Manly House of Football: The good part

With the Bills slotted for the late game this past Sunday, I was at liberty to indulge in one of my favorite things -- the Red Zone HD channel. Dish owners with the NFL Sunday Ticket package already know the beauty of this deal.

What shall be said about a channel that lets you track every single game as soon as something interesting starts happening? Awe-inspiring? So good you find yourself looking nervously over your shoulder as if to ask "Does anyone else know about this?!!"

The Red Zone team does an unbelievable job of shuttling you all around the NFL globe. Such a good job, that even if you surrounded yourself with a bank of computers and screens you could never come close to trying to flick around on your lonesome. Andrew Siciliano does a terrific job of dishing the games out like a great point guard, and then there are the bells and whistles -- like when three games were coming down the wire with critical drives deep in enemy territory and the Red Zone split into three screens and showed them simultaneously! Say "hello" to your own personal war room, baby! BE WARNED: If you haven't checked out the Red Zone, you may never go back to watching a single game again.

See that? I found a silver lining to the Bills getting crushed 56-10!

Watching the 2007 Patriots burning every city in their path on their march to Lombardi has filled me with awe ... and loathing. It's like driving past one of those freeway wrecks gone so wrong they achieve a brutal majesty. New England's complete lack of mercy can be filed under theater of cruelty -- "What am I watching here, an NFL game or outtakes from Hostel III?" That's the loathing part, an emotion I found all the more amplified in the aftermath of my personal day of reckoning: Watching Brady and company hold my resurgent Buffalo Bills down and deliver the worst jail pounding in the 47-year history of the franchise.

Man, it's upsetting watching New England destroy teams you hate! Then it's your turn. I would imagine that right now, Eagles fans are going through the same sensations I did -- queasiness, cold clammy palms, a strange desire to jump in your car and keep driving until you run out of gas, only to start a new life as a fry cook in Bakersfield ...

You find yourself looking at all those smiling shots of Tom Brady and noticing the teeth are a little fang-like, and all of a sudden he's a dead ringer for TV serial killer Dexter.

You know it's coming, you brace yourself, and then ... it's all over so quickly you think it might have been a dream ... until you wake up to find bloody teeth marks on your couch pillow. This was a long way from the Bills' stirring near-win in prime time against Dallas. Say what you will about J.P. Losman, the kid can really throw the long ball -- a gift that supplied Bills fans with the only play worth watching all night when he hooked up with Roscoe Parrish for seven.

Parrish is what my old football coaches used to call "a speed merchant!" Know what else moved like a speed merchant Sunday night? ... Hope! Seriously, if you splice that one sublime bomb out of the game footage, I can honestly say you wouldn't see anyone in a red helmet make another play. Not one play.

The only other moment that kinda brought a smile to face? Hearing the stadium P.A. blasting Zeppelin's Good Times, Bad Times as the game slipped away. You don't hear that tune at too many NFL cribs -- I smiled at the novelty, I smirked at the irony. It reminded me of an old NFL Films "history of the Bills" VHS tape that was titled, I kid you not: Years of Glory... Years of Pain.

So J.P. and Roscoe gave me a dollop of glory, then here comes the pain. Three and a half hours of it.

56-10? Are you kidding me? Only "The Ludovico technique" can get you through a loss like that! (Google it, Thurman!) The only other Pyrrhic victory came when I read in the local press that the early blowout drove fans out of the stadium earlier, and thereby kept the arrests down. Hey, two thumbs way up!

Things are so lopsided this season, the general attitude seems to be, "Hey, you can't blame the Bills for losing by 46 points -- the real question is, can they get back on the horse and squeeze out a playoff spot?" Kind of absurd, when you realize that the absolute best-case scenario of any playoff spot means a third meeting with New England. Hmmm, let's see -- Buffalo has already lost two games to the Pats to the tune of an aggregate 94-17, and in the process displayed absolutely no signs of even being competitive! But hey, to paraphrase Ernie Banks: Let's play three!

It's just nuts. And to make matters worse, I sat the Pats defense on one of my fantasy teams -- not too smart.

The announcers had me laughing, too: "Some people think the Pats pour it on ..." Oh really? Do they? It's like an interviewer who soft-tosses the hard question with the time-honored header: "Some people say you are evil ..."

Despite Al and John's endless justifications that a pro understands it's his job to stop the Pats, and Brady's recent quotes about how the other team should feel bad about cashing their check the same week they allow 50 points to be scored -- which, truth be told, I can't really argue -- it still doesn't completely work. When New England went for it twice on fourth down with a huge lead, even the most naïve fans in the world couldn't deny that the Pats are earning some nasty karma. And not just from the hard working fans of Buffalo. All this talk of the pros understanding that it's not the other team's job to show mercy or call off the dogs? Fine, but let's get real -- if you're an NFL player, and you are getting humiliated on the national stage, do you really think that's not going to get taken personally? You don't think you're going to file it away in the old grudge bank every time you see Brady run and slide with a 32-point lead?

You don't think a lack of mercy begets a lack of mercy?

Case in point: Early in the game, the booth played a clip from the first Bills-Pats game, when Pats DT Vince Wilfork blatantly threw an elbow into Losman's knee, knocking him out for a bunch of games.

Hey, things happen, am I right? Especially in light of a week full of talk about locker room bounties and secret bonuses being paid for the darker achievements that can happen at the bottom of a pile.

Madden did a great job of highlighting the remarkable play of the Patriot pass blocking -- which is truly out of this world. It better stay that way, or NBC might be flexing its way right into Matt Cassel's first start.

A perfect Turkey Day slate

I went 3-0 on Thursday, but once again the expression "Pyrrhic victory" raises it's ugly head when you back the favorites. So let's really raise the brow sweat factor and line up a litter of underdogs worthy of your attention this weekend:

Some "little guys" we like this weekend

Looking to keep it close:
Vikings: Chester Taylor softens the injured RB blow a lot more than Reuben Droughns. Closer than you might expect here: Giants, 21-16.

Bills: No Lynch hurts, but so did that Patriots thrashing -- does pride take another holiday, or do they slug this one out? Jaguars, 17-13.

Looking to win outright:
Texans: Simply a different team with Matt Schaub at the controls, and that Browns defense is a wonderland ... Texans, 31-27.

Oakland: Divisional games are always tight. The Chiefs aren't quite there with Brodie Croyle, and something tells me the Silver and Black are due, baby: Raiders, 14-13.

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