We heard you missed us, we’re back! We brought our pencil.  Give us something to write on, man.

The NFL playoffs enter their second weekend, and although we have no interest in talking about what happened last week (where have you gone Thomas Edward Brady, Jr?  Pats’ nation turns its lonely eyes to you.  Oooh, Oooh, Oooh), we feel it is our duty to report that in three of the four Wild Card round games, evil won out over good (The Cowboys and Jets are unequivocally evil, while the Ravens took out our beloved Patriots.  We really had no feelings either way about the Cardinals and Packers, but at least those teams were able to put on an entertaining show).  Now, this weekend’s Divisional Round is upon us, and we really have no one to root for.  But since we are a full service operation, we will nonetheless fill you in on what is on tap for this weekend, no matter how much it stings us that inferior New York Jets team is still alive while the Patriots have already packed in until next fall. Here’s your weekend preview.

Here it is a nutshell, non-sports fans.  If you want to make plans for this weekend, we suggest that you get them all out of the way before 4 p.m on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon at 4:30, the New Orleans Saints will host the Arizona Cardinals in the first divisional playoff match-up.  The Saints, who started the season 13-0 before stumbling down the stretch and losing their last three contests, will be facing an Arizona Cardinals offense, led by quarterback Kurt Warner (pictured), which put up 45 points in their opening round triumph over the Green Bay Packers. We haven’t made a practice of making predictions on games, but since the Patriots are now out of it, we can say that the Cardinals are the only team left in the playoffs that we don’t find distasteful, so we will openly be rooting for them on Saturday to advance to the NFC Championship game for the second straight year.

In the other NFC playoff game, to be played on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., the Dallas Cowboys will travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings.  Now we hate the Cowboys like we hate death and Duke basketball.  But we also hate Brett Favre.  What do you do with a match-up like this?  We’re our holding our nose and picking the Vikings because our hate of an entire franchise outweighs our contempt for just one man. (more…)

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Yes, there is college basketball this weekend (we are particularly intrigued by the Duke-Gonzaga game), but the NFL is once again the story.  The league has a full slate of games, spread over four days this weekend,starting with the Colts 35-31 win over the Jaguars last night, continuing into tomorrow’s game between the New Orleans Saints and the Dallas Cowboys, followed by your regular Sunday afternoon rundown of games, and concluding on Monday night, when the New York Giants face the Washington Redskins. Yes Virginia, that is a helluva lot of football.

But mercifully, Saturday afternoon still belongs to the non sports fan, so enjoy that time.  Here is a rundown of a couple of the bigger NFL games on the docket for this weekend so you can sound inform when the conversation at your holiday party shifts from Tiger Woods to the NFL.

1.  We have pretty much conceded, after their win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night, that the Indianapolis Colts are going to go undefeated this year.  It breaks our heart, but we have stopped fighting this.  However, so great is our desire to see the New Orleans Saints lose before the regular season comes to an end in three weeks that we are doing the unthinkable.  We are rooting for the Dallas Cowboys.  The Saints play the Cowboys on Saturday night in a game that Cowboys quite frankly need to win if they are going to keep their playoff hopes alive. The game is at 8 p.m. on the NFL Network, so non-sports fan subscribers to Time-Warner can rejoice.  You don’t get the NFL Network, and neither will your sports fan if he happens to be at your house.  Huzzah! (more…)

Ladies and other non-sports fans: you officially have your Saturdays back.

College football’s regular season shuffled off this mortal coil last week (with the exception of Saturday’s Army-Navy game), so expect your sports fan to be a bit at a loss for things to do on Saturday.  There are no NFL games on Saturday this week, although that will change next weekend when the NFL Network begins double-barrell action on both Thursday nights and Saturday nights. Yes, college basketball season has started, and we will address a couple of the bigger games on tap for this weekend below.  But it is hard for the average sports fan to seamlessly transition from college football to college basketball, and most middle-of-the-road athletic supporters don’t start paying attention to college hoops until about late January or early February. So rejoice.  From now until the beginning of the NFL playoffs, when the league will schedule games for both the late Saturday afternoon as well as Saturday night, you can once again call Saturday your own.  Go purchase and decorate your Christmas tree, or make plans to go to that Saturday afternoon holiday soiree.  Your sports fan will have no excuse for not attending.  Happy Holidays, indeed.

But all that once again will come to a screeching halt on Sunday, when the NFL returns with a full slate of somewhat meaningful games.  Here’s a look for what’s on tap for this weekend.

1. There are only four weeks left in the NFL season, so we are running of games that the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints can lose.  Both teams are undefeated and both will put those unblemished marks on the line on Sunday.  The Saints will travel to Atlanta to face the suddenly-reeling Falcons, while Peyton Manning (pictured) and the Colts will host the resurgent Denver Broncos.  We have no problem saying that we are rooting for each team to lose before the end of the season, largely because we are Patriots fans, and New England is only team to navigate a 16 game regular season without losing in 2007 (Of course, they lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl, ruining all the great memories that were attached to fabulous campaign.  We are still not ready to talk about that.) Our main beef with these teams is that we do not feel like either is an All-Time great team.  The Saints needed a miracle in Washington to win last week, and have major problems on the defensive side of the ball.  And this Colts team is not even the best squad they have fielded this decade (both the 2005 and 2006 teams had better personnel). So we will be cheering for both the Falcons and Broncos on Sunday.

2. Other NFL games of interest feature the Cincinnati Bengals traveling to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Giants hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Dallas Cowboys squaring off against the San Diego Chargers in Dallas.  All three games have major playoff implications, especially the Philadelphia-New York game.  A win by the Eagles would put them in the driver’s seat in the NFC East with only three games left to go. (more…)

Today is a day for family, even those family members you don’t like. That aunt who refuses to stop talking even when it is obvious that no one has listened to a word she has been saying for the last 20 years. That cousin with the ridiculous conspiracy theory about Obama having started the Vietnam War. Or that uncle who insists on stepping away from the table with his plate in hand as soon as grace is over so he can go back to watching the Cowboys game.

Actually, we are here to help out with that uncle. Thanksgiving is one of the few days a year when the non-sports fan among us will most likely be forced at some point to watch a football game, and will most likely have to do so with real football fans. That’s where we come in. There are three professional football games today, but only two will likely interfere with your holiday plans (seriously, does anyone have the NFL Network?) and we will be adapting our Water Cooler Cheat Sheet to get you through Turkey Day looking like a sports fan, while counting the minutes until you can return home.

Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 12:30 p.m. on FOX.

Traditionally, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys always host afternoon games on Thanksgiving, with the Lions playing early and the Cowboys playing at around 4:30. Thus, the Lions game is the one that is on while most people are preparing to host or go to dinner on the East Coast, and it is also the game that has just started while our West Coast brethren are stumbling out of bed. In other words, this is the game the non-sports fan needs to know the least about.

Turkey Dinner Cheat Sheet

“I thought for sure when Stafford got hurt at the end of last week’s game, he wouldn’t be playing today. The Lions actually have a chance with him in the line-up.”

Matthew Stafford (pictured with what appears to be a dislocated shoulder) was the Lions first-round draft pick this past April, and he had the game of his life last Sunday against the Cleveland Browns. The rookie quarterback threw five touchdown passes, including one on the final play of the game, to lead Detroit to a dramatic 38-37 victory. But right before throwing that last touchdown pass, Stafford injured his shoulder, and was not expected to play today. But now it appears that he will be in the line-up. Just say this little throwaway line, and you should be fine. But make sure it is during the Lions game. If you say this during the Cowboys game, you will look like a nitwit, and will be forced to spend the rest of the pre-dinner festivities in the kitchen.

Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys, 4:15 on CBS

The Dallas Cowboys ruining your classy Thanksgiving dinner is as much a part of Turkey Day as cranberry sauce and stuffing. Every year, the Cowboys play a home game at exactly the time that most families on the East Coast will be sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner. You will be forced to render an opinion on this game. Luckily, we have one for you.

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We are only eleven weeks into the season, but we would almost be ready to call the races in seven of the eight division in the NFL.  Indianapolis, still unbeaten after its win over Baltimore on Sunday, now holds a commanding four-game lead in the AFC South with only six games to play, while New Orleans holds an even more impressive five game advantage in the NFC South.  Minnesota holds a comfortable three game lead in the NFC North over Green Bay, which actually represents a four-game advantage as the Vikings have swept the Packers this season and the first tiebreaker in a division championship situation is head-to-head record.  Arizona is up by three games in the NFC West, while New England has two game lead on Miami in the AFC East. Also, Cincinnati’s lead over the Steelers is virtually two games because of a head-to-head sweep, and San Diego re-established dominance in the AFC West with its win thrashing of the Denver Broncos on Sunday.  That leaves only the NFC East, where the Cowboys hold a slim one game lead over both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants with six games left on the regular season schedule.  Here is our very NFC East-heavy recap of what you may have missed yesterday.

1. The Dallas Cowboys only scored once yesterday, but it was enough to defeat the moribund Washington Redskins 7-6 yesterday at Cowboys Stadium.  The Redskins missed two short field goals over the course of the contest, and those misses by Shaun Suisham came back to haunt Washington when Tony Romo connected with Patrick Crayton (pictured celebrating) for the game-winning score with a little more than three minutes remaining in the game.   Washington quarterback Jason Campbell threw an interception on the ensuing possession, sealing the victory for the Cowboys, who have only scored two touchdowns in the last two weeks.  Not exactly inspiring football, but they will have a chance to get better when they play the dreadful Oakland Raiders on  Thanksgiving Day.

2. The Philadelphia Eagles won a game they absolutely needed to win, beating the Chicago Bears last night 24-20 in Chicago.  The Eagles have been terribly inconsistent this season, looking like world-beaters one week, and losing to a team like the Raiders the next. (btw, the Raiders may be awful, but they do already have three wins this season, more than four other teams in the league and equal to another five squads.) The Eagles will get their second chance at the Redskins this Sunday .  They won the previous match-up between the two teams earlier this month. (more…)

College football’s traditional rivalries have been in a state of flux for the past several seasons as most conferences in major college football, save the Big Ten, have decided to extend their seasons well into December. But two such rivalries, the Bay Area’s Big Game, and the annual Ohio State-Michigan tilt are on the docket for this weekend.  Also, NASCAR will mercifully come to its conclusion on Sunday, but that day, as always, will belong to the NFL.  Here’s a look at what’s on tap for the weekend before Thanksgiving.

1. Ohio State-Michigan, with apologies to the Alabama-Auburn game, is the best rivalry in college football, and those two storied programs will meet this weekend.  Honestly, if these two programs didn’t hate each other and have a history of playing some great games, there would be very little reason to watch this one.  Ohio State locked up a Rose Bowl berth last week by beating Iowa, and Michigan has not won a game against a Division I foe since late September. But the Wolverines may very well be playing for coach Rich Rodriguez’s job, and the Buckeyes always love trouncing Michigan.  Even this year, it is must-see TV. It’s on ABC at high noon.

2. Stanford-Cal does not have quite the history to it that the Michigan-Ohio State game has, but Big Game has had its fair share of big moments (most notably, the “Band is On the Field” game in 1983). But this edition should be a good one as both teams enter into the game with solid squads.  Stanford is fresh off a thrashing of USC last weekend, while California beat Arizona last Saturday to run its record to 7-3 (identical to that of the Cardinal). That’s a 7:30 EST kickoff.

3. Finally, we are once again ignoring NASCAR, and jumping straight to the NFL slate on Sunday.  (more…)

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Save for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins squaring off in Washington for tonight’s Monday Night game (we’re taking the Eagles in that one, although our fantasy team really needs a big night from both Donovan McNabb and Clinton Portis), Week 7 of the NFL season is in the books, and it was another great day for one Thomas Edward Brady Jr., and a terrible day for Chicago Bears, and it looks like the Cowboys have found a top receiver.  Here’s our brief recap of all the action you may have missed yesterday.

1. The Dallas Cowboys returned from their bye week to register the single most impressive win of the weekend by trouncing the Atlanta Falcons 37-21 last night in Dallas.  The star of the game was Dallas wide receiver Miles Austin (pictured), who backed up his 250-yard performance two weeks ago against Kansas City with a 171-yard, two touchdown game yesterday.  We still don’t think Miles Austin is any good.  But we can’t deny that he was the reason why the Cowboys won yesterday.

2. Kudos to the Cincinnati Bengals for rebounding from their loss to the Texans last week by destroying the Chicago Bears 45-10 yesterday in Cincy.  But seriously Bears, what was that?  You let Cedric Benson, a player you cut last year, run for 189 yards and allowed Carson Palmer to throw five touchdown passes?  We thought you guys were supposed to be a tough defensive team.  And then you only score 10 points?  We thought that Jay Cutler was supposed to be your offensive savior.  It is easy and lazy commentary to say that perhaps the Bears would be better off with Benson and Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton (both of whom were on the roster last season), than they would be Cutler and current running back Matt Forte.  We understand that it is not that simple.  But that performance was straight-up embarrassing.  We thought you were better than that. (more…)