Late Night TV Isn’t So Disimilar to NFL Football, Plus Playoff Week 2 Picks
The biggest news in the world of entertainment this week wasn’t Simon Cowell quitting “American Idol” or the possibility of a Lindsay Lohan sex tape (though I’m sure that will get everyone’s attention once we actually see the footage). The drama regarding NBC moving Jay Leno back to 11:35 — just seven months after Conan O’Brien took over “The Tonight Show” and five years and seven months after Conan was promised the job — has hit new levels of shit hitting fan.
Conan has used his last few days on air to ferociously bash his soon-to-be-former network, making such statements as, “If NBC doesn’t want people to see me, just leave me on NBC.’ David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel have joined in on the Jay and NBC bashing, while the network let loose NBC Sports exec Dick Ebersol, who called Conan “chicken-hearted and gutless.” While I’m not an avid late-night network TV guy, I have enjoyed Conan over the years more than his counterparts. I will (as would most people) admit that he changed his style (although apparently enough to satisfy viewers in Des Moines) and didn’t put on the same show (apparently as Leno). The whole move was doomed from the start.
It’s the same as an NFL team or NCAA university naming their coach’s successor before the coach has left on his own terms or done a poor enough job to get the can. Think about how Jason Garrett feels in Dallas. He was named the successor as Dallas’ head coach and was considered a great offensive mind as recent as two years ago. Now he’s the forgotten man as Wade Phillips has somehow managed to put aside his love for Wendy’s Double Stacks long enough to concentrate on what it takes to win ball games. Was it worth Garrett taking that title and the salary increase rather than grabbing a head coaching job elsewhere? Did Wade Phillips not feel any added stress and perform as well as he could knowing his replacement was standing next to him on the sidelines? Did Dallas even wonder if it was worth paying Garrett that extra money, considering how incredibly inept their offense looked at times. (We are dealing with Jerry Jones, so maybe the money doesn’t matter.) The answer is it should’ve never happened and Garrett should be in Buffalo or Chicago as a head coach instead. Which brings us to…
Lock of the Week:
Dallas (+2.5) over MINNESOTA
Now that the Cowboys have won their first playoff game in the Romo era, there’s nothing stopping them. I can’t decide what I’m looking forward to more: Brett Favre melting down in the playoffs or the return of Kenny Powers in HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” on February 19. Both stars still think they can bring their heaters, but since Kenny’s comes with some big b**bs, I’ll give him the edge for now. The Cowboys are on one of those heaters right now that’ll bring a team right to the Super Bowl. I mentioned it last week, but I feel like reiterating that the Vikings didn’t beat the Giants because they necessarily played well. They beat the Giants because the Giants had no heart and had already sold out on the season. We don’t necessarily think the Panthers were that good and they did the same thing to the Giants the week before. The Cowboys’ pass rush should manhandle a recently leaky Vikings line, causing the gunslinger Favre to make some poor decisions and allow the Cowboys to ride away with the victory.
Rest of the Picks:
Arizona (+7.5) over NEW ORLEANS
The Saints are another team who limped into the playoffs and the bye week shouldn’t let you forget that. Their defense ended the season in the same manner as we had originally expected them to play the entire season and the offense was suddenly unable to cover up the damage. This is a game we all expect to be a shootout, so an interesting play for those who need a little extra spice is the first half under as both teams feel themselves out before unleashing the fury in the second half (similar to last week’s Cardinals game). New Orleans might win this game, but Arizona has enough offense to keep it close and their running game is developed enough to be a factor unlike in years past. I would also expect the Cardinals defense to have added motivation after only playing for a half last week.
INDIANAPOLIS (-6.5) over Baltimore
Before we get to the game itself, it’s worth pointing out that the Marvin Harrison shootings have come back to the forefront. You should read this article in GQ if you haven’t already. It’s quite compelling.
I feel less confident about this pick than the other three for a few reasons. The Ravens would’ve beaten the Colts in Baltimore earlier this year had Joe Flacco not thrown a stupid interception when his team was in field goal range. The Colts historically have issues coming out of the bye week if they rested their players at the end of the regular season as we’ve touched on before. Baltimore can also run the ball well, which plays into the weakness of the Colts defense. But then there are arguments for the other side. Flacco is clearly injured (hip) and is a major liability after his display last week. The Colts haven’t lost to the Ravens since 2001. Finally, Peyton Manning has shown you don’t want to bet against him this year. He’s become the king of primetime NFL games and this should be no different.
N.Y. Jets (+7) over SAN DIEGO
The Jets are my third underdog pick of the week (go figure given the way I’ve been on favorites most of the season). People are so excited in New York these days that it’s become rather nauseating for Giants fans. I still don’t think the Jets are winning the Super Bowl (or this game for that matter), so I’m trying to provide the fans with some realistic views. The Jets keep falling further down next year’s draft by winning games and they’re not able to sign free agents because they finished as a top 8 team. Before you start calling me a hater, I will tell you what the Jets can do. The Jets can run the ball, which milks the clock. The Jets can also stop the pass, the Chargers’ strength. The Jets can keep this game within a touchdown. What the Jets don’t have is the best kicker/punter combo in the game, which San Diego does have and is the reason they walk away as a small margined victor.
Playoff Record: 0-4
Last Week: 0-4 “