This has been an unpredictable NFL season so far. That's my story, anyway, since I apparently wouldn't be able to pick the winner in a game between the '85 Bears and Huxley College.
But it's been predictable enough for some people, including the co-leaders of this column's NFL Panel o' Experts, Yahoo Sports' Cris Carter and my son, Buster, the coin-flippinest 3-year-old this side of the Van Allen belts.
It's also been pretty easy for porn star Adriana Sage, who publishes her weekly picks on her Web site EroticModelPicks.com. That's p-i-c-k-s. The site's not pornographic, though there's an ad for Sage's primary Web site prominently displayed. And in that ad, part of Sage is, almost, prominently displayed.
Sage, 26, has been at or near the top of the Panel o' Experts standings all year, ahead of such NFL smartguys as Peter King, Charles Robinson and Ron Jaworski. She says she grew up a Chargers fan in San Diego and got into the NFL when she played the video game "NFL Blitz" as a kid.
I spoke to her on the phone this week about her picking prowess.
What's your secret?
I don't have a secret. I guess I just pay attention to some things that I see on TV, and I go off of that.
How big a football fan are you? Do you sit around on Sundays and watch the games?
I definitely always watch the Chargers games, and if there's another interesting game I'll watch it, but I don't watch every single game.
Your line of work -- can I call you a porn star or is that somehow not cool?
Porn star's OK?
Oh my gosh, yes.
Do you see any parallels at all between that world and the sports world?
I guess people in the sports business do what they do, some of them, for the money and aren't as concerned about, I don't know, just the joy of the game. Which is, you know, what most people in my business are most concerned with. I would think.
Is that true for you? Or are you a joy of the game person?
[Laughs.] That's the only thing that keeps me sound asleep at night.
That you enjoy it?
In the porn business, how common is it for someone to be a pretty big sports fan? Do people sit around on the set talking about Sunday's games?
Well, definitely not the girls. Not any that I know about. I don't think it's common. But who knows. Maybe they're just not saying.
I was just wondering if I can feel safe calling you the football-lovinest female porn star in America.
[Laughs] Who knows?
What about the guys, or the crew? Do you come across those conversations?
I do. The crew especially. Not all of the guys.
You ever barge in?
Yeah. I'll defend the Chargers. I try not to. I don't feel like there's a good point or a good reason to.
Well, sports can be kind of a unifier. You can be among strangers and if you've got something to say about the NFL or whatever, you can make friends instantly.
That's not really the best conversation, in my opinion, for a guy and a girl to have. That's not usually what guys want to talk to me about.
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NFL Week 11 [PERMALINK]
While you ponder what it is guys usually want to talk to Adriana Sage about, we turn our attention to Week 11, with winners in caps and, by popular demand, Buster's picks included.
The What the Heck Pick of the week gets one bye every year so it'll come out with a 16-game record, like a team. With no particularly good WTH candidates, this is that week.
Sunday early games
Atlanta (5-4) at BALTIMORE (7-2): Sage generally sticks pretty close to the chalk, but she's taking the Falcons in this one. She said she just likes certain teams and tends to pick them. I should listen. She's smarter than I am and almost as good-lookin'. But I'll bet on the Ravens' defense, even without catalyst Ray Lewis, helping Michael Vick continue his recent slump. Maybe his late-October hot streak was just a mirage.
Buster's pick: Atlanta (coin)
Buffalo (3-6) at HOUSTON (3-6): So we don't have to talk about the Bills vs. the Texans, this seems like a good place to point out that Sage's first name is pronounced "Aydriana." Which is also -- little known fact -- how Texans quarterback David Carr's first name is pronounced.
Buster's pick: Buffalo (coin)
CHICAGO (8-1) at N.Y. Jets (5-4): Reports of the Bears' demise were evidently premature. Now after beating the Giants at Giants Stadium last week, they're back for the other Jersey team. They would have been wise to spend the week schmoozing Park Avenue for endorsement deals. The '85 Bears' road to fame -- a cheesy, home-made-looking rap video -- no longer seems open to a team that's hoping to become the cream of the crop. Huxley College's path to glory doesn't appear repeatable either, now that I think of it. Anyway, the Jets, without that whole beat coach Eric Mangini's old boss thing going, won't be a major roadblock.
Buster's pick: Chicago (7-point favorite)
Cincinnati (4-5) at NEW ORLEANS (6-3): "They say defense wins championships," Bengals receiver Chad Johnson said, "but I'd like to be the first person to say the offense is going to carry us." It had better. The Cincinnati defense gave up 42 points in 30 minutes last week against San Diego. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that's a lot of points. The Bengals are probably toast no matter what happens here -- they still have to go to Denver and Indy, in consecutive weeks -- but it should be fun to watch them shoot it out with the Saints, who lost their own demolish-the-over game at Pittsburgh a week ago.
Buster's pick: New Orleans (coin)
Minnesota (4-5) at MIAMI (3-6): If the Vikings are 4-2 and start losing, and the Dolphins are 1-6 and start winning, when and where will they meet? Sunday at 4-6.
Buster's pick: Minnesota (coin)
Oakland (2-7) at KANSAS CITY (5-4): Trent Green is back as the K.C. starter at quarterback. Backup Damon Huard went 5-3 as a starter and posted the third-best passer rating in the AFC. The last guy who replaced Trent Green for a bad injury won the MVP and the Super Bowl. If you're a backup QB, get the job backing up Trent Green.
Buster's pick: Kansas City (10-point favorite)
NEW ENGLAND (6-3) at Green Bay (4-5): The Patriots signed Vinny Testaverde as a backup quarterback this week. Yo, Vinny: Did you call Kansas City?
Buster's pick: New England (7-point favorite)
PITTSBURGH (3-6) at Cleveland (3-6): With their win over New Orleans last week, the Steelers may have embarked on one of those crazy, every game a playoff game marches toward the postseason, having to win every week to even have a chance. There are some tough assignments: Both Baltimore games, at Carolina, at Cincinnati. But it's just nutty enough that it might happen. Or they could get tripped up by a Browns team that hasn't been bad lately, and that would be that.
Buster's pick: Cleveland (coin)
St. Louis (4-5) at CAROLINA (5-4): The bad news for the Rams is that as bad as the offensive line has been, now Orlando Pace is out for the year. The good news is they get to face NFL sack leader Julius Peppers. Wait, that's also bad news. The Panthers need to avoid any more of those two-game losing streaks they've had two of.
Buster's pick: Carolina (6.5-point favorite)
Tennessee (2-7) at PHILADELPHIA (5-4): Albert "Face Stomper" Haynesworth's suspension is over, but he might not be ready to play. He'll have to stomp on a lot of faces to even this one out. The Eagles seem to be rounding into form, especially on offense, and they've already had their year's worth of bad luck.
Buster's pick: Philadelphia (13-point favorite)
Washington (3-6) at TAMPA BAY (2-7): Nice assignment for first timer Jason Campbell, the 2005 first-rounder from Auburn who'll replace the benched Mark Brunell. All he has to do is take his first NFL snaps on the road with Clinton Portis on the sidelines with a broken hand. And also, by the way, Washington's defense is awful, especially against the pass. Venerable Tampa quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, with six career starts, should have a good day.
Buster's pick: Washington (coin)
Sunday late games
DETROIT (2-7) at Arizona (1-8): Battle of the bottom feeders. The Lions looked like they had something going before they got dumped by the 49ers last week. The Cardinals, not really. "It's really a reality check time for us," said Cardinals quarterback Matt Leinart. Reality, Matt, is a crutch for people who can't handle drugs.
Buster's pick: Arizona (coin)
SEATTLE (6-3) at San Francisco (4-5): Maurice Morris and Seneca Wallace have done all right for the injured Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck, who both could return for this one. Just all right is enough for Seattle to win the NFC West, and most games within it.
Buster's pick: Seattle (6-point favorite)
Indianapolis (9-0) at DALLAS (5-4): The Colts' high-wire act -- four of their nine wins have been by a field goal or less -- ends here. The Cowboys can run the football, and the Colts can only get by with a hideous run defense for so long. I think this is about the fourth time this year I've said this, but gosh darnit, someday I'm going to be right.
Buster's pick: Indianapolis (coin)
Sunday night game
SAN DIEGO (7-2) at Denver (7-2): Adriana's all-offense, no-defense home team goes to Mile High Stadium for another shootout like last week's ridiculously superfun win in Cincinnati. Right? Nah. The Chargers should be a lot better against Denver's ground game. Air Schottenheimer will get a big win in a tough place to play and all of a sudden the Chargers will emerge as the little darlings of the AFC.
Buster's pick: San Diego (coin)
Monday night game
N.Y. Giants (6-3) at JACKSONVILLE (5-4): The Shiny Backup QB Finish rubbed off of David Garrard last week when he threw four interceptions, but he's looking like the Jaguars' man at this point. I have no idea what to make of the Jags this year. How do you beat Dallas and Pittsburgh and give Indy all they can handle and then lose to Washington? How do you beat the Jets by six touchdowns and lose to Houston by three? How do you beat Philadelphia and rout Tennessee, then lose to Houston again? Houston's record against teams not named the Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-6.
While we're at it, I don't know what to make of the Giants either. They're a better team than Jacksonville, but they're so banged up they've asked Frank Gifford to suit up. Hell, they've asked Christy Mathewson.
Buster's pick: New York (coin)
Season record: 77-67
Last week: 9-7
What the Heck Picks: 1-9
Number of Adriana Sage movies mentioned in NFL blurbs: 6 (I know you thought seven, but that was a Tatum O'Neal movie)
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Happy Thanksgiving -- see you on the radio [PERMALINK]
This column will be on vacation next week. I have a second gig strangling turkeys behind the Piggly-Wiggly and it's prime time. The next column will be on the insanely far-off-sounding date Nov. 27.
My Week 12 NFL picks will appear Wednesday on my Myspace page.
Between now and then you'll be able to hear me on the radio twice if you're really obsessive. On Saturday at 10 p.m. EST I'll be on "Jockstraps Radio" on WQAM in Miami, which you can hear by clicking here. The show is produced by the sports humor Web site Jockstraps.
On Wednesday I'll pay another visit to "The Bob Edwards Show" on XM Radio Channel 133 at 8 a.m. EST, repeating at 9 and 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., plus hourly all day online.
Enjoy the short week.
Previous column: Bob Knight
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