The Baltimore Ravens make their first — and more historically significant — last Texas Stadium appearance on Saturday night.
It’s too bad that the Dallas Cowboys aren't playing the Ravens in Baltimore, then we'd be able to see the Ravens' three mascots — Edgar, Allan and Poe. No kidding, that's their names.
The Ravens’ name was inspired by poet Edgar Allen Poe, a one-time Baltimore resident. Baltimore fans picked Ravens over Marauders and Americans because they had already had Colts stolen from them and, when they stole Cleveland's team, they were blocked from using Browns. Plus, unfortunately, the Baltimore Annabel Lees wasn't an option.
So, the big question this weekend is: Will the Ravens swoop into Texas Stadium and steal a victory from the suddenly hot Cowboys?
No, they won’t. The Ravens will forever have an 0-1 record at Texas Stadium because they will play there, quoth the Baltimore poet, “Nevermore.”
Indianapolis Colts (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars: Last week, Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio called his team's passing game “inept,” then the Jaguars threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns in defeating the Packers 20-16. So this week, Del Rio said his defense and special teams are inept, too. Pick: Colts 23-21.
Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys (-4): This is probably my last chance to write that this is some team's final game at Texas Stadium. So pull out the old hankie to wave goodbye to the Ravens and the stadium, then keep the hankie handy to wipe away tears of joy over the Cowboys making the playoffs if the Eagles lose or tie and the Falcons lose; or if the Bucs lose and the Eagles and Bears lose or tie; or if the Falcons and Bucs lose and the Bears lose or tie. Pick: Cowboys 16-10.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-1 1/2) at Tennessee Titans: The Titans are the NFL’s worst 12-2 team. Pick: Steelers 20-13.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (-3): I started to say bragging rights are on the line for these Ohio rivals, but what exactly would winning this game give either one to brag about? Pick: Bengals 20-10.
Miami Dolphins (-4) at Kansas City Chiefs: This game has the potential to be really ugly considering that the Dolphins tend to win ugly and the Chiefs tend to lose ugly. Hey, as long as the game is that predictable, I’m good with that. Pick: Dolphins 17-14.
San Diego Chargers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3): David Blaine called Norv Turner this week and asked how his 6-8 Chargers are still alive. Pick: Bucs 24-14.
Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots (-7 1/2): A week after clinching the division title, Arizona came out flat against the Vikings at home, trailed 28-0 at halftime and lost 35-14. It’s understandable that the Cardinals didn’t know how to react considering it had been 33 years since they had last clinched a division championship. Pick: Patriots 34-28.
New Orleans Saints (-6 1/2) at Detroit Lions: This is the weekend that the ’76 Buccaneers pop the champagne bottles. Their 0-16 record will be safe. New Orleans is out of the playoff picture, and with the Lions ending the season at Green Bay, they have more to play for this weekend than any other team in the league. Pick: Lions 27-24.
San Francisco 49ers (-5) at St. Louis Rams: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, based on team sources, said the Rams’ search for next season’s coach will be “full-fledged,” and it will take a full-fledged search to find someone who would want to coach this mess. Pick: 49ers 20-16.
New York Jets (-4 1/2) at Seattle Seahawks: This is Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren’s final game in Seattle, and — class act that he is — Holmgren plans on taking a postgame lap around Qwest Field to thank fans. Notice that I didn’t say he would be taking a victory lap. Pick: Jets 24-14.
Houston Texans (-7) at Oakland Raiders: You know how Titans players have been saying all season — even when they were 10-0 — that they weren’t getting any respect? Well, after the Texans beat Tennessee last week, linebacker DeMeco Ryans said, “It’s good to beat the best team in football.” There’s your respect. You happy now? Pick: Texans 24-13.
Buffalo Bills at Denver Broncos (-7): You want the good news or the bad news first? I’ll just give you both at the same time: Trent Edwards is expected to start at quarterback for the Bills. Pick: Broncos 27-17.
Atlanta Falcons at Minnesota Vikings (-3 1/2): This is basically a playoff game for both teams, and I don’t like either one of their chances in the playoffs. Pick: Vikings 28-23.
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Washington Redskins: Redskins coach Jim Zorn called himself the “worst coach in America” on Monday, but backed off those comments after watching the Browns on Monday Night Football. Pick: Eagles 31-10.
Carolina Panthers at New York Giants (-3): Giants bruising running back Brandon Jacobs — the “Earth” in New York’s “Earth, Wind and Fire” backfield — could return after missing Sunday’s loss to the Cowboys. Without him, the Giants looked more like “Dearth, Pinned and Mire.” Pick: Giants 23-17.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears (-4): My fearless Monday Night Football prediction: In the pregame spot from the booth, Tony Kornheiser will say, “This is our last Monday Night Football game of the season.” And Ron Jaworski will say, “Yeah, Tony, and do us a favor: Make sure you watch us next season and send us an e-mail to let us know how you’re doing.” Pick: Bears 23-20.
Last week: 11-5 (.688) overall, 6-5 (.545) vs. the spread. Season: 139-84-1 (.623) overall, 105-103-4 (.505) vs. the spread.