Gather 'round, boys and girls, and slowly exhale — a group cooing, if you will — over the football bounty we are about to consume. Can there be too much good football?
Not in my house, baby.
This weekend's Cirque du Berserk includes four NFL playoff games, three in snow country, so the possibility of a blizzard, ice bowl, or some other sort of Arctic apocalypse looms extra large.
At about noon in Chicago, I predict the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald will wash up under high winds along Lake Shore Drive. Several tailgaters will slather it in brown mustard and attempt to eat it. That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed....
Buuuuurp. Go Bears.
In Foxborough, where the Patriots and Jets convene, it is the loveliest of seasons. January in Massachusetts is the time of year undertakers take to stacking the bodies in the shed till the ground begins to thaw. You want frozen tundra? Take a look at Bill Belichick's face this Sunday. The Ice Man Coacheth.
On the opposite sideline will be Rex Ryan, the renowned psychotherapist, who has been jawing all week in an attempt to get his team mentally prepared to play the Patriots, because normally they'd hardly give such a game a second thought. Knowing Ryan, this will probably work, and the Patriots will have the Jets' full attention.
"It's personal," Ryan says of the matchup against Belichick, which is exactly how he described the foot fetish photos involving his wife a few weeks ago — personal.
Dr. Freud, line 2. Stat.
In Pittsburgh, where the Steelers play host the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday, the forecast calls for a 30% chance of snow and highs in the 30s.
In Chicago, where the Bears play host to the Seahawks on Sunday, there's also a chance of snow with a high of about 20.
Foxborough is expecting cloudy skies with temperatures in the 30s. Rain and snow is predicted to move in Monday, but the collective wishes of an entire nation can make important things happen sooner than they normally would.
In Atlanta, Saturday's forecast calls for temps in the 40s and a 70% chance of grits.
No matter the weather, 70,000 or so raving lunatics will show up at each venue, some of them carrying torches. Those are the reasonable ones. Be very wary of the others.
The lone indoor game is in Atlanta, where they play in one of those awful sealed tombs that remind me of Indian casinos. The only thing making that game worthy of your precious time is the Packers of Green Bay. By the way, if anybody should be playing in the snow, it is those guys. Indoor football is to the Packers what Cheez Whiz is to a pungent wheel of Wisconsin scamorze.
I am a visionary of the first rank, and foresee the eventual matchup of the Green Bay Packing Co. against the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field the following week. Bears-Packers for the NFC title? Is epic a verb? Is now. Because a matchup of such blood rivals could out-epic the Super Bowl.
I have a feel for these people of Chicago. It's not a pleasant feel. They are cold and pale as the inside of a refrigerator, at least the exposed skin you can actually see. Go ahead, put your tongue on one. In January, you'll stick — like that kid to the frigid flagpole in "A Christmas Story."
Honestly, is this much football good for a marriage? Of course it is. Last weekend, I probably watched 20 hours of pro and college games and I could feel the bond growing between my wife and me until the very last snap. Or maybe that was gunfire.
Just remember: Potential spouses are everywhere but juicy matchups like these come along only once every few years. Choose accordingly.
Bernard Natelson, a psychotherapist who works a lot with couples, offers these common sense thoughts:
"I think healthy couples accommodate each other," he says.
But what about the rest of us, doc?
"The optimal marriage is when each side has its own personal interests but some of them intersect," the Los Alamitos therapist explains. "You know what a Venn diagram is?"
"A Venn diagram is two circles overlapping," he explains. "It represents a couple's shared interests."
OK, round things overlapping. Like Ryan and Belichick?
Or you could form a new prayer group. My own prayer group, six guys who haven't been to church since their own weddings, meets exclusively during important sporting events. Sure, sometimes we have the TV going in the background.
At our prayer group meetings, we share our deepest feelings about cover-2 defenses and how no one except quarterbacks should ever run out of bounds on purpose ("I mean, it's like tackling yourself!").
This weekend, use whatever form of obfuscation you can think of. Remind the spouse that football is simply the male equivalent of shopping. If her eyes don't immediately light up with understanding, sometimes it takes a little time.