Somewhere in the middle of every season, one solid-to-mediocre team in each conference catches fire and goes 7-2 or 8-1 against the spread down the stretch. This year's candidates:
New England (4-4): Easy sked the rest of the way, terrible division
but do they have anything left in the tank? And is it possible to compete without any competent defensive backs? We're about to find out.
Jacksonville (5-3): Fairly easy sked -- two against the Titans and one against the Browns, Texans, Ravens and Cards. Plus, this is like the 15th straight season where they've dealt with Fred Taylor's on-again, off-again status -- they're used to it by now; it's like Paris Hilton's friends finding out that she's dating another Greek shipping heir.
(Which reminds me, how many Greek shipping heirs are there? Can they release the pictures and profiles of these guys in some sort of yearbook so we could get an exact number? Couldn't someone turn this into a Web site? What about Topps releasing Greek shipping heir trading cards?)
NY Giants (6-2): Already on a roll (won three straight, covered two), their schedule isn't too bad, and this whole "Let's do it for Wellington Mara" thing looks like it could have some legs.
Minnesota (3-5): Love
exciting and new
we're expecting yoooooooouuuuuu
the Love Boat! (Da-da DUH!) Soon we'll be making another run
(Da-da-da DUH!) The Love Boat! (Da-da duh!) Promises something for everyone!
(Note: Even with the obvious Culpepper/Ewing Theory potential, I don't think they're making the playoffs. I just felt like planting the theme from "The Love Boat" in your head for the rest of the day.)
St. Louis (4-4): Quietly, the Rams won their last two and have an easy sked the rest of the way. Plus, I think everyone's pulling for the interim coach with the NASCAR mustache whose name nobody can remember.
My picks: Jags and Giants.