Having just celebrated yet another birthday, I find myself in a reflective sort of mood. One thing I think I’ve learned as I get older is how to make better decisions.
In life, I have found that it helps to consider all possibilities before acting. An easy way to do that is to play the “best case/worst case” game. For example, should I use my soon-to-be-expired “buy one, get one free” coupon for Sonic even if I’m driving in solo?
Best-case scenario: I get two, delicious, juicy burgers all to myself.
Worst-case scenario: Massive heart attack.
Or, in an otherwise innocuous conversation with my wife, should I speak out loud the potentially insulting comment that just came into my head?
Best-case scenario: She sees the humor in my remark and is reminded of one of the reasons she is so happy to be married to me.
Worst-case scenario: An immediate serving of my least-favorite dinner – cold shoulder and hot tongue.
Come to think of it, I guess as I’ve gotten older I haven’t learned how to make better decisions. Pity.
Applied to the rapidly-coming-to-a-close CBS reality juggernaut Big Brother:
Best-case scenario: Hayden wins final head-of-household and takes Enzo, setting up for the jury house an intriguing choice of Best Competitor vs. Best Social Player.
Worst-case scenario: Forced to sit through two interrupted hours of Julie Chen-hosted television, I manically claw my eyes out and set fire to my out-of-print Criterion Collection DVD edition of This Is Spinal Tap.
Fans of the Minnesota Vikings have to be playing the “best case/worst case” game after Thursday night’s competitive but ultimately ugly loss to the New Orleans Saints. After watching Brett Favre struggle to connect with anybody not named Visanthe Shiancoe (and then only prior to his being sufficiently covered), fans have to assume that the best case scenario for the 2010 Vikings is that the team can piece together a .500 record until they get a healthy Sidney Rice back.
Worst-case scenario is the Vikings offense continues to struggle badly, a fed-up Favre decides to hang it up mid-season and be a full-time stay-at-home dad (Oops, I mean stay-at-home granddad), and after stupidly trading away the not-terrible Sage Rosenfels, the Vikings are right back to what they were two years ago – a mediocre team crippled by an awful quarterback.
Here’s my “best case/worst case” for the rest of the NFC:
Best case: Derek Anderson plays like the Derek Anderson of three years ago, Beanie Wells stays (or gets) healthy, and the Cardinals repeat as NFC West champs. Matt Leinart gets photographed with more drunk co-eds in Houston.
Worst case: Derek Anderson plays like the more recent Derek Anderson, Larry Fitzgerald can’t get open without former teammate Anquan Boldin, Beanie Wells misses significant time, and the defense plays like it did in last year’s playoffs. And following an injury to Matt Schaub, Matt Leinart leads the Texans to their first-ever playoff appearance.
San Francisco 49ers:
Best case: Alex Smith become an elite quarterback and leads what becomes – with Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, and Michael Crabtree – an elite offense deep into the playoffs.
Worst case: The team underachieves yet again, and tired of once again failing to make the playoffs, head coach Mike Singletary quits to go on tour with the reunited Chicago Bears Shufflin’ Crew.
Best case: In his return to the NFL, head coach Pete Carroll extends the success he enjoyed at USC, and the Seahawks make some noise in a terrible division.
Worst case: Pete Carroll continues to be dogged by accusations of wrongdoing while at USC, Matt Hasselbeck continues to stink, neither Justin Forsett nor Leon Washington fulfill expectations, and Seattle gets next year’s number one draft pick.
St. Louis Rams:
Best case: Sam Bradford shines, giving St. Louis the franchise quarterback they haven’t had since the Greatest Show on Turf, and giving Steven Jackson more room to run.
Worst case: Sam Bradford suffers another injury to his shoulder, the defense shows no improvement, and the Rams finish the year as the worst team in the league. Again.
Best case: The Cowboys become the first team to play a Super Bowl in their own stadium.
Worst case: Tony Romo starts dating Justin Bieber, the crowded backfield never sorts itself out, Dez Bryant can’t stay healthy, and the team once again folds down the stretch.
Best case: Albert Haynesworth and Mike Shanahan make nice, Donovan McNabb plays like Donovan McNabb (and beats his former team twice), Clinton Portis reestablishes himself as an elite back, and offseason upheaval finally works for the Redskins, sending them into the playoffs.
Worst case: Shanahan’s defense is as bad as it was in Denver, Donovan McNabb becomes as big a sports joke in DC as Gilbert Arenas, and Joey Galloway turns to dust.
Best case: The McNabb to Kolb transition works for Philadelphia as well as the Favre to Rodgers transition worked in Green Bay, LeSean McCoy makes everyone forget about Brian Westbrook, and the Eagles surprise by winning the NFC East.
Worst case: the McNabb to Kolb transition works for Philadelphia as well as the Leno to O’Brien transition worked for NBC, McNabb embarrasses his old team, and the Eagles finish in the NFC East basement.
New York Giants:
Best case: The defense isn’t horrible, and the Giants return to the more run-oriented, time-of-possession style of offense that they excel at.
Worst case: The defense stinks, Brandon Jacobs pouts, and the Giants’ new stadium starts to attract brown bag-wearing fans.
Green Bay Packers:
Best case: Aaron Rodgers wins the league MVP, the Packers lead the league in scoring, and they win the Super Bowl, beating Brett Favre twice (three times?) in the process.
Worst case: Last year’s NFC Championship game repeats itself as the defense – particularly the secondary – can’t get healthy and the offense can’t be counted on to outscore everybody every week.
Best case: Mike Martz and Jay Cutler fall in love and turn the Bears promising offense into the best thing to happen to the city since Oprah came to town.
Worst case: The Bears’ offensive line is as bad as feared and interception-prone Cutler can’t stay upright long enough to throw anything accurate. Oh, and Brian Urlacher gets injured. Again.
Best case: Matthew Stafford continues to improve, rookies Jahvid Best and Ndamukong Suh have immediate impacts, Calvin Johnson plays up to his potential, and the Lions climb out of the NFC North cellar.
Worst case: These are the Lions. The football gods will have to have mercy and let them win at least three games.
Best case: A sexy preseason pick proves itself worthy of its preseason hype.
Worst case: Matt Ryan’s play continues to drop off, leading some ill-informed and/or intoxicated fans to chant “Vick! Vick!”
Best case: A very talented team picks up where it left off at the end of the 2009 season (three straight dominating wins) and steals the division from New Orleans.
Worst case: A team with a lot of question marks picks up where it left off at the end of the preseason (no offensive touchdowns) and finishes third in the division.
New Orleans Saints:
Best case: Last year’s Super Bowl champs become the first team since the 2003-2004 Patriots to repeat as World Champions. Thursday night’s opener was highly inconclusive.
Worst case: The high-risk, high-reward defense becomes high-risk, the pressure of repeating takes its toll, Thursday night’ two missed field goals by Garrett Hartley become a trend, and Drew Brees continues to lose more hair.
You know, like Enzo on Big Brother.
NFC Fearless predictions:
NFC East: Cowboys
NFC North: Packers
NFC South: Saints
NFC West: 49ers
Wild cards: Bears, Panthers
NFC Champion: Packers