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It's always good to hone one's skills, and given that the midterm elections loom just weeks away, I must work to master a very important skill: Pandering. Pandering to Chicago. Pandering to Chicago more than Jim Belushi.

In the Kool-Aid forum, "Da Mangler" (who also happens to be a friend from high school, and yes, my mom was unavailable for comment) stated I have no love for Chicago. Mangler suggested I combat this by bringing some love and joy into my life to restore my judgment. I have decided to follow his advice.

I am not a native Chicagoan, so to make this totally accurate, I picked some personalities that Chicagoans such as yourselves recognize, in the hopes that you can relate to me through their stories. I further cut the list to those with some limited connection to Chicago, much like how I have a limited connection to Chicago. The final three: Geraldo Rivera, Dave Wannstedt, and this guy. At the end of the day, though, I want to limit this to a comparison between Rivera and Wannstedt, given that the Super Fan is incredibly beloved, but also sports a faux smarmy mustache.

Say what you will about Geraldo Rivera, but the man is a genius. No, the genius is not sporting a ridiculous, smarmy mustache, or inviting people into the vaults of Al Capone. Sure, men like Dave Wannstedt also hold distinction in the creepy mustache field. And truly, many people throughout Chicago treasure the 'ol soup strainer, perhaps believing fashion rotates to the mustache once every 15 years.

No, it's not the mustache. It's the way Geraldo so effortlessly inserts himself any exploitable story. The way I've done here.

What makes Wanny such a Chicagoish role model for me is how he always found new ways to lose football games. I got that one down cold last week.

So now I must decide how to address my 1-5 performance last week. Because I am genetically unable to grow the smarmy mustache, I must consider the other talents of my mentors. Do I insert myself into the story with over dramatization and hyperbole like Geraldo? Or do I continue plugging away week after week, asking all of you to hang in there, and at the least, provide humor at my own expense like Wannstedt? Clearly, I've choosen the latter.

Here is where I went right: Pittsburgh/Miami played poorly on offense for one quarter. Seattle/Detroit was as close as I predicted. What I did not know was that Chicago played UW-Green Bay. I won't make that mistake twice.

Ah, we'll be OK. We're flyin' to Week 2.

Over-Hyped: Washington at Dallas, Sunday September 17, 7 p.m.
This ought to be the least entertaining of the three non-Bears games on broadcast TV here this weekend. Sure, if you watch the NBC promos, you will see George Allan's epileptic fit. You will see Tom Landry. And you will see too many shots of Terrell Owens. As troubled Cowboys go, why can't we see Hollywood Henderson snort coke out of a vial?

What you will see come game-time is the Redskins defense stuffing the Cowboys running game, and Drew Bledsoe needing a transfusion by the second half. Pair this with the Redskins' patient, above average running game, and Washington covers easily in a game easily missed.

Pick: Washington minus 6, under 37 points

Under-Hyped: Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, Monday September 18, 7:30 p.m.
Well, the choice among locally-televised game was either this or Kansas City at Denver. Given professional bull riding looked better than KC at Den, the only other game is the Beloved at Jacksonville.

You might think, "The better game is KC at Denver. It's an AFC West showdown." Well, with Damon "Holy Crap They're Actually Letting Me Play" Huard at QB, KC should snap the ball directly to Larry Johnson instead. With Jake "Would Somebody Let Him Take The Final Turn At Arlington, Break His Leg And Finally Put Him Down" Plummer, you will see little out of the QB position for the home team, too. Expect a lot of handing off to the Bronco RB du jour, and a bunch of Plummer bootlegs.

How about a game with exciting finishes? How about a game with a Steelers team rallying from 17 down to come up a little short late? How about seeing a team record rushing performance from Fred Taylor? How about an overtime TD pass from the Steelers' Tommy Maddox to the Jags secondary to cinch the victory?

After the last meeting, Jacksonville players suffered from diarrhea of the mouth. Look for a quote from Joey Porter in return. Every game between these two tends to be physical. Both offenses sport a balanced attack. Both defenses pressure the QB. If history is a guide, Jacksonville will come up with the big play to squeak out the victory. Even with Charlie Batch at QB, Jacksonville cannot expect the three turnovers they got from Dallas.

Plus, you guys are not quite sick of the Steeler Nation yet. After Monday, you will get sick of it. Here we go Steelers, here we go!

Pick: Pittsburgh (pk), over 36 points

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