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WEEK EIGHT CRYSTAL BALL - WEEKEND: Jim Mora, Sr., was Right
My friends, there are few moments in life when a public figure says something so powerful…so heartfelt…so righteous that everyone in the audience takes notice and applies those words going forward.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” proclamation.
And, of course, to this illustrious list, I’d add the famous words of then-Saints head coach Jim Mora, Sr., who said a mouthful when speaking to press in 1989. In fact, he unleashed one of the best soundbites of all time.
Please put down your iPhone or breakfast sandwich. This is worth 62 seconds of your undivided attention.
“You guys really don’t know when it’s good or bad when it comes right down to it. And I promise you right now that you don’t know when it’s good or bad. You really don’t know because you don’t know what we’re trying to do.
You guys don’t look at the films, you don’t know what happened. You really don’t know. You think you know. But you don’t know. And you never will, ok? Just for your own information.
Sometimes I can tell you it won’t be good, and you’ll see it won’t be good. Sometimes you’ll think it’s good and it isn’t any good. Sometimes you’ll think it’s bad and it was pretty darn good. Sometimes you’ll think it’s bad and it was bad. But basically you really don’t know.
The only people that really know are our coaches. And that goes with run blocking, pass defense, all those things. The media, the public doesn’t know, you guys don’t know, not really, no.”
Through the years, this Mora rant has become an internet staple, something that folks poke fun at, like my weekly predictions. Truth be told, however, he was spot on when he made those remarks, and his words ring just as true today.
I thought of Coach Mora this week because his two former teams - the Saints and the Colts - face off at 1 p.m. Sunday in Indianapolis in a battle of 3-4 clubs. Millions will watch but, as Coach says, they won’t really know what’s going on.
I believe Mora’s wisdom is applicable across the football landscape, underscoring the fact that, no matter how much we think we know, we understand very little. And that goes for just about all of us, including yours truly.
When I watch a game on a Sunday afternoon - usually a teeth-gnashing affair when the Commies are involved - I often find myself asking questions.
“Why did they punt in that situation?”
“Why didn’t they challenge that official’s call?”
“Does Eric Bieniemy sweat more than I do?”1
Now, here’s what I need to understand: the coach who is making that decision is far more knowledgeable about the team and situation than me, the interested bystander. He’s the one at the facility all week. He sees everything at practice. He’s knows the players and their strengths and weaknesses intimately. He studies the opponent. He really understands what’s going on.
I know Jim Mora would agree.
In addition to New Orleans-Indianapolis, this week’s games include interesting inter-conference tilts and a few intra-divisional games. Oddly, however, there are no bye teams, a rare midseason scheduling quirk. That said, let’s make our picks,2 beginning with a few well-known rivalries.
The Eagles (6-1) will beat my beloved Commies (3-4) at 1 pm on Fox. Washington is home and continues to hold an all-time edge in this series (89-84-6) but the Birds are clearly the better team at almost every position. Also, like THE CHIEF after his early morning Metamucil, Philly is operating at a high level.
The seminal moment in my team’s season to this point occurred in Week Four when the Commies scored as regulation time expired to pull within a point of Philly. Head coach Ron Rivera, a man who understands his team much better than I do, played it safe and went for the extra point, tying the game. Still, I wonder how things would’ve shaken out if he went for two and won it.
Today’s biggest positive: I’ll be watching this game at home with THE CHIEF and THE TRE MAN with my parents in town for a rare visit. Hide the cutlery - it could be a long afternoon…
…in other divisional matchups at 1 pm, I love Minnesota (3-4) in Green Bay (2-4) and Miami (5-2), at home, against New England (2-5). The games are on Fox and CBS, respectively…
…in another game of great familiarity, I see Kansas City (6-1) winning in Denver (2-5), notching their 17th consecutive head-to-head win. This is one of those series that I refer to as a pizza rivalry i.e., THE GURU continually fights tooth-and-nail against his desire for a slice or three, considering the pros and cons like an experienced deli man weighing freshly sliced ham. But, in the end, pizza always wins.
Similarly, these games are often hard-fought battles - including the Chiefs’ 19-8 victory earlier this month - but, in the end, KC’s talent and coaching get the victory. Kickoff is at 4:25 pm on CBS.
Let’s look at the rest of the slate…
1 PM - Fox
Host Dallas (4-2) wins a tight one vs the Rams (3-4), the Colts (3-4) beat the visiting Saints (3-4) and Houston (3-3) rolls in Carolina (0-6). I love what this Texans team is doing.
1 PM - CBS
I’ll take the traveling Falcons (4-3) in Tennessee (2-4) and the resilient Steelers (4-2), at home, against Jacksonville (5-2). Meanwhile, at MetLife Stadium, the Jets (3-3) seem like a safe bet against their local counterparts, the 2-5 Giants. The Jints pulled one out last week but a win against the Commies is not exactly bragging material.
4 PM WINDOW
On Fox, I like Seattle (4-2) to get a home win against Cleveland (4-2), assuming they can block Myles Garrett. Goodness, he looks like the best defensive lineman in the league right now.
In the CBS games, let’s take San Fran (5-2) over visiting Cincy (3-3) and Baltimore (5-2) in Arizona (1-6). The Cards play tough but, like my brief dalliance as a bass musician,3 they’re dealing with a significant talent deficit.
In NBC’s Sunday game, I’ll take the host Chargers (2-4) against the Bears (2-5) and, on Monday night on ESPN, Dee-troit (5-2) topples the Raiders (3-4).
That’s all for now, folks. Enjoy the day and God bless!
No, he does not and it’s not particularly close. If I have a pulse, I’m sweating and it’s a full-body experience. Underarms, calves, eyelids. No body part is spared, or dry.
The season record stands at 68-39 (.636) after Thursday’s Buffalo win over Tampa. I’m keeping my day job, which is just as tenuous as this one.
I played the instrument as a fourth- or fifth-grader at Lettie Brown Elementary School in my hometown of Morton, Ill. Sadly, my career literally crashed when I fell on the bass and crushed it like a Bills fan taking down a tailgate table. I naturally told my mom I was shoved from behind and that I was too traumatized to play any longer. She naturally thought I was full of it. As always, she was spot on.