Despite bad weather and poorer guesses in more than one NFL venue, we finished 9-7 for 90-54 and .625 on the year, which is better than treading water at either Niagara or a clandestine CIA prison in Eastern Europe.
Packers at Cowboys - Let's hope the editor runs this column in the expected Thursday space, so you won't have to wonder if it's legit (provided, of course, that I speculate correctly). As for the game itself, the more it rolls around in the noggin, the more it keeps coming around to Dallas - and you have no idea how much it pains me to say that.
Now that Green Bay has developed a respectable running game, the only weakness (and that's a very relative meaning of the term) is that Dallas has the tendency to give up the big play more often, which is a Brett Favre staple. Of slightly less importance is their penchant for penalties, which should not be as much of a factor given their home field advantage here.
That Favre has never won a game at Texas Stadium is interesting, but only mildly important. The key is going to be the ability of the Cowboys' defense to get to him soon enough. That Packer offensive line is a formidable obstacle, and now that they are running well, a good pass rush becomes even tougher to do. Dallas should not be able to run it on Green Bay's defense at all, which puts all the offense on Tony Romo's shoulders, and he's proven very agile and creative in getting the ball to his receiving threats.
So there you have it: As much as I tried to talk myself into a Packers victory, I gotta go with Romo and Dallas at home in a shootout (and me with a bad taste in my mouth). Even if they win, I won't be happy. Since it's on NFL Network, I won't have to worry over it anyway.
Jaguars at Colts - Now, here's a great game I won't need to spend more money to see. If Indianapolis still wasn't injury-depleted, I'd take them at home without a second thought.
Jacksonville is a very impressive team. With the Colts playing shorthanded and in light of Tennessee's recent collapse, they now have a shot at winning this division, provided they take this game, which will not be easy. Drew Brees made the Jags defense look very bad a few weeks back, and Peyton certainly has the ability to do the same, provided his receiving corps is back to full strength.
I'll take Manning and his defensive teammates to get the job done and keep a firm grip on their division, but it was worth at least a second thought.
Chargers at Chiefs - All right, I'm done picking Kansas City to win at home. They're blowing it, big time. Looks like San Diego might win the AFC West by default.
Jets at Dolphins - This time I am outright picking Miami to win, because nobody deserves it more. That Monday night fiasco in the Heinz Bog should earn them some heavyweight karma points. Might as well cash them now, while they're fresh.
Lions at Vikings - Minnesota is vulnerable to the passing offense. Detroit is vulnerable to a rushing offense. Looks like a match made in a handicapper's dream.
The Lions don't have the look of a team on the verge of something good, which they had a month ago. The Vikings, however, do.
Falcons at Rams - Bulger's probably out after the concussion problem rears its ugly head. If there's one team out there now that Gus Frerotte can beat, it's Atlanta. Just direct snap it to Jackson and forget about the quarterback in this one.
But St. Louis will lose at home because they always find a way and Joey Harrington actually has a good game, even though his Falcon teammates don't like him.
49ers at Panthers - OK, I'm also done picking Carolina to win at home. They are not so much blowing it, as it is blowing them. San Francisco is winning nothing, but this game.
Bills at Redskins - Joe Gibbs is overdue for a win. I hope this one satisfies him because I do not like picking against Buffalo. Washington has lost a bunch of tough games against good teams, so it's time to have the ball bounce their way.
Texans at Titans - Without Albert Haynesworth, the Tennessee defense is a hollow shell. If only Houston could be trusted on the road, which they can't be yet.
Best to go with Vince Young and the home team, but it will be close.
Seahawks at Eagles - Those blessed boys from Philly almost pulled it off, only to blow it once again with questionable play-calling and rushed execution. They calm it down and beat Seattle this week because if that defense can disrupt Brady and company, then Hasselbeck should be a Brees - on second thought, make that breeze. They visit Drew's place in a month.
Browns at Cardinals - Two weeks back, Arizona cornerback Antrel Rolle said there was no reason his team could not "run the table" the rest of the season. Naturally, he and his mates went out on the field last week and promptly lost to San Francisco when Kurt Warner fumbled in the end zone during overtime. You just know he meant "run the table" meant lose every game left on the schedule, and to prove it, just watch how they fold at home to Cleveland.
Broncos at Raiders - After blowing one on the road in Chicago last week, Denver should be ready to make a run for the AFC West crown by taking it to Oakland. The Raiders have definitely improved since last season, but not that much since preseason. The Broncos have, especially lately.
Giants at Bears - So Rex Grossman's back and New York's not exactly in an Eli state of mind. This is a perfect example of how much fortunes can change in so short a time. Less than a month ago, the Giants were looking to challenge Dallas while Chicago was challenging only to itself.
Looks to me as though it's time for Bad Rex to make another appearance. He's the type that New York's defensive line likes to rattle. I like the Giants in an upset and Eli in a comeback.
Buccaneers at Saints - Tampa Bay's defense puts the clamps on you without special packages or blitzes. They just beat you with a combination of strength and smarts. With a win here, they can pretty much lock up the NFC South and book their playoff spot for the opening weekend.
Drew Brees is not going to beat these guys without more help than he's got right now. The Saints need their Deuce, but he ain't coming back - at least not this year.
Bengals at Steelers - Sorry, but one decent game is not enough to get me on the Cincy bandwagon. Too many holes in that defense, and Pittsburgh doesn't let you make too many on their turf. Apparently, they just let the weather do that.
Patriots at Ravens - In a previous decade, Brian Billick was renowned for his knowledge of offensive football, which leads us all to the obvious observation that his knowledge of football has now become merely offensive (insert your rim shot here).
New England's wakeup call at home last week is all the motivation Belichick needs to make sure this one gets out of hand real quick.