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Thursday, December 29, 2011
Updated: December 30, 1:11 PM ET
2011: A poetic season in the NFL

By Sarah Phillips
Special to Page 2

Tim Tebow
Tim Tebow was poetry in motion for Denver Broncos fans this season.

The end of the year is the perfect time,
to look back at the regular season in rhyme.

In Week 1, the Philadelphia Eagles took flight and soared,
Unfortunately, it was the only time they had a winning record.

In Week 2, the Colts front office began thinking and planning,
For life without star quarterback Peyton Manning.

In Week 3, the undefeated Buffalo Bills were in the championship talk,
Later we'd find out they couldn't walk the walk.

In Week 4, Dallas blew another late lead. Oh no!
But Cowboys fans know that's just Romo being Romo.

In Week 5, Al Davis passed away,
Raider Nation mourned down in the Bay.

In Week 6, the 49ers proved their contention wasn't fake,
But their rise was overshadowed by a postgame handshake.

In Week 7, Tebow relieved Orton as Broncos quarterback,
And Denver ran into the playoff race with an option attack.

In Week 8, the Steelers beat the Patriots to become the class of the AFC,
But injuries would continue to hamper them -- an arm, an ankle and a knee.

In Week 9, the legend of Tebow began to grow,
But his status was limited since he still couldn't throw.

In Week 10, Atlanta welcomed New Orleans to town,
And gifted the Saints a win by failing on fourth down.

In Week 11, Chicago fans regretted calling Jay Cutler a bum,
The Bears' season went up in flames all because a thumb.

In Week 12, Ndamukong Suh claimed his foot stomp was a hyperextension,
Roger Goodell didn't buy it and levied a two-game suspension.

In Week 13, the history books welcomed a man named Cam,
For quarterback rushing touchdowns, and not the $180K scam.

In Week 14, James Harrison displayed a lack of rule comprehension,
His illegal hit on Colt McCoy earned him a one-game suspension.

In Week 15, the Packers lost and their chance at perfection was dead,
Green Bay will have to settle for 18-1 instead.

In Week 16, playoff spots remained up in the air,
For Von Miller, Justin Tuck and DeMarcus Ware.

In Week 17, an eventful regular season will conclude,
12 teams will enter the playoffs, while the others have been subdued.

This week's college picks


Champs Sports Bowl

Florida State vs. Notre Dame, Thursday, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

This isn't 1993, and it's certainly not a Game of the Century, but expect a competitive, low-scoring game. Florida State's last five games have stayed under on total points.

Pick: Under 47


Valero Alamo Bowl

Washington vs. No. 12 Baylor, Thursday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Stanford put up 65 points on Washington, and that was under the leadership of the Heisman runner-up. Can you imagine what the Heisman winner is going to do to the Huskies? Baylor is 4-1 against the spread in its past five games.

Pick: Baylor (-9)


Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl

BYU vs. Tulsa, Friday, noon ET, ESPN

Tulsa's 8-4 record isn't as pedestrian as it appears. The Golden Hurricane's four losses this season: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Houston. Tulsa is 5-1 against the spread in its past six games.

Pick: Tulsa (+1)


New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Rutgers vs. Iowa State, Friday, 3:20 p.m. ET, ESPN

Jersey is taking over the Bronx! No, not the guidos. Rutgers is 4-1-1 in its past six games as a neutral-site favorite. Now that's a situation.

Pick: Rutgers (-1)


Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Mississippi State vs. Wake Forest, Friday, 6:40 p.m. ET, ESPN

S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C! The most infamous chant in college football. Mississippi State is 4-0 against the spread in its past four bowl games.

Pick: Mississippi State (-6½)


Insight Bowl

Iowa vs. No. 14 Oklahoma, Friday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Sooners have a wealth of talent, but will Oklahoma be motivated for the Insight Bowl? Remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. Oklahoma is 1-4 against the spread in its past five bowl games.

Pick: Iowa (+14)


Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas

Texas A&M vs. Northwestern, Saturday, noon ET, ESPN

The Wildcats have feasted on Big 12 opponents in terms of covering the number. While Texas A&M is on its way out, the Aggies haven't joined the SEC yet. Northwestern is 4-0 against the spread in its past four games against the Big 12.

Pick: Northwestern (+10)


Hyundai Sun Bowl

Georgia Tech vs. Utah, Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, CBS

Utah should be familiar with the triple option from its days playing Air Force in the Mountain West, so Georgia Tech's offense shouldn't surprise the Utes. Utah is 4-1 against the spread in its past five bowl games as an underdog.

Pick: Utah (+3½)


Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl

Illinois vs. UCLA, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Imagine being terminated from your job and then having to continue to work for the same company for another month. Welcome to the life of Rick Neuheisel. UCLA is 0-4 against the spread in its past four games as an underdog of three points or fewer.

Pick: Illinois (-2½)


AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

While the quarterback situation is up in the air at Cincinnati because of Zach Collaros' injury, the Commodores are set with Jordan Rodgers under center -- Aaron Rodgers' younger brother! Vanderbilt is 6-1 against the spread in its past seven games.

Pick: Vanderbilt (-1½)


Chick-fil-A Bowl

Virginia vs. No. 25 Auburn, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Auburn will count on Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb to pick up the slack for suspended running back Michael Dyer. Auburn is 4-1 against the spread in its past five neutral-site games.

Pick: Auburn (-2½)


TicketCity Bowl

No. 19 Houston vs. No. 22 Penn State, Monday, noon ET, ESPNU

Penn State wide receiver Curtis Drake allegedly knocked out Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin earlier this month. At the TicketCity Bowl, the Cougars will probably knock out the Nittany Lions. Houston is 7-1 against the spread in its past eight games as a favorite.

Pick: Houston (-7) Gator Bowl

Ohio State vs. Florida, Monday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Urban Meyer's old team versus Urban Meyer's future team. Ohio State is 1-5 against the spread in its past six games against the SEC.

Pick: Florida (-2)


Outback Bowl

No. 17 Michigan State vs. No. 16 Georgia, Monday, 1 p.m. ET, ABC

Michigan State hasn't won a bowl game in 10 years. Georgia is 4-1 against the spread in its past five games against the Big Ten.

Pick: Georgia (-3½)


Capital One Bowl

No. 20 Nebraska vs. No. 9 South Carolina, Monday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPN

Nebraska defensive coordinator Carl Pelini and South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson will not coach in the Capital One Bowl after each accepted a head-coaching position elsewhere. If that's not a signal for a defensive letdown, I don't know what it is.

Pick: Over 46


Rose Bowl Game Presented By Vizio

No. 10 Wisconsin vs. No. 5 Oregon, Monday, 5 p.m. ET, ESPN

Oregon's speed faced the size of Ohio State in the 2010 Rose Bowl. The Ducks lost. Oregon's speed faced the size of Auburn in last season's BCS title game. The Ducks lost. Oregon's speed will face the size of Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl this season. Are you noticing a pattern here?

Pick: Wisconsin (+6½)


Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 3 Oklahoma State, Monday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

After LSU and Alabama were announced to play in the BCS title game, the biggest question surrounding the Fiesta Bowl was whether there would be a letdown. Even though Stanford was snubbed, the Cardinal will be ready. Stanford is 7-0 against the spread in its past seven nonconference games.

Pick: Stanford (+3½)


AllState Sugar Bowl

No. 13 Michigan vs. No. 11 Virginia Tech, Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Boise State probably should have qualified for the Sugar Bowl. Being ranked ahead of Virginia Tech and Michigan in the final BCS standings has to count for something, right? For everything the BCS does right, the system got this one wrong. Virginia Tech is 0-4 against the spread in its past four nonconference games.

Pick: Michigan (-2½)


Discover Orange Bowl

No. 23 West Virginia vs. No. 15 Clemson, Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

That awkward moment when you realize BCS automatic qualifiers should be eliminated. West Virginia is 1-4 against the spread in its past five bowl games.

Pick: Clemson (-3)

Last week's picks: 5-4

Season record: 70-56-2 (55.6 percent)

You can follow Sarah Phillips on Twitter @SarahPhilli.

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