One more round of gridiron picks

“I have to do some soul-searching right now. I’m a very frustrated man.”
So said Shannon Sharpe, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, after his team dropped a 27-10 decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers in an AFC divisional final Sunday.
That was pretty much my reaction after going 2-2 in my National Football League selections last weekend. I guess that’s what I get for sticking with the defending champs.
Now any chucklehead would be more than happy with batting .500 at football picks. But frankly, I was looking to run the table.
And if it wasn’t for that reversed fumble call which cost the Oakland Raiders their game against New England in the snowstorm Saturday night, I would have scored a respectable 75 percent (which incidentally was my high school and university grade average—no really, it was).
But enough ‘ifs’, ‘ands’ and ‘buts.’ I don’t cry over spilled milk. Look at those other “supposed” NFL prognosticators. They never get down on themselves despite going week after week of over-analyzing (for instance, a team’s winning percentage against opponents, who are coming off a win of five points or less, in domes on a Saturday night of a leap year when the stars are aligned) just to be right one-third of the time.
You have to pick yourself off the ground and continue to pretend to know what the heck you’re talking about. Which leads us to this weekend’s conference matchups.
New England Patriots at Pittsburgh Steelers
It’s tough to call a game involving two teams I didn’t think would get this far. The Steelers’ win over Baltimore this past Sunday clearly came on the strength of their defence, and the rest of the league has finally taken notice.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been gutsy all year but tell me this: if they had trouble against Oakland’s 16th-ranked defence, how will he handle the league’s top d-line and secondary?
A relatively healthy Jerome Bettis will be a key for the Steelers in this one as their offence will emphatically proclaim, “Hey, what about us” this weekend.
The spread has the Steelers winning by eight. But look for Pittsburgh to blow open the game after halftime to easily cover.
Philadelphia Eagles at St. Louis Rams
The Rams won’t blow the Eagles out this coming Sunday.
After seeing them dismantle the Packers last Sunday afternoon, that’s probably what everyone seems to be thinking. But when you consider the Rams’ secondary feasted on a trigger-happy Brett Favre, you have to believe scrambling, eye-on-a-first-down-run type of quarterback like the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb might give them trouble.
Against a middle-of-the-road Philly run defence, Rams running back Marshall Faulk could rack up more than 120 yards—plus another 50 through the air.
The line may say Rams by 11 but if the Eagles can show the same stuff they’ve shown the last two weeks, this one may be decided on a fourth-quarter drive.
But that’s as far any upset will go. St. Louis by three to five points.
• • •
Former Muskie Steve Robertson, a fifth-year volleyball player with the University of Windsor, has helped his Lancers to a 9-5 record so far this season, currently tops in the Ontario University Athletics West division.
Robertson is in his first-year in a Master’s of Human Kinetics program.
• • •
Still with university court sports, former Muskie Brian Kosowick currently is in his second year as student-coach with the University of Guelph Gryphons men’s basketball team.
Kosowick, a fourth-year business student, has been involved with the program in some capacity since starting school. The Gryphons are 8-4 this season, which is second in their OUA West division.
• • •
Birch Point Camp owner Dale LaBelle has cancelled his annual ice fishing derby on Northwest Bay next month due to lack of interest after two years in existence.
He said he’s planning a new bass derby in the fall to make up for it.
• • •
In liniment league action, the local Hoppers’ Bruins took home the ‘A’ crown of the 21st-annual Emo Cowboys Invitational with a 3-1 win over Sioux Lookout on Sunday.
Atikokan downed the host Cowboys 5-3 in the ‘B’ final.
Players from Fort Frances, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Atikokan, Emo, and Sioux Narrows participated in the 12-team event.
If you are planning any upcoming sporting events or have any sports-related information, feel free to call me at 274-5373 or drop by the Times’ office.
You also can e-mail me at rvillagracia@fortfrances.com

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