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Trading hands for mike

Posted: 5 p.m.

Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, eyeing a post-playing career in punditry and off a 4-0 week as an NFL Network analyst, made one of his quick and candid takes on the Marvin Lewis trade.

"Never going to happen," Houshmandzadeh said Wednesday from California. "It's just a dumb thing to do both ways; making a trade like that in the division."

While Houshmandzadeh shot down one rumor, he took aim at a legend when he predicted the Jaguars to knock off the undefeated Patriots in this weekend's playoff.

"It's going to be tough, but they can do it and I don't want to watch the Patriots go 19-0," Houshmandzadeh said. "It's bad enough they went 16-0. If anybody does it, I want my team to do it."

Houshmandzadeh was part of the NFL Network team that drafted four players as analysts for last weekend's games. Perched in the press box in Seattle ("It was too cold and wet on the sidelines," he said), Houshmandzadeh took notes on the Seahawks victory over Washington and then rushed to the field to gather interviews from such victors as defensive end Patrick Kerney and linebacker Julian Peterson. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck waited for him to finish one interview and cornerback Marcus Trufant granted him a one-on-one before he went into the media room.



For Houshmandzadeh, whose media work had been limited to the studio, it was as hectic as a two-minute drill. But being a player helped in more ways than one.

"They knew who I was, so they were going to stop and talk as they came off the field," Houshmandzadeh said. "That helps. I was taking notes so I would know what I wanted to ask. It helps getting interviewed. I take your questions and then hopefully relate it to the game."

Houshmandzadeh focused on the Seattle defense and its ability to put pressure on quarterback Todd Collins.

"The game worked out the way I said it would," Houshmandzadeh said. "Seattle stopped the run and made Todd Collins try to beat them. Kerney was going against a guy with very little experience and he took advantage of that."

Houshmandzadeh has become a locker room go-to guy for the media when it comes to analysis and while some of it may make the coaches roll their eyes ("They don't throw me enough deep balls," he says), it makes a network exec's day.

"T.J.'s very good and he's very good because he's very honest," said Drew Ohlmeyer, a senior bureau producer for NFL Network. "He's less inhibited than some players. We don't want bulletin-board material, but some guys are very careful not to give any if they're talking about another team. T.J. feels free to say what he feels."

And Houshmandzadeh showed over the weekend why he's one of the league's canniest receivers:

He knows the game.

He went 4-0 in calling the Wild Card games, including his own.

"Seattle was at home and they put the ball in the quarterback's hands and their quarterback is better," Houshmandzadeh said. "The Giants were going to beat Tampa Bay because they had the better quarterback, too, and you knew Jacksonville was going to be able to run the ball like they did the first time against Pittsburgh. I just don't think Tennessee is that good and I didn't think San Diego would have much of a problem."

It's that confidence that Ohlmeyer loves.

"T.J.'s very polished," he said, "and that comes from being confident and he's confident because he knows what he's talking about."

OK, here he goes again for this weekend:

Jacksonville at New England: I'm going out on a limb. Jacksonville again. It's real easy to pick New England and it's going to be very difficult for them. But the Patriots don't stop the run because they want to play coverage, and the Jaguars can take it from 99 yards. They can score from anywhere on the field. If (defensive tackle) John Henderson can't play, that hurts Jacksonville a lot, but they'll get rush from their ends, and (cornerback) Rashean Mathis can pretty much match up on Randy Moss. And (cornerback) Terry Cousins is smart enough. He's a lot like Cory Ivy for the Ravens. They're similar players. If (quarterback) David Garrard doesn't turn it over, they've got a chance."

San Diego at Indianapolis: The way San Diego struggled with Tennessee last week, I just don't see them winning at Indy. They barely beat them last time and you're not going to see Peyton Manning throw six interceptions and Adam Vinatieri miss a short field goal again in the same game. I wouldn't mind seeing the Patriots and Colts in the championship game. That would make for good TV."

Seattle at Green Bay: "I feel a little attached to Seattle because I had them last week, but it's the same reasons why I took Seattle last week that I like Green Bay this week. You've got to give the edge to (Packers quarterback) Bret Favre. Hasselbeck has been to a Super Bowl, but look at how many big games Favre has been in and won. And they're at home. That's going to be a good game. It's a push. But you've got to give Favre the intangibles."

Giants at Dallas: "It doesn't look like T.O. is going to be at full strength. If he is, it's a different story. But the way it looks now is that the Giants will be able to concentrate on (tight end) Jason Witten. And the Giants will be able to rush the passer and run the ball."

Houshmandzadeh says he had a chance to go to Green Bay to cover the game "but it was too cold." Yet Ohlmeyer says he likes to give more guys chances and spread it around. For instance, this week Bengals linebacker Dhani Jones goes to Foxboro to work the New England game.

Houshmandzadeh often speaks of getting a job as a game analyst on one of the networks, but Ohlmeyer counsels him to do it all.

"I tell players who are interested in doing this to just get the chair time," he said. "It doesn't matter. Studio. Sideline. Whatever. Just get the experience."

Houshmandzadeh takes on any subject any time. As for Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston writing Wednesday that the Ravens should give up draft picks to take Lewis out of his three years left in Cincinnati, he says such a trade would never happen.

"Not in the division. It would be crazy for both teams," Houshmandzadeh said. "He knows you. You know him."

And that's where the Lewis story stands.

For now.

A theory for pundits.

It is a modest proposal, one that Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome says his club currently isn't pursuing and one the Bengals apparently haven't been made aware of if they are.

"I don't think it will ever happen," said Houshmandzadeh, the once and future pundit.

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