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Eric Walden's NFL Four Downs: A small chance of a banjo ballet

Published September 29, 2012 6:41 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

First down San Francisco at N.Y. Jets

11 a.m., TV • Ch. 13

The skinny • So Rex Ryan is not going to put Darrelle Revis and his torn ACL on injured reserve yet "because there's that 0.0002 percent chance that he could play in the Super Bowl or something"? Really? (Insert audible sigh and dramatic eye roll here.) OK, let's try something out of your comfort zone, Rexy, and think through this logically. Recovery time for ACL surgery is six to nine months. So, even if Mr. Island needs only six, he wouldn't be back until … April. Whaaaat?! Thus, I have to assume the aforementioned "0.0002 percent chance" you referenced is more about your team's odds of making the big game than Revis being healthy for it. I think there's a better chance of the Super Bowl being moved back to April than your Jets qualifying for it.

The line • 49ers by 4.

The pick • 49ers. Last week's no-show against the Vikes aside, I still believe the Niners are a legit contender. There's at least a 0.0003 percent chance, anyway.

Second down

Oakland at Denver

2:05 p.m., TV • Ch. 2

The skinny • "Why are the Raiders even still popular?" my son asked me the other day. "Haven't they only had, like, eight really good seasons in their history?" I haven't verified his math, but the initial question is still valid. I know they used to be known for "Just Win Baby" and Lyle Alzado and "Bo Knows" and L.A. street gang attire and the oh-so-memorable Rich Gannon … but what now? Quick word-association game: What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say "Raiders"? If you answered "penalties," you are correct. So why are the Raiders still so popular? I have no idea. Why are Steve Martin, the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons leading a banjo resurgence? Some questions are just unanswerable.

The line • Broncos by 7.

The pick • Broncos. In the tune "Little Lion Man," the Mumfords sing, "I really [messed] it up this time." Could be the Raiders' theme song.

Third down

New Orleans at Green Bay

2:25 p.m., TV • Ch. 13

The skinny • Now that those Lingerie Football League washouts have exited stage left and the entire state of Wisconsin has begun its treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, we can finally move past the debacle that nearly caused Steve Young's head to explode (soooo close, and yet so far away) and onto this marquee matchup … featuring teams that are a combined 1-5. Hmmm … maybe they'd like us to linger a bit longer on the replacement refs? Anyway, you could argue the Packers ought to be 2-1 instead of 1-2, but that doesn't change the fact that a team that was scoring more often than George Clooney last year is now averaging 19 ppg. As for the Saints, I'm sure their defense will get a stop sometime.

The line • Packers by 71/2.

The pick • Packers. If they can't put up points against New Orleans, they may need to redirect their accusations of incompetence.

Fourth down

N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia

6:20 p.m., TV • Ch. 5

The skinny • LeSean McCoy vs. Osi Umenyiora is more a "feud" in the Simon Cowell vs. Paula Abdul sense than Biggie vs. 2Pac, in that thus far they've been limited to colorful back-and-forths and no one's been shot. It's had some good lasting power: Shady calling Osi the Giants' third-best D-lineman (and since amending it to fourth); Osi calling Shady "Lady Gaga" and telling him to "enjoy your special day" on Mother's Day. In the latest version, Shady told ESPN's "E:60" crew that Osi is just a "ballerina in a Giants uniform." Not sure I'll ever see the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Umenyiora performing in "Swan Lake," but if he gets ahold of McCoy on Sunday, he may well have a starring role in "The Nutcracker."

The line • Eagles by 2.

The pick • Giants. There's no dancing around the issue of the Eagles flaming out again if Michael Vick keeps averaging 17 turnovers a game.

… and nine to go

Tennessee at Houston, 11 a.m. • Matt Schaub's four-TD effort last week was a work of art. Reminds me of a Van Gogh, for some reason.

San Diego at Kansas City, 11 a.m. • Hopefully Jamaal Charles doesn't have to rush for 200 yards in order for K.C. to get another win.

Seattle at St. Louis, 11 a.m. • Seahawks may not need the generous officiating this time around.

New England at Buffalo, 11 a.m. • Little Billy Belichick could use a kindergarten refresher on keeping his hands to himself.

Minnesota at Detroit, 11 a.m. • Probably a good idea to let your center know you don't intend to actually snap the ball.

Carolina at Atlanta, 11 a.m. • Bound to be a bigger rout than Reagan vs. Mondale.

Miami at Arizona, 2:05 p.m. • The Cards have beat the 'Hawks, the Pats and the Eagles. Maybe they're legit.

Cincinnati at Jacksonville, 2:05 p.m. • Catfight! Actually, the teams' cheerleaders brawling might be more interesting.

Washington at Tampa Bay, 2:25 p.m. • RG3 took almost as many hits last week as Mitt Romney.

Byes • Indianapolis, Pittsburgh