You know it’s got to be December when the pretty lights go up with some credit debt right alongside. Another sure sign of the season is the Dallas Cowboys and Tony Romo making a run at the NFL post season.
Romo’s a guy who, on any other team, would probably have earned a little more public respect for his performances on the field over the years, but sadly he’s never made it very easy on himself. To be fair, his general manager has never made it easy on him either, consistently failing to secure a stout offensive line and consistent running game, which everyone knows are any quarterback’s two very best friends.
Still, in a sport of big men, he comes across as rather small. Romo appeared to have been taken in much too easily by the celebrity culture surrounding his highly visible position, and we all just sort of cringed when Jessica Simpson wore his pink jersey in the stands.
I mean, when you have your own cheerleader, it’s kind of hard for people to take you seriously as a football player. It’s even harder to make your opponents (players and fans alike) forget your more ignominious moments, like fumbling a snap for the place kicker and losing a game.
But enough of Mr. Peabody’s “Way-Back” machine! In the here and now Romo has yet another moment of professional redemption staring him in the face Sunday night. We’ll all be watching to see how he handles this one (pun intended).
Buccaneers at Falcons – Does Tampa Bay have any fight left and is Coach Greg Schiano’s quiver out of arrows? They’ll probably give Atlanta a game, but a speed team in the dome can dodge the jabs and handle whatever barrage Josh Freeman has left to throw.
Panthers at Saints – For two teams with nothing much to play for, this should be one of the better matchups of the day. Cam Newton is playing like the first 75 days of the season didn’t happen, and Drew Brees is his same old self. At home in the Superdome, I’ll take the Saints and look forward to next year when they can get back to normal.
Bears at Lions – Detroit’s Matthew Stafford has loads of talent in his arm, but way too often this year his decisions have been poor. Again, a weak offensive line coupled with an inconsistent (and occasionally non-existent) running game has forced him to carry too much of the load himself.
The exact same set of circumstances have befallen Jay Cutler in Chicago this year too, but he has enjoyed a much better defense that occasionally put points on the board so he didn’t have to do it all by himself. If they win and the Vikings lose, their reward will be a road trip to San Francisco or Green Bay. I think they’ll take it, meager reward though it is.
Eagles at Giants – New York needs Santa to grant them a late wish. Even when they win this one, nobody else is going to kick in on a gift for Big Blue. As for Philly, I wax nostalgic over the day in September 14 years ago when Andy Reid brought his team on the field for the first time against Dave Campo’s Cowboys and he unleashed Duce Staley on them. Poor Dave never saw it coming, never had a chance, and never recovered. Pity it seems to have ended like this. We were all so full of life and hope then.
Texans at Colts – This is our Game of the Day nominee given that a rookie phenom takes his last shot at a division rival that wants only some bragging rights. (They get that way in Texas.) Indy has been very good at defending its home field against Houston. The upside for the Texans losing this game is that they have even greater focus for the more difficult playoff road they are about to step on.
Jaguars at Titans – OW! My eye!! The loser gets Tebowed, and that’s a blessing.
Ravens at Bengals – Game of the Day runner-up, if only we could trust Flacco. Can’t do it. Don’t think much of Cincinnati’s running game either, but with so much mistrust in the air, I have to take a home field default selection. Since both are in the playoffs, neither really has much to play for except to keep injuries to a minimum.
Browns at Steelers – So will Big Ben also shoulder the burden and take the blame for losing this one? That wasn’t a rhetorical question. It was strictly hypothetical, because it’s not going to happen.
Jets at Bills – News flash…Mark Sanchez starts! The world yawns deeply. Buffalo runs all day long, if only for the exercise because you stay much warmer that way.
Cardinals at 49ers – The Niners have mysteriously taken a few steps down the ladder of invincibility lately, but that can be a good thing. Arizona doesn’t remember where they put their ladder so they sure won’t be taking it on the road with them.
Rams at Seahawks – Jeff Fisher will not let his St. Louis team pack things away too early, but when playing at home, Seattle runs roughshod even over good teams. There’s no telling what they will do to a mediocre one.
Chiefs at Broncos – Kansas City can not and will not get another 300-yard game on the ground, which is their best hope. Playing keep-away from Peyton is their only real shot. Even if they lead the time-of-possession stat, when necessary Manning will score quickly and render the clock largely irrelevant.
Raiders at Chargers – At least Norv Turner can go out on a win. Not enough of them and never at the right time, but a win nonetheless. Meanwhile in Oakland, we’re still waiting for a football team to emerge. That “Black Hole” thing they’ve got going on is becoming far, far too literal a definition.
Packers at Vikings – Now that Green Bay has revived both its running game and defense to middle-of-the-road status or better, Aaron Rodgers has all the help he needs. There’s still the key injury to a receiver that could kill them at a critical time, but everybody takes that chance.
Minnesota’s defense has also slowly become legit, and Adrian Peterson is all the running back anybody would want right now. But because they still really need a passing game threat, I can’t go for the possible upset and have to give this one to the visitors.
Dolphins at Patriots – I’d also take New England in Week 17 if they were playing this one in Miami.
Cowboys at Redskins – Even if it’s not Tony Romo’s fault when they lose, he still gets the blame. After all, past is prologue. Sad, but by now it’s either fate or Jerry Jones, and good luck changing either one!