Thursday, November 24, 2005

Week Twelve

The Thanksgiving edition will be brief, as the Inner Columnist’s family has two three-touchdown birds (equal to one Peyton Manning performance) in the oven and that means stuffing. Lots and lots of stuffing. The Inner Columnist likes stuffing.

Last week, the Inner Columnist went 11-5, going to 97-63 (.606) overall. Philadelphia’s 17 points put another marker in the “tied” column, and for the second time this season, the Inner Columnist accurately predicted a complete final score: Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 13. However, the Inner Columnist being a Steeler fan, it was difficult to take much pleasure in that kind of accuracy. Last week: 1-14-1. Overall: 2-142-16.

Seattle’s victory last week gave the Inner Columnist his fifth straight win in the Challenge. This week, the Inner Columnist will hold his breath and pick Atlanta.

And the rest of the picks:

Atlanta 30, Detroit 17
Denver 34, Dallas 17
Cincinnati 24, Baltimore 13
Carolina 24, Buffalo 14
Chicago 21, Tampa Bay 13
Minnesota 24, Cleveland 17
New England 31, Kansas City 28
San Diego 28, Washington 10
Tennessee 24, San Francisco 17
St. Louis 34, Houston 21
Arizona 27, Jacksonville 21
Oakland 27, Miami 17
Green Bay 21, Philadelphia 14
Seattle 24, N.Y. Giants 17
New Orleans 20, N.Y. Jets 10
Indianapolis 34, Pittsburgh 21

That’s it. Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Week Eleven

Last week marked a return to normalcy for the Inner Columnist's predictions. That is, mediocrity: 8-6 on the wins (now 86-58 for the year) and 0-12-2 on the final scores (now 1-128-15 for the year) off San Francisco's nine and Philly's 20. The Challenge pick was right for the fourth straight week, Carolina's win raising the record to 7-3. But it was a near-run thing. The Inner Columnist almost picked Atlanta.

This week, the Inner Columnist keeps picking on San Francisco. And why not? Everybody else in the NFL has been, and this is looking the year the Seahawks finally break through.

The rest of the picks:

St. Louis 34, Arizona 17
Carolina 24, Chicago 10
Dallas 34, Detroit 10
Jacksonville 24, Tennessee 17
Cleveland 20, Miami 14
New England 34, New Orleans 16
Washington 21, Oakland 10
N.Y. Giants 31, Philadelphia 17
Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 13
Tampa Bay 20, Atlanta 14
Seattle 28, San Francisco 7
San Diego 31, Buffalo 17
Indianapolis 35, Cincinnati 21
Denver 31, N.Y. Jets 6
Houston 20, Kansas City 7
Green Bay 27, Minnesota 14

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Week Ten

From the department of corrections: it was previously reported that in Week 7, the Inner Columnist was 7-7. In fact, he was 8-6. The Inner Columnist apologizes for the error, although he doubts anyone was actually offended. His agent will now speak and make him look like an even bigger idiot. Mr. Rosenhaus, the floor is yours.

In Week 9, for the second consecutive week, the Inner Columnist was 11-3. This raises his overall mark to 78-52, which is a cool .600 in the percentage column. No reasonable explanation for this behavior can be offered. San Diego's 31 points, Green Bay's 10, and Washington's 17 made for an 0-11-3 week in the final-score predictions, bringing the overall tally to 1-116-13. And in the Eliminator, the Inner Columnist went to 6-3 by virtue of the Giants' win over San Francisco. The Inner Columnist has now picked against San Francisco on three occasions. The 49ers have lost all three games by a combined score of 104-26.

This week, however, the Inner Columnist will leave the 49ers alone - primarily because they face an NFC North opponent and might actually pull one out. Instead, the Inner Columnist selects Carolina, who face the hapless Jets.

(Just wondering - when General H.H. Arnold retired, did the USAF then consist of Hapless jets?)

And now the rest of the picks:

Arizona 20, Detroit 10
Jacksonville 24, Baltimore 7
Indianapolis 28, Houston 6
Kansas City 24, Buffalo 17
N.Y. Giants 27, Minnesota 10
Miami 24, New England 21
Chicago 13, San Francisco 9
Denver 28, Oakland 21
Carolina 38, N.Y. Jets 10
Atlanta 34, Green Bay 17
Seattle 27, St. Louis 21
Washington 17, Tampa Bay 7
Pittsburgh 20, Cleveland 10
Dallas 23, Philadelphia 20

Monday, November 07, 2005

Goodbye to All That (Facial Hair)

Today I shaved.

You may not find that remarkable. Many, perhaps most, men shave. And Monday is a popular day for it, it being the first day of the work week, and considering that many men indulge in the luxury of not shaving on the weekend.

But when you haven't shaved in over a year, it takes on more significance.

It was a goatee I had, and I'd had it more than a year. I'd grown one before, once, but it fared poorly and lasted but a short time. But the itch was there. The itch to grow a goatee. And to do it right.

On one forgotten day, I needed to shave. Only I didn't feel like it. I've never liked it, shaving, and it's not something I ever had much of an example in. My father, you see, has had a full beard for as long as I can remember. (You can find it at the National Beard Registry. I am not making this up. He even bought a T-shirt.) When I came of a certain age, I was bought an electric shaver, and have used electrics ever since. To this day, shaving cream remains a mystery to me.

So I didn't shave. And as I said, the itch was there. But it passed.

Eventually I realized that the full beard just wasn't working for me. What to do?

Why not try the goatee again?

For someone who got into this facial hair business as a way to avoid shaving, I sure picked the wrong way to go about it.

Goatees are more work than shaving. They have to be trimmed. And shaped. And kept neat. And you have to shave three-quarters of your face anyway.

And yet for some reason, I persisted with the goatee for more than a year.

Why did I do it? To do something different. As an experiment. To see what it looked like. For the heck of it.

Fundamentally, though, I ended up taking on more work in an effort to be lazy.

Now that's my definition of insanity.

So today I shaved. It was the work of a few minutes to cut it off. And as I looked back at my face, I noticed something strange.

My face.

It's not what you think. I am, I think, fairly normal in my appearance. No, what I mean is that I hardly recognized myself. After a year bearded, I look strange without it. I feel strange, too. See, I was prone to fidget with my beard. Stroke my chin. Look thoughtful. (Or like an evil professor, according to someone who was not being helpful. You know who you are.) Now I go to my chin and there's nothing to play with. Very strange.

I'll get used to it, I'm sure. And although the urge is to grow it back, quickly, before anyone notices it's gone, I'm going to resist. Goateed is out. Clean is in.

Why, I might even buy some shaving cream.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Week Nine

The Inner Columnist has had a good week.

Going 8-0 in the early games Sunday was fun. Even if he only broke even over the late games and night games, that's still 11-3 for the weekend, the best of the year, and it runs the overall record to 66-50. In the final score department, this week saw a paltry 0-13-1 mark, Green Bay's 14 points the only bright spot - though not particularly bright for Green Bay. That runs the overall record to 1-105-10. And Pittsburgh managed to eke out a win over Baltimore, lifting the Challenge record to 5-3.

This week's picks:

Atlanta 20, Miami 13
Carolina 37, Tampa Bay 13
Cincinnati 24, Baltimore 13
Minnesota 23, Detroit 17
Jacksonville 24, Houston 10
Oakland 24, Kansas City 20
San Diego 31, N.Y. Jets 17
Tennessee 20, Cleveland 10
Chicago 16, New Orleans 7
N.Y. Giants 38, San Francisco 13
Seattle 28, Arizona 14
Pittsburgh 27, Green Bay 10
Washington 17, Philadelphia 14
New England 24, Indianapolis 21

Eliminator Challenge: New York Football Giants.

(As a side note, this is the third time the Inner Columnist has picked the team playing against San Francisco. The 49ers lost both of the previous contests, against Indianapolis and Washington, by a combined score of 80-20. How the mighty have fallen!)

(On another side note, one of these days I'm going blog about something other than football. Really. But this isn't that day.)