Crystal Ball

WEEK THREE CRYSTAL BALL: GURU Asks “Whither the Giants?”

My friends, THE GURU is ready for another slate of games as we continue to assess who is good, who is bad and who is in the middle.

We’ve watched closely as the Rams, Jaguars, Bears, Patriots, Texans, Eagles, Skins and Dallas all went one way in Week One, only to experience a reversal of fortunes in their second game. Yet, one team that has looked the same over the season’s first two weeks is the New York Football Giants, particularly offensively. And that ain’t good.

Just one touchdown and 13 points in two games. And, in parody-like fashion, the rookie who scored the Giants only touchdown, Evan Engram, was penalized for grabbing his nether regions immediately after the score, resulting in a 15-yard penalty and giving the Lions the ball on the NYG side of midfield.

And how about Eli Manning? My goodness – if you’re BROTHER BLUENIK, the anticipation when Eli drops back to throw feels like the split second between when you stub your toe and when excruciating pain shoots through your body.

Longtime Jints’ fan VIGGY wants to pull a Jay Gruden and order a “Code Red” but he’s too depressed to mobilize the troops. NORTH END DAN is mumbling incoherently, which wouldn’t be news except for the fact that he’s doing it while shuffling around lower Manhattan in his polka-dot boxers. And, even worse, the downtrodden BROTHERS WHITMAN don’t feel well enough to consume their favorite snooty IPA, from the I’m A Better Human Being Than You Brewing Co.

This week the Giants travel to Philly in a game they likely need to win to save their season. As long as one of the two teams loses, humanity wins.


The Week Two was record was 10-6, moving the season mark to 17-14 (.548). On to the games…



8:25 PM, NFL Network   

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) at San Fran (0-2)
This was once a great rivalry with fun personalities like Joe Montana. Eric Dickerson. Jack Youngblood. Huey Lewis…AND The News. Now it’s the football equivalent of a waterlogged sandwich with nothing good on the inside.

Both teams are substandard but the Rams, with Jared Goff and a good defense, are much closer to being a quality squad. RAMS, 33-20.



9:30 AM, YHOO

Baltimore (2-0) at Jacksonville (1-1) in London.The NFL on Yahoo and in London? What kind of alternative universe are we in?

Actually, either via the Web or in person, the Jaguars have something good to show the UK, led by an ironfisted ruler like Tom Coughlin, the football equivalent of Churchill (OBNOXIOUS MIKE just dropped his Cookies n’ Cream Muscle Milk, walked away from the dumbbell rack and said “Churchill? Never heard of him. Who’d he play for?”)

Last week, the Tom Coughlin Redface Index (TCRI) reappeared with a rating of 7 on a scale of 1-10 (“Kool-Aid Man”) as the Jags lost 37-16 to Tennessee. This week could be a challenge. RAVENS, 20-17.


Denver (2-0) at Buffalo (1-1).Two former American Football League rivals battle in upstate New York, conjuring up memorable moments that far predate THE GURU. True fact: The Bills first home game in the old AFL was against the Broncos, a 27-21 Denver victory in 1960.

Buffalo, it should be said, got the best of the Broncos more often, winning two AFL championships (versus none for Denver). In fact, the Broncos’ #1 AFL claim to fame may well be the rant by coach Lou Saban, reputed to be a distant cousin of Nick — “They’re killin’ me Whitey, they’re killin’ me!”

As for this game, you have to roll with the home squad, barely. BILLS, 17-16

…Pittsburgh (2-0) at Chicago (0-2). In 1943, the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia franchises were combined due to World War II, forming a team unofficially known as the “Steagles.” If the Steelers and Bears clubs were to combine in this day and age, the newly formed club would be known as the Steelers. STEELERS, 33-9

…Cleveland (0-2) at Indianapolis (0-2). With Cleveland and Indy, you’ve got two cities that, like DUBS BAKER at a high school prom, know abandonment. Art Modell & Co. fled Cleveland in 1995 for the more hospitable environs of Baltimore. This, of course, occurred after Robert Irsay and his minions had left Charm City in the dark of night in 1984 for Indianapolis.

What’s interesting about each of these relocations is that the average person who flees to Baltimore or Indianapolis is usually doing so involuntarily, either covered in duct tape or wearing handcuffs. BROWNS, 3-2

…Houston (1-1) at New England (1-1). This is a nice early-season tilt between two teams that staged a competitive playoff game in Foxboro this past season. Only trouble for the Texans and Deshaun Watson: Bill Belichick treats rookie QBs like a famished piranha welcomes a bleeding post-buffet FATBACK HOBBS. PATS, 35-17

…Miami (1-0) at New York Jets (0-2).
When I think of Dolphins-Jets – and I rarely, rarely do – I have visions of Daniel Constantine Marino, Jr. duking it out with Ken O’Brien in their legendary 1986 matchup. New York won the game in overtime, 51-45, despite six TD passes by Mr. Marino.

The Dolphins of today are not bereft of hope but the Jets are about as low as an 0-2 football team can go. DOLPHINS, 23-17.



New Orleans (0-2) at Carolina (2-0).
The Saints are winless and the Panthers are undefeated. Yet no one is questioning Drew Brees while many are doubting Cam Newton. That’s crazy stuff – QBs are judged by wins and losses and little else. PANTHERS, 31-29

…Atlanta (2-0) at Dee-troit (2-0). Raise your hand if you saw this as a marquee early-season matchup – you’re lying CHIEF! Sure, the Falcons are clearly the better team but Dee-troit is at home and Mr. Matt Stafford is some kinda magic at Ford Field. Upset special. LIONS, 37-34


…Tampa (1-0) loses at Minnesota (1-1) in a game that will be dominated by rookie running back Dalvin Cook, whether Sam Bradford plays or not. VIKES, 24-22

…New York Giants (0-2) at Philadelphia (1-1). These two teams have engaged in some amazing games over the years, most notable Miracle at the Meadowlands #1 and #2. Both of those contests went the way of the Birds and, let’s face it, most folks see this tilt heading in the same direction.

Saying that the Giants have had a rough start to the season is similar to stating that Custer struggled at the outset in Little Big Horn. EAGLES, 17-15.


4:05 PM, FOX

Seattle (1-1) at Tennessee (1-1). Hall of Famer Steve Largent is probably the greatest player in Seahawks franchise history. Hall of Famer Earl Campbell is probably the greatest player in Titans franchise history (starring for Tennessee’s predecessor team, the Houston Oilers).

Here’s what’s crazy: they should’ve been teammates! Largent was selected by Houston in 1977 and Campbell was selected by the team in 1978. Unfortunately, the Oilers didn’t know what they had in the future star receiver, trading him to Seattle for an eighth-round draft pick. Imagine one team with both Largent and Campbell…could the Oilers, ever a bridesmaid to Pittsburgh, have interrupted the Steelers’ dynasty?

Back to the modern day, there’s something I like about this Tennessee club. Take ‘em this week. TITANS, 20-17.

4:25 PM, CBS

Cincinnati (0-2) at Green Bay (1-1). Marvin Lewis says he is confident he’ll remain as coach in Cincy so, no, it’s not weird that he’s updated his LinkedIn profile. PACKERS, 29-16


…Kansas City (2-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-2). Two more old AFL rivals match up in Cali and I look for the Chargers to make a game of it. Unfortunately that game is “Trouble.” CHIEFS, 31-26.

8:30 PM, NBC

Oakland (2-0) at Skins (1-1). A rematch of Super Bowl XVIII when the overconfident Skins, having turned in one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history, were trounced by a well-prepared Raiders squad. I remember crying like a baby that night until THE CHIEF put his arm around me and said, “Son, all a game like this shows you is that God doesn’t care about sporting events.” SKINS, 30-27.


8:30 PM, ESPN

Dallas (1-1) at Arizona (1-1).It’s hard to forget the best game in Cowboys-Cardinals history, a night when Rod Tidwell dominated and forever left his mark on cinematography. A Dallas loss on Monday night would certainly complete me. COWBOYS, 24-23.


That’s it for this week, all. Enjoy the games.

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