Bill Barker - 7
Audio Dave - 6
EdMcGon - 5
David Stefanini - 5
Robert A. George - 5
J. Mark English - 1
With only three games left, it looks like a Barker vs. Audio Dave horse race, with the rest of us as the "Fred" (as in Thompson) in the race.
Here are my picks for this weekend's games (with other pertinent info):
San Diego Chargers at New England Patriots (Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EST, game temperature estimated at 22°F): The paradigm of recent times versus possible all-time perfection?
The Chargers represent the "paradigm of recent times", where a team follows up an outstanding season where they failed in the playoffs with a good season where they win the Super Bowl. Last year, the 12-4 Colts won the Super Bowl after going 14-2 the previous season and losing in the playoffs to the 11-5 Steelers, who had gone 15-1 the previous season. Ironically, the 15-1 Steelers lost in the AFC Championship to the Patriots, who were the last team to win consecutive Super Bowls.
The Chargers went 14-2 last year, losing to the Patriots in the Divisional Round. Is this year's 11-5 Charger team good enough to keep the paradigm going, or will they fall to the Patriots' pursuit of perfection?
There is one important difference between the Chargers this year and last year: Norv Turner. That alone may be enough to keep the Chargers from going any further in the playoffs.
While the Chargers surprised a lot of people, me included, by beating the Colts last weekend, that game was clearly a case of the hungrier team winning. The Colts did not have the "fire in the belly" after winning the Super Bowl last year.
As for the Patriots, they have busted paradigms before by being the last team to win consecutive Super Bowls. They busted the 30+ year-old "perfect season" paradigm this year. Another paradigm goes down this weekend.
New York Giants at Green Bay Packers (Sunday at 6:30 p.m. EST, game temperature estimated at 10°F): The best road team this year (outside of New England) versus the ultimate home field advantage (aka "The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field"). But the fact the Giants are 7-1 on the road while the Packers are 7-1 at home is more of an interesting statistic than a deciding factor in this game.
Both teams are almost statistically identical on defense. Offense is where this game will be decided, and the Packers rate the edge there. While the Giants are better running the ball, the Packers are better at passing. In a game that figures to come down to the end, who would you rather have at quarterback with two minutes on the clock? As much as I rag on Favre, he is the clear choice. Manning may keep the Giants in the game, but Favre will win it.
(Hat tip to Foxsports.com for game info)
(For the rules, see this post.)