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Riding the Week 9 Hype Machine
by Michele Christopher
Howdy Football Fans and welcome to The NFL Week 9! We are officially halfway through the regular season. Holy guacamole!
Ok, unless you live under a rock, you know that the big game this week is The Patriots / Colts game on Sunday night. This game is receiving the maximum level of hype that the sports-world media can generate, so lets jump on the hype-machine and take a little ride shall we? Ride With Us.
In the first half of the season, teams worked to put themselves into a position to make a run for the playoffs. Now that the second half of the season has arrived, teams are going to start jockeying for the lead in the race in order to get themselves in the best position possible once the playoffs arrive.
Practically on cue, this Sunday night we’ve got the current number one and number two teams in the AFC going head to head with each other on National TV.
The undefeated, 7-0, Indianapolis Colts will travel to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA, (fondly referred to by members of Patriot Nation as ‘The Razor’) to face the 6-1 New England Patriots.
Once or twice a season, there is a regular season game that seems to take on epic, playoff like proportions and this is one of them.
The winner of this game will put themselves in the front of the pack of teams in the AFC racing to get into the playoffs. Of course, it’s only week 9, and there is a whole second half of football left to play in front of us, so regardless of who wins on Sunday night, both The Colts and The Patriots will need to keep up the pace in order to grab those coveted number 1 and number 2 seeds once the playoffs start.
The storylines surrounding this game are numerous.
You have media darling and everyone at ESPN’s favorite quarterback, Peyton Manning, returning to the location that has been his personal House of Horrors over the years, Gillette Stadium. Manning is 1-7 in Foxboro, with his sole win coming last season against an injury depleted Patriots defense.
This time around, several of the Patriots players that missed last year’s game, players such as Rodney Harrison and Richard Seymour, will be on the field and looking to prevent Manning from improving his record in Foxboro to 2-7.
You have former Patriots place-kicker and regional hero and regional hero, Adam Vinatieri, returning to New England for the first time wearing a hated enemy’s uniform.
One of the more ridiculous story lines in the media this week has been the question, ‘what do Patriots fans do when Vinatieri trots onto the field at Gillette wearing a Colts uniform?’
The fact that this is even a story shows to me how out of touch with reality some people in the press are, but I’ll break it down quick for you anyway:
When Adam runs out onto the field at The Razor for player introductions, he does not get booed. He gets a cheer, a loud appreciative cheer.
When Adam trots out onto the field at Gillette to attempt a field goal kick for The Colts, he is fair game and Pats fans will let him have it.
On the other side of the show, you have The Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Up until just last week, all the talk out of the press this season has been about all the players that The Patriots have lost to free agency. This receiver is gone, that receiver is gone. Tom Brady may not be saying it out loud but his ‘body language’ is telling everyone in the press loud and clear that he’s upset. I have always thought those guys might be hearing things, but that is just me.
Then last week, Brady goes out and dismantles the up and coming Minnesota Vikings in one of the best displays of passing prowess this season, and all of a sudden he’s been getting such an incredible ball-washing by the main stream press, he hasn’t had to shower for a week.
As far as the game goes, personally, I think the match-ups in this game favor New England, but I am so admittedly biased towards The Pats, I don’t know if anyone is going to take me seriously if I talk about them. But fuck it. I’ll do it anyway.
Offensively, The Pats have the edge. They have a great running attack in rookie Laurence Maroney and veteran Corey Dillon, plus third-down specialist Kevin Faulk and bruising fullback Heath Evans. The Colts are terrible against the run this year. If the Pats get their running game going, they can control the tempo of the game. If that happens, it’s going to be hard for Manning to get out on the field and do a lot of damage.
Defensively, I still give the edge to The Pats. The Colts are not a good running team and The Pats defensive line should be able to stifle the Colts running attack. That makes the Colts a one-dimensional team. Manning will have to count on his passing game. Granted, this is his strength and is the bread and butter of the Colts offense, but he will be facing a Belichick defense that excels in attacking a team’s strengths and forcing them to do things they don’t want to do. And there is one more thing. Patriots Safety Rodney Harrison is back on the field this year and he tends to take these match-ups personally. Harrison will be laying out the hits on a receiving corps that does not like to play a physical game.
Temps for the game are predicted to be in the 20’s. Even with the A/C on, that’s very un-dome-like.
Ok. Enough Pats / Colts talk. There’s more than one football game this weekend, so lets move on to everyone’s favorite part of the show, THE GAME PICKS!
Right. Last week I pulled the game winners right out of my ass and I think I did pretty well. I was right for most of the games, except where I was wrong, but a lot of the games where I was off turned out to be very close, so I don’t feel too bad about those. That’s the NFL.
This week I’m going to use yet another new method to pick the games. I call it ‘The Spongebob Game Picks’! See. Here’s the deal. My kids have this Spongebob story where he goes on a game show and for every question, whatever Spongebob’s mind tells him to answer, he says the opposite and of course, wins the game! So that’s what I’m going to do, because even though I’ve never actually watched the show, I get the impression that Spongebob and I think alike.
This should be interesting. Ok here we go!
Atlanta at Detroit – Brain says Atlanta, thus I must do the opposite and pick Detroit. That’s right Detroit. What was I thinking trying this method to pick games?
Cincinnati at Baltimore – Brain wants to pick Cincy, thus I am picking Baltimore.
Dallas at Washington – Brain wants Washington, so I am going with Dallas.
Green Bay at Buffalo – Normally I would pick Buffalo but since I am doing the opposite, I will go with Green Bay.
Houston at N.Y. Giants – Believe it or not, the opposite thing for me here is to pick The Giants.
Kansas City at St. Louis – Opposite pick is St. Louis.
Miami at Chicago – Opposite pick is Miami. I will be amazed if half of these turn out right, especially this one.
New Orleans at Tampa Bay – My brain actually wants Tampa in this one, so I’m going with New Orleans. No, I’m not cheating!
Tennessee at Jacksonville – Opposite pick is Tennessee.
Minnesota at San Francisco – Opposite pick is San Fran.
Cleveland at San Diego – Ok it’s getting late. It’s now 11:11 PM. Jinx! Opposite pick is Cleveland.
Denver at Pittsburgh – Opposite pick is Pittsburgh. I’d rather see them win this game anyway.
Indianapolis at New England – Pass.
Oakland at Seattle – Opposite pick, believe it or not, is Seattle. I’ve lost all respect for the NFC teams all of a sudden. I don’t think any of them are that scary, even undefeated Chicago.
Enjoy the games everybody!
Ernie lives in New England (obvious?) and is a big fan of Krabby Patties.