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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Mikey Does the Dirty Bird, While Eli's Just A Dirty Hick

WINDY CITY SHUFFLE
With their victory over the Chicago Bears this weekend, the New England Patriots sent a myriad of statements to the entire NFL. The first is that the 3 time Super Bowl champs are far from ready to be removed from the AFC's upper echelon. After home losses to Denver, Indy and the Jets this year, many people were starting to slide the Pats behind the Chargers and Ravens into the second class of the conference. I'm not saying this one win makes up for those home losses, but it's tough to keep the Pats out of the top of the AFC with an 8-3 record, safe division lead and a win over the top NFC squad. Secondly, as far as the NFC goes, to quote Dennis Green "they are who we thought they were!" Not to immediately disqualify my last remarks, but that's the best team in the NFC? Rex Grossman has been fully exposed as the guy he is, and that's a QB that at best is still learning and growing. He's certainly not the type of guy that can lead you to a title. And as long as he's at the helm, the Bears are going to have to force at least one more turnover than he produces. And even then there are no guarantees. Their defense is the real deal, there's no argument there, but if they can't get someone like Trent Dilfer to "just not make mistakes", then they could be in for an early playoff exit. And lastly, I think this week's game proved that it's virtually impossible to be a DB in the current NFL. After watching all the blown calls (face guarding against Chad Jackson) and all the wrong calls (two pass interference calls against Artrell Hawkins and Ellis Hobbs) in the secondary, I have even more respect for what those guys are able to accomplish back there. For Asante Samuel to play with enough intensity and aggressiveness despite knowing that at any moment he could get flagged for sneezing on a guy is impressive. The rules protecting receivers are almost as bad as the ones protecting QBs, and some rule changes need to be made before we find ourselves watching flag football every Sunday. And as for Asante, I've always been one of his toughest critics (namely because he was burned for more TDs than any other starting CB in the NFL last season), but I have to give him props. Not just for his 3 picks on Sunday against the Bears, but for his overall improved cover skills this season. I've always had to defend my position that he's only a good run defender against friends that only see his big hits and occasional pick, but now I won't even have to bother. I'm still not ready to place him in the Pro Bowl just yet, but his vast improvement this season is a big reason that the Pats have the #2 scoring defense in the league. It's just too bad that he's really starting to come into his own in his free agency season and has already turned down a new deal from the Pats during the bye week. Oh, well. So, now after christening the field turf with an opening win, we welcome the laughing stock that is the 2-9 Lions to Foxboro. Let's put the Jets out of their playoff misery ASAP and bury those cock-a-roaches...

Patriots Update
Last Week: New England Patriots 17 Chicago Bears 13
Record: 8-3, 1st in AFC East, 4th in AFC

Next Week vs Detroit Lions (2-9) <----Brandon Jacob's thinks they "suck"

NFL News and Notes
*You really have to hand it to the New York Giants. I mean really, it takes a special kind of team to blow a 21 point lead to the Tennessee Titans. Oh and I mean BLOW. Whether you want to point at Mathias Kiwanuka not wrapping up Vince Young, Plaxico yet again showing a lack of effort after an interception, or Eli chuckin' the INT that ultimately led to the game winning FG, the fact is that these G-Men are falling apart. And as far as Kiwanuka goes, I can't say I blame the guy. Sure, a lot of people will say that at that time of the game you shouldn't even be concerned with penalties, but where were those people at the end of the Michigan/Ohio St. game? Yeah I thought so. Fact is, if Young had thrown during his pump fake like Kiwi thought, then he would have probably been flagged had he continued driving VY to the turf. Too bad for the Giants, that was the only excusable mistake they made. Plaxico Burress failed yet again to even make an effort to go after a deep ball that he felt was out of reach, or help tackle a defender after an interception. I think we have a poor-man's Randy Moss on our hands. He's got the skills that's for sure. but he can't keep taking plays off and deciding when he feels like giving his all. And that brings us to the #1 problem with the Giants, Eli Manning. Not only has he just not looked right the past few weeks, but the pick he threw at the end of the game to Pac-Man Jones was just a sign that he's in his own head. I understand wanting to make a play, but for his whole football life you know he's been taught to throw that ball away. Tiki's bitchin', Shockey's bitchin', and Tom Coughlin says they won't get over this one "forever". Geesh. What ever happened to the Super-Manning-Bowl? Well to turn Brandon Jacob's words about the Titans against his own team. Right now the Giants "just suck".

*Leave it to a Vick to give new meaning to the term "dirty bird" in the ATL. I just thought it would be Marcus, not Michael, flipping the bird to a slew of Falcon fans that were booing him as he left the field after Sunday's loss to the Saints. I figured the only time you would hear the word's "Vick" and "flip" in the same sentence would be when he was pulling unreal plays like the one on the right. Instead, after throwing up the two most insulting digits to the Falcon faithful, Vick is left to answer even more questions. Not only does the question still loom about whether or not he can be a pocket passer (only 9-24 for 89 yards on Sunday), but now he has to answer for his actions after the game, as well as his team's 4 straight losses and fall from playoff contention. Now there is talk that the Falcons should move Vick to a "slash" type position and give the reigns at QB to backup Matt Schaub. After all, every time Schaub comes in for Vick, it seems the entire league drools at what he could bring to the table if made a full time starter. But could Atlanta make that move without alienating Vick? Probably not. And even if they suspend him for his post-game actions, what if Schaub comes in and starts to win? Stay tuned for this one, cuz it's lookin' like things are just getting heated up in the dirty south.

*Could Bill Cowher possibly be leaving the Pittsburgh Steelers for, gulp, the NC State Wolfpack? Well that's certainly the buzz running through the grapevine. It's no secret that I have a serious distaste for Cowher, so needless to say I would love to see him exit the league. Also, I'd love to see how he fares in the ACC, seeing as I'm still under the impression that he's failed to live up to his reputation as an NFL coach and has repeatedly choked in big games. No matter how he does in the ACC, I do have to give him and the Steelers credit for making this look like he's leaving on his own terms and that all is good. Fact is, he may be coming off a Super Bowl win in '06, but that shouldn't erase in their minds all the AFC championship games he lost (2 to the Pats and one to the Chargers) and of course the Super Bowl loss to the Cowboys. Hey I'm not saying you have to win them all, but you should win more than you lose if you don't want to get the axe, no matter what the situation. I'm sure everyone in Pittsburgh is not only ready to start over, but is actually wishing they had a better coach the last decade in big games, rather than one that spent more time polishing his chin and kissing his players than game planning.

*Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering what former big mouth, mo-hawker and Eagle wide receiver Freddie Mitchell was up to these days. Check this out, he's a substitute teacher at an Indiana high school! Check it out at www.deadspin.com. Something tells me he's not teaching PE, because he can't catch. But that leaves me wondering, what the hell is that guy qualified to teach? I got it. He's teaching a course on how to quickly go from possible Super Bowl star, to eating pizza and nuggets at $2 a pop every weekday for the rest of your life. Good work Fred-Ex. You sure have delievered. Oh yea, and don't forget to "thank your hands" for slapping you out of the NFL and right into the PTA.

My NFL Picks
Last Week: 5-1-0

2006 Season:
37-31-5 (.541)

*Who would have thought that in a week where I picked the Cardinals and 49ers that it would have been the Chargers to cost me a perfect week? Oh well, at least I got a little more cushion between me and the Mendoza line. Five weeks left until the playoffs begin, so it's a good time to start turning things around. But hey, 5-1, Pats win, fantasy win. Can't ask for much more than that. But it's the holiday season, so I plan on asking for as much as I think I can possibly get!


Notre Dame, FRAUDS. Arkansas, FRAUDS. So now the real question. Who is #2? Well, it basically boils down to Florida and USC doesn't it? Michigan fans will argue that they beat ND just like the Trojans, and that USC's loss to Oregon St. is much worse than Michigan's to Ohio St. But I'm sorry Wolverine fans, the consensus is that nobody wants to see a rematch of your battle with the Buckeyes. So it comes down to this. After Arkansas losing this weekend, will a Florida victory be enough to propel them past USC in the BCS? And, if USC and Florida happen to lose their next games (USC playing UCLA), does Michigan get it's wish despite the guaranteed uproar should they win? I personally hope that's the case, simply because it will cause the BCS to yet again review and revise it's system. And you know that can only mean we are that much closer to a long proposed playoff system. For now that's still a dream, there's a still a lot of great football to be played before we have to start asking those questions. But hey, that doesn't mean I have to stop dreaming about a playoff does it?

College Football Top 10
1. Ohio St. (12-0) 1
2. Florida (11-1) 2
3. USC (10-1) 3
4. Michigan (11-1) 4
5. Boise St. (12-0) 10
6. LSU (10-2) NR
7. Louisville (10-1) NR
8. Wisconsin (11-1) 9
9. Auburn (10-2) NR
10. Arkansas (10-2) 5

just missed: Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Wake Forest,
dropped: (6) Notre Dame, (7) West Virginia, (8) Texas

Games to Watch This Week
Arkansas vs Florida (Atlanta, GA)
*Florida needs this win for any shot at a National Championship. I'd say that makes this a big game. Let alone that it's for supremacy and bragging rights in arguably the nation's toughest conference. Let's just hope Chris Leak doesn't get whatever disease has been striking QB's lately in the ATL.

USC @ UCLA
*A rivalry game with a chance to lock up a title game bid for USC. Something tells me even Petey boy will make sure his troops aren't still celebrating their win over the Irish or looking forward to a shot at the Buckeyes in January.

Nebraska vs Oklahoma (Kansas City, MO)
*I've said all seasons long that the Big XII is a shadow of what it has been in recent years, but that doesn't mean this won't be a heated battle. Oklahoma has done well keeping it going since Adrian Peterson went down, and one more win will guarantee them the Big XII's spot in a BCS bowl. Way to keep 'em focused Stoops!

Rutgers @ West Virginia
*Well, the Big East has lost a lot of it's Cinderella appeal that's for sure, but there is still a BCS bid on the line for the conference champ. With the Mountaineers latest loss, Louisville will be rooting for them to clear Rutgers out of their way and make it a tie-breaker situation with WVU owning the head to head over the Scarlet Knights. You can't count out coach Greg Schiano and Rutgers though. He may be out to prove that the reason he turned down the Miami head job is because he has more talent right at home in the Dirty.

Wake Forest vs Georgia Tech (Jacksonville, FL)
*Should they come out on top, the Daemon Deacons will not only capture the ACC, but they will also carry the title of "Least Likely BCS team of '06-'07. Picked to finish near the bottom of the conference, all they've done is go 10-2, 6-2 with wins over BC, @ Florida St. and @ Maryland. And while Reggie Ball and the Yellow Jackets have struggled of late, expect WR Calvin Johnson to display on a national stage why he's considered by many (including this guy) as the best wide out in the country.

Like I said before the season began, my top 10 is going to change drastically and frequently in the first few weeks while I have time to watch teams play and make my own judgements. I've never been a fan of pre-season polls to begin with. Who can tell how good a team is before they even take the floor? Not this guy that's for sure. So with all that being said, the most drastic change I made this week was probably leaving Florida at #1 despite their loss to Kansas in the Vegas Invitational final. Simple explanation: I want my poll to represent which teams I feel would have the best shot at winning the NCAA tourney if it started today. So, even though they lost to the Jayhawks, I can't deny the talent or experience of the Gators simply because of one 2 point loss. That being said, there was a considerable shake-up through the rest of the top 10, mostly due to the fact that I got to watch more and more of these teams. UNC and LSU haven't really impressed me in the early going, though I still like their talent, while Butler and Wichita St. have made it known that they just aren't March spoilers anymore. Perhaps the biggest news though has been the play of Ohio St., without arguably the biggest impact player in the country, 7-foot freshmen Greg Oden. Thad Motta knew he had a lot of talent in Columbus, but I bet he never thought he would have the Buckeyes thinking National title double dip as early as 2007. So here is the new top 10, but don't think the drastic changes have come to an end. With big time games like Ohio St./UNC and Syracuse/Wichita St. on tap for this week, there's bound to be another shakeup.

College Basketball Top 10
1. Florida (6-1) 1
2. Ohio St. (6-0) 5
3. Pittsburgh (6-0) 4
4. Kansas (5-1) NR
5. Texas A&M (6-0) 6
6. Marquette (6-0) NR
7. Alabama (6-0) 8
8. Syracuse (7-0) 9
9. Wisconsin (5-1) 7
10. UCLA (4-0) NR

just missed: UNC, LSU, Butler, Wichita St., Memphis
dropped: (2) LSU, (3) UNC, (10) Washington

Big Games This Week
11/28
Maryland @ Illinois
FSU @ Wisconsin
Indiana @ Duke

11/29
Oregon @ Georgetown
Ohio St. @ UNC

12/2
Kentucky @ UNC
Gonzaga @ Texas
Illinois @ Arizona
Georgetown @ Duke
Wichita St. @ Syracuse
Clemson @ South Carolina

12/3
Notre Dame @ Maryland
Florida St. @ Florida
Nevada @ California

12/4
USC @ Kansas

Fantasy Update
Last Week: Otis Nixon's Pubes 88 Team RamRod 36
Record: 7-5-0, 6th place

Next Week vs Team PAPES (6-6-0)

*Well, I wasn't sure this day would come, but I can right now say that if the season ended today I would be in the playoffs! With my 4th win in a row, and my 5th in 6 games, I moved into possession of the 6th and final playoff seed. Now, the only thing keeping me from the playoffs is Pape. It's simple. If I win, I'm in. If I lose, I'm gonna need a lot of help. While I racked up a ton of points this week, it still will probably spell the end of my season if it comes down to a tie-breaker. But let's not even think about that. I'm gonna win, and I don't plan on stoppin till I reach the top gangstas!

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