How we've survived this long in 2008 without Thursday night football -- Opening Night excepted -- is a mystery to this column, but our long national nightmare ends with Thursday's Broncos-Browns game in Cleveland and on the NFL Network.
Good news for fans who have ears and can get the NFL Network -- a fairly small group: Play-by-play man Bryant Gumbel, who wasn't very good, has been replaced by Bob Papa, who is pretty good.
Here's the pick, in caps, and the pick of my kids, 5-year-old game-picker Barack and 3-year-old coin-flipper Michelle.
Denver (4-4) at CLEVELAND (3-5)
The Brady Quinn era begins for real in Cleveland. Too bad for Brady. Short of winning a Super bowl, and maybe even then, he'll never be more popular than he was last week. No god ever commanded the powers of your favorite team's backup quarterback. He has the arm of Thor, the cunning of Hermes, the eyes and legs of Steve Austin.
Ah, but he has a kryptonite: Being named the starter. When Romeo Crennel announced that Quinn would replace Derek Anderson under center for the Browns, he doomed the kid to mortality. Quinn still has supernatural abilities for Cleveland fans. But his powers are about to be sapped. By the time he trots off the field on fourth down for the first time Thursday night, he'll be human.
All hope is not lost. Many Super Bowl quarterbacks have been human. Maybe most. But you have to be feel bad for the guy. A home win on semi-national TV over a Broncos team that's lost three straight and every ambulatory tailback north of the Springs should help a little.