Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why so serious?

Steve Johnson, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills, made an original and funny attempt on Sunday at poking fun at Cincinnati's T.Ocho, a.k.a Batman and Robin. After scoring the first of his three touchdowns, Johnson showed off the Joker's famous quote from Batman: The Dark Knight, "Why so serious?" While this was comedy at it's best, it also got me thinking, why is everything so serious? From the elections, to the TSA screenings, to Dancing with the Stars, to Facebook and Twitter, why is everything so serious? I can even point the finger at myself. After having a wretched pick 'em Week 9, I took a step back from calling games in Week 10. I took picking games and getting those picks way too seriously.
But, I'm back this week and I can thank Steve Johnson for giving me a moment of clarity and allowing me to enjoy doing what I love, writing and talking about sports. Before I get into the picks for this week, a few sports topics.

The NY Yankees offer to Derek Jeter is beyond reasonable. $45mil over three years is more than fair for an aging shortstop who hasn't been as clutch over the past few years. Yes, Jeter is and has been the face of the Yankees and during the years that he was delivering titles, the Yankees rewarded him handsomely. Now that he's approaching 40, he can't demand the highest salary and fail to bring the team additional titles. The Yankees want Jeter to retire in pinstripes - just not at the expense of bankrupting the club.

Cam Newton and Auburn are doing the right thing by continuing the play the QB. Sure, the allegations are swirling and given his reported theft of a computer, Newton is no angel. But at this time, you have to leave it to the NCAA to sort out the details and issue their ruling. Whether they determine that Newton is ineligible after the season is somewhat moot. They can take away any awards or titles but they won't be able to take away his performance and folks, we are witnessing something special from Cam Newton.

Should colleges pay athletes for their play? In a word, yes. I'm actually surprised that so many individuals who attended college would be against this idea. Athletes, particularly at top schools, bring those schools billions of dollars/year. Through merchandising, ticket sales, boosters, advertising and bowl games/tournaments, colleges and universities are on the national stage and are using (exploiting) athletes to reap in these astronomical figures. And let's be honest, how can students really be focused on their education when they are flying across the country, playing multiple games/week, practicing 3-5 days/week and seeing themselves almost daily on ESPN? And let's be clear, Cam Newton and Reggie Bush are not isolated incidents. There are plenty of athletes at universities that either are not as prominent or not as successful, who are receiving benefits for their play. Whether that's an apartment, a trip home for the holidays, a cushy internship or even financial assistance,   student athletes are getting benefits for their play. The NCAA should seriously explore the option to offer students compensation for putting dollars in the pockets of university presidents.

For the first time in several years, I'm actually interested in the NBA. There's an emerging crop of young, exciting players to watch and while the Lakers, Boston, Orlando, San Antonio and all have a legitimate shot at the title, Utah, New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Atlanta will have a say in who goes him with the trophy this year. Speaking of young players, have you seen Blake Griffin this year? His play has been amazing and all that you can say is "Wow!"

My last item is for my Redskins fans. If you didn't catch the City Paper last week, they had a great article that outlined the MANY mistakes that Dan Snyder has made since he took ownership of the Washington Redskins. As an employee, any one of these mistakes would get you fired. As an owner, you get to make the fans pay for your incompetence. It's good to know that the business world works opposite of common sense.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the time with family and friends. Now, on to this week's picks:

@ Det.,
Thu. 12:30PM: Even though they're coming off of a short week and an emotional win against Indy, the Patriots get Thanksgiving off to a great start with a win in Detroit.

@ Dal., Thu. 4:15PM: What would have been a blowout three weeks ago is now an intriguing match-up. The Cowboys seem to be the last ones to realize that Dez Bryant is a beast and they are unleashing his talents on opposing defenses. Even with their two week resurgence, their pass defense is suspect and I don't think Dallas can handle a shootout with the Saints.

Cin. @ NYJ,
Thu. 8:20PM: Sure, the Jets have been living on the edge, with overtime wins over Cleveland and Houston. However, Cincinnati has been living under the edge after blowing a huge lead against Buffalo. The Bengals continue to be the under-performing team in the NFL this year.

@ Atl.,
Sun. 1:00PM: This is a pick 'em game with Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan playing great ball right now. This will likely be a back and forth battle with the Packers making the defensive plays to pull this one out.

@ Buf.,
Sun. 1:00PM: Buffalo is playing better ball of late but they beat two suspect teams in the Lions and the Bengals. Pittsburgh is a different animal and I expect the Steelers to win this one easily.

Car. @ Cle.,
Sun. 1:00PM: Carolina's season doesn't get any easier this week. Assuming that Colt McCoy is healthy, this is a win for the Brown. Expect to see a heavy dosage of Peyton Hillis this week.

Jac. @ NYG,
Sun. 1:00PM: A match-up between two teams who are up and down week to week. Jacksonville comes in having won in a row and the Giants have lost two straight. Something has to give and the Giants' losing streak ends here.

@ Wsh.,
Sun. 1:00PM: In what should be a close, yet ugly game, the Redskins will see a lot of Adrian Peterson. Unlike Brad Childress, Leslie Frazier will lean on the running game instead of Brett Favre and with a decrease in turnovers, the defense can get after McNabb and the Redskins' porous offensive line.

Ten. @ Hou.,
Sun. 1:00PM: With a defense as week as Houston's, how can you pick them to win any games? Their only saving grace this week is that the Titans are starting a rookie quarterback and Rusty Smith won't be ready for a shootout with Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson. This game could go either way and I'm leaning towards the home team pulling this one out.

@ Oak.,
Sun. 4:05PM: I liked what I've seen out of the Dolphins until they ran into Chicago last week. Oakland received a smack down from Pittsburgh last week so there's no telling which team has the best chance this week. Win goes to the team that can run the ball effectively and Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams will do so on Sunday.

@ Sea.,
Sun. 4:05PM: Another match-up featuring mediocre teams. KC needs a win to stay ahead of the resurgent Chargers and Seattle controls their own destiny in the putrid NFC West.

@ Chi.,
Sun. 4:15PM: Chicago's defense is scary when clicking on all cylinders and that aggressiveness could cost them against an opportunistic Eagles offense. Andy Reid and Michael Vick are in a great rhythm and this will be a huge test. While Chicago may keep the Eagles from putting up a lot of points, Jay Cutler makes a critical mistake that costs the Bears the game.

StL @ Den.,
Sun. 4:15PM: Sam Bradford is having a great season and what better opponent to help him forget about that costly shovel pass interception than the Broncos. Bradford has a good game but Denver does just enough of the right things to pull this one out.

B @ Bal., Sun. 4:15PM: Josh Freeman takes advantage of a suspect Baltimore defense but the Ravens, via Ray Rice, control the clock and gut out another victory.

Ind., Sun. 8:20PM: Another classic battle pits Manning against Rivers. San Diego is hot right now and Indy is hurting. Peyton keeps it close but a lack of a running game and the return of Vincent Jackson makes this a long game for the Colts.

@ Ari.,
Mon. 8:30PM: Troy Smith keeps the 49ers in the playoff chase and Arizona continues to struggle.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Week 10 is here!

"We're the best 5-4 team in the league. How about that," Dwayne Wade following the Heat's loss to the Celtics Thursday night. Yeah, this blog is mostly about the NFL but I haven't heard that much frustration from a professional athlete in awhile. Wade is the leader of this team and the Heat will go as he goes. It's definitely too early in the season to push the panic button but I expect some changes to be made. Now, on to some football!

Week 10 Picks!
Bal. @ Atl., Thurs. 8:20PM: Baltimore Two 6-2 teams square off tonight and both QBs are making big plays. Even though B-more's defense is susceptible to the run, I think they make the big plays tonight.
*I was 65 seconds away from starting off the week 1-0. Whether Roddy White should have been called for pass interference is beside the point. The Ravens defense needed to keep Atlanta from moving the ball and they couldn't. The defense is starting to show its age and it may be time for Baltimore to start thinking about rebuilding this shaky defense.

Det. @ Buf., Sun. 1:00PM: Detroit - even without Stafford, Detroit is capable of putting up points. Buffalo won't go winless but I don't think that they get win #1 this week.

Min. @ Chi., Sun. 1:00PM: Minnesota - the Vikings gutted out a tough win against Arizona last week and they have a chance to salvage their season with a win against a division rival. The Vikings players have admitted that they are playing for their pride and not Mr. Noodle, aka Coach Childress and that should be enough to get a win against Chicago. 

NYJ @ Cle., Sun. 1:00PM: Jets - What a tough game to call. The Jets just squeaked by Detroit last week and Cleveland laid a whupping on New England. History would tell us that while Colt McCoy has played well against Pittsburgh, New Orleans and New England, other teams have being studying tape and will figure out his tendencies. The Jets win as long as their offense can get back on track.

Cin. @ Ind., Sun. 1:00PM:
Indianapolis - The T. Ocho show faces off against a Colts team riddled with injuries. The Bengals have been wildly inconsistent this year and they will fall just short today.

Ten. @ Mia., Sun. 1:00PM: Tennessee - With two new starters (Randy Moss for Tennessee and Chad Pennington for Miami), this should be an interesting game. I see Brandon Marshall at least equaling his touchdown total for the year (1) but Moss, whether as a diversion or making plays helps Tennessee escape South Beach with a win.

Car. @ TB, Sun. 1:00PM: Tampa Bay - Carolina is terrible. Enough said.

Hou. @ Jac., Sun. 1:00PM: - Houston - After losing last week to San Diego, Houston can ill afford to lose a game, let alone one in their division. Jacksonville will play them close but Houston prevails.

KC @ Den., Sun. 4:05PM: Kansas City - Behind Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs should have a huge day against Denver. Between Josh McDaniels' questionable personnel moves and injuries, Denver has had a tough year that just gets more difficult when Kansas City comes to town.

Dal. @ NYG, Sun. 4:15PM: New York Giants - I keep wanting to pick a game that Dallas will win but I don't see it happening this week. The Giants, even though their win total is a bit inflated, are playing great football. They run effectively and with Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith (who is out with an injury), Eli Manning is picking teams apart. I wouldn't be surprised if Dallas wins but I think the Giants win this one easily.

Sea. @ Ari., Sun. 4:15PM: Arizona - What an ugly game this will be. Seattle hasn't been playing well and Arizona has been inconsistent, especially at their QB position. The Cardinals, fresh off of a disappointing loss to Minnesota, take out some of that aggression on the Seahawks.

STL @ SF, Sun. 4:15PM: St. Louis - Even though Troy Smith played well against Denver, Sam Bradford will have the better game. 

NE @ Pit., Sun. 8:20PM: Pittsburgh - In what should be the game of the week, Pittsburgh should pull out the victory at home. New England's defense is suspect and Rashard Mendenhall and Mike Wallace should have huge games.

Phi. @ Wsh., Mon. 8:30PM: Philadelphia - While Donovan McNabb should have a good game following his suspicious and inexplicable benching, Michael Vick will torch the Redskins. The Redskins defense is extremely porous and Vick will be throwing and running at will on Monday night. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

8-5...Not pretty but effective

So, you may not want to take me to Vegas but if you used my picks for your office pool, I got you a straight-up 8 wins. Take away my mindless Cowboys pick, Cleveland throwing a wrench in New England's party, and Andy Reid staying perfect after the bye week, last week wasn't too bad. 8-5 with a chance at 10-3, especially with the Houston/San Diego game being a toss-up and Buffalo did play Chicago close.

Given that none of the talking heads had more than 10 wins, you could do way worse than me for your picks.

Since it's now two days since the games (apparently, a day off w/a 2yr. old and 4mo. old does not equate to having time to blog about sports), I won't bore you with my takeaways on all of the games; just a few quick points.

Money can buy you...
If this were Mad Libs, Jerry Jones could fill in the blanks with "a Super Bowl." Unfortunately, this is real life and Jerry now knows what everyone else has known for the last two+years, money can buy you talent, a coach and a stadium but it can't buy you heart. I don't know if playing in a billion dollar stadium has made the Cowboys soft or if it really was the coach. There is way too much talent in Dallas for that team to just lay down the last two weeks and we will see what effect, if any, the firing of Wade Philips will have on their performance.

All the trappings of a young team.
Like a young lion letting a gazelle out of its grasp, the Detroit Lions gave another team life and let a victory slip away. The Lions are much better than in year's past but they still have to learn the art of finishing teams off. Even with this loss, the Lions are still a team that no one wants to play. Parting thought: quiet as kept, Darelle Revis had Megatron on lock...Revis island is back.

As predicted, the Kansas City-Oakland game was the game of the week.
Talk about a back and forth game. Kansas City seemingly dominated the 1st half and between turnovers and flawed execution, the Raiders seemed destined to lose. But credit Tom Cable for rallying his troops. The Raiders played a focused and disciplined 2nd half of football and their ability to run the ball and keep the Chiefs from running the ball proved to be the difference in the game. Oh, and a shout out to Jason Campbell. He had a decent game, led his team to game tying and game winning field goals and has to be laughing about what is happening with the Redskins.

Final thoughts...
Nice game by Vick and the Eagles but does Indy lose that game with Dallas Clark in the lineup? And why are the Eagles still unable to score from 1st and Goal at the 1yard line. They got a gift from the refs on Sunday.

Huge win by Favre and the Vikings. In a game that they had to win, Favre came through and delivered. Favre may be starting to find his rhythm and the Vikings just may make a run for the playoffs.

Really, no one wanted TO besides Cincinnati? In addition to having a funny show (T.Ocho), he is putting up big numbers this season. He had 2 touchdowns on Monday night and that gives him 7 for the year. I can think of several teams that could use 7 and a solid #2 receiver.

Phillip Rivers is literally carrying the Chargers. Despite injuries, poor special teams and inept management, the Chargers are poised to make another playoff run and their success can be directly attributed to Rivers. He threw for 295 yards on Sunday and leads the NFL with nearly 3,000 yards. If the Chargers make the playoffs, be sure to hand Rivers the MVP trophy.

Good games coming up on Thursday- Baltimore at Atlanta in the League and in the NBA (which I'm more excited about than I have been in awhile), Boston visits Miami (Wade is clearly the key to Miami's success) and the Lakers visit Denver.

Let me take this moment to thank Ta-Mela Joseph of Locks and Knots for giving me an opportunity to talk about my second go round growing locks:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Week 9 picks!

It was brought to my attention that while anyone can write a recap of the day's games, being able to pick the winners would add another layer to this blog. Always one for a challenge, below are my picks for Week 9 in the NFL. If you want the experts' picks, you can check those out here:

TB @ ATL, Sun. 1:00PM: Atlanta - TB is playing well but Atlanta is playing better with superior firepower.

CHI @ BUF, Sun. 1:00PM: Buffalo - The Bills can't and won't go winless this year and what better way to fix what ails you than the hapless Chicago Bears.

NE @ CLE, Sun. 1:00PM: New England - Bll Belichick has his young defense playing at a high level right now while Cleveland is still trying to figure out who to start at quarterback.

NYJ @ DET, Sun. 1:00PM: NY Jets - This should be a defensive battle, with Ndamukong Suh and the Lions putting pressure on Jets QB Mark Sanchez while the Jets D will tries to slow down the Matthew Stafford/Calvin Johnson connection.

ARI @ MIN, Sun. 1:00PM: Minnesota - AD should have a field day against the Cardinals and as long as Favre can stay upright, this should be a win for Minnesota.

NO @ CAR, Sun. 1:00PM: New Orleans - New Orleans seems to be refocused following last week's win against Pittsburgh. At this point, Carolina is merely playing out the season.

MIA @ BAL, Sun. 1:00PM: Baltimore - Even though Miami is undefeated on the road this season, I like the home team in this one.

SD @ HOU, Sun. 1:00PM: Houston - This should be a shootout and I can see Rivers and Shaub throwing for 300+yards/each.

NYG @ SEA, Sun. 4:05PM: NY Giants - Hopefully a cross-country flight won't cause the G Men to lose their edge.

KC @ OAK, Sun. 4:15PM: Oakland - While Kansas City is playing great, if not lucky football, I'm buying Oakland. What we've seen from the Raiders over the last two weeks continues on Sunday.

IND @ PHI, Sun. 4:15PM: Indianapolis - Vick may make the field electric but Manning is going to light up the scoreboard. Last time we saw the Eagles, they were giving up touchdowns to Kenny Britt and Kerry Collins. I expect to see more of the same from the Colts.

DAL @ GB, Sun. 8:20PM: Dallas - Let's see if the Cowboys have indeed packed it in. This is a Sunday night game with their pride on the line and they have the weapons to be competitive. Upset special of the week!!

PIT @ CIN, Mon. 8:30PM: Pittsburgh - Following last week's loss in the Big Easy, Pittsburgh is going to be looking to score early and often. This game could be over before it gets started.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Plot Thickens in Week 8

Before I get into the excitement that was Week 8, I need to take a few moments to tout the beauty that is the NFL Redzone. For a cost that is considerably less than NFL Ticket, you get to see what’s happening around the league without having to wait for studio updates or actually watching an entire 3 ½ hour game. In an era of free agency and fantasy football, the NFL Redzone gives football fans exactly what they’re looking for: updates on plays and players as opposed to watching games and teams they are not interested in. Call your cable provider and try out NFL Redzone for a month and see what you’ve been missing. Even if you don’t like it, I’m sure that you will spend more on coffee, lunch, or a movie next month with less bang for your buck. With that out of the way, onto Week 8!

While there are a plethora of storylines to choose from, you have to start with Washington.

10. Only in Washington. I’m not sure how Redskins fans do it year in and year out. It’s always something and yesterday, it was the coach. Mike Shanahan made a number of questionable decisions yesterday, including going for two instead of kicking the extra point or foolishly calling a pass play while leading Detroit by 5 points with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. However, those decisions pale in comparison to Shanahan’s decision to bench Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman. Benching McNabb made absolutely no sense and his claim that Grossman had a better grasp of the 2 minute offense than McNabb was both lame and artificial. There is no team at any level that has a backup QB who can run the 2 minute drill better than the starter could. Questioning McNabb’s intelligence was a slap in the face to McNabb, the entire Redskins team and their fans. The offensive line played horribly yesterday and they deserved as much, if not all of the credit for McNabb’s bad game. But, there’s no need to second guess Shanahan’s decision as fate did that for us. On Grossman’s first play, he was hammered, fumbled the ball, and Detroit returned the fumble for a game-sealing touchdown. Did anybody else notice a quick smirk and nod of the head from McNabb, as if to say to Shanahan, “So, it’s my fault, right?”

9. Halloween was a fitting day to dance on graves. And there was no bigger dance floor than the grave of the Dallas Cowboys. Sure, at 1-6, they can run the table, go 10-6 and somehow sneak into the playoffs. That is, if they didn’t look like they flat out quit yesterday. There was no fight in this dog yesterday as Jacksonville dropped 35 on Big D. Play like that is usually the first sign that a team has quit on it’s head coach. I don’t know if Wade Philips makes it through the end of the year but if he can’t develop a defensive game plan to stop the Jaguars (he’s also the defensive coordinator) and he can’t rally the troops to win at home, I’m not sure what his value is to the team and more importantly, to Jerry Jones.

8. Oakland – no longer an easy win. Add Oakland to the growing list of teams that you can take off of the “easy wins” list. Tom Cable has infused his personality on this Raiders team and they have been playing lights out the last two weeks. Oakland follows a trouncing of the Broncos with a beat down of Seattle in the Black Hole. They are playing well defensively, running the ball effectively and Jason Campbell is not making too many mistakes. They have a huge match-up against Kansas City next week and with the Chiefs, Chargers and Raiders all winning yesterday, the race for the AFC West title is getting quite interesting.

7. Close is still only good in horseshoes. Buffalo played another gritty, grind it out game yesterday and came up short in overtime for the second straight week. Sure, the Bills left some plays on the field and this was a game that the Chiefs should have won. But Buffalo has played hard and you just know that they will win a few games this year and will make some noise next year. As for the late timeout taken by Kansas City coach Todd Haley to freeze Buffalo kicker Rian Lindell, it’s just bad sportsmanship. There's nothing shrewd or clever about waiting until a moment before the ball is snapped and the kicker goes through his motion.

6. The most exciting game yesterday had to be Tampa Bay/Arizona. If at the beginning of the season someone would have told you that by Week 8, Tampa Bay would have more wins (5) than more than ½ the league, you would tell them to put down the contraband and seek professional help. This young team has to be the surprise of the year and I look forward to seeing how they finish the 2nd half of the season. Josh Freeman is serviceable quarterback who doesn’t make mistakes with the ball. Cadillac Williams and LeGarrette Blount are a serious 1-2 punch and their defense is aggressive. As for Arizona, they are struggling. They have QB issues, defensive issues and possibly coaching issues. For those folks who during Arizona's Super Bowl run two years ago said that Larry Fitzgerald was the more important receiver, ask Anquan Boldin who’s putting up the better numbers now. Fitz should have done more to keep Boldin, especially with Kurt Warner retiring.

5. A tale of two halves. That’s what happened yesterday in Cincinnati. The Bengals, leading 14-12 at the half did not score a point in the 2nd half. How is that possible? Yes, TO dropped a sure touchdown. But the Bengals did not have a 100 yard receiver or rusher. They are not getting it done offensively and Marvin Lewis needs to think long and hard about how they can turn this thing around.

4. Those were interceptions? Because to me, those two Mark Sanchez interceptions looked more like catches, the receiver being down by contact and then having the ball taken away from them. Whether they were interceptions or not, the Jets didn’t look good coming off of their bye week. While the defense looked fairly sharp, perhaps Rex Ryan gave the team too much time off as the timing of the offense seemed to be off by a step or two. I fully expect the Jets to make the playoffs but with the Patriots stepping up their game and Miami just a game back, this was a game the Jets needed to win and should have won.

3. Norv Turner – safe for another week. After a much-needed win against the Titans, Turner is off of the hot seat, at least for this week. Granted, this was not a pretty or convincing win but a win is a win. The Chargers made plays when they had to and Philip Rivers is having a tremendous year. As for Tennessee, they played well but one has to question the bi-polar nature of this team. After winning three straight games and with a chance to have at least a share of the lead in the competitive AFC South, they came out flat and didn’t seem to have any urgency. Granted, they lost arguably their best receiver in Kenny Britt and Vince Young also left the game with an injury. Maybe Tennessee got caught thinking about their upcoming bye week instead of taking care of business.

2. The most competitive game was Pittsburgh/New Orleans. From the goal line stand by the Saints, to the rushing attack of the Steelers, this game was like watching a heavyweight slug fest, with each fighter taking the opponent’s best shot. The knockout blow came when Heath Miller fumbled, the Saints recovered and proceeded to put 6 on the board and separation between themselves and the Steelers. While this was an important game for both teams, it obviously meant more to the Saints who could not afford to fall any more games behind Tampa Bay and Atlanta.

1. The Twin Cities is now known as the Twin Divas. I don’t think that Minnesota has room for two divas and the Vikings record would indicate that there isn’t enough room for unnecessary drama. Let's begin with Favre. To his credit, the media has turned Favre into a diva but he has definitely given them reason to follow his every move. From retirement announcements, to missing the majority of training camp, to illicit text messages, to being carted off in diva fashion yesterday (when was the last time you saw an NFL player curled up in the fetal position as they were being carted off), Favre continues to intrigue the media. As for Moss, he had another quiet game yesterday and after the game, he allegedly waxed poetic about his fondness for Belichick and Brady and that he missed playing with them. There’s a lot of season left to be played but the Vikings appear to be a comedy of errors. However, before I lay everything at Favre’s feet, where is that vaunted Minnesota defense from last year? They’re not putting any pressure on the quarterback and teams are having a field day. Where’s Jared Allen and the Williams brothers? For a team that led the league in sacks last year, to only have 6 this year is abysmal and forces Favre to play more recklessly. Yes, he missed training camp and yes, Sidney Rice is out. We all know that if you force Favre to keep his team in the game, he’s going to take risks and that means turnovers.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The games keep getting better!

We’re getting into the meat of the NFL schedule and Week 7 did not disappoint. A week after the Concussion Bowls, NFL fans were greeted with upsets, controversial calls by the officials, teams who were unable to hold onto the ball and an unexpected blowout.

While this season continues to prove unpredictable, one thing’s for certain: this year is wide open and the team that gets hot at the right time, can get a few calls to go their way and can avoid the injury bug, they're going to be your Super Bowl champion come February.

Top 10 thoughts on yesterday’s games:

10. Controversy in Miami: The Steelers escaped with a victory in Miami and Dolphins fans were left with a bitter taste in their mouths. While replays showed that Roethlisberger fumbled the ball at the 1 yard line, the referees had blown the play dead and did not see which team recovered the ball. While Miami may have been robbed, they shouldn’t have been in that position where it came down to one play. Had Miami converted just one of those 5 field goals into touchdowns, they probably get the win. By the way, Brandon Marshall only has 1 TD this year…that’s a problem.

9. In the pre-season, I joked about Colt McCoy not being tall enough for the League. After two weeks of pretty decent play (against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, no less), I may owe Colt an apology. He’s not lighting the world on fire but he’s a competitor and at the QB position, sometimes that’s all you need. What’s going on w/the Saints? I wonder if Sean Payton is losing sight of this season because he has his eyes on the soon-to-be-vacant Cowboys head coaching gig.

8. What to make of Baltimore? They go down early to a bad Buffalo team, stage a remarkable comeback and nearly lost the game. Granted, Buffalo played Baltimore tough and looked like a reinvigorated team. If you’re a Ravens fan, you have to be concerned about the focus of this team. They blew a 10 point lead to New England last week should have lost yesterday.

7. Forget the Vick/Kolb controversy. What was the defensive coordinator for the Eagles thinking yesterday? How in the world does an aging and injured Kerry Collins torch the Eagles? And how does a receiver who didn’t play in the first quarter get 200+ yards and 3 touchdowns? The Eagles definitely let one get away from them yesterday and they should be concerned about other teams going deep on them early and often. As for Kolb, I’m not sure what Reid saw in him over the summer but what I’ve seen over the past 7 weeks is a QB that can not throw the ball accurately at 40+ yards. His throws look like ducks; there's no zip and defenses will start to key on his inability to throw the ball deep.

6. A win is a win. You don’t get style points for winning pretty and the Redskins sure won ugly. In a turnover filled game, including a horrible early pick-6 by McNabb, the Redskins defense stepped up and forced at least 5 Bears turnovers. While DeAngelo Hall’s 4 interceptions tied an NFL record, the play by the much maligned Albert Haynesworth has to be top story. Haynesworth has been in Shannahan’s doghouse for most of the season and his play should erase some of these hard feelings. However, before we crown Haynesworth the next Deacon Jones, keep in mind that Chicago is extremely overrated and their offensive line is terrible.

5. The fat lady is singing for Mike Singletary. After falling to 1-6 in a disappointing loss to Carolina, this season can’t end well for Singletary. The NFC West is now Seattle’s division to lose and all the 49ers can do is begin planning for next year. The team just looks uninspired out there and a coaching change may be the only option to right this sinking ship.

4. Speaking of coaching hot seats, things must be getting pretty warm for Norv Turner as San Diego dropped yet another close game yesterday. Yes, the Chargers were down to New England and mounted a furious comeback, including a successful onside kick. However, a late false start that turned a makeable 45 yard field goal attempt into a 50 yard try highlighted the lack of discipline that has plagued San Diego throughout the season. Even if they put together a late run (as they have the last few years), they would also need Kansas City to go cold and that does not appear likely to happen.

3. Still not sure what to make of Cincinnati. Inconsistent? Inept? Here’s another team with plenty of talent that just can’t seem to put it all together for a full four quarters. At one point during yesterday’s game, they reeled off 22 unanswered points. While a close, near comeback win may have saved Marvin Lewis’ job in the past, I get the feeling that his days in Cincinnati are numbered – as in 9 more weeks.

2. The Favre era could very well be over. He’s injured after being run over by a bus driven by his coach and Favre’s passion for the game just doesn’t seem to be there. While it would have been nice to see Favre make another run at a championship, it would have been more fitting to see him retire last year after giving it his all. This season feels hollow and while I’d hate to see him go, it’s time.

1. The Oakland Raiders demolished Denver yesterday. I don’t know what gameplan Josh McDaniels worked on this week but his team seemed woefully unprepared for Oakland. The Raiders came in, ran up and down the field and left Denver with more questions than answers. What ever happened to that 6-0 start last year? Was the media too anxious to anoint McDaniels the next big thing? Did he buy into all that hype and forsake his team for his pride? This was a definite must-win for Denver and their schedule does not get much easier.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Week 6 was Full of Excitement!

Just when you think that you have the season figured out, you have several teams that lost games that they were supposed to win and a few "bad" teams that played good teams close. It's still premature to start writing the eulogy for any team but these have to be difficult times for Cowboys, Panthers, Browns and Lions fans. Sure, they can turn it around and make a run for the playoffs but conventional wisdom tells us that these teams can start looking forward to the 2011-12 season.

Thoughts from yesterday's games:

10. Detroit played another close game and if you’re a Lions fan, you have to ask questions: “How would this season have gone if the Calvin Johnson catch against Chicago is ruled a touchdown?” and “Would the Lions have won at least two more games with a health starting QB?”

9. The big story from yesterday’s games seems to be the helmet-helmet hits. A few of the hits seemed extra violent and I’m sure that fines will be levied against those players that lead with their helmets. A part of me wonders if the increase in helmet-helmet hits can be correlated with the increase in players “diving” before contact.

8. I agree with Andy Reid. I’ve been critical of Reid for years but he’s absolutely correct to start Kevin Kolb next week. In the two games that Kolb has started since Michael Vick got injured, the Eagles are 2-0. You go with the hot hand here and right now, Kolb has the hot hand. If Kolb begins to struggle, it’s good to know that you have a serviceable back-up in Vick.

7. Welcome back to the League, Big Ben. You played extremely well in your debut (against an underwhelming Cleveland Browns team) and we all look forward to seeing you hang in the pocket and take the big hits while delivering huge throws. All is forgiven when you’re winning…Unless you fight/kill dogs, then you’re never forgiven.

6. Randy Who? New England looked impressive (if not better) without talented receiver Randy Moss. The Patriots brought back Deion Branch and he proceeded to torch the Ravens yesterday. Baltimore was up in this game and should have sealed the deal. Not sure what to make of Baltimore? I’m putting out an APB for Houshmandzadeh? I don’t get he’s so quiet when they have so many weapons. Is he not getting open? What gives?

5. With an inexplicable home loss to Seattle, Lovie Smith is squarely on the hot seat (again!). I just want to know what Cutler sees out there. Does he not see the blitz? Are there no 5-7 yard passes in the Martz playbook? At this rate, things are not going to end pretty in Chi-town.

4. Tampa Bay and Kansas City are indeed better than anyone thought at the beginning of the year but they’re not ready for the New Orleans’ and Texans’ (well, maybe they’re as good as Houston) of the NFL. Both teams played strong games yesterday but New Orleans needed to win in order to get their season on track. As for Houston, their defense is still porous but they needed this win to keep their playoff hopes alive.

3. The Redskins defense looked terrible against the Colts. Granted, Peyton Manning has a penchant for making most defenses look bad but last night was a pure clinic. Manning found the open spots in the Redskins zone and for some reason, the Redskins had no answer for the Colts hurry-up offense. Never thought that Jim Haslett was a smart coach and I don’t think that he’s a good defensive coordinator. Throw in the fact that the Redskins personnel is suited for the 4-3 as opposed to the 3-4 and you have a recipe for a long season.

2. I am still blaming the San Diego GM for their tepid start. At 2-4, the Chargers can still win their division. However, the stubbornness of the GM to release LT (who lit up the Broncos) and not signing Vincent Jackson have left the Chargers with holes in their offense. Philip Rivers can still light it up but the Chargers would definitely be more explosive with Tomlinson and Jackson.

1. While I would love to write the eulogy for Dallas, there’s plenty of football left to be played. However, Jerry Jones made a mistake when he forced Parcells out and hired Wade Phillips it seems that he’s paying the price for that decision. Phillips was a loser with the Oilers, he was a loser with Buffalo and he’s a loser in Big D. Dallas is plenty talented and with three top receivers (Austin, Williams and Bryant), they should be blowing teams off the field. Not sure if the blame should be shared by Phillips, Garrett and Romo but I can guarantee that if Dallas doesn’t make the playoffs this year, more than a few heads will roll.