- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2006

Just like a lot of NFL teams, I’m limping to the finish line. The record last week was 8-6 and I’m becoming like the entire NFC (save for Chicago): Average most of the time and occasionally good enough to finish with a winning record.

The Redskins try to make it two straight wins for the first time since Week 3-4 when they hammered Houston and outlasted Jacksonville (in overtime), which evened their record at 2-2 and gave people hope that this could be an interesting season. They promptly lost four straight games.

The opponent is St. Louis, which is clinging to postseason hopes if they can beat the Redskins and win at Minnesota on New Year’s Eve.

To the picks …

The Five-Game Contest

The press box in St. Louis is going to feel empty on Sunday. Jim Ducibella of the Virginian-Pilot isn’t making the trip. The paper steadfastly denied his request to charter a plane from Richmond to St. Louis so he could be home in time for opening presents — which will no doubt include several bottles of Merlot — on Monday morning.

So while I will be trudging west for the weekend, Duce will perform the task of “covering” an NFL game in his pajamas. What a life.

We’ll welcome the big fella to the FraudEx Field press box next Saturday night for the Giants-Redskins finale.

Washington at St. Louis: The Rams can’t stop the run. The Redskins are running it well. I sense a repeat of last year’s game in Missouri when the Redskins ran for nearly 300 yards. Redskins 24-9.

Duce: St. Louis 20-17.

Philadelphia at Dallas: The Eagles have won two straight NFC East road games and control their division fate. But not after Sunday when the Cowboys take another step toward a division title. Dallas 35-32.

Duce: Philly 30-20.

New Orleans at NY Giants: Big Blue is a hard team to figure out. They can ‘t finish games. But they can win on the road. Even if they collapse, I have a hard time believing Coughlin gets the gate; the Mara family loathes change and they already have to find a new GM. Giants 20-10.

Duce: Giants 27-24.

Cincinnati at Denver: If the Bengals can mush their way through the snow and get to the game, I see a big bounce back win for Cincy. Bengals 17-16.

Duce: Denver 16-13.

Toilet Bowl: Tampa Bay at Cleveland: A game strictly for the diehards. Why didn’t Gruden go with Tim Rattay earlier in the season? He nearly upset the Bears in a relief role last week. Tampa Bay 7-6.

Duce: Cleveland 35-10.

The rest of the games

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Kyle Boller exhibited last week that some teams probably have doubts he can even be a solid backup quarterback. Too little, too late for Pittsburgh. Steelers 15-14.

Carolina at Atlanta: Everybody is ripping Chris Weinke, but that’s off base. They should be ripping Dan Henning. Play callers who make their reserve quarterback throw SIXTY-ONE times (as he did against the Giants) don’t deserve a job. Falcons 21-20.

Chicago at Detroit: Here’s hoping the planned fan walkout to protest Matt Millen is a rousing success. Bears 54-3.

Indianapolis at Houston: Remember this about the Colts and Peyton: They won a road playoff game following the 2002 season in Kansas City. So if they have to go Baltimore or San Diego, they have a chance. Colts 28-7.

New England at Jacksonville: The Patriots were ticked last week because they had been blown out by Miami; Tom Brady will be ticked this week because he was snubbed from the Pro Bowl. Patriots 34-14.

Tennessee at Buffalo: Methinks the Titans won’t score three defensive touchdowns again this week. Bills 13-6.

Arizona at San Francisco: This has to be driving The Danny crazy, a 49ers team head coached by Mike Nolan (a former Danny whipping boy) whose offense is coordinated by Norv Turner (a former Danny whipping boy) is in playoff contention. 49ers 20-12.

San Diego at Seattle: What the heck happened to the Seahawks? Last year, they were clearly the best team in the NFC. This year, they don’t deserve their expected playoff berth. Chargers 43-20.

NY Jets at Miami: Nick Saban wonders why the him-to-Alabama rumors don’t die. Dude, you coached college football for several years. It’s called boosters … on the Internet … stirring up rumors. Jets 26-18.

Record

Last week: 8-6

Season: 131-91

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