The National Football League heads into the final weekend of the regular season, and for Dallas Cowboys fans the Sunday night game is what the season is all about.
The Cowboys (8-7) travel to Washington (9-6) to take on the Redskins in a game where the winner earns the NFC East title and the loser is finished for the season.
The Redskins beat the Cowboys in Texas earlier in the season and have won six in a row, while the Cowboys, who have been hot and cold, are playing with an injury-riddled lineup.
This game, however, should be a thriller as the Cowboys’ Tony Romo and Redskins’ Robert Griffin III are two top quarterbacks.
Neither of these two clubs has a terrific defence, so this should be a high- scoring, intense affair.
Take the Redskins by a field goal.
Here are some other NFL picks:
Green Bay (11-4)
at Minnesota (9-6)
The Packers are playing for a possible bye, while the Vikings are still alive as a wild card.
The Packers are red-hot and have an outstanding quarterback in Aaron Rogers, while Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is looking to establish a new rushing mark.
The Packers get Clay Matthews back and appear primed for a long playoff run.
I love the Packers, even on the road, by at least four points.
Chicago (9-6) at Detroit (4-11)
I’m just not sold on the Bears and not sold on their quarterback, Jay Cutler.
The Lions are the best
4-11 team in the NFL, lost a lot of close ones and I think they will upset the Bears.
The Bears need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, but the Lions play the role of spoiler.
Detroit by a field goal.
Miami (7-8) at
New England (11-4)
The Patriots have been very ordinary in their last two, a loss to San Francisco and a close win over Jacksonville.
They need a big momentum builder heading into the playoffs and Miami, coming north in late December, is the right opponent.
In addition, Patriots receiver Rob Gronkowski is back and he’s a big target for quarterback Tom Brady.
The spread is 10 points, but New England has the firepower to cover.
Philadelphia (4-11 )
at New York Giants (8-7)
The Eagles will likely say goodbye to head coach Andy Reid after this game and they’d like to win one for the personable coach.
The Giants can keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a win, but they need help elsewhere.
The G-Men have been rotten two weeks in a row against Atlanta and Baltimore; they can’t play any worse.
I think they’re good enough to beat the Eagles by a field goal, so I’ve got to stay with Giants.
This is a heart selection, not a head bet, so be careful.
As always, pay the mortgage first, the picks are for fun.
Nothing to cheer about
Former UPEI football great Mike Lyriotokis is the biggest Giants fan in the province and his close friend Steve MacLean is the biggest New York Jets fan.
They haven’t had much to cheer about in recent weeks and if the Giants lose Saturday, I’d call his house to see if big Mike is OK.
World junior hockey
The world junior hockey championship continues today in Russia and Canada is off to a great start with opening wins over Germany and Slovakia.
Canada plays rivals United States on Sunday and Russia on Monday.
For Maritime hockey fans, Canada’s Nathan MacKinnon has really done nothing so far and unless he comes up big in these crucial big games, his status as projected No. 1 NHL draft could be damaged.
P.E.I. Rocket defenceman Tomas Pavelka had an assist as the Czechs dumped Finland 3-1 Friday morning.
The Russians looked terrific in Friday’s other morning game, a 2-1 victory over the United States.
Russia has a big, fast skating draft-eligible player with a left-handed shot in Valeri Nichushkin (No. 15), who reminds me of the Soviet Union great from the 1972 series versus Canada, Alexander Yakushev (also No. 15), one of international hockey’s sensational players.
McQuaid at home
On the NHL front, Cornwall native Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins is home for a few days and he looks terrific.
He has been skating at UPEI and is in tip-top shape and ready to play.
Unfortunately, the lockout continues and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight.
If an agreement is not reached within the next 10 days, the season could be over.
What a shame.
Around the tracks
Island owner Neal Moase has had more than his share of ups and downs in the harness racing game.
Moase was a major sponsor numerous times for the Canadian ladies’ driving championship a decade or so ago and has raced at least three horses in the Gold Cup and Saucer trials — Naughtenoughfunds, Woodmere Jet and Cams Country Boy.
He’s played the claiming ranks over the years in the Maritime, Quebec and Ontario circuits.
But more recently, he’s the owner of the Charlottetown track’s current top-class pacer Big League, a lightly raced three coming four pacer.
You may recall Big League was an unbeaten two-year-old in 2011 as he reeled off eight straight wins for the Dooley Stables of Saint John before being sold for something like $70,000 to Ontario interests.
Plagued by sickness, assorted ailments, aches and pains, Big League (Four Starzz Shark) drifted down the class ladder to the point where a few months ago Moase was able to purchase him for the proverbial “song.”
Handled perfectly by talented driver Ken Arsenault for trainer Jonah Moase, Big League appears to have regained his winning form.
He has won two in a row over the Charlottetown’s top class and this Monday he goes for three straight.
He could be the big pacer Moase has been looking for, but time will tell.
Live racing continues at the Charlottetown track Monday at 7 p.m. with a great looking 13-dash card.
The $2,200 feature goes in Race 11 and it includes, from the rail out, War Cry Ranger, Capitalism, Block Party, Bet the House, Big League and Nobestbfor.
Racing returned to The Meadowlands Friday night and another big card goes this evening.
With Yonkers dark for a few weeks, Mark MacDonald is driving for trainer Mark Ford, who has quite a few horses entered tonight.
The Big M races can be seen via simulcast at Red Shores Charlottetown.
At Woodbine, Bill Roloson’s Oceanview Bindi has been on a tear, winning the $60,000 Niagara final last Monday at the Toronto track.
The mare is a great gaited daughter of Hunterstown, who has earned a solid reputation as a sire in this region.
Oceanview Bindi has banked a few dollars short of $100,000 for the campaign and appears to be getting better at every start for co-owners Roloson of Wood Islands and George Plyley of Hamilton, Ont.
Fred MacDonald’s column appears in The Guardian each Saturday. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.