Monday, December 31, 2007
Bowl picks to date: 10-9 (ouch!)
January brings us more bowls, including the vaunted BCS. Here’s hoping these picks are better than the last set.
AT&T Cotton Bowl at Dallas, Missouri vs. Arkansas: Mizzou was hosed by the BCS. Arkansas got a better bowl as a result of their season-ending upset win over LSU. Since then, Arkansas has entered into a coaching transition, having pawned Houston Nutt off on Ole Miss, and stealing Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons. Reggie Herring is coaching the bowl game for the Hogs, in preparation for his new gig as defensive coordinator at Texas A&M. Is that confusing? I thought so. Pick: Missouri
Outback Bowl at Tampa, Tennessee vs. Wisconsin: Tennessee won the SEC East, thanks in part to a win over Georgia in October. This was a slow year in the Big Ten. Nonetheless, there are a lot of cheeseheads in Tampa this week. Go with the SEC in this one. Pick: Tennessee
Capital One Bowl at Orlando, Michigan vs. Florida: Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow leads the mighty Gators against the best of a bunch of Big Ten also-rans in Michigan. Michigan is playing their last game under retiring coach Lloyd Carr. Speed kills. Florida has speed. Pick: Florida
Konica Minolta Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, Texas Tech vs. Virginia: UVa has won a bunch of close games this year to land themselves in a New Year’s Day bowl. They haven’t seen anything close to Tech’s offense, however. Tech will sling it around in this one. Pick: Red Raiders
International Bowl at Toronto, Rutgers vs. Ball State: This will be played on Saturday. Ball State was the third MAC team eligible for a bowl game. Rutgers has had a disappointing season. Who would have ever thought a disappointing season would still end in a bowl game for Rutgers? Pick: Scarlet Knights
GMAC Bowl at Mobile, AL, Tulsa vs. Bowling Green: Bowling Green has a lot of tickets to sell to this thing, so they are trying to market tickets to Ohio State fans in nearby New Orleans for the BCS national championship game. On the field, Tulsa should be able to handle the Falcons. Pick: Tulsa
Rose Bowl at Pasadena, CA, USC vs. Illinois: The biggest farce of a matchup in all of bowldom this season. Illinois is a nice team, but they’re no USC. The Illini was the only Big Ten team outside Ohio State that qualified for a BCS bowl. Therefore, the Rose Bowl took them, because the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten are engaged in an evil plot to control college football. Maybe not evil, but pretty close to it. USC is healthy once again, and looks ready to beat anyone who chooses to mess with them. Trojans win the Sugar Bowl pre-game show. Pick: USC
Sugar Bowl at New Orleans, Georgia vs. Hawaii: OU vs. Boise State, Part II. The upstart underdog from the WAC meets the hottest team in the SEC. Going out on a limb here, but I’m picking the team from the islands. Pick: Hawaii
Fiesta Bowl at Glendale, AZ, Oklahoma vs. West Virginia: Two teams that had a chance to play in the BCS championship game, but lost some inexplicable games among the way. OU sent a player home (Demarcus Granger) for shoplifting, while WVU has been in the midst of a contentious coaching search after Rich Rodriguez bolted for Meatchicken. I’m a homer. This blog always picks the Sooners. Pick: OU
Orange Bowl at Miami, Virginia Tech vs. Kansas: KU has had a great year. Problem is, they only played one good team all year, and lost to Missouri. This big bowl thing is new to them. Tech bounced back from a 41-point whipping by LSU and a gag job against Boston College to win the ACC. Tech represents the ACC well in this one. Pick: Virginia Tech
BCS National Championship Game at New Orleans, Ohio State vs. LSU: Ohio State is the beneficiary of a weak Big Ten, getting through the regular season with only one loss. LSU is the best of a bunch of two-loss teams. Both of the Tigers’ losses were in multiple overtime. Throw in the virtual homefield in the Superdome, and it will be hard for the Buckeyes to get out alive. Plus, it’s the SEC vs. the Big Ten. Pick: LSU
We are near the end of the highway. Actually, we’ve reached the suburbs, as the playoffs are here, and Super Bowl XLII is the destination.
This week’s trip down NFL Highway:
The Dallas Cowboys appeared Sunday in Washington. Well, sort of. QB Tony Romo only played for a half, and the Cowboys went through the motions as they were pounded by the Washington Redskins, 27-6. The Redskins thus qualify for the playoffs, and get to go to Seattle for a playoff game on Saturday.
The other playoff spot in doubt was in the AFC, where the Tennessee Titans needed to win in Indianapolis to make the playoffs. The Colts had nothing to play for, as their playoff position was locked. Indy benched Peyton Manning in the second quarter, and Vince Young was injured in the second half for the Titans. Kerry Collins came off the bench for the Titans and led them to three second half field goals.
Some other notable NFL happenings:
The Cleveland Browns won on Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, and finished 10-6. They missed the playoffs, however, on a tiebreaker with the Titans. The Browns blew their chance for control of their own destiny last week in Cincinnati. Still, it was an unexpected big season on the North Coast of Ohio. Now, the Browns must decide whether to keep this season’s star QB Derek Anderson, or this year’s #1 draft pick Brady Quinn.
The Houston Texans earned their franchise record 8th win on Sunday with a 42-28 victory over playoff-bound Jacksonville. This was in spite of a rash of injuries that placed almost 20 players on the injured list. The Texans demonstrated the strength of the AFC South by finishing in last place with an 8-8 record. They were the only team in the division to not make the playoffs.
Also finishing in last place with an 8-8 record are the Philadelphia Eagles, 17-9 winners over Buffalo. With Washington’s win, the Eagles are the only NFC East team to not make the playoffs.
The Miami Dolphins finished an awful season at 1-15. They are guaranteed the top pick in April’s draft. Bill Parcells has been hired to blow up the entire football operation and to rebuild it.
More NFL rumblings later…
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The bowl system is a method of filling hotel rooms in host cities, and of filling bowl officials’ pockets. A majority of them enjoy a dubious non-profit status as charitable organizations. While the bowls do perform some good work in their communities, their foremost purpose is not charity, but economic development. The bowls also spend an enormous amount of money lobbying government officials and entertaining college administrators.
Most schools actually do not make money on bowl games, after expenses are taken into account. Both Florida and Ohio State ran a combined deficit of $600,000 on last year’s trip to the BCS national championship game. Teams going to lesser bowls are required to sell a certain amount of tickets, and often have to eat large amounts of unsold tickets.
I’m not going to reproduce his articles here, but here are some highlights:
Gary Cavalli, executive director of the San Francisco Bowl Game Association, which puts on the Emerald Bowl. Cavalli received $362,018 in compensation and employee benefits in 2006, accounting for 11 percent of the bowl's budget. The game cleared $271,412. In a filing with the IRS, Cavalli said he works 35 hours a week.
What a gig! The guy gets to live in San Francisco, with a job wining and dining corporate people and college presidents and athletic directors. He’s got it made.
Also, the following schools lost their shirts on unsold tickets and bowl expenses:
Northern Illinois, 2006 Poinsettia Bowl: NIU sent 434 people to San Diego, costing the school about $916,800 in expenses. The school's share of the payout was $598,901, leaving NIU with a $317,898 deficit, more than the school spent last year on six of its nine women's sports combined.
Ohio University, 2006 GMAC Bowl: Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich led Ohio to its first bowl appearance since 1968. The celebration in Athens, however, was short-lived. A $277,550 bowl deficit was more than an athletic department already awash in red ink and facing Title IX sanctions could take. The university was forced to dip into general reserve funds to pay the bowl tab and just weeks after the game the school dropped track, swimming and lacrosse, leaving 383 athletes without teams. Ohio spent less than $200,000 annually on the three dropped programs.
And, there's Coach Fran and our friends at Texas A&M:
The Aggies ran up a Texas-sized deficit — $489,978 — in San Diego. A&M's awards expenditures explain some of the red ink. The Aggies spent nearly as much on awards for players and staff — $133,645 — as Florida and Ohio State did combined. Two years earlier, A&M spent $198,395 on awards at the Cotton Bowl.
The bowl system is the biggest crock of bovine excrement out there. I’m no fan of the NCAA and their politically correct, pointy-headed approach. However, a handful of people are holding college football hostage, both politically and financially.
I have no problem with generating large sums of revenue. However, it is not worth it to take a bath on a bowl trip, and to cut athletic programs and scholarships as a result.
Another thought, anathema to proud alumni everywhere: If schools from conferences such as the MAC are going to lose large sums of money on bowl trips, perhaps they should move to the Football Championship Subdivision, where they can play in a less-expensive playoff system and contend for championships.
Special Report: Price of Success
Special Report: College Football's Money Bowl
Special Report: Having a Party
Special Report: Bowl Calculators in Overdrive
Now, to get ready for that titanic bowl game in Shreveport between 6-6 Colorado and 6-6 Alabama. Because, it's not Pearl Harbor. It's Division I football.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
• New England has a chance to become the first team to complete a regular season at 16-0.
• The Tennessee Titans can make the playoffs with a win. The Cleveland Browns’ fate is dependent on the Titans, whether they win or lose this week.
• Washington is in the playoffs with a win. Minnesota can still make the playoffs with a win and a Redskins loss. New Orleans can make the playoffs with a win and losses by Washington and Minnesota.
No game is totally unimportant. These are professionals. Even on the worst teams, guys are playing for their jobs and for future contracts.
On with the picks…
Last week: 10-6
Dallas at Washington: The Cowboys have nothing to play for, having clinched the NFC East and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They owe it to themselves to give their starters as much rest as possible. Washington can make the playoffs with a win. Dallas owes it to the Vikings and the league to try to beat the Redskins, and to preserve the integrity of the game. The truth will fall somewhere in the middle. The ‘Skins will most likely be playing starters against Cowboy backups. They ought to win. But, this is a Cowboy homer blog. This blog has picked the Cowboys to win 15 times this year. Make that 16. Pick: Dallas
New England at New York Giants: The bang-to-hype ratio is way out of whack on this game. If the Pats were 14-1, this game would have all the appeal of a lobotomy. Neither team can improve or lose playoff position. Both teams have reason to rest lots of starters Saturday night. But, the Pats are 15-0, and have the chance to finish a perfect regular season Saturday night. Thus, the eyes of the world will be on Giants Stadium Saturday night. The Giants will be preparing for next week’s playoff date in Tampa. Pats win. Pick: New England
Seattle at Atlanta: Seahawks have clinched the third playoff seed in the NFC. They have the next best thing to a bye: a game with the hapless Falcons. Seattle will play lots of backups this week. Pick: Atlanta
New Orleans at Chicago: Rematch of last year’s NFC championship game. This game was scheduled with lots of potential playoff implications. Instead, the Bears are preparing for the off-season, and the Saints have a slight chance at the playoffs. Chicago kicked Green Bay all over the field last week. Look for the Bears to salvage some more pride this week. Pick: Chicago
San Francisco at Cleveland: The Browns need a win this week, but really need a loss by the Titans. Last week, Cleveland blew a golden opportunity to make the playoffs by losing to their rivals in Cincinnati. San Francisco has won two games behind QB Shaun Hill. Cleveland is a different team at home, because Derek Anderson is a much better quarterback at home. Pick: Cleveland
Detroit at Green Bay: Lions finally got win #7 last week. Green Bay lost in a big way last week, ending their chances at home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. Now, the Packers are locked into the 2nd seed in the NFC playoffs. Green Bay will be resting starters, but should be able to beat the inconsistent Lions. Pick: Green Bay
Jacksonville at Houston: Jags are 11-4, and are locked into the 5th seed in the AFC playoffs. Regardless, they always have a tough time with the Texans in Houston. The Texans have a chance to go 8-8, the best record in team history. Pick: Houston
Cincinnati at Miami: Yuck. Bad vs. worse. The Bengals got an unexpected win last week against the Browns. The Dolphins played hard and only lost by 21 to the Patriots. A nightmare season comes to an end in Miami. Pick: Cincinnati
Buffalo at Philadelphia: The Eagles can finish 8-8 this season, and would still be in last place in the NFC East. Tough breaks. The Bills can also go 8-8 with a win. Pick: Philly
Carolina at Tampa Bay: Panthers are losing players left and right to injury. Bucs are preparing for the playoffs. Go with the home team. Pick: Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh at Baltimore: Division champion vs. another disappointing team. The season can’t be over soon enough for the Ravens. Pick: Pittsburgh
St. Louis at Arizona: Years ago, this would have been Los Angeles vs. St. Louis. Even earlier than that, it would have been the Cleveland Rams vs. the Chicago Cardinals. The Rams are in a downward spiral, while the Cardinals have been decent behind QB Kurt Warner. The Rams would still like to have Warner. Pick: Arizona
Minnesota at Denver: The Vikings have done well this season considering they have no passing game and a great running game. They need a win this week and some help from the Cowboys. Denver finds a way to play well this week. Pick: Denver
San Diego at Oakland: The Chargers will be playing lots of players this week. Their backups should be able to beat the Raiders. Pick: San Diego
Kansas City at New York Jets: The Herm Edwards Bowl. Who wins: Herm’s new team, or his old team? Eeny, meeny, miney, moe. Pick: Jets
Tennessee at Indianapolis: The Sunday Night game brings us the Titans’ trip to Indy with a playoff spot on the line. The Colts have nothing to play for. We’ll see lots of Jim Sorgi on Sunday night. Still, the Colts are playing really well, and Peyton Manning will play enough to help the Colts win. Pick: Indy
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Late this afternoon, the NFL Network announced that this Saturday night’s game between the New England Patriots and New York Giants would also be seen over the air on both CBS and NBC. This is earthshaking news in the world of TV. This will be the first simulcast of an NFL game since CBS and NBC both televised Super Bowl I.
This is a big deal. The NFL Network has been in not-so-successful negotiations with major cable operators Time Warner, Cablevision, and Charter to get the channel on their systems. Comcast currently carries NFLN, but got a favorable ruling this year from a judge, allowing them to move the channel from a general digital tier to a less-popular sports tier. The majority of NFLN viewers watch the channel on Directv or Dish Network. The cable companies are not willing to pay the NFL 50 cents per subscriber for the channel. It was not a major issue until last season, when the NFL started televising regular season games on NFLN. NFLN sells local broadcast rights to individual games in the home markets of the competing teams (this week, Boston and New York). NFLN does not sell the rights to local stations in surrounding areas that would be interested in the game (this week, for example, Providence, RI). This has millions of fans up in arms. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) have threatened a congressional investigation of the NFL’s TV distribution practices. That was enough to force the NFL to consider alternate distribution methods for Saturday night’s game. The Patriots have a chance to become the first team ever to go 16-0 in a regular season with a win.
The NFL owners have been questioning the success of NFL Network. The league expected to have 50 million subscribers at this point instead of the 35 million it currently has. So, this year, the league put some marquee games (Packers-Cowboys, Patriots-Giants) on the channel and installed Jerry Jones as chairman of the NFL Network committee. Jerry has been out there selling NFL Network to cable companies. The league wants to put pressure on cable operators to carry the channel.
I have satellite, and watch NFL Network regularly. It is not the best channel in the world. They have shows covering the present-day NFL, old NFL Films reruns, and replays of recent games. They will also broadcast the Texas Bowl and the Insight Bowl later this week. It is not the best channel, but it’s not bad.
Cable operators will now have little reason to budge in their war with the NFL. For this reason, I would not be surprised to see NFL Network to go the way of NFL Europe: bye-bye. The NFL can sell the rights to those eight games to an existing cable network and make more money than they would by operating their own network.
Personally, I think it would be a good idea for ESPN to buy NFL Network and merge it with ESPN Classic. ESPN Classic has become a waste of bandwidth, as they have lost rights to a lot of historic sporting events that put it on the map. They show a lot of junk, including World Series of Poker marathons and American Gladiators. They have the distribution that NFL Network desires. It would be a healthy marriage between the NFL and one of its current TV partners. An ESPN Football Channel would be the bomb! I hope someone in Bristol is reading this and passes the idea up to the suits at the Worldwide Leader in Sports. They can even call it ESPN8-the Ocho! Oops, that name has already been used.
The NFL hasn’t become the world’s most successful and profitable sports league by being stupid. They will either make NFL Network a success, or shut it down.
This also has implications for the Big Ten Network. If the cable companies can shut NFL Network down, they can probably do the same with BTN. That won't sit well with school presidents and ADs in the Big Ten, nor will it sit well with adminstrators of other conferences exploring the same thing.
Meanwhile, I’ll be watching Patriots-Giants on Saturday night. It really won’t be much of a game. The Giants have nothing to play for, and will prepare for their playoff game with Tampa Bay. The Pats are trying to make history. I don’t care if they go undefeated, as long as they lose to the Cowboys in Super Bowl XLII.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
There are a lot more bowl games set for this week, all of which mean nothing but money for hotels and programming for ESPN and NFL Network. Nonetheless, several coaches and fan bases will end the season happy this week.
Motor City Bowl at Detroit, Purdue vs. Central Michigan: Rematch of a September game in West Lafayette, won 38-24 by Purdue. The Boilermakers have bounced around this season, while the Chippewas got hot in conference play and won the MAC. Purdue would rather be somewhere other than beautiful downtown Detroit, but this is where they are. The Chips made it respectable at the end of the first meeting. They get revenge in the second game. Pick: Central Michigan
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl at San Diego, Arizona State vs. Texas: The Longhorns have reverted to pre-Vince Young form this year, going 9-3 and beating most of the teams they are supposed to beat. The Fighting Sun Devils have rode the coaching of Dennis Erickson to a 10-2 season. Make that 11 wins for ASU. Pick: Arizona State
Champs Sports Bowl at Orlando, Boston College vs. Michigan State: BC ended up here after losing the ACC championship game. Michigan State finished 7-5 playing mediocre Big Ten teams. BC has a history of winning bowl games. They win another one. Pick: Boston College
Texas Bowl at Houston, TCU vs. Houston: Frogs are in their ninth bowl in 10 years, with a disappointing 7-5 record. U of H is in a coaching transition, as Art Briles left to take the Baylor job. The Frogs have more stability right now. Stable is good. Pick: TCU
Emerald Bowl at San Francisco, Maryland vs. Oregon State: This bowl is nuts, literally. Emerald Nuts is the sponsor. Maryland gets to be the ACC team to take a few fans all the way across the country for a second-rate bowl game. Oregon State has shown flashes of brilliance this year. Pick: Oregon State
Meineke Car Care Bowl at Charlotte, Connecticut vs. Wake Forest: I got my oil changed at Meineke last week. That has no relevance to this bowl game. UConn has had a great season, finishing second in the Big East. Wake Forest gets to play in a bowl close to home. Pick: Wake Forest
AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Memphis, Mississippi State vs. UCF: Starkville is right down the road from Tupelo, birthplace of Memphis’ own Elvis. UCF won Conference USA, the 14th ranked conference in Jeff Sagarin’s computer rankings (Independents and two FCS conferences finished ahead of C-USA). Pick: Mississippi State
Valero Alamo Bowl at San Antonio, Penn State vs. Texas A&M: It feels like it’s been forever since the Ags fired Coach Fran, but it was only a month ago. Gary Darnell is coaching the bowl game. Joe Paterno, or a reasonable facsimile there of, is coaching Penn State. Who knows? Pick: A&M
PetroSun Independence Bowl at Shreveport, Colorado vs. Alabama: These two teams have lost as many games as they have won, as both are 6-6. Colorado has wins over Oklahoma and Nebraska. Alabama lost to Louisiana-Monroe. Pick: Colorado
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl at Fort Worth, Air Force vs. Cal: Cal melted down in the last half of the season to finish 6-6. Air Force should play well in a bowl named in honor of them and the other branches of the military. Pick: Air Force
Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl at Boise, Idaho, Georgia Tech vs. Fresno State: The ACC booby prize this year goes to Georgia Tech, as they get a most-expenses paid trip to beautiful Boise, Idaho to play in a bowl named for a truck stop. For the second year in a row, the ACC coach in this game was fired (see Larry Coker, Miami, 2006). The Ramblin’ Wreck’s reward is a date with Fresno State. Pick: Fresno
Brut Sun Bowl at El Paso, South Florida vs. Oregon: Both teams were once ranked #2 in the nation. Oregon has been in free fall since the injury to star QB Dennis Dixon. USF is glad to be on national network TV from the west Texas town of El Paso. Pick: USF
Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl at Nashville, Kentucky vs. Florida State: Big Blue Nation invades Nashville once again. FSU is in the midst of scandal, losing 34 players for this game due to an academic scandal. The Noles will be playing with FCS level numbers. Kentucky’s relative depth will wear FSU down and out. Pick: Kentucky
Insight Bowl at Tempe, Arizona, Oklahoma State vs. Indiana: Indiana meets their goal of a bowl game to honor the memory of their late coach Terry Hoeppner. OSU is glad to be in the Big 12, because a 6-6 record got them a bowl game as a result. Pick: Indiana
Monday, December 24, 2007
The NFL Highway dodged Santa’s sleigh this week, as several teams solidified their plans for January, while others just played out the string.
The Dallas Cowboys visited Carolina and got a 20-13 win. The Cowboys got a scare as star receiver Terrell Owens suffered a sprained ankle, and will be out until the playoffs begin. I was a little alarmed when the NFL Network showed T.O. in the tunnel with the trainer and the real-life Jerry Maguire, agent Drew Rosenhaus. Rosenhaus is the most high-profile agent in the business. He had to be concerned when one of his meal tickets went down. Does T.O. play for the Cowboys, or for Drew Rosenhaus?
The Cowboys also received an early Christmas present from the Chicago Bears. The Bears whipped their archrivals, the Green Bay Packers, 35-7. Brian Urlacher had an 85-yard interception return to ice the game for the Bears. With this result, the Cowboys clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
In a meaningless game, the Indianapolis Colts flexed their muscle and whipped the Houston Texans, 38-15. The Colts played their starters for the first three quarters in an effort to keep them in playing shape before the playoffs. The Texans are 7-8 in spite of their difficulties. They are 0-5 against AFC South Division teams, and 7-3 against the rest of the league.
Poor Cleveland. All the Browns had to do to clinch a playoff spot was to beat the sad-sack Bengals in Cincinnati, but they couldn’t do it. The Bengals won, 19-14. Derek Anderson threw two touchdowns, but also threw four interceptions. The Browns must now hope for a Tennessee loss to the Colts next week in order to make the playoffs.
The Titans set themselves up to control their playoff destiny by holding off the New York Jets, 10-6. Tennessee is now 9-6, and plays a Colts team with nothing to play for next week.
In a game that was irrelevant all along, the Detroit Lions broke a long losing streak by handling the Kansas City Chiefs, 25-20. The Lions move to 7-8, guaranteeing for the first time in six years that they will not have 10 or more losses. The Chiefs fall to an awful 4-11.
The team no one wants a part of resides in Jacksonville. The Jaguars cruised to their 11th win with a 49-11 rout of the Oakland Raiders. David Garrard had two touchdown passes and another one rushing for the Jags. The Jaguars clinched the 5th spot in the AFC playoffs, and will play either Pittsburgh or San Diego in the first round.
It’s too little, too late, but the Philadelphia Eagles are making a run in the NFC East. The Eagles followed up their Dallas win with a 39-23 win over the Saints in New Orleans. Donovan McNabb improved his trade value by throwing for 263 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints’ playoff hopes were severely impaired with the loss.
There was a game no one wanted to win on Sunday in Arizona. The Cardinals blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. However, they were playing the awful Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons handed the game back to the Cardinals, and Arizona won on a field goal in overtime, 30-27. Kurt Warner came up big for the Cardinals, throwing three touchdown passes.
Break up the 49ers! San Francisco got their second win in a row behind quarterback Shaun Hill, holding off the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 21-19. The Bucs are playing out the string until the playoffs, where they are guaranteed a meeting with the New York Giants.
It was rainy, snowy, and windy on Sunday in Buffalo. That’s not news in December. The Giants came up big in the elements, gaining a 38-21 win over the Bills to clinch the 5th spot in the NFC playoffs. Ahmad Bradshaw had the longest run from scrimmage in the NFL this year, with an 88-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The Bills become one of many 7-8 teams.
The Miami Dolphins played really, really hard on Sunday. That’s about all you can say for a 1-14 team, as the Dolphins lost to the undefeated New England Patriots, 28-7. The Patriots became the first NFL team to go 15-0. They can complete an undefeated season Saturday night with a win over the New York Giants.
The Baltimore Ravens started rookie Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith at quarterback on Sunday in Seattle. The Seahawks dominated the game, winning 27-6. The Seahawks will be seeded third in the upcoming NFC playoffs.
In the Sunday night extravaganza, the Minnesota Vikings blew a golden opportunity to clinch a playoff spots. Washington came into the Metrodome and kicked the Vikings around, winning 32-21. Clinton Portis scored one touchdown rushing and another one passing for the Redskins. The Skins can clinch a playoff spot next weed with a win over Dallas.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Dallas at Carolina: The Cowboys’ second appearance on NFL Network comes against what is becoming an annual rival in the Panthers. Last year’s trip to Charlotte resulted in Tony Romo’s coming out party, as he led the Cowboys on a huge second-half comeback. The Cowboys are coming off an unexpected loss at home to the Eagles. The Panthers have started four quarterbacks this year, but got a win over NFC West leader Seattle last week. It won’t be a blowout, but go with Dallas. Pick: Dallas
Pittsburgh at St. Louis: The Steelers are stumbling toward the finish line, but head into St. Louis to take on a beaten-down and beaten-out Rams team. The Steelers find a cure for their problems, at least for one week. Pick: Pittsburgh
New York Giants at Buffalo: Who does the governor cheer for? Buffalo. The Giants don’t actually play in New York. The Giants lost an unexpected game last week at home to the Redskins. The Bills are out of the playoff hunt, but have been competitive every week they haven’t played the Patriots. Pick: Buffalo
Green Bay at Chicago: The Bears are another team stumbling toward the end of the season. I’d love to see the Bears beat the Pack for the second time this season, but I don’t see that happening. Pick: Green Bay
Cleveland at Cincinnati: Battle of Ohio, Part 2. The last time these teams met, Derek Anderson introduced himself to the NFL world with five touchdown passes, kick-starting an unexpected good season in Cleveland. The Bengals have been a disappointment. This will be a grudge match, but Cleveland is a better team this year. Pick: Cleveland
Kansas City at Detroit: The ultimate irrelevant game. The Chiefs are 4-10 and headed nowhere. The Lions have lost six in a row, and are 6-8, headed nowhere. Look for the Lions to get off the schneid at home. Pick: Detroit
Houston at Indianapolis: The Colts have absolutely nothing to play for. They have clinched the division, cannot lose a first-round bye in the playoffs, but cannot get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Texans still have a slight chance at a winning season, entering this game at 7-7. Peyton Manning only plays a half, but it’s all the Colts need. Pick: Indy
Oakland at Jacksonville: The Jaguars proved themselves in a big way last week with a win in the snow against Pittsburgh. They now return home to face the Silver and Black. Pick: Jacksonville
Philadelphia at New Orleans: The Eagles came out of nowhere to upset the Cowboys last week. The Saints are still in contention for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Philly won’t be able to put two road wins together in a row. Pick: New Orleans
Atlanta at Arizona: Yuck. The Falcons continue to play out the string. Pick: Arizona
Tampa Bay at San Francisco: The 49ers got a win last week against the mediocre Bengals, and now catch a Buc team preparing for the playoffs. Pick: Tampa Bay
Miami at New England: The ultimate mismatch. The Dolphins nearly came into this one winless, but got their first win of the season last week over the Ravens. The Patriots are still undefeated, and are shooting for the standard set by the 1972 version of the Dolphins: a perfect season. There is a big difference between 1972 and 2007. Pick: New England
Baltimore at Seattle: The Ravens are bad, bad, bad. They have lost eight in a row, including becoming the first victim of the Dolphins. They now take the long flight to Seattle to visit the Seahawks. Pick: Seattle
New York Jets at Tennessee: The Jets are in the midst of a forgettable season. They’ll want to forget this one, as well. Pick: Tennessee
Washington at Minnesota: Huge game with NFC playoff implications. The Vikings’ running game will be too much for the Redskins. Pick: Minnesota
Denver at San Diego: The Chargers are now on a roll, having pulled up their bootstraps for a 9-5 record after a horrific start. LaDainian Tomlinson runs all over the Broncos. Pick: San Diego
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
With bowls spread out over a two-week period, the games will be picked in multiple installments. These are picks for this weekend’s games:
Last week (playoff championship games): 2-2
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl at San Diego: Utah vs. Navy
Both teams are 8-4. The Utes have won their last six bowl games. Is Navy becoming Hawaii of the East? They have the Polynesian-American connection working with quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada and new coach Ken Niumatololo, the first Polynesian-American head coach in college football. The Midshipmen are proficient at running the option. This will be a good game. It’s hard to go against recent bowl history. Pick: Utah.
R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl at New Orleans: Florida Atlantic vs. Memphis
Zzzz. Florida Atlantic is coached by former Miami, Louisville, and Oklahoma (cough, cough) coach Howard Schnellenberger. The Owls upset Troy in the last week of the season to win the Sun Belt championship and earn the bowl bid. Memphis finished in the top half of Conference USA and had 7 wins, putting themselves into their fourth bowl in the last five years. Pick: Memphis.
Papajohns.com Bowl at Birmingham: Cincinnati vs. Southern Miss
Cincinnati has had their best season in recent memory, and are currently ranked #20. They face a team in turmoil in Southern Miss, who fired coach Jeff Bower for only going 7-5 consistently. Not too long ago, these two teams were in the same conference. Now, it is a mismatch in favor of the Bearcats. Pick: Cincy
Pioneer Las Vegas Bowl at Las Vegas: BYU vs. UCLA
This is a rematch of a game played the second week of the season, won 27-17 by UCLA. The teams have gone in separate directions since, with BYU holding a nine-game winning streak, and UCLA struggling to a 6-6 record. UCLA has since fired coach Karl Dorrell, and is searching for a permanent coach. What was a good matchup in September has become a mismatch in December. What a difference three months makes. Pick: BYU
New Mexico Bowl at Albuquerque: Nevada vs. New Mexico
This game proves that anyone that puts up the money can host a bowl game. This is the second year of this bowl, and the Lobos have been in both games. The state tourism department is the sponsor. The game serves two purposes: to be a three-hour commercial for the state of New Mexico, and to give the Lobos an extra game. Pick: New Mexico
Sheraton Hawaii Bowl at Honolulu: Boise State vs. East Carolina
Boise State won’t be in the BCS this year, but they get their second trip to Hawaii in two months. This trip will be more of a vacation than the last one was. East Carolina has had a nice season. They’re no Boise State. Pick: Boise State
It’s been a long season. The Cowboys won 12 of their first 13 games. The team’s resident head case, Terrell Owens, was happy. He has been a “good boy” and a team player thus far this season. This contributed greatly to the Cowboys’ success thus far this season.
But, just like death and taxes, it is a sure thing that T.O. will say something he shouldn’t. He did just that today, by commenting on his quarterback’s love life. Regarding Tony Romo’s new/old squeeze Jessica Simpson, he said: "Right now, Jessica Simpson is not a fan favorite in this locker room or in Texas Stadium. I think with everything that has happened, and obviously the way Tony played and the comparisons between her and Carrie Underwood, I think a lot of people feel like she's probably taking his focus away. Other than that, she was at the top of my list until last week."
I’ll be the first to say that Romo’s pursuit of women in the music industry has been a distraction. However, T.O. is not the one to be calling him out, and definitely not through the media. I’ve seen T.O. drop more than a few balls thrown his way. Sunday’s performance was a two-way street. Romo hurt his thumb and kept playing. However, T.O. had plenty of chances to make plays.
T.O.: Shut your mouth already. You have a chance to win a ring this year. Don’t blow it.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Some more on the Rich Rodriguez to Michigan situation: RichRod showed us two ways not to leave a job. First, he told star recruit Terrelle Pryor of Jeannette, Pa. that he was headed to Michigan, before he informed the athletic director and president of West Virginia. Pryor was considering West Virginia, but he is now considering Michigan. Second, Rodriguez handed his resignation letter to a graduate assistant for delivery to the athletic director. That’s just a really good way to leave a gig. Nice job there, Rich.
Now, to some more coaching changes:
Houston: U of H could have done a lot worse. The Cougars lost Art Briles to Baylor after Briles rebuilt the Cougars’ program into a factor in Conference USA. U of H went out and hired Kevin Sumlin, the passing game coordinator at Oklahoma. Sumlin played at Purdue and has coached all over the country, including at Texas A&M. In 2002, Sumlin became A&M’s offensive coordinator and almost singlehandedly saved R.C. Slocum’s job, and engineered an upset of OU. Bob Stoops was so impressed he hired him for his staff. Sumlin should be able to keep the momentum going on Cullen Boulevard. Oh, yeah, he’s also African-American. That doesn’t hurt at all.
UCLA: The Bruins fired Karl Dorrell after a 6-6 season. The Bruins are looking at NFL coaches, including Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow. UCLA needs to step up the fund-raising, as the Bruins are not known for paying their coaches market value.
Nebraska: Interim AD/King of Nebraska Tom Osborne made the hire that should have been made four years ago, by hiring Bo Pelini as head coach. Pelini was defensive coordinator and interim head coach at Nebraska during the 2003 season. He then spent a year at Oklahoma and the last three years at LSU. Husker Nation is happy with this move. Pelini is a defensive guy, and defense was in short supply this year in Lincoln. He also understands Nebraska football and the Nebraska Way. He has a good pedigree as well: he played at Ohio State and is a graduate of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney High School, alma mater of the Stoops brothers.
SMU: The laughing stock of college football. SMU was the first school to fire their coach, and are in the process of becoming the last school to hire their new coach. Big-dollar alum Gerald J. Ford wasted millions of dollars by giving the school money to build a new stadium. That was the ultimate example of putting lipstick on a pig. Post-death penalty, SMU is a football graveyard. Coaches are doing well by staying away from there. Paul Johnson, in leaving Navy, negotiated with SMU, and was able to use the Mustangs to get a better deal from Georgia Tech. A coach will get this job and be able to live in Highland Park. Problem is, he will have to coach at SMU. By the way, Phil Bennett will land on his feet as a defensive coordinator somewhere.
More coaching changes later…
Monday, December 17, 2007
This isn't a review of a coaching opening or hire. However, there is buzz on the Internet that Nick Saban is not happy at Alabama, and that his agent has made contact with West Virginia.
Saban is a native of the Mountain State, and would be interested in returning home for less than he is making at Alabama, but more than the $1.9 million per year that Rich Rodriguez made before going to Meatchicken.
Such is life when you go 6-6 and lose to Louisiana-Monroe.
Stay tuned. This will get fun and interesting.
There was rain, snow, and sunshine on the NFL highway this weekend. Some more teams were eliminated from playoff contention, a major upset occurred, and a big storm in the northeast affected some games. It’s time to put on the snow tires and head down the NFL highway.
Something not-so-funny happened on the way to home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. The Dallas Cowboys lost. The Philadelphia Eagles sucked it up and beat the Cowboys, 10-6. Tony Romo injured his thumb in the third quarter, but played in pain for the rest of the game. The Cowboys could only manage two Nick Folk field goals. The margin would have been wider, but the Eagles’ Brian Westbrook shunned a sure touchdown to down the ball on the one yard line, allowing the Eagles to run out the clock and not give Dallas the ball. Fantasy owners everywhere were cursing or cheering that move. The Cowboys must win the next two games at Carolina and at Washington to avoid a possible playoff trip to Green Bay.
In the Thursday night NFL Network game, sugar and spice were nice for the Houston Texans. Well, not sugar, but Sage was. Sage Rosenfels ran for one touchdown and threw for two more in a 31-13 win over the Denver Broncos. The Texans are now 7-7, and are two wins away from their first winning season. Of course, they go to Indianapolis next week, so forget about the winning season. Nonetheless, the Texans no longer stink.
In the City by the Bay, the San Francisco 49ers rode the arm and legs of third-team quarterback Shaun Hill to a 20-13 win over the clueless Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were supposed to be pretty good. Instead, they’ve imploded.
There will be no winless team in the NFL this year. The Miami Dolphins finally broke into the win column with a 22-16 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Cleo Lemon threw for 315 yards and a 64-yard touchdown pass to Greg Camarillo to win the game in overtime. The Dolphins showed a lot of pride in coming back from a 13-3 deficit. The Ravens have now lost eight in a row. Both teams look to be on the clock early in the upcoming draft.
Carolina started Matt Moore at QB, the fourth person to fill that role this year. It worked for them, as the Panthers shocked the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks, 13-10. As bad as the Panthers have looked at times, they have six wins this season. The Seahawks are simply trying to keep from getting injured before their first playoff game.
It was a winter wonderland in Cleveland on Sunday. A blizzard moved in from Lake Erie, covering the field and bringing 30 mph winds with it. The field was covered to the point where the officials needed help in finding the 50-yard line. In this game, the first team to score would win. That was the Browns, who used two field goals and a safety to win 8-0. I love watching games played in the snow. That is, on TV in the comfort of my home.
The same storm later hit Pittsburgh, where the Jacksonville Jaguars looked like the cold-weather team in defeating the Steelers, 29-22. The game was played in blowing snow, but they were not blizzard-like conditions like in Cleveland. Instead, it was played on a mixture of snow, mud, and grass. The Steelers find themselves tied for first place in the AFC North with Cleveland at 9-5. The Steelers, however, have the tiebreaker with two wins over the Browns.
The Kansas City Chiefs are officially bad. They slipped to 4-10 with their seventh loss in a row, losing 26-17 to the Tennessee Titans. The Chiefs will have a pretty good pick in the first round of next year’s draft. The Titans kept their slim playoff hopes alive at 8-6.
The anticipated blizzard in New England turned into rain. The Patriots played as ugly as the weather, but had enough to beat the New York Jets, 20-10. After the game, Pats coach Bill Belichick shook hands with former protégé and Jets coach Eric Mangini, he of Spygate fame. The Pats now need only two wins for an undefeated season.
Don’t look now, but those are the New Orleans Saints over your shoulder. The Saints got back to 7-7 with a 31-24 win over the Arizona Cardinals. Drew Brees continues to be the real deal in the Big Easy, throwing for 315 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Saints. Kurt Warner threw three touchdown passes for the Cardinals, who await the return of Matt Leinart next season.
The Brett Favre legend continues. The gunslinger threw two touchdown passes for Green Bay on Sunday, and the Packers handled the St. Louis Rams, 33-14. The Packers clinched a first round bye in the NFC playoffs. The Rams helped their draft position in a forgettable season.
Believe it or not, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had never returned a kickoff for a touchdown in their 32-year history. That changed on Sunday, as Micheal Spurlock returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The Bucs went on to roll over the hapless Atlanta Falcons, 37-3. The Falcons need help everywhere. The Bucs move toward the playoffs as NFC South champions.
The Indianapolis Colts earned a working vacation on Sunday, defeating the scrappy Oakland Raiders 21-14. The Colts earned the AFC South title and the second seed in the AFC playoffs. Indianapolis has now also won 12 games in a season for an unprecedented five years in a row. The Colts have two meaningless games remaining, followed by a bye week.
If they weren’t already, the Detroit Lions are officially done. The Lions lost their seventh consecutive game in grand style. The San Diego Chargers hung half a hundred on Detroit, winning 51-14. LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles each rushed for two touchdowns for the Chargers. San Diego has clinched the AFC West championship at 9-5. They simply need to win their remaining two games to sew up the #3 playoff spot in the AFC.
The Washington Redskins are like disco in the 70’s: just stayin’ alive. The Redskins went to New York for the Sunday Night extravaganza and handled the New York Football Giants, 22-10. The Redskins also find themselves at 7-7 with slight playoff hopes. The Giants still appear locked into the first NFC wild-card spot at 9-5.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Today, West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez told his team he is accepting the head coaching job at Michigan. This is a strange development.
The Mountaineers finished 10-2 this season, and lost a sure-fire chance at the BCS national championship game with a season-ending loss to heavy underdog Pittsburgh. Rodriguez is a West Virginia native and played for the Mountaineers. West Virginia has the strongest, most consistent program in the Big East Conference, placing themselves in contention for BCS bowls every year. The Mountaineers have played for a national championship in the past, and have the potential to play for and win another one. In fact, a case can be made that it is easier to win one at West Virginia coming out of the Big East than to win one at Michigan coming out of the Big Ten.
Michigan has won more games than any school in college football. The Wolverines have one of the blue-blood programs in college football. I am surprised that they went outside of the Michigan circle to find a coach. I am doubly surprised that they got away from the power football philosophy that has defined Michigan. Rodriguez made his mark using the spread offense. It will be interesting to see how the Michigan football culture adapts to the new way of doing things.
If you’re West Virginia, you have to feel betrayed. Rodriguez accepted the Alabama job last year before accepting an enhanced package from West Virginia to stay home. It is hard to figure out what would cause him to listen to other offers just a year later. He may feel that he has done as much with WVU as he can. However, Rodriguez doesn’t seem to be the type that always dreamed of taking Michigan to the Rose Bowl.
Another footnote: This is the second time in less than a year that Michigan has poached West Virginia for a coach. Last spring, the Wolverines hired John Beilein away from Morgantown as men’s basketball coach.
More coaching changes and comments later…
Friday, December 14, 2007
Baseball is a talking sport. This blog didn’t even acknowledge the Red Sox’s recent sweep of the Rockies in the World Series because, well, frankly, it was such a dud. However, baseball is now on front pages everywhere due to yesterday’s Mitchell Report.
Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell was commissioned by Major League Baseball to investigate the prevalence of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in baseball during the last two decades. Mitchell released his report yesterday, with much fanfare and many familiar names. Among the names mentioned in the report were Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Barry Bonds, Miguel Tejada, and Eric Gagne.
My first reaction to the report was: Duh! Of course these guys are doing the juice. How else would statistics be flying through the roof, and older players would be having career years in their 40’s?
The Mitchell Report was primarily based on the testimony of Kirk Radomski, a former Mets clubhouse attendant, and Brian McNamee, a former strength and conditioning coach for the Yankees. These guys were compelled by the federal government to spill the beans, as they are under investigation for drug trafficking. Most players, obviously, were not cooperative with the Mitchell investigation. Only two of 750 active players cooperated with the investigation. The players’ union, not unexpectedly, was a roadblock to any more meaningful results of the investigation. That’s not the first time the players’ union has blocked progress in the great game of baseball.
It is obvious, after the lockout of 1994, that the lords of baseball looked the other way as players were juicing their way into the record books. Attendance skyrocketed and TV rights were selling for record prices. The owners were making money hand over fist. It was not in their best interest to police the rampant use of performance-enhancing drugs.
There were 89 players named in the Mitchell report. The majority of them were role players, some marginal players doing whatever it took to stay in the major leagues. For most of these players, the health risks of steroids were outweighed by the potential of big contracts. A player can make more money off of one contract in major league baseball than they could make for the rest of their lives. So, the players took the risk. There’s a big difference between playing for the New York Yankees and making a Triple-A salary playing for the Columbus Clippers, or being stuck on an independent league team somewhere.
As Sen. Mitchell said yesterday, this was just the tip of the iceberg. There are many, many more players guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs. We’ll never know the extent of the usage of such drugs. We may not want to know.
I’m afraid this report is just window dressing, designed to make the commissioner look good. There are changes being made to baseball’s drug policy, but the union will stonewall most reasonable changes for the benefit of the game. The players’ union does not have the best interests of baseball in mind, but only exists to protect the players’ gravy train.
Baseball is a great game. If nothing else, it is resilient. It has survived a point-shaving scandal, two world wars, clueless commissioners, numerous strikes, and a lockout. It will survive this. It is yet to be determined in what shape the sport will survive.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Weekend of Dec. 1: 9-5
NCAA Division I Championship Subdivision, Delaware vs. Appalachian State, at Chattanooga, TN: This game will be better than half the bowls. Delaware has a win over Navy, while Appalachian State has defeated Michigan. The Wolverine thread runs throughout this game. Delaware has helmets that look like Michigan's, only with a lighter shade of blue. Also, Michigan has expressed interest in Delaware coach K.C. Keeler for their vacant head coaching position. Delaware has a chance to do what Michigan didn't: beat the Mountaineers. Appalachian is playing for their third national championship in a row. They get it. Pick: Appalachian State
NCAA Division II Championship, Northwest Missouri State vs. Valdosta State at Florence, AL: Xavier Omon lit up the field last week for Northwest Missouri as they defeated Grand Valley State, ending the Lakers' 40-game winning streak on national television. The Bearcats face the Gulf South Conference champions from Valdosta, playing in their third national championship game in six years. Tough pick. Pick: Northwest Missouri State
NCAA Division III Championship, Mount Union (Ohio) vs. Wisconsin-Whitewater at Salem, VA, aka Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl: Mount Union seems to always be in this game. They have a current winning streak of 37 games. They take on Whitewater in the national championship game for the third year in a row. This is Mount Union's 10th appearance in this game in the last 12 years. As always, go with the Purple Raiders. Pick: Mount Union
NAIA National Championship, Sioux Falls (SD) vs. Carroll (Montana) at Savannah, TN: Sioux Falls brings a 27-game winning streak into this game. Carroll is also undefeated, and won four consecutive national championships from 2002-2005. Something has to give in this one. Pick: Carroll
The Patriots are 13-0 with three games to play. Conversely, the Dolphins are 0-13 with three games to play. There is a very good chance that the Patriots could finish undefeated, and that the Dolphins could finish winless.
Here are the picks for this week’s games:
Last week: 12-4
Philadelphia at Dallas: The Eagles stumble into Dallas with a 5-8 record, not much hope of making the playoffs, and are at a crossroads as a franchise. The Cowboys got a big comeback win last week in the Motor City, adding to the legend of Tony Romo. The Cowboys are still playing for home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. Pick: Dallas
Denver at Houston: The NFL Network Thursday night game comes to us live from Houston, where the Texans will wear their Battle Red uniforms to take on the Broncos. Both teams are 6-7. With the injury problems of the Texans, that’s a miracle. Denver won big last week over Kansas City, 41-7. That only means they can’t do it two weeks in a row. Pick: Houston
Cincinnati at San Francisco: Earlier this year, when the NFL Network was looking for Saturday night games, this game looked like a good matchup. Instead, it’s one that makes cable operators glad they’re not signing customers up for that channel. The 49ers are putrid unless they’re playing the Cardinals. The Bengals are just mediocre. Mediocre beats putrid. Pick: Cincinnati
Seattle at Carolina: Two teams going opposite directions. It’s hard to believe these franchises played each other two years ago for a trip to the Super Bowl. The Panthers are injury-riddled and are playing out the string. The Seahawks have clinched the NFC West. Pick: Seattle
Buffalo at Cleveland: There will be plenty of points scored in this one, as these teams battle for bragging rights to Erie, Pennsylvania and possible playoff position. The Browns are the surprise team of the year. The good fortune continues for another week on Lake Erie. Pick: Cleveland
Tennessee at Kansas City: This one is quickly turning into a stinker. The Titans blew a lead last week against San Diego, and probably kissed their playoff hopes goodbye. The Chiefs are turning plain awful. They’re a different team at home, though. Pick: Kansas City
Baltimore at Miami: Double yuck. The Ravens, losers of seven in a row, have had their hearts and guts ripped out the last two weeks, losing to the Patriots and Colts. They head to sunny South Florida for a game with the hapless Dolphins. The Dolphins, believe it or not, have a chance to beat the banged-up Ravens this week to get win #1. I’m not going to bite on it, though. Pick: Baltimore
New York Jets at New England: Yuck. The Jets lost the first meeting, which became better known as the time Jets coach Eric Mangini turned in his mentor and former boss, Bill Belichick for illegal camera work. Needless to say, the Patriots have been on a rampage as a result. If the Patriots get a chance to run up the score, they will. Be surprised if there’s a post-game handshake. Pick: New England
Arizona at New Orleans: The Saints are still in playoff contention, and host the always inconsistent Cardinals. The Cardinals aren’t always good, but they’re never dull. The Saints are getting it into gear. Pick: Saints
Jacksonville at Pittsburgh: Two playoff teams hook up in the Steel City. Go with the home team. Pick: Pittsburgh
Green Bay at St. Louis: Mismatch city. The Rams have nothing to play for. The Packers do. Pick: Green Bay
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Yuck. The Falcons were left at the wedding reception this week by ex-coach Bobby Petrino, who took the Arkansas money and ran for the hills. The Bucs have clinched the division, and are most likely locked into the fourth playoff position. The Bucs are much better. Pick: Tampa Bay
Indianapolis at Oakland: Mismatch city, AFC edition. The Colts make quick work of an outmanned and outgunned opponent. Pick: Indy
Detroit at San Diego: The Lions have lost five in a row, and head to California to take on the resurgent Chargers. The Chargers continue on their roll, and clinch the AFC West this week. Pick: San Diego
Washington at New York Giants: The Giants are the ugliest 9-4 team out there. They have been squeaking out wins week after week. The Redskins will make this a good game, but the Giants win in the end. Pick: New York Giants
Chicago at Minnesota: The Vikings are making a surge behind QB Tarvaris Jackson and the RB tandem of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. The Bears also have a RB named Adrian Peterson, but he’s no match for the Vikings’ Peterson. Pick: Minnesota
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
We are past the coach firing season, and are well in the middle of the coach hiring season. Schools with disappointing results and upset boosters are scrambling to find themselves a coach who will win a championship and make all stakeholders of a university happy. A lot of schools have made news with their searches, their hires, or their lack of hires to this point. This blog will have periodic posts over the next few days on the implications of some of these hires.
Arkansas: The Hogs listened to a large portion of their fan base and cut a deal with Houston Nutt for his resignation. Nutt was calling the Hogs one day, and showed up in Oxford the next day to take the Ole Miss job. Nonetheless, it was a move that needed to be made. Now, the Razorbacks are bringing in Bobby Petrino from the Atlanta Falcons. Petrino left the Falcons with three weeks left in the season, leaving a train wreck of a team. It wasn’t his fault Michael Vick got in trouble with dogs, but he apparently wasn’t a good fit in the NFL, regardless. Petrino comes to the SEC after a good run at Louisville, finishing third in the nation with the Cardinals last season. This will be interesting, as Petrino (a former Auburn assistant) was the coach interviewed for the Auburn job on an airport runway in 2003 by Auburn czar/booster/trustee Bobby Lowder, while the job was still held by current coach Tommy Tuberville. Petrino was finishing his first year at Louisville. Also, Tuberville had his name in the hat for the Arkansas job, but the Hogs were unwilling/unable to pay the huge buyout required for Tuberville’s services. The Arkansas/Auburn game will be a scene this year, with two coaches that once worked with each other and wouldn’t mind having each other’s jobs. In the meantime, the Falcons are in even more of a lurch.
Michigan: Lloyd Carr retired effective at the end of this season. The Wolverines find themselves in the market for a coach, but are unwilling to break the bank for it. They’re Michigan, and many of them feel that a coach should pay them for the privilege of coaching Michigan. There is a Michigan Man at LSU, Les Miles, who is repeatedly stating that he will remain as head coach at LSU. I don’t buy that. There is a vocal minority at UM that does not want Miles to become the coach. However, judging by the way feet are being dragged there, it appears the Wolverines are killing time until after the BCS championship game, when Miles returns home to Ann Arbor.
Baylor: Baylor lured Art Briles from Houston to replace the departed Guy Morriss. Briles doubled his salary to $1.8 million in the process. This is a good move for both parties. Baylor gets a good coach, and Briles gets to build a program in the Big 12. Not many would be capable of making Baylor a winner. I believe he has the background and skills necessary for the job there. The downside: He and his wife have to live in Waco.
Ole Miss: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. One day after a farewell press conference in Hogland, Houston Nutt was introduced as head coach of the Ole Miss Rebels. Talk about a win-win situation: Nutt gets paid to leave Arkansas, then takes a job with a rival down the road. Whatever one may think of Nutt, he is an improvement for Ole Miss over the fired Ed Orgeron. Nutt becomes the third head coach in the SEC West to have previously served as head coach at a rival division school, joining the aforementioned Tuberville (Ole Miss, Auburn) and Nick Saban (LSU, Alabama).
In addition to those coaches, Sylvester Croom of Mississippi State played at and was formerly an assistant at Alabama, and Petrino was formerly an assistant at Auburn before taking the circuitous road to Fayetteville. Throw in Steve Spurrier, who grew up in Tennessee, played and coached at Florida, and now coaches at South Carolina, and we see that there is some serious inbreeding in that conference. No wonder Les Miles wants to go back to Michigan!
More coaching comments later, including remarks on SMU, Georgia Tech, UCLA, and others..
Monday, December 10, 2007
This video was previously posted on this blog several months ago. The video fell off of YouTube, but is now back. This is the cheesy intro that CBS used for NBA games in the 70's.
This is from the 1975 Western Conference finals between Chicago and Golden State. Chicago was once in the Western conference, while Houston was in the East..go figure. That was fixed long ago.
Give it all you got,
Take your your very best shot
And may the best team win.
The time is now, the name of the game is action.
They're on the floor,
And they're ready to score,
So let the game begin,
And let's see how the ball's going to bounce today
Welcome to N-B-A
Come on, and join the roar of the crowd"
Here's another classic about,
To come your way...
You'll see the best in basketball
When you watch the N-B-A,
When you watch the N-B-A on C-B-S.
(N-B-A on C-B-S, N-B-A on C-B-S, ... etc. fading out)
Another week on the NFL highway brought us a titanic comeback and several teams solidifying playoff position. There are a few good teams, and a few really horrible teams. Overall, the league is surprisingly predictable. Let’s look at what happened this week.
Was there any doubt, with two minutes to go, the ball deep in Dallas territory, no timeouts, and trailing 27-21, that Tony Romo would bring the Cowboys back for a win over Detroit? Of course not. Detroit had led by as much as 27-14 before the Cowboys stormed back, using a Romo to Jason Witten touchdown pass with 18 seconds left to sneak past Detroit, 28-27. The Lions lost their fifth game in a row to fall to 6-7. The Cowboys are now 12-1. Dallas is looking like more of a team of density. Or, that’s what George McFly would call destiny. The Cowboys clinched the NFC East, and need to win two more games to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
Last Thursday night, the Washington Redskins bounced back from the burial of teammate Sean Taylor to beat the Chicago Bears, 24-16. The Redskins retain a slight chance of making the playoffs, while the Bears slide to 5-8, slipping farther away from playoff contention.
There is a unwritten code in the NFL that teams will not run up the score on other teams. What goes around definitely comes around, and coaches know they could easily be on the other end of a whipping. The Buffalo Bills owned Miami for a half. That’s all they needed. The Bills led 31-7 at halftime, and cruised to a 38-17 win. The Dolphins remain on a collision course with 0-16.
The Cincinnati Bengals earned their fifth win of the year, beating the injury-riddled St. Louis Rams, 19-10. The Rams will have a high draft pick this year. The Bengals are probably playing for coach Marvin Lewis’ job during the last three weeks of the season.
The Oakland Raiders reverted to normal on Sunday, as the Green Bay Packers pounded them, 38-7. Brett Favre continues to have a career year in the Great White North.
If the Houston Texans were in the NFC South, they would be a playoff team. The Texans rode three touchdown passes from backup QB Sage Rosenfels to a 28-14 win over NFC South leader Tampa Bay. The Texans have 17 players on the injured list, and are still 6-7. Sounds like a shakeup may be in the offing in the strength and conditioning department.
There was a good team playing on Sunday in Jacksonville. It was not the Carolina Panthers. The Jaguars pounded the Panthers, 37-6. The Jags clinched one of the wild-card spots in the AFC. The Panthers will be drafting relatively early next spring in New York.
The New York Giants continue to find ways to win road games. For the second week in a row, the G-men came from behind on the road, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles, 16-13, and earning bragging rights to the New Jersey Turnpike. It is looking more and more like Donovan McNabb is no longer a premier quarterback, and Eagles coach Andy Reid could be in trouble. The Giants will most likely be in the playoffs as a wild card team.
In Music City, the San Diego Chargers played like dog doo-doo for three quarters. They then rode the legs of RB LaDainian Tomlinson to come from behind and defeat the Tennessee Titans, 23-17 in overtime. If the Titans miss the playoffs, they’ll look back at this one as one they should have won. The Chargers find themselves a win away from winning the AFC West for the second year in a row, in spite of their inconsistent play this season.
There is a good team developing in Minnesota. The Vikings won their fifth game in a row on Sunday, pounding the San Francisco 49ers, 27-7. The Vikes did not need Adrian Peterson this week, as AD only rushed for three yards. Chester Taylor did the damage for Minnesota, rushing for 101 yards, including an 84-yard touchdown run. The 49ers are returning to the ranks of the woeful.
For the fourth year in a row, the Seattle Seahawks are NFC West champs. They crushed the Arizona Cardinals, 42-21. They’ll always fly under the radar playing late games in the upper corner of the country, but the Seahawks are a force to be reckoned with.
Did anyone really think the New England Patriots would play three bad games in a row? Not hardly. The Pats rode the arm of Tom Brady to a 34-13 shellacking of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It would take a major catastrophe to keep the Patriots from going 16-0. The Pats have home games with the Jets and Dolphins, and finish the season at the Meadowlands in New Jersey to play the New York Giants. 16-0 is definitely in the cards for this team.
As said earlier in the season, the Denver Broncos sometimes look like the ’07 Dolphins. Other times, they look like the ’72 Dolphins. The latter was the case on Sunday in Denver, as the Broncos beat the stuffing out of the Kansas City Chiefs, winning 41-7. The Broncos are too inconsistent to make the playoffs, but are capable of pounding teams on occasion. Brandon Marshall caught two touchdown passes for Denver.
The Cleveland Browns moved another week closer to the playoffs, with a 24-18 win over the New York Jets. Derek Anderson continued to make his case for a starting QB job in Cleveland or another city with two more touchdown passes. Next up for the Jets: a trip to Foxboro to play the Patriots. Good luck with all that.
In the Sunday night extravaganza, the Indianapolis Colts scored early and often in a 44-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts led 37-7 at halftime and emptied the bench in the third quarter. The Ravens may be forced to blow their entire team up and start over. Injuries and age are catching up with them this season.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I have been accused of playing favorites with ugly uniforms. Yes, I have been known to throw schools and teams under the bus that I don't like. However, today, I am forced to attack a school and program that I love.
The University of Oklahoma men's basketball team came out in these gray uniforms on Wednesday night against the University of Tulsa. This is a fashion no-no. The Sooners' colors are crimson and cream. They wear white in place of cream. Gray is not their color. The Sooners looked like Ohio State. Now I wish they could recruit like Ohio State, as the Buckeyes rode two NBA lottery picks to the national championship game last year. However, gray is a no-no. Gray is the color of the Confederate army and Ohio State. It is not the color of the Sooners.
Sooners, stick to crimson and cream. Please. For all of us.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I cannot claim credit or blame for this. I do not claim to be a music junkie. However, this is pretty funny.
BOSTON COLLEGE: VAN HALEN----- They were good in the 80's. Good, not great. Commercial appeal (Doug Flutie, Pepsi commercials)
CLEMSON: FLEETWOOD MAC----- Pretty solid. They were maybe the best for one year (Fleetwood Mac- "Rumours", Clemson '80). Inbreeding prevalent.
DUKE: MENUDO----- Worst of the worst. Soft.
FLORIDA STATE: BEASTIE BOYS----- Very strong in the 90's. Good for over 20 years. Tougher than Florida, not as tough as Miami.
GEORGIA TECH: OTIS REDDING----- Very good for a long time. Not unbeatable. Southern and old school.
MARYLAND: OASIS----- Had a couple of really good years about 5 to 10 years ago. Probably not as good as they think they are.
MIAMI: NWA----- Very dominant from the 80's on. Full of superstars. Very tough.
NORTH CAROLINA AND NORTH CAROLINA STATE: HALL AND OATES----- Weren't they good once? Were they? Which one's Hall? Which one's Oates?
VIRGINIA: BUSH----- Probably better than they think they are. Still middle of the road.
VIRGINIA TECH: U2----- Very good for a long while. Maybe slightly overrated.
WAKE FOREST: MATCHBOX TWENTY----- Fairly new to the scene. Not flashy. Non-descript. Among the better teams, but not great. Somewhat soft.
FLORIDA: NIRVANA----- Fairly dominant. Strongest from the 90's on. Not as street as Florida State or Miami.
SOUTH CAROLINA: FOO-FIGHTERS----- Pretty good. Not incredible. Steve Spurrier (Dave Groel) went from Florida (Nirvana) to South Carolina (Foo-Fighters).
GEORGIA: JOHNNY CASH----- Very good. Country western style. Good for a long time. Kind of tough.
KENTUCKY: RASCAL FLATTS----- A new power. Very country.
TENNESSEE: THE EAGLES----- Always in the top mix. Overrated.
VANDERBILT: CREED----- Religious. Maybe you thought they were good for a minute, but not really.
ALABAMA: ELVIS PRESLEY----- The southern king of the 20th century.
AUBURN: JAMES BROWN----- A slightly wilder Elvis (Alabama).
OLE MISS: RAY CHARLES----- Very dominant in the 50's and 60's. Similar region.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: ACE OF BASE----- Kind of a joke. Hit their peak in the 90's, but kind of a laugher now.
ARKANSAS: LYNYRD SKYNYRD----- Both are southern through and through. Pretty equal talent levels. Every now and then had great hits.
LSU: WU-TANG CLAN----- Dominant. Deep, fast, and tough.
CONNECTICUT: MARROON FIVE----- Have been winning some games and awards lately. An up and comer. No one you would be terrified of.
SYRACUSE: BUDDY HOLLY----- Last dominant year, 1959. The Orange's last title, Holly's last plane ride.
RUTGERS: TOMMY TUTONE----- They toil in mediocrity, with the exception of one smash hit. Let's all say it together....8-6-7-5309.
PITTSBURGH: CREEDENCE CLEARWATER----- Both very strong in the 70's. Star players. Hit songs. Fairly similar talent level.
WEST VIRGINIA: 50 CENT----- A new power. A little crazy. Dangerous.
SOUTH FLORIDA: KANYE WEST----- A new power. Not quite as crazy as WVU, but beat them this year, just like Kanye's record sales.
CINCINNATI: MARKY MARK----- They think they're pretty tough. Not much of a history because it's not their best sport (for Marky Mark it's acting).
LOUISVILLE: TOBY KEITH----- Very popular in their neck of the woods. Were very strong, but maybe tailing off a little. Country.
PENN STATE: PINK FLOYD----- Very strong for a long time. Like to party.
OHIO STATE: THE WHO----- Most think they're among the best. Some think they're a little boring.
MICHIGAN: LED ZEPPELIN----- Extensive catalog. Great history. Top level.
MICHIGAN STATE: AEROSMITH----- Definitely not on Led Zeppelin's level. Started out great, then fizzle out at the end.
INDIANA: THREE DOG NIGHT----- Not on the same level as most of their league. A few hits scattered about. Maybe even a little humorous.
PURDUE: BOB SEGER----- Not many pay them much attention, but they're pretty good at what they do. Again, a little boring.
ILLINOIS: HANK WILLIAMS SR.----- Dominant in the late 40's.
NORTHWESTERN: THE MONKEES----- Actors. Had a couple of good years, but definitely not the Beatles.
NOTRE DAME: THE BEATLES----- Most famous. Most hits. Supremely dominant.
IOWA: PAUL SIMON----- Pretty good for a long time, sort of folksy.
IOWA STATE: ART GARFUNKEL----- Not on Paul Simon's (Iowa) level. Plus they were split apart....Big 10/ Big 12.
WISCONSIN: SMASHING PUMPKINS----- Strongest from the 90's on. Lots of talent.
MINNESOTA: CROSBY, STILLS, NASH----- Ran a 3-headed monster running back. Used to be pretty solid.
NEBRASKA: PEARL JAM----- Very dominant in the 90's. One of the best of their time period. Faded quickly.
KANSAS STATE: STONE TEMPLE PILOTS----- Also very good in the 90's. Not quite as big as Nebraska.
KANSAS: KANSAS------ May be just a one hit wonder...because after all, all we are is "dust in the wind" .
MISSOURI: THE KILLERS----- A new powerhouse possibly.
COLORADO: THE POLICE----- The best there was for a couple of years.
OKLAHOMA: BOB DYLAN----- An all-time great. Classic. A little folksy.
OKLAHOMA STATE: JONI MITCHELL----- Not on Bob Dylan's level. Still the folk thing.
TULSA: WALLFLOWERS----- Bob Dylan's son.
TEXAS: METALLICA----- Best in their genre. Fast, explosive, obsessed.
TEXAS A&M: DEF LEPPARD----- Not as good as Metallica, but similar.
TEXAS TECH: IRON MAIDEN----- Sometimes faster, crazier, and more explosive than Metallica (Texas)...but not as good a band.
BAYLOR: SLAYER----- Morbid joke....The thing Baylor is most famous for.
TCU: POISON----- Horned frogs are poisonous. Maybe had a better year or two than Metallica.
SMU: MEGADETH----- They got the mega-death penalty.
HOUSTON: WINGER----- They wing the ball around a lot (i.e. David Klingler). Run n' gun style.
UTEP: TWISTED SISTER----- A UT sister campus in the middle of nowhere.
NORTH TEXAS: QUIET RIOT----- One of the lesser talents of heavy metal Texas. Plus Quiet Riot and Mean Green both rhyme.
RICE: RATT----- It has 4 letters and begins with "R". Plus it fits our theme.
WASHINGTON: SOUNDGARDEN----- They're both from the same area. Pretty equal talent level. Strong in the 90's.
WASHINGTON STATE: MUDHONEY----- Not on Soundgarden's level. Same general genre.
OREGON: ALICE IN CHAINS----- Underrated. Very strong 90's until present. Same general region.
OREGON STATE: SCREAMING TREES----- There are beautiful trees in Oregon. People smoke a lot of tree in Oregon. Similar popularity and talent.
STANFORD: RADIOHEAD----- Cerebral. Emotional. A good team overall. Artsy area.
CALIFORNIA: COLDPLAY----- Same region. Maybe a little bigger than Radiohead right now.
USC: ROLLING STONES----- One of the best of the best.
UCLA: THE DOORS----- Los Angeles. Famous. Not quite the level of the Stones.
ARIZONA: STEELY DAN----- I didn't know they still played.
ARIZONA STATE: MOTLEY CRUE----- Wild, like to party a lot. Hang out with hot girls.
ARMY: FRANK SINATRA----- Dominant in the mid-1900's. Very classy. Past their day.
NAVY: DEAN MARTIN----- Also dominant in the mid-1900's. Maybe a better voice than Sinatra, even though Sinatra had a slight lead.
AIR FORCE: HARRY CONNICK JR.----- Wants to be like Army and Navy used to be, but didn't quite get there. They were better in the 80's and 90's.
EAST CAROLINA: HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH----- Fun-loving. Kind of ridiculous. Had a few big years, but not very good.
MEMPHIS: THE SPINNERS----- Not on the same level as the Eagles (Tennessee), but with more soul. Plus, it's more of a basketball school, so they probably have a "rubberband man" or two.
TULANE: COUNTING CROWS----- Similar talent level. Everybody usually knows the lead singer (QB), but nobody knows the rest of the team.
UTAH: LIFEHOUSE----- Not quite as religious as BYU, but still religious. Decent squad with some hits.
BYU: THE OSMONDS----- This is just funny.
UTAH STATE: HANSEN----- May be even funnier.
NEW MEXICO: JANIS JOPLIN----- Sort of weird and dirty. Kind of "out there", but sometimes put out things you really like.
NEW MEXICO STATE: YOKO ONO----- Less talented than Joplin (New Mex.). Uglier than Joplin (New Mex.). Somebody must be a fan, but I'm certainly not.
SOUTHERN MISS: BOBBY MCFERRIN----- Kind of a joke. Had one all-time hit (Brett Favre).
CENTRAL FLORIDA: BLACK-EYED PEAS----- New. Annoying.
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL: 2 LIVE CREW----- Like to fight a lot. Not very good at what they do, and probably care more about parties and women anyway.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: LIL' WAYNE----- Still kind of new. Might be good, might not.
UAB: GETO BOYS----- Probably want to be like Miami (NWA) or LSU (Wu-Tang), but not on their level. Lots of gangstas though.
WYOMING: KID ROCK----- I'm a cowboy, baby. Kinda scraggly. Weird uniforms.
COLORADO STATE: JACK JOHNSON----- Some fairly new hits. At times sound really good, other times you forget they exist.
BUFFALO: TAYLOR HICKS----- Pathetic.
TEMPLE: CLAY AIKEN----- Beyond pathetic.
UNLV AND NEVADA: ROBERT GOULET AND ENGLEBERT HUMPERDINCK----- Everyone knows who they are, but nobody knows anything that they've ever done.
SAN DIEGO STATE: JIMMY BUFFETT----- Tropical. Laid back. Pretty similar talent levels.
BOISE STATE: NICKELBACK----- Put out a ton of hits recently. You keep thinking that their gonna go away, but they keep putting out hits.
HAWAII: PHISH----- Weird, gimmicky. Way "out there". Their fans are half-naked, but not necessarily in good shape.
FRESNO STATE: SUGAR RAY----- West coast. Everyone knows the lead singer (QB such as David Carr). Mediocre.
SAN JOSE STATE: NO DOUBT----- West coast. Everyone knows the lead singer (QB), but a little more feminine (Jeff Garcia) than Fresno. Mediocre.
MARSHALL: SUBLIME----- A major tragedy struck them on their way to the top.
KENT STATE: BLIND MELON----- Lesser tragedy. Lesser band.
TOLEDO: GOOD CHARLOTTE----- Very strong about 5 years ago, but never got incredibly popular. Now they are easily forgotten.
BALL STATE: FALL OUT BOY----- Same genre as Good Charlotte, maybe hotter now. (Ball St. beat Navy on the road and almost beat Nebraska on the road.)
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: SUM 41----- Again, same genre. Had a few great hits (beating MD, had Michael "the Burner" Turner). But again, that was a few years ago.
AKRON, OHIO, BOWLING GREEN: CHRISTINA AGUILERA, JESSICA SIMPSON, MANDY MOORE----- Nobody really knows who's better from year to year. Nobody really cares.
WESTERN MICHIGAN, EASTERN MICHIGAN, CENTRAL MICHIGAN: BACKSTREET BOYS, NSYNC, 98 DEGREES------ They're all the same damn thing. Oh they're not? Then explain the differences to me.
MIAMI OF OHIO: NEW FOUND GLORY----- Same genre as Good Charlotte, etc., but they have a new found glory, because nobody would know who they are either if it wasn't for Roethlisberger.
TROY: LINKIN PARK----- They dominate their genre (Sun Belt Conference). Fairly new, nobody knows how good they could end up being.
IDAHO: GWAR----- They're weird. They're terrible. And nobody even cares about them.
LOUISIANA-MONROE: BANANARAMA----- Similar talent level.
LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE: THE BANGLES----- Again, similar talent level, with maybe a few more hits than Bananarama (La.-Monroe).
LOUISIANA TECH: THE GO-GO'S----- A few more hits than the Bangles (La.-Lafayette).
WESTERN KENTUCKY: DAVID HASSELHOFF----- One of the worst. Not even their best sport (Hasselhoff's acting), but not very good at either one. Huge in Germany.
ARKANSAS STATE: NELSON----- Just horrible on so many levels.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE: THE AVERAGE WHITE BAND----- No explanation necessary
Last week: 10-6
Dallas at Detroit: The hot Cowboys visit the cold Lions. Dallas is 11-1 and on a collision course with home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Detroit has lost four in a row. However, the Lions seem to always beat the Cowboys when they play in the Motor City. But, the Lions haven't run into Tony Romo. The Romo Empire continues to grow. Pick: Dallas
Chicago at Washington: The Thursday night NFL Network game features two teams on the brink of playoff elimination. The Bears have been improving after an awful start. The Redskins have had an awful 10 days in dealing with the murder of safety Sean Taylor. The Redskins lost a game on Sunday, went to Taylor's funeral on Monday, and are playing on Thursday. There will be nothing left in their tank. Pick: Chicago
Miami at Buffalo: The Dolphins are 0-12 with little hope for a win in their last four games. The Bills are a halfway decent team. This is also a warm weather team going into cold weather in December. Good luck with all that. Pick: Buffalo
Oakland at Green Bay: Packers have a chance to bounce back against the Raiders. Look out for Oakland, as they have won two in a row. They haven't played the Packers in Green Bay, though. Pick: Green Bay
Tampa Bay at Houston: Bucs have clinched the NFC South. Texans are inconsistent and injury-prone. Flip a coin. Pick: Tampa Bay
Carolina at Jacksonville: Jags lost a close one last week in Indy, but return home to play the mediocre Panthers. Pick: Jacksonville
St. Louis at Cincinnati: Rams are having serious quarterback issues, and are forced to start 3rd team quarterback Brock Berlin this week. Bengals shouldn't be as bad as their record. Pick: Cincinnati
New York Giants at Philadelphia: Giants stole victory from the jaws of defeat last week in Chicago. Eagles are playing for their lives this week. Pick: Philly
San Diego at Tennessee: The Chargers seem to have underachieved this season, but they can clinch the AFC West with a win and a Denver loss. The Titans are like a yo-yo: up and down. This is in Music City, so go with the home team. Pick: Tennessee
Minnesota at San Francisco: The Vikings are rolling behind RBs Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor. The 49ers have won two games against the Cardinals and one game against the rest of the league. Pick: Minnesota
Arizona at Seattle: Seahawks can put a hammerlock on the NFC West with a win here. Cardinals are pretty good, but not quite good enough to get over the hump. Seahawks are getting ready for the playoffs. Pick: Seattle
Pittsburgh at New England: Game of the week. Steelers are one of the better teams in the league and are capable of ending the Patriots' undefeated season. The Patriots know that, and will play better than in the last two weeks. Pick: New England
Kansas City at Denver: Lots of mediocrity on display here. Go with the home team. Pick: Denver
Cleveland at New York Jets: The Browns are on course with the playoffs, in spite of last week's loss at Arizona. The Jets return to earth after crushing the Dolphins last week. Pick: Cleveland
Indianapolis at Baltimore: The old Baltimore team returns to Crab City to face the Ravens. The Ravens are frustrated after a heartbreaking loss to New England. It will be hard for them to get up for two games in a row, especially facing the team that knocked them out of last year's playoffs. Pick: Indy
New Orleans at Atlanta: Yuck. This is a big rivalry, no matter how good or bad the teams are. These teams have been bad a lot more than they've been good. This year, neither team is very special. The Saints have more talent. Pick: New Orleans
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
As has been written earlier in this blog, a college football playoff is the best way to both determine a legitimate national champion and to generate the maximum amount of revenue. Imagine, as the first round of a national championship playoff could be this week. First round games could be played on home fields to maximize revenue. It would be a 16 team bracket, and every conference champion would get an automatic bid. The five best teams to not win their conference would receive an at-large bid. This week’s pairings would be as follows (ratings taken from the final BCS ratings):
#16 Florida Atlantic at #1 Ohio State
#9 West Virginia at #8 Kansas
#12 Florida at #4 Oklahoma
#13 BYU at #5 Georgia
(Florida and Georgia played in the regular season, and would not be allowed to play in the first round of a playoff)
#11 Arizona State at #6 Missouri
#14 UCF at #3 Virginia Tech
#10 Hawaii at #7 USC
#15 Central Michigan at #2 LSU
The first two rounds would be played on the home field of the higher-seeded team in order to maximize revenue and to reward higher-ranked teams. The semi-finals would be held as a doubleheader at a neutral site, in a Final Four-type atmosphere. The national championship game would be held at another neutral site, awarded via a bidding process similar to that of the NCAA basketball tournament.
What about the bowls? There would still be room for bowls. For instance, Penn State and Texas A&M could still meet in the Alamo Bowl. Cities would have the option of keeping their bowls or placing themselves in the bidding for the championship rounds.
This is a treasure chest of money waiting to be earned. Oh, yeah, a champion would be crowned, also.