- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2006

My picks have begun to take an NFC feel. Average or a little below .500. Consistently mediocre.

Last week was my second consecutive 7-8 showing and again, the Redskins betrayed my confidence in them. I’ve learned my lesson (see below).

With three weeks remaining in the season, the only thing left for the Redskins is to play hard and stay healthy. Then the wreckage surveying can begin.

As for the teams in playoff contention, the NFC East became a crapshoot — the Cowboys are 8-5, Giants and Eagles are 7-6 — when New Orleans routed Dallas last week.

The Five-Game Contest

Rumor has it that the Old Pro — Jim Ducibella of the Virginian-Pilot — spent Thursday burning up all of his “Mission Miami” T-shirts (he had them made to drum up the possibility of the Redskins reaching the Super Bowl) but also got excited when he discovered that next year’s Super Bowl — which he thinks, of course, the Sons of Joe Gibbs will reach — is in his favorite city, Tampa.

Washington at New Orleans: The bad news for Redskins fans is this shapes up as a repeat of the Indianapolis game. But it could be worse; the Saints offense is chugging along better than the Colts were in October. Saints 45-24.

Duce: Saints 35-14.

Dallas at Atlanta: Although I think the Cowboys will still win the NFC East, they have another hiccup Saturday night. Falcons 29-23.

Duce: Cowboys 27-24.

Philadelphia at NY Giants: I was pretty impressed by Jeff Garcia last week. He won’t control games, but he won’t make foolish turnovers. Eagles 16-15.

Duce: Giants 27-10.

Pittsburgh at Carolina: The Steelers, like the Redskins, got off to a terrible start. The Steelers, unlike the Redskins, bounced back to sniff .500. Too bad they’re not in the NFC. Steelers 31-22.

Duce: Panthers 28-27.

Toilet Bowl game - St. Louis at Oakland: This just in — Devin Hester just returned another Rams kickoff for a touchdown. Raiders 30-28.

Duce: Rams 16-14.

The rest of the games

Tampa Bay at Chicago: The Bears will have NFC home-field advantage but I’m still not sure they’re the best team in the conference. I’ll get a better idea after seeing the Saints in person. Bears 27-12.

Miami at Buffalo: If only the Dolphins could figure out how to play well in September and October. They’ve got November and December figured out. Dolphins 17-13.

Jacksonville at Tennessee: Fans who were at the Titans-Redskins game in October can say years from now they saw Vince Young’s first NFL victory. He’ll give the Jags fits on Sunday. Titans 31-24.

Houston at New England: The Patriots are 9-4 but they have only won impressive win - at home against Chicago. As long as they have Brady, they have a chance in the postseason but they could be one-and-done this season. Patriots 20-10.

NY Jets at Minnesota: The Vikings think they have a shot at the playoffs. But they’re still 6-7, play at Green Bay next Thursday night and aren’t a playoff-caliber team. Vikings 34-32.

Detroit at Green Bay: The Lions lead the Brady Quinn Sweepstakes so it would be wise to lose out and finish 2-14. Packers 28-17.

Denver at Arizona: The Cardinals have won two straight but it won’t save Denny Green’s job and it shouldn’t. Jay Cutler is 0-2 as the Broncos’ starter. Broncos 40-28.

Kansas City at San Diego: The Chargers are the NFL’s best team and as long as Marty doesn’t put on the headsets, they have the goods to win on the road in January. (The Chiefs will be playing for late owner Lamar Hunt but traveling to San Diego eliminates an emotional advantage.) Chargers 38-28.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis: If a defense including myself (defensive end), Dan Daly (safety), Mark Zuckerman (middle linebacker), Thom Loverro (defensive tackle), Dave Fay (cornerback), Kenny Wright (outside linebacker), Barker Davis (cornerback), Patrick Stevens (outside linebacker), Jon Siegel (cornerback) and two college part-timers played the Jags last week, we would have fared better than the Colts rush defense. Bengals 35-30.

Record

Last week: 7-8

Overall: 123-85

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