There are no drum rolls for this NFL schedule, and you can hold your applause. These are the games you don't want to see.
OK, these are the games I don't want to see.
Yeah, I know, Pete has that Dec. 25 date between Philadelphia and Dallas as one of his top 10 this fall, and I can understand why. But let me ask you this: Don't you want to spend that afternoon with someone, anyone, other than Terrell Owens?
Your family, perhaps. Or your in-laws. Your ex-wife. Barry Bonds. Tony Soprano. Cruella DeVil. Ebenezer Scrooge.
I rest my case.
What we have here, then, is the NFL's equivalent of a root canal. Avoid these games at all costs ... or prepare to suffer.
1. Oakland at San Francisco, Oct. 8
|Raiders and Niners? Woe is The Bay. (Getty Images)|
2. Detroit at the New York Jets, Oct. 22
The only thing worse than a club with no starting quarterback is two clubs with no starting quarterbacks. Welcome to your nightmare. In this corner, we have Jon Kitna, last seen warming the bench for Carson Palmer. Over here is Patrick Ramsey, last seen holding the clipboard for Mark Brunell. OK, so Norm Van Brocklin's single-game passing record is safe. But you still have Kevin Jones and Curtis Martin to run the show, right? Yes, and together they couldn't equal the yardage of eight backs last year. Detroit ranked 26th in rushing; the Jets were 31st. Swell. We have the 27th-ranked offense (Detroit) vs. the 31st, with two quarterbacks who haven't won. Does anyone have Vinny Testaverde's number?
3. Philadelphia at Dallas, Dec. 25
Poor Andy Reid. Somebody at the NFL Players Association must have Polaroids on the league's schedule makers. The union wasn't happy how the Eagles handled the punishment of Owens last year and was outraged when an arbitrator backed the club. So? So now it has its revenge. Reid and the Eagles must spend Christmas with T.O., and you get to watch. Imagine ... T.O. on the star ... against the Eagles ... with a national TV audience. Let me guess: There will be an incident, and it will be ugly. Well, then, tell me about it. My daughter doesn't care what's in her stocking; she wants to know what T.O. has in mind after his next touchdown. Is this the Ghost of Christmas Future? Next question!
4. San Francisco at Seattle, Dec. 14
I swear I'm not ganging up on San Francisco. It's just that ... well, it's just that the 49ers are such an inviting target. Gone are Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Roger Craig. Now they throw Alex Smith, Antonio Bryant and Frank Gore at you, and raise your hand if you plan to draft any of them for your Fantasy Football team. The 49ers are bad, but they're never worse than when they take their show on the road to Seattle. Last year they were drilled 41-3. The year before it was 34-0. That's 75-3, and I guarantee you Al Davis is closer to Paul Tagliabue. Two years ago the 49ers' best player entering the season was linebacker Julian Peterson. Now he's gone ... to Seattle. Beautiful. The last time I saw something this lopsided, Christie Brinkley married Billy Joel.
5. Oakland at the New York Jets, Dec. 31
Nothing against the Raiders and Jets, either, only why would you want to spend New Year's Eve in New York -- OK, East Rutherford -- and watch these two play out the string? You wouldn't. The Raiders aren't any good. The Jets aren't any good. And this game won't be any good. Poor Oakland. A year ago it had to fly across the country to open the season against New England. And it got waxed. Now it has to fly across the country to close the season against the Jets, and nobody picks up frequent-flyer miles. Bummer. This has the look of what a coach I once knew called "a bus game." Translation: Players couldn't wait to board the bus leaving the stadium, and they played like it. Wait until dark. There will be more contact in Times Square, and you don't have to look for Dick Clark on the Raiders' coaching staff. Not yet anyway.
6. Indianapolis at Houston, Dec. 24
It's not just this game. It's the time of year. It's Christmas Eve, and, sorry, Houston, gifts aren't unwrapped for another 24 hours. Which means another loss to the Colts. The Texans are 0-8 in this series; 0-10 after this one is played. But that's not the worst part. They've been outscored by an average of 15.5 points per game and never, ever, ever produced more than 21 against these guys. They did that once. They scored three twice. Don't close the Reliant roof; close the holes in that offensive line. And don't tell me about Reggie Bush. The Texans need someone to stop Peyton Manning. Indianapolis put up 30 or more points in half their dates with the Texans, including the past two. Houston, you have a problem.
7. Tennessee at Buffalo, Dec. 24
The calendar is the concern here for a couple of reasons: 1) Both teams will be buried by this point; 2) you could be buried, too ... in snow. Question: Do you really want to sit in sub-freezing temperatures to watch 22 guys throw snowballs for three hours or kick back with an order of 20 wings with fries and a Coke at Duff's and watch, say, Carolina-Atlanta? Me, too. Neither of these teams is equipped to make it to the end zone often, which means this game will seem longer than the Iditarod. It might be colder, too.
8. Either of the Cleveland-Baltimore games
I love this rivalry, too ... when Frank Ryan is throwing against Johnny U. That was 42 years ago, and the outcome wasn't close. Neither are the Browns-Ravens games. Plus, they can be dull, and, sorry, that's a deadly combination. These two met 14 times since Cleveland rejoined the NFL, and only three times were they separated by fewer than seven points -- including last year's season finale. On the other hand, there have been routs of 20 or more points four times. You want offense, watch LeBron James. It's not happening here, and last year's results are proof: In two games the Browns and Ravens combined for 10 turnovers, nine field goals and two offensive touchdowns. If you have this game circled you're probably named Dave Zastudil.
9. Green Bay at Chicago, Dec. 31
The only compelling reason to tune in is if it's Brett Favre's last game, but we don't know that it is or will be because nobody knows if Favre will play this year. If he does he's the only hook; if he doesn't, do yourself a favor and spend the afternoon on Michigan Avenue. If you didn't find it under the tree a week earlier, it's there now -- at half the price. Yeah, I know, Chicago-Green Bay is a great rivalry, but not when the Packers are dreadful -- and I'm afraid that's what Mike McCarthy has waiting for him this season. Hey, look at it like this: How bad can it be when he was with the league's 32nd-ranked offense the year before? Me? I'm at Billy Goat Tavern wondering where they hide the fries and Pepsi.
10. San Francisco at Detroit, Nov. 12
OK, it's official: I am ganging up on the 49ers. But, geez, how do you sell this stinker? Over the past three years the 49ers are 13-35; over the past three years the Lions are 16-32. Hey, over the past five they're 21-59. But buck up, Lions fans, your team can pull the improbable because of where this one's played. No, not Ford Field; anywhere outside the 415 area code. Over the past three years the 49ers won exactly three road games -- one each year -- and were so bad they lost in two countries. Now the bad news, Detroit fans: All of those wins? They came after midseason.