What can a wordy neurotic guest prognosticator give to his small but otherwise superior reading audience for Christmas? Not picks against the spread, obviously, for those have enormous lump-of-coal potential from week to week and game to game.
The best I can offer you (or anyone else I know) is to be brief.
The Eagles are in the playoffs. As usual. With Brian Westbrook coming back and a chance to do damage in a suddenly uneven NFC. And the constants in Philly's enviable run for the last generation or so are Donovan McNabb and Andy Reid. If you already love them, enjoy them this holiday season. If you are still convinced that you'll never know Super Glory because of them, give it a rest for a week and appreciate what you have. The Eagles are at the postseason craps table again, and their dice are as good as anybody else's. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough!
In the meantime, here's to your holiday. May you be luckier than you think you are. And, along those lines, may I recommend taking your foot off the gas on the old gamble-gamble for a week. It's the best way I know to have good fortune!
Merry Christmas! Let's pick 'em (for entertainment purposes only, of course)!
Friday Chargers (+3) at Titans.
Here's some actual information available only to insiders (and people with any level of hookup to the Internet): The Titans' defense is completely banged up. Meanwhile, San Diego is doing what San Diego does: being excellent after starting the season ostensibly circling the drain. And the Chargers are a 3-point dog?
Chargers 30, Titans 17. With all due respect to Mr. Bud Adams, my hero.
Sunday Raiders (+3) at Browns
I'd rather watch Jim Brown arm-wrestle Ted Hendricks.
Raiders 16, Browns 13. Unless it's canceled due to lack of interest.
Chiefs at Bengals (-14)
If you don't like Reid and McNabb, I'm sure you can have Whoever's-The-Coach-In-KC and Whoever's-The-Quarterback-In-KC. Wanna trade?
Bengals 41, Chiefs 20. Oh, and the Bengals are good.
Bills at Falcons (-8)
If you had Lee Evans and Terrell Owens on the outside and you still stank, what would you say about the rest of your team? "Boooooo!" is what you'd say until you ran out of breath permanently.
Falcons 24, Bills 14. The Falcons take the 2009 Non-Descript Bowl Trophy back home to Atlanta where it belongs.
Texans at Dolphins (-3)
This is actually the best game of the weekend to watch. To bet on? They're all the same - lousy.
Dolphins 28, Texans 23. Both teams have agreed to remain at 7-7 no matter who wins.
Panthers at Giants (-61/2)
Like a puppy or a 19-month-old child, I pay attention to the last shiny object I saw. And it was the Giants kicking the snot out of Washington the old fashioned way - which is to say in every conceivable way. Therefore . . .
Giants 31, Panthers 20. Of course, they weren't good enough to beat McNabb and Reid, now were they?
Bucs at Saints (-15)
Jeez Louise, 15 is a lot of points. And the Saints were teetering for weeks before they lost (as predicted right here) last week. But the Bucs already won their big game - no, not the win over Denver last week. The one in 2003 when they crushed Oakland in the Super Bowl. They're in the process of a six-year letdown.
Saints 42, Bucs 15. Or not. Fifteen is a lot of points.
Jaguars (+81/2) at Patriots
A friendly reminder: These Patriots aren't that good.
Patriots 21, Jags 16. They're not. Look it up. (Please, I didn't.)
Ravens at Steelers (-21/2)
Oy vey, this is a dicey call. OK, I just changed my mind. Take the Steelers, give the points.
Steelers 28, Ravens 24. I hope everyone involved has health insurance.
Seahawks at Packers (-14)
Green Bay will be cold, and the Seahawks will be miserable.
Packers 38, Seahawks 9.
Rams at Cardinals (-14)
The ticklish thing about giving the Rams 14 is that they are that special brand of pitiful - they play really, really hard, and they've been losing close ones lately. But who's going to cover Fitzgerald, Boldin and Breaston? Nobody good, that's who.
Cardinals 31, Rams 15. Viva Tom Banks.
Lions at 49ers (-111/2)
It's too bad that Detroit, buckle of the Rust Belt and a place that could use some good news, can't stick it to dot-com cyber-rich fern-bar-inventing San Francisco. Too bad but too true.
49ers 28, Lions 10. I'd say the Lions can't be terrible forever, but I'm not sure.
Jets at Colts (-61/2)
Did you hear the bit where Rex Ryan lamented the Jets' dropping out of playoff contention, only to learn that 7-7 puts them in contention for the playoffs? Warm up the same lament, Coach. The time is coming soon.
Colts 30, Jets 19. It's the Mets and the Nets who are already eliminated.
Cowboys (-61/2) at Redskins
Remember when this game made for a great Lite Beer commercial? Man, you are old, dude. Wait. So am I. Boo hoo.
Cowboys 27, Redskins 6. How are they going to fire Wade Phillips if Dallas sneaks into the playoffs? They're gonna. But how?
Broncos at Eagles (-7)
Brian Dawkins deserves the love he'll get from Philly. No one deserves what's going to happen to the Broncos shortly thereafter.
Eagles 31, Broncos 13. McNabb, Jackson, Celek, Maclin, McCoy, and now Westbrook? Live it up, folks.
Monday Vikings at Bears (+7)
Uh, oh. Everything old is old again. And by that I mean Brett Favre.
Vikings 21, Bears 17. It's not entirely clear that the Eagles aren't the best team in the NFC right now. Can't be a noncommital NFL expert without the trusty old double negative sentence construction, folks.
And to all a good night.