Sunday, November 30, 2008

I Guess They Make Mistakes Too Right?

"I'm fast as lightning bro, you better use your Nikes bro."

Well, so much for riding high. USC and the Pats could not have played worse, and here I am thinking of ways to describe it. It's no small feat to try and think through how two of my favorite teams could get dismantled by rivals in back-to-back days. Hmmm...well, let me see if I can get through this while not becoming somewhat unglued...

So the Steelers finally figured how to stop Wes Welker...render him unconscious. Yeah, thanks for that. Wes' streak of six or more receptions in a game ended today thanks to the Steelers...or should I say, Ryan Clark after he knocked him out of the game on a borderline dirty wasn't egregiously dirty...slightly least enough to garner a 15-yard personal foul penalty. Not to say that Wes couldn't have single-handedly turned the game around, but he definitely would have been an upgrade from Sam Aiken (personally, I'm thinking there had to have been another warm body to fill in for Welker than Sam Aiken...all of a sudden I feel like Josh McDaniels panicked (which is understandable when the best slot receiver in the NFL goes down), then looked at the bench, saw the closet number to 83 he could find, and threw him in).

Honestly, if you told me the Steelers would win big today, I would have been a little surprised, but if you look at it from a unbiased perspective (which is nearly impossible for me to do), it does kind of make sense. Quarterback with very little experience faces the best D in the NFL, and a really tough QB, who gets back one of the better RBs in the AFC (Willie Parker), facing a porous secondary and a front seven who have not really been able to put pressure on the quarterback this makes sense...a bit much though right? 33-10? Ehhh...did we have it coming to us? We have dominated the Steelers for like a decade (outside of the Ty Law game that snapped the 21-game win streak), so maybe a pounding into reality is what the Pats needed...maybe what I needed too. It's like you try and overlook the deficiencies of your team when they're winning, and then you play a really good team, get pounded, and then you realize "hey, maybe they should think about addressing some of these needs...ummm...soon." It's tough the Indy game this was absolutely brutal afterwards to sit down and think about what went wrong (which I do pretty much after every loss...hey, I know they don't care about my input, but here's how I feel about this: If I am able to dissect the problems correctly, I can look to see how they improve on that next week...also, I have a wild imagination, and with that imagination, I think I can parlay this knowledge into a job of some sorts...also in that imagination is singing for a Jefferson Airplane cover band.."one pill makes you larger, and one makes you think you can write about sports").

There's really not a whole lot going on in the secondary, and the pass rush is not so hot. Credit the injuries to Adalius Thomas and Rodney Harrison for some of that. Granted, Harrison wouldn't make a huge difference at this point...but he would help right? I mean Meriweather wouldn't have been vaulted into the starting role, which he isn't ready for...yet. He's so close, but is just lacking the intangibles right now to be starting. He hits hard, but continues to be shaky in coverage. Adalius Thomas is the injury that is going to kill this team down the stretch though. He's great at...everything. He's fast as lightning on the pass rush, he's a good cover man, good tackler...he's just a force. Even when he was healthy, he was being completely under-utilized...I guess I may have brought this up at some point (or two years, but who's counting?...actually I definitely am, my mistake). Without the A-Train, this team is going to be running into a similar situation the rest of the year. The fortunate thing is that the Pats have a two-game swing against Seattle and Oakland in the next two weeks...actually, Seattle is almost at the point of scaring me because they will have ten days between games, and Qwest Field isn't exactly hospitable...actually, they should beat the crap out of them anyway...I don't know...I get the swings when I get rattled...I'm a little rattled after that game. Should I go on? I mean you know what happened right?...Ugh, sometimes even I hate how biased I am, I can't even imagine how you guys are feeling.

Random Observation Of The Day:

Ellis Hobbs is the Ricky Davis of the Patriots. A guy who shows a lot of flash and pizazz...and has no game to back it up. He consistently gets torched by big-time receivers and is at his best returning kicks, not at covering people (why was Matt Slater even returning the kick he muffed by the way?). Both are just incredibly frustrating to watch, as they both possessed some ability, but are huge showboats when they do something good...and "good" is a fairly infrequent occurance, so they really go crazy if they do something right. I don't know, anyone else notice that?

Random Observation That Led To The Random Observation Of The Day:

Coors Light makes a cooler bag with the Pats logo on it as well as the logos of the three Super Bowls we won. Best part: it's not a 12-pack, not 24, or even 30...but 36! I'm not even a fan, but 36 beers and a reusable Pats cooler for 25 bucks? That was the shortest trip to the liquor store ever...even when I had my fake ID I would mull for like 30 seconds.

Alright, enough with this nonsense, let's move...well, okay...I will make an attempt to move on...this may not go well:


Don't give them the Cup yet...oh please don't let this be a phase. I have been a Bruins fan my entire life. I have seen ownership sabotage this team for basically my entire life. Please, please telll me this is not going to all of a sudden stop in like a month. I don't think it will, but I've been wrong occasionally (I was better at calling games when I was 12 than I am now...I think I need to to take a more juvenile point of view when making predictions). In any event, the Bruins are on the biggest hot streaks since Milt Schmidt was around. The defending Stanley Cup champs (Detroit) came into the Garden last night...and got torn up. How else can I say it? They got torn up. Two days ago, they put seven up on the Islanders...I'm just jinxing it by writing about it week after week, and I don't mean to do can I not just go on and on though? The thing that gets me is when someone says "when did you become a Bruins fan?" When I was 9, I saw one of the final games the B's played in the Garden (the old, and dare I say, "real" one) against the Penguins. When I was 18, instead of going out...I watched the Bruins (okay, sure I didn't have a license because of a minor miscommunication with speed limits...but I still watched them!), and even when I didn't live in Boston, I followed them every night on, and even convinced my old boss to get NHL Center Ice so we could show the Bruins games at the bar (which became interesting when he believed he was a bigger fan than me because he saw more games...dude, you own the place!...if you gave me free booze, I would have watched every night too!). Now I am back's just nice to have the slighest bit of vindication for sticking with this team through the years. Now I know that the bandwagon is about to get loaded up, but I really don't care at this point...I mean what can I do? Happened to the Pats, then the Sox, now the Celtics...I mean one man cannot stop the "pink hat revolution." So, hey, here's a public service announcement for everyone:


The Week Ahead:

Thursday: @ Tampa Bay, 7:30
Saturday: @ Florida, 7:00
Monday: Tampa Bay, 7:00


Speaking of really good teams that play in the Garden, the Celtics just roll on. Let me see if I have this right: They have no one on their team averaging more than 20 points a game, yet they have the best record in the Eastern Conference?...yeah I can buy that. The Celts continue to get it done with their unselfish style of ball. Why are they unselfish? Well, three out of the five starters have absolutely nothing left to prove, and really just want to win, while the other two are exceptionally good compliments (I want a Tommy point for calling Rondo's breakthrough last year, disregarding everyone being negative about Ray Allen, and accurately predicting that Tony Allen could step up in place of James Posey...and I love Walter!). Plus the bench is again showing a great deal of balance, especially in that period at the end of the first and through the first half of the second when he has four subs in the game (usually joined by Ray Allen). Again, another great team to watch.

Here's something that did catch my attention during the week. As I'm sure you heard, 2010 is going to be wild in terms of free agency (LeBron, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh to name a few), and there's been a lot of talk about the Knicks dumping salary now so that they can get one or two of these super-duper stars when they hit the market, which is completely and utterly true...I mean they're the Knicks...of course they would tank two years to do this. Furthermore, not only do their fans, for the most part, know that they are dumping salary for this reason, they are applauding it (LeBron got a standing ovation from the Knicks crowd at MSG the other definitely takes something when you're the visiting player, and while not having played for the team in the past, or not overcoming some life-threatening ailment, you get a standing ovation on the road...I think they want him). Anyway, here's what's interesting: Ray Allen's contract expires in '10, and it's unknown if he would want to keep playing, or if the C's are ready to keep giving him close to 20 mil a year. Granted they will still need to re-sign Tony Allen, Leon Powe, and Big Baby in that time...but still...I thought it was interesting because of all this 2010 talk (I can't believe if I am somehow able to make it through the rest of this year and then the year after that, I'll be living in the year 2010...crazy).

The Week Ahead:

Monday: Orlando, 7:30 (NBA TV)
Wednesday: Indiana, 7:30
Friday: Portland, 8:00 (ESPN)
Sunday: @ Indiana, 6:00

College Football

BC won a game that, historically and on paper, they were supposed to lose. I say on paper because starting QB Chris Crane broke his collarbone last week and is done for the season, and they were left with true freshman Dominique Davis to start. Also, Maryland has been phenomanal against Top 25 opponents this year (4-0 heading into the game), and given BC's history of dropping games late in the season, it had all the makings of a let-down. But, they made it through another game, and now will face VA Tech in the ACC Championship next week. These two met last year in the same game, and BC dropped it...which was not in the least bit surprising unfortunately. I'm still crafting this theory, but it goes like this: Eventually, if a team keeps coming close year after year, eventually, the walls will come down, and they'll get to the promised land (Miami in this case). So, I'm actually really liking BC's chances this time around. I like that defense, and I also like that there isn't nearly as much pressure on this team as there has been in the previous campaigns.

I feel bad for Oregon State. Normally at this point, I would say they "choked," but for some reason, I am feeling a sense that I may have been a little too critical in the past of teams needing a big win and not getting it. You happens. State got rolled at home in the "Civil War" by Oregon, and was knocked out of the BCS. Subsequently, they're about to take right around a $13 million paycut to go to a lesser bowl game. They did have a nice run this season, especially in the win over Southern Cal.

The Big 12 should not have the letters "B," "C," and "S" consecutively anywhere in its rule book...I don't care how far down the tiebreaker list it is...get it out of there. Use in-conference point differential in its place...and hey, Oklahoma wins that too. So please, Texas and all its constituents, enough already. You beat Oklahoma at a neutral site. Great. Guess what? You lost to Tech. OU lost to #3, Texas lost to #7...why is this still a debate? YOU'RE STILL GOING TO A BCS GAME! BE HAPPY!

Some quick notes before I move to the pros. I am looking at the opening lines of this weekend's games to see how everything is looking. Here are the games to keep an eye on this weekend:
  • ACC Championship: BC/VA Tech (1:00, ABC): This game is currently a pick 'em, which I think is a fairly good representation of how the ACC has been this year: A lot of teams who are pretty much equals, with no one really running away with it (although my favorite team to watch the last few weeks, GA Tech, has been pulling ahead a little bit). Some books are leaning a little bit to BC, giving one point to the Eagles. The O/U opened at 38 and has since gone up to 40. What this tells me is that 38 was a juicy number, and people have layed a lot on this going over 38. If the betting public (especially those who can move lines by two points) is betting over in this amount, listen to them. BC (-1), Over (40).
  • SEC Championship: 'Bama/Florida (4:00, CBS): I actually said two weeks ago that Florida would go into this game as touchdown favorites...but even I underestimated the Gators on this one. This line opened at eight and a half, and quickly moved up to 10 in favor of Florida. This, again, really isn't surprising. If you've noticed, Florida has been beating down everyone they've played since losing to Ole Miss. I know that I said I liked Florida big...I'm not so sure anymore. I am seeing Florida winning, but not in the style they have been doing lately. 'Bama will be leading this game at some point. I see a low-scoring first half, and then a pretty sudden turnaround in the second half, with a shootout in the fourth. Ultimately, Florida's weapons are too much, but 'Bama keeps it close. 'Bama (+10), Over (50.5).
  • Big 12 Championship: Mizzou/Oklahoma (8:00, ABC): Apparently, we are going to see some offense here. Not only was the O/U high (77), but it got bumped up even more (79) since the line was announced. Oklahoma's stock is obviously at the highest its been since the Texas loss after their win in Stillwater on Saturday. The Sooners were bumped from 14.5 to 16. Again, it is incredibly tough to go against OU. They looked like they would not be covering for the longest time against Oklahoma State (remember that team when you're making your bowl picks...them and GA Tech...hopefully they don't play each other), but they pulled away in the end. Simply put, they are stocked with genetic freaks on that team. I like Chase Daniel, but it's too much to ask them to beat OU after coming off a loss to Kansas at the exact same field they're playing on this week. Mizzou needed momentum, and they did not get it. Oklahoma (-16), Under (79).
Fav Five Heisman Candidates:
  1. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
  2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
  3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
  4. Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
  5. Max Hall, QB, BYU

Detroit...easily the worst team I've seen in my lifetime.

Romeo Crennel is definitely going to get fired. Games like the one he had against the Colts today just reverberate when a guy needs to go. It wasn't so much the game itself, but how he looked on the sidelines...lost. Anytime a coach gets the deer in the headlights look every time the camera pans to him, it's over. I think he's pretty much settled on the fact that he's going to be gone. I might be wrong, but I'm definitely not the first, or last, to suggest this. I feel like Cleveland, Detroit, Oakland, and Philly will have openings...and somehow, Herm Edwards will talk his way into one more year in KC.

Only two home teams won today...two! Tampa, which is completely unsurprising considering the NFC South has dominated home games this year, and Minnesota beating up on the Bears at the HHH Metrodome (how many people know the Metrodome is named after Hubert Humphrey?...well, if you're reading this and didn't know, I'm glad I can keep that "learn something new every day" streak in tact). There is something to be said about home field advantage, and here it is: If you want to win at home, play in the NFC South, or play in a dome. The choice is up to you.

Here's a quick look at next week:
  • Oakland (43) vs. San Diego (-10) (Thursday, NFL Network, 8:15). Ummm...awful game. Plain and simple. The fact that the president of the Chargers has come out and said that Norv Turner will be around next year makes me think he has some explicit pictures of someone high up. I want to take Oakland...can't do it.
  • Jacksonville (40) vs. Chicago (-6.5) (1:00). There is no line on this game yet, so I'm going to have to guess one here. I'm going to go Chicago with them getting four, and the O/U will be 40. Tell me if you think that's too generous or whatever. Anywho, I do not like either team at all. Lots of travel for the Jags. They are at Houston tomorrow, then go to Chicago in the short week.
  • Cincinnati (42) vs. Indianapolis (-14) (1:00). The spread started at 14.5, then lost the .5 today. I think a lot will be put on Indy to drive this spread up, probably in the range of 16. I don't think Cincy's offense will have enough to hit the over.
  • Houston (49) vs. Green Bay (-6) (1:00). Green Bay showed vulnerability at home, but Houston has shown that they are wildly inconsistent on the road.
  • Cleveland (45) vs. Tennessee (-14) (1:00). Another spread that will be on the move. Two words. Ken Dorsey.
  • Minnesota (-10) vs. Detroit (46.5) (1:00). I think everyone circled this as the only conceivable game the Lions could win the rest of the way. I don't see it...not at home.
  • Philadelphia (46) vs. NY Giants (-8) (1:00). I would say this is a trap spread, especially since the line already moved down .5. Still, picking against the G-Men is just not a smart move at this juncture.
  • Atlanta (53.5) vs. New Orleans (-3) (1:00). NFC South clash. New Orleans battled big today at Tampa. Atlanta looks unstoppable, but have beat up on bad teams, and continue to fly under the radar because of a rookie QB and coach, a career second-string back, and a pretty good defense that not a lot of people really know about.
  • NY Jets (-4) vs. San Francisco (47.5) (4:00). The Jets looked awful against Denver, but my feeling on that is the Jets can pretty much just win the games it needs to and still win the division. San Fran is all over the map. Singletary is outstanding for the league...and I'm not just saying that because I am completely terrified of him.
  • Miami (42) vs. Buffalo (-1.5) (4:00). Life from north of the border. This is going to be one of the ugliest 4:00 games you may ever see. Miami looked good on the road against a bad team today. Buffalo looked bad against an upstart team at home...I think you can figure out where I'm leaning on this one.
  • Kansas City (49) vs. Denver (-8) (4:00). Denver is kind of a quirky team in that they can lose to Oakland by 21 at home, then beat up on the Jets in Jersey. KC is still getting a lot of respect considering they are on the road and have two wins.
  • St. Louis (48.5) vs. Arizona (-13.5) (4:15). I like Arizona a lot, but sometimes, I'm troubled when an upstart team has to give a bunch of points, despite how bad the Rams are.
  • Dallas (42) vs. Pittsburgh (-3) (4:15). Well, we know about Pittsburgh. The Cowboys have roared back from Brad Johnson hell to serious contenders again. This should be a real fun game.
  • New England (-4.5) vs. Seattle (43) (4:00). This is a must-win for the Pats, who took a bunch of steps back today. We'll see how Wes does this week and if he's ready to go. Even with him out, this is a game they should win.
  • Washington (36.5) vs. Baltimore (-5) (8:15). Baltimore ran it up against Cincy today, while the 'Skins defense looked worn out against the Giants...then again, what team hasn't looked like that against them this year?
  • Tampa Bay (38) vs. Carolina (-3) (Monday, 8:30). In going with what has seemed to be a pattern in my life, the Panthers are good as soon as I leave. Prediction: The Lynchburg Hillcats finish over .500 next year.
Fav Five MVP Candidates:
  1. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona
  2. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
  3. Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
  4. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
  5. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh
Of course I'm sure there will be something down the line that I'm going to feel the need to comment's just inevitable. Chelsea lost to Arsenal today 2-1. I mention this because Chelsea losing this year is definitely a rarity...their record currently stands at 10-2-3 in league play. Despite the loss, the Blues remain in a tie in first with Liverpool, and will be in at least second heading into their next match against Bolton on Saturday. Today was rough, but that's what's nice about liking a bunch of different teams. I force myself to not get hung up about losses. It's tough for sure. Celtics tomorrow though, so there's my next one right there. It's also nice to be home because I don't have make plans just to watch a regular season game. It's all right here for me, so that helps. I'm a little cold, but I hope I can just get through these next three months without freezing or losing my mind from boredom waiting for a job to come through. I will persevere...don't you worry. Peace.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spot-Filled Mind

"Slow down everyone, you're moving too fast."

I'm taking advantage of one of the rare moments my room is not below 60 to come with a couple of thoughts from the past week. Yeah, it's cold in New England in bizarre. Anyway, roll the headings:

College Football

I'm not going to lie: If Texas Tech had won in Norman, and subsequently made the BCS Championship, it would have been arguably the best story in the college ranks since Boise State...and I was really pulling for them even though in the back of my mind, I pretty much knew they would get smoked...which is what happened. I still hope the Red Raiders make a BCS game (which is entirely possible considering how screwy this year has been in the college ranks), but you have to give it to Oklahoma...there just a much better team, and that's all there is to it.

That being said (I really didn't want to lament on the OU game too much), the BCS is, as I predicted, a total mess. Here's what we do know: Penn State is in after their demolition of Michigan St. at home. This would be the third game in the last two weeks that I thought would be, at the least bit, entertaining, but turned out to be really terrible (USC/UF, OU/Tech, PSU/MSU). Playing the Lions remains a mystery. It almost looked like the BCS picture would get clearer once Oregon St.'s kicker missed an extra point against 'Zona that would have tied the game, but in keeping with the theme of somewhat organized chaos, State was able to get the ball back at beat the 'Cats on a game-ending FG to win by two. What does this all mean? The Beavers, and not Southern Cal, has the inside edge to play Penn St. in the Rose Bowl, and with a win in the "Civil War" on Saturday against Oregon (State will be playing at home), Southern Cal will be locked out of the Rose Bowl. Give Oregon St. credit. Basically the entire year, they have flown under the radar, with the obvious exception being their huge win over the Trojans earlier this season. With that win over Arizona (which a lot of people were expecting to lose, including yours truly), they are one win from the promised land...and to complete foul up (really you might as well throw the other "f" word in there) the BCS.

The other thing that we know is that Utah is also in the mix, basically assuring themselves, at worst, a birth in the Fiesta Bowl (I'm pretty sure that's where they'll end up). Again, Utah has won huge games, including this past week against BYU, and previously to TCU (a team I am so huge on you don't even want to know). I know, you think they don't play a tough enough schedule, but see, here's where you get a chance to see if you're right. If Utah plays, let's say, Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, and gets whooped, then, hey, there's some validity to your arguement. However, if they come with it like Boise State did against...yes, Oklahoma, then it proves that you can have a great team and not play anyone. It's not the athletes' fault if they have an easier schedule than perennial powerhouses (aliterations in the house!)...they're just playing whoever is on the schedule...blame the A.D. if you have a problem with a school from a smaller conference cashing in on the big stage. If you look at the Utes, they're not nearly as "sexy" a team as Boise was two years ago. This is a team that just does everything well...not a whole lot of flaws there...think of them as the Titans of the NCAA.

I know I've referenced Boise State like four times already, and at no point was it a reference to this year's team who, by the way, is undefeated. That's right, the poster child of cinderellas for the past decade is also undefeated, and yet getting no attention whatsoever. Utah's a great story, but at least they're getting some publicity...what about Boise? Quite a feat if they can also run the table. You want to talk about screwed up...the Broncos have a chance to bring the entire system down in one fail swoop...and let's not forget Ball State, another team that is undefeated. Just because they play all their games on Tuesday and Wednesday, that does not mean they count less in the end (say what you will about Ball State playing all their games during the week...I think it's genius...they are on national TV every single week, and if you are nuts about football, like me, then you're going to be flipping to see the score every now and again...what better way of getting a school exposure?...and they're undefeated...double bonus!).

Okay, I realize that this will be an incredible waste of time, but if I let that stop me, then I would have no reason to be writing columns right? So, here's how the BCS is looking at this very moment:
  1. Alabama, .987
  2. Texas, .921
  3. Oklahoma, .912
  4. Florida, .875
  5. Southern Cal, .797
  6. Utah, .786
  7. Texas Tech, .779
  8. Penn St., .752
  9. Boise St., .658
  10. Ohio St., .621
A couple other notables: 13. Missouri, .559; 15. Ball St., .439; 16. Cincinnati, .397

Alright, so there are four BCS games and, of course, the BCS National Championship, so five in all. The Rose Bowl is the one screwy game where they have to take the Big 10 and Pac 10 this one is easy to settle:
  • If Oregon State wins: Oregon State vs. Penn State
  • If Oregon State loses: Southern Cal vs. Penn State
Alright, here's where it will get a little complicated. So the Big East, for whatever reason, is still in the BCS contract to get an automatic bid. This has to be something that was decided before three of its best teams left and were replaced by schools that are, historically, more basketball-oriented (especially Louisville and Cincy)...that would seem to be the only reason, because, truthfully, the Big East does not deserve an automatic bid. I like Cincy's team a lot this year, but the talent pool has subsided tremendously in that conference over the past few years to the point where it can be argued that the Mountain West has a better conference (best four teams from the Big East: Cincy, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Rutgers; best from the Mountain West: Utah, TCU, BYU, Air Force...I know my mind's made up, but I'll let you decide). Well, this is one of those things that we're going to have to live with. Again, this is just an assumption, but let's say Cincy beats 'Cuse and wins the Big East, which is highly possible considering they're favored by three touchdowns, then they will reach the Orange Bowl.

The ACC also gets an auto birth, and is also a conference that, at least for this year, doesn't really deserve one. It's a large pool of good teams, but none that stand out at all (although you could make the case for GA Tech and the near 500 yards rushing they put up against Miami last week). It's going to come down to the end just to see who's going to play in the conference championship, let alone the BCS. You're going to see Maryland/BC/Florida St. play GA Tech/VA Tech/Miami. I'm not sure how all the tiebreakers will break down (I'll let the people who get paid to do this worry about that), but one of those teams will be "stealing" another spot from a school who perhaps deserves to get in. The winner of the ACC usually ends up in the Orange Bowl, so that game we can basically put to rest.

The SEC pretty much has two BCS spots locked up, barring huge meltdowns by 'Bama against Auburn (while unlikely, it's still possible considering how these two teams usually play each other) or Florida against FSU (FSU is totally Jekyll and Hyde...I like the Gators personally...big). These two will be playing in the SEC Championship (which I again like the Gators...big), and likely, one will be in the National Championship, with the loser going to New Orleans to play in the Sugar Bowl. So, again, I'm going to go out on a limb (not a terrifically long limb, but a limb nonetheless) and say the SEC gets two spots in the BCS.

And now, the big daddy: The Big 12. Hey, I'm an SEC man...there is no conference that comes even close to touching the Big 12...not a chance. This conference was loaded from the get-go, and seems to be gaining momentum as the year goes on (three in the top 7, five in the top 13). OU's win was big over Tech, but they still have to play Okie St. (that would be #12 Oklahoma State for those of you scoring at home) on the road this week, so it's not over yet for the Sooners (although it would be a major upset if it were). Texas Tech is not necessarily done, but pretty much saw their chance at getting into the BCS shot with the OU loss. It's one thing to lose on a last-second play (see Texas), but it's an entirely different story when you lose 63-21. So, assume they're out for the sake of this discussion. This leaves the team that benefited the most from their one loss...Texas. The Longhorns were waiting in the proverbial weeds for Tech to lose to OU, and now, they are in a chance to pounce. Here's the one problem they may face: They get A&M, who have been awful this year. Because the margin is so small between OU and Texas going into this week, if OU beats Okie St., and does so in a convincing fashion, then Texas, despite beating OU at a neutral site earlier this year, may not have its destiny in its own hands. If OU finishes higher in the BCS than Texas, they will play Mizzou in the Big 12 Championship. Here's my opinion: If OU wins this week, they're playing Mizzou. I just don't see any way of keeping down a team that beat #2 soundly, then would be beating the #12 team on the road...I just don't see how OU doesn't jump Texas in that scenario. Of course, Oklahoma needs to win this week before worrying about that, because if they trip up here, hello Cotton Bowl. Now if the Sooners win and play Mizzou, it could be somewhat of a land-mine game. Here's how I see it though: OU is just going to roll everyone to the national title game. OU and Florida are running fairly parallel paths right now in that they both got beat, and subsequently, have kicked know what, out of everyone in their paths. So, here are my BCS predicitions (I know, took me long enough right?):

Orange Bowl: Cincinnati vs. Georgia Tech
Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Texas
Fiesta Bowl: Southern Cal vs. Utah
Rose Bowl: Oregon State vs. Penn State

BCS Championship:
Florida vs. Oklahoma you wouldn't pay to see that Sugar Bowl and National title game? Something tells me this may be too good to be true...let's hope I'm wrong, which does tend to happen...a lot lately...but here's something I am good at: Heisman favorites and what to watch for this week:

Fav Five Heisman Candidates:
  1. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
  2. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
  3. Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
  4. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
  5. Max Hall, QB, BYU
What To Watch For:

  • Texas A&M vs. #2 Texas (8:00, ESPN)
  • West Virginia vs. #25 Pittsburgh: "The Backyard Brawl" (12:00, ABC)
  • USC vs. Clemson (12:00, Deuce)
  • #21 Georgia Tech vs. #11 Georgia (12:00, CBS)
  • Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (12:00, ESPN)
  • #4 Florida vs. #20 Florida State (3:30, ESPN)
  • Maryland vs. #21 Boston College (3:30, ABC)
  • Auburn vs. #1 Alabama (3:30, CBS)
  • #23 Oregon vs. #17 Oregon State (7:00, VS.)
  • #3 Oklahoma vs. #12 Oklahoma State (8:00, ABC)

I'm pretty sure someone's made this introduction before, but just in case, here goes:

Matt Cassell, I'd like you to meet the world...World, this is Matt Cassell.

Don't start any trade rumors involving Brady, but we have found a quarterback in Matt Cassell. I feel Cassell's pain in terms of never getting a shot of really proving yourself...but once you get it, you make it worth your while. Good for this guy. This has to be one of the feel-good stories of the year right? Cassell torched the 'Fins in a must-win game for the Pats, going for 400 in back-to-back games, the first since the immortal Billy Volek (a guy who the Pats were rumored to be interested in when Brady went down...intriguing) did it four years ago. I think another thing that has helped has been the idea that this Randy Moss guy may be someone to keep an eye on...he might be the real deal. The reigning best receiver on Earth (I said it, good luck proving otherwise) hauled in a season-high three touchdowns, which is strange because it seemed like he was getting three a game in regularity last year (which will happen when the best QB and WR on Earth hook up...again, I said it, and again, prove me wrong). Also, I think Jabar Gaffney has officially reached the point where he can't drop any more passes or else he's going to get cut. I like the guy, but between the Indy game and a couple that he's missed this year...he's not exactly helping himself, which is why, in light of playing for his job, he is going to be something else down the stretch. Also, here's a shock: Wes Welker went off again. Everyone's favorite #83 (I was kind of kidding when I wrote that, but then I thought about it...who else is even close that wears 83?...Lee Evans and that's it?) is on the threshold of something huge this year, now just one reception behind Andre Johnson for the league lead. Without looking this up, Wes has to be on a record pace for most receptions with only one TD, which totally sucks fantasy-wise, but if he keeps getting his six receptions each game (10 games in a row), I'll be able to deal with that. I remember saying something to the effect of "where does Joey Porter get off?" last time these teams played, but then they beat us by 24 and he had three sacks (or four, I forget). Ummm...look at you now! Likely will get fined a couple grand for not coming off the field, and was part of the defense that gave up over 400 yards to a guy who only has nine starts in the league. It's good when it goes though huh?

This week the Steelers come into Foxboro. No Anthony Smith this time though. I'm a little disappointed. He, unspeakably, is still on the team, but only has six tackles all year. Hey, if anything, his name is pretty much tattooed in my brain forever, so he's got that going for him. Hmmm...Pittsburgh at Foxboro, 4:00 game, and they probably will be without Willie Parker...I think you know where I'm going with this.

I found it hilarious that yesterday, I was reading about how Romeo Crennel was "confident" in his job security, and today, the Browns' owner came out and put both him and GM Phil Savage "on notice." First of all, why would you state publicly that you think you're going to be fine despite the fact that the team is doing incredibly lousy this year? Honestly, I think this is a good move by the owner. Why let them be comfortable in their roles? They have done very little this year to really be exempt from feeling the hot seat. Maybe a little urgency is what they need, because the season's end is rapidly least end it on a somewhat good note so you have something to build off of next year (something I thought they had done last year, but alas, it was not to be...okay, I promise to not sound like Robert Frost again for the rest of the column).

Here's a thought: If an NFC South team is playing at home, you may want to go in that direction (the guy who was winning "The Streak" on ESPN did not follow that advice, and now he's out a million bucks...the Packers?...really? the hell did he get to 25 games in a row with logic of picking against the Saints on Monday night in New Orleans?). The Saints and Falcons rolled. What a fantastically intriguing division. Another thought: If you win that division, you better go far that year, because odds are, it will be a couple of years before you're back on top (the division has had a different winner each year since its inception).


The Titans finally lost. Has there ever been a team like that where not only was their undefeated streak completely swept under the rug, but it seemed like the biggest inevitability that they were going to lose? Seriously, I know I have said "the hammer will drop" about that team for the last five weeks. I think Kerry Collins is a great story, but come on. There's only so far the guy can take you...the luck is going to run out eventually...and also, if the running game runs out, then you're in big trouble (I'm not a huge fan of the guy, but I can kind of see why LenDale White was a bit mad after the game seeing as he had two rushes...the entire game). The Titans are still a good team, but they just don't have that "it" quality that makes them great. I was amazed that they kept it going for so long. I think once teams figured out that if you funnel Chris Johnson inside, and force Albert Haynesworth to move around the line instead of letting him come up the middle every time, your chances of being successful go up tremendously. Give credit to the Jets though. They came in with a game plan in mind, and executed the crap out of the point that there really was no singular time they were ever in the game.

The AFC playoff picture remains the same as it was last week, despite the Broncos losing at home to the Joe Cable led Raiders by 21 points. This is proving to be a much more difficult task for the Pats than was originally anticipated (thank you Joe Flacco for being really good, and Peyton to be...Peyton). Here's how we're looking right now:
  1. Tennessee, 10-1
  2. Pittsburgh, 8-3
  3. New York Jets, 8-3
  4. Denver, 6-5
  5. Baltimore, 7-4
  6. Indianapolis, 7-4
  7. New England, 7-4
To say a win over the Steelers would be big is a understatement of epic proportions (I think I'm going to have to copyright that because I know I use that phrase a lot...way too much actually...I hate these moments of self-realization).

Over in the NFC, it's become clear that the whole "losing our minds about Donovan McNabb" thing still hasn't ended...and it's been ten years already! They booed him when he got drafted, they questioned his leadership when they couldn't make the Super Bowl, they riff him for not knowing the OT rule, and now, he has a bad game against the Ravens, and they're supposed to bench him? Ok, first, did you happen to see how Kevin Kolb played? Anytime you throw a touchdown pass over 100 yards, it's never a good thing (Ed Reed broke his own NFL record with a 108-yard INT return off of Kolb). Is this really what you want to see? I mean I can totally understand it when Cowboy fans wanted to see Brooks Bollinger instead of Brad Johnson because...I mean...Brad Johnson...really? But McNabb is a totally different story. Here's a guy who has lifted the Eagles to success that was never seen before in franchise history...can we just lay off the guy for once? How self-indulgent are these people to not just back up a couple of steps and realize the unbelievable talent they literally had dropped on their laps? Personally, I just don't get it. I evaluate players based on talent, but sometimes, I feel like there is something else involved, and it really doesn't sit well with me.

The Giants once again proved they are, hands-down, the best team in the league, reeling off a huge win over the red-hot Cardinals. I think Arizona is one of those teams where they play so much better on the road, and the reason I think that's the case is because, even though they have a good record this year, you still see Kurt Warner, and for some reason, I don't think anyone is afraid of him. Maybe it's because he's older, or because he's not had too many great years since his St. Louis days, but I still think that Warner is not getting respect when he's in an opposing stadium, but when they play at home, it's evident that the offense runs through him, even when Edgerrin James was still the starter. What worries me also about 'Zona is that they are going down a New Orleans-type road where they are pretty much going into each game and having to win in a shootout. While this is exciting to watch, rarely does it pay off (although his Rams team did win a Super Bowl and was an Adam Vinatieri kick from perhaps winning two playing that style). Even the Patriots proved to be succeptable to this last year. If the Cards go up against a really strong defense that has just a hint of offense, I don't know if I like their chances. With that being said, is it weird that if the Giants and Cards played in the Meadowlands this week, I would totally pick 'Zona to not only win, but win by like 10? Seems strange...I just like that team on the road (guess who the Pats are playing next month in Foxboro?...that should be interesting).

Not a lot of surprises from the past week. Everyone remained pretty much status quo. Here are my MVP candidates:

Fav Five MVP Candidates:
  1. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
  2. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona
  3. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis
  4. Clinton Portis, RB, Washington
  5. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta
A few quick notes about some other things:
  • It is conceivable that Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis will be back to their old positions in New England after this year. While unlikely, the fact that it's even conceivable makes me giggle.
  • Junicho Tazawa, the 22-year old Japanese pitcher I've been drooling over, seems to have made up his mind that he wants to come to the Red Sox, which is good considering, you know, it's my team and all. In addition to another great season, the dividends of Dice-K being here continue to pay off. Tazawa apparently idolized Matsuzaka while he played in Japan.
  • Scott Boras is denying the claims that the Sox and Jason Varitek have talked about a one-year deal. Why am I thinking that Boras can't except the fact that he's not representing a superstar like 'Tek once was? Hey, it happens. They're not all A-Rod. I just wish he could be satisfied with screwing us with J.D. Drew for 14 million a year. On a side note, there was a question on today asking "Which of these guys from the Heathcliff Slocumb trade would you rather have, 'Tek or Derek Lowe?" I really wish they had thrown some figures into that, like "if they both cost $12 million," I'm definitely taking Lowe, but if they had said "'Tek for $7 million, or Lowe for $14 million," then I would actually have to think about that.
  • The Teixiera brigade continues to gather momentum up here. How bad is Mike Lowell's injury? That's the real question here. I still really can't get into this sudden interest in a high-ticket guy. He's a great player, but I hate cutting into a championship team. Remember when we let Pedro, Lowe, and Cabrera walk? Took a little bit to get back to the dance. You have Lowell under contract for two more years. Unless this injury is way bigger than anyone is leading me to believe (it's a hip injury by the way, and the word has been that he will be ready for Spring Training), then I just don't see the point. The offense is already strong, and you have a good clubhouse...why mess with a good thing? Focus on suring up the bench and maybe a #4 starter. The front office needs to realize that they won a World Series, and were a game away from getting to another one, with the parts they already have in place. Also, Lars Anderson is the Sox' best prospect, and he's a power-hitting first baseman. Drawing upon their recent past system first basemen (Jeff Bagwell, Mo Vaughn, Brian Daubach, Kevin Youkilis), I would be real hesitant about giving a guy $20 million a year, considering we also just got rid of a $20 million slugger. Also, the Coco trade clears money, but there is a thing called saving it too. Times are tight. Why not hold onto the money and wait for a trade during the season? I realize that they would be giving up something in a trade instead of just getting the guy with no strings attached, but I just feel like the Sox are in no position to commit the kind of years and dollars Teixiera is commanding, because that would be going against all the principles Theo Epstein and Co. have laid down (they went against them for Drew and Lugo...look how that turned out...again, not saying Drew is bad, but just ridiculously overpaid).
  • Speaking of Texiera, the Angels apparently are going after C.C. Sabathia while "waiting for Teixiera's price to drop." Yeah, because there's no better way of making a guy's price drop than to spend $140 million on a pitcher right?
  • The Cubs have reportedly dropped their pursuit of trading for Padres' ace Jake Peavy. Cubs Manager Lou Pinella said that they're "all set" at starting pitching. Then, a few hours later, the Cubs were rumored to have been in talks with A.J. Burnett along with the Sox, Yankees, and Phillies. To sum this up: You are never "set" at starting pitching...especially when you haven't won a World Series in a hundred years.
  • There was a story tonight about how the Celtics have the most technical fouls in the NBA. However, the headline failed to mention that not only are they first in T's, but they're first in W's too, so my caring about that story went pretty much out the window.
  • Lots of surprises in UEFA: Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester United have all played to nil-nil draws in their last matches. Chelsea takes on Bourdeaux tomorrow at 2:30 on ESPN. I wish they were playing at home, but I'll definitely take it. When you don't have a dish with Setanta, you never know how often you will get to see your team.
  • The Bruins are just lighting the hockey world on fire. Lucic has become an offensive threat in addition to throwing punches and putting guys through the boards. Tim Thomas has stepped up from time-share goalie to the best (active) netminder in the game. Chara is playing a lot better this year than his previous campaigns with the B's, and they finally have Patrice Bergeron healthy, which helps stagger out the depth a little more. Really just a fun team to watch...and they won another shootout...two in a row! That's two more than I ever thought I'd see them win.
  • College basketball just tipped off. I saw UConn play last night...yeah, I don't see them losing until like February...maybe. Also, Notre Dame is #8? And they beat #6 Texas tonight too? Obviously this is not your big brother's Fighting Irish. Here's some advice: When you're looking at potential upsets in the tourney come March, look back at these games. Most of these games are being held at neutral sites, which is how March Madness is conducted (ideally), so if a team makes a nice run in one of these preseason tourneys, keep them in mind if they get an at-large birth (right now, especially Syracuse).
That's all for right now. I'd like to congratulate your 2008 AL MVP, Dustin Pedroia, a hero for the diminutive, skinny, receeding-hair line community alike. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Love to you and yours. Peace.


Monday, November 17, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now

"Get a table near the street, in our old familiar place."

Call it an awakening, call in it what you will, but I've come to this conclusion: I am two steps behind...on everything. It's amazing, but I went for a walk today, and suddenly I just kind of realized than I'm just a little too slow catching up to everything. Sports trends, music, life in general. So, I'm hoping to think more clearly and freely, and to not be held up by how I have been in the past, at least this is my goal. I know this may make absolutely no sense to anyone. Think of it as an attempt to think outside the box. So, I'm going to attempt to tap into that...this should be interesting.

(also, I'm going to try headings, and while that's not completely outside the box, I think it will make this a little easier to read, because I don't know if you've noticed this, but I do hop around about a bunch of different topics...)

Red Sox

I know we're coming off of a football weekend, but let's be frank: The schedule was lame, and the results were about the same as well. Also, talking about a heart-breaking OT loss at home on Thursday and a 50-point meltdown on Saturday are two things I'm going to attempt to avoid talking about as long as I can. So, let's start with the sport that won't have any games for five months. Okay, so here's the latest:

Detroit seems to be interested in Julio Lugo. I don't think there has been a more despised player around this region since Ulf Samuelson. In any event, the deal would likely bring either Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis, two lefties coming off of big-time down years, and would probably cost in the neighborhood of $3-4 million a year to pay off Lugo to leave. This is a classic example of Theo Epstein stating with his actions, not words, that he made a bad move, and hey, here's the thing: He makes one bad move for about five good ones...since when is an 80% success rate a bad thing (parachute deployment)? So, he messed it up, but it could have been a lot worse. You're looking a a guy in Jed Lowrie who, in my opinion, is ready to step into action in 120 games next year. Granted, I don't think you can go the whole year with him simply because he has shown signs that he may not be ready for that kind of extended action. I hope he proves me wrong, but that's just what I picked up from after watching him in place of Lugo. Look, if you're the Sox, you have to do this. This is completely different from the Coco Crisp situation. Coco looked like he was on his way out after Jacoby's emmergence in the playoffs last year, but it turned out he may have been thrusted into the spotlight a little too early (speaking of too early, he signed up with Boras four years before he's arbitration-eligible), and when he slumped in the latter months, Coco was there to pick up some of the pieces and stabilize the center field production. I know I was already anticipating how much they would get back for Coco last off-season (this would be one of the disadvantages of having all my columns archived...totally ripe for second-guessing), but obviously, there is a need for a fourth outfielder that has occasional pop and plays a hell of a center field. Plus, it's not like the Sox are really dying for anything, so having a guy like that on your bench is not such a bad thing...that is if Coco can come to gripes with it all, which I'm pretty sure he has not done. Anyway, getting back to Lugo...he possesses absolutely no value to the Sox outside of running...have you ever heard of a pinch-runner making $9 million a year? I don't think so. So, for the Tigers to be offering one rebuilding project for another is not a bad compromise for the Sox. I'm not going to lie to you and believe that either of the two they are offering right now will win like 14-15 games a year, but this is a team that can take on a rebuilding fact, they have an affinity of taking on such projects. So, with that being said, the thought of getting anything in return for Lugo doesn't seem that bad. And so what if the guy doesn't pan out? We already have a guy that we know will not pan might as well try something different. We did this with Edgar Renteria, who turned into Andy Marte, who turned guessed it, Coco Crisp.

(I was going to have my NC license plate say "IHATELUGO," but I could only go eight letters...awww shucks...)

There has been a lot of specualtion about Mark Teixeira around here...I don't really understand it myself...that is unless they're thinking Mike Lowell can't hold on. I mean here's a guy who, don't get me wrong, is a hell of a player...probably a top-20 guy at least, but where does he fit in here? With Youk at first and Lowell at third, that pretty much covers that. Where are we going to put a guy who is about to make $20 million a year? The fact is that this team, offensively is 8/9 set, with the obvious question mark coming behind the plate. Unless Teixeira is taking lessons from Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza in the offseason, I don't think he's the answer for this team. I think the only reason this is coming up is because his agent (hey, it's Scott Boras...shocking!) probably approached the Sox because, well, we spend a few bucks on payroll, and he wants to drive the price up on Tex's final landing spot...again, that's just me.

Here's what I can't get: Why is Ortiz talking about how the Sox need another 30-homer guy? First of all, don't run the front office if you're playing...that never works (see the Lakers), and secondly, ummm...what happened to Jason Bay? Yeah, remember him? There's your 30-homer guy, who with the parts already in place, would be the fifth member of that club (of course, this is all based on potential, but Bay, Ortiz, Youk, Lowell, and Drew could all be there...I'm not saying it's going to happen, but they all have that kind of potential). Again, power is something the Sox are not lacking in. What they need is an heir-apparent to 'Tek, because it is slipping away for him, and a #3-4 starter who can get you 170-180 innings and 10-12 wins. Other than that, what else can we do? The team already parted with Mike Timlin, so there goes that. I think if anything, you may want to sure up the bench some. Alex Cora had a bad year last season, so he is likely gone, and if Sean Casey and Mark Kotsay can get starting gigs somewhere else, then they're gone too. I think that should be the main focus for this team. Focus on what you need, then, if you have enough left over and you want to go after an extra piece, then go for it, but I really don't want to hear about all these big-time free agents potentially coming here. The bullpen will be fine, trust me (the depth in pitching in the minors is staggering), so a catcher, a #4 starter, and filling the holes on the bench should be the top priorities.

The MVP voting comes out tomorrow...I think he should win it, and it's not just because I'm a Sox fan, but I really think Dustin Pedroia should win the award. I understand that Josh Hamilton had a breakout year, K-Rod set records, and Youk had a career year, but we're talking about a guy who played almost every single game, whether it be against a lefty or a righty, and beat the crap out of all of them. Guys who are my height and my weight should not be hitting as well as he does. He defies all logic everytime he steps on the field not only offensively, but defensively. Plus, he's a great presence in the clubhouse (from what I hear)...he does does he not win? Hamilton had gaudy numbers, which led his team to not making the playoffs (I know they weren't going to win the division, but that's why we have a wild card right?). How could a non-playoff making player win the MVP anyway? You're taking the "V" out of that award, and giving it to the guy who had the best numbers. To me, that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Here's a guy who put up big numbers...and was on a team that went to Game 7 of the ALCS. Plus, he performed well in the playoffs as well (I know that the playoffs do not factor into the decision because they are unofficial statistics...but come on! Shouldn't how a player performs at the highest level make it into some of the criteria for these awards. If they didn't want to factor those things in, why are we handing these awards out in November? If it's all about the regular season, then hand the awards out right after it ends instead of waiting until after the World Series is over. That makes a little more sense, no?). So, list time:

Fav Five AL MVP Candidates:
  1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Boston
  2. Josh Hamilton, OF, Texas
  3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Boston
  4. Carlos Quentin, OF, Chicago
  5. Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Anaheim
College Football

So Obama went on "60 Minutes" last night and told the interviewer that he wanted an eight-team playoff system...I think it may be time to start listening to the President (hard to believe that for a third of my life, you couldn't say that). Florida...yeah they're good, and sure, we gift-wrapped about 21 points to them, but we never really had too much of a shot in that game despite everything (I was convinced of this when Harvin broke off the 80-yard run that we would have got beat real bad no matter what). The BCS is shaping up to be a total disaster if Tech and/or 'Bama lose in the coming weeks (a very real possibility), because you are going to end up with a couple undefeateds in Utah and Boise St. along with six one-loss teams that deserve a shot ('Bama, Tech (of course assuming they both lose), Texas, Oklahoma, Southern Cal, and yes, Florida). Yeah, this might be the last hoorah for the BCS. The +1 system was a good idea in more game, two more teams getting in the BCS race, but I'll tell you this: If you think Florida will be satisfied playing in the Sugar Bowl as opposed to having a shot, just a shot, at the title, you're dreaming. If you play for any of these powerhouses, the goal of making bowl games is one that is a lot further down on the totem pole than most teams in the country. They are out to win national titles. Bowl wins are nice, but if you're a team like Southern Cal or Florida, you've been there and done that...pretty much every year, and when Pete Carroll and Urban Meyer go out recruiting, they probably are not talking about the Orange Bowl or the Fiesta's national championship talk. Now, I've been thinking about this for awhile now (ever since Auburn went undefeated and got shut out of the title game), and here's what stands in the way:
  1. Tradition: It seems like the big bowl games have been going on and on forever, and a lot of traditions would get fouled up because the games "would not have the kind of emphasis in a playoff system." The Rose Bowl has tradionally been the landing point of the Pac-10 and Big-10 champs, and that would probably be lost in the new system.
  2. Sponsors: It's not just the Rose Bowl anymore, it's "The Rose Bowl presented by AT&T," and it's not the Fiesta Bowl, it's the "Tositos Fiesta Bowl." A playoff system would no doubt put the chairmen of these bowl games in a hard spot in terms of losing money from those sponsors.
  3. Time: To do a three-week playoff, it would require the NCAA to figure out how to shorten the regular season and add time to have a lengthy playoff happen that would not cannibalize the other bowl games already put in place...bowl games that already have TV contracts in place mind you. Plus, would it be dragging the season out too much? Kind of like what the NFL does in its preseason to gain a little more revenue?
  4. TV: FOX already has a pretty sweet deal going to broadcast the BCS ($82 million per year for the next three years), and with word now that ESPN is looking to get a hold of the BCS rights after 2010, it will be extremely difficult to change the system, but if were to be changed, it has to be before a new deal is struck.
  5. College Chancellors: Ummm...yeah, they don't want to do it...and they kind of run everything, so it's going to be tough to change their minds.
So, with all that being said, here's how you (Mr. President) can get a playoff:


(Everyone = TV, Colleges, Sponsors, Bowl Committee know...everyone)

The only way this will ever get resolved is if you throw money at the problem, because believe me, that's all that these people really care about. It's not about the spirit of competition, it's about money. That's what drives everything in college sports. Colleges are even worse than the professional ranks at times. It makes me sick, but hey, this is something that has been going on for years and years because, well, it was allowed to happen. If someone had adopted a playoff fifteen years ago before the BCS was even a glimmer into some greedy college chancellor's eye, there wouldn't be nearly the kind of resistance that you're seeing right now, and that's because everyone is getting paid, and why mess up a good thing? If there was an eight-team playoff, the emphasis on every game but the title game would not mean as much, which means you would lose some interest from the pedestrian sports fan, which means less money, and God forbid there be less money. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not going to happen with the current regime in place (not a lot of Obama votes coming from here), and until there is a complete overhaul, which may never happen, talking about a playoff is pretty much a waste of your breath, or 15 minutes typing (you prefer).

Okay, again, quite a lame week in college football. USC...Clemson in two weeks...must win...give me something to forget about Saturday please. BC won a huge one at Tallahassee against the Seminoles. Tell me this is the year they win all their meaningful games in the regular season and then win an
actual bowl game. Seriously, how many years in a row is this team going to pull of this charade? Win a bunch of nice games during the season, lose an easy one at the end, go to a crappy bowl game, and beat a team that is nowhere near their caliber. Last year they went from #2 in the country to the Champs Sports Bowl. Come on now! The Troy Trojans will never get a chance to pull off a meaningful game like they could have done on Saturday. That went from being one of the most memorable upsets of all-time to one of the biggest choke jobs. So now, I guess their claim to fame will be "we were beating LSU for three and a half quarters...and DeMarcus Ware went here." The Big 10 had five games on Saturday...the favorite covered exactly zero of those games...which brings me to my original point: that is an incredibly sucky conference. Not saying the SEC is blowing anyone away, but the Big 10 has not been relevant since Maurice Clarett scored that winning TD in the Fiesta Bowl against Miami (speaking of which, I know this seems crazy, but you can actually call it the University of Miami, and not just "the U"...I know, wild). Not a lot of movement in the polls, again solidifying how lame this weekend was. Here are the Heisman candidates, as well as some games I'm looking forward to checking out this weekend, in what hopefully will be a bounce-back week for the NCAA, especially with the biggest game of the year kicking off at 8 on Saturday:

Fav Five Heisman Candidates:
  1. Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
  2. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
  3. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
  4. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma
  5. Michael Crabtree, WR, Texas Tech
What To Watch For:

  • #17 Ball St. vs. Central Michigan (7:00, Deuce)
  • #23 Miami vs. Georgia Tech (7:30, ESPN)
  • Yale vs. Harvard (12:00, VS)
  • Michigan vs. #10 Ohio St. (12:00, ESPN)
  • Ole Miss vs. #18 LSU (3:30, CBS)
  • BC vs. Wake Forest (3:30, ABC)
  • Air Force vs. #16 TCU (3:30, VS)
  • #15 Michigan St. vs. #8 Penn St. (3:30, ESPN)
  • #14 BYU vs. #7 Utah (6:00, No TV)
  • #21 Oregon St. vs. Arizona (7:00, VS)
  • #20 Pittsburgh vs. #19 Cincinnati (7:00, Deuce)
  • Florida St. vs. #25 Maryland (7:45, ESPN)
  • #2 Texas Tech vs. #5 Oklahoma (8:00, ESPN)

Well, I've had a few days to process the Pats still hurts really bad. Not only was that a loss, but it was a loss to a division opponent, and it bumped us not only out of the top spot in the East, but the playoff picture all together (Indy and Baltimore lead the Wild Card right now)...and it was the freggin' home! I literally am grimmacing uncontrollably right now (Norv Turner-esque). Well, here we go again. We get Miami down there this week...what are the odds they run the Wildcat? I'm thinking it's like Secretariat at the Belmont odds, so who knows about that one. Anyway, here's a recap of other things that went on this week: the way, how has that coach not been fired yet? He's approaching the boiling point in the postgame interviews...can we spare this guy (Rod Marinelli) a couple years of his life, because I think with each passing week, it's taking off like six months.

Tennessee just keeps on doing it. When the Jags had the early lead, I think everyone was thinking "well, it was bound to happen sometime," but then a funny thing happened...they came back...and won again. I'm kind of becoming miffed as to how this team keeps doing it. Jeff Fischer has to be given a ton of credit. Before this year, he was known for two things: Being the longest-tenured coach in the NFL, and being the guy who coached the team who performed the "Music City Miracle." Now, he's got a 10-0 team...that's pretty impressive. He's the coach of the year, no doubt about it. This win also keeps in tact my dream matchup of Daunte Culpepper and the winless Lions against the unbeaten Titans on Thanksgiving. I want it!

I'm not going to lie, I took Philly in the Eliminator this week (didn't pick the first two weeks, but reeled of eight in a row...while not doing the whole thing, still a fairly impressive mark). First, the idea that they allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick (Harvard!) to take them to overtime is ludacrous. Then, to not be able to put up anything in an additional fifteen minutes is downright embarassing...and they almost lost if Shayne Graham put that kick through in the OT! What?! Anyway, I'm not sure if I'm out yet (they let me pick next week...I took Pittsburgh over...guess who?...the Bungles!), but if I am...dude, what a sucky way to go down.

Speaking of the Steelers and sucky ways to go down, you may never see a finish like that ever again. There is a firestorm of controversy, and none of the rumblings are coming from either team. Seriously, how do you botch that call at the end? The play went to replay for God sakes. How do you botch that? They ruled that the replay showed that it was a touchdown, and then they reversed the call anyway? I was one of the fortunate ones to not be affected by the outcome, but honestly, the NFL needs to do something about this. First of all, the refs acknowledged they messed it up...yeah, thanks for the update, but here's the thing: the whistle never blew, and there was no time left, meaning the NFL can go back and credit the Steelers with a touchdown and call the score 17-10. If they don't do that, then basically, they are showing that they have no authority over the refs, which, at last check, they do. Not that I condone gambling to anyone, but seriously, if you had a three-team parlay, and gave the five points, this has to be one of the most crushing defeats in gambling history. It was a garbage TD...but it was a touchdown. They called it a touchdown on the field...twice! NFL referees have shown a certain...I don't know...incompetence this season especially, going back to the Hochuli call in the Broncos/Chargers game (another last-minute call where replay was used...ineffectively, but still used). So that's two Chargers games that have been botched where the spread was affected directly by a botched call at the end of the game (San Diego/Denver was a pick 'em). Not throwing any accusations or conspiracy theories out there...just an interesting coincidence...and hopefully that's all it is.

Tonight's game between Cleveland and Buffalo is much like the Dallas/Washington game yesterday...two teams at the crossroads of their seasons. Say what you will about Cleveland, but they still have a shot, albeit an outside one, of getting back to playoff relevance. The Bills have looked terrible lately, but have a primetime game at the Ralph in an attempt to get back in the division hunt thanks to what happened Thursday (you're welcome). I'm kind of fascinated by this game.

Lastly, Dallas/Washington...what a disappointment for the 'Skins. Playing at home, they got outplayed for the second week in a row (Pittsburgh), and now find themselves going in reverse while the G-Men (the best team in the NFL, not just the NFC) keep winning, and the Cowboys, with Romo back behind center, may have found new life in that win. Plus, while he was limited in action, they did have Clinton Portis run 15 times, and Deangelo Hall got his first INT in DC (although he was burned by TO on the play). A total unwillingness to go deep last night was one of the things that was puzzling to me. The Cowboys have been ravaged by injuries in their secondary, and yet they were content to dump the ball in the intermediate range...I don't get that. Also, Marion Barber just wore down that defense. They could not stop him at all, and it kept the defense on the field for that much longer. Tough loss for them.

Fav Five MVP Candidates:
  1. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
  2. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona
  3. Jay Cutler, QB, Denver
  4. Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants
  5. Clinton Portis, RB, Washington
Well, that's all for's time for some Bruins hockey! (quick note: they lost Andrew Ference for six to eight weeks...while the name may not ring a bell, trust me, they are going to feel this loss, and already have when they gave back a two-goal lead on Saturday to the Rangers). So, I hope everyone is doing good out there. Stay warm. Peace.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Can't Handle The Truth!

"Quick, to the Hinden-peter!"

Noticeable difference in last night's Celtics win:

Boston has Paul Pierce
Atlanta does not have Paul Pierce

...and there you go.

Okay, the Hawks were playing without their best player (Josh Smith, who is out for 2-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain) and did lose the guy replacing him during the game (Zaza Pachulia)...and none of this I really care about. Trust me, the Hawks are going to get by without Smith, although that is a big loss for them. They still have Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Al Horford, Mike Bibby (who I'm convinced Boston fans will boo until he retires), and, introducing, Flip Murray. So, this team will be able to probably maintain for the month Smith will be out.

Okay, with all that being said, what a win last night for the C's, their sixth in a row. Paul Pierce does it again...I really don't see any way of stopping him late in a game. It doesn't even matter who they're playing. It's just absolute ridiculousness...insanity if you will. Here we are with like three seconds left after Marvin Williams appears to hit the "dagger" three-pointer (by the way, when did he become the perimeter threat on that team?...4/4 from three?...interesting), thinking that it might be too late to pull off an heroics...and then...boom goes the dynamite (interesting note how it was Ray Allen inbounding to Kevin Garnett, who then handed it off to Paul Pierce for the winner...the Big Three strike again!). Speaking of think he likes this whole winning thing? I commented last night to my Dad that it could be a preseason game when the C's are up by 20, or a Game 7 when the score is tied...and he would have the exact same intensity. Some have described it as "scary"...I like to think that he is one of the biggest "gamers" I have ever seen...and scary too, I have to admit that. Leon Powe is an absolute animal down low. Getting offensive fouls, crashing the boards, getting to the line...he is a super-sub. Rajon showed improvement at the line, although that is a glaring weakness in his game. He also came through with a late jump shot in a critical point in the game, but still, the guy is not going to be like Kenny Anderson to give you 15 a game. Then again, in this offense, he really doesn't have to. All they ask Rondo is to play aggressive defense and to distribute the only concern is that he's been getting hit so hard in the first nine games that you have to wonder how long he can hold up continuing his ultra-aggressive style in terms of penetrating the lane. He's a big kid for a point guard, but going up against 240-25o pounders under the basket is still going to be a tall order for him the rest of the season. Great passing last night by everyone as well...even Big Baby had a great dish to Eddie House for a wide-open three. This is just a fun team to watch.

Speakin of fun to watch, the Bruins kept on their recent hot streak with a shootout win last night in Chicago (in terms flipping back and forth between two games, it did not get much better in terms of entertainment than C's/Hawks and B's/'Hawks...I know, two hawks...again, interesting). Tim Thomas was absolutely stellar in net, stopping 31 of 32 including a penalty shot in the extra frame. P.J. Axelsson, who, without looking this up, has to be the longest tenured Bruin, scored the winner in the shootout. Great action up and down the ice last night. Lots of good hits (most of them being turned in by Chicago). I was impressed by Nikolai Khabibulan in net last night as well (took me 30 seconds to get the name right...I know you're curious). The B's came in with some heavy fire, and he only allowed one to get by like Thomas. The one concern I guess I had last night was the power play, even though the one goal we got in regualtion was a PPG (power play goal). At times, I had to double check to make sure if we were still a man up or if the Blackhawks were back at even strength...and that's never a good thing when two teams are going up and down despite one being a man down. Other than that, this team boasts like ten guys who have flown under the collective radar and are making huge impacts on this team (Lucic, Wheeler, Wideman, Ference, Krecji, Sturm, Ryder to name seven). Really good stuff. It's one thing to have superstars like Zdeno Chara (NHL's opinion, not my own...never been a big fan...although he did knock a guy down with one punch last night...that was pretty damn funny) and Marc Savard (better believe he's in the elite), but to have the collection of guys on the different lines like the B's have...put it this way: the hot start, expect that to hold up for quite a while.

Alright, big game tonight: Pats/Jets (before I get into this, I just want to express my graditude to the NFL Network for putting this game on local TV so at least I have the option of staying at home if nothing works out...I have found out, however, that being a "fan," in the fanatical sense like I am during a Pats game with my parents around is quite the challenge (if you haven't seen this in person, it's quite a show of emotion...God help you if Wes has a big game)). Again, Brett Favre does not have the big numbers like som quarterbacks do, but in my opinion, right now, he is the MVP not only of his team, but of the league. Look, after the Chad Pennington/Kellen Clemens fiasco from last year, the Jets were toiling on the brink of becoming the Dolphins of this year. But with Favre under center, and a revitalized Kris Jenkins anchoring an above-average defense, the Jets are tied with the Pats at 6-3 atop the division. Kudos. Also, you have to love the move of getting Ty Law before the game. This is desperation time, and I'm pretty sure that the Jets are fully aware that this is going to be their best shot at winning the division in the last decade, so why not pull out all the stops? This is especially true considering Tom Brady is back in Foxboro rehabbing, which means if he is good to go next season, you're looking at the Pats winning the East by five games at least (I said it). Honestly, I love the circumstances of this game. The short week really favors no one, because both teams have both youth and age on their teams, which I'm pretty sure affects them the same way. Plus, the Jets are coming off a game they scored 47 points in, including 40 in the first half, meaning there is only one way for them to go (that would be down if you were curious). Plus, it seems like the offense is coming into stride with the emergence of the "Law Firm" (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) running, and Matt Cassel looking like he has his head attached to his body in the pocket. They have been able to survive without utilizing the deep ball, something I have been calling for since...I don't know...Week 3? In any event, all this means is more Wes know I don't have any problem with that (on that note, Josh McDaniels: Hey, let's keep the bubble screens to Welker to one okay? I think teams are sniffing it out). Also, the defense is coming into its own. Again, I have to point out Jerod Mayo's improving play week-to-week. Rivers going to Cincinnati could have been a blessing in disguise for this team. The Jets O-Line is probably the most underrated in all of football, which explains why Thomas Jones is having a resurrgeance this season. It will be tough blitzing Favre because...well, he's Brett Favre. He's really, really good...still. So, it will be a tall order for the secondary tonight to try and contain Lavernues Coles, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery (one of like 10 players in the NFL I would die to have on the Patriots...I feel a list coming on...)

Top 10 Players I Would Die To Have On The Patriots (of course, I'm keeping this reasonable...I would love to have Champ Bailey, but I'm looking at more feasible options here):
  1. Adrian Wilson, S, Arizona
  2. Darren Sproles, RB, San Diego
  3. Chris Cooley, TE, Washington
  4. Keith Bulluck, LB, Tennessee
  5. Jerricho Cotchery, WR, New York Jets
  6. Jon Beason, LB, Carolina
  7. Dunta Robinson, CB, Houston (yeah, like I was going to go a list without anything USC related)
  8. Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland
  9. Chris Hope, S, Tennessee
  10. Mike Peterson, LB, Jacksonville (yes, even with all the insubordination)
So, again, big game. Division implications abound. Tonight isn't a "must-win," but it's like a step away from that...a "it would be really sweet if we could get a one-game lead in the division" game, especially with a date with the Dolphins in South Beach looming next week. Again, short week...I can't figure out who that helps or hurts. If it hurts the Pats, hopefully it's not too much. Again, I think the Jets used up the points of two games in one last week, so that should be an advantage for the home team. Anytime the Pats are playing in prime time, it's always going to be a good time.

Alright, the dentist is calling (hopefully after the cleaning, maybe some employers would do the same?...please?), but I'll leave you with some quick picks for Saturday (quick note: I can't help but notice how incredibly lame the weekend's docket of game are outside of USC/Florida):
  • Maryland (+2.5) over UNC
  • BYU (-6) over Air Force
  • South Florida (-7) over Rutgers
  • USC (+21) over Florida
Go Cocks! Peace.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Top 20 Wicked Killer Returns

"And they're helpless, and forgetting in the background...holding nothing."

Okay, just got my first iPod...very sweet. So, while the "syncing," as they call it, is going on, I thought I would start up on a little side project. I'm hoping that over the course of time, I get more of these countdowns on here, but for now, here is the first installment in the "wicked killer" countdown series. After watching the Wes Welker highlight video from his days at Tech, I thought an appropriate start would be the top 20 wicked killer returns of all time. I hope I get all the great ones in there, and if there's a aggregious ommission, please do not hesitate to let me know...these lists can change. So, here we go...hope you enjoy:

20. Ohio St./Indiana, 2006 (Ted Ginn, Jr.)

19. Denver/Chicago, 2007 (Devin Hester) Part I
Denver/Chicago, 2007 (Devin Hester) Part II

18. Atlanta/Los Angeles Rams, 1989 (Deion Sanders)

17. Chicago/Washington, 1987 NFC Divisional Playoffs (Darrell Green)

16. Minnesota/New Orleans, 2006 (Reggie Bush)

15. Colorado/Texas Tech, 2004 (Wes Welker)

14. Oregon/California, 2007 (DeSean Jackson)

13. Chicago/Indianapolis, Super Bowl XLI (Devin Hester)

12. N.Y. Giants/Baltimore, Super Bowl XXXV (Ron Dixon/Jermaine Lewis)

11. San Francisco/Chicago, 2005 (Nathan Vasher)

10. West Virginia/Pittsburgh, 2006 (Darrelle Revis)

9. Northwestern/Hawai'i, 2004 (Chad Owens)

8. Denver/Kansas City, 2003 (Dante Hall)

7. Duke/Miami, 2005 (Devin Hester)

6. Cleveland/Pittsburgh, 2007 (Joshua Cribbs)

5. San Diego/Minnesota, 2007 (Antonio Cromartie)

4. San Francisco/Dallas, 2002 (Woody Dantzler)

3. Buffalo/Tennessee, 2000 AFC Wild Card (Music City Miracle)

2. Michigan/Ohio St., 1991 (Desmond Howard)

1. Cal/Stanford, 1982 (The Play)

Alright, that killed some time. Also, in terms of fun is this? There will definitely be another installment of this because this is way too fun. Hope you liked it. Peace.


Everything In Its Right Place

"The way I do it is to think of something pleasant. A fun party, a moment of triumph...a sexual encounter. I actually project myself to that place...a little transcendental meditation, if you will. The trick is to imagine every little detail."

This is going to be one of those times where I'm going to gush about all the teams I like. There's your fair warning.

If anyone ever asks you to go to Foxboro to check out a game, my suggestion would be to go. It's a nice feeling to go from a place that had three Pats fans to one that had 55,000, put it that way. In an absolute demolition, the Pats picked up their sixth win yesterday, beating the stumbling Bills 20-10 in a game that was never in question. The atmosphere was crazy, especially considering it was a 1:00 game, meaning tailgating time was cut fairly short, but despite that, Gillette was packed, and the crowd stood on every Buffalo third down...every one. Just think that like seven years ago, that piece of land had a harness track and a run-down (but still amazing) Foxboro Stadium, now it has arguably the nicest stadium in the league (the only reason I say arguably is because, well, I've only been to two NFL stadiums...I gotta work on that, I know). Anyway, here's what I took from the game:

Wes Welker is some kind of wonderful. He got his hands on quite a record yesterday, becoming the first receiver in NFL history to have at least six catches in his team's first nine games. You think that trade is working out? Ten catches, 109 yards, and add in a couple of end-arounds and a punt return, and it's just another day for the best slot receiver in the game (in a landslide). The greatest thing ever is seeing him in the huddle. Seriously, he could have been the kid handing out Gatorade. Also, this furthers my point that undersized athletes are easily the funnest to root for. Here's a nice list for you:

My Fav Five Undersized Athletes:
  1. Wes Welker (Guns Up!)
  2. Dustin Pedroia
  3. Darren Sproles
  4. Spud Webb
  5. Jeff Lerg
That Welker video gives me chills. Anyway, it's going to be tough to keep the man who is one reception back from the NFL lead (Andre Johnson, 67) from Hawaii this year, as he is on pace to break his own franchise record and may even end with an unprecedented back-to-back receptions title (last time it was accomplished was in '92 and '93 by Sterling Sharpe...from the University of South Carolina...sorry that was too easy).

BenJarvus-Green Ellis...officially for real. The "Law Firm" showcased his ability to not only run north-south, something he has been noted for from the preseason, but also to get around the tackles and show the speed to get to the outside. His first 100-yard game also featured him getting into the end zone fo his fifth straight game with a touchdown. This team is 6-3 with a backup QB and a fourth-string RB...and the dynasty continues...

Speaking of which, that backup QB had another solid outing. The new "Matty Ice" of the Boston sports scene (taking over for the departed Matt Ryan), Matt Cassel had a very efficient game yesterday, and while he was unable to pass for a touchdown for the second straight game, which obviously could have frustrated fantasy owners (this guy), he did have a 13-yard sneak, and when watching it real-time, was the longest I've ever seen a non-running QB sneak straight up the middle for a TD. Seriously, he ran twenty yards straight up the think the Bills were feeling the loss of Donte Whitner on that play? 23 of 34 for 234 yards, the rushing TD, and most importantly, no INTs (although he did have a fumble where he just got crushed). This "maturation" that you hear NFL pundits speak of is about to translate into a sweet payday for Cassel (hello Detroit!).

The defense was dominating, stuffing one of the better RBs in the game, Marshawn Lynch, allowing only 48 yards to the super soph (by the way, at this point, I want to call a "my bad" on my prognostication last year that Lynch would not be a good RB at the next bad). Also, here's a fact I read in the Globe before the game yesterday: Lynch and Fred Jackson had combined to have the second-most receptions for a backfield tandem in the league (Bush/McAllister). Yesterday? Two receptions and eleven yards for Jackson, and nothing for Lynch. They made Trent Edwards beat them down the field, and that obviously didn't work, with Edwards firing two critical interceptions to Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O'Neal.

Speaking of "maturation," you have to be loving Jerod Mayo right now. Honestly, I thought that Mayo was not even on the Pats' radar last year, and that when they made the draft-day trade with New Orleans, it was them attempting to trade down and still get their guy, Keith Rivers. While I still think this is the case, they have to be loving how well Mayo has stepped up his game, especially in the Pats' complex 3-4 arrangement. His 65 tackles place him first on the team, and just outside the top 10 in tackles in the AFC. He is leading all rookies by 12 tackles at this point (Rivers has 37 by the way). In any event, this is a promising talent, and is infusing some energy into the linebacking core, which they desperately needed (hey, look at that, I described the Patriots' linebacker unit and didn't use the word "aging"...another first!).

Okay, I know the Bills didn't have Whitner and Aaron Schobel, who has just killed us in the past, but still, a huge win in the start of the three-game division gauntlet ahead for the Pats. Next comes Brett Favre and the Jets (to answer your, I'm still not used to Favre being a Jet) on Thursday night...a short week...but it's a short week for both teams, so no excuses there. Plus, it is being played at said Gillette Stadium, so a huge advantage for the home team. If history has told us anything, the Pats are really good under the lights at home (here's a reminder), so hopefully, we will be the lone team atop the East at the end.

A couple of quick NFL notes:

Detroit...that bad...

Just when it looked like the Rams had turned the corner with a new coach (Jim Haslett) and a dynamic receiver to compliment Torry Holt (Donnie Avery), they have officially come back to Earth, starting with a loss from a certain team from a certain Northeast region of the country, and then yesterday's debaucle of a game at the Meadowlands. Favre threw for one touchdown...and they lost 47-3. How is that even possible?

My initial reaction to Herm Edwards going for two at the end of the Chargers game: stupid. However, after thinking about it, and hearing Herm's postgame conference, it makes a lot of sense. The Chiefs have one win, and going against the Chargers straight up, they probably wouldn't have been able to get it done in the OT, so it makes sense. In watching the highlights, I continue to be impressed by Tyler Thigpen. Here's another good one for you:

Fav Five Fantasy Players On Really Bad Teams:
  1. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit (0-9)
  2. Tyler Thigpen, QB, Kansas City (1-8)
  3. Frank Gore, RB, San Francisco (2-6)
  4. Cedric Benson, RB, Cincinnati (1-8)
  5. Andre Johnson, WR, Houston (3-6)
Tennessee just continues to win, this despite running for 14 yards all game against the Bears. That one I really didn't get. I'm going to chalk that up to the Rex Grossman factor. If the Titans do lose, and by the way, after the last two weeks, it's looking emminent, it's likely going to be on the road. Circle the game at Reliant Stadium against the Texans. Also, if the stars align right, you are going to be seeing an unbeaten team and a winless team on Thanksgiving...and if that's the game they go down in, it would likely be the biggest upset in the history of the NFL (I'm already taking the points).

The Colts winning at Pittsburgh did not surprise me in the least bit. In fact, I thought it was one of the more easy upsets to predict. Roethlisberger is great, but without a steady run game, he is in big trouble (to his credit, Mewelde Moore has held his own, but he is no Willie Parker). The Colts are just helping the Patriots now. Barring a collapse of epic proportions, Tennessee will win the AFC South, meaning the Colts are out for a wild-card bid, meaning they are out of the hunt for home-field in the playoffs. With a Steelers loss yesterday, the Pats are now tied with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, and the Jets for the #2 spot in the AFC. Again, playing with a backup QB and a fourth-string RB...we're second in the AFC.

Here come the Falcons. Matt Ryan lead them to another win, this time over division heavyweight New Orleans (granted they were without Reggie Bush). Next week, they draw Denver. This could be a very interesting game between two teams with completely different offenses. The Falcons have preferred to let Michael Turner carry the bulk of the load on offense, while Ryan is in the role of the "no mistake" guy. Meanwhile, Denver has seen about nine of its running backs get hurt this year, which has resulted in Jay Cutler stepping up and bombing the ball this season, putting him second in the league in yards (2,616). Very interesting indeed.

Why were the Giants 'dogged in last night's game against the Eagles? Anyone? Oh well, thanks for the two and a half points Vegas. The G-Men have easily become the best team in the NFC, and with big road wins like that last night, don't expect them to be slowing down anytime soon. Eli has been good (some have suggested he is better than Peyton, which is lunacy), but the keys have been the pass rush and the continually steady play of Brandon Jacobs. I think the teams that could potentially give the Giants troouble down the road are the Panthers (I can't believe I'm saying that) and the Cardinals. The Panthers feature a running attack and a pass rush that are every bit as good as the Giants, with a giant X-factor on defense in Jon Beason (one of my can't-miss draftees from two years ago). The Cardinals could expose the one weakness this team does have, their secondary. Kurt Warner is throwing for 400 yards at will it seems, so that will be an extremely tough challenge for Aaron Ross and Co.

Another rookie who has done an absolutely tremendous job is Joe Flacco. He guided the Ravens to yet another road win yesterday, this time at Houston. That would be the Ravens' fourth in a row, a streak that has seen them score at least 27 points in each game. You could tell Flacco was going to be alright in this league pretty much from the get-go. He had a really positive vibe coming from Delaware, and not to mention a cannon for an arm. I'm thinking this one of the bigger make-up calls being made by Baltimore in terms of trading up for a QB (kind of sweeping Kyle Boller under the table).

Here's my first installment of how I think the MVP race is shaking up:

Fav Five MVP Candidates:
  1. Brett Favre, QB, New York Jets
  2. Clinton Portis, RB, Washington
  3. Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona
  4. Jay Cutler, QB, Denver
  5. Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota

Speaking of South Carolina football, the Gamecocks have officially clinched a birth into some kind of decent bowl with their win over Arkansas on Saturday. It wasn't the prettiest of wins...but then again, it rarely is (Tennessee this year being an obvious the way, nice loss to Wyoming at home...I don't care how much of a down year it's Wyoming Rocky Top?...I'll coach them...hey, they can't find anyone else). The defense once again had a solid effort (what a difference not having two first-round running backs makes). Michael Smith, who was one of the SEC's better runners, was held to 27 yards on seven carries. Casey Dick was effective for his part, but it's tough to get anything going when you get sacked six times. So, USC was able to go from dominating in the secondary to dominating in the trenches. I know it hasn't exactly been a tough road for SC this year, but no one has really figured out how to get anything off of this defense, who has held all opponents to 24 or less points (15.6 per game, 10th in the country). You are looking at an incredibly balanced unit. 11th in rushing yards allowed (101.4...TCU is leading with 39.5 a they not run in the Mountain West anymore), 4th in passing (155.1), and 3rd in total defense (256.5). Everything is peachy right now, but here's a few problems I'm hoping we avoid this week. Of course, the Cocks are playing at the Swamp, a place that, well, we haven't exactly played well at (I only looked back to like '70, but I can't see a year we ever won there...if someone knows any differently, please let me know). Plus, it seems that a combination of two things (jumping into the top 25 and having a nationally televised game...3:30 on CBS) really seem to doom us...especially the national TV thing. We are just horrendous on national TV. Hopefully USC can right that ship. Going into this game, there really is no pressure on them. They're heading into a game they are supposed to lose...big (currently 'dogged by 21) and playing a team that needs to win all of their games to get a shot at the national title. I hope that the team is pumped for this game. National setting, back in the top 25, playing a top-5 team, and potentially getting the biggest win in school history. But again, they're supposed to lose by three touchdowns. Granted, Tim Tebow is an amazing football player, but, and get ready for this...he has not played a defense as good as South Carolina's. Believe it.

Penn St., who I thought would have the easiest road to the BCS title game of any of the remaining unbeatens, choked pretty bad against Iowa, and now, they are in a fight for their Rose Bowl-lives against Ohio St. and an upstart Michigan St. team they will face in the season finale. Good luck with all that. It's going to be even tougher considering Ohio St. can basically punch its ticket on a one-loss season, and the Spartans potentially spoiling the party if they win out, which would have to include a win at Happy Valley.

Texas Tech continues to roll along. Here's a tip for the young gamblers out there: Anytime a team announces they are doing a blackout (or any kind of color, but especially black), take them. Never fails. 56-20? This team is no joke. However, they have another "game of the century" in two weeks against Oklahoma at Norman. I really hope the Raiders prove me wrong, but it's been shown time and time again that if a team continues to play mammouth game after mammouth game, eventually, the straw breaks. I think it is a tremendous story, but I also think that for the Raiders to win out would take an absolute miracle.

Fav Five Heisman Candidates:
  1. Graham Harrell, QB, Texas Tech
  2. Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
  3. Colt McCoy, QB, Texas
  4. Knowshon Moreno, RB, Georgia
  5. Sam Bradford, QB, Oklahoma

The Bruins are on fire, winning their third in a row on Saturday against the Sabres, pushing them atop the Northeast Division. Manny Fernandez was in goal on Saturday, and if they can get the kind of production out of him that they saw against Buffalo on a regular basis (one goal allowed, 32 saves), the B's are in for a big season. Coupled with the great goaltending has been a collective stepping-up by a team of no-namers. Marc Savard (who has been nothing short of outstanding this year), Zdeno Chara, and Patrice Bergeron are the obvious exceptions to the no-name label, but the team's success has riden on guys like Milan Lucic, Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference, and David Krejci to name a few. They play with a lot of power, but in doing so, they have also shown a lot of finesse (evident in the Maple Leafs game). Man is this a fun team to watch.

(in case you've been living under a rock for the past couple of weeks, you've probably seen this, but it's totally worth about ten views...consecutively)

(Editor's note: I'm about to talk about European if you will, something I have not done...ever. While I have always followed it, for some reason, I just never really detailed it. So this might get strange for some of you...think of it as mind-expansion though)

So I've finally decided on a team to back in the UEFA. After much deliberation, I settled upon Chelsea as my team. Now the point can be argued that I'm front-running with Chelsea because they were in the finals last year and they are tied in first this year, but seriously, I took a long time looking through each team and researching them. Here's why I landed on Chelsea: The team is over a hundred years old. They have played every home match in the same location (Stamford Bridge) since that time. They went through a long spell where they had little success. They pack in a relatively small stadium (42,055 capacity) every game, which is a blend of blue and white-collar workers (oddly enough, the team's colors are blue and white...which could be ironic or totally planned...I'll have to look into that). The team has become one of the best not only in England, but the world after a new owner took over in this reminding you of anyone? Outside of a large green wall, you're looking at Europe's version of the Sox, which is outstanding. I do have to stress that I have been watching Euro futbol for a while, and finally, much like what happened with me and NASCAR, I was tired of not having a team to call my own. Also, I totally didn't "pink hat" it because I took a lot of things into consideration and actually looked up the history of the Blues (that's their nickname by the way). While it's great that the team is having the success it's having right now, that was not the reason I chose them. Here was the thought process: Okay, who's my favorite team here: The Sox. And who resembles them the most in Europe? Chelsea. Well, let's go with that then. Sorry, I take the whole bandwagon thing fairly serious, especially because of the corruption it has caused to the Sox' fan base and which is now spilling into the Celtics' one as well. In any event, I'm a Chelsea fan, they won 2-0 against Blackburn yesterday...I'm happy.

Writing about your teams when they are winning is really easy by the way. I didn't even mention the Celtics and their early dominance of the league. Good times. They won't last forever, but it's rolling pretty good right now. Take care everyone. Peace.