It's the last week of the regular season, and Joe's got us covered.
Pigskins and Politics
We've come to both the end of the regular season and 2008 as a whole.
It's been a year of change on the political front (well, at least that's how it was advertised until Obama basically embraced 90 percent of eeeeevil President Bush's policies after taking the crown). And on the NFL front, 1-15 teams like the Dolphins are on the precipice of playing in January, while some things never change (the Pats lose half their team and still win double-digit games, the Lions dead last, Al Davis still breathing, etc).
So before we hit 2009, let's get to our not-for-profit picks of only-games-that-matter for Week 17:
Dolphins (+2.5) over Jets: Tough call here. On one hand, temps outside will be a Miami-like 65 at kickoff in Jersey, thereby taking away any cold-weather advantage that almost every sports "expert" picking games has pointed out all week (look at a forecast ONE TIME!). On the other hand, Chad Pennington isn't color-blind, while Brett Favre may very well be...and now have a deader arm than Tim Wakefield. Fish by at least a TD.
Bills (+5.5) over Patriots: Pats will be too distracted by 2 billion various photos of Gisele in/on every publication in the country Saturday following the big engagement to concentrate on spoiling-loving Bills. Yup, even when Tom loses a season to injury, he gains a supermodel wife in the process. Brady also becomes the first NFL player to say, "I can see Eli's apartment from here" after proposing over Hoboken in a phat private jet.
Raiders (+13) over Bucs: Any hope of a home-field advantage Super Bowl goes bye-bye when the hopelessly-boring Bucs save the country from seeing pewter color unfettered for two weeks.
Ravens (-11) over Jags: Rule of thumb: When ESPN's Bill Simmons, a brilliant writer but as reliable as a horoscope when predicting games, makes a team his annual dark horse pick, a 5-11 season like former dark horse Jacksonville has enjoyed is guaranteed to follow.
Cowboys (+1.5) over Eagles: Eagle fans break stuff immediately following loss to hated 'Boys, but soon rejoice knowing that the two people most responsible for redefining the two-minute drill will likely be gone in wholesale changes of a porous team not seen since the days of Vince Papale.
Texans (-3) over Bears: Houston has won 9 of its last 11 at home. Good thing Tony Kornheiser isn't doing the game, or else we may be subject to hearing how the Bears have had horrible quarterbacks 26 times a quarter like we did six days ago. Descendants of Howard Cosell need not worry: Tony K. only makes your father's Monday Night Football legacy look better with every horrific telecast. (Noel adds comment: This MNF crew is an abysmal joke. The only person with remotely interesting commentary is Jaws. Get rid of the other two ASAP!)
Vikings (-7) over Giants: Minny always beats the G-Men even when they DO care and are at full strength. Once vaunted Giant D has been porous against the run the past three weeks (7 touchdowns allowed to Westbrook, Choice and Williams) alone.
Packers (-11) over Lions: See what happens when you let go of a pontificating blowhard like Matt Millen? The entire "we'll at least go 3-13" system falls apart!
Rams (+14) over Falcons: Those of you who sold your season tickets when Michael Vick went to the big kennel must be pretty peeved right about now.
Saints (+1.5) over Panthers: Easy math here: When an NFC South team plays at home against another NFC South team, they usually win (or in this case, at least cover).
Broncos (+8) over Chargers: San Diego, the city Ron Burgandy says was named after a whale's vagina, already thinks they have the Ed Hoculli Bowl all wrapped up. Regardless of what happens, we're assured to see the first quarterback vs quarterback brawl in NFL history when the equally-unlikable punks Phil Rivers and Jay Cutler square off in the tunnel ala Rocky III. Let's hope a Burgess Meredith trainer is nowhere near the carnage.
Never have we seen a Week 17 like this in the NFL. Then again, never have we seen a year quite like 2008.
Joe Concha is a weekly contributor to Newsbusters.org and is looking forward to '09. Email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or use the friendly newsbusters message board.