Friday, December 29, 2006

Bowl Picks, Part 3 (and Bowl Ratings)

This is my last installment of picks and ratings for non-New Year’s Day bowls. Later, there will be picks & ratings for the New Year’s Day bowls, and for the BCS bowls.

Meineke Car Care Bowl at Charlotte: Boston College vs. Navy. Boston College had their chances to win their division of the ACC, but didn’t come through. After the season, coach Tom O’Brien took the N.C. State job. Navy now has the best program of the service academies. BC has the nation’s longest bowl winning streak at six, but that will come to an end here. Pick: Navy
This game is played in a state-of-the-art stadium, and from what I know, Charlotte is a nice city. I’ve only been to the airport there. You can’t go see Elvis there, but the NASCAR garages aren’t too far away. Weather can be an issue, as this bowl has also been played in sub-freezing temperatures. It’s a newer bowl, and Meineke is a half-step up from Continental Tires, the original sponsor. It’s not as bad to go to the Car Care Bowl as it was to go to the Weed Eater Bowl, but almost. Rating: 1.6
Alamo Bowl at San Antonio: Texas vs. Iowa. Texas went from a possible trip to the Fiesta Bowl to Fiesta Texas, a San Antonio theme park. The Horns are making their first appearance in this bowl. QB Colt McCoy has been cleared to play in this game. His injury helped lead to the Horns’ end-of-year slide. Iowa went 2-6 in the Big Ten, but 6-6 overall. The Hawkeyes travel well, so the Alamo Bowl jumped all over them. Pick: Texas
San Antonio is a great place to go, with plenty to see and do, and most of it in the downtown area. The Alamodome is not fancy, but is functional, especially for a college bowl game. If you can’t get sent to a BCS bowl, or one near an ocean, this is a very good place to end up. They like their matchup of a middle-rung Big XII team (local conference) and a middle-rung Big Ten team (travels well). Rating: 3
Chick-fil-A Bowl at Atlanta: Georgia vs. Virginia Tech. The Bulldogs endured quarterback problems for most of the season, but scored big wins over rivals Auburn and Georgia Tech to close the season. The Hokies closed the season as well as anyone in the ACC, especially as they thumped conference champion Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. The Hokies win as they always have-playing defense and special teams. This is a virtual home game for Georgia, but the Dawgs lost the Sugar Bowl there last year. Pick: VT
This bowl, formerly known as the Peach Bowl, has been a very good bowl since it moved into the Georgia Dome in the 90’s. They always get a good SEC-ACC matchup, and Atlanta is a very good location for fans in both conferences. This game is usually pretty good on the field, as well. Rating: 3.2
MPC Computers Bowl at Boise: Miami vs. Nevada. The Canes finished 6-6, fired coach Larry Coker, and struck out on a nationwide search for a replacement before hiring defensive coordinator Randy Shannon as the new coach. So, it’ll be pretty unstable in that locker room, as coach Coker coaches his last game and his replacement is right there in the room. Miami is closer to a good chunk of South America than it is to Boise. This will be the biggest game in the history of Nevada football. The 8-4 Wolf Pack ambush the Canes. Pick: Nevada
This bowl is traditionally the laughing stock of the bowls. Boise can be a cold, snowy place in December, and the game is played on the blue turf at Boise State’s stadium. But, the game continues to survive, as the people in Boise treat their out-of-town visitors well. This is also a chance for some players from warmer climates to see snow for the first time. Rating: 1.6
International Bowl at Toronto: Western Michigan vs. Cincinnati. Western Michigan went 1-10 two years ago, but now the Broncos are 8-4. Cincinnati welcomes new coach Brian Kelly, who won the MAC this year at Central Michigan, before taking the Cincinnati job. The Bearcats have spent the last month learning a new offensive and defensive system. The Bearcats have an upset victory over Rutgers this year. Pick: Cincy
This is a brand new bowl game, played indoors at Rogers Centre in Toronto. The game’s location in Canada adds some novelty. Problem is, it’s in January. It’s cold in Toronto in January, so it becomes another Detroit. Toronto is a little nicer than Detroit, but it’s still cold. The MAC and Big East need bowls, so this one will probably last in some form or fashion. Rating: 1.4
GMAC Bowl at Mobile: Ohio vs. Southern Miss. Ohio makes their first bowl appearance in 38 years, as Frank Solich has rebuilt the Bobcats’ program in two years. Southern Miss appears in yet another bowl, this one close to their home in Hattiesburg. Pick: Southern Miss
This bowl has developed a niche, and has obtained some stability. There are worse places than Mobile, and the stadium has received a bit of a facelift. I’d rather go to a bowl sponsored by GMAC than by Ford Credit. This bowl doesn’t pretend to be the Rose Bowl, but has been good for the teams that have gone there. It remains to be seen how the January date will affect the bowl. Rating: 1.8


Did you know the Tennessee Titans have a basketball team?

Just kidding. It's the Utah Jazz. I couldn't remember if these guys still had these jerseys, then I saw them last night on Sportscenter. The Jazz wore these powder blue things last night in San Antonio.

Powder blue went out in the 1980's, and were mainly limited to baseball uniforms. In the NBA, the New Jersey Nets briefly wore powder blue. The Tennessee Titans experiment with it in the NFL.

This is a bad look. The Jazz need to stick with the purple. Save the powder blue for retro baseball jerseys.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

NFL Picks-Week 17

It’s the final week of the season in the National Football League. Going into the weekend, only two games have no playoff implications, and one of those involves a team that has clinched a division, but cannot move up or down. Pete Rozelle would be proud.

This is such a good week, the NFL is allowing doubleheaders to be shown on both CBS and Fox. If you live in a city not hosting a game Sunday afternoon, you get four games this Sunday afternoon. If you live in a place like Houston, Dallas, or New Orleans, you still get three. It should be a great weekend of football.

The NFC presents an interesting situation. There are five teams tied for the 6th playoff position: NY Giants, Green Bay, St. Louis, Atlanta, and Carolina. None of these teams play one another this week. All of these teams have records of 7-8. At best, a team will qualify for the NFC playoffs at 8-8. If all five teams lose, there will be a team in the playoffs with a losing record of 7-9. I’m cheering for that to happen. It would be a riot.

16 big ones, coming up…

Last Week: 7-9 Season: 144-97

Detroit at Dallas: The Lions are horrible. They have won two games all year, and are in line for a top two draft pick. The Cowboys came up flat once again last week, getting spanked by the Eagles. Terrell Owens spent the day before the game hanging out at the Iggles’ hotel, then complained after the game about not being thrown the ball early enough. He makes plays, but has had his share of drops, as well. Tony Romo, in two months, has gone from carrying a clipboard on the sideline to dating country diva Carrie Underwood, she of similar rags-to-riches fame. I like the Cowboys, but they need to get their heads right with ball. Dallas wins this week, and hopes like crazy for the Falcons to help them. Pick: Dallas
New York Giants at Washington: Here’s a team coming apart at the seams. The Giants are Team Turmoil, but still control their own destiny for the playoffs. The Redskins are still competing every week, and would like nothing better than to send the Giants home for the off-season. I like Washington here. Pick: Redskins
Carolina at New Orleans: The Panthers need a win to retain hope for that sixth playoff spot. The Saints are locked into the 2nd spot and a first round bye. Jake Delhomme is back for the Panthers. The Saints aren’t going to lay down, by any means, but the Panthers take care of business on this trip. Pick: Carolina
Cleveland at Houston: The one game this week between two teams totally knocked out of the playoffs. Cleveland is down to their third quarterback, as Ken Dorsey will be starting for the Browns. He hasn’t started in three years, when he played in San Francisco. The Texans are coming off a big, big win over Indianapolis. The Texans close out the season with a win, and fall down several notches in the draft as a result. Pick: Houston
Jacksonville at Kansas City: Call this one the Help Bowl, because both teams have a slight chance to make the playoffs, but need help. This is in Kansas City in December, and the Jags are a questionable road team. Pick: Chiefs
New England at Tennessee: The Patriots are playing well heading into the playoffs. I wouldn’t want to go to Foxboro next week. The Titans have caught lightning in a bottle, as they have won seven games in a row with Vince Young at quarterback. Tennessee needs a lot of things to happen to make the playoffs, but they do their part. Pick: Titans
Oakland at New York Jets: The Jets need a win to make the playoffs. They get a gift with a home game against the woeful Raiders. The Raiders are playing for the top pick in the draft. The Jets are one of the good stories of the year. The Jets cruise in this one. Pick: J-E-T-S
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: The Bengals lost a heartbreaker last week in Denver on a botched snap on an extra point with less than 30 seconds left in the game. The Steelers came up flat in a big game and were drilled by the Ravens. The Bengals need this one to have a chance to make the playoffs. The Steelers are spoilers, and nothing else. Cincy comes up big at home. Pick: Bengals
Seattle at Tampa Bay: The other game with no impact on the playoffs, but Seattle has already clinched the NFC West, in spite of a three-game losing streak. The Bucs are a shell of their former selves. The Seahawks get enough back this week to end the season on a winning note. Pick: Seattle
St. Louis at Minnesota: Don’t look now, but the Rams have a chance to make the playoffs. They need a win and some help, but they have a chance. The Vikings had a chance to be in this gaggle of teams, as well, but have been too mediocre for even the NFC. Rams take care of business. Pick: St. Louis
Atlanta at Philadelphia: The Eagles were given up for dead, but, four Jeff Garcia wins later, they have a chance to win the NFC East, and the #3 seed in the playoffs. The Falcons can make the playoffs with a win and some help, and can also help the Cowboys with a win. Yeah, right. Garcia, Brian Westbrook, and a bunch of guys do it one more week, big. Pick: Philly
Buffalo at Baltimore: The Bills lost a heartbreaker last week, knocking themselves out of playoff contention. The Ravens find themselves in second place in the AFC, and can clinch a bye in the first round of the playoffs with a win. Steve McNair has resurrected his career in Baltimore. The Ravens are tough to beat. Pick: Baltimore
Miami at Indianapolis: How many times does Nick Saban have to say he’s not going to take the Alabama job? The Dolphins are having injury and performance problems at quarterback, and are starting Mister Cleo Lemon at QB this week. The Colts lost one they should have won last week in Houston. They now need a win and some help to get a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Colts win here, but don’t get the help they want. Pick: Indy
Arizona at San Diego: A coronation for the Chargers. Arizona lost QB Matt Leinart last week to injury, so Kurt Warner returns as QB for the Cardinals. It doesn’t matter, as the Chargers give the ball 40 times to LaDainian Tomlinson, and earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs. At this point, the Chargers are the team to beat for the world championship.
San Francisco at Denver: The 49ers have been respectable this season, winning six games. The Broncos have won two in a row with new QB Jay Cutler, and find themselves in the same position they would have been in if they hadn’t changed QBs. The Broncos need this one to sew up the 5th seed in the AFC, and should get it. Pick: Denver
Green Bay at Chicago: Call this one the Might Bowl. Green Bay might have a chance to make the playoffs, depending on results earlier in the day. This might be Brett Favre’s last game, depending on what he decides later regarding retirement. The Bears might bring an A game with nothing to play for except pride and an ancient rivalry. The Pack has more to play for here. Pick: Green Bay


Today's UUOTD is nominated by The Wife.

She has been grossed out by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' uniforms ever since they came out a few years ago. The pewter pants really bother her. From my perspective, the pants do match the helmet, but they are a little much with the red jersey.

In my opinion, though, they are an improvement over the orange Creamsicle uniforms worn under the previous ownership.

At least the jersey is all one color, and they don't have a silly stripe on the side of the uniform. Still, the pewter is a little more than I can handle.

College Bowl Picks, Part 2 (and Bowl Ratings)

It’s another weekend, and time for another batch of bowls. Or, at the Mother Ship in Bristol, Connecticut, it is Capital One Bowl Week. Time to pick more bowls, and also to cast judgment on the quality of the bowl.

Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl at Nashville: Clemson vs. Kentucky. The Tigers were very up and down this year, and had the talent to win the ACC in a down year, but didn’t pull it off. Their high point was a win at conference champion Wake Forest. Kentucky is rebuilding their program from the depths of probation, and coach Rich Brooks has been on the hot seat for two years. The Cats have beaten all the teams they are supposed to beat. Clemson has more talent. Pick: Clemson.
Nashville isn’t a bad place, especially if you’re into music. It can be cold in December, though, and this bowl has had games in sub-freezing temperatures. It’s an 11:00 AM kickoff on ESPN, so it’s not the most glamourous of bowls. As long as the locals get an SEC team, though, they’re happy. Rating: 2
Brut Sun Bowl: Oregon State vs. Missouri: Oregon State has notable late season wins over USC and Hawaii. Missouri started strong, but finished inconsistently. The Beavers are hot, and I’ll pick them. Pick: OSU-West
Brut? I think my dad has some in his bathroom cabinet. El Paso isn’t a garden spot, but this is one of the longest-running non-New Year’s Day bowls. It has also been on CBS for four decades, which says something in this cable-dominated universe. They get middle-rung teams from the Pac 10 and, this year, the Big 12. This bowl has loads of tradition, which helps its rating. Rating: 3
AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Houston vs. South Carolina. The Gamecocks are in their second bowl game in a row under the Old Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier. The Cougars come in as champions of Conference USA. The Gamecocks play in a tougher conference, but I don’t expect them to totally stop Houston’s high-powered offense. Pick: Coogs
Any bowl game where you can go see Graceland isn’t too bad. Memphis has good ribs, as well. This bowl has been around for a long time, and has weathered a lot. They scored a coup this year by signing a deal with the SEC to provide a team to oppose the Conference USA champion. As far as non-New Year’s Day bowls go, this one is pretty good. Just as in Nashville, though, the weather in Memphis can be iffy in December. Rating: 3
Insight Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Minnesota. The Red Raiders had to endure the dalliance of their coach with the Miami job at the end of the regular season. They went 7-5, which is now unacceptable at Tech. They throw the ball all over the place. Minnesota rescued their season, closing out at 6-6 after starting slowly and nearly losing to North Dakota State. Pick: Tech
This was originally the Copper Bowl, played in Tucson. It then moved to the former Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix, and has now replaced the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. That gives the Valley of the Sun three bowl games this year. The game this year is on NFL Network, meaning most of the country will not have access to it. It’s a bowl, though, and Tech and Minnesota would rather go there than to not go at all. Rating: 2
Champs Sports Bowl: Purdue vs. Maryland: Purdue had an above-average season this year, but was not anything special. Maryland, after getting pounded by West Virginia in September, went on a winning streak and was in contention for the ACC title at the end of the season. Pick: Maryland
This was formerly known as the Blockbuster, Carquest, and Micron PC Bowl in Miami, and was moved to Orlando and took the name Tangerine Bowl, before Champs bought the name. The payout has gone way up, and the game has moved to the week after Christmas. There are much worse places for a bowl than Orlando, though the Citrus Bowl stadium is starting to fall apart. Rating: 2.6

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rating The Bowls

The division formerly known as 1-A has a quirky and antiquated post-season system, driven by tourist dollars, guys in loud-colored blazers, TV executives, and commissioners of power conferences. There has, in recent years, appeared a preponderance of bowl games. This year, there are 32 bowl games, including the BCS national championship game. As I've watched parts of them, I've often wondered: What's the use of all this? Wouldn't these cities be better off bidding on playoff games?

Before I go any further, I will make the following statement: As long as the bowl system is in place, any city/chamber of commerce/corporation/conference that can come up with the NCAA minimum of $750,000 per team should be allowed to have a bowl. If the folks in Shawnee, Oklahoma want to have a bowl game in Jim Thorpe Stadium (built in the WPA era, capacity 5,000), and they can come up with $1.5 million to pull it off, then more power to them. That's a bit extreme, but anyone that can do it should be able to have a bowl game in their city. With that being said, I have developed a rating system for bowls.

I rank bowls based on: payout, conference tie-in (prestige of conference and bowl's place in picking order), TV contract (network and time of game), location/stadium, and tradition. A newer, lower-paying bowl will obviously be rated much lower than bowls such as the Rose, Sugar and Orange. Each bowl will have a rating based on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best.

I will rank the bowls for which I have already picked winners. I will also have bowl ratings with future installments of bowl picks.

Why rank bowls? To have fun with the warped system that we have. Each of these cities have their fine points, and some are better places to live than others. However, some bowls do nothing more than fill some hotel rooms and fill TV time.

Here are the ratings for bowls to date:

Poinsettia: San Diego is a great place, to which I have never been. From what I've heard, Qualcomm Stadium is beginning to fall apart, and the Chargers want a new stadium. This is a new bowl, the lower-paying of the two San Diego bowls, but a needed bowl for the Mountain West conference. They also have a deal for Navy to appear periodically. If there is a place that can handle two bowls, it's San Diego. Rating: 2.2
Las Vegas: Folks usually don't go to Vegas to catch college football. But, it's a nice diversion for traveling fans. This is the home of the Mountain West champion. The stadium is a little old, and is way off the Strip, in Henderson. Being close to Utah & BYU, it works for the Mountain West. Rating: 2.6
New Orleans: This bowl was created for the champion of the Sun Belt Conference. Conference USA provides a middle-rung team as the opponent. The Sun Belt has won this game twice in six years, but it gives their conference to shoot for. The Superdome is usually about a third full for this one. As long as the Sun Belt would rather aim for this game instead of the 1-AA playoffs, this game is fine. New Orleans doesn't need another bowl, but the Sun Belt does. Rating: 2 Birmingham got back into the bowl business this year. Legion Field, formerly known as the Football Capital of the South, is falling apart. Birmingham has hosted two other bowls: the Hall of Fame Bowl, and the All-American Bowl. They love football there, but there's a big difference between Alabama-Auburn and a couple of also-rans from the Big East and Conference USA. This is like having a bowl in Oklahoma City. A great place to live, but a questionable place for a bowl. Rating: 1.2
New Mexico: A brand new bowl, designed to give the Mountain West another bowl, and to promote the state of New Mexico. This year's title sponsor is the New Mexico Tourism Department. If it works for them, more power to them. Ultimately, though, another case of good place to live, questionable bowl destination. The MWC vs. WAC matchup isn't a lot to write home about, either. However, San Jose State enjoyed Albuquerque last week, a lot. Rating: 1.6
Armed Forces: Formerly known as the Fort Worth Bowl, this is played at TCU's aging Amon Carter Stadium. Fort Worth is a great place to live, and is underrated as a tourist attraction. However, the weather can be iffy, the MWC-CUSA matchup isn't the greatest, and one can only spend so much time in the Stockyards. This bowl has overcome it's birth pains, though, and is on the way to success. Rating: 1.6
Hawaii: This game was organized to give the University of Hawaii a place to go when bowl eligible. It is a roaring success when the Warriors are in it. It's also entertainment for Christmas Eve. Hawaii is always a good place to go, but you don't want to mess with the Warriors if you have to play them there. Rating: 2.4
Motor City: This bowl was created for the MAC champion. The bowl benefited from the construction of Ford Field, giving it a first-class venue. Problem is, outside the stadium, you're in Detroit in December. Brrr. Rating: 1.4
Emerald: San Francisco, with all its quirks, is a tourist attraction. This game is played in a baseball park, gets a low pick from the Pac 10 and ACC, and is a candidate for cold weather. However, they hit a home run this year with Florida State and UCLA. Rating: 2.4
Independence: You could say that if Shreveport can pull a bowl off, anyone can. This bowl was in Shreveport long before casinos were. They've struggled with sponsor names (Weed Eater), snow (the 1999 freak snow storm game between Mississippi State and Texas A&M), and the various other issues that a mid-tier bowl faces. Still, they press on. This is the little bowl that could. The Big XII and SEC like it. Rating: 1.8
Texas: This is the latest incarnation of the Houston Bowl, formerly known as the bowl. The Houston Bowl needed help, as TCU and Iowa State have still not received total payment from last year's game. So, enter the Big XII, the Houston Texans, and the NFL Network. Those entities saved and restructured the game, believing that Houston was too large a city and Reliant too nice a stadium to not have a bowl game. Good luck. Rating: 1.6
Holiday: Easily the best of the pre-New Year's bowls. San Diego is a great place, and this bowl gets the second pick from the Pac 10 and the third pick from the Big XII. This has been a great game for just about all of its 30-year history, including several barnburners as home of the WAC champion. The only things this bowl doesn't have are a New Year's Day date, and a new Chargers stadium. Rating: 3.6

More bowl ratings to come, along with more bowl picks..


It's been a few days since there has been an Ugly Uniform of the Day, so I figured it's time for another one...

In many ways, the World League of American Football, now NFL Europe, has been good for the NFL. It has helped build the game of football overseas, and has given players the opportunity to jump-start their careers. However, that league has also given birth to some uniform trends that have hit the NFL, which have not been good.

The Buffalo Bills have caught this NFL Europe bug with their road uniform. Their home unis are still ok, because they are still one color. These road jerseys, though, break the rules. I cannot stand it when a jersey has a one color for the shoulders and nameplate, and another one for the rest of the jersey. This Bills jersey has a navy blue shoulder, and a white body. All it is lacking is a logo from a German beer company, and it is good to go for NFL Europe. The Arizona Cardinals have also adopted this style, with red shoulders to go with the white jersey.

The Bills have had some cool uniforms over the years. Their AFL throwbacks are great, and the ones they wore in four Super Bowls in the 90's weren't bad, either. These road jerseys, though, are hideous.

Do away with the colored shoulders!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Clash of Cultures

An interesting preview of the upcoming Holiday Bowl between the University of California, Berkeley, and Texas A&M University.

Berkeley is known for war protests and counterculture activity.

A&M is known for the Corps of Cadets, and recently lost its president to the Pentagon, where Robert Gates is the new Secretary of Defense.

A&M has a military-style band made up of Cadets. Cal has a traditional-style band, in contrast to hated archrival Stanford's non-traditional oddball band.

It should be interesting in San Diego.

You Know You're Addicted to Football...

....when Central Michigan vs. Middle Tennessee State is on TV, and you're watching it.

These teams would be first-round fodder for Florida and Ohio State in my playoff proposal.

Props to the little guys!

Monday, December 25, 2006

NFL Week In Review, Week 16

With two games to go later today, the NFL finds itself in a dogfight for playoff position as it leaves Week 16.

In the AFC, San Diego needs one more win to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. Baltimore needs one more win to clinch a bye in the first round. Indianapolis and New England have a chance at a bye, if either of them win and the Ravens lose next week. The wild card race is a dogfight, as Denver has a leg up for one spot, and the New York Jets have a an inside track at the other one. Cincinnati, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Kansas City have an outside chance at the playoffs in the AFC. The Jets are set to play the Miami Dolphins in rainy south Florida as I write.

In the NFC, Chicago has clinched home field all the way throughout the playoffs. Good thing for Bears DT Tank Johnson, because he needs a judge’s permission to leave Illinois. The New Orleans Saints have now clinched a bye in the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia can win the NFC East with a win, and Seattle has won the NFC West, and is locked into the #4 playoff position. The wild card race is a zoo, as Dallas has clinched one of the spots, at 9-6. There is then a gaggle of 5 teams with records of 7-8: New York Giants, Carolina, Atlanta, Green Bay, and St. Louis. None of those five play one another in Week 17, and there is the slight chance that all five could lose, placing a team with a 7-9 record in the playoffs. As it stands now, there will be at least one team in the NFC playoffs with an 8-8 record.

The Dallas Cowboys got kicked all over the field by the Philadelphia Eagles, losing 23-7. Andy Reid is a genius, for picking up Jeff Garcia as a backup quarterback to the injury-prone Donovan McNabb. The Eagles have picked it up a notch, winning four in a row, including three in a row on the road in the division. The Cowboys are going to be in the playoffs, but are not playing like a Super Bowl team. At the same time, going in as the 5th seed earns them a trip to Seattle to face the reeling Seahawks. The way the Cowboys are playing at home, it may be worth taking a chance on a road game in Seattle.

The once-mighty Indianapolis Colts came to Reliant Stadium, and lost to the Houston Texans, 27-24. Peyton Manning had three touchdown passes, but the Colts’ rush defense made Ron Dayne look like the Heisman Trophy winner that he is. Dayne had 153 yards and two touchdowns, as the Texans scored their biggest win since their inaugural game against the Cowboys in 2002. The Colts are staring a first-round playoff game in the face, unless the Ravens lose to Buffalo next week.

Speaking of the Ravens, Baltimore manhandled Pittsburgh, 31-7. Pittsburgh still had a chance at a playoff spot, but chose to not show up on Christmas Eve, and got kicked by the Ravens. The Ravens are looking tough to beat. I wouldn’t want to go the City By Chesapeake Bay during the playoffs, if I were the Colts or anyone else.

Another AFC team that lost a big opportunity was the Jacksonville Jaguars. New England went into Alltel Stadium and came away with a 24-21 win. The Pats have clinched the AFC East, and have a slight chance to finish in higher playoff position.

The Cincinnati Bengals had their hearts broken. Down 24-17, and playing in the snow in Denver, Carson Palmer threw a touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with :41 left in the game. The Bengals then botched the snap on the extra point, and lost 24-23. The Bengals missed a chance to clinch a playoff spot, and the Broncos are now in line to finish as high as fifth in the AFC race. That’s too bad. I like the Bengals, though their uniforms are a little much. The Bengals still have a chance to make the playoffs, but will need some help in Week 17.

Don’t look now, but it’s Week 17, and Vince Young and the Tennessee Titans can still make the playoffs. The Titans are now 8-7, after a 30-29 win in Buffalo. The Bills are now 7-8, and would dearly love to be in the NFC right now.

The San Diego Chargers staged a comeback, as Phillip Rivers threw a 37 yard touchdown pass to Vincent Jackson with 29 seconds left, giving the Chargers a 20-17 win in Seattle. The Chargers can clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win next week. The Seahawks have lost three games in a row, but clinched the NFC West title, thanks to San Francisco’s loss.

In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers rose from the dead, keeping their playoff hopes alive with a 10-3 win over Atlanta. Chris Weinke finally got off the schnide, winning the game as a starter for the first time in 18 games. Hey, a backup QB job in the NFL still pays well.

There was a wild one in St. Louis, as the Rams used a Steven Jackson TD run to beat the Washington Redskins in overtime, 37-31. The Rams are 7-8, but can still make the playoffs with a win and some help.

The New York Giants are still in command of their own destiny for the sixth seed in the NFC playoffs. However, they got kicked around by the New Orleans Saints, 30-7. The Saints have clinched a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Giants, as bad as they have looked recently, can still make the playoffs with a win.

Last Thursday night, in the NFL Network special, the Green Bay Packers won a 9-7 snoozer over the Minnesota Vikings. All the Pack needed were three field goals from Dave Rayner. The Pack also finds themselves in that group of five teams at 7-8 with a chance to make the playoffs.

Also on the NFL Network, the Kansas City Chiefs got a win on Saturday night in Oakland, defeating the Raiders, 20-9. The Raiders are just plain putrid. The Chiefs have an outside chance to make the AFC playoffs.

A Christmas Gift

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6, New International Version

This blog is normally about sports, and I have no intention of changing that. With today being Christmas, I want to extend to everyone in blogworld my wishes for a very merry Christmas, and a happy New Year. I also would like to write a few thoughts regarding Christmas.

Christmas is a lot of things. It is parties, shopping, giving, and receiving gifts. It is Santa Claus sliding down the chimney. It is staying up into the night, as I did last night, putting gifts together for the kids. It is watching faces light up with joy and happiness. There are a lot of good things about Christmas.

Christmas, though, is ultimately about God's gift to mankind, His Son, Jesus Christ. We celebrate a lot of things, but, most of all, we are to celebrate the birth of His Son, and the hope that comes with that. At the end of the day, or life, it is ultimately about what we choose to do with God's gift to us. It's not about good works, church organizations, or denominational background, though those are good things. It's also not about fallen leaders, broken relationships, or political parties. It is ultimately about God's gift, Jesus, and Him alone.

To learn more about God's gift to us, click here.

I will now go back to blogging on sports. Once again, I wish you a very merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Cool Uniform Of The Day

I've had some fun throwing some teams under the bus for some pretty gross-looking threads. I'll do more of that later. Today, in the spirit of Christmas, I want to call attention to a uniform I noticed today, that I think is pretty cool.

The Indianapolis Colts have worn pretty much the same road white uniform ever since they were in Baltimore. They wore a little darker shade of blue in Baltimore, but, other than that, the unis are pretty much the same. The home unis aren't bad, but the road uniforms are just plain classic-looking. These are pretty much the same ones worn by Johnny Unitas, Alan Ameche, and Bert Jones in Baltimore, and by Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, and Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Just a white helmet with the horseshoe, a solid blue stripe, two blue stripes on the shoulders, a couple of simple stripes on the pants, and some blue numbers. No black alternate jerseys for these guys. Just a simple, classic uniform, not too generic looking (see Penn State), but not too wild looking, like their cousins down I-74 in Cincinnati.

These are cool-looking uniforms.