Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vertically Striped Radio - Episode 23: Craig's Doppleganger, Loud Children, and No Ketchup Allowed on Hot Dogs

Halloween found Craig in a frazzled mood as his dogs and children were restless, never the less, he pressed on and spoke with The Ed, Face Ventura and The Whale...all of whom will not put ketchup on their dogs, so that's a plus. We discussed adults wearing costumes, the appropriate things to put on your hot dogs, Ed's lack of discipline in gambling, the World Series, whether or not the confluence of women and sports a good thing, and even a tiny bit of hockey. Plus we were able to hear how well developed Craig's two year old's lungs are, Luke was happy to yell for us. Happy Halloween to all, and thanks for listening!

The Vertically Striped Music Recommendation was "Whatever and Ever Amen" by Ben Folds Five. We went out with "Steven's last night in town" if you listen at the 2:54 mark, you'll hear a phone ringing, which happened as they were recording live in a basement in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

If you'd like to listen to the show, you can hit play on the widget below, or download the MP3 version of the file over at

Here is the guy who Andrew Tobey (Major Minority) says looks like me...

...And this is actually me. Much cooler hat, I'd say.

Yeah, we got a little bit of snow this week.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween! Dressing to impress this holiday season.

I was literally in my bear feet.

My office held a costume contest Friday, and there were only two teams that really took up the challenge to work together to come up with a team theme. My team is all women except for me, so they came up with the idea to do a Zombie Slumber Party. They decked out a section of our office as a teenage zombie bedroom and then put on a ton of white makeup and black lipstick and weird black eye type zombie makeup. I know, kinda lame, especially if you're me and not particularly keen on coming into work in pajamas and definitely don't want to wear makeup.

So their idea was that I could be the Teddy Bear for the team. Lets just say that I didn't work super hard on my costume. After being the Cher portion of a Sonny and Cher duo last year, I thought I'd coast a bit this year. My costume consisted of a pair of my Grizzly Bear Slippers which I have had for a decade, and a pair of mouse ears that were the closest thing I could find to Bear ears at a Halloween costume shop on Thursday night. That was it, and yes, I looked a little goofy; but I cracked myself up, which was really all I wanted to accomplish.

What is scarier? Cold Cream Zombies in pajamas or a six foot three mouse?

It's like a mutant bald Mickey.

We're going to get you this Halloween. If our zombies don't scare you, we'll stick our giant smiling mouse on you!

We finished in second place out of two teams because the other team did such an amazing job with their theme. I have seriously never seen a better team concept, it was awesome. Direct from 1981, it was Pac Man. This was so stinking good...

Of course, my kiddos are going to do Halloween too, here they are in their cute costumes. Luke is a dragon, and Ellie is a Pink Poodle.

And just because these are are some random children I don't know in some crazy cute costumes. Happy Halloween, everyone.

NFL Weekend Preview: Week 8

What a battle! Rams and Lions on Sunday! Don't miss it, you know, unless you have anything else to do at all. Like maybe wash your hair or alphabetize your CD collection or crochet a sweater. Otherwise, BE THERE!

Caution, strange weekend ahead! The Lions and Titans are both favored in Vegas, Brett Favre is playing in Green Bay for the Vikings, and for some reason the NFL won’t have a night game in deference to the World Series. Look, Roger Goodell, I have multiple TV’s, I can keep tabs on baseball on my small television just fine and watch football on the big one. This whole taking a night off garbage is completely unnecessary. Why, this past Wednesday I was simultaneously watching the Colorado Avalanche, the Denver Nuggets, and Game 1 of the World Series; I have the remote control prowess to handle this, and I don’t need you to go all namby pamby on me and not schedule a game Sunday night. That’s just no good at all! Oh well, I don’t think my complaints are going to cause any games to be moved. I guess I’ll just live with no evening game this Sunday Night. Here is what is going to go down this weekend, it’s almost like you don’t even need to watch the games now that I’ve provided you with this info…You’re welcome.

Houston at Buffalo – The Bills have won two in a row, but have been outplayed in both games and have only won because they were the beneficiary of 9 interceptions during that span. Matt Schaub will not throw four and a half interceptions this week, and the Bills will not win 3 in a row. Texans 29 Bills 13

Cleveland at Chicago – Last week I said that I didn’t think the Bengals could go into Soldier Field and beat the Bears. The joke was on me, because the game was in Cincinnati and while I was technically right, the Bengals didn’t go into Soldier Field, but they laid the smack down on the Bears. Fortunately for Chicago, they actually are at Soldier Field this week, and the other team from Ohio is significantly worse than the Bengals. The Bears rebound with a blowout win over a worthless Browns team. Bears 33 Browns 6

Seattle at Dallas – The Cowboys actually looked like an impressive team with something to prove last week as they obliterated a solid Falcons team. This week should be even easier at the new Texas Stadium, as the Seahawks have only looked good at home against crappy teams thus far this season. Cowboys 34 Seahawks 20

St. Louis at Detroit – Is it okay if we dub this game the Toilet Bowl? You know it’s a weird weekend when both the Titans and the Lions are favored to win. Thank God for fantasy football, as without it, I cannot think of a single reason to follow what happens in this game. Just for the sake of making a pick… Lions 26 Rams 23

Denver at Baltimore – Each week I pick against the Broncos, and each week thus far I have been wrong. Eventually this magic well will run dry, but I hope it’s not this week. The Ravens are on a three game skid, and this game is very important for their chances to make the postseason, I think the Broncos perfect run ends Sunday. (Keep in mind I hope I’m wrong with this pick.) Ravens 30 Broncos 24

San Francisco at Indianapolis – The Niners could really use a win, since their hot start they have cooled considerably to the point that Alex Smith is being given a second chance. Smith may have had a good second half against the Texans in a relief appearance, but I am dubious that he’ll find continued success in Indianapolis. The Colts have been red hot and Peyton Manning is playing some of the best football of his career, which is really saying something as he has had a hall of fame worthy career already. The 49ers slide continues as the Colts continue rolling. Colts 37 49ers 20

Miami at New York Jets – The Dolphins were steamrolling the Saints right before the half by a score of 24-3, but then Drew Brees flipped the on switch and suddenly the Dolphins gave up 36 points in the second half. While there are surely defensive concerns in Miami, the Jets offense is not going to be confused with the Saints offense. This should be a close game, it came down to a touchdown in the final ten seconds last time these two teams played, and I could see it being another see-saw type game. The Jets did score 38 last week, but it was against Oakland, so you have to discount them. Scoring on the Raiders is like aging in dog years, the numbers come fast and easy, but they need to be severely discounted. We’ll call it scoring in Raiders points. Every seven points against the Raiders is like scoring three against a real team. So they only scored 12.6 points if you measure it in Raiders points, which is probably a better measure. The Jets should score a decent amount, but they were not very good at stopping Miami three weeks ago. Perhaps I’d feel better about the Jets chances if Matt Sanchez agreed to keep eating hot dogs on the sidelines. Why not do it? They won 38-0 last time he did it. No hot dogs, no wins… Dolphins 30 Jets 27

New York Giants at Philadelphia – How strong is the NFC East, really? A few weeks ago, we may have thought it was the best division in football, but that was before the Giants dropped two straight games and before the Eagles somehow lost to the Raiders and only looked like a moderate force against a pathetic Redskins team. The winner here takes control of the division for the time being, The Giants have looked okay to me in their past two losses, they’ve just played tough competition. The Eagles have looked disinterested against poor competition, and I’m not entirely sure that they’re any good. Make mine Giants 28 Eagles 14

Jacksonville at Tennessee – Neither team is any good, but this game is interesting for a few reasons. First and foremost, Vince Young is going to return to the starting quarterback role because the owner wants him in there. Not sure Jeff Fisher agrees, but when the owner tells you to do something and you are winless and have just been roundly criticized for wearing a rival’s uniform, it’s probably best to do what your boss says. The second reason this game is interesting is because a the Titans are favored despite being 0-6 having lost their last game 59-0. Plus they are benching their starter from the past year and a half in order to start a mercurial quarterback with a reputation for being a tiny bit stupid, yet they are favored. Weird. Jaguars 26 Titans 16

Oakland at San Diego – I wonder if Richard Seymour is still anticipating the playoffs after getting lambasted 38-0 at home by the Jets. I am done looking for any home from the Raiders, they are a bad football team with bad leadership who are destined to walk the earth as the dregs of the NFL until they are either sold to a competent owner or until the clearly insane Al Davis breathes his last breath. JaMarcus Russell is a big fat quarterback with a rocket arm that has no guidance system. What good is it to be able to throw a football seventy yards from your knees if you have next to zero control over where it’s going to land? This is a game so easy that I don’t even think Norv Turner can screw it up. San Diego wins big. Chargers 37 Raiders 7

Panthers at Cardinals – Hey John Fox, stop putting games in Jake Delhomme’s hands! Your running game is the best thing you have, so you need to run, run, and then run again. You need to embrace the philosophy of old Texas head coach Darrell Royal who said, “There are only three things that can happen when you throw the ball and two of them are bad.” Well, when it’s Jake Delhomme throwing the ball, it’s much more likely that one of the two bad things are going to happen. This game was a blowout in the playoffs last year when the game was in Carolina, why should it be different this year in the desert? The Panthers are fatally flawed at quarterback, and they are throwing it way too much this year. The Cardinals are now on a roll, and I think they stay on it Sunday in the house of the rolling sod. Cardinals 24 Panthers 13

Minnesota at Green Bay – He played so long for Green Bay, it’s going to be weird seeing him on the field in a purple helmet plying his trade for the Vikings. Some might say he is a traitor, but if you’re still able to ply your trade, and they don’t want you anymore, why shouldn’t you be able to go to another team that gives you a great chance to win? I just think many in Wisconsin are being petty, and while he’ll probably be booed mercilessly, I for one will be cheering for him strongly on Sunday. I mean, Ryan Longwell is one heck of a kicker. Wait, who’d you think I was talking about? Packers 36 Vikings 33

Atlanta at New Orleans – The undefeated Saints bring their party train back to the Big Easy for a Monday Night divisional matchup with the Falcons. New Orleans is rolling, and I’m sure they’ll have the voodoo flowing Monday night against the Falcons. Atlanta was less than impressive against the Cowboys last week, and this is even a tougher test. I don’t think the Saints win ‘em all this year, but I do think they get this one. Saints 34 Falcons 17

My Picks Scorecard:

Last Week: 8-5
Season to Date 66-37

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart Video like you've never seen it. Hilarious and Literal!

I don't know if I can thank Eric Kwei enough for introducing me to this video. This video probably has Bonnie Tyler spinning in her grave, and to be honest, I don't even know if she's dead or not. The concept of the literal video is so brilliant, and the execution here is top notch. This song is so cheesy and the video is so firmly of the 80's that it is practically begging to be parodied, and thank heaven someone who goes by dascottjr on YouTube came along to create this. I don't even know if it's hyperbole to call this the greatest video of all time. Press play and enjoy, you don't need me to set this up for you...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Vertically Striped NBA Preview, with emphasis on my Denver Nuggets, of course.

Birdman and the rest of the Nuggets get back into the swing of things tonight versus the those Jazz musicians of Utah.

The Nuggets pop the top on the 2009-10 season this evening versus the hated Jazz at Pepsi Center tonight. I’ve been asked on several occasions how I think the Nuggets will do, and the honest answer to that is that I have no idea. Last season began the run of Denver teams doing better than expected, the Nuggets were picked by many experts to miss the playoffs altogether, they began the season with Allen Iverson on the roster, and not much hope of being able to accomplish much. Then, just a few games into the season, the Iverson for Billups trade was consummated, and the Nuggets took off. They finished the season at 54-28 with the second seed in the West, and they blew through the Hornets and the Mavericks in the playoffs before going down swinging in a highly competitive six game series with the eventual champion Lakers.

This year anything is in play. They could finish out of the playoffs for the first time in Carmelo’s career, although that seems unlikely. They could get a high seed in the Western Conference and get on a roll in the playoffs yet again. I find it unlikely that this team will be able to match last year’s glorious run for many reasons.

The Western Conference is stronger this year. The Spurs added Richard Jefferson and lucked out that DeJuan Blair fell to them at the 37th pick overall (I’m still angry that the Nuggets passed over Blair with their second round pick. That was the most intense moment of the NBA draft for me as I kept hoping he’d fall to the Nugs, and my excitement that he made it that far turned into me being crestfallen when they passed him over.) The Spurs have the look of a veteran team ready to make a title run.

If I never see this stupid facial expression again that would be just fine.

The Blazers have another year under their belts. Although I have my doubts about Andre Miller in their system. The Lakers are still the class of the conference although I think they could be weaker with Ariza out of the picture, and I’m not sold on Artest as being good for them. They still have Kobe, and that can be huge, even if he is the most plastic superstar ever. Oh, and here is to hoping that he retires the baring his fangs like a retarded werewolf with an under bite look. That may be the dumbest facial expression ever seen on a basketball court, and what kills me is that I know he practiced it in the mirror before breaking it out in the Western Conference Finals last year. The west could also see challenges from the Hornets, Jazz, Rockets, and even the Clippers could be frisky.

Tim Duncan and the Spurs should be a force once again.

The West will be a dogfight this year. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the Nuggets could rise up and even make it to the Finals, although it seems highly unlikely that anyone other than San Antonio or the Lake Show come out of the West. My money is on the Spurs, or it would be if I bet on the NBA.

Since I broke down the West, I’ll spend a moment on the East as well. It’s either going to be Cleveland or Orlando. As long as LeBron is in Cleveland, Cleveland has a chance, and while adding Shaquille O’Neil would have been a major thing in 2003, it’s 2009, and I don’t know that he has a whole lot of tread left on the tires. I think Shaq may be more of a liability than a benefit to the Cavs roster. Plus, the Cavaliers have the same problem as the Minnesota Vikings, they have a talented roster led by a doofus of a coach. Mike Brown can’t coach his way out of a paper bag, and if LeBron is able to get to the Finals it will be in spite of his head coach, not because of him.

Dwight Howard is a beast. In fact, I nominate the nickname "The Beast" for him, as a dude this enormous needs a nickname.

As for Orlando, the defending Eastern Champs look a lot different with their main man at crunch time gone. Hedo Turkoglu fled the country to join the Raptors, but in his place they have added Vince Carter. I was dubious of this move, but I think that Vince may actually do a pretty good job with the talent surrounding him in Florida. Having Rashard Lewis, Jameer Nelson, and the freak of nature that is Dwight Howard surrounding you gives you a shot, to be sure.

Can KG and the Celtics rise again? "Anything is Possible!" (But I doubt it.)

A lot of people are riding the Celtics, but I am not sure I buy them with their age plus apparently Doc Rivers wants to have some malcontents on his team, after the Starbury experiment last spring, the Celts now employ the services of the historically volatile Rasheed Wallace. For those who don’t know the NBA that well, ‘Sheed is best known for two things: 1. A weird bald spot on his head 2. His tendency to explode at refs and accumulate technical fouls at a prodigious rate. In addition to that explosive element, no one truly knows the condition of Kevin Garnett’s knees, which make me hesitant to believe in Boston.

Derek Rose makes the Bulls interesting to watch.

Other than the big three of the East (Celtics, Magic and Cavs), here are the other teams that I think could be interesting in the East. The Wizards who are suddenly healthy for the first time in what feels like five years could be a solid squad, if Gilbert Arenas is able to play as more of a team player, which is not the most likely of scenarios. The Chicago Bulls are intriguing, although they are the Houston Texans of the NBA in that each year they entice before ultimately falling short, but having a piece to work with like the dynamic Derrick Rose makes them interesting. The Hawks are another team which I enjoy watching, and who should be decent, but I can’t see them contending. I’m also interested to see how the Raptors do with Hedo Turkoglu added to an intriguing mix of players, this may be Chris Bosh’s last season in Canada and while I’m not expecting a miracle from this team that struggled mightily last year, I find them to be an interesting team. I think Hedo is due to have a massive falloff, but if he can stay at the level he was at last year for Orlando, the Raps could be a solid team.

Global icon LeBron James will remain ringless if Craig's predictions come true.

So, what is my prediction for the NBA Finals? Well, keep in mind my skills of prediction leave a bit to be desired. I predicted the Broncos would be 4-12 and the Saints would be 6-10, but I'm going to say San Antonio Spurs over the Cleveland Cavaliers in 6.

Now, As for my Nuggets…

One story which has barely been told, but which I do not like is that Chauncey has changed his number. When he came to the Nuggets last year, he donned number 7 and talked about his love for John Elway growing up as a Denver boy and how he felt honored to wear that number. Billups had become known for wearing number one, but J.R. Smith had that number so he adapted and it was used around here in puff pieces as a sign of the unity and brotherhood which Chauncey brought to the team. That was so last year, though. Apparently, Chauncey is back to wearing number 1, and J.R. is going to be donning number 5. This makes zero difference in terms of basketball, but I liked the idea of Chauncey honoring my favorite football player ever, plus if ever there was a player who should ABSOLUTELY be wearing number 1, it’s J.R. Smith. Now these two guys are both wearing numbers that don’t suit them on the Nuggets. Add that to Kenyon Martin changing his number from 6 to 4 last year, and this team is completely messed up numerically. Stupid, I know, but I think about this crap. If Melo ever ditches 15 to play as number 9 or something, I’ll blow a gasket.

As for the basketball side of things this year…here are my thoughts on the Nugs.

At the tail end of last spring's playoffs Chauncey Billups pretty much disappeared. I don’t know if this is because his then 32 year old legs have too many miles on them and he broke down, or if it was him mentally checking out, but it was disturbing. What do I think the problem was? My best guess is he just started slumping at an inopportune time. One thing you need to know about me is that I lack the ability to think rationally about Chauncey Billups. He is the athlete that I look to as being the professional version of me. When he retires, I will know that I am officially too old to play pro sports. (I’ve always lacked the talent, but once Chauncey is gone, I’ll lack the youth as well.) Chauncey Billups was born only six days before I was, we both grew up in the same area of Denver, we played High School basketball at the exact same time. (Granted, he was much better than me.) In high school, my whole team followed his exploits over at George Washington High School with interest. We knew he was a stud. Despite the fact that GW was several divisions higher than my tiny school, we dreamed of playing against him. (Although, the results would have been that we would have been massacred, as he was in 5A hoops, and we were a crappy 2A team) I was devastated the first time he got traded off of the Nuggets, because he easily one of my favorites ever and he’s a local kid. I was overjoyed when the Nuggets brought him back last season, and I refuse to think ill of him. So no matter what happened at the tail end of last year, I’m going to chalk it up to a minor slump at a bad time and move on. Chauncey is the man. Without him, the Nuggets would have been so much worse than they were. He raised the level of the whole team, and anyone who denies that must not have seen the difference in the on-court confidence before and after Chauncey was there. It was night and day. Chauncey is the brain and leader of this team.

Carmelo Anthony, Super Duper Star

The second half of the power duo of the Nuggets is, of course, Carmelo Anthony. Melo is the man. His overall stats actually dropped last year, but I believe that is because he was becoming a better basketball player. Melo has the ability to completely take over a game. Look no further than the game he had last December in which he scored 33 points in the third quarter against Minnesota to tie an NBA record. My brother called me from that game as it was happening and started relaying everything that was going down to me in awe. He can do things besides just score, and when he starts getting his teammates involved, the Nuggets can become an unstoppable force. He is clearly the most important player on the team, and he is the heart and superstar of the Nuggets.

This man was born to wear #1, sadly, he has been downgraded to #5

Let’s keep going with the body part analogies… J.R. Smith is the lungs of this team. When he gets hot, it’s hard to picture a better shooter. He’ll take shots that for anyone else in the world would be bad shot, but they go in with a crazy regularity when he’s on. He can make a shot from just about anywhere in just about any type of body position. He’s a freak. He is the lungs of the team, because he breathes air and life into them when they are lifeless. He is a truly a freak of nature, and he may have more raw talent in his body than anyone else on the team. The knock on JR is that his head is not always screwed on tight, and he can at times get a little too emotional and get a little too unhinged.

Hi, I'm K-Mart, You know what I'm sayin', and I'm here to play ball, you know what I'm sayin'.

Kenyon Martin is the middle finger on the team. He is my least favorite player in the NBA, but I begrudgingly accept that his contributions and toughness help give the Nuggets an identity. They are a rough group of characters, and lead the league in outrageous tattoos, with K-Mart as the poster child for bad tats and bad attitude. K-Mart is an air head, it’s impossible to listen to him be interviewed without hearing him say, “You know what I’m sayin'.” about fifty times. He has an explosive temper which can result in technicals galore, and he will take stupid shots and occasionally think that he possesses point guard skills. I would be perfectly happy with him if he never shot the ball further than two feet from the hoop and just provided defense, rebounding, and toughness. To see him dribble in the lane is always an adventure, and to see him take a jumper is to learn how not to shoot a basketball. His flat shot is beyond ugly, even when it goes in the hoop. I’ve gone on record a multitude of times stating my displeasure with Kenyon, but when he is playing defense with a chip on his shoulder he can be great and I’ve never seen any player throw down dunks with more power and energy. His dunking in the lane is truly explosive and a sight to behold.


Chris Andersen a.k.a. Birdman is the funny bone of the Nuggets. He is a fan favorite, and it’s easy to see why. He brings tremendous energy to the floor. His wild and colorful tats give him the general appearance of a peacock, his hairstyles have names like “Birdzilla” and inspire residents of Denver to do unsightly things with their own hair, he can jump out of the gym, and he has a knack for getting huge blocks at big times. I think it's safe to say he likes attention. He’s a total goof, and if he plays for your team it’s impossible not to smile when he enters the game. It’s an adventure when he goes to the free-throw line (and not in a good way) and he can at times be overpowered and have the ball stripped by stronger players who occasionally toss him around like a ragdoll, but he has improved a ton over the past two years, and I find it impossible to not enjoy his persona on the floor.

The Brazillian force that is, Nene.

Nene is the muscle of the team. It’s hard to believe he is beginning his eighth year in the league, but it’s true. He has fought through multiple injuries and even a bout with cancer to come back stronger each time. He has shown so many signs of promise, but after seven full seasons, I think he is what he is going to be. When he is healthy, he can be a major force in the middle. He isn’t a great rebounder despite his size, but he has good offensive skills and moves and is a surprisingly good passer. He plays solid defense, and he’s just a likable guy from Brazil that I want to do well. I love Nene. His is the only Nuggets jersey I have ever owned, and I am among the group that keeps hoping that he makes a leap to become the player I know he could be. He may be one of the more underrated players on the roster, but he is a very solid center.

Those are the major parts from the Nuggets. I’ll quickly assign body parts to the rest of the guys…Anthony Carter is the spleen. He does some things that sorta help, but you could easily live without him. Renaldo Balkman is the gall bladder. He may actually be an important piece, but George Karl has no idea what he does. I actually really like Balkman as good things seem to happen whenever he gets into the game, but George Karl hardly ever used him. Johan Petro is the tonsils, he doesn’t do much at all. You only notice him when he gets in the game and then he tends to cause more trouble than good. It would probably be better if he were just removed.

Welcome to Denver, Ty. I'm glad to see you're used to a baby blue uniform already.

As for the new additions…Arron Afflalo, I liked him at UCLA, but I haven’t seen enough on the team to see how he fits in with the Nugs. Ty Lawson is very small and very talented. It remains to be seen if Lawson, who is listed at 5’11 but looks much smaller, can adapt to the much larger and faster NBA, but he was amazing at North Carolina, and I’m excited to see him in Denver.

A moment of silence for Linas Kleiza…since he is no longer with us. His random outbursts of scoring on National television will be missed. He was odd in that he could go three weeks without making a contribution, then suddenly be a huge contributor for a month. He could get very hot and very cold. I always kind of liked him, as he was one of the few Nuggets to go tat free, but now that he is gone, we will try our best to move on without him. Thanks for the memories, Linas!

So, How do I see this team finishing? I'm going to predict the Nuggets earn the 5th seed in the West, and lose in the second round to the eventual champion Spurs.
A good season to be sure, but not as great as last year. Hopefully, I'm wrong like I have been for my other teams, and George Karl leads them to a championship.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Powerlines: Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Will I ever get tired of taking pictures of people when they least expect it? Probably, but it hasn't happened yet.

The NFL is kind of like a woman, even though we'll never fully understand it, we are fascinated and keep trying to come up with a stable set of rules. Then, as soon as we think we have it down, she up and does forty-seven things that confuse you and make your rules meaningless, but here are this week's attempts to make sense of the senseless.

1. Colts – The Colts against the Rams is patently unfair. The Rams looked like a high school team trying to compete against Indianapolis. I almost feel like Peyton Manning should have played the first half with his left hand, Inigo Montoya style, because with his right hand it was over too quickly. The Colts are clearly an elite team in the NFL, and with games upcoming with the likes of the 49ers, Texans, Ravens, Patriots, and Broncos, they will get a chance to legitimize their greatness, as their six wins are not over the best teams in the NFL. Other than victories over two decent teams in the Cardinals and Dolphins, there is not much to get excited about with taking down the Jags, Seahawks, Titans and Rams.

2. Saints – Until Sunday’s game versus the Dolphins the Saints had never trailed in a game, so being down by 21 points on the road was a sizable challenge. They proved that their potent offense can work from behind as well as from ahead, and their defense allowed only 10 second half points, as the Saints prove that they have some heart in remaining undefeated with a huge statement win in Miami.

3. Patriots – I don’t think the Patriots liked being beaten in Denver. Since that day when the Broncos took them down in overtime, they have outscored their opponents 94-7, which is a pretty good output over a two week span…In fact, over the past two weeks, the Patriots have exceeded the entire season of point scoring for the Redskins, Rams, Browns, Titans, and Raiders and it equals the scoring for the Panthers. And why not, when they have such a dapperly dressed quarterback? This photo reminds me of that old segment on Sesame Street where they sang the song, “One of these things is not like the other, One of these things just doesn’t belong” Yup, I could guess before your song was done.

4. Vikings – Although I’d love to rip on Brett Favre for the Vikings loss, it’s not his fault. His interception was a fluke which bounced off of Chester Taylor’s hands and should have been caught, and his fumble which was taken back to the house should never have happened, as the Vikings should have had a lead towards the end of the game as the refs should never have called the Vikes for a tripping call, as no tripping ever actually happened. The Vikings have been living on luck, and on Sunday lady luck kissed the Steelers instead, but they are still playing some good football, and have to be considered the favorite in the NFC North.

5. Broncos – After a well deserved week off, the Broncos jump right back into the fire with a tough game at Baltimore. Will the magic carpet ride continue for Broncos fans? I sure hope so.

6. Steelers – Their win over Minnesota on Sunday was entertaining, but I’m not sure that the Pittsburgh faithful should find a ton of reasons to feel confident in it. Without a phantom tripping call on a Minnesota touchdown which was followed on the very next play by a huge momentum shifting 77 yard fumble return for a touchdown. The momentum shifted back to the Vikes as Percy Harvin took back the kickoff for a score and then held the Steelers to a punt. The game was sealed for the Steelers right as the Vikings moved into the red zone as a Brett Favre screen pass was inadvertently tipped up in the air by Chester Taylor and returned 82 yards for a touchdown by Keyaron Fox. When you’re winning games due to fluke interceptions and fumble returns, you’re lucky, but I’m not sure how good you are. The Super Bowl champs are clearly a good team, but I’m not sure they’re a great team.

7. Bengals – Okay, I’m in on the Bengals. They are an actual good team. They are capable of dropping a game at home that they should win. (See Texans, Houston) However, they are also capable of dropping a bomb on a decent team like the Bears. Their defense harassed Jay Cutler into multiple mistakes, and Carson Palmer was on fire, as was the charismatic but stupidly self-renamed Chad Ochocinco. (Seriously, can we please go back to calling him Chad Johnson? I like the guy, but this is a bad joke that is second year of being told.) When the Bengals are on their game, they are capable of giving anybody a game. They may even be able to win the AFC North. This game was the surprise of the weekend to me. I wasn’t surprised that they won so much as surprised they won by 35 points.

8. Ravens – Sunday’s game with the Broncos is huge for Baltimore. They are coming off of a bye, they are a good team that is unfortunately on a three game slide, and this game is way more important to them than it is to Denver. All of these signs point to a Raven victory, but all of those signs were present the last time the Broncos took the field, and yet they were able to take down the Chargers despite all of them. The Ravens really need this one a ton more than Denver does, as they cannot afford to fall much further behind the Steelers and Bengals, but if the Broncos have taught us anything thus far it’s that they should not be underestimated.

9. Cardinals – Suddenly Arizona looks like the class of the NFC West. Winning at Giants Stadium on Sunday night was big. They look to have recaptured the spark that they rode to the Super Bowl last year, and suddenly they may once again be a player in the NFC.

10. Giants - Dropping two in a row is worrisome for a team that half a month ago many were crowning as the best in all of football. Sunday night's game seemed like a given that the Giants would win, and yet the Cardinals outplayed them. Eli looked shaky, and the pass defense is suddenly very suspect.

11. Chargers – Dissecting the Chiefs puts the Bolts back at .500. At three games back of Denver, they are either finished or in perfect position to make their traditional second half run. Time will tell which option they take.

12. Cowboys – Breathe easier Cowboy fans, your team showed that it can play big against a legit team by taking down the Falcons in convincing fashion on Sunday. Despite looking very mediocre to begin this season, they find themselves with a respectable record of 4-2 and right in the middle of the NFC playoff hunt. The possibility even remains that the enormous testament to Jerry Jones’ ego in Irving known as the new Texas Stadium could host a playoff game in its rookie year.

13. Packers – Since losing to Brett Favre in Minnesota, the Packers have regrouped with a bye week and two victories over the twin titans of Detroit and Cleveland. They should be emotionally healed for this Sunday’s game in Green Bay against Favre and the Vikings which may be the toughest ticket of the NFL season. If they hope to compete with Minnesota this year for the division, they really need to take down Favre on his first visit to Lambeau as the opposing starting QB.

14. Falcons – After the opening drive in Dallas in which Atlanta marched right down the field for a score, it appeared this game might not be close. It wasn’t, but it was the Falcons on the losing end. The Cowboys shut down the Falcons who looked rather weak after looking like world beaters in the previous two games. The Falcons are turning into one of those teams that can look amazing or pathetic, and there is no rhyme or reason as to whether the good team or the bad team will take the field. I think they are better than the team that lost to the Cowboys on Sunday, but worse than the team that went into San Francisco a few weeks back and won 45-10, I’m sure the true Falcons lie somewhere in between.

15. Texans – Matt Schaub and company are sporting their first winning record of the season. The past two weeks they have looked somewhat impressive in taking care of a very solid Bengals team in Cincinnati and in holding off a late run by the Niners. Apart from two games against the Colts and one with the Patriots, the rest of their schedule isn’t overly imposing, and it’s not impossible to imagine that they make it to 9-7 which might put them on the outskirts of a playoff berth.

16. Eagles – Philly showed that they are capable of thumping a bad team. Donovan McNabb rebounded to have a decent game against the Redskins, but their defense had such gaping holes in the secondary that it would be difficult for a quarterback to not hit for a few touchdowns. I found myself wondering last night, “What is the point of having Michael Vick on this team?” He doesn’t seem to have the burst he had before doing time, and judging by the little bit I have seen him on the field; I don’t think he is making many defensive coordinators nervous.

17. Jets – The Jets were blessed by the NFL schedule gods with the one thing which is almost certain to cure a three game losing skid, a date with the Oakland Raiders. Pummeling Oakland 38-3 is a great way to get healthy, and the Jets need to get fat on this relatively easy upcoming portion of their schedule, as their final three games are pretty tough. New York ends with the Falcons, Colts and Bengals.

18. 49ers – The Niners were looking smooth right up until the week before their bye when they were pounded by Atlanta and then yesterday they were down 21-0 at half. What has happened to San Francisco? They were almost saved with a brilliant second half surge as Alex Smith was put in for Shaun Hill and he tossed three touchdowns to Vernon Davis, but it wasn’t enough, and they lost their second straight game. Now, it appears that Smith will pull starting signal-caller duties, as Mike Singletary’s club tries to recapture the magic from their opening month. I’m very interested to see how Smith does when it appeared as recently as three weeks ago that his last chance with the 49ers had passed.

19. Bears – Chicago is reeling. The Jay Cutler trade which was heralded as a huge coup for the Bears has not looked very good over the past month. His penchant for tossing careless interceptions is rearing its ugly head, he doesn’t have time behind the awful offensive line, and the defense is not stopping teams when they need to stop them. Losing to the Bengals is nothing to be ashamed of, but getting obliterated by them is not something that should happen if you consider yourself a contender. Not sure how much I believe in the Bears, the playoffs seem very unlikely.

20. Dolphins – Despite the fact that Miami is only 2-4, they have looked pretty solid this season so far. Sunday’s game may be the one that killed their postseason chances, though. When you have a team on the ropes at 24-3, you have to finish them off. Granted, that team was Drew Brees and his Saints, so it’s a tough task, but Tony Sparano usually finds a way to win that type of game. However, on Sunday, the Saints were too much and they kept getting stronger as the game progressed. Still, that was a huge opportunity lost for a team in Miami that really needed it.

21. Seahawks – Their schedule isn’t overly difficult, so if they are able to put together a good run, they could get themselves back into contention in mediocre NFC West, but that seems unlikely, as they have a tendency to get pounded by mediocre teams. Despite a lot of sleeper talk over the offseason, it appears that Seattle is still just not very good.

22. Bills – Buffalo has managed to cobble together two straight wins, although they are hardly setting the world on fire, they have managed to get some victories. In each of their past two wins, I hope Bills head coach Dick Jauron sent the opposing quarterbacks a game ball. Last week it was Matt Sanchez with five picks, and this week the immortal Jake Delhomme tossed three footballs to Bills defenders. It’s pretty nice to pick up wins when you are getting outplayed. The Bills offense is so bad that they have handed the reigns to a guy who played his college football at Harvard. The Ivy League is a wonderful place to find guys to lead your business, but there has been less success going there to find guys to lead your offense.

23. Panthers – Jake Delhomme is playing with zero confidence, and his results on the field suggest that he should not have any. Thus far this season through six games he has 4 touchdowns 13 interceptions and a dreadful 56.5 QB rating. John Fox can no longer hang his hopes on the possibility that perhaps Jake plays his way out of it. Carolina cannot win with what they are getting from the most important position on the field.

24. Jaguars – What is the significance of the following numbers: 46,520, 49,014, and 42,088? They are the attendance figures for the first three Jacksonville Jaguars home games this season. The stadium’s capacity is 76,877, so I think it’s safe to say that plenty of good seats are still available for Jaguars games. It’s hard to create much of a menacing home field advantage when half the seats are empty. Not that I blame the good people of Jacksonville, the Jags have hardly given them much to be excited about this year. This is one of the least exciting teams in the league; they can’t get anything good going on the field or in the ticket sales office. They can’t even get someone to sponsor the stadium. It used to be known as Alltel Stadium, but Alltel didn’t renew their contract after it expired, and the place is now known simply as Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. If the Jags can’t generate a little local enthusiasm, one wonders how much longer there will be a team in Northeast Florida.

25. Redskins – Look, I understand that your team is 77 years old, and that you have had the same team name the entire time you have been in existence. This does not change the fact that your name is racist, stupid, and in desperate need of a change. I used to be in the camp that hoped it would never get changed, but I changed my mind a few years ago, as it’s impossible to dispute that “Redskin” was a slur. It may mean something noble to Washington fans today, but you can’t change what it was. I fully support a change, besides, it’s not like the name is all that attractive anyway. Mr. Snyder, Start something new, and remove your football program from the ugly past. Plus, think of all the money you’d make with new merchandise! Changing the franchise name would be the only positive move that could come from Washington football this year, as the Redskins as currently construed on the field are an unmitigated disaster. Now the internet is buzzing about how Dan Snyder is acting like a petulant child and kicking out fans who have anti-Snyder signs or chant anti-Snyder slogans. He really needs a taste of the Han Solo edition blaster.

This Redskins logo has been seen all over the internets by now, but I find it the perfect accompaniment to the general mood of Redskin nation at the moment. Washington fans, you have my pity.

26. Lions – What a battle of behemoths we have in store on Sunday at Ford Field. Rams versus Lions! I guess I’d favor Detroit since they are at home, but if St. Louis wants to win a game this season; this may be their best chance. You have got to admire how the Lions are trying, but they are not talented enough yet to compete.

27. Titans – Congratulations to the Titans are in order for managing to not lose this past Sunday. True, they didn’t play a game, but with the way this season has started for Tennessee, we’re starting with baby steps. Oh, and a message to Jeff Fisher…When you’re 0-6 with a team that had the best record in the AFC a year ago, perhaps the best way to curry favor with your fans would be to NOT wear the jersey of an opposing quarterback from your own division and say that you just want to feel like a winner. Yes, we fans may be childish in not liking that sort of thing, but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, my man.

28. Browns – The fact that there are several teams that are worse than the Browns in the NFL speaks to the high volume of putrid teams in the league. There is zero reason for hope if you’re a Browns fan. Ever since this team came back into the league ten years ago, they have been mostly a laughing stock. It’s got to be discouraging to be a Browns fan. You see your team that has never even played in a Super Bowl and who’s only glory years come from the prehistoric time before the Super Bowl era leave town and quickly become a perennial powerhouse, even winning a Super Bowl. Four years after your team is ripped from your loving clutches, you get them back in expansion form, and that franchise bumbles and stumbles with only one playoff game for the entire first decade of its existence with little to no reason to believe that it will emerge from the mediocrity. If you live in Cleveland, you have my pity. I hope that LeBron doesn’t leave Ohio, just because if he does there may be mass suicides amongst the sports fans of Cleveland.

29. Raiders – After a bizarre week in which Oakland took down a decent Eagles team, order was restored to the universe as the Raiders returned to their Commitment to Exceptionally Bad Football. The Raiders were lambasted in front of a disgruntled Black Hole yesterday. The crowd, which dresses for Halloween year round, lustily booed Jamarcus Russell who was a pathetic 6-11 with two interceptions in the short time that Tom Cable allowed him to stay behind center. Russell took his last snap from center with eleven and a half minutes remaining in the second quarter. Bruce Gradkowski was brought into a game that was 21-0, and the Raiders didn’t exactly rally behind him as they ended up getting blown out 38-0 to the Jets in front of their home fans. All good mojo that they earned from beating the Eagles is officially gone, and Richard Seymour’s guarantee of a playoff berth seems slightly more ridiculous than it did last week.

30. Chiefs – I don’t think it’s too soon to say that Matt Cassel’s season with the Patriots may have been an anomaly. In his game against the Chargers on Sunday he completed only 40% of his passes, threw 3 interceptions, and had an embarrassing 25.3 quarterback rating. I think Kansas City may be regretting throwing a six year, 63 million dollar contract with 28 million in guarantees to a quarterback with exactly one good season since High School.

31. Buccaneers – You can take the team out of Tampa, but even a cross Atlantic flight can’t take the stink off of the Buccaneers. If the NFL really wants to grow the sport overseas, it should probably start sending better games over to London. It reminds me of when I ask my four year old daughter to share her toys with her two year old brother, she sort of does it, but he usually doesn’t get the good ones. Sorry, England, there are better games over here in the states, but apparently we don’t feel like sharing our good toys with you. This one was never close as the suddenly juggernaut Patriots ran roughshod over a weak Bucs squad in a 35-7 romp. The Bucs are a bad, bad football team.

32. Rams – The bloom is off the rose with Steve Spagnolo. The rookie head coach is flailing, and this Rams team is abysmal. It is not inconceivable that the Rams could follow in footsteps of Detroit and we could have a second consecutive year with a winless team. They have a few potentially winnable games with the Lions and Titans remaining on their schedule, but they have shown little that would give me confidence that they can even get one of those games.