With the NFL schedule out there's a mad scramble to figure out just what games we want to see. Except not here there isn't. I'm more intrigued by what games to avoid, and I found a slew of them.
Interested? Neither am I. But let's get started, anyway, scratching these dates from our calendars. Ready. Set. Delete.
|Don't blame Jon Kitna if this one's a dog, at least not yet. (Getty Images)|
Indianapolis at Houston, Sept. 23: These two go together like Whitney and Bobby. The Colts won nine of the 10 games with Houston, though the Texans retained a pulse last December with a 27-24 breakthrough at home. Of course, those were the days when the Colts tackled like Brandon Inge hits -- which, lately, isn't very good. At least the Colts came around once the playoffs arrived. Now look for them to make up for that loss now that it's a new year; they're healthy; Peyton Manning is refreshed, and Houston has another piñata for a quarterback.
Buffalo at New England, Sept. 23: Two more teams that fit like the Cubs and the World Series. Once this was a good game, but that was before Tom Brady stepped on the field. The guy is 11-1 against the Bills, losing only the 2003 opener in Buffalo. Oh, sure, some of the games were competitive. There was the 2006 season opener, for instance, with the Patriots escaping with a 19-17 victory. There was a 12-9 overtime win in 2001, too, when the snow and swirling winds almost buried both clubs. But the results are as predictable as July in San Diego: Brady will talk about another win; Buffalo will talk about trying to climb to .500.
Cleveland at Oakland, Sept. 23: Sorry, but I like to watch quarterbacks who throw touchdown passes. Oakland's Andrew Walter last year had three of them, and the Raiders had seven. Cleveland's Charlie Frye had 10 touchdown passes, while the Brownies had 15. Put the two clubs together and what do you have? A welcome-home party for any defensive back who wants to pad his numbers. The Raiders and Browns combined for 22 touchdowns and 49 interceptions, and that, folks, is why both these clubs are talking quarterbacks in this month's draft.
Tennessee at New Orleans, Sept. 24: The Titans just subtracted their best defensive back for one season. Not good. Now the worse news: Pacman Jones was the top defensive back on the NFL's worst defensive team. You can look it up: The Titans were 32nd overall and 27th against the pass. So what? So now they play the league's top offense and top passing game, and they do it in New Orleans for the Saints' home opener. Uh-oh. Pray for Jim Schwartz and pass the calculator.
Tampa Bay at Indianapolis, Oct. 7: Let's see, the Bucs scored 211 points last year, or roughly 13 a game. Indianapolis scored 427, or 26.6 per game. Tampa Bay was next to last in scoring. Indianapolis was tied for second. Tampa Bay was 1-7 on the road; Indy was 8-0 at home. Tampa Bay was last in its division; Indy won the Super Bowl. What? Do I need to draw a picture?
N.Y. Giants vs. Miami in London, Oct. 28: So Ricky Williams serves as a tour guide to another country. Big deal. It was more interesting when he was in Thailand, and we couldn't find him.
Green Bay at Detroit, Nov. 22: Yeah, this was a good game ... 40 years ago. Now it's another excuse to kick the Lions to the curb. On Thanksgiving there are three things that go down easily: the drum stick, the cranberry relish and the Detroit Lions. They lost five of their last six, including the last three by a combined score of 95-26, never scoring more than 10 points in any game. But let's look on the bright side, folks: They scored nine in 2004, seven in 2005 and 10 last year. They're moving on up, and if they score 14 this year, let's make Rod Marinelli grand marshal of the 2008 Macy's Parade. I'd rather see the Lions on Broadway than on my TV.
Oakland at Denver, Dec. 2: OK, I get it: Mike Shanahan doesn't like Al Davis. But does he have to keep dog-piling these poor guys? Shanahan just gained a three-year extension, and he could have gotten it on his record against the Raiders alone: Since assuming command of the Broncos in 1995, Mike is 19-5 against Oakland, including seven wins in his past eight tries. I don't know what the score will be here; all I know is I've seen enough of Groundhog Day.
Buffalo at Cleveland, Dec. 16: Please, someone tell me: What in the world could be at stake here except your health?
Denver at San Diego, Dec. 24: Yeah, it's a terrific series, and this one might decide first place in the AFC West. But I have two words for you: Christmas Eve. Why in the name of Ebenezer Scrooge would you schedule a game that night?
San Diego at Oakland, Dec. 30: Poor Oakland. The Raiders never catch a break from the NFL schedule. Almost makes you think there's something to that NFL conspiracy thing. A year ago they had to travel across the country to lose their season finale in New York. The year before, two of their first three games were in the Eastern time zone. They lost both of them. Anyway, now they get to end their season at home, which is a break, but they get to end it against San Diego. Trust me: There is nothing good about that. It's not that the Raiders struggle against the Chargers; it's that they play about as well as Sanjaya Malakar carries a note. The envelope, please: San Diego won the past seven games between these two, with the Raiders outscored 195-83. Only once did Oakland score more than 14, and that was when it scored 17. Great. Only once was the gap fewer than seven points ... and then it was six. Now we add former Oakland coach Norv Turner to the mix, a guy who has about as much affection for the Raiders as Al Davis does for the league office. Just pour it on, baby.
Cincinnati at Miami, Dec. 30: What's wrong with this picture: The Cincinnati Bengals in South Beach for the season finale. Quick, someone put Sonny Crockett on speed dial.
Carolina at Tampa Bay, Dec. 30: Because the Carolina cheerleaders no longer make the trip.