Friday, December 14, 2007

Graham Ready To Boot Patriots

Jets punter Ben Graham likes kicking in bad weather games. Good because Gang Green will need him plenty Sunday against the Patriots in Foxborough where forecasters are calling for a snowing, windy, cold-as-a-polar-bear's-butt day. “I’ve seen the forecast and I’m looking forward to punting out there today to get a feel for it,” Graham said to before practicing in the freezing rain Wednesday. The Aussie punter also gave readers and aspiring cold-weather punters some inside info on how to handle the wintry conditions.

On punting in windy conditions: “If it’s windy, you have to drop the ball a little lower so the wind doesn’t affect the ball when you’re dropping it to your foot. But I’ve had some of my best games in the snow, the wind and the rain. I’m looking forward to it just like every game. It’s always a good challenge going up there to play, no matter the situation both teams are in.”

On relying on long-snapper James Dearth to communicate the condition (wet or dry?) of the ball: “It doesn’t become too much heavier. The snappers tell you how the ball is going to be because they get their hands on it in the beginning. They know if the wax has been completely rubbed off or if the rain will affect it.”

While Graham and the Jets practiced outside Wednesday in freezing rain, the Patriots sought the warm comforts of an indoor practice as snow fell at Gillette Stadium. Weenies!

The Patriots cheerleaders practiced in the same location. Tom Brady scanned the group, picked out the prettiest girl, clapped his hands twice and said, "Bathe her and bring her to me." (Ok, I made up that part of the story.)

You probably already know this but the line has dipped from 27 points in favor of the Patriots to 24. This is no doubt a result of the weather forecast. I'm no Vegas insider, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line go under 20 before kickoff Sunday.

Because of the Spygate incident, many are calling for (hoping for) New England to run up the score on the 3-and-whatever Jets. Since the forecast was announced, I haven't heard any more of those those Patriots-will-score-70 picks. Most everyone now is limiting the undefeated Patriots to about 55. I don’t think the game is going to be a blowout.

My prediction is the Brady will slip on the icy field and the Jets will score a safety. Brady will be forced to leave the game with an injury and will not return. Later, in the fourth quarter, Mike Nugent will squeeze in a field goal and the J-E-T-S pull off the biggest upset in football this year, winning 5-3 over the Patriots.

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