If there was one image that captured the pain out of missing the playoffs, it has to be the Vikings' Brian Russell trying to push the Cardinals' Nate Poole out of the end zone at the end of the 2003 season.
Not only did it knock Minnesota out of the playoffs, but it paved the way for the Packers to enter via an NFC North Championship. Yay!
Keep in mind, if this play happened today, it would be ruled an incomplete pass. Oh, the unfortunate history of the Minnesota Vikings.
But yet, this picture sums up how I feel this week. For you see, I am one with the Minnesota Vikings this week, as I am feeling the pain of missing another fantasy football playoffs.
This is the seventh year my league has been in existence, and it's the sixth year in a row I haven't made the playoffs. I went from battling for the league title in year one, to a nobody for the last six years.
To make matters worse, I believe I've missed the playoffs by one spot in four of the last five years.
But for many of you, this is playoff time. This is when everything you've worked so hard for this year starts to pay off. And hopefully you can win a little of the money back that you put into fantasy football, and blow it on a New Year's celebration (Rock Bottom in Milwaukee, anyone?)
1 point - Atlanta over New Orleans
I've talked before in this space about how I sometimes make my picks based on what I want to happen. Usually, those picks turn out to be a disaster. But then I realized there is another stupid tactic I use when making these selections. Sometimes I pick against teams if I am mad at them.
In this case, I guess I'm still mad at both teams for beating the Packers this season. But the Saints loss happened more recently, so the grudge remains against them. At least I've learned that when I use this unfounded methods for games, I put low points on them.
2 points - Buffalo over Miami
I used to think it was stupid when the Packers played a couple of home games every year in Milwaukee, which is about a two-hour drive. Still, I can't imagine how Bills fans are feeling as if they want to watch their team this weekend, they better have a passport ready. (Actually, do you need a passport to get to Canada from the U.S? Probably, right? I've never been.)
Financially, this is a great move for the Bills, as they try to gain a fan base in another major market, even if it is in an entirely different country. And even if Toronto has been trying to get an NFL franchise of their own. I'd hate it if I was a Bills fan, or an Argonauts fan for that matter, but if it helps keep the team in Buffalo, then what's to complain about?
Well, how about the whole home field advantage thing? The Bills are giving up a December home game to play in a dome against the Miami Dolphins. From a competitive standpoint, that seems a little backwards.
Maybe they could have scheduled this game earlier in the season, and I imagine that's what they will do from now on. Some fans have argued for the roof to be open, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen.
Expect a good game though, and good luck to Ricky Williams in his sort-of homecoming.
3 points - Carolina over Tampa Bay
Remember last week when I said that for some reason I just never found myself interested in NFC South games? Maybe I spoke too soon. Both the Atl/NO game and this one are very compelling match ups, especially with all four teams in that division fighting for a playoff spot. So, retract that statement.
4 points - Baltimore over Washington
Speaking of distances between cities, these two teams are located just an hour from each other. These are also two cities I've never been to, which I wish was difference I each reach the quarter-century mark of my life.
In high school, my senior class had a nice little trip planned to both New York City and the District, but then a little thing called 9/11 happened.
Speaking of which, I have to say I am quite surprised, in a good way, that there hasn't been another attack on U.S. soil since that day. When that all happened, I remember thinking, "Well, this is just something we're going to have to get used to."
I'm especially thankful there hasn't been an attack during a sporting event. That's a lot of people together at one time participating in something that can be considered a tent pole of Western Civilization.
Sorry, I didn't mean to get all heavy on you there. Just drive safe, and call when you get there.
5 points - New York Giants over Philadelphia
Instead of writing a rehashed discussion about the situation of Plaxico Burress, let's remember the good times:
6 points - Chicago over Jacksonville
Did you know that 85 percent of Chinese people have cataracts?
Yep, and the other 15 percent drive Rincolns.
(Sorry to offend, but I couldn't think of anything to write for this game, so I went with the cheap racist joke. Please forgive me.)
7 points - New York Jets over San Francisco
Thank God the Packers are on CBS this week, otherwise those of us in Wisconsin would be subject to another Jets game. Speaking of Brett Favre, where do you think he would fall on the Most Fascinating List of Wisconsin Athletes in 2008? Brew Town Beat has the answer (although No. 1 isn't really an athlete. Spoiler Alert!!!)
8 points - Green Bay over Houston
Last week, the Packers were tied with the Panthers at 28 with two minutes left, but couldn't get the ball in the end zone, even with three chances from the one-yard line. Instead, they kicked a field goal on fourth down rather than going for it.
Whether it was the right call or now, it raises a question many Packers fans are starting wonder. Why is Mike McCarthy suddenly so conservative? Does he not have confidence in Aaron Rodgers?
Speaking of the Packers, despite all the good things I said about attending Lambeau Field in this week's Winks Thinks, tickets are getting a little too easy to come by (how's that for finding something to complain about?).
I've heard several stories of scalpers practically giving away their tickets for the game last weekend, including one man selling three tickets for a total of $30.
As for the Texans, I have to say for once I agree with Torn Kornheiser. Those jerseys they wore the other night sure did look like ketchup bottles.
9 points - San Diego over Oakland
Regretting only putting nine points on this one. In a side note, this game provided the debut of watching the NFL in 3D, something Pro Football Talk has been hyping up for weeks. Love what you're doing over there Florio, but the self-depreciating shtick is growing a little old.
10 points - New England over Seattle
Some people have suggested that Mike Holmgren is leaving Seattle to first take a year off, then try to land a job with the 49ers. Even though that is where he got his start, I can't see him going there. I think he's done after this year. Also, it just occurred to me that he's been with the Seahawks a lot longer than he's been with the Packers. Weird.
It also just occurred to me that Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre have a lot more in common than being on the cover of a magazine while eating sausage. Both cost the Packers a Super Bowl in their last year with the team! Holmgren leaving was a distraction in '97, while Favre being too old hurt them in '07! Laugh it up, boys.
11 points - Arizona over St. Louis
How about instead of talking about this game, we talk about the fact that the Ball State Cardinals turned down a bid to Boise State in the Humanitarian Bowl? Sure, the bowl is located in Boise, but this would have been a great matchup.
All this talk about how the fans (including Barack Obama) want a playoff system might be for naught, since the teams clearly don't want it. Come on Ball State, you're a mid-major school! You could use the exposure like this. Jason King of Yahoo! explains.
God I hate college football sometimes.
12 points - Pittsburgh over Dallas
An interconference battle filled with rivalry and intrigue. They've faced each other in the Super Bowl on three different occasions. They could very well meet in the Super Bowl this year.
With the firepower of the Cowboys offense and the aggressiveness of the Steelers defense, who should I possibly choose? Despite the 10 road wins by teams in the NFL last Sunday, when in doubt, take the home team.
13 points - Denver over Kansas City
Personal story time. I was unemployed from September to November of this year, and technically I still don't have a real job. And in that time one of the things I did more than anything was play MarioKart with my blogging partner, Bear.
We used to play at least six nights a week, and the rivalry got pretty intense. But lately, it hasn't been that way. I am currently busy working jobs for minimum wage in Fond du Lac, while he is working in Appleton during the week (40 minutes away, to continue with the trend of this column).
The distance is far too great for us to meet up and play Kart, so I give him this song (because of MarioKart, not because of the gay undertones it might provide):
For real though, I just wanted Bear to see that video. We're not gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
14 points - Indianapolis over Cincinnati
I used a high draft pick on Carson Palmer, and was excited to finally have a good quarterback on my fantasy team. Unfortunately, he didn't perform so well, then got hurt. It's no wonder I haven't reached the playoffs in six years.
15 points - Tennessee over Cleveland
I used a high draft pick on Derek Anderson, and was excited to finally have a good quarterback on my fantasy team. Unfortunately, he didn't perform so well, then got hurt. It's no wonder I haven't reached the playoffs in six years.
Yep, same team.
16 points - Detroit over Minnesota
Clearly, I'm going for broke with this pick. These are the kind of picks you have to make if you are going to catch up in a confidence points pool with four weeks to go.
Although I just realized that the guy who is in first place forget to make his picks this week, so now I'm sort of regretting putting this much confidence in a Lions team that has only looked good for about two quarters this season (One of those against the Packers. Don't tell me you're not nervous about an 0-15 team coming to Lambeau).
I'm following some of my bad habits with this pick. I'm picking the team I'm less mad towards. I'm also picking what I want to happen. And I'm hoping, that deep down, somewhere in the Lions hearts, they find it within themselves to do me this solid.
The picture I used this week was of one of the most demoralizing losses in Vikings history. With the Lions help, I'll be able to do it again next week.
By the way, if you are a Vikings fan, I would just give up and never read anything I write ever again. I don't mind.
And sorry again about the racist joke.