Monday, November 01, 2004

NFL Re-Countdown: Mondays Off! Special Election Preview Edition

As anyone who pays attention by now knows, the Washington Redskins have managed, in the last 16 presidential elections, to exactly predict a winner by their performance in their home game immediately preceding Election Day. Redskins win, incumbent party wins. Redskins lose, and the incumbents suffer a similar fate on Tuesday. So what happened on Sunday? Visiting Packers take a commanding lead into the fourth quarter, Redskins come all the way back to apparently grab the lead with only a few minutes to play, then have their touchdown reversed by the referees on a chintzy technicality. One interception later, Green Bay seals the deal and a victory for John Kerry on Tuesday. Mondays Off! believes this to be an astoundingly accurate prediction, as surely this election will be decided not by the voters, but by a third party that everyone wishes would simply stay out of it. Come on, lawyers! Let them play!

Other NFL notes before we get on to our Election Coverage:

They Punted a Few Times After All

Those of us who were hoping for a repeat of last year’s meeting between the Colts and Chiefs which involved lots of points and exactly 0 punts were half-disappointed by yesterday’s matchup, as punters got to ply their craft 6 times during the game. As if to make up for the embarrassment, the two offenses still combined for 80 points (the pre-game Over/Under was a measly 57), as Priest Holmes and the Chiefs downed Peyton Manning’s fun bunch 45-35. Hey Peyton, why not do yourself a favor, take some of your $34 million signing bonus and buy your coach a safety? I know that you’d be dipping into your retirement fund early, but I promise your golden years will be a lot more enjoyable with one less yacht and one more ring.

Mondays Off! officially proclaims these guys “For Real”

Ben Roethlisberger: This kid just has all the throws, and he doesn’t make stupid rookie mistakes. At one point yesterday, he went 27 real-time minutes without an incompletion. In comparison, see Carson Palmer’s final-minute sack/fumble at Tennessee—a play Roethlisberger would have avoided either with quickness or by throwing the ball away. Big Ben is finally going to create a star in Plaxico Burress.

The Houston Texans: Save for Jabar Gaffe-ney and his premature jocularity costing his team a touchdown, this young offense can play with anybody. Andre Johnson is studly, and the offensive line, suddenly less offensive, is finally giving him time to get open. We all knew David Carr would eventually find him if he just had half a chance.

Chris Brown: The Titans risked a lot by dumping leader Eddie George in the offseason and handing the running game to a guy most of the country hadn’t heard from since he personally steamrolled Nebraska in a Big 12 Championship game a few years back. Yesterday he proved that he, like George, could play through a painful turf toe and carry the load in Steve McNair’s absence, to the tune of 32 carries, 147 yards and a touchdown.

You Got Served

Philadelphia’s Terrell Owens--live from the Land of 1000 Touchdown Dances--finally broke one out that was worth the time yesterday, showing up the Ravens’ Ray Lewis by going right over the middle, catching Donovan McNabb pass, and speeding to the corner of the end zone. He finished off the play with a remarkably accurate rendition of the Ray Lewis dance, complete with grabbing a handful of turf and smelling it. Despite oft-conflicted views of end zone celebrations, Mondays Off! finds that bit of taunting nothing short of satisfying. Let these showboats focus their energy on each other, and the league will be a happier place. (Public Service Note to TO: Ray Lewis has been known to be vaguely affiliated with brutal stabbings.)

Segue

Much like the political nation, the NFL is currently experiencing unparalleled parity. After 8 weeks, 22 of the 32 NFL teams are still above or within 2 games of .500. That means that just about everybody remains in the hunt, somewhere in the middle of the pack. The key, just like in an election, is for those middle of the road teams to make a few plays here and there that can push them into the win column. Is this good for the league? Maybe, maybe not. Everybody’s got a chance every week, but that’s because everybody’s pretty much mediocre (that goes for the politicians as well). And in that world, we’ll let Bill Parcells be our guide—turnovers are king. So what are the turnovers that will make the difference on Tuesday?

Both parties have droves--literally, droves--of lawyers standing by, as it becomes more apparent that whatever the results of Tuesday’s count turns out to be, neither side will accept the legitimacy of a victory by the other. To paraphrase an analyst on CNN who, I believe, recently said it best—thousands of lawyers standing around with nothing to do WILL FIND SOMETHING to do.

Officials in Delray, FL, have already begun analyzing the validity of hundreds of absentee ballots. Around 150 have been tossed out because they weren’t signed. Dozens of others have already been determined to be invalid because the signatures on them supposedly didn’t closely enough resemble the signatures on file for the voters. This means that the officials who couldn’t, four years ago, determine whether a hole was fully punched through a card are now performing handwriting analysis. I've said it before, I'll say it again--the apocalypse is nigh.

Today, as part of a last-minute, six-state tour, George W. Bush welcomed a surprise guest to an appearance in Pennsylvania, having Curt Schilling join him onstage. Reportedly, Bush is having White House team doctors suture his forearm to his lips so as to prevent them from moving in any “undesirable” ways and causing him more pain. Schilling, bloody sock and all, approved this message.

This morning John Edwards made his point when he said, “So many times we’ve been told that this is the most important election of our lifetime. This is the most important election of our lifetime.” Well, John, we’ll leave that judgment to the historians.

Mondays Off! Official Election Handicapping

The oddsmakers have made George W. Bush (-2 ½) the favorite. I don’t like the spread--basically he’s getting the home points—so I’m going out on a limb, laying the points and taking Kerry as a Road Dog by 2.

Mondays Off! is proud to set the official Over/Under for the date on which the election will be decided at Monday, November 22. Those of you who believe that we will have a decision before that, good luck to you. I’m taking the Over.

Other Prop Bets I’m looking at:

Whose daughters will show up most scantily clad? I like the favored Bush girls at 6-5.

TV network most likely to prematurely declare a victor? I’m taking the dark horse Dan Rather and CBS at 16-1. Despite his recent controversy, and many predicting him to therefore take a safer approach, I like his track record of reckless Texas truisms and (albeit unproven) drinking habits.

Oddsmakers have given us enticing 4-1 odds that both Bush and Kerry declare victory Tuesday night. I’m parlaying that with my 9-1 that Kerry uses at least 3 foreign languages in his victory speech, giving me a nice 30-1 payout on Wednesday morning.

Mondays Off! wishes luck to both candidates as they begin this arduous 6-week election process. May the best party lawyers win. See you next time.


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