Archive for October, 2010

Week 9 College Football Weekend Recap

Thoughts on this weekend’s play as I root for the BCS busting TCU-Boise State National Championship matchup.

1. Auburn beats Ole Miss 51-31: The Tigers look poised to remain at #1 for at least a few more weeks after another impressive performance by Heisman frontrunner Cam Newton. Newton already has Bo Jackson’s vote for the Heisman, and he’s earning everybody else’s each week. They have Chattanooga this week and struggling Georgia next week. Their next real test should come on November 26 in the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa. The winner of that game should win the SEC West and be in position to earn a berth in the BCS championship game with a win in the SEC championship game.

2. Oregon beats USC 53-32: All of that speed and offensive firepower used to reside on the Trojans sideline, but last night Oregon lit up the scoreboard in LA. Like Auburn, the Ducks did their part in keeping their team on track for the BCS championship game. If Cam Newton isn’t the clear cut favorite for the Heisman, then it’s because Lamichael James has been electrifying. The 7.1 yards per carry on the season is incredible when you consider that he is the primary ball carrier. Oregon, like Auburn, shouldn’t be challenged in the next two games. The final two games will provide the remaining test for the Ducks. Arizona comes to Eugene on November 26 and they travel to Oregon State the following week for the Civil War.

3. Boise State beat Louisiana Tech 49-20 on Tuesday: The Broncos rolled again, but this week didn’t get any help regarding the teams in front of them. We’re keeping our fingers crossed, but it doesn’t look like there is a losable game on the schedules of Auburn and Oregon until November 26. Boise State gets Hawaii this week on the blue turf. November 26 continues to provide great matchups as that is the date that Boise State plays at Nevada.

4. TCU beats UNLV 48-6: A friend asked me why there were so many empty seats at this game last night? I figured that the locals must have had other entertainment options in the area than going to see the lowly Rebels. The Horned Frogs warmed up for their showdown next week at Utah by destroying the Running Rebels. It will be interesting to see if TCU can leapfrog Boise State if they beat Utah next week. I’m sure the computers will give them a boost.

5. Michigan State loses to Iowa 37-6: This game wasn’t even that close as it was 37-0 halfway into the 3rd quarter. The paper tiger that is Sparty is done. They shouldn’t be showing up in this weekly post anymore. Thanks Iowa.

6. Missouri loses to Nebraska 31-17: The Big 12 decided to just eliminate each other. How noble of them. Nebraska will re-enter the discussion should everybody end up with at least one loss and the Huskers win out.

7. Alabama was idle: The Tide looks to be back in the top 5 going into next week. Amazing. Before they get their chance against Auburn, they have to get by the other Tigers, LSU, next week. It should be a great game.

8. Utah survives Air Force 28-23: Utah didn’t play well, but it was good enough to get by Air Force. Next week is the big one against TCU. Hopefully Utah can just replace TCU in the standings should they beat them.

9. Oklahoma beats Colorado 43-10: The Sooners are looking to crash the party just like Alabama. One week after dropping their first game to Missouri, the Sooners blow by the Buffaloes. The Sooners have the remaining Big 12 south teams (all but Texas) before a potential matchup with longtime rival Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game.

10. Wisconsin was idle: Wisconsin doesn’t really have any challenges remaining on their schedule, unless you consider the beleaguered Michigan Wolverines as a good team. Odds are more likely that Rich Rod will be out of a job before this game than the Wolverines have a chance to win. Wisconsin, by virtue of their win against Iowa, is the best team in a 2nd tier conference. Only an Armageddon type finish to the season would give the Badgers a chance at the BCS championship.

That’s it for this week. I’m rooting for Boise State to play TCU (or Utah), but it’s starting to look more like Oregon against the Iron Bowl winner. An Alabama loss next week would raise my spirits.


Should NFL owners be held accountable for cheating players?

October 30, 2010 2 comments

Houston Texans owner Bob McNair recently took an active role in eliminating performance enhancing drugs in the Texans’ locker room. What role, if there’s one to be played, should NFL owners take in trying to clean up their rosters? McNair’s actions were a response to losing 2009 first round pick linebacker Brian Cushing for the team’s first four games and then 2008 first round pick left tackle Duane Brown for games 3-6 of this season. McNair had ordered that any banned substances be removed from the Texans locker room and sent staff members in to perform the sweep. There was no word on what items were taken out and who they belonged to.

Trying not to be cynical, this appears to be a noble gesture on the part of Bob McNair. It also shows that he is taking a proactive role in trying to eliminate PEDs on his team. With a number of these suspensions occurring each season, perhaps the NFL needs their owners and their organizations to take an even more active role in preventing the use of PEDs. Currently, owners actually save money by not having to pay players during their suspensions.  One way to encourage organizations to work to rein in the use of PEDs would be to punish each offending team with a substantial fine of, say, $1 million per occurrence. In addition, maybe make additional penalties increase at $500,000 or another million added for each suspended player. Alternatively, maybe the suspended player’s salary could be directed to the league coffers. For example, a player making $4 million per season who has a 4 game suspension would cost the offending team the $1 million that would have been earned by that player had they not been suspended.

Fines, in addition to the on-field suspensions, would encourage organizations to do as much homework on the players that they draft and sign as there would be an additional incentive to acquire “clean” players and try to recognize the ones who might be breaking the rules. A positive consequence of this might be less players cheating. Either way, it wouldn’t just be the league that is working to try to clean up the PED use.

This is such a complex subject with so many variables involved. This would just represent another process to help curb PED use. Not perfect, but it would probably get more than just one of the 32 NFL owners to step up and get more involved in helping to clean up the game.

See my previous post on the unnamed NFL player who spoke out about the rampant PED use in the NFL for more on the subject.

NFL Week 8 Preview

October 29, 2010 1 comment

A quick look at the upcoming games on Sunday. This is a light week, as six teams are on their bye weeks.

Dolphins at Bengals: This is the AFC’s version of the Cowboys and Vikings of a few weeks ago. The winner survives and the loser can spend more time studying Mel Kiper’s Big Board. Both of these teams reside in divisions that might have the four best teams in the league (Jets, Patriots, Steelers, and Ravens). The Dolphins come off, arguably, a game in which the referees robbed them after Ben Roethlisberger had the ball knocked out of his possession before he went over the goal line with less than three minutes remaining. The Bengals lost a shootout in Atlanta, where the Falcons seemed to run and pass at will against the Bengal defense. The Bengals defense will need to tighten up soon, or head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer will be looking for work come January. This should be a good game, with both teams being desperate. The Bengals locker room could explode if the Bengals lose another one. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear a Bengals wide receiver begin to criticize teammates, especially the defense, if they fall again on Sunday. I like the Bengals to win a close game as I think the implosion will happen after next week’s game against the Steelers.

Jaguars at Cowboys: With the Rangers already down 2-0 in the World Series against the Giants, Sunday could be a horrific sports day in Arlington. The Cowboys play at noon and the Rangers play game 4 at 7:00. The Cowboys season already appears to be over and the Rangers season could be as well if they lose Saturday and Sunday. With Jerry Jones optimism absent this week, WR Roy Williams wanted to let everybody know that Jon Kitna is at least as good as Tony Romo. And you know what? Both Kitna and Romo won as many games for the Lions during the 2008 season when Kitna started for them. Yes, zero. With the season over, I expect the gutless Cowboys to show up and twist the knife in their fanbase even more and win the game impressively. Defense should dominate.

Redskins at Lions: The Redskins continue to play solid football and this week shouldn’t be any different. Quietly only a game back in the NFC East, the Redskins have an opportunity to be at 5-3 going into their bye week. That’s what I expect to happen as the Lions are just not talented enough to challenge playoff type teams yet.

Bills at Chiefs: The Ravens tried to give a win to the Bills last week and Ralph Wilson’s team turned them down. I don’t expect that kind of hospitality this week at Arrowhead. The Chiefs should beat the Bills and be 5-2 going into next week’s “showdown” with the resurgent Raidaaaaaaahs.

Panthers at Rams: Another stellar game on the NFL schedule for Sunday. The Panthers got their win last week against the atrocious 49ers. The Niners were so bad that INS deported them right after the game. Rams should get back on track after losing to the surprising Buccaneers and the comeback kid Josh Freeman last week.

Packers at Jets: This should be the best of the early games on Sunday. Both of Brett Favre’s former teams have beaten Favre and the Vikings already, included last week’s thriller at Lambeau. I expect a hard hitting game as both teams have to personnel to get after the quarterback with blitzing linebackers while the lockdown corners single up the opposition’s receivers. The Packers have fallen by three points in all three losses this season, including the two overtime games before last week. Look for one of the big-time corners (Revis and Cromartie for New York and Woodson for Green Bay) to get a pick 6 off a hurried throw. The Packers are a solid team, but they seem to be missing a little bit to get them into the favorite status in the NFC. The Jets are trying to keep pace with the Patriots, Steelers, and Ravens in the four team race for the best team in the AFC. I like the Jets. By a field goal, of course.

Broncos at 49ers: Yuck! Both teams stink and I heard that no Americans wanted to go to the game. So they moved it to London. The worst part about this game? No local blackouts since the game is in England. They should make the loser play next week in Afghanistan. That would motivate them. I’ll take the Broncos just because a 49er win would make their owner think that they are back in it again.

Titans at Chargers: The AFC’s Cowboys, the Chargers, continue to sport (yardage-wise) the best offense and defense in the league. Yes, that’s right; the 2-5 Chargers have played the best. Huh? Oh, that doesn’t count the 18 turnovers and the worst special teams in the league. Jeff Fisher P.I. and his Titans come to San Diego looking to end a seven game losing streak to the Chargers that dates back to 1992 when the Houston Oilers won. Kenny Britt lit it up in his three quarters of action last week after missing the first quarter after being involved in an altercation on Thursday night/Friday morning. No word on whether Britt was going to go out and look for trouble again this week. You know how superstitious athletes are when they play well. To me this game comes down to coaching. One team has one of the best, and the other team, well, doesn’t. I’ll take the better coached team and this week that’s the Titans.

Seahawks at Raiders: Are the Raiders back? No word yet on whether Violator  will be sacrificing any Seahawks fans before the game on Sunday. This is a fun matchup to me with the “jacked up” Seahawks surprising in the NFC West and the resurgent Cable Guys coming off their destruction of the Broncos last week. The Raiders are only a game and a half behind the Chiefs in the AFC West with them meeting next week in Oakland. Because the Raiders like to jerk everybody around, I expect them to revert back to “bad” form this week as Pete Carroll’s team wins.

Vikings at Patriots: Randy Moss returns to Foxboro on Sunday in what already appears to be a drama filled game. The biggest drama queen, Brett Favre, despite his bad ankle, appears to be positioning himself to play on Sunday. Favre hasn’t missed a start since the George H.W. Bush administration and I don’t think that he misses this week either. Moss always haunts teams that he has an agenda against and the Patriots should be included on that list now. I expect Moss to get at least one TD on a deep pass against the young Patriots’ secondary. This should be a great game with lots of scoring. The Patriots will continue to dink and dunk their way down the field, trying to control clock and play field position. For the Vikings to win, getting out to a quick lead and forcing the Patriots to become a one dimensional passing team, without the threat of the run, is their best chance to win. The young Patriots defense will be challenged, as they haven’t faced a running back like Adrian Peterson yet this season. How they handle the running game and force the ‘Ol Gunslinger to beat them will be the key for them. As usual, I expect a late, crippling interception thrown by Favre and the Patriots win a close one.

Buccaneers at Cardinals: I now think that Tampa is the worst sports city in the country. Only 42,020 attended last week’s thrilling comeback win over the Rams. No comment by David Price or Evan Longoria. If they can’t support winning teams on the west coast of Florida, well, I “bet” some city would. I love Raheem Morris’ enthusiasm even though he’s wrong. It’s great for a young team like that to know that their coach is behind them. In the NFL, you find out a lot about young teams when they go on the road. If the Bucs are really a contender, they will go to Glendale and win on Sunday. I just don’t think that they’re there yet. Cardinals are the pick.

Steelers at Saints: Halloween night in New Orleans should be crazy. You know, because every other night down there isn’t crazy? This looks like a great matchup with the last two Super Bowl winners facing off. The Steelers look like the favorites this season as the combine great play with some luck (last week in Miami) to sport the league’s best record at 5-1. If the Saints can somehow recover that magic from last season, this could be a Super Bowl preview for this season. What is amazing is that the Browns just beat the defending Super Bowl champions for the 3rd consecutive season. So the Saints should have seen that coming. But seriously, the Saints need to cut down on turnovers on Sunday or this game could be a real horror show. I’m going to take a chance and pick the Saints. They’re at home, they’ve been inconsistent which means they’re due this week, and the Steelers got really lucky last week and owe the football gods.  

Additional prediction, the first helmet to helmet hit resulting in a suspension will come from the Jets-Packers game. Most likely to be a Jets player who gets suspended.  Just a gut feel.

NBA should look to Europe instead of contraction

October 28, 2010 1 comment

Commissioner Stern came out last week and mentioned contraction as being “on the table” for the upcoming labor talks. The NBA is expected to lockout the players beginning next summer in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The league is projecting losses of close to $350 million this season. These losses and a lack of a new arena for teams like Sacramento, has led the Stern to discuss the possibility of cutting teams. Major League Baseball tried this tactic in 2002 when the Minnesota Twins were having difficulty shaking down the tax payers of Minnesota for a new stadium that eventually became Target Field. With attendance problems for a number of teams in the league and old arenas that can’t provide the income that the amenity laden new arenas can provide, the NBA is threatening contraction.

The NBA’s threat is only that. A threat. There is no way that the NBA players association would ever agree to a cut in jobs in a league where the average salary is north of $5 million annually per player. But when entering a labor negotiation, shots are always sent across the bow, and this is no different. When this labor situation shakes out, there should still be 30 teams in the NBA.

Where these teams will be located should be up for discussion. David Stern has a long stated goal of expanding the NBA brand to Europe and having a European division competing in the NBA. I believe the environment is ripe to address this issue in the coming year. The NBA can take their five worst fit cities and take their teams across the Atlantic to form the new European division playing in London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, and Madrid or another basketball friendly city. I don’t think that anybody is going to miss the NBA in a college town like Memphis. If Sacramento is no longer a fit for the Kings, how about the Paris Kings? Oh, I know Louis XVI didn’t fare that well as the last French King, but these are different times.

If the NBA doesn’t have 28 viable markets in North America, the move to Europe makes sense. Choosing the teams that will move would be difficult, as alienating regions is not good for the long-term growth of the league. But expanding with more teams isn’t the answer, and injecting a new set of cities and a new continent into the league would give it a tremendous boost worldwide. The new international television contracts would increase dramatically if people in Britain, France, Spain and other European countries had a home team rooting interest in the league.

Will this happen? Probably not. The NBA won’t contract and when you look at the box scores next season, you will still see crowds of 12,000 or less in a number of NBA cities like Memphis. Perhaps the NBA would only move 2 or teams and expand by 2 or 3? Or they could see if a traditional European power like Real Madrid would be able to merge with the league. There are a number of possibilities that can be added to the negotiating process with the NBAPA. I feel that if David Stern is really serious about having the NBA in Europe, the league would investigate the possibility of moving the poorly attended franchises to the Old World. The time is right and the opportunity to keep the league at 30 teams, but take franchises away from cities that cannot support major league sports, is too good to pass up right now.

  10/29 Update on Europe expansion by David Stern

Giants and Rangers Set to Begin the World Series Tonight

Congratulations to the Giants and Rangers for both proving me wrong and winning their league pennants. Cody Ross was a complete beast at the plate for the Giants against the Phillies and the entire Rangers’ lineup, lead by possible AL MVP Josh Hamilton, overwhelmed the inferior Yankees pitching staff. Both teams seemed to have great karma, the Giants with their timely hitting and the Rangers with their inspired base running. Neither franchise has won a world championship playing in their current city. The Giants last won when they were the New York Giants let by Willie Mays in 1954. That drought accounts for the third longest active streak in the majors behind only the Cubs (1908) and the Indians (1948). The Rangers have never advanced this far in Texas or when they were the second incarnation of the Washington Senators. This should be a pretty entertaining series.

The Giants will host the first two and last two games of this series as the NL won their first All Star Game of the new millennium. Thanks Brian McCann. The Giants sport a top shelf pitching staff led by the “Freak” Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young award winner takes the hill tonight against Cliff Lee, who has never lost a postseason game. In addition to the Freak, the Giants have solid starters in Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain (who helped shutout the Phillies), and rookie Madison Bumgarner. As the prospective game 4 starter on Sunday, Bumgarner could be available out of the pen for an inning tonight. His work out of the bullpen against the Phillies in game six helped to propel the Giants to the pennant. Their bullpen pitched fairly well against the Phillies as well with Brian Wilson locking down three saves against the Phillies. The Giants batters aren’t quite as good. This is a rag-tag bunch, with only rookie catcher Buster Posey coming up through the organization. Despite their less than great pedigree, these castoffs and journeymen have found a home in San Francisco and have come up with the timely hits at the right time. Shortstop/Third Baseman Juan Uribe had the series clinching home run last Saturday at Citizen’s Bank Park and cult hero and the NLCS MVP, Cody Ross’ two home runs against Roy Halladay in game one, I thought, set the tone for the entire series. They are going to need to continue their timely hitting to ensure that they have a chance to bring the series back to San Francisco for games 6 and 7.

The Texas Rangers pummeled the Yankees into submission on their way to their first World Series. Led by the incomparable Cliff Lee, the Rangers pitching staff isn’t quite as good on paper as the Giants, but against the Yankees they were more than good enough to get the job done. After years of teasing Rangers’ fans with his stuff, CJ Wilson looks like he might finally be a quality #2 starter for the foreseeable future. Colby Lewis, back from Japan, has pitched well and youngster Tommy Hunter looks like he might be a top of the rotation guy. The Rangers bullpen has quality and is deep as well, with rookie Neftali Feliz anchoring the ninth inning. Amazingly Feliz is still looking for his first postseason save after saving 40 during the regular season. I think that speaks to how dominant the Rangers offense was during their series wins over the Rays and Yankees. Speaking of that offense, Josh Hamilton was just dominant in winning ALCS MVP honors against the Yankees. Vlad Guerrero is always a tough out and Nelson Cruz has been hot throughout the playoffs, carrying the offense against the Rays and continuing to hit against the Yanks. The table setter is Elvis Andrus, who is poised to become the next champion “glue guy” that’s impact on the game can’t always be seen in the box score. He’s a good base runner and his aggressiveness on the bases has created some additional scoring opportunities while putting pressure on the defense and opposing pitcher. Catcher Bengie Molina isn’t a great hitter, but having spent the previous 3 1/2 seasons as a Giant, he knows their pitching staff as well as anybody, and is used to seeing their pitches and understands how they like to work the hitters.

This should be an exciting series with great pitching and on occasion, great hitting by the Rangers. For the Giants to win, their pitchers have to be as good or better than they were in the NLCS and somebody besides Buster Posey needs to step up offensively and have a series like Cody Ross had against the Phillies. If they don’t get that, this series could be short. The Rangers need their pitchers to continue to be solid. They don’t need to be great, just good enough so that Josh Hamilton and rest of their offense can put together some big innings to get the lead. The Giants were able to attack the Phillies lineup with Javier Lopez shutting down Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Expect to see Lopez against Hamilton late in the game as well, but the right-handedness of the Rangers lineup should prompt Bruce Bochy to lean on his right handed relievers more in this series, which means more Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla. How the Rangers right handed bats hit these relievers could be the difference in this series.

The prediction is the Rangers in six. Jerry Jones will have a world champion from the metroplex, it just won’t be his Cowboys. It should be fun to watch, but the Rangers have too much hitting and their pitching, just like the Yankees series, is good enough to keep them ahead. The Giants won’t have enough good karma to win more than two games. Both teams have fairly young cores and should be a contender for years to come.

Lebron James’ Marketing Brand as His Miami Heat Career Begins

October 26, 2010 2 comments

The 2010-2011 NBA season is finally here and Lebron James begins the rehabilitation of his tarnished image and legacy. Lebron went to Miami because he wants to be known as a winner and he feels that he couldn’t do that in Cleveland. He also has a stated goal of becoming a billionaire athlete, although I’m not sure how this move to South Beach facilitates that.

So with that in mind, what is Lebron’s brand image as he begins his first season on the Miami Heat since this is what will drive his endorsement opportunities? Well, we know it’s not “winner” because he stated that winning was the reason why he left Cleveland for Miami. It’s not “loyal” because if he was, he would still be the most popular man in northern Ohio. Is he persistent, a battler, has he needed to persevere through trouble? Not yet, although he won’t be doing it alone now.

What he has really turned into is Alex Rodriguez without the Texas stop. He went straight for the champion sidekick Dwayne Wade (Lebron’s Jeter) and brought along Chris Bosh (we’ll call him CC or Teixeira, who really cares anyway). The difference is that we’re now comparing the Miami Heat to the New York Yankees and as far as comparisons go, that’s absolutely ludicrous. The Yankees have an enormous, passionate, and loyal following amongst their core base of fans. I don’t think the same can be said for the Heat fans. Sure, there are always going to be front-running bandwagon fans that will root for the Heat because they like to root for winners. But this core won’t be there if there are some injuries and the team has a 45-37 season with an early playoff exit. From a brand perspective, Lebron left everything positive about his brand in Cleveland. He WAS Cleveland with the Browns being down ever since the original team left for Baltimore and the Indians, except for 2007, have been down since Thome and Manny left town. All that was left was the local legend from Akron who spent the first 7 years of his career carrying an entire city and region on his back. Through the wins and the losses, the fans would always be with him. That’s gone now. 

Lebron doesn’t have a core fan base now. Any true Heat fan (are there any?) would understandably be Dwyane Wade fans first, as he has been the face of the franchise since Shaq was traded, and he already led the franchise to a championship. Think about what happens if the Heat were to win the championship. Who gets the most endorsements? Wade has that great smile, he didn’t leave his team (he’s loyal), he’s already a winner and another ring would maintain that identity, and he hasn’t alienated an entire city and region of people. If you have a product that you want an NBA champion to endorse, don’t you go to Wade first? I know I would. You don’t see A-Rod really getting any endorsements, and he’s in New York! It’s all Jeter, despite the fact that A-Rod is a much better individual performer. It’s because Jeter embodies a lot of those qualities that Wade does. That’s why this move didn’t make sense for Lebron from a marketing and earnings standpoint because he will always be in Wade’s shadow as a teammate of the court.

Winning can do a lot of things, but like A-Rod in Seattle, Lebron will never be forgiven in Cleveland. People want to compare Lebron to Kobe and point to how Kobe has comeback from his situation in Colorado in 2003. This is different because Kobe has always been, and always will be a Laker. Those are the breaks, Lebron. I’m sure things would have been different had Lebron been drafted by a traditional winner in a great market, but he was dealt the local hero card (which, for seven years proved to be profitable) and now he’s thrown that away. He’ll never get the disloyalty stigma erased from his record, and that will haunt him endorsement wise for the rest of his life no matter how great a player he is. Like A-Rod, he has a chosen home, but the cherished bond with the fan base will never exist. And that’s what we’ll witness for the remainder of his career.

More thoughts on this subject:

I feel that I need to add to what I wrote earlier by expounding on my thoughts as to why Lebron’s brand is tarnished, and I think it has a lot to do with the current socioeconomic conditions in Cleveland and the country in general. This is not the go-go 1990’s where being a self-absorbed athlete, or investor, or celebrity were certainly not shunned, and mostly celebrated in this country. The social climate in our country has changed, in large part due to a terrible economy that has wreaked havoc on most of the nation with the “rust-belt” cities of the upper Midwest being the hardest hit of all. Cleveland is right in the middle of that area that has been hard hit and probably ranks behind only Detroit in how down they are. For Lebron to leave his people, his city, his region the way that he did, shows that he is only about #1. Now this wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t trying to be the first billionaire athlete or if his formerly wholesome brand wasn’t the paramount reason why advertisers wanted him.

Remember, a year from now, the NBA will probably be in the middle of a potentially lengthy lockout that will be sure to alienate fans. Today, with unemployment through the roof, greedy, self-absorbed athletes or people don’t sell. Yeah, maybe Lebron can rehab his image by taking on some local endorsements in South Beach. That could help. In fact, how about endorsing the “Clevelander” night club? But fans and consumers now just look at just another athlete with no soul, no substance behind him. He had a chance to be something different, but he chose to turn his back on his people. There was a void to fill with Tiger Woods going through all of his problems over the last year. Lebron had a chance to fill that.

11/5 Looks like Cleveland fans have weighed in on Lebron’s new commercial.

Pro Football Week 7 Sunday Recap

October 25, 2010 3 comments

Some thoughts on yesterday’s pro football games while wondering which week Brett Favre’s official retirement speech will happen…

Falcons beat Bengals 39-32: Atlanta started fast, running out to a 24-3 halftime lead fueled by their triplets; Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Roddy White. White, in particular, was stellar in a game featuring two possible hall of fame receivers on the other team. Carson Palmer had a nice bounce back game after blowing the Tampa Bay game before their bye week. The Bengals came back to make a game of it, including Adam Jones fumble return for a touchdown that gave the Bengals a brief one point lead at the end of the 3rd quarter.  Nobody gobbles up those yard lines like Pacman. Atlanta responded with two touchdowns to put the Bengals away. Atlanta again looks like they might be the team to beat in the NFC. The Falcons have a bye before their showdown in two weeks at home against the surprising Bucs. The Bengals season is on the line with their Desperation Bowl game at home against the Dolphins. That should be an elimination game, if they’re both not already done.

Redskins beat Bears 17-14: Redskins go on the road and pick up a tough win at Soldier Field. The Redskins are showing signs of being a good team in that they are finding ways to win, instead of making the mistakes that lead to losses.  In a very mediocre NFC, the Redskins very well could find themselves in the Super Bowl. That’s how much of a toss-up the conference is. I think the Bears turned the wrong cornerback into a receiver. They should have traded for DeAngelo Hall and made him a receiver. I don’t think the Bears have a receiver who has as much rapport with Jay Cutler as Hall. Cutler and Hall “connected” on 4 receptions (ints) for 92 yards and a TD. Cutler and the Bears offense remains inconsistent and without an identity to be proud of. Between Matt Forte and Chester Taylor, one of these guys needs to take over on 1st and 2nd downs and run for 3.5 to 4 yards per carry. Get Cutler into 3 and 5 or less and enable the play calls on 3rd down to be less predictable. Otherwise, the Lovie Smith era appears to be heading towards an end. This game left both teams at 4-3, but the Redskins have played and won much more impressively than the Bears. The Bears catch a break after next week’s bye with the following week’s game at Buffalo. They need to take the opportunity in that game to unleash their new rushing attack as the weather gets colder and nastier in the NFC North. The Redskins look to continue their winning ways at Detroit next Sunday before their bye. A 5-3 record going into the bye would have to make all Redskin fans happy.

Titans beat Eagles 37-19: Look out Nashville; I think Jeff Fisher might send his whole team out on the town to start fights after Kenny Britt’s performance on Sunday. After missing the 1st quarter as punishment for getting in a bar fight Thursday evening, Britt came in and scored on a 26 yard pass from Kerry Collins and then added an 80 and 16 yard TD reception in the 4th quarter to put away the Eagles. Britt totaled 225 yards receiving in only 3 quarters of play. This breakout game for Britt makes him somebody to watch as the Titans might have another big play threat to go along with Chris Johnson. The Eagles were too sloppy with the ball turning it over 4 times, including the crucial fumble by Kolb in the third quarter inside the Titans’ five yard line with a chance to put them away. Mike Vick moves back under center in two weeks after the bye against the Colts at home. The Titans travel to the beleaguered Chargers who find new ways to lose weekly.

Chiefs beat Jaguars 42-20: Well, Todd Bouman shut me up as he wasn’t the reason why the Jags lost. I think the 38 year old quarterback might be their QB of the future. I’m confused about the Jags defense. They have had 6 different players start at safety this season and 11 different over the last 55 games. Every single one of them is bad? Either they need to ditch the scheme that they’re running or get a new personnel guy to pick better safeties. The Chiefs continue to look like the team to beat in the AFC West and should win this division running away.

Steelers steal one against Dolphins 23-22: Great teams get lucky as well as the Steelers showed yesterday. They had no right winning that game but thanks to a questionable ruling, the Big Ben fumble was ruled dead after the play was initially ruled a TD. This game was exciting as Hines Ward and Davone Bess had impressive runs after the catch for each team that resulted in 2nd quarter TD’s. The Steelers overcame fumbles on their first two possessions to beat the Dolphins, who are now 3-3 and looking at a huge game at Cincinnati next week. The Dolphins Channing Crowder offered the best quote of the weekend: “The refs called a wonderful game — for the Steelers.” I expect to see the Steelers “A” game next Sunday night (Halloween) in New Orleans in a meeting of the past 2 Super Bowl Champions.

Browns stun Saints 30-17: Wow. Shocker of the week probably ended any eliminator pools still alive. Fake punts and two interception returns for a touchdown did in the Saints who just don’t look right. I wonder if they actually will get it turned around this season. They might want to think about bringing it next Sunday when the Steelers come to town. The Browns get a great win going into their bye week with the Patriots looming in two weeks.

Buccaneers beat Rams 18-17: I don’t think I’ve ever seen this final score in a football game. Josh Freeman gets his third fourth quarter comeback victory in the first 6 games of this season. He looks like he might have “it”. The up and coming Rams take a tough loss into their next game against the hapless Panthers. They should be 4-4 going into their bye in two weeks. The Bucs won, but their fan base stinks. They drew a season-low 42,020 — more than 23,000 shy of capacity — at Raymond James Stadium. This city and any city that can’t support their team should not be eligible to host the Super Bowl. Perhaps the NFL should mandate that Super Bowl hosting cities have a string of 5 or maybe 7 straight seasons of real, not ticket giveaway, sellouts. Passionate fan bases deserve the Super Bowl more than these warm weather hot spots. The Bucs try to prove their coach right; Raheem Morris called them the “best team in the NFC”, next week at Arizona. I like this with a young team whether or not he believes it because the team should rally around him as he gets ridiculed by most of the press.  

Panthers beat 49ers 23-20: Who cares. Both teams stink. Buffalo was the real winner as they are now the only winless team in the league and has the inside track on that first pick in the draft. The Niners head to London to give American football a bad name next week. I’m all for exporting the rest of the Niners and Panthers games this year to foreign countries.

Ravens survive Bills 37-34: Hey Buffalo, you REALLY didn’t want to win that game. Now you’ve got the inside track to get “Lucky”. Good teams win even when they are bad and that’s what the Ravens did. They get a bye next week before hosting the Dolphins in two weeks.

Seahawks beat Cardinals 22-10: The Cardinals just didn’t look good with 5 turnovers and a 7 yard punt by Ben Graham in the first quarter. The Cards have the Bucs coming in next week in a suddenly big game for the Cards and their playoff hopes. It will be interesting to see who plays QB for the Cards after Max Hall got knocked out yesterday. The “jacked-up” Seahawks travel to face the juggernaut that is the Oakland Raidaaaaaahs next week. Should be a classic.

Raiders destroy Broncos 59-14: This score appears to be a mile high. Can somebody tackle Darren McFadden? I almost forgot that he was in the league as his Arkansas teammate Peyton Hillis has become the premier running Hog in the league. 38-0 before the Broncos broke through before halftime. No word if the rumor that Al Davis was tacking on games (Raiders’ coaches are game to game) to the Cable Guy’s contract for each touchdown scored. This is the same Broncos team that almost beat the Jets last week? Yikes. Hey Denver, take this atrocious brand of football, and get out of my country! They’ll be in London next week to show the Brits how not to play American football. The Raiders are now 3-4 and a win at home over the Seahawks from being at .500 at the halfway mark. They need to get over .500 for me to take the Cable Guys seriously.

Patriots beat Chargers 23-20: Or is it, Chargers beat the Chargers? This team just continues to beat themselves as they committed four first half turnovers. The two biggest plays were the rookie receiver who left the ball on the ground after his first reception and the pass in the flat that became a fumble that the Pats returned to inside the 10. Give credit to Ron Rivera’s defense as they played a lot, and well enough to give the offense a chance at a late victory. During a strange season with a lot of enigmatic teams, this Chargers team is the headliner. I don’t get them. Hosting the Titans next week isn’t the best way to recover either. The Patriots escape with a win they probably didn’t deserve, but in getting back to their playing style of the early 2000’s, the Patriots are starting to win games like those teams that won 3 out of 4 Super Bowls. Randy Moss returns to Foxboro next week, with or without the “Wrangler Man”. Still searching for a storyline here…

Packers beat Vikings 28-24: That Vikings locker room is rather “Chilly” now isn’t it? The Pack wins a close, exciting game that featured vintage Brett Favre reprising his ‘Ol Gunslinger role. Three interceptions and coming up short used to be reserved for ignominious playoff exits for Favre, but this performance might have put a capper on his career. If he misses next week’s game at New England and they lose, the Vikings would be 2-5 and at least 2 games, if not 3 out of first. If his ankle is bad and they lose a few more games, he might never play again because I don’t see Brett playing any “play out the string” type games. The banged up Packers got a much needed division win after dropping two straight overtime games. They travel to the new Jersey Swamp stadium to play the Jets next week. Aaron Rodgers has been challenged weekly against this tough schedule and next week shouldn’t be any different against a Jets team coming off a bye week. Should be a fun game to watch.

Peter King reported last night before the game that there were no defenseless receiver hits or helmet-to-helmet hits during the Sunday games. I guess the players were able to adjust their head-hunting ways after playing that way for their “entire lives”. I’m curious to see how this continues in the following weeks.

Tonight I don’t like, but am picking the Cowboys. I would have picked the Giants, but the losses on Sunday by every legitimate NFC contender, save Atlanta, makes me think that the Giants will stumble too. The Cowboys are NFC’s Chargers, meaning that they will do everything possible to ensure that winning becomes extremely difficult. Expect an exciting game with plenty of mistakes on both sides. Also expect plenty of points as these two offenses are talented and tend to play well against each other’s defenses. Game should be decided late so plan on a late night.

My Super Bowl pick is back to the Steelers beating the Falcons.