Most people are familiar with New Haven, Indiana
because it is the home of Dave Thomas, the multimillionaire behind the Wendy's fast-food
restaurant chain. Colts fans around the country may soon become familiar with New Haven as
well, because it happens to be the home of this week's contestants, Erik Watson and Vince
A 29-year old bank manager, Erik's nickname is "Zack Daddy." The reason
behind the nickname, he says, is none other than ex-Colt (and current Raider) Zack
Crockett -- in fact, one of Erik's sons is named after the fullback, who set a team record
when he rushed for 147 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the San Diego Chargers in a
1995 playoff game. Let's just be thankful for Erik's son's sake it wasn't Flipper Anderson
scoring all those touchdowns that day.
Vince, who is more commonly known as "Pizza Vinny," owns a pair of Domino's
Pizza stores in New Haven and Fort Wayne. A season ticket holder since 1984, Vince
will be making the trip from New Haven to the RCA Dome with a special guest this week --
his six-year old daughter.
"She gets her tonsils out on Monday and was allowed to choose something fun to do
on Sunday," Vince explained in an e-mail. "She said, 'The Colts are always
good now. I want to see the Colts game and scream and yell with Dad since I can't do that
She's not the only one who will be cheering for Indianapolis to win this weekend.
So wiithout further ado, it's time to see if Erik and Vince can step up and stump
the chump. Listed below are Erik and Vince's picks, followed by my own picks and a brief
commentary on each game. Good luck, guys.
Pittsburgh (5-8) at Kansas City (8-5)
Erik's pick: Chiefs.
Vince's pick: Chiefs.
The Twelfth Man: Chiefs. Lock of the week. Chiefs have won three straight and would clinch
playoff spot by winning final three games. Steelers have lost five in a row, including
losses at home against Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore. Rumor in Pittsburgh is that
Kordell Stewart will be opening a Christmas tree lot this weekend. Seems he knows an awful
lot about sitting on the pine.
San Francisco (4-9) at Carolina (6-7)
Erik's pick: Panthers.
Vince's pick: Panthers.
The Twelfth Man: Panthers. Panthers have won three of last four and are mathematically
still alive for playoffs. Carolina QB Steve Beuerlein ranks second in the NFL with 25
touchdown passes and 3,483 yards passing. San Francisco defense, meanwhile, is ranked 24th
in the league and allows more than 226 yards a game through the air.
Washington (8-5) at Indianapolis (11-2)
Erik's pick: Colts.
Vince's pick: Colts.
The Twelfth Man: Colts. Offensive feast between two teams that both have strong running
backs (Stephen Davis leads the NFL in rushing; Edgerrin James is second) and have trouble
defending the pass. Colts have won nine straight and could wrap a first-round bye in the
playoffs with a win. Indianapolis is second in NFL in passing offense and leads AFC in
points scored; Redskins have allowed more points than any other team in the league with a
Atlanta (3-10) at Tennessee (10-3)
Erik's pick: Titans.
Vince's pick: Titans.
The Twelfth Man: Titans. Win over Atlanta puts Tennessee in playoffs for first time since
1993. If not for Edgerrin James, Titan defensive end Jevon Kearse would be a lock for the
AFC's rookie of the year. Kearse leads all rookies with 11.5 sacks and nine forced fumbles
-- more than the entire Falcons team combined. Tennessee running back Eddie George has
emerged as a darkhorse MVP candidate, averaging 110 yards rushing each of the past five
games and scoring seven touchdowns rushing and receiving.
Detroit (8-5) at Chicago (5-8)
Erik's pick: Lions.
Vince's pick: Bears.
The Twelfth Man: Lions. Lions won earlier matchup on Halloween 21-17, with Gus Frerotte
throwing for 309 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Lions are extremely careful with the
football, committing an NFL-low six fumbles in 1999; Chicago defense, meanwhile, leads NFC
with 17 fumble takeaways.. Detroit's rush defense is ranked third in the NFC and limited
Chicago to just 52 yards on the ground in last meeting. Strong run D could cause problems
for Bears rookie Cade McNown, who was named the team's starter for the rest of the season.
Jacksonville (12-1) at Cleveland (2-12)
Erik's pick: Jaguars.
Vince's pick: Jaguars.
The Twelfth Man: Browns. Upset of the week. Jaguars have won 10 in a row and lead NFL in
pass defense and sacks, but they've played one of the softest schedules in league history.
They also continue to appear vulnerable on offense, losing James Stewart for as much as
the rest of the regular season with an ankle injury, and might be looking beyond this game
to a bigger matchup against Tennessee next Sunday.
New England (7-6) at Philadelphia (3-11)
Erik's pick: Patriots.
Vince's pick: Patriots.
The Twelfth Man: Eagles. For the average price of a ticket to an Eagles game, a resident
of the nation's fattest city could purchase a dozen Philadelphia cheesesteaks and wash
them down with a couple cases of Marvin Harrison's favorite TastyKakes. They'd be a lot
easier to stomach than the product Andy Reid and Jeff Lurie put on the field.
New Orleans (2-11) at Baltimore (6-7)
Erik's pick: Ravens.
Vince's pick: Ravens.
The Twelfth Man: Ravens. Dog of the week. On the left, a team with more guys named Billy
Joe than the entire cast of Hee Haw. On the right, a team led by Tony Banks, who is so bad
at quarterback that he was once listed behind both Scott Mitchell and Stoney Case
on the team's depth chart. Not to worry, Saints and Ravens fans -- the stores open early
for Christmas shopping this Sunday morning.
New York Giants (7-6) at St. Louis (11-2)
Erik's pick: Rams.
Vince's pick: Giants.
The Twelfth Man: Giants. Rams' -- make that Goats' -- only two losses this season have
come against teams with winning records (Tennessee and Detroit). Surprisingly tough Giants
will make it three for three, adding further evidence to the Rams' current won-loss record
-- much like their current owner -- is a joke. And don't forget the Fassel Factor. Since
taking over head coaching job for Giants in 1997, Fassel is 9-0 in December, and his team
has scored 84 points its last three games.
New York Jets (5-8) at Dallas (7-6)
Erik's pick: Cowboys.
Vince's pick: Cowboys.
The Twelfth Man: Jets. So what if Dallas is 6-0 at home this year and has outscored the
opposition by an average of 27-10? So what if the Jets have never beaten the Cowboys in
Texas Stadium? Forget wins and losses -- watching Keyshawn Johnson square off against
Deion Sanders is worth the price of admission to this one. Johnson has caught fire since
New York lost to the Colts three weeks ago, catching 21 passes for 242 yards and three
San Diego (6-7) at Miami (8-5)
Erik's pick: Dolphins.
Vince's pick: Chargers.
The Twelfth Man: Chargers. Nothing like a little turmoil in south Florida. Dolphins are
0-3 since the return of Dan Marino to the starting lineup. In his last three games, Marino
has completed only 50.4% of his passes and also thrown nine interceptions, two of which
have been returned for touchdowns. Backup QB Damon Huard, meanwhile, just signed a
two-year contract extension. Where's Craig Erickson when you need him?
Seattle (8-5) at Denver (4-9)
Erik's pick: Broncos.
Vince's pick: Broncos.
The Twelfth Man: Broncos. The Seahawk swoon takes a particularly nasty turn this Sunday,
as a win by the Broncos -- combined with a Chief victory on Thursday -- would not only
knock the Seahawks out of first place in the AFC West, but deal a severe blow to them just
making the playoffs. Broncos have won 13 of past 14 intradivision games played at home and
are third in the AFC with 39 sacks.
Tampa Bay (9-4) at Oakland (6-7)
Erik's pick: Buccaneers.
Vince's pick: Raiders.
The Twelfth Man: Buccaneers. Free bulletproof vest given to all fans brave enough to enter
Oakland Coliseum wearing red and pewter. Bucs are riding six game winning streak and are
2-0 behind rookie QB Shaun King. During streak, Bucs defense has produced 19 turnovers,
leading to 54 points. Loss by Oakland effectively ends their chances at the postseason
and, knowing Al Davis, could put coach Jon Gruden's job in danger.