You've probably heard that thing about how when the Washington Redskins lose their last home game before a presidential election, the incumbent party loses the White House, and when the Skins win that last home game, the incumbent party wins. It's happened in all 16 elections since 1940, the Redskins' first presidential election year in Washington, and it even happened in 1936, when they still played in Boston.
While this sounds like a classic urban myth, it's really true. Snopes.com, the urban myth-debunking Web site, has an annotated list of the game and election results. This whole thing has even Democrats who don't know a touchdown from a touch screen rooting hard for the battleground-state Green Bay Packers, who visit the Redskins Sunday.
But the pundits are piling on this prognosticatory parlor trick as though it were the only game in town. It isn't. Consider this: Every time the Boston Red Sox win the World Series in a presidential election year, Woodrow Wilson gets elected president. You can look it up: 1912 and 1916. Now the Sox have done it again.
What's it mean? You read it here first: Woodrow Wilson in a landslide!
I happen to welcome this development, as I believe America needs a president who can wear a top hat with panache, a quality absent since the Kennedy administration.
Elections aren't the only things random sporting events can correctly predict. I could explain to you how the results of Arizona Cardinals road games forecast the weather in Bugtussle, Ky., with 97 percent accuracy, but it's really complicated and anyway I'm trying to get a book deal on the subject.
So instead we turn to NFL picks for Week 8. Sprung from their baseball postseason prison, they are allowed to breathe free and go over two sentences. Please note that the greater length of each blurb neither implies nor guarantees extra effort or better analysis.
Which reminds me: One reader scolded me for not pointing out in Thursday's World Series wrap-up that I had predicted the Cardinals would win in seven games, as though I could point out all of my bad predictions and still have room to write about anything else. But OK: I got the World Series pick wrong. I get most picks wrong. This is why I insist that you not use them as a basis for wagering. I prefer you send your expendable money directly to me.
So here we go, winners in caps:
ARIZONA (2-4) at Buffalo (1-5): The Cardinals might get 2003 Rookie of the Year Anquan Boldin back at wide receiver if his surgically repaired knee makes it through the week OK. They're coming off a big win over the Seahawks and trying to end a 16-game road losing streak. The Bills are just the Bills. You'll need a coat in Bugtussle next week. All I'm saying.
Baltimore (4-2) at PHILADELPHIA (6-0): With running back Jamal Lewis serving a suspension and tackle Jonathan Ogden out with a bum hamstring, plus tight end Todd Heap missing his fifth straight game with a sprained ankle, the Ravens appear ready to explore new worlds in offensive suckitude. The Eagles are just -- oh, gosh, I can't think of a word that reflects how good they are while playing off the all-avian nature of this game. Oh wait! Flying. The Ravens, this column's Super Bowl pick, are about to commence circling the drain.
CINCINNATI (2-4) at Tennessee (2-5): Two teams going in opposite directions, as of last week. I'll bite and say the Bengals' Monday night win over the Broncos was the start of something good.
Detroit (4-2) at DALLAS (2-4): There are three teams undefeated on the road: the Patriots, the Eagles and the Lions, who before their current three-game winning streak, had lost 986 road games in a row, dating back to the Crimean War. Not for any good reason, I'm picking the Cowboys to turn around their dismal season, however temporarily.
Green Bay (3-4) at Washington (2-4): What the Heck Pick of the week. With the eyes of a nation looking for clues to Tuesday's election result, I'm predicting a tie. Wouldn't that just kick ass? This pick is a first in WTH history, maybe a first in anybody's history. The Packers started out 1-4 but have since won two straight. "Like they say," lineman Grady Jackson said, "it's not how you start the race, it's how you finish." Phone call for you, Grady. It's War Emblem.
INDIANAPOLIS (4-2) at Kansas City (2-4): Touchdown! Remember that playoff game last -- touchdown! I say, remember that playoff game last year? They combined for -- touchdown! Combined for 69 points and -- touchdown! And 842 yards, and since then -- touchdown! I said, since then, neither team is significantly improved on -- touchdown! -- defense. First team to punt -- touchdown! -- loses. Of course, whenever I say this, the final is 5-3.
JACKSONVILLE (5-2) at Houston (3-3): I hopped off the Jags bandwagon last week, but I'm back on.
N.Y. Giants (4-2) at MINNESOTA (5-1): Last year the Vikings won their first six games, then lost a home game to the Giants. Team owner and employer of the year Red McCombs walked into the locker room and told the players, who at that point had compiled a 6-1 record, that they'd humiliated themselves and the franchise. Inspired, the Vikes went out and lost three straight, then missed the playoffs thanks to a last-second defeat to the Cardinals, which left them 9-7, or 3-6 since McCombs' Knute Rockne imitation. The surprising Giants, who lost to the Lions last week, should continue to come back to earth.
McCombs, meanwhile, has continued his class ownership act this year by saying how much he'd love to move the Vikings to Los Angeles and whining about how he'll have to sell the team if the state of Minnesota won't build him a stadium, even though he admits the value of the franchise "grows daily," and has more than doubled to $600 million since he bought it six years ago. What a guy.
Atlanta (5-2) at DENVER (5-2): Two teams that got rocked last week, the Broncos upset by the Bengals and the Falcons smoked by the Chiefs, who exposed the Falcons' run defense. The Broncos are another team that can do that.
Carolina (1-5) at SEATTLE (3-3): The Seahawks, unanimous media pick to waltz off with the NFC West and this column's NFC title pick, need a win badly after three straight losses. The defending NFC champs could use one too, though it's probably too late to save this hospital ward of a season.
NEW ENGLAND (6-0) at Pittsburgh (5-1): Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been impressive and the Steelers are right in the thick of the conference title picture. Could this be where the Pats' record winning streak ends, at 21 games? This should be a beaut, and maybe an AFC Championship Game preview, but the Patriots' complicated defensive schemes will be too much for Roethlisberger.
Oakland (2-5) at SAN DIEGO (4-3): All of a sudden the Chargers' offense is more than LaDainian Tomlinson. With Keenan McCardell and Bobby Shaw on board, Drew Brees -- Drew Brees! -- is leading a versatile passing attack to complement San Diego's great runner. A runner who, incidentally, owns the Raiders, though he's been bothered by a strained groin. You had the Chargers one game out of first at midseason, didn't you?
San Francisco (1-5) at CHICAGO (1-5): How could the Sunday prime-time game be the 49ers and Bears, who are awful and who everybody knew would probably be awful? My theory: Sunday night would have been Game 7 of the World Series. The NFL puts Sunday night games on hold in mid-October so they don't have to compete with baseball playoff games, but historically only about 40 percent of World Series go the distance. So the league scheduled a game for Sunday night, but with probable ratings losers, so appearances by teams that pull good numbers wouldn't be wasted. And anyway there was a chance -- something less than 40 percent but greater than zero -- that the 49ers, Bears or both would be better than anyone thought. It makes sense to me. A call to the NFL that was unfairly close to posting time went unreturned, but I'll let you know what the league says. In any event: Isn't there some curling on?
Miami (1-6) at N.Y. JETS (5-1): A two-game winning streak for the Dolphins? Don't think so. I just wanted to get back to the two-sentences per game routine for one game, but of course now I've gone and ruined it.
Season record: 62-40
Last week: 9-5
What the Heck Picks: 4-3
Average number of sentences per game: 4.2
Previous column: Red Sox win the Series
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