- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

Although I’ll continue to make picks through the playoffs, thank goodness this is the last week of full games. Last week’s 5-9 record was equal parts pathetic and embarrassing and gave me 100 defeats for the season, a benchmark by which I should just quit right now.

But I will not. Mostly because things can’t get any worse.

Sunday’s Festival Of Football includes 15 games; 19 teams (not including the Giants) will begin play with postseason aspirations. I guarantee it will be markedly better than the awful college football games that have dominated television in recent days.

The Five-Game Contest

With five games remaining, I’m in dire straits in my contest with Jim Ducibella of the Virginian-Pilot. Duce holds a 31-26-19 advantage in our competition. The first prize remains dinner at Duce’s favorite Seattle eatery, El Gaucho. Personally, and I’ve said numerous times, I’ll settle for that little Jack In The Box on the way from the airport to downtown Seattle.

But since the chances of the Redskins making the playoffs this year and possibly returning to Seattle have been wiped out, we will have to come up with a first prize. I was thinking a bottle of Duce’s favorite Merlot (price limit: $12.99), a bag of Doritos (price limit: $1.19) and a container of grapes (price limit: $2.00).

I have to win out so in the interest of fairness, we picked the opposite on each of the games.

NY Giants at Washington: The Redskins are playing for pride, the Giants are playing for their head coach’s job, but they’re playing for themselves, not Tom Coughlin. Giants

Duce: Redskins 22-21.

New England at Tennessee: Imagine, the Titans will finish with seven straight wins and not make the playoffs. In the NFC, they would be the second favorite behind Chicago. (But still watch out for the Pats in the playoffs). Titans 22-21.

Duce: Patriots 13-6.

Detroit at Dallas: The Cowboys looked awful last week. The Lions have looked awful since, well, 1950. Edge to the Cowboys, who will head to Seattle for a Wild Card game. Dallas 44-14.

Duce: Lions 20-19.

Atlanta at Philadelphia: Michael Vick in cold weather = no chance. Eagles clinch the division and will host the Giants next week. Philly 30-10.

Duce: Falcons 27-17.

Toilet Bowl: Cleveland at Houston: Don’t care. Neither should you, unless you’re a Browns fan or a Texans supporter. Browns 6-3.

Duce: Texans 24-21.

The rest of the games

St. Louis at Minnesota: The Rams are still the Rams offensively, meaning they can score at will against bad defenses. The Vikings’ season ends and unfortunately, Brad Childress is likely to be back. Rams 45-14.

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: The Bengals’ defense all season, not a blown extra-point snap last week, is the reason they won’t make the playoffs. Cincy 28-24.

Green Bay at Chicago: The Packers need all kinds of help to reach the playoffs but they need a win. Which they won’t get. Bears 17-6.

Seattle at Tampa Bay: Seattle has gone in the toilet recently but are the NFC West champs. Jon Gruden should have gone to Tim Rattay earlier in the season. Bucs 22-18.

San Francisco at Denver: The move to Jay Cutler officially pays off when the Broncos clinch a Wild Card berth. Broncos 34-17.

Arizona at San Diego: Home field is still up for grabs in the AFC so expect San Diego’s stars to play the entire game. Chargers 30-14.

Jacksonville at Kansas City: The Jags have gone from 12-4 to 8-7 in one season. And why is Jack Del Rio not on the hot seat? Chiefs 21-16.

Carolina at New Orleans: If the Saints do anything in the playoffs, they should send a thank you note to the Redskins for the Dec. 17 wake up call. Saints 35-24.

Oakland at NY Jets: The Jets clinch a Wild Card berth with a win. Lock of the week. Jets 20-3.

Buffalo at Baltimore: Times columnist Thom Loverro thinks the Ravens will make the Super Bowl. But they’re a Steve McNair injury from being kaput and I don’t think they can win a shootout-type game. Ravens 24-19.

Miami at Indianapolis: Watch out for the Colts in the playoffs. If they can get by their first round game (likely the Jets), they would go to Baltimore. Colts 26-25.

Record

Last week: 5-9

Season: 136-100

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