Wednesday, November 26, 2003


Well, the Dolphins have my attention again. Not that I stopped following at any point during the season -- they just started to bore me. Brian Griese looked like the savior in his first start as a Dolphin against the Chargers a few weeks ago. Of course, the Chargers can do that to just about anyone. But, since that wildfire game that was played in Tempe instead of San Diego, Griese has proven that he lacks eyes in the back of his head or any kind of instinct for what's going on around him in the pocket. Also, the guy's not the great leader his father was plus he tends to throw a lot of interceptions. For those reasons and others, Jay Fiedler is the guy in Miami. The irony is, the Dolphins probably can't win a Super Bowl with him, but then again, they can't win without him. The Long Island Jew with Dumbo ears came in off the bench and ignited the Dolphin offense, rediscovering stud wideout Chris Chambers, which took some pressure off the not-so-good-at-run-blocking offensive line and allowed Ricky to run, Ricky, run. You know, it seems like the pieces are there for the Dolphins to put some points on the board. Ricky is a phenomenal back, Chambers has the potential to be a superstar receiver, and Randy McMichael is already an outstanding tight end. Yet the Dolphins rarely seem to control the line of scrimmage or make big plays when they need to against good teams. They did on Sunday night against the Redskins and the bastards gave me some hope that they can actually make the playoffs and maybe even win a round before bowing out to the better teams in the AFC.

The AFC playoff picture is, in fact, quite clear at the moment. KC will win the West, New England will win the East, one of Indy or Tennessee will win the South and the other is guaranteed one of the two Wild Card spots, and Baltimore and Cincy will battle it out for the North. The Dolphins should be the other Wild Card. Of course, they are the Dolphins and could still find a way to hand their playoff spot to the Ravens/Bengals loser or the undeserving Broncos. How could the Broncos lose to the Bears in Denver late in the season? Atrocious. Shameful.

The NFC playoff picture is slightly muddier, but not too messy. Carolina will win the South. Minnesota and Green Bay will fight to the finish in the North, with the winner moving on and the loser going home for the holidays. St. Louis looks to have the inside track to take the West, with Seattle earning a Wild Card. And Dallas or Philly will win the East while the other one takes the second Wild Card.

The AFC doesn't even have any longshots at this point. Faint hope remains in the NFC for the defending champion Buccaneers, the Niners, and the Saints. But the odds are slim and none, and slim is heading for the locker room with a high ankle sprain.

As for the Week 12 Picks, Piker has to take his hat off to the oddsmakers. Mid to late season NFL games are out of control and seemingly unpredictable, and yet these Vegas guys are setting spreads with pinpoint accuracy. 7 games this week had final scores within one point of the spread. 7 games! Piker went 3-3-1 in those games. Baltimore covered by a half point, Indy and Buffalo pushed, Carolina was a point short, Minnesota was a half point short after giving up a meaningless touchdown at the end, the Jets were a point short, and both Tennessee and Tampa Bay covered by a half point each. Only four games finished over a touchdown off the spread, and you can really tell the upsets by these numbers -- Cleveland failed to cover by ten points and Denver failed to cover by nineteen and a half points, while Philly covered by an extra seven and a half points and Kansas City failed to cover by eight points. I know this isn't news, but the oddsmakers' proficiency is what makes it so difficult to pick these games. I'm in awe.

WON: Baltimore, Green Bay, Houston, Philadelphia, Arizona, Tennessee, Tampa Bay

LOST: Cleveland, Carolina, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Miami

PUSHED: Indianapolis

So, Piker's weekly record was yet again sub-par and sub-.500 at 7-8-1. The season total sits precariously at 78-74-8. If the downward trend continues, Piker may soon have to start dipping into the grocery budget to continue the season-long experiment. But, hey, that's what Pikers do.

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