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Friday, November 21, 2003

Pro Picks, Week 12: Of Coaches and Cancers

Gee, ESPN really tried to play up the idea that Parcells and Belichick hated one another during last Sunday night's telecast of Partiots-Cowboys. They took a video clip of a few seconds of warmups in which they made it appear that the coaches were standing somewhat close and refusing to acknowledge each other's presence. They even focused in and out on each man in turn, giving the clip a sinister feel to it. Nice work, ESPN!

They must have felt pretty dumb when the two embraced at mid-field at game's end. ESPN had its audience expecting them to start throwing punches at that point.

Another coach who I think deserves more attention regarding last week rather than less is Marvin Lewis. If you caught Inside the NFL on HBO last night you saw the sideline footage of Lewis getting in his players' faces and encouraging them as Cincinnati handed Kansas City its first loss (I knew once I declared the Chiefs invincible they would be losing soon). Then in the locker room after the win, Lewis got choked up talking to his players about all the franchise had been through, especially owner Mike Brown, who has been roundly mocked for years now by the press.

One of the writers who has been harsh on Cincy is Gregg Easterbrook, who doesn't have a TMQ column posted on Football Outsiders this week, by the way. Maybe it's located somewhere else on the web I've yet to find. In any case, Easterbrook and about 1,001 other scribes will have to eat some serious crow if the Bengals are in the playoffs, and they look as likely as anyone to take the AFC North.

Finally, this week we witnessed the end of the Keyshawn Johnson era in Tampa Bay when he was deactivated for the rest of the season. This reminds me distinctly of Terry Glenn, except that Glenn was faking injuries for longer than they really existed. Both guys are talented receivers who weren't about helping the team win and ended up being shipped out. Keyshawn apparently keeps demanding the ball even though he's not the game-breaking receiver he thinks he is. This incident should come as no surprise after Johnson referred to Wayne Chrebet as a "mascot" and "loser" when they were teammates on the Jets and Chrebet was actually having a better year than he was.

The day of the announcement, Keyshawn was on SportsCenter doing with an interview with Dan Patrick, smiling about how he was moving on and claiming he had no idea why the Bucs didn't want him. The guy just doesn't get it. As the Chad Johnson guarantee demonstrated once again last week, wide receivers are the most flamboyant and volatile players in the league. But if you do things as disruptive as what Keyshawn the cancer did, you'd better be producing at the level of a Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, which Johnson is not.

As always the following picks are solely for recreational purposes.

San Francisco at Green Bay

You know, if Najeh Davenport keeps running like he did last week at Tampa, people might one day forget about the hamper incident (remember that?).

Pick: Packers

Carolina at Dallas

This is the only game on the schedule this week that involves two teams with records over .500. You've been warned. Naturally, it won't be seen on Boston TV.

Pick: Panthers

Pittsburgh at Cleveland

The William Green story keeps becoming more strange by the day. This week the Browns RB, already suspended for violating league drug policy, was stabbed by his fiancee. She denies the charges. This really reflects well on Green's alma mater, BC, of course, where he was suspended twice for smoking pot during his three years of playing. The Browns are also now sporting an offense without Green, the benched Tim Couch and the waived Kevin Johnson. Just like the front office was planning all along, right?

Pick: Browns

Washington at Miami

As predicted in this space last week, Miami-Baltimore was a horrible display of "offense." This could be a similar Sunday night debacle if the banged-up Patrick Ramsey can't go for the Redskins and Tim Hasselbeck, who has been with the team for about a month, starts in his place. The Washington defense also isn't good enough to totally shut down Miami, right? Remember when Miami used to be a solid pick at home, before they had to go to overtime to prevent losing a fourth home game in mid-November?

Pick: Dolphins

Oakland at Kansas City

OK, so the Chiefs aren't indestructible after all, and the Raiders managed a win last week. Still, Oakland barely won a game in which Minnesota committed about 75 turnovers, plus Kansas City is back home. This is the CBS 4:15 game in Boston and much of the country.

Pick: Chiefs

Other Games

Minnesota over Detroit, NY Jets over Jacksonville, Philadelphia over New Orleans, Seattle over Baltimore, New England over Houston, Indianapolis over Buffalo, Denver over Chicago, St. Louis over Arizona, Cincinnati over San Diego, Tennessee over Atlanta, Tampa Bay over NY Giants

Last Week: 11-5 (Maybe picking San Diego should count as two losses--that was a terrible choice. Sorry, Flutie fans.)
Season Record: 97-63