirl. Both are sexy and enchanting, but both have a lot of deep-rooted psychological issues going on beneath the surface. There should be a lot of fireworks, turnovers and girl-on-girl action. Also, I expect to see about 95 points. In the end this one is a coin flip. I'm hoping the line moves up to a level where it's worth it to take the dog on the moneyline.
Washington at Philadelphia (-7)
Sanity is elusive for any soul brave enough to wager on the NFC East. Though talented, this is the most overrated and maddeningly unpredictable group of teams in the league. Anyone who watched the Dallas-Philly, Philly-New York, or Dallas-Washington games knows exactly what I'm talking about.
The Redskins are under the illusion of "new life" after their dramatic and unexpected comeback against the Cowboys last week. The good news is that with Lemar Marshall and Shawn Springs back in the lineup Washington has regained some stability and swagger on defense. The 'Skins are 10-3 ATS after facing the Cowboys since 1999, which shows they're able to refocus after an emotional game.
However, if there's an automatic play in the NFL it's betting on Philadelphia after a week off. Andy Reid's teams are 9-3 ATS with rest, and that includes the playoffs. Those are Trump numbers, and to quote my man Randy Moss, rested Eagles are "straight cash, homey."
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The Eagles have spent the last two weeks searching for a state of self-awareness. This franchise was once known for being a brutish bully, an embodiment of everything Right about the NFC. But this year they've become a flashy, chuck-and-duck club that can't be counted on to seal the deal. They are 31st in the NFL in time of possession, which is just killing their overextended defense.
Against Dallas, the Washington secondary looked like an E-Z-Pass on the Beltway. Philly needs to resist the urge to throw 50 times and try to pound the Natives. But they won't. And the result will likely be another harrowing and hair-pulling NFC East freak show.
Because in the end, they are who we thought they were.
Carpe diem, my friend. And good luck.
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