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The last of NFL unbeatens fell victim to their first loss last weekend as the Jets knocked off Tennessee. Super Bowl Champion Giants remain top dog in our All World All Sports NFL Power Rankings. Here's our top 10:
1) New York Giants (10-1)
2) Tennessee Titans (10-1)
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3)
4) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
5) New York Jets (8-3)
6) Carolina Panthers (8-3)
7) Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
8) Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
9) Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
10) New England Patriots (7-4)
Applying pressure: Washington (7-4), Dallas (7-4), Indianapolis (7-4).
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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!!
It's time for our weekly predictions. A few surprise upsets are primed for the making this week.
Tennessee (10-1) @ Detroit (0-11): The time is ripe for Detroits 1st win of the year. Titans coming off their 1st loss could be looking past this game. Detroit roasts Tennessee, 33-23.
Dallas (7-4) @ Seattle (2-9): Dallas had better be prepared for this game. Seattle could be dangerous as key players are finally healthy enough to contribute. Dallas D is susceptible. Turkey day upset #2. Seattle 33-28.
Arizona (7-4) @ Philadelphia (5-5-1): Cardinals to wrap up division after wiping up disheveled Philly 41-7.
San Francisco (3-8) @ Bills (6-5): Bills need this game or their season is done. Buffalo delights home fans, 23-16.
Baltimore (7-4) @ Cincinnati (1-9-1): Ravens D will handle toothless Bengals, 21-3.
Indianapolis (7-4) @ Cleveland (4-7): Indy is on a 4 game tear after most of us wrote them off as over the hill. Cleveland lost Quinn for the year. Manning has biggest passing game of the year. Indy 36-10.
Carolina (8-3) @ Green Bay (5-6): Carolina's attack too strong for weak GB D. Green Bay is on life support after last week's loss. Panthers roam, 35-27.
Miami (6-5) @ St Louis (2-9): Miami coming off huge loss to division foe New England must win to stay alive. Rams defense will give Ronnie Brown huge holes to run thru. Dolphins bounce back, 27-17.
New Orleans (6-5) @ Tampa Bay (8-3): Bucs homefield will slow down Saints passing game. Bucs prevail, 23-21.
Giants (10-1) @ Washington (7-4): Redskins need this game in a crowded NFC. Giants hands down best in NFL. NY over Skins, 27-23.
Atlanta (7-4) @ San Diego (4-7): Atlanta's passing attack should have no problems vs SD. Charger players suffering through season of great disappointment. Falcons soar 38-20.
Pittsburgh (8-3) @ New England (7-4): Game of the week. Steelers offense hasn't clicked yet they keep on winning. Defense is tough as it gets. Pats offense is beginning to gel. Pats win at home, 30-23.
Denver (7-5) @ Jets )8-3): Broncos passing game has struggled. Jets suddenly a team on a mission. Favre has put together one of his personal best 3 game streaks. It'll be 4 after picking apart the Broncos. Jets 37-24.
Kansas City (1-10) @ Oakland (3-8): Who cares? game of the week. Oakland 27-22.
Chicago (6-5) @ Minnesota (6-5): Battle of NFC North division leaders. Great matchup on paper. Minnesota holds the edge with Peterson running at home. Vikes 26-24.
Jacksonville (4-7) @ Houston (4-7): Loser becomes AFC South's cellar dweller. One never knows what kind of effort to expect from these underperfomers. Houston in my blind Eeny Meeny Miny Mo pick... 20-17.
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Here we go again. Philadelphia Eagles mid-season struggles have become the norm in recent years. So has bandwagon loads of finger-pointers directed at QB Donovan McNabb... again.
McNabb's entire career has been surrounded by controversy. All sorts of questions and insults have been hurled his way. To his credit, he's weathered the storm...
Ironic how things work sometimes. McNabb became Philadelphia's starting QB back in 1999. This franchise never had such a string of success before his arrival. Yet, he's probably been singled out more than any other player in Eagles history.
Considering the lack of a coherent supporting cast... McNabb enjoyed a great career right up until running out of steam with 3:00 minutes to go in Super Bowl XXXIX (lost, 24-21). Only once did Philadelphia go out and sign a stud wide receiver (Terrell Owens). They made it to the big dance but imploded when Owens/McNabb fued went public. Owens was soon shipped out of town without finding any replacements.
Philly's offensive line has become so thin they're rarely successful on 3rd and short runs. Pass protection for McNabb has rarely been above average. Eagles Offensive Coordinators rarely open up defenses by calling deep passes. And far too many critical dropped passes during DM's entire tenure.
Speaking of passes... free ones have been giving to the coaches again this season. It was Andy Reid's play calling at the end of three contests which cost this squad 3 potential wins (vs Chicago, Washington, Giants). Philly's running game has been pretty bad all year yet Reid went for 3rd/4th and short runs each time the game was on the line and guessed wrong. Each time the Eagles were stopped in late game changing situations. McNabb had unspectacular yet solid games in those contests but wasn't trusted to get the mission done.
Much of McNabb's recent heat began in an overtime tie in Cincinnati when he famously stated he didn't know OT's could end in tie's. Follow that up with Reid benching him this past weekend only trailing by 3... it's evident there's a rift. McNabb has had critical moments of mental lapses. It appears his not spotting open receivers has coaches and teammates second guessing. Fans now too since this is starting to become a media circus.
All eyes will be on Philadelphia, Reid & McNabb on Thanksgiving day. It'll be a battle of the birds between Philadelphia vs Arizona. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is challenging Dan Marino's single season passing mark of 5,084 yards. Arizona plays inspired football... Eagles do not.
When Philly loses... they'll be too far behind in the playoff race to contend. McNabb will face a full frontal attack for his remaining days as an Eagle. Philly front office would be wise to dump Reid too.
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San Diego Chargers (4-7) fans must be sick to their stomach's after suffering thru another gut wrenching defeat. Sunday night's 23-20 last second loss to Indianapolis (7-4) was San Diego's sixth defeat of the year by 7 or less points. It also marked their 4th loss of 3 or less. It gets worse... four losses when leading or tied within the final 2:00 to play.
Head Coach Norv Turner's team was predicted by many to dominate AFC West play. Experts also picked SD as an odds on favorite to reach the AFC Championship Game. After a 3-1 pre-season, these guys seemed ready to play until drowning in NFL quicksand.
Anyone who remembers a movie starring Gene Hackman and Keannu Reeves, The Replacements, might recognize the term "Quicksand". Reeves character describes quicksand as: "Ok lets say your playing and you think everything is going fine until one thing goes wrong..... and then another and another but the harder you fight back the deeper you sink till you can't move, can't breathe because your in over your head like quicksand."
That statement sums up the Chargers almost season. 4th quarter football has become quicksand to San Diego. Sunday's game saw SD claw back from a 20-10 deficit. On the game tying drive, after an unsuccessful 3rd down try, a yet to be identified player or coach called timeout with the game clock running instead of letting time tick off. Norv Turner was visibly livid saying one of those little not made for tv words over and over while wearing out the sidelines. The Chargers were granted a timeout with around 1:36 to play before kicking the game tying field goal. Peyton Manning promptly marched his Colts down field for the game winner as time expired.
SD tried to shake it off week 2 in Denver. An early game questionable fumble went against the Bolts wasn't reviewable because of official review equipment failure (BOGUS). Denver retained possession setting up their first td and 7-0 lead. In the games final moments with SD up 38-31, Denver QB Cutler scrambled out of the pocket and lost the football. The ref incorrectly ruled incomplete pass after it was clearly a fumble to everyone except those wearing zebra costumes. Denver maintained possession and scored woth :24 remaining, trailing 38-37. SD then lost when Denver Coach Shanahan gambled and won on a successful 2 point conversion. Chargers lose 39-38. 0-2. Oh yeah, for good measure the refs went up to Coach Turner when the teams were leaving the field telling him "We messed up!" Too little too late.
Week 5. SD had regrouped to 2-2 (or so they thougth) playing in Miami. 4th quarter, SD trailing 17-10, LT gets stuffed by a Miami goal line stand from 4th and 1. SD never got closer than Miami's 46. Quicksand re-appears.
Week 8. SD travels to London vs New Orleans. More headaches. Trailing 37-32, SD marches downfield on a potential game winning drive. QB Rivers gets intercepted with 1:09 left to go. 3-5.
Week 11 in Pittsburgh. Leading 10-8, SD couldn't stop a final Steelers drive. Give up game losing field goal with :15 left. 11-10 defeat is the first ever in NFL history. At 4-6, quicksand is now neck high.
Week 12. Start writing epitaph's for San Diego. Scratching and clawing their way back into the game. Losing it because of bad clock management 23-20 on the final snap.
It's been a bad dream for this team. Way too many close defeats. This could easily be a 10-2 team. Bad breaks all year long including at least two games where poor decision making by NFL referee's figured into game results. Poor coaching, poor ball control, pathetic clock management, injuries to key players, refs and near misses. It's a game of inches and these guys have been on the just missed side all year long.
I wonder how many bettor's have become sick when winning tickets become losers within seconds?
This type of season either strengthens or completely destroys teams. Norv Turner has done it again. Taken over a team on the verge of potential stardom... and wrecked it.
Will the front office panic and trade off players? Fire Turner? It'll be a long off season of reflection for an entire organization committed to winning.
San Diego's 2008 demise ranks high on my list of NFL teams who were expected to win. One of the leagues most talented teams will be sitting at home watching the playoffs on tv instead of participating...
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NFL refs were at it again this past weekend. All too often in 2008, NFL referee's calls on the field have cost teams potential victories. San Diego fell victim during their 39-38 loss in Denver when refs blew it. San Diego was back in the spotlight once again in week 11 at Pittsburgh.
On the games final play SD trailed Pittsburgh 11-10. They tried a desparation pass then multiple laterals hoping to miraculously score the winning touchdown with no time remaining. The trick play didn't work when Steelers Strong Safety Troy Polamalu batted the ball down, picked it up, and returned it for an apparent touchdown for what would have been at least a 17-10 Pittsburgh victory.
(view play here)
Pittsburgh had been favored to beat San Diego by 4 to 5 points in Vegas sports books. The seven point victory would have netted Pittsburgh betters over $10M in Nevada. Tens of millions more probably would have been won around the country through illegal bookies or other gaming establishments.
Game officials were slow to huddle after Polamalu scored. The play went to review.. the touchdown was overturned reverting the score back to Pittsburgh 11, San Diego 10. Game Over. Luckily, the denied touchdown did not effect the games' outcome. After the game, referee Scott Green said the officials realized afterward the touchdown should have counted, though it wouldn't have affected the result.
Not quite, the result affected betting fans over $10M in winnings!
Yellow flags went againt Pittsburgh all game long. San Diego was flagged twice (once on the blown call), while the Steelers were nailed 13 times. Many were left scratching their heads as to how SD only managed one penalty before the final play. Those who dig conspiracy theories have already been blogging away on team sites. NFL promises to investigate further and possibly amend replays next season.
It's been an interesting season for NFL officials. It would be tough to say games are being thrown. Games I've watched this year has left me feeling there are more non-calls than blown calls. It's the non-calls I sometimes call into question... especially when there's a ref in the vicinity of plays. It would be hard for anyone to suspect many fouls being invented while no calls have left some wondering what's going on.
The NBA survived the ref point shaving scandal as only one ref was found guilty. As for the NFL? No need for anyone to worry just yet. However, with all of the mis-steps in 2008 from refs apologizing after games to players and coaches comments, the NFL needs to do something. What exactly can be done is anyone's guess? Tougher guidelines and oversight would be a good starting point and perhaps some sort of game by game point ranking system designed to insure only the best of the best are allowed to officiate professional football games.
No matter if it's football, baseball, hockey, basketball or soccer... refs will never be perfect. Let's just hope they're always on the up and up. Games like this past weekend, in the wake of NBA's recent ref scandal, only creates doubts.
Notes: 11-10 final score was an NFL first after 12,837 games. Chargers remain winless in Pittsburgh, 0-13.
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It's NFL Week 12! Only six games remain to determine playoff bound teams. Last weekend showcased undefeated Tennessee improving to 10-0. Super Bowl Champion Giants (9-1) running attack steamrolled Baltimore. Jets (7-3) take over 1st in AFC East. Arizona (7-3) can clinch NFC West this weekend.
Week 12 Picks:
Cincinnati (1-8-1) @ Pittsburgh (7-3): Bengals salvaged at tie vs Philly in an ugly home game. Pittsburgh's RB Parker could be a nice fantasy pick with 6 straight td games vs Cincy. Steelers D has been outstanding. On offense, these guys should be blowing out opponents but can't seem to find the endzone. Pittsburgh gets win #8, 23-10.
Tampa Bay (7-3) @ Detroit (0-10): A must win game for Tampa to hold onto it's wild card lead while still challenging for NFC South title. These kind of games look like blowouts on paper. TB will win if taking their weak opponent seriously. Detroit is counting on newly signed QB Culpepper to lead this lowly bunch to victory. A tall order vs a disciplined Bucs D. Tampa Bay busts Detroit, 27-16.
Jets (7-3) @ Tennessee (10-0): Jets beginning to believe. Favre starting to look more comfortable leading Mancini's offense after a huge win over New England. Jets D is a big question mark. Big test vs Titans double back pounding attack. Tennessee keeps prevailing in close games. They'll have to contain Favre or control the clock to keep 10 game streak alive. Game of the Week. Favre throws and throws and throws. J-E-T-S stun Titans, 33-24.
Buffalo (5-5) @ Kansas City (1-9): What's happened to Buffalo? From 4-0/5-1 to 5-5 and last place in AFC East. No room left for a loss this weekend vs KC. Chiefs haven't looked good but they'll put on a show at home. Bowe, Gonzalez could dominate smaller defenders. Chiefs chop Bills, 21-20.
Chicago (5-5) @ St Louis (2-8): da Bears were whacked by GB last weekend 37-3. Chicago's offensive line needs to start playing better. Running game hasn't done much and QB's are running for their lives. Here's a chance for unity vs weak StL D. Rams are in trouble. No team chemistry. Bears win, 27-23.
New England (6-4) @ Miami (6-4): Patriots lost a heartbreaker (and 1st place) to Jets last week. They're facing a rejuvinated Miami squad. Pats need this one or face being on short end of tiebreakers. Dolphins won their first game of '08 in a 38-13 crusher in Foxboro. Pennington has been steady leading the offense. Wild Cat formation has made a star of HB Ronnie Brown. Must win game for both teams. These Fish can swim... 31-24.
Minnesota (5-5) @ Jacksonville (4-6): Vikings HB Peterson takes his running show on the road to sunny skies. Jacksonville has a running attack of their own. Two headed version of Jones-Drew and Taylor. This game will be won in the trenches. Jacksonville in a tight game, 17-16.
Philadelphia (5-4-1) @ Baltimore (6-4): HC Andy Reid must be sick to his stomach after poor playcalling vs Giants in week 10, and a tie vs lowly Cincinnati in week 11. Two missed opportunities lands Philly in NFC East cellar. QB McNabb is not a 4th quarter leader and has been quoted as not knowing tie's happen in NFL games. DUUUUH! Ravens got man handled by the Giants offensive line. They'll have no problems vs Eagles but still have a chore in trying to contain HB Westbrook. Ravens win if they don't turn the ball over... 23-14.
Houston (3-7) @ Cleveland (4-6): Houston trying to put pieces together. They only look good as a unit for brief moments. Cleveland is starting to wake up with Quinn at QB. Big Monday night win over Buffalo could energize this squad. Browns conquer, 27-17.
San Francisco (3-7) @ Dallas (6-4): SF romped over Rams 35-16 providing a much needed team spiritual boost. Big time challenge this weekend in Dallas. Cowboys won ugly last weekend but a win is a win. Romo & Co. have an opportunity to put up big points this weekend. They should be able to score at will. Dallas thumps Niners, 48-24.
Oakland (2-8) @ Denver (6-4): The only news worth reporting on Oakland is Jim Fassel's interest in coaching Al Davis' team. WHY? Denver won a big game down in Atlanta (24-20) last weekend. This weekend, QB Cutler will light up the skies. Denver crushes Raiders, 55-7.
Washington (6-4) @ Seattle (2-8): Redskins trying to rebound after a tough loss vs Dallas. Coach Zorn returns to the city where he starred as Seahawks QB. His team will be ready to impress. Seattle has been anything but impressive this year. Skins win, 27-10.
Giants (9-1) @ Arizona (7-3): New York's offensive line has been tremendous. HB's Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw have been dubbed "Earth, Wind & Fire" by charging thru opposing defenses. QB Manning has been playing smart football. Defensive line has bruised and buried QB's. Game plan of controlling the clock and keeping signal callers off balance must be executed again on Sunday. An Arizona win clinches NFC West. Cards QB Warner is having an MVP type season. He has plenty of targets to exploit Giants lone weakness (secondary). Key to Cards having a shot is providing Warner solid pass protection. If they can, he'll throw for over 400 yards. Cardinals upset Giants, 41-27.
Carolina (8-2) @ Atlanta (6-4): Game of the Week #2. Carolina and Giants are on a collision course to play in NFC Championship Game. Panthers are tough in all aspects of the game. Falcons looking to rebound after a home loss to Denver. Biggest game of the season for an Atlanta team needing a win to stay one step ahead in NFC's crowded Wild Card race. Panthers claw their way to victory, 26-24.
Indianapolis (6-4) @ San Deigo (4-6): Indy is on a 3 game win streak after struggling in the seasons' 1st half. Manning is looking better. Addai had his 1st 100 yard game. Harrison finally woke up. Bad news for Chargers team looking for life vests. It's been a tough luck season for Chargers... only 1 of 6 losses have been by more than 7 points including two 1 point losses. Norv Turner's job will be on the line after this game. Indy 38-33.
Green Bay (5-5) @ New Orleans (5-5): Must win for both teams. Packers NFC North division has 4 teams tied at 5-5. It's make or break time for Packers. Should be able to build on 37-3 trouncing over Chicago. Saints need this one badly. After this weekend, New Orleans has only one soft game (Detroit)... all others vs powerhouse clubs. Green Bay survives aerial war, 36-27.
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From underdogs to favorites, each NFL season is full of surprises. 2008 is no different. Here's a look at a few players and coaches surpassing expectations... a few big time busts.
Matt Ryan (QB/Atlanta): Ryan has helped resurrect an Atlanta franchise in post Vick era. Ryan has been sharp and playing near mistake free football. Atlanta is challenging for a playoff birth. Ryan is a top Rookie of the Year candidate.
Kurt Warner (QB/Arizona): There was a great deal of controversy when Warner was tabbed Cardinals starting QB for '08 over Matt Leinart. Warner responded by playing great football. Five 300 yard games heading into today's action vs lowly Seattle. Arizona is running away with NFC West division. All systems go for Arizona. Warner has been leading the way as an NFL MVP candidate.
Michael Turner (RB/Atlanta): This is Turner's first season as a starting NFL tailback. He's helped lead Atlanta to first place. In his first game as a Falcon, Turner exploded for 220 yards. He's now challenging for the NFL rushing title.
Greg Camarillo (WR/Miami): Camarillo was undrafted by NFL teams before landing in Miami. This 2nd year player has been a favorite target of QB Pennington. Camarillo's numbers aren't screaming for attention (only 1 TD & 100 yd game). Yet, his steady play has been moving chains all season while taking aim at 1000 receiving yards.
Steve Breaston (WR/Arizona): Breaston has given QB Warner another big time threat in Arizona's passing game. Cards WR corps (Bolden, Fitzgerald, Breaston) create headaches for defensive coordinators. He's been a big part of Cards success in '08.
Jeff Fisher (HC/Tennessee): Fisher has always been known as a top notch coach. This season, his Titans haven't lost a game. His opening day starting QB (Vince Young) had a mental implosion. Fisher and staff responded by changing up Titans plan... it's worked to perfection.
Mike Smith (HC/Atlanta): First year Falcons coach deserves tremendous credit for bringing cohesiveness to the Falcons. He's kept Atlanta's young players focused and determined. They've responded by challenging for the playoffs. If he can keep it together for the stretch run, Smith will be a serious Head Coach of the Year candidate.
Tony Sparano (HC/Miami): Sparano has been a miracle worker for a Miami team which was lucky to win one game in 2007 (1-15). He installed the "WildCat" offense which has completely confused opposing defenses. Suddenly, this has become Miami's first exciting Dolphins team since the Shula years. Don't look now, but the Dolphins are challenging to win the AFC East.
Tavaris Jackson (QB/Minnesota): Tavaris was to the Vikings QB of the future. His future ended after 2 poor early season performances. He never seemed to grasp Minnesota's game plan and never became a leader on the field. The Vikings started winning immediately after his benching. NFL career now in limbo.
Chad Johnson (WR/Cincinnati): Chad Johnson or Chad Javon Ocho Cinco (his legally changed name)... take your pick. Both loudmouths have stunk it up for Cincy in '08. Johnson's mouth landed him in the Bengals dog house last year. During the offseason his mouth kept sputtering. Singled out his head coach.. singled out his QB... singled out team ownership... this guy was a walking-talking train wreck before the season kicked off. Well, this not so super star has been abysmal. Dropping passes, giving up on routes, lack of leadership and Cincinnati's fall into neverland rank CJ high among NFL busts.
Wade Phillips (HC/Dallas): What more could an NFL Head Coach want? Super star filled offense, young energetic defense, good special teams and an owner dedicated to winning. Problem is, some of Dallas' superstars are head cases which can't get past mini-dramas and injuries. Phillips problems began at the end of 2007 regular season. They've continued into '08 and now threaten Dallas shot at playoffs. Phillips has not handled team distractions well. Poor game planning hasn't helped either. He'll be gone if Dallas gets eliminated.
Norv Turner (HC/SD): Turner inherited a 14-2 team and quickly transformed them into losers. This is one of the NFL's most talented teams on offense and defense. Turner would rather try winning with passing instead of relying on team strength.. RB LaDainian Tomlinson behind a talented offensive line. Turner has a history of wrecking strong teams.
Marvin Lewis (HC/Cincinnati): Lewis had initial success after talking the helm in Cincy. However, the past two seasons have been disasterous to the point of losing control over players. Lewis had a few public run-ins with key players QB Palmer, WR Chad Johnson, RB Rudi Johnson and they haven't been the same since. His lack of authority over personnel decisions doesn't help either. Cincy's front office is one of NFL's worst. Bad timing as this team was once on the rise. Lewis needs to go.
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Week 10 treated fans to great matchups and last second plays deciding games. Indianapolis kept their playoff hopes alive snuffing out Pittsburgh. Super Bowl Champion Giants tightened their grip on NFC East. Tennessee remains NFL's only unbeaten team. Buffalo have dropped three straight going from first to fourth in AFC East. Ravens fourth straight win earns first place tie. Each and every remaining game has huge implications for many teams fighting for playoff status. (standings).
Last week, I nailed 12 of 14 games correctly. Week 11 begins Thursday with a huge AFC East divisional matchup between the Jets and Patriots.
Time to pick'em... NFL Week 11:
Jets (6-3) @ Patriots (6-3): Jets dominated StL last weekend running up a 40-0 halftime lead. Jets lost to Pats in week 2. Jets haven't played well vs winning teams. Favre must not throw int's or Jets will have troubles. Thursday kicks off back to back games vs AFC winners... New England and Tennessee. Patriots Coach Belichick is one of NFL's best. Pats have regrouped behind Brady fill-in QB Cassells. Methodical offense gettng the job done. Defense has been hitting everyone. Pats ground Jets, 27-23.
Denver (5-4) @ Atlanta (6-3): This game has shootout written all over it. Cutler's 447 passing yards last week was 5th 300 or better game. Denver's running game is banged up so they'll be in passing mode vs Atlanta. Falcons have been playing great football. Defense bend but don't break attitude keeps opponents out of end zones. Offense led by big three, QB Ryan, HB Turner, WR White. They should put up big numbers vs invisible Denver D. Falcons win, 44-36.
Philadelphia (5-4) @ Cincinnati (1-8): Eagles playcalling was terrible and cost them a shot at winning vs Giants. McNabb's endurance featured another prime time fourth quarter collapse. Bengals coming back from bye week after upsetting Jacksonville for their 1st win. Eagles D will preserve victory, 20-17.
Chicago (5-4) @ Green Bay (4-5): Bears couldn't solve unbeaten Titans last week, looking to rebound vs rival Packers. Bears D playing flawless football. Offense needs to score points no matter who lines up under center. Packers began strong, now struggling to keep pace in NFC North. Bears win classic matchup, 24-23.
Houston (3-6) @ Indianapolis (5-4): It's been a streaky season for Texans. Lost opening four, then won three straight, currently on a two game skid. Now traveling to face a hot Indy team. Colts were left for dead two weeks ago before back to back wins. Manning only has two 300+ games and no halfback has come close to 100 yards rushing. It's been their D creating late game turnovers which has saved the day. This weekend vs Houston is a perfect time to wake up the offense. Manning goes wild, Colts light it up, 36-14.
New Orleans (4-5) @ Kansas City (1-8): Saints had blamed injuries for their sub par year. Truth is... injuries happen and good teams find a way to win. QB Brees singled out a few players on the sidelines last week and one didn't return. Jeremy Shockey dropped a critical pass and never returned from the lockerroom. Kansas City is horrendous and coach Edwards is probably the NFL's worst. Saints win on the road, 27-17.
Oakland (2-7) @ Miami (5-4): Teams in opposite directions. Raiders free falling with no help in sight. It's probably time Al Davis thinks of selling this once proud organization. Miami has stunned many teams and now they have a winning record. Dolphins will be in 2nd place after this weekend. Miami rolls, 33-17.
Baltimore (6-3) @ Giants (8-1): Ravens defense gives Giants biggest test. Ravens climbed into 1st place tie after four straight victories. Giants inventing new ways to win. At their best in late game situations. Special teams and turnovers could decide this battle. Giants win at home, 23-20.
Minnesota (5-4) @ Tampa Bay (6-3): Vikings are good but Tampa's better. Both teams rolling along right now. Vikings can only win this one if Peterson rushes well over 100. Otherwise, Tampa's all around game will prevail. Close contest, picking TB 24-17.
Detroit (0-9) @ Carolina (7-2): All is lost for Detroit. Another rebuilding decade on the way. Panthers are very strong and NFC's 2nd best. Most attention has been directed towards Titans & Giants. Barring significant injuries, the Panthers will play in NFC Championship Game. Panthers bloody Lions, 36-7.
San Diego (4-5) @ Pittsburgh (6-3): Tough luck SD heads to hard hitting tough luck Pittsburgh. Rivers passing has been one of the few bright spots for SD. Pittsburgh's questionable playcalling and lack of execution cost them a needed W last weekend. Which teams show up is anyone's guess. Steelers barely survive, 27-25.
Tennessee (9-0) @ Jacksonville (4-5): Tennessee keeps rolling. Last week it was QB Collins leading the charge. Jacksonville rebounded after two straight losses to weak teams. Titans defense will have to control Jags running attack and visa versa. Better D wins this game. Titans keep marching, 23-21.
Dallas (6-3) @ Washington (5-4): Dallas was picked by many to be NFC's Super Bowl rep this year. If Dallas loses this game they can kiss 2008 goodbye. Too many soap opera's ruled the day once Romo was lost to injury. Too much talent here for coaches to let this happen. Romo expected to return. Washington beat Cowboys in Dallas earlier behind Clinton Portis rushing attack. Portis might not gear up this weekend. Coach Jim Zorn will improvise. Redskins vs Cowboys is always a great game to watch. Skins buckle down... win heavy hitting war, 28-20.
Cleveland (3-6) @ Buffalo (5-4): Cleveland's offense continues to struggle. No 100 yard rushers. Only 3 200-yard passing games. Play calling has failed... easy to do when players don't execute. Buffalo began the year winning four straight and five of six... until... ? Continuity on offense has been missing during three straight losses. Rushing attack can't find holes. Defense suddenly giving up big plays and field position. Bills need this win or risk getting buried on the outside looking in. Bills win, 17-15.
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From underdogs to favorites, each NFL season is full of surprises. 2008 is no different. A few heavily favored teams are struggling. A couple of teams expected to blow away competitors are losing. NFL star players underperforming while a few rookies and old pro's are turning heads.
Time to shine All World All Sports spotlight on a few of the headline makers and breakers....
Biggest Surprises (Teams, thumbs up):
Miami Dolphins (5-4): Miami was 1-15 in 2007. Nobody expected much heading into '08. These guys have knocked off San Diego, New England, Denver and Buffalo. A new feeling of confidence has taken hold over a team considered lucky to win one last year. Trick plays, new formations, Ronnie Brown and Chad Pennington have been on top of their game. Most defenses haven't solved Dolphins energetic attack. Defense has been fired up. A total team effort from front office decisions to coaches to players on the gridiron.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3): 2007 featured an Atlanta team rebounding from their field general being sent to jail. Nothing went right as they finished 4-12. 2008 has a new gang of birds in red and black as the Falcons have been playing inspired football led by rookie of the year candidate QB Matt Ryan. Undefeated at home and currently challenging for post-season play. Solid performances on offense and defense suggest this squad should not be taken lightly.
Tennessee Titans (9-0): Unbeaten and finding new ways to win. Head Coach Jeff Fisher is a tremendous coach who rarely gets his due by sports reporters. This guy understands his players and knows how to get the most out of this team. After a respectable 10-6 finish in '07, most expected QB of the future Vince Young to be ready and vastly improved. Young is out... veteran Kerry Collins is in. Titans running game and defense has been outstanding. When needed, Collins turns it up a notch and leads his team to victory. Not many give these guys a shot at 16-0 immortality... not even themselves. That's ok. All they want is a Super Bowl victory. They're a tough team to beat and any opponent taking them lightly is doomed.
Indianapolis Colts (5-4): For the past few seasons, Indy usually began their year on fire (13-3 in '07). Not this year. Colts are still trying to find their grove. Indy's five wins haven't been easy. Peyton Manning hasn't been his old self. Marvin Harrison is clearly missing a step and dropping passes he normally corrals. Lack of a running game and inconsistent defense has left the '08 Colts vulnerable. Back to back tough wins vs New England and Pittsburgh could be a welcome sign of good things ahead. It's still iffy but Dungy has a shot at salvaging a disappointing year.
Minnesota Vikings (5-4): Vikings were clueless opening the year 0-2. A couple of key personnel changes quickly energized players and turned things around in a hurry. QB Gus Ferrotte has been the man leading Minnesota to wins in 5 of 7. HB Peterson has been a game changer. Vikings defense has made big plays when they had to. This squad doesn't strike fear into opponents... yet. They do seem to play better cohesive football from week to week. Big tests still remain. Vikes should not be counted out.
Seattle Seahawks (2-7): 10-6 division winners in '07. Seattle has been horrible so far with no signs of improvement on the horizon. These guys find new ways to define inept. Only wins have been against San Francisco and St. Louis... whoopie. They've barely challenged after opening kickoffs in other contests. Offense, defense and coaching decisions have not panned out. A total team collapse. What happened to this squad? Injuries, age and lack of innovation have derailed any hope of salvaging a respectable season.
San Diego Chargers (4-5): 11-5 division winners had been predicted to win it all in '08. They haven't looked good in most games. Began 0-2 losing by a combined 3 points. It's been a tough luck season. Early on it was bad officiating, dropped passes... anything and everything which could go wrong usually did. They've battled back to 4-5 but it's uncertain which path Norv Turner's team will take down the stretch. Big injuries on defense and to LT have created inconsistencies. Turner hasn't solved the puzzle and must for San Diego to have a shot. Many experts keep waiting for the Chargers to turn it around. It would help if these guys were able to figure out a way to win on the road.
Detroit Lions (0-9): 7-9 in '07. Nobody expected to Lions to suddenly rise to top status. However, after years and years of rebuilding... and 7 wins in 2007... most in Motown expected improvement. Wrong. This is the worst organization in the NFL. Horrible front office, subpar coaching, substandard players all add up to ZERO wins. That's right, this team hasn't won a game. They've barely even challenged in most. Things are so bad QB Dante Culpepper was signed mid-week and started yesterday. There's no way he knows this offense... that's how pathetic this team has become. I'd comment on their defense if there was a defense to comment on. It doesn't get much worse then the 2008 Detroit Lions. If they win a game it will be a result of a fluke incident.
Stay tuned for Biggest Suprises and Busts ranking players and coaches........
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Have you ever imagined or daydreamed of hitting a hole in one? You’re not alone. Thousands of golfers hope to achieve this phenomenon every time they get ready to tee off on their favorite par-3. A low handicap golfer faces minimum 5000 to 1 odds of accomplishing this feat. PGA tour members are lucky if they hit one in their lifetime.
News has come out of Peoria, Illinois (El Paso Golf Club). 22 year old Curt Hocker has stunned the golfing world. Last week, over a six day span, Hocker holed FIVE… that’s right… 5 holes in one!
Your reaction is probably the same as mine… ‘no way!’ According to UPI.com (article) this was no hoax and witnesses were present. No word yet, but it’s safe to assume Peoria has a new local celebrity.
My father, a recreational golfer, once hit two holes in one while on the links in Florida. His first was witnessed by one person… my mother. Needless to say his moment was soon filled with clubhouse skepticism and ribbing by his buddies since no one else was around to capture the moment. He was redeemed nearly one year to the day. He nailed a second hole-in-one when his drive on a par 3 one hopped into the cup with close buddies cheering the shot. Needless to say, it was the highlight of his recreational golfing career.
Hocker’s 5 aces during a six day span will remain hard to believe… and will probably never be matched again. Somehow in the back of my mind this seems like a great hoax.
Tiger Woods… you now have a new challenge!
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How will baseball owners and players react to the current declining US economy? Are owners still willing (or able) to throw money around like drunken sailors on a three day leave? Will players continue demanding incredibly high salaries? Baseball’s annual winter meetings have offered no clues other than to suggest teams will be very busy.
Baseball has entered its’ free agent frenzy period. General Managers from around the league are currently testing the trade waters and making offers to free agent players. Some of the biggest names being discussed are Manny Ramirez and CC Sabathia. Both had been expected to rake in upwards of $15M per season.
However, crashing stock markets, declining pensions, state and federal taxes on the rise, recession fears and other factors… are Major League Baseball and team owners prepared for reduced revenues? Or, are they counting on business as usual? Corporate sponsors will soon be reneging on their commitments to stadium sponsorship and slowly reducing their advertising revenues at ballparks around the country. MLB will certainly get hit. Many new stadiums have increased ticket prices making it harder for an average family of four to attend games even under normal circumstances. Our current economic climate will make it unfeasable for most families to attend games on a regular basis… if at all.
So how will teams rationalize big dollar contracts? And, how can players justify seeking multi-year $15-25M salaries. The global economy is in shambles and it would be an utter disgrace for MLB players and owners to start throwing around ridiculous amounts of underserved money.
I’ve always been mystified at how irrational some players salaries have become. Take New York Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez. Here’s a guy making over $25M per season and he hasn’t even played in a single World Series game. He’s not alone. At what point will owners realize talent isn’t only found in big name players? It takes more than just money to win championships. Tampa Bay Rays and Florida Marlins are perfect examples of winning teams who did not need to fork over crazy contracts to buy wins?
Most importantly, when more than half of our country is financially stifled… with the worst yet to come.. how can anyone justify paying (or asking for) outrageous sums of money to play a “game”. At what point is enough enough? It’s all about greed and ego’s. Players greed and owners ego’s.
MLB, as a whole, should be very careful in these trying times. They’re going to need one heck of a spin to justify paying larger than life contracts when fans struggle to make ends meet. Concession stands charging $8.50 for hotdogs will see much shorter lines. Souvenir stands charging $35.00 for t-shirts will be in for a long year.
Soon we’ll find out if MLB re-adjusts to conform with main street America…
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From here on out each week of the NFL season represents must win games for teams competing to play in this seasons’ playoffs. Many teams are still in the hunt. One slip up could spell doom and gloom. Week 9 provided a few upsets as the NFL playoff race heats up.
Thursday night games begin this week and continue until the final weekend. Time to play the prediction game for Week 10:
Denver (4-4) @ Cleveland (3-5): Denver began 3-0 and has struggled ever since. Cleveland has bounced back lately but not enough consistency on offense has led to QB Anderson being benched in favor of Brady Quinn. Broncos will light it up this week, 38-23.
New Orleans (4-4) @ Atlanta (5-3): Saints Brees has thrown for 300+ yards in 6 of 8 contests. Saints rushing attack hasn’t produced a 100 yard rusher. Falcons QB Ryan is odds on favorite for Rookie of the Year honors. Atlanta’s trio of Ryan, RB Turner and WR White has been hard to stop. An Atlanta victory over N.O. will keep them within reach of winning NFC South. Falcons win shootout, 33-27.
Tennessee (8-0) @ Chicago (5-3): NFL’s only unbeaten Tennessee continues to play tough football. It’s been a total team effort so far. Bears defense will cause havoc for Titans attack. QB Orton was injured last week. A Bears win keeps them one step ahead of rising teams. A loss takes them a step backwards into an already crowded playoff field. Titans find way to win again in a very close contest, 17-16.
Jacksonville (3-5) @ Detroit (0-8): Jax lost back to back games vs teams they should have handled with ease (Cleveland, Cincinnati). They’re on the outside looking in but a win can keep hope alive. Detroit is a joke but playing Jax could be just what they need. Jags win ugly game, 24-16.
Seattle (2-6) @ Miami (4-4): Who would have believed Miami would have a better record at this juncture? Tale of two teams in opposite directions. Miami has made a habit of beating solid teams this season. Dolphins sink Seahawks, 26-16.
Green Bay (4-4) @ Minnesota (4-4): Huge NFC North contest. Hard to believe Vikings have rebounded to reach .500. Packers have been streaky. This game can turn into a wild shootout. Peterson will need his sixth 100 yard game if Vikes are to win… and they will, 27-24.
Buffalo (5-3) @ New England (5-3): Huge AFC East matchup. Buffalo has been playing very well. New England isn’t the same without Brady. Both teams are deep and very well coached. This game will be decided late in the fourth quarter. Bills win tough battle, 27-23.
St Louis (2-6) @ Jets (5-3): Ugly matchup between underachieving Rams and a Jets team winning in spite of subpar performances. Favre will have a shot to pad stats vs an invisible St Louis secondary. Jets need this win badly. They win ugly once again, 31-23.
Baltimore (5-3) @ Houston (3-5): Ravens seek fourth consecutive victory. Defense is playing tough led by vet Ray Lewis. Things are really beginning to gel and Baltimore has quietly become a dominating team. Houston has received bad news as QB and top tackler are done. Baltimore pitches a shutout, 23-0.
Carolina (6-2) @ Oakland (2-6): This is 1st of back to back soft opponents for Carolina. All systems go. Oakland just released CB Hall who they had hoped to shape their defense around. It’s been one bad draft/trade after another for once mighty Oakland. Panthers in a blowout, 37-14.
Indianapolis (4-4) @ Pittsburgh (6-2): Colts haven’t looked good even when winning. Dungy’s team is no longer feared. Steelers defense has been tremendous. Offense still searching for consistency. Steelers get it done, 27-20.
Kansas City (1-7) @ San Diego (3-5): KC has been called a rebuilding team. Truth is … they’re flat out awful. This was supposed to be San Diego’s season. Sloppy play has been rewarded with a losing record. Chargers can keep their season alive with a win … a loss basically eliminates Norv Turner’s team. SD wins behind a big game by QB Rivers, 33-10.
Giants (7-1) @ Philadelphia (5-3): No gimmie’s left on Giants schedule. Every remaining opponent is tough. A win against Philly will keep NFC East in Giants control. Eagles have looked good with Westbrook healthy. My game of the week pick. Giants win a classic hard nosed battle, 24-23.
San Francisco (2-6) @ Arizona (5-3): 49ers new coach Singletary has already made examples of lackluster non-performers. Cardinals are running away with NFC West. Warner dissects vulnerable SF D, 38-10.
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Superstitions in sports is a prominent phenomenom among many athletes and fans worldwide since the beginning of organized sports. Professional teams on winning streaks often continue whatever routine was in place until the run ends. From not shaving to breakfast foods to workout regimens. Losing streaks often involve changing day to day rituals. Boston Red Sox broke their World Series drought curse in magical style in 2004. Chicago Cubs fans just commiserated on their 100th consecutive season without a World Series Championship.
Curses, streaks, good luck charms or superstition. Call it whatever you want but unexplained theories or quirkiness lives on.
Believe it or not, the NFL's Washington Redskins performance on the weekend prior to an American Presidential election has been correctly predicting candidates who reside in The White House. For 64 years and 17 Presidential elections, if the Redskins won the game then the incumbent party won the White House. If Washington lost, then so did the imcumbant party. (Washington currently losing to Pittsburgh on Monday Night Football 16-6 entering the fourth quarter).
So what will it be? Tomorrow November 4, 2008, citizens of the United States of America will be holding one of the biggest elections in our country's history. Will a Redskins loss thrust Senator Barack H. Obama into history? Or will the Redskins make a big fourth quarter comeback predetermining Senator John McCain's successful bid for President?
Stay tuned. Tonight it's Pittsburgh vs Washington. Tomorrow, John McCain or Barack Obama will be the new leader of the free world.
(*Only one time, 2004, when Washington lost the imbumbant party retained the White House).
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