GREG GAMBLE’S 2008 PIGSKIN PICKS: 56-35 ATS...62%
NFL 21-15 - NCAA 17-11 - Teasers 18-9 - Ladies 91-0
Before we get to tonight’s Monday Nighter, let’s look back at a wild weekend…and no, I’m not talking about me, redtube.com, and a half bottle of Hawkeye Vodka.
NFL analyst Mark Schlereth on the Plaxico Burress incident and the fact he wore sweatpants to the club: “I don’t feel comfortable putting a chapstick in my sweatpants cause I know it’ll fall out!”
BEST NFL PERFORMANCE
QB Tarvaris Jackson – After standing on the sideline with headset since Week Two, Jackson was extremely efficient and calm leading the Vikings to a victory in the 2nd half after Grandpa Gus injured his back. Completing eight of ten passes (105 yards) and throwing a game leading Tuddie in the 4th, the former Alabama St-star deserves props for keeping the Vikings playoff hopes alive. Call me crazy and a drunk, but because of that one outing & Childress decision to bench him earlier, I now believe he’s gonna be a solid NFL starter very soon.
BEST COLLEGIATE PERFORMANCE
While Bama FR WR Julio Jones is a frickin’ animal & would start for the Bears tomorrow, Timmy T made all the big plays Saturday Night and has a moxy that makes everybody on the Gators better...and I can’t believe how many analysts keep telling me he won’t be playing QB at the next level. While he never be mistaken for the Manning brothers & needs a quicker release, he’ll be starter for NFL playoff team by 2012.
BEST NBA PERFORMANCE
I never thought I’d say this, but it’s Chris MFin Duhon. On Sunday in a victory over the Pistons, the former Dukie and Bulls whipping boy played all 48 minutes, spent most the night chasing A.I. around, and still managed this ridiculous box score: 8-14 FG, 3-5 3-pts, 6-6 FT…25 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, and only 2 turnovers. If that’s what D’Antoni can do with a kid that had trouble setting his alarm-clock in Chicago, can you image what he would have done with Derrick Rose?!
TAMPA BAY BUCS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS (UNDA 39)
Even sitting at 9-3, with a logjam of teams sitting just behind them, tonight’s loser will be in for a Ronny Mexico type of canine battle to make the playoffs. The Bucs dominated the Panthers earlier in the year in Tampa (27-3), but I expect tonight’s contest to be much closer. In Week 6, Jake DelSPAZhomme was picked off three times and the ground attack produced its lowest rushing total of the season, while Tampa was balanced and controlled the time of possession battle.
Tonight, I expect Carolina to keep the ball on the ground, even if they struggle to move it against the league’s 11th ranked run D, to keep Tampa from playing on a short field. The Bucs dink-n-dunk style has been effective this season, but is not designed to march 80 yards so look for John Fox to concentrate on field position more than tuddies. With the thunder-n-lightning combo of DeAngelo Williams (955 yrds, 4.9 avg, 11 TD) & James Stewart (584 yrds, 4.6 avg, 6 TD), the Panthers will try to wear down the Tampa front and will use Steve Smith more as a decoy than a weapon to keep an extra defender out of the box.
As the Bucs, the loss of FB/RB Earnest Graham is much more devastating they people realize, especially with the unexpected wear-n-rear amassed by Warrick Dunn this season. While Cadillac Williams return from a devastating knee-injury has been miraculous, he’s nowhere near the same player he was prior and still working into sound football shape (2 games: 20 carries, 47 yards, 2.4 avg, TD). While Jeff Garcia has been the captain of the ship atop the NFC South, he’s been inconsistent at times and looked lousy last week against the Saints shoddy defense (9-23, 119 yrds, TD). Especially on the Monday Night stage, look for the Chucky Gruden to keep things short and sweet for TO’s former whipping-boy.
As mentioned, with the playoffs at stake...KEEP READIN' & DROOLIN'
As mentioned, with the playoffs at stake, I expect these two veteran coaches to concentrate on field possession and to rely on their kicking game for points tonight. While Steve Smith is one of the most dynamic playermakers in the league, with DelSPAZhomme’s struggles of late and ballhawk Ronde Barber shadowing the mini superstar, I don’t expect him to do much damage over the top. With the remaining ball-catchers the definition of “Possesion WRs”, two ball-controlling rushing attacks, and two stout defenses (TB 4th & Carolina 12th), I’d be surprised if either team eclipses 20 points tonight and for the clock to move quickly. While I’d like to take the home team (Carolina), I have feeling this one comes down to the last kicker to whack the pigskin (Matt Bryant or John Kasey).
Final Score: BUCCANEERS 13 PANTHERS 16