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Eric Walden's NFL Four Downs: There's lots on the line, like hatred and regret
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

First down

Baltimore at Cincinnati, 11 a.m., Ch. 2 • These teams made fans overjoyed to have splurged on tickets to last season's finale when they sat their starters after two series because there was nothing at stake. Surely this year will be different, though. The Bengals could be the No. 2 seed if they win — and if the Pats lose to the Bills. So probably not. The Ravens, though, must need a win to get in, right? Unless the Chargers, Dolphins and Steelers all lose, too. So … how much did those tickets cost?

Second down

Carolina at Atlanta, 11 a.m., Ch. 13 • Van Halen reunited with David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar for huge tours, only for all involved to remember belatedly they hate each other and decide that the payday wasn't worth it. Meanwhile, Guns N' Roses have reportedly turned down similar offers, on account of Axl Rose and Slash realizing being richer than Midas still wouldn't be worth the misery. Anyway, I know nothing about Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez's musical tastes, but I'd like to think he prefers GN'R to VH.

Third down

Denver at Oakland, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 2 • The Raiders owe soon-to-be-ex-Texans-interim coach Wade Phillips a beatdown. After he suggested Peyton Manning doesn't really own the single-season TD passes record, on account of the league allegedly telling him a Manning TD to Eric Decker vs. Houston shouldn't have counted, you know Manning will throw sixish TDs just to prove a point. Maybe Oakland can throw Nnamdi Asomugha out there one last time — he's spent the last 3 years getting beat for TDs anyway.

Fourth down

San Francisco at Arizona, 2:25 p.m., Ch. 13 • I'm shocked to see Arizona with 10 wins and in contention for a playoff spot. Especially with Carson Palmer as the quarterback, given that he commits a turnover about as often as Miley Cyrus pretends to hump something. Of course, the Cards' chances hinge upon them beating the Niners and the 4-11 Bucs beating the Saints. So I like them getting in about as much as I like the decision to show this game instead of Green Bay at Chicago.

The final down

Philadelphia at Dallas, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5 • I won't even pretend to be objective. I'm an Eagles fan, and I couldn't loathe the Cowboys more if I were Stewart Copeland and they were Gordon Sumner (if you don't know, Al Gore invented the internet). And so I laugh at the Dallas fans who once skewered Tony Romo and now cry over him. Nothing can screw this up. Except maybe for my Washington-fan friend calling with good-luck wishes. If he spreads his team's stank onto my team …

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