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Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008

Down to the Nitty-Griddy

The Fairly Detached Observers

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It still felt like summer when the Observers met on their favorite park bench to chat. But the NFL and NCAA say it’s football time, so the Observers got to the main task of pundits: making predictions and hoping no one remembers them when they prove wrong.

Frank: The Packers were 1-3 in the preseason, but this is what matters: Aaron Rodgers had a good game, a terrible game, a rebound game in the victory at Denver and a one-pass, one-TD game last week. Throw in a shaky situation with the backups and where does that put the hope-o-meter?

Artie: Well, the Pack has quarterback questions, but who doesn’t in that division? The Bears are back to Kyle Orton, with Rex Grossman as backup. The Lions have Jon Kitna, a walking question mark. And the Vikings have Tarvaris Jackson, who’s a little dinged up, and Gus Frerotte. But doubts about backups aren’t limited to the NFC North; take a look at the Republican Party.

Frank: Now there’s a veteran starter. Anyway, here’s my bold prediction: The NFL wants parity and this year we get it totally. Every team in the league goes 8-8!

Artie: Let the statistical tiebreakers run wild.

Frank: Except for this: The Packers somehow play a tie with someone, and Brett Favre and the Jets tie someone, so they go 8-7-1. That gives each team a first-round playoff bye. Then Rodgers does what Favre didn’t last year and wins an NFC title, and Favre wins the AFC in the howling winds of the Meadowlands. And there we have it!

Artie: It’s only fitting: a Jets-Packers Super Bowl. Whatever happens then, Brett can re-re-retire with dignity. But let’s see if the Packers’ schedule looks 8- 8-ish in the first place.

Frank: They open at home against Minnesota. A win, right?

Artie: You bet. Next, at Detroit. That makes it 2-0.

Frank: Then at home against Dallas. Nah, Jessica Simpson will show up and inspire Tony Romo, so that’s a Green Bay loss.

Artie: Next, at Tampa Bay. I’m thinking 2-2.

Frank: To open October, it’s Atlanta at Lambeau. That’s a win. The Falcons won a few years ago in the playoffs, but Michael Vick’s in a Leavenworth uniform these days.

Artie: Then it’s at Seattle. Our old coach, The Walrus, will win that one. Back to .500 at 3-3.

Frank: Next, it’s Indianapolis at home. Manning may not be what he was before his knee surgery, and it’s a home game. Let’s give them a win.

Artie: Could be. After the bye, a trip to Tennessee and a loss for 4-4.

Frank: Then it’s at Minnesota—uh-uh. But then at home against the Bears, who’ll be on their fourth QB by then. So a win makes it 5-5.

Artie: Monday night, Nov. 24, at New Orleans—if there is a New Orleans. If the Saints play like they were supposed to last year, the Pack loses. Then Nov. 30, at home against Carolina. I fear the Panthers take that one.

Frank: So it’s 5-7, but they get well at home against Houston. Then at Jacksonville: back down to 6-8.

Artie: Another Monday night, Dec. 22, at Chicago. By then the Bears might be trying Billy Wade at quarterback. So they sweep the Bears for 7-8, and then they’ll send the Lions to slaughter and voila! An 8-8 season.

Frank: Make one of the losses a lucky tie, have the other teams achieve their own mediocrity, and my prediction comes true!

Artie: Now for our Wisconsin Badgers, who zapped the Akron Zips and probably will maul Marshall. But then they go out to Fresno State, and a lot of people are conceding that one.

Frank: So they’re 2-1 going into the Big Ten schedule. That begins at Michigan, but the Wolverines may still be reeling from their latest disaster, a home loss to Utah.

Artie: With a new coach and new quarterbacks, sounds like a down year in Ann Arbor.

Frank: Then UW faces the hugest of the huge, Ohio State. But it’s at Camp Randall.

Artie: And their star runner, Beanie “Baby” Wells, got hurt Saturday. No one seems to know how badly.

Frank: And no one will for a while. It’s a national security issue in Columbus.

Artie: The Ohio State game is about four weeks away, so Wells could be back. And I’ll bet his backup is no slouch. But I’m gonna give the Badgers that game. And the one against Penn State the next week.

Frank: Then Iowa on the road and Illinois at home, with revenge on the Badgers’ minds.

Artie: I’ll give the Badgers both of those.

Frank: Then they’re at Michigan State. That’s one where you sail in with things going well and stumble.

Artie: Put ‘em down for a loss. But they’ll bounce back at Indiana.

Frank: Then it’s Minnesota at home, for Paul Bunyan’s Axe! The Badgers should keep it. So we have them losing two games overall and one in the Big Ten. Sounds like at least a share of the conference title.

Artie: And then, with the Big Ten trivialities over, it’s the Big One: California State Polytechnic University.

Frank: Why do college teams need to play 12 games, if this is the level of No. 12? The fact that the Badgers play Cal Poly, and lots of other big schools finish with cupcakes...

Artie: Poly wants a cupcake. Poly is a cupcake.

Frank: That shows me the NCAA’s real priorities. Stop telling me that it’s not about the money. Simply not true.

Artie: Funny thing about the money; I’ll bet tickets cost the same for Cal Poly and Ohio State.