Breaking news just in to the "Don't Trust Bill" newsroom: Donovan McNabb is awesome and appears to be getting more awesome.
And, in a few scant days, he will likely silence the remaining few Phildelphians who would entertain the idea that he is something less than the most awesome quarterback who ever wore the Eagles' various versions of green. (The current one is called midnight green, which is mystifying. Midnight is black or very, very, very dark blue.)
To wit: Last week, minus his two most potent offensive allies - Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson - and left with a rookie wide receiver (albeit from St. Louis, Mo.) with an injured plantar (whatever that is) as his best option, Donovan McNabb unleashed the fury on the road on a team that had previously harbored realistic playoff hopes. Unleashed a quarterback rating of over 100 (which means almost nothing except that it sounds good and supports my thesis). Unleashed a beating on the Falcons that sets McNabb up to close the playoff deal Sunday in northern New Jersey.
Like a guy looking for a parking space, the Eagles have pulled astride a narrow spot between two giant SUVs. Four remaining games represent a metaphoric four-point turn. And like any bozo who ever had to get 'er close to the curb with everybody behind you honking and cursing you to hurry it up, you know that the first turn is everything. Get it wrong, and you hit the curb hard and suffer the humiliation of having to curse yourself quietly and drive around the block looking for a garage. Get it right, and the rest is so easy, you can't remember what the big deal was.
In other words, if McNabb can orchestrate a win (a truly sweet win) at the Meadowlands, clinching the tiebreaker with the Giants, the rest will take care of itself.
And if I'm an Eagles fan? I'm watching a DVD on the drop-down screen in the backseat of the minivan. Donovan McNabb is at the wheel. Quote me. Or don't bother. This exists on the Internet, meaning it sits there forever in glory.*
Let's pick some football games!!
Steelers at Browns (+10)
Maybe the Steelers are going to respond to the fact that they've just about stunk their way out of the playoffs. Maybe the running game will reawaken, and Big Ben will reemerge as the playmaking gun-slinging game-winning hero he has long appeared to be. Or maybe the Steelers aren't that good, and they'll eke out a must game against a cruddy division opponent on the road. I pick the last option.
Steelers 20, Browns 12. Which bowl game are the Browns going to?
Broncos at Colts (-7)
I don't like the Colts any more than you do. They're so consistently good that they're antiseptic, like the lobby of a brand-new business hotel. It's not objectionable in any way you can enunciate, but you wouldn't want to live there permanently. Still, you check in and think, "At least it's new. And clean." Joyless but effective.
Colts 28, Broncos 16. If they went undefeated, would you get all excited?
Bengals at Vikings (-61/2)
First, I trusted that the Bengals were lousy and got burned. Then, I trusted that they were good and got scorched. Then, I trusted that the Vikings were the best team in the league, and they laid down to the enemy of all that is good - the evil red horde of the Southwest (the Cardinals, in case you're keeping track). Thrice bitten, four times completely bewildered.
Vikings 31, Bengals 23. Wanna bet? Don't look at me.
Jets at Bucs (no line)
As it turns out, newspaper writers have to write their stories on deadline. It makes the whole process so much less fun than it might otherwise be. And, as of my deadline (which was right before you read this - play along), there was no line on the Jets and Bucs, probably because it's not clear if the Jets' handsome-but-not-
yet-totally-awesome QB Mark Sanchez will play. And therefore? I'm off the hook, and it pays the same!
Bills at Chiefs (pick 'em)
Pick 'em? Do I have to? Seriously?
Chiefs 9, Bills 4. Note that the square roots of both numbers are integers. Don't hate on math.
Saints at Falcons (off)
No line here? That stinks because I was prepared to take the Saints and give whatever points I had to (within reason, of course). Oh well.
Packers (-3) at Bears
The Packers are way, way better than the Bears. The Bears "hate" the Packers? Seriously? Jay Cutler grew up thinking Lynn Dickey was his natural enemy? No, he didn't. The Packers are just another team that's going to beat the Bears.
Packers 24, Bears 10. Unless this is a trap game, which would make it a bear trap. Which would hurt.
Lions (+13) at Ravens
The smart money should be on the Ravens. But my money (in extraordinary moderation) is on Detroit.
Ravens 24, Lions 14 Did you see Matthew Stafford miked up when he beat Cleveland with a shoulder that would have hospitalized me for a month?
Dolphins (+3) at Jaguars
Just when I thought it was safe not to have a platonic, inanimate sports crush on the Dolphins . . .
Dolphins 19, Jaguars 17. They don't need no stinking Wildcat!
Panthers (+131/2) at Patriots
Hey, New England! Objects in the rearview (Dolphins) are closer than they appear!
Patriots 30, Panthers 24.
Seahawks at Texans (-6)
The Seahawks would lose to the Sounders, who play the other kind of "football."
Texans 30, Seahawks 9. The kind of "football" with scores like 1-nil.
Rams at Titans (-13)
The Rams' complete fecklessness in all phases, plus Vince Young's general excellence, plus my debt of awe and gratitude for Bud Adams' public profanity, equals a laugher.
Titans 35, Rams 6. Did you know that one of these teams once beat the other in the Super Bowl? It was loooooooooooooong ago.
Redskins at Raiders (+1)
Um, is this to suggest that we all ignore Gradkowski-mania?
Raiders 20, Redskins 17 If the season were 30 games long, Gradkowski would get Oakland to the Super Bowl.
Chargers (+3) at Cowboys.
Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, and the Cowboys gotta fall apart in December.
Chargers 23, Cowboys 21. It's the natural order of things.
Eagles (+1) at Giants
Because nobody thinks it's going to happen. Because the Giants have been declared "healed" by the New York press. Because the Eagles are beat up.
Eagles 27, Giants 23. Plenty of room, Donovan!
Cardinals (-3) at 49ers
Bad news for the righteous: Arizona is on a roll at the most unfortunate time of year. Another Super Bowl run might ruin football forever. And it might just happen.
Cardinals 31, 49ers 13. Viva E.J. Junior.
Relax. It's only money.