Picking The Divisional Playoff Games and Ranking Them In Honor of Steve Martin’s New Book

Here’s what I’ve done since writing my last entry here: Cursed the Buccaneers and Redskins for preventing me from looking like a football genius, changed lots of diapers (no, not my own), tried a new recipe (Pulled Pork in Root Beer Sauce; can’t go wrong with any recipe that has soda as a main ingredient), and read Steve Martin’s new memoir Born Standing Up.

I’ve always been a fan of Steve Martin’s and am embarrassed to say that his memoir was the first book I’ve read in a while (having kids will do that to you). After reading it, I became nostalgic for his stand-up career (even though I only experienced it after the fact, since he gave up stand-up when I was nine), and sort of freshly bummed that he traded it for a less-interesting film career that has had at least as many lows (Sgt. Bilko, Bringing Down the House, My Blue Heaven, Cheaper By The Dozen) as highs (The Jerk, Parenthood, Grand Canyon, Bowfinger).

What does all this have to do with this weekend’s NFL Divisional Playoff games? Well, besides picking the winners of each game, I’ll rate how watchable each game is in comparison to how watchable or listenable something is from Steve Martin’s career.

OK, it’s taken us a while to get here, but here we go:

Saturday at 3:30 PM: Seattle at Green Bay. I’ve already written about this game in my previous entry, and my feeling haven’t changed since that. While I definitely think the Packers have to take Seattle seriously, I just can’t see the Seahawks posing a real threat on the Packers’ road to the NFC Championship. Again, we’re talking about one team’s inability to run the ball making a difference, but this time it’s not the Packers who can’t run the ball, it’s their opponent. Forced to pass, I see Al Harris and Charles Woodson having great success against Seattle’s receivers. And I also see Favre getting the ball away quickly enough to negate Seattle’s pass rush. Final score: Packers 28, Seahawks 17. Compares with (if you’re a Packer fan): A Wild and Crazy Guy album — the most popular of Martin’s comedy albums or (if you’re just a football fan in general): the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride, which was enjoyable but toothless.

Saturday at 7 PM: Jacksonville at New England. Lots of people want to believe that the Jaguars can win this game. I want to believe that the Jaguars can win this game. People thirsting for a Jags upset point to Jacksonville’s stout running attack of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor and how the tandem will be used to keep Brady, Moss, et. al. on the sidelines. I suppose it’s possible, but no more so than my 69-year-old father buying calling me over to the house to challenge me to a Guitar Hero III showdown. Translation: Not going to happen. Final score: Patriots 35, Jaguars 13. Compares with: My Blue Heaven, a movie that some had high expectations for (Steve Martin as a mobster! With one of the McKenzie brothers!) but which ultimately stunk.

Sunday at 12 noon: San Diego at Indianapolis. This game could have been close if the Colts were forced to go without Marvin Harrison and if the Chargers had their full complement of weapons. Unfortunately for San Diego, tight end Antonio Gates appears to be out, and Harrison appears to be ready to go. It just seems inevitable that we’ll get Colts/Patriots again, which is what everybody wants anyway. Charger fans will have to be happy with last week’s playoff win, the team’s first in 13 years, and with the team salvaging what looked early on to be a disastrous season. Indianapolis 38, Chargers 20. Compares with: Mixed Nuts, a star-studded (Martin, Adam Sandler, Rob Reiner, Garry Shandling, Jon Stewart, Anthony LaPaglia) vehicle that bombed.

Sunday at 3:30 PM: New York Giants at Dallas. Here’s the most interesting game of the weekend. Dallas has looked awful lately, and the Giants have earned the respect from even their most hated observers (yours truly included) for their solid game against New England and their domination of Tampa Bay in last week’s Wild Card game. Not only has the emergence of Ahmad Bradshaw given the Giants a great backfield tandem with Brandon Jacobs, but Eli Manning has been much more hit than miss lately. And his receivers, particularly Amani Toomer, have actually been catching the ball. And even though Tony Romo did nothing wrong by taking assigned time off to go to Mexico with brainiac Jessica Simpson, he put himself in the unenviable position of having to play close to perfect to avoid major criticism of how he chose to spend his bye week. Dallas will be helped by having Terrell Owens back, but the Giants have only lost one road game all season. I see the upset in a very entertaining game that will put the NFC Championship Game where it belongs: Lambeau Field. Giants 27, Cowboys 20. Compares with: Steve Martin’s legendary late-seventies hosting gigs on Saturday Night Live, which brought the best out of Martin and the best out of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy the games.

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