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Friday, October 27, 2006
NFL school is in session

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Kids love Halloween because of the candy. Adults love Halloween because it's the best party of the year, the best chance to see a co-worker or fellow student dressed like a hooker, the best day to spend with your kids and, if that's not enough, the setting for the best horror movie of all time. And NFL fans love Halloween because it signifies the end of a glorified exhibition season. Come November, the real season begins.

Look at it this way ...

The NFL preseason is elementary school: it doesn't matter and you're just trying to escape without a serious injury. The first eight weeks of the season are high school: It's always good to do well; it's not a complete disaster to do badly unless you flunk out; and you don't want to peak as a person or team this early. The next nine weeks are college: You evolve into what you'll eventually be, and if you screw things up, you'll need a ton of outside help to salvage what happened. And the playoffs are the real world: At that point, you're out of chances and you are what you are.

Right now? We're wrapping up high school and headed to college. It's the perfect time to break out the monthly Power Poll.

THE BRUCE COSLET DIVISION

SPORTS GUY REWIND
Here's what you missed this week from the Sports Guy:

The Mag & an apology
Before he gets to his magazine column, Bill Simmons has a few thoughts -- and some explaining to do.

• Beat The Sports Guy
Week 8: Patriots at Vikings

32. Arizona (1-6)
Should we come up with a new Level of Losing for 'Zona after that Bears loss? Upon further review, that was a Guillotine/Stomach Punch Game crossed with the aftereffects of a nuclear holocaust; the Cards looked like shaken survivors against the Raiders last week. They might not recover until July. On the bright side, that game gave us the whole "They were what we thought they were!" joke. Always fun to break out in any social situation.

(Although not as much fun as Thursday night's sequence with Jeff Suppan and Scooter the Talking Baseball on Fox. Is there a way to wager that Suppan will get arrested for exposing himself in an X-rated theater within the next five years?)

31. Oakland (1-6)
Not only has the defense looked good for two weeks (thanks to defensive coordinator Joe Eszterhas), but Randy Moss was getting open repeatedly against Denver and Arizona, to the point that reporters were searching the locker room for a Juvenation Machine after the game. So it's not a complete disaster. Throw in a coach who's awake and the Raiders would be right back in that thing.

30. Miami (1-6)
The Dolphins are 0-7 against the spread. They've lost to a 2-4 team and three 1-5 teams. And Drew Brees has emerged as an MVP candidate in New Orleans. Yup, it's safe to say that Culpepper-over-Brees has officially passed Williams-over-Bush as the single-worst NFL decision of 2006. Dan Marino summed it up nicely on "Inside the NFL" last week: "[They] looked at Daunte Culpepper and he has a knee, and he has a problem with that, it's a health issue, and they looked at Drew Brees, he's a proven quarterback and he's done well, but he has a shoulder."

(Note to Al Michaels: You've done it. You've created a monster. I hope you're happy. Pretty soon, we'll be seeing "Grey's Anatomy" doctors looking over X-rays and saying, "Well, it looks like he definitely has a leg, there's no question ...")

29. Cleveland (1-5)
The Maurice Carthon fiasco raises the annual question, "When teams are hiring offensive and defensive coordinators, why wouldn't they have them call plays in video games to get a feel for their play calling?" Seriously, what would be more valuable, hearing them B.S. about the philosophies for an hour, or seeing them call plays in a simulated game at the all-Madden level? Same goes for head coaches: How could you get a feel for a coach until you've played poker and blackjack with him?

28. Detroit (1-6)
You know Mike Martz is thinking, "Hey, we have the third-ranked offense and the 30th-ranked defense right now. ... This isn't MY fault." Fortunately for the Lions, nobody in Detroit even knows there's a football season happening right now.

(Quick note to the Tigers: Thanks for getting my back after six months of Quadruple-A jokes about the National League. The six errors, the sloppy play and the refusal to work a count really helped my cause. Thanks again, fellas.)

Frank Gore
Frank, a former NFL Merit Scholar, is living in his parents' basement.
27. San Fran (2-4)
Remember when I wrote that the Frank Gore Era had reached the point where "you feel the need to brag if you picked him for a fantasy team ... it's like having a son get a scholarship to Harvard or something?" Five weeks later, it's like Frank failed out of Harvard, started taking night classes at Bunker Hill Community College and fell for a 34-year-old waitress with two kids. Bad times for the Frank Gore Era.

26. Buffalo (2-5)
Dozens of readers e-mailed last week to make the same point: Why call J.P. Losman "J-Lo" when you can call him "J-Loss?" Done and done.

Speaking of Bills fans, Adam from Buffalo weighed in on my Leinart column this week: "I agree that J.P. Losman is not the answer, but I cannot support your claim that we should have drafted Leinart. Do you honestly believe Leinart would have been happy in BUFFALO??? I love Buffalo, but I was born here and it takes a certain kind of person to appreciate it. Leinart is way too Hollywood for this city and it wouldn't have been long before he was fed up with it or Buffalonians were fed up with him."

(That's a pretty good point. Remember, O.J. spent nine years in Buffalo ... and look how that turned out. Let's just move on.)

FIRED UP FOR 2007

25. Houston (2-4)
The Texans lost four games by a combined 77 points, beat the Dolphins by two and beat the Jags by 28. In other words, they were what we thought they were! OK! They suck and they're completely unpredictable! All right? OK! THEY WERE WHAT WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!!!!!

24. Tennessee (1-5)
Strange season for the Titans: An 0-4 start lowlighted by two 30-point shellackings and the Haynesworth stomp, quickly followed by Travis Henry's roto resurgence, a near-upset in Indy and a Redskins upset that killed 90 percent of the suicide pool entries in this country. I don't know what to make of these guys. So let's take a question from Kelly in Hoboken, N.J.:

"Last year you had a list of suggestions for female Halloween costumes (click on this SG vault and scroll down to the latter third of the column), including a Tara Reid costume which made me laugh out loud. Not sure if anyone pointed this out to you yet, but this year there is actually a store-made Tara Reid costume available, which means there will be tons of drunken frat boys dressed as Tara this Halloween. What good suggestions do you have for the ladies this year?"

First of all, I'm delighted that there will be hundreds of Tara Reids running around on Halloween. This could be the event that causes Carson Daly to finally drop below the 170-pound mark and start looking like Christian Bale in "The Machinist." My four costume ideas for this year:

Lindsay Lohan
If you come dressed like this, the Lindsay costume is sure to score big points.
No. 1: Lindsay Lohan
Wear a red wig and look completely strung out for about 30 minutes. Then go to the bathroom, fix your makeup, stick a pair of grapefruits in your bra and come back out looking like a million bucks. Thirty minutes later, go back in the bathroom, mess your makeup up and take the grapefruits out. And just keep rotating the two looks all night and confusing the hell out of every guy there.

No. 2: A female figure skater and her coach
You need a figure skating outfit, ice skates and a male friend willing to act as effeminate as possible for the entire night. Plus, this is one of those secretly slutty columns that will look better as the night goes on.

No. 3: Carrie covered in pig blood on her prom night
My personal favorite. Buy a hideous prom dress and a red wig, then dump a couple of quarts of cranberry juice all over yourself and walk around with a crazy look on your face like you're Ron Artest after the Palace melee. There will be at least one guy at the party who gets turned on by crazy chicks and will want to hook up with you. You can't lose.

No. 4: Suzy Kolber and Joe Namath
Just a perky outfit, a short wig and a microphone for the girl and a Jets jersey and fake nose for the guy and you're ready to go. Not only can the guy playing Namath drink all night without hurting his impersonation, but other guys will step in asking, "I just want to kiss you, I just want to kiss you." Any costume that leads to multiple guys asking to kiss you has to be a winner.

All right, back to the column.

23. Green Bay (2-4)
Decent chance they could be 4-4 in two weeks, followed by the inevitable barrage of "Don't throw dirt on Brett Favre yet!" stories, followed by Favre blowing a potential upset in Minnesota, followed by blowout losses to the Pats and Seahawks, followed by the inevitable barrage of "Should Favre hang it up?" stories and Steve Mariucci reminding us on the NFL Network that he once coached Favre and Brett Favre is a competitor. Wake me up when it's over.

22. Washington (2-5)
God, what a mess we have in Washington right now. (Dramatic pause.) And the football team isn't doing well, either.

(Thank you, thank you, you guys have been great! Coming up next on Tourgasm ... give it up for Mr. Robert Kelly!)

JUST A HINT OF FRISKINESS

21. Tampa Bay (2-4)
I have to admit, I was a little more excited about these guys before remembering that they're a bogus roughing-the-passer call and a 62-yard field goal away from being 0-6.

20. Kansas City (3-3)
In case you're scoring at home, we just counted down TWELVE crappy teams in a 32-team league ... and we haven't even gotten to the teams starting Tony Romo, Chaz Batch, Damon Huard and Kyle Boller yet. You have to love the era of Perpetual Putridity. By the way, has there ever been a season when Arrowhead wasn't worth 3-4 extra wins? Next time I pick a rookie QB to cover a spread there, you have permission to sign me up to various bestiality Web sites.

LINGERING LIKE A STALE FART

19. Dallas (3-3)
Kris from Hoboken writes, "WOW! Bill Parcells looks like he's given up with everything (T.O., coaching, dieting, etc.). He looks like he doesn't care anymore. Even though I loved him when he coached my Giants, I think its time to have the Bill Parcells face. It's the face of every parent who's pleaded, kept calm, yelled and is now finally on their last wits. He just looks exhausted. I don't see him coming back next year, and wouldn't be surprised if he just left practice one day, never to return."

Bill Parcells
Looks like this Tuna is loaded with trans fats.
Totally agree. Although I'll never understand why he didn't just start Romo for that Houston game two weeks ago. Instead, he brought him into a Monday night game and Romo ended up looking like someone who won a contest and got called down from the stands. The Tuna was 99 percent cooked on Monday night, then Romo's unfathomable double-clutch screen pass to two Giants was like a "Friday the 13th" ending when the last girl standing finally swings a machete into Jason's neck. The lesson, as always: It's never a good idea to come back to coaching if your only reason is, "I need money, I'm getting soaked in my divorce."

(Meanwhile, I enjoyed this e-mail from Dan in Indianapolis: "Did you see the blank expression on Aikman's face after Bledsoe got sacked for a safety? He looked like my grandfather while watching 'Schindler's List.' " Good to see the Aikman Face still going strong. I have to say, I'm enjoying this Cowboys season.)

18. Pittsburgh (2-4)
The way Ben Roethlisberger's year is going, I keep waiting for him to show up as this week's celebrity cameo on "Studio 60."

17. Jacksonville (3-3)
I've mentioned my addiction to statspass.com (subscription only) numerous times. It's the ultimate site for people like me who don't mind spending 20 minutes looking for the perfect stat to describe how Byron Leftwich is killing the Jags this year. See, they assembled this cool offense with big receivers who love to go deep, as well as a shifty rookie running back who can catch balls out of the backfield, only they don't have a QB who can make the right throws.

Anyway, here's the stat: Of passes that traveled 21 yards or more in the air, Leftwich is 2-for-15 for 65 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs and a QB rating of 5.6 (ranking 42nd in the league, one spot ahead of Vince Young for last place). To put this in perspective, McNabb is 11-for-33 (4 TDs), Eli Manning is 13-for-26 (6 TDs), and even J.P. Losman is 7-for-25 with a TD. And this isn't a one-year problem, either. In 2005, Leftwich's QB rating for this category ranked 40th (17 for 53, 3 TDs and 4 INTs). So basically, the Jags can't throw deep ... even though they have a team that's built to throw deep. That's a problem.

(Paging Dr. David Garrard. ... Dr. David Garrard, please report to the emergency room. ... )

ALLIGATOR BLOOD

16. N.Y. Jets (4-3)
Six easy games left on their schedule: Home against Oakland, Buffalo and Houston, away for Cleveland, Green Bay and Miami. That's right, we could be looking at the worst 10-win team in the history of the National Football League! I'm counting down the days until we can wager against them in Round 1. No, seriously.

FATALLY FLAWED

15. Atlanta (4-2)
If you, me and eight friends held a fantasy draft to eliminate the most annoying, beaten-to-death stories in sports that need to be vanquished once and for all, Barry Bonds would be the first pick, then Barbaro and T.O., then steroids in baseball, then Favre's retirement, then any Mike Tyson or Evander Holyfield comeback, then the WNBA ... and you know what? Picking eighth, I'm wiping out the whole "Will Mike Vick ever become a great QB?" debate. It's not happening. He's 26 years old and going in the wrong direction. We need to admit this and move on. I'm sorry.

14. Baltimore (4-2)
I still say they're going 8-8. On an unrelated note, here's my favorite commercial of the season through eight weeks: The one where the SUV drives off a pier, goes 100 feet under water and turns into a sub. ... And they have the gall to run one of those "DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME" tags at the beginning, which I never noticed until our friend Ace pointed it out last weekend. "Wait, so I shouldn't drive my SUV off a pier so it can turn into a sub? Those are your explicit instructions?"

13. Cincinnati (4-2)
Now Carson Palmer is saying that he's "90 percent there" with his knee. Wait, I thought he was a 100 percent heading into the season? Isn't that what they told us? I'm feeling a class-action suit coming from fantasy owners who drafted him in the top four rounds. By the way, if Marvin Lewis had to do it over again, I'm guessing he'd rethink the whole "talent over character" strategy. That tactic only works in the porn industry.

THE GOOD BAD TEAM

Marc Bulger
All St. Louis hospitals were on alert after the Rams Bandwagon accident.
12. St. Louis (4-2)
Some sad news: Josh Brown's game-winning, 54-yard field goal two Sundays ago caused the Rams Bandwagon to roll over and flip about 78 times. Don't worry, everyone's OK. They still have five relatively easy games left (at Oakland, home for K.C., San Fran, Zona and Washington) as well as a road game against Seneca Wallace in three weeks. We're still on pace for 10 wins. Everything's cool.

(On an unrelated note, I thoroughly enjoyed this e-mail from George in Chicago: "What is your problem with the 'This is Our Country' Chevy truck ads? Whoever thought that Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, the Vietnam War, Watergate, western wildfires, Hurricane Katrina, and 9/11 should be bunched together to sell a truck is a genius! When Chevy opens a new ad campaign for the Malibu, they should use the same song with a montage of the AIDS crisis, the Rodney King beating, Kurt Cobain's suicide, the O.J. trial, the Oklahoma City bombing, the Columbine massacre, and the Abu Ghraib prison photos. You're telling me you wouldn't want to buy a Malibu after seeing that?")

THE ENIGMAS

11. Carolina (4-3)
Look at this upcoming stretch: Home for Romo and Dallas; bye week; home for Gradkowski and the Bucs; home for the Rams. In other words, no traveling for a solid month. Something tells me the Panthers will be higher in next month's Power Poll. Of course, you never know with Carolina -- they always seem to make things interesting.

Which reminds me, a seemingly deranged Panthers fan named Cliff sent me an e-mail complaining about Carolina's offense because "We have the best receiver tandem in football and we don't throw enough," which made me laugh until I started thinking about it ... and ... um ... they actually DO have the best WR tandem in football. Who's more reliable than Steve Smith and Keyshawn? They're ranked third and 12th in receiving yards right now even though Smith missed two games ... and yet, they're only throwing for 209 yards per game (16th in the league). Shouldn't they be airing it out? I'm with Cliff.

10. Seattle (4-2)
Back when Shaq was a dominant fantasy center and about 275 pounds lighter, nobody ever drafted a backup for him because the thinking was always, "Well, if Shaq goes down, I'm not winning, anyway." So Seattle decides to employ this strategy with Matt Hasselbeck in real life ... and now, Seneca Wallace is about to single-handedly kill its playoff hopes. We've reached the point of the Seahawks season where every 'Hawks fan is instinctively reaching down to press the RESET button.

9. Philly (4-3)
How aren't the Eagles one of the top five teams in the league? How? And can you name a more depressing fan base in sports right now? Check out some of these e-mails after Sunday's mortifying last-second loss to the Bucs, in which they outgained Tampa 978 yards to 128:

On what level of losing does an "opposing kicker hitting a 62-yarder to win when he hasn't kicked one longer than 30 yards all year" game fall in the levels of losing? That's has to be a "swift kick to the genitals" game.
--Jacob, Philadelphia

Don't think I wasn't shocked when Bryant hit that 62-yarder. This is what happens in this town. We invent new ways to lose. I think I'm actually beginning to hate sports.
--Harris, Philly

Matt Bryant
Horrific. Gut-wrenching. Epic. Or as Philly fans call it -- Sunday.
It's time to rename this town Stomach-Punch City, U.S.A. What's the opposite of a Team of Destiny?
--Eric Raskin

Seriously, what did we as Philly fans do to deserve this?????
--Rob, Toms River, N.J.

I have just been informed Tampa Bay's kicker was previously cut by the 49ers. I can't get drunk enough to numb this feeling.
--Stephanie G., Atlanta

After the Eagles took a 21-20 lead over Tampa, I still knew they'd lose. Even with :30 left. Why? Because Andy Reid can't hold a clipboard to save his life, Donovan McNabb's lost his MVP feeling and they just ... I don't know, it's a Philly thing.
--Tim Malcolm, Philadelphia

We really will never win another championship. I'm completely convinced now. I've never seen a Philly championship in my lifetime and never will.
--Dan S., Philadelphia

We can't even lose on the longest FG in NFL history. No, just the second longest.
--Andrew, Haddon Heights, N.J.

I am taking an official leave of absence from caring about Philadelphia sports until next September.
--Ken, Philadelphia

I hate my life as a Philly sports fan. I think I'm gonna go throw up all over the 45-yard line.
--Adam, Philadelphia

God hates Philadelphia.
--Justin C., Philadelphia

(Question: Can't the President declare a local emergency and have Red Cross send Philly 10,000 cases of beer and Prozac?)

NFL By The Numbers
Through seven weeks, against the spread:

Favorites vs. spread: 41-54-5
Home teams vs. spread: 54-41-5
Road favorites: 12-23-3
Dogs winning outright: 36 of 54

THE ADAM SANDLER TEAM

8. Minnesota (4-2)
You know how Sandler's movies consistently make more money than anyone else in Hollywood, but if somebody argued in a room full of people that Sandler was the biggest movie star alive, everyone would think that person was crazy? Well, the Vikings are a little like that. They hang around, don't make mistakes, force 1-2 dumb turnovers a game and control the football with a superior offensive line (their one true strength). And if that's not enough, their Ewing Theory potential with Culpepper and Moss is off the charts. But if somebody claimed they had a chance to win the Super Bowl, everyone would pull the "You're crazy!" routine. Let's see what happens on Monday night against the Pats. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.

LOOMING AND LURKING

7. San Diego (4-2)
Their best possible all-around game is better than anyone else's best possible all-around game. And I'm going to keep preaching this point for the next four months, even in mid-February, well after they've been eliminated in Round 1 because Schottenheimer coached another playoff game with both hands wrapped around his neck.

While we're here, Scott from Columbus, Ohio, sent the following question along: "You have the chance to become the VP of Common Sense for an NFL team. Which team would you pick, and what would be the ONE AND ONLY ONE recommendation for that team would you make that would have the biggest and most immediate positive impact on its 2006 season?"

Good question. I would tell the Chargers to play Turner and Tomlinson at the same time, exactly like how New Orleans uses McAllister and Bush. As Cris Collinsworth pointed out last week, nobody can stop the Saints' offense because defenses constantly worry about Bush swinging to either side, so they can't blitz Brees or can't stack the line. Having Bush out there is almost like dousing the other team with a fish paralyzer. Well, Turner is just as good as McAllister, and LDT is a better all-around back than Bush (and can even throw the ball). So why wouldn't the Saints' ploy work even better with them? I don't get it.

6. N.Y. Giants (4-2)
They made the biggest leap from last month's Power Poll (11 spots). And you know what else? I haven't vacillated on an athlete like Eli Manning in some time. He's like the Kirsten Dunst of quarterbacks -- one second he looks fantastic, the next second he looks decidedly unfantastic, and the pendulum just keeps swinging back and forth at warp speed until you feel like your head's about to explode. On the bright side, at least it looks like Eli's seen the inside of a shower in the last three months.

(By the way, in case you haven't heard, Tiki Barber has been plugging away for 10 years, and even though he has 2-3 solid years left in him, he's quitting this winter to pursue other ventures. Um, Tiki? That was gonna be my move! You stole my idea! I'm outraged! Now I'm going to look like a copycat if it happens. Great.)

5. Denver (5-1)
I can't put them any higher when Shanahan won't give Plummer a vote of confidence. I just can't. Speaking of Denver, is anyone else fired up for the "Real World: Denver?" It's about time they featured a city that revolves around rich preppie kids who went to school in Colorado to ski and snowboard, smoke pot, play the guitar, get back at their parents and hopefully graduate with a 2.1. I always liked these kids. Even if you ran into them nine years later and found out they were working as a bus boy and trying to cut down their first novel from 1,200 pages to 950.

AMERICA'S TEAM

4. New Orleans (5-1)
An inspiration to every crappy NFL team: One smart free agent signing (Brees), one smart coaching hire (Sean Payton), one blue-chip pick (Bush) and one lucky late-round pick (Colston) and suddenly you're a playoff team. This is an amazingly simple sport sometimes.

(Hold on, give the Texans fans a second. They're a little slow in Houston because of the humidity.)

Drew Brees
WANTED: Director of Common Sense. Please contact Bob McNair.
(One more second...)

(One more...)

(One more...)

Hey, can you hear the swearing coming from the Lone Star State? That's the sound of the entire Texans fan base realizing that their team could have picked Bush, hired Payton as their new coach and dumped David Carr to sign Brees. Ouch.

THE CONTENDERS

3. New England (5-1)
Nothing has changed: Belichick knew he had the AFC East locked up in June, so he's using the September-to-November stretch to inject the team with some younger blood and see what he has. With that said, the Pats desperately miss two departed players: Branch (who hasn't been adequately replaced as a reliable third-down target) and Vinatieri (for obvious reasons). Now they're carrying an extra $10 million of cap room into the playoffs and banking on two rookies (Chad Jackson and Stephen Gostkowski) to fill the void of two valuable veterans. It makes no sense. As Frank K. from Orlando writes, it's "the sports equivalent of having unprotected sex with a girl when you have a condom in your pocket." I'd be much more aggravated about this if we didn't win three Super Bowls in four years. I'll shut up now.

2. Indianapolis (6-0)
Is "Déjà Vu" an upcoming Denzel Washington movie or the title of the 2006 Colts team video? I feel like I've been here before: I'm sure they'll win 13-14 games, and I'm sure somebody will beat them in January. More importantly, Manning is branching out as an actor after the roaring success of the ad where he puts on the Falcon and the Snowman wig and mustache. According to Joe Sheehan of the Baseball Prospectus, Manning is secretly moonlighting on the TV show "Jericho" under the stage name, "Kenneth."

The Sports Gal Speaks
Me and two friends dressed up like "Deal or No Deal" models for a Halloween party last weekend. We bought silver suitcases and wore black dresses and wigs, although we didn't go super-slutty or anything. Girls always used to use Halloween as an excuse to dress like total sluts. Now you don't need an excuse because it's OK to dress like a slut in any situation. If you plan on dressing like a cat or a nurse this weekend, or if you plan on wearing a push-up bra with a shirt unbuttoned to your navel, just head to a club after the party and nobody will realize you're wearing a costume.

As for Bill, he was supposed to go as Howie Mandel, but his huge head couldn't fit into the bald cap we bought. So he wore a cowboy hat and cowboy shirt and went as a country-western singer. Total cop-out costume! He didn't even care that it didn't look like he cared. The year we started dating, Bill took me to Halloween H20 dressed up like Michael Myers and completely embarrassed me and freaked out everyone else in the theater, but I kind of liked that about him. Now he won't even spend five minutes thinking up a Halloween costume even though he knows I love Halloween. I don't get him sometimes.

So we went to the party and half the people put thought into their costumes, while the other half put their costumes together in 90 seconds like Bill did. There were some good ones but nothing really stood out. That got me thinking about my favorite Halloween costume: A few years ago, my friend Allie was a one-night stand. She wore a black cocktail dress that was wrinkled and had some stains on it. She had a ripped stocking, broken heel, smudged lipstick and messed-up hair like she just rolled out of someone else's bed. The whole night she paraded around with things falling out of her purse like she was in the middle of a walk of shame. It sounded like the funniest thing ever. This week I told Bill about Allie's costume and made the mistake of asking what his favorite Halloween costume was. He said it was the time his friend Geoff dressed as a poop. I guarantee that my second husband will appreciate Halloween.

Here are my picks for Week 8:

Titans -3; Jaguars +7; Bengals -3.5; Giants -9; 49ers +16; Packers -4; Seahawks +6; Saints -2; Chargers -9.5; Steelers -9; Jets +1.5; Denver +3; Cowboys +5.5; Pats -2

Last week: 4-9
Season: 49-46-5

(You know what? I'm just excited that I finally know someone who watches "Jericho.")

1. Chicago (6-0)
Look, I don't trust Rex Grossman to win a big game on the road, either. He could crap his pants during their next Monday night game and I wouldn't be surprised. That's why I'm leaning toward the Bears being the "Peaked Too Early" Team. For now, we're sticking them here because I can't think of anyone else who deserves to be first.

(The 2006 NFL season ... feel the excitement!)

And on that note, the Week 8 quick picks ...

(HOME TEAMS IN CAPS)

TITANS (-3) over Texans
Too much Travis Henry.

EAGLES (-7) over Jaguars
Too much urgency.

BENGALS (-3.5) over Falcons
Too much trash talking.

Buccaneers (+9) over GIANTS
Too banged up.

BEARS (-16) over 49ers
Too much defense.

Cardinals (+4) over PACKERS
Too much putridity.

CHIEFS (-6) over Seahawks
Too much Arrowhead.

SAINTS (-2) over Ravens
Too much emotion.

Rams (+9.5) over CHARGERS
The upset special: Rams 27, Bolts 21.

Steelers (-9) over RAIDERS
Too much pride.

BROWNS (-1.5) over Jets
Too easy on paper.

Colts (+3) over BRONCOS
Too much offense.

Cowboys (+5.5) over PANTHERS
Too inconsistent at home.

VIKINGS (+2) over Patriots
Too damned loud.

Last week: 6-7
Season: 46-49-5

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His new book "Now I Can Die In Peace" is available on Amazon.com and in bookstores everywhere.