Monday, October 31, 2005

From Beast to Least in the East

Great Theismann's Mousse, that was a hard game to stomach. 24 hours later, the questions still remain: What happened to Gibbs' great motivational tactics? Were they all wasted hyping up the rookie-led 49ers? Did former Redskins linebacker Antonio Pierce really tip off every offensive play for New York? Did Washington collectively decide to mail in their performance out of respect for Wellington Mara? Would a healthy Cornelius Griffin have made a difference? Will Portis still think it's cute to play dress-up for the media after a 9-yard game?

As I mentioned over at Football Outsiders, you know you're a Redskins die-hard fan when your team manages to collapse in such a brilliantly craptacular way--when it really counts--and yet you come back to cheer them on again seven days later.

My modus operandi this season has been to record the Redskins' 1PM games on my Comcastic DVR and catch up on the action a few hours later. Now usually I'm pretty good about not watching any 4PM games and accidentally seeing the early game's final score. In fact, I pride myself on the maturity and discipline it takes to avoid the Internet, sports radio, and conversations with friends
(which usually involves putting fingers in my ears and humming "Battle Hymn of the Republic") to preserve the games' suspense.

After two quarters and one play of gut-wrenchingly pitiful play, I had had enough. When Ladell Betts fumbled the second-half opening kickoff, I knew that this day would get no better, and for mental stability I should abandon all hope of a comeback. I stopped the recording and switched to the Eagles/Broncos contest, which conveniently was wrapping up the halftime show. And there, in the top ticker-tape, was the final Redskins score:

At that moment I was torn between two responses: dumbfounded paralysis or banging my fists on the floor in teary torment, yelling "I've done all you wanted me to do! Why?!?" like John Locke over the "Lost" hatch.

Actually, I picked a third response, to which any modern football fan would likely revert: I watched the Eagles and Broncos game, hoping my fantasy players would come through for me. And yes, Jake Plummer and Terrell Owens had fantastic days, so there was some measure of joy on Sunday.

(Oddly enough, it is in this baffling loss that I've noticed a serious spike in hits here and at Hog Heaven. Maybe people love to see how Redskins fans tap-dance their way out of support for their team. I dunno. But I'm going down with a fight, even if I have to eat a
cold plate o' crow after announcing at CBS Sportsline that Mara's death wouldn't mean a win for New York.)

So what does this loss mean? Well, my buddy Tony the Shark--a devoted Cowchip fan--believes that it virtually locks in New York for the NFC East playoff spot. Sabado Gigante's final games, however, include only two near-guarantee wins, San Fran and Minnesota, plus one probable win at Oakland. That'd take Big Blue to a healthy 8 wins, two losses. But ah, they still face this Murderer's Row: Philly (twice), at Dallas, Kansas City, Washington at FedEx, and at Seattle. That could very easily be six more L's for New York.

Cowchip fans, likely soaking up the "Giants and Dallas are the class of the NFC East" bottom-kissing, should note that their final games include only *one* near-guarantee win, Detroit. St. Louis is their probably win, and the remaining contests are actually tougher than the Giants': at the Egos, Denver, at the Giants, Kansas City, at Washington, and at Carolina.

Philadelphia's final schedule looks like so: near-guarantee wins over the sloppy Packers and Cardinals, probable win against St. Louis. After that, it's Washington twice, Dallas, twice versus the Giants, and home for Seattle. Ouch.

And so it is, then, that every team in this competitive NFC East will be in contention for both a division crown and wild card spot in the final weeks of the year. My prediction is that the losses or wins to the St. Louis Rams, of all people, that will make the difference. You read it here first.

Oh yeah, lots of love to the good people at, who were kind enough to spread the word about Hog Heaven and the Redskins Review. The Review has been online for exactly one year and Hog Heaven for just under nine months, and it's nice to get a "well done!" from your readers.

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