The email came in early Tuesday, probably shortly after he picked up his newspaper off the front step the morning after the San Francisco 49ers trounced the Chicago Bears 32-7.|
"Here's hoping I won the NESS GUESS contest! 15-0 and 5 pts off the tiebreaker. *crosses fingers*" wrote Steve Louck of New Boston.
Alas, the best that exceptional showing in the football contest could do was fifth place.
There were a dozen entrants who were 15-0, and two of those were just one point off on the tie-breaker. Another two were three points off.
In fact, one of those 15-0s and one point off has to go away empty-handed. With a tie for the top, we defer to the computer for a random selection of the two for the winner. That became Jeff Wilson, of Milan, for the $100, with Robert Inskeep, of Rock Island, getting a high-five for his uncrossed fingers.
The other perfect entries belonged to Sandy Strother, of Moline, and Steve Smet, of Peoria (both off by 3 on the tie-breaker); Louck; Mike Beserra, of Moline, and Nick Hurst, of Sherrard (both off by 6); Brodie Aldrich, of Galesburg, and Debbie Brandon, of East Moline (both off by 8); Dave Taghon, of East Moline (13); Justin Small, of Port Byron (18); and Darnell Evans, of Rock Island (25).
The Ness Guess did quite well with a 14-1 record, and while that would have been 13th if it was for the weekly cash, it's first when it comes to the Challenge against WQAD-TV sports director Matt Randazzo. With Randazzo going 12-3, the Challenge now stands at 7-3-1 in favor of the Ness Guess, a four-week lead with six weeks left.
As for this week's games, if the Ness Guess pulls it off with these picks, then it really was meant to be:
1. Illinois at Northwestern
Ness: Northwestern: Illini fans, give thanks that the season is almost over.
Dazzo: Northwestern: Winless Big 10 season means honeymoon long over for Tim Beckman.
2. Michigan at Ohio State
Ness: OSU: This one is for my Isle of Iowa friend Heather Sexton; hoping she reads it online.
Dazzo: OSU: This is Buckeyes' BCS Bowl game and National Championship all rolled into one.
3. Wisconsin at Penn State
Ness: Wisconsin: Wins a week too late in Randazzo's view.
Dazzo: Penn State: Happy Valley much happier than last year.
4. Raiders at Bengals
Ness: Bengals: McFadden injury might have cost me Fantasy Football money.
Dazzo: Bengals: A.J. Green quietly becoming NFL's second best receiver.
5. Steelers at Browns
Ness: Steelers: Someone tell the Steelers they lost because of those hideous uniforms so that they'll never wear them again.
Dazzo: Steelers: Somehow finds a way to win.
6. Bills at Colts
Ness: Bills: Figuring the Colts' Luck has run out.
Dazzo: Colts: Fun team, great story.
7. Broncos at Chiefs
Ness: Broncos: Wondering if Dazzo is done picking the Chiefs for the year.
Dazzo: Broncos: Manning vs. Casell — enough said.
8. Titans at Jaguars
Ness: Titans: Just pencil in a Jags' loss each week and you'll be all right.
Dazzo: Jaguars: Henne stays hot.
9. Falcons at Bucs
Ness: Bucs: Believe, they are one of the best teams in the NFC right now.
Dazzo: Falcons: Matt Ryan won't throw 5 interceptions the rest of the regular season.
10. Seahawks at Dolphins
Ness: Seahawks: Wavered on Dolphins, so if they'll come through, I'll be upset.
Dazzo: Seahawks: Dolphins continue to struggle.
11. Ravens at Chargers
Ness: Ravens: Please, please, please let Flacco and Rice have huge games.
Dazzo: Ravens: But beware of letdown.
12. 49ers at Saints
Ness: Saints: Beware of the Saints in December.
Dazzo: Saints: MNF letdown, Superdome, and red hot Drew Brews equals upset.
13. Rams at Cardinals
Ness: Cardinals: Rams hit a low point last week. Defeated going in.
Dazzo: Rams: Can't pick any team that starts a QB I've never heard of.
14. Packers at Giants
Ness: Packers: Don't look now, but Pack lead their division.
Dazzo: Giants: Bye week gets champs back on track.
15. Vikings at Bears
Ness: Vikings: Vikes have winning record, thus Bears don't win.
Dazzo: Bears: Cutler is use to running for his life by now.
You can enter the Ness Guess Football Contest, and have a chance at winning the $100 prize, until midnight tonight at www.qconline.com, clicking on the contest icon.