But one that's full of opportunities. Two separate journeys into two separate hearts of darkness, two bastions of privilege and inequity. First, a voyage to the bizarre realm of Duke University-- an incongruous outpost of Northeastern snobbery floating in the midst of Southern tobacco country/Research Triangle suburbia. There, the Wisconsin Badgers must face what is perhaps the most obnoxious, overhyped team in all of the lands-- the Duke University men's basketball squad, led by this brilliant but smug Republican operative:
Who do you think he's imaginary strangling?
Anyhow, Duke is smaller than UW, but generally more talented with future NBA wings in Gerald Henderson and pale as hose true frosh Kyle Singler (who tore up Marquette this weekend). If the Hoft and Landry can D those guys up, and frustrate them a bit, I think UW has a solid chance. But it's going to be a tall order. (By the way, UW basketball is now ranked 20th.) This Cap Times article lays out the game pretty well.
Then into the America's Heart of Football Darkness, literally, as the Packers venture to dreary Texas Stadium to face the Dallas Cowboys, headlined by team-killing prankster Terrell Owens, who is also, sadly, perhaps the finest wide receiver in the league. Further disreputable members of the Cowboys include former Bear Tank Johnson, he of the many automatic weapons and pit bulls, former Gopher Marion Barber XXIII, former Notre Domer Julius Jones, temporary and oft-injured Packer Terry Glenn, and former Boilermaker (and thus a member of the Brotherhood of the Inflatable Penis) Anthony Spencer. This parade of stooges is headlined by the curvaceous and incompetent-looking Wade Phillips, who's coaching career is experiencing a bizarre (and hopefully temporary) renaissance. And presiding over all of the shenanigans is the biggest self-promoting owner/jackass in football-- Jerry Jones. Jerry, for once and forever-- Get off the field and back into the shadowy owner's box, already! I have to admit, his chicanery has paid off-- why else would the Cowboys get three home games in a row, including two straight Thursday games, when their biggest opponent (the Packers) has traveled two straight weeks? When I used to think of Jerry, I wondered how pissed off Emmitt and Michael Irving used to be when he'd wander around the sidelines at the end of big wins, drawing camera time like he did something. This season, thinking of Jones makes me want to avoid Pepsi products. Who can explain it?
The only nugget of goodness in the whole Dallas sausage fest is Wisconsin native Tony Romo who went to I-AA Eastern Illinois, went undrafted and by all accounts, worked his butt off to get the starting job in Dallas. (Or maybe he just had to beat out a big bunch of stiffs in now-retired Drew Bledsoe, Qunicy Carter and Drew Henson.) Plus, Romo likely had sex with American Idol winner Carrie Underwood. Burlington should be proud. Although, Tony, I must say, the ribs at your place are not that good.
Tony is a solid QB, but he gets a little too much credit-- he's got a lot of talent around him. As far as I can tell, the team's important players are Owens, TE Jason Witten, and DE/LB Demarcus Ware. The Packers are going to have to hope that Al can hold up against Owens, and the rest of the secondary, whoever is back there, can deal with the other guys. And somebody, perhaps AJ Hawk, maybe a returning Nick Collins, is going to have to deal with Witten. The last time the Pack played a team with a good tight end, Tony Gonzalez owned them. The 'Boys also like to pound Barber the MCLVII and Orange Julius behind their sizeable offensive line. I hope Justin Harrell is ready to do something, because if Jolly, Cole, and KGB are all out, the D-Line may be easily gassed.
On the flip side, Dallas's defense is quite good, although somewhat better at defending the run than the pass. And Phillips runs one of those annoying 3-4 defenses with all sorts of different pressure packages. I'm glad the offensive line (knock on wood) has pass protected well of late. Still, Favre and the wideouts will have to play another great game for the Pack to win.
One of the various papers noted today that the Packers haven't won in Dallas since 1989. Well, the Packers haven't been 10-1 since the 60s. Favre had never won at Arrowhead or in Denver. GB hadn't beaten the Eagles in years. All those things have come to an end this season. Hopefully, the Dallas curse does as well. And hey, we've got ninjas and pirates on our side.