Eric Walden's Four Downs: Dress up as a good team for Halloween
First down: Washington at Pittsburgh
11 a.m., TV • Ch. 13
The skinny • Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, I think, for the chance it affords to become someone other than who I am. As a child, my favorite was being a pirate eye patch, big gold earring, even one of those 99-cent plastic swords one year (loooooved it; thanks, Mom). Now, as a 30-something child, my favorite Halloween persona is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Slash. From the moment my sister Andrea first played her "Appetite for Destruction" cassette, I was smitten with his guitar playing. It's a pretty good costume: frizzy black hair, top hat, nose ring. All in all, I'm a decent facsimile of Slash until you ask me to strap on a Les Paul and play "Sweet Child o' Mine." It's a painful reminder that as much as I may look like Slash, I'm not actually him. Makes me wonder if Halloween is really popular in Pittsburgh. You've got guys running around in the black and gold, the names on the back of the jerseys match â¦ they look like the Pittsburgh Steelers until you ask them to step onto the Heinz Field turf and play football. Then they don't resemble the Steelers so much anymore.
The line • Steelers by 41/2.
The pick • Redskins. Robert Griffin III has a thing for superheroes. Loves Superman, loves the Hulk. Makes sense he sure can fly in the open field, and he's certainly been a beast so far.
Second down: Oakland at Kansas City
2:05 p.m., Ch. 2
The skinny • Speaking of people who resemble football players until they actually start playing football â¦ what the hell happened to these teams?! Again revisiting the days of my youth, I used to love watching these teams. Couldn't wait to see Bo Jackson decide whether he was going to run by you, around you, or over you. And couldn't wait to see Derrick Thomas treat the offensive line as though it didn't even exist on his way to another sack. So, again, what happened? Well, as every talking head likes to say, the NFL is a quarterback's league. And so, as Jamie Hyneman of "Mythbusters" likes to say, "Well, there's your problem." The Raiders must be regretting swapping all those high draft picks for Carson Palmer, whose career path runs fairly parallel to that of former NBA bust Joe Smith both guys were taken No. 1 overall, both stuck around a while, both put up decent numbers occasionally, and neither ever made you think, "Now that's a guy who can carry a team and was worth the No. 1 pick." As for the Chiefs â¦ well, what does it say about them that it'd be a dream for Carson Palmer to be their QB? They are, after all, resorting to starting Brady Freaking Quinn this Sunday. And yes, that's really his middle name. Look it up.
The line • Chiefs by 11/2.
The pick • Chiefs. BFQ can at least hand the ball off to Jamaal Charles 25 or 30 times.
Third down: N.Y. Giants at Dallas
2:25 p.m., TV • Ch. 13
The skinny • If Cowboys owner Jerry Jones were serious about winning, he'd get rid of his personnel guy. Yes, I'm aware these are both NFC East teams and therefore it's a "rivalry" in the traditional sense, but can we really consider this a rivalry at this point? I know, I know Dallas apologists will concede the Giants are dominating now but argue that everything's cyclical, the Cowboys will come back around, blah, blah, blah. In theory, it's true: The Cowboys won two titles in the '70s; the Giants won in '87 and '91; the Cowboys won three of four Super Bowls between '93 and '96; and the Giants have won two of the last five. But, looking at these Cowboys, you get the sense they're on the cusp of contention, that they're due for some dominance? Nope, me neither. While the Giants continue to acquire players who are complementary and clutch, the 'Boys continue to throw big money at big names and figure it'll work out sooner or later. So â¦ about that personnel guy â¦ "Jerry, we appreciate all the hard work you've done, but it's time to make a change. We've got a nice front office job all set up for you."
The line • Giants by 2.
The pick • Giants. In a tight game, who you trust throwing the ball, Eli or Romo? And who do you trust to catch it, Cruz or Dez? That's what I thought.
Fourth down: New Orleans at Denver
6:20 p.m., TV • Ch. 5
The skinny • Can't imagine either Drew Brees or Peyton Manning is having a season that at all resembles what they anticipated just a few short years ago. You think Brees figured that, even with him continuing to put up prolific numbers, his team would be in better position for a top-10 draft pick than a playoff spot? And do you think Manning figured he'd be wearing blue and orange, or that arguably his greatest success this season would be acquiring 21 Papa John's pizza franchises in the Denver area to set up his long-term financial future in case that neck of his acts up again? New Orleans is 2-4. Denver is 3-3. It's not what you'd traditionally label a marquee matchup. So why do we care about this game? Because Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are playing. They're two of the transcendent players of this generation, quarterbacks who make you believe that no matter how far down they may be, if there's sufficient time left on the clock, you'd be foolish to give up and change the channel. In an NFL dominated lately by talk of bounties and concussions, that's something worth watching.
The line • Broncos by 6.
The pick • Broncos. With all due respect to the QBs, this one comes down to the fact that the Broncos' defense can sill get some stops, and the Saints' defense can't.
â¦ and eight to go
Carolina at Chicago, 11 a.m. • The Amish are more likely to start buying stock in Apple than the Panthers are to set foot in the end zone more than once.
San Diego at Cleveland, 11 a.m. • Remember when Philip Rivers vs. Brandon Weeden would've seemed like a mismatch? Those were the days, eh, Chargers fans?
Seattle at Detroit, 11 a.m. • Facing one of the league's top defenses probably will not help the Lions solve their turnover and penalty problems.
Jacksonville at Green Bay, 11 a.m. • The Jags won't have MJD but will have Blaine Gabbert. What horrible luck on both fronts.
Miami at N.Y. Jets, 11 a.m. • So the Jets talk openly about "taking out" Reggie Bush, then claim it was all "taken out of context." I'm starting to think these guys really don't understand ANYTHING.
Atlanta at Philadelphia, 11 a.m. • Michael Vick vs. Matt Ryan. Yeah, Falcons fans, I think your QB situation turned out OK after all.
New England vs. St. Louis at London, 11 a.m. • Some Brits are gonna be bloody good and mad when they show up to Wembley for the football match and discover neither Arsenal nor Man U are involved.
Indianapolis at Tennessee, 11 a.m. • I wonder if it makes Jets fans upset that even Andrew Luck has more rushing touchdowns than Tim Tebow?
Byes • Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Houston