Posts Tagged ‘Michael Turner’

The Weekend: A Prequel

Friday, December 4th, 2009

It’s been an interesting week in the sports world. The boxing match we’ve eagerly awaited, Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., finally looks set. The return of “The Answer” is no longer in question. And the best athlete at his position in the world made headlines for a vehicular incident…

Shame on you, Adrian Peterson, for driving 109 mph in a 55-mph zone.

What? You thought I was going somewhere else with that…

And now, a look ahead to a glorious weekend of sports.

Conference Championship Saturday

The only championship games in college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision* that actually make sense began Thursday with the Civil War and hit full stride Saturday.

*I wrote that out instead of typing its initials (FBS) purely for you to see how ridiculous-sounding that name is.

BCS berths are still at-large for many conferences. But that doesn’t mean these games will be close. Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and Texas are all expected to hoist trophies without a fight.

Meanwhile, the rest of college football looks ahead to the match-up fans and experts have anticipated all season…

Wisconsin vs. Hawaii.

What? That doesn’t excite you? Fine.

How about the first time we’ve seen the no. 1 and 2 ranked BCS teams match-up outside the BCS championship?

Florida vs. Alabama serves as a de facto semifinal (barring unforeseen computer calculations). The winner most certainly stakes its claim as the favorite to exit the Rose Bowl, January 7th, as champion.

Will Tim Tebow leave another footprint in his quest to be the greatest quarterback in college football history? Can RB Mark Ingram make his final case for the Heisman? Who wins the Urban Meyer and Nick Saban coaching battle? What measures will CBS take to protect against a potential Verne Lundquist head explosion after Tebow scores his second touchdown?

Some answers I can wait for. But others – or other – leave me giddy.

NFL Week 13

A number of match-ups this week have significant playoff implications…and here are my thoughts:

I’m interested to see how the banged-up Atlanta Falcons (sans Matt Ryan and Michael Turner) host an Eagles team missing two big-play weapons of their own (DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook).

Speaking of which…has anyone noticed how seemingly contagious concussions have become? It’s nearly reached Swine Flu status.

Will Chris Johnson’s prediction (from 0-6 to 10-6) hold against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts? The Tennessee Titans have run off five straight wins since inserting Vince Young. And CJ remains on pace to break a historic record (Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 single-season rush yards) as quietly as anyone…ever.

Houston Texans v. Jacksonville Jaguars. Ehh.

The Dallas Cowboys look to avenge an early season embarrassment against the current embarrassment that is the New York Giants. Winners of one of their previous six, this is the Giants last chance to resurrect their season. The players and teams hate each other – no really – they actually don’t like each other. And as a Cowboys fan, I hate the Giants. So it should be exciting. For me at least.

At 5-6, the Miami Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives against a suddenly-human New England Patriots. The Pats ‘cloak of invisibility’ is long gone – especially on the defensive side of the ball. So why is it still so hard for me to pick against them? They even go out-flexed this week…

…by the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. Two forty-something quarterbacks may go head-to-head this week. (I realize Kurt Warner isn’t 40 yet, but you’ve heard of “dog years?” I propose for every concussion sustained, a year is added to your age in “NFL-years”…making Warner somewhere around 52).

Anyways, this is the week the Vikings go down. Why? Because they play a legit team. Consider this: the combined record of the nine teams they’ve defeated is 39-71. Pretty staggering. It’s not that I don’t think they are good. I just don’t think they are that good.

So there are some appetizers for your football platter this weekend. And remember, with the holidays coming up, if you fall in love with the player’s wear on the sidelines, you can always buy that stuff here – at FansEdge.

What? I still have to pay the bills.

Week 9: When Fungus is Acceptable

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Hiding in Plain Sight

Last week Derek Fisher of the Los Angeles Lakers played 34 minutes and recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists. He managed two steals and two personal fouls and without those you may not have even know he was there.

Michael Wilbon made a brief argument on PTI that Fisher is a guy who does the “other things” to help his team win. I’m sure he was moving the ball, screening, playing some defense, and being a leader and a nice guy, but in 34 minutes you think he would pass it to a guy who would make a shot or he would accidentally run into a rebound. Fisher was just hiding in plain sight, not contributing anything noticeable.

Flashback to 2006:

*Comedy Central airs the last new Chapelle’s Show on July 23rd. Borat opens the first weekend of November at the top of the box office. The confluence of these two events that happened just 3+ months apart created a venn diagram overlap in pop culture relevance where it became virtually impossible to escape people quoting Chapelle/Borat, especially if you were in college at the time. Chapelle was on safari and done with the show, but new episodes aired with many re-runs of the old ones and three and a half months was not long enough for some people to beat those jokes to death. And then Borat happens. So the quote wheel keeps spinning for the frequent repeaters out there.

*The Chicago Bears are going 13-3 on their way to the Super Bowl with Rex Grossman at QB.

*Terrell Owens leads the NFL in touchdown receptions and has 1,180 yards receiving.
*Michael Vick throws for 2,474 yards and runs for 1,039 yards and combines for 22 TD’s.
*Larry Johnson is second in the league in rushing and rushing TD’s, with 1,789 yards and 17 TD’s. He also added 410 receiving yards and 2 receiving TD’s.

Now those three fantasy football studs are hiding in plain sight. Vick is out of jail and on the bench. TO is in Buffalo not doing a whole lot and Larry Johnson has been cut by the Chiefs for vomiting his thoughts on Twitter.

Many professional athletes and celebrities and people not famous have not yet evolved the filter between the brain and the fingertips. And it is not their fault. Evolution takes time and social networking is relatively new. The brain to mouth filter was not even fully evolved in many and now they are under stress to develop a second filter on the fly to protect themselves from their thoughts escaping through their fingertips to Twitter and the world. Maybe we should cut all these athletes who type stupid stuff a break because evolving that kind of ability will take generations.

Ups, Downs, and Laterals

Of course sports are cyclical and players begin to decline once they’ve reached a certain age, but TO, Vick, and Johnson seem to still have enough ability to offer a team something productive. Instead they are just being hidden in plain sight by their own specific circumstances.

While individual players find a way to hide in plain sight, it is very difficult for teams to hide team weaknesses. And at the half-way point of the NFL season, with the playoff picture forming, those weaknesses are apparent to everyone.

Three – maybe four – of the divisions are all but mathematically clinched. It would take a melt down of New York Mets proportion for the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints, or Minnesota Vikings not to win their division.

The Colts and Saints both remain undefeated after getting challenged hard by the Houston Texans and Carolina Panthers. A missed FG by Kris Brown of the Texans prevented Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, and DeMeco Ryans from taking a shot at Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, and company in overtime. The Colts have played two tight games in a row.

The Panthers were marching, nearing FG range, down three with less than three minutes to go in the 4th quarter when Jake Delhomme fumbled and New Orleans recovered. Three and out for the Saints, followed by a DeAngelo Williams fumble returned for a TD by New Orleans on Carolina’s ensuing possession put the Saints up 10 with 2:00 to go and there’s your ball game.

The Vikings sat the week out on a bye and still gained ground in the division with the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers losing. No word yet on any team boating excursions during the week off. Had there been some sort of team building exercise, I’m sure Twitter would have been a flutter. Maybe Brad Childress would have been in a drag. You never know.

The Saints have played three close games in a row which they won by one-possession scores. The Colts have played two close games in a row, winning the two by a combined seven points. The Vikings are a missed FG and a Brett Favre to Greg Lewis 32-yard TD with 0:00 on the clock away from being 5-3. There is no NFL team this season that is going to march over every opponent they play. Even the teams with the best records have won fugly a time or two and escaped with a win.

The New England Patriots not winning the AFC East would not be a Mets-type collapse, but probably more of a Minnesota Twins sneaking up on the Detroit Tigers sort of let down. It might be possible for them to get caught all season long, but nobody will believe it can happen. Tom Brady is connecting with Randy Moss like it is 2007 and they have a linebacker who is in his forties in Junior Seau.

The Show

Remember in Bull Durham when Crash Davis tells Ebby “Nuke” LaLoosh that he needs to get new shower shoes?

“You’ll never make it to the bigs with fungus on your shower shoes. Think classy, you’ll be classy. If you win 20 in the show, you can let the fungus grow back and the press’ll think you’re colorful. Until you win 20 in the show, however, it means you are a slob.”

I think the same goes for bad mustaches and facial hair that looks more neglected than grown. At 6-0, it is something to joke about, but now with two Bronco losses in a row, it may be time for Kyle Orton to think classy. He’s had it off and on throughout his career, but it might be time go now.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are sitting on top of the AFC North in a tie with the Cincinnati Bengals after beating the Denver Broncos on Monday night. The Bengals are coming off a win over the Baltimore Ravens. Cedric Benson rushed for over 100 yards for the second time this season against the Ravens. Maybe that vaulted Ravens-Ray Lewis-D that earned Trent Dilfer a ring is finally showing its age. Ben Roethlisberger and Hines Ward hooked up for two TD’s last night in their win over the Broncos.

The Dallas Cowboys went to the Philadelphia Eagles and took away a big win that, coupled with the San Diego Chargers victory over the New York Giants, puts the Cowboys in first place in the NFC East.

Tony Romo has 9 TD’s and only 1 interception during his team’s four game winning streak. Miles Austin continues to be a big play guy, catching only one pass but for a 49 yard TD.

Philip Rivers took the Chargers down the field and threw a TD pass to Vincent Jackson with 0:21 on the clock to give San Diego a one point win. Eli Manning was 25-33 for 215 yards and 2 TD’s, but the Giants were flagged for over 100 yards in penalties which will stop any team from gaining momentum in any direction.

The bye week for the Giants this week is sorely needed. DeMarcus Ware is salivating at the opportunity to play the Green Bay Packers and their O-Line this week. And the Eagles have to fly all way across the country to San Diego, which, for the sake of the entire city of Philly, I hope goes better than their trip to Oakland did.

The New York Jets come off their bye for a Week 10 match up with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs last week. The Jets and Jags are both 4-4 with neither team having a realistic shot at winning their division, so this game is huge for both teams in the scope of Wild Card spots. Maurice Jones-Drew leads the NFL with 11 rushing TD’s.

Matt Cassel stuck it to all Dwayne Bowe fantasy owners by throwing 2 TD passes to Chris Chambers, who had been on the Chiefs for about eight seconds.

Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald and the Arizona Cardinals went to Soldier Field and inspired the crowd to boo loudly the home team Chicago Bears. Tommie Harris went ahead with a punch to the face of a Cardinal O-lineman to get ejected four plays into the game. We like your enthusiasm there Tommy, we just need you to direct it in a more positive way. Warner and Jay Cutler both had big statistical games, but the Bears could not overcome 89 yards of penalties and or their inability to convert on third down.

The Packers were probably hurt most by their Week 9 performance, losing to first time starter rookie Josh Freeman and the previously winless Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Aaron Rodgers was bludgeoned again and the defense did not do much in the way of stopping a bad offense. Two weeks ago Minnesota, at 6-1, was coming into Lambeau Field to play a 4-2 Packers team. A Packer win gives both teams two losses and sets up the Pack up to tie the division at Tampa Bay with Minnesota on a bye. Instead, the cheese falls to 4-4 in an ugly way. Three of their four wins are against one-win teams: Lions, Browns, Rams.

Speaking of the Lions, Browns, and Rams… the Browns and Rams were spared by being on a bye, but the Lions suffered another loss. So did the Washington Redskins.

Calvin Johnson returned to the line up for the Lions and they played the Seattle Seahawks tough, but could not find a way to win it, in part because rookie Matthew Stafford had five learning opportunities in which the ball went the other way on him. Matt Hasselbeck spread the ball around. Six Seahawks had five or more catches. T.J. Houshmandzadeh caught his only TD pass.

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Redskins to move to 5-3 and put themselves in a nice position for a Wild Card birth. Michael Turner had a huge game, 166 yards and 2 TD’s and Matt Ryan hooked up with Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Clinton Portis left the game and with him took Washington’s only hope.

The Tennessee Titans won their second game in a row and handed the San Francisco 49ers their fourth loss in a row. Vince Young is 2-0 as a starter and Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing yards.
The Niners have lost their last three games by one possession scores. Next week Mike Singletary squares off against his old team, the Chicago Bears, in what will be a critical game for each team’s drive for the post-season.

To Week 10:

Thursday night games begin with the Bears and 49ers.
The Bengals and Steelers play to break the tie for the AFC North lead.
The Patriots go to Indy for an always fun game to watch.
And either the Chiefs or the Raiders will win because they play each other.

The New York Yankees 2009 World Series Championship is still only less than a week old and there is plenty of World Series gear here for you to commemorate #27.

The item of the week this week is some real NFL sideline apparel to help you get ready for cold weather.

NFL Week 8: 10-Favre

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Usain Bolt adopted a cheetah named Lightning Bolt.

Stephen Colbert and Colbert Nation are sponsoring the U.S. speedskating team in the Vancouver Olympics.

A golfer tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Manu Ginobili pulled a flying bat out of the air during a basketball game. (I once accidentally pulled a live bat out of a washing machine. I thought it was a sock stuck to the wall of the inside of the machine. It screeched and spreads its wings. I threw it, said swear words, and ran upstairs. I don’t love flying bats.)

The three daughters of OJ Simpson’s lawyer are all over reality TV and gossip mags and marrying Lamar Odom and getting dumped by Reggie Bush.

The NFL and FOX devoted one camera to a single player for an entire football game on Sunday.

Stephon Marbury got ejected from a Knicks game… from the first row of paid seats where he was a spectator.

Nothing should surprise us in sports anymore – not Michael Vick, not Tim Donaghy (that one was almost predictable), not Tom Cable, or the Denver Broncos or Tennessee Titans, not Andre Agassi, and not even Syracuse WR Mike Williams quitting on his team this week. Stud college WR’s named Mike Williams do not have a good track record.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Brett Favre was booed mercilessly for most of the game in his return to Green Bay, where for 16 years the good people there put cheering for Favre on the same level as feeding their kids, going to church, and Old Milwaukee. I was a Viking fan living in Wisconsin for 14 years. I witnessed Favre becoming an icon, a legend, and seemingly a best friend to Packer fans. And while the treatment Favre got at Lambeau Field on Sunday should not have surprised me, it did. I didn’t expect a standing O or anything close to it, but I didn’t expect non-stop booing.

It’s about the same as a dude who dates a girl for a long time, then she decides to break up with him and he gets a bummed out, but when she wants to go back to him, he refuses and then hates her with more vigor than he ever loved her and when he sees her at the grocery store, he just boos at her through the produce section and all the way to the deli, down the cereal aisle and right up to the check-out counter where he encounters her new guy who is taller, better looking, makes more money, and was the same dude who struck him out in a high school playoff game to end his baseball career. And then when the girl and her new guy walk out to the parking lot, the dude is standing there with a sign that reads, “Legends Don’t Wear Purple.”

It’s about like that.

It seems to me that the same things that endeared Favre to Green Bay fans are the things for which they now boo him. He is human; he is flawed. They loved him for his energy and passion and for speaking uncensored early in his career. They loved his unorthodox play and didn’t mind his vices at all. He was like them, like us; he could have been your neighbor. But the flaw they couldn’t accept was the man’s inability to decide when to retire from the only thing he has ever done. He reached a level in the minds and hearts of Packer fans where the humanness of him transcended into something other than human and they expected him to be perfect. They forgot that he’s human. He is just like them, but they wanted him to be something better.

Then he went to a division, border, and bitter rival, which doesn’t help anything except the Viking offense.

And now he has found Sidney Rice and made him 6th in the league in receiving yards.

The Vikings improved to 7-1 on the season, including a Green Bay sweep, on which ESPN dedicated roughly 1,793 hours (and counting) of programming.

Chris Berman loves Brett Favre. He loves Favre more than Kanye loves Kanye.

Aaron Rodgers has taken 31 sacks this year through 7 games, thanks in great part to Jared Allen. Ten quarterbacks last year took over 30 sacks all season long, including Rodgers who took 34. Rodgers is a good quarterback. He can run and throw and he’s a smart guy. He can make every throw you need him to make except the one out of bounds to avoid taking a sack. And now he has two sprains to nurse.

Jared Allen has a great sack dance. As much as I didn’t like Gilbert Brown, he did too.

My brother works a job in Wisconsin where he uses two-way radios daily. He is a Viking fan living in Wisconsin and working with mostly Packer fans. When he confirms that he has understood a radio communication, in stead of saying “10-4”, he says “10-Favre”. One guy he works with has taken to responding to that with “12-Rodgers” – which is hilarious because it makes no sense at all.

Anyway.

The New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts are the last of the undefeated. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are playing about as well as you can. The Saints receivers – Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey, specifically – made some ridiculous catches last night in their win over the Atlanta Falcons. Jason Elam was struggling with the kicking last night and had he been on, it may have been more interesting than it was at the end of the game. Both Pierre Thomas and Michael Turner looked really good.

Manning and Brees are at the top of the NFL QB class right now, but Matt Ryan will be there one day soon, along with Joe Flacco, who led the Baltimore Ravens in a beat down of the previously undefeated Denver Broncos.

The Chicago Bears chewed up and spit out the Cleveland Browns. Derek Anderson has thrown 9 interceptions and has the same number of passing TD’s as he does rushing TD’s: 2. Not great. The Browns scored a TD… then missed the extra point. Not great. Eric Mangini, in response to a question about why he didn’t replace Anderson with Brady Quinn earlier, said, “I thought we actually moved the ball at times earlier.” Anderson was 6-17 for 76 yards, 0 TD, and 2 INT. Not great. They had 191 yards of offense and were 1-11 on third down. I’m not sure when Mangini thought they were moving the ball well.

The Dallas Cowboys routed the Seattle Seahawks. The Eagles spanked the New York Giants and now the NFC East has three five win teams. Dallas goes to Philly for Sunday Night Football this week. Big game with a couple of big play guys in Miles Austin and DeSean Jackson. The Giants play host to the San Diego Chargers, who had the good fortune of playing the Oakland Raiders last week.

I am begging Eli Manning to get things on track because I need Steve Smith to be an awesome fantasy WR for me and he hasn’t scored or cracked 100 yards in three weeks.

The St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans got their first wins of the year. Steven Jackson got his first rushing TD of the season on Sunday. He is second in the NFL in rushing with 784 yards and has only 1 TD. The Rams aren’t good, but they were playing the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

The Titans beat the Jacksonville Jaguars, who I just cannot figure out at all. The Jags very nearly beat Indy in Week 1 and then beat Houston in Week 3. They beat Tennessee by 20 in Week 4 and then lost 41-0 against Seattle. They were favored by 9.5 points the very next week and managed a 3 point win over the then winless Rams and then this week they lose to the Titans by 17. No idea.

Vince Young played well, completing 15 of 18 passes. He did not have to do too much though because Chris Johnson ran for 228 yards and 2 TD’s. Maurice Jones-Drew had 177 yards on 8 carries in that game.

Ted Ginn, Jr is a guy I can’t really figure out either. Every once in a while he makes a big play – or two in one quarter like he did on Sunday – but he also does a lot of things that make you scratch your head (for non-Miami fans) and throw bricks at windows (for Miami fans). Rex Ryan and Bart Scott were not exactly gracious after the New York Jets defeat at the hands of the best football team with the best talent and the best of everything else in America, the Miami Dolphins.

Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers. Your QB’s: Kurt Warner and Jake Delhomme

One of them is going to turn the ball over six times. Who is it going to be? Delhomme, right? Wrong.

Not a good game for Kurt Warner. Warner is a really good guy. This has been well documented. And good guys are often generous and more than willing to share, so maybe Warner took sympathy on the struggling Panthers and decided to share the ball with them. It’s easy to hold Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to 89 yards combined when Warner is being so generous.

If the playoffs started today, the Houston Texans would be a wild-card team. They beat the Buffalo Bills by three scores on Sunday. Two big things from that game: 1) Owen Daniels is done for the year with a knee (again, thank you Al Michaels) and 2) Terrell Owens was seen in the end zone with the ball in his hands for an alleged touchdown. It’s been a rare sight this year.

NFL leaders in receiving TD’s:
Vernon Davis, 7
Visanthe Shiancoe (and four others), 6.
Owen Daniels (and three others), 5.

Next Week: The Tampa Bay Bucs try to get their first win when Green Bay comes to town.

Quick World Series note on this NFL post: FOX gave the player of the game thing to Cliff Lee last night. Lee pitched pretty well but it was a mostly unremarkable performance. He gave up 5 ER over 7 IP, meanwhile Chase Utley hit 2 HR’s. I think FOX was more concerned with integrating movie previews into their broadcast than they were getting that one right. The Phillies go to New York now for Game 6. Pedro vs Andy Pettitte on three days rest. It should be a great. My wife cannot wait for it to be over so she can get her FOX TV shows back.

Big Weekend

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Big weekend in sports coming up. NLCS, ALCS, NFL, College Football, BCS implications, Rivalries, Cross-town Rival High School Games (somewhere probably), tailgating, etc. Lot of action. Lot. Of. Action.

The NLCS kicked off last night with a Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers out-hit the Phillies 14-8, but left 10 men on base, compared to Philly’s 5. Andre Either and Matt Kemp combined to go 5-10 but only managed to score once between them.

Clayton Kershaw, 21, took the loss and Cole Hamels got the win, though he didn’t pitch much better than his counterpart. James Loney and Manny Ramirez each homered off him before he was pulled after five and a third.

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez each homered for Philly and Ryan Howard drove in two runs. Brad Lidge came in to get the save, but not before walking one and giving up a hit.

Russell Martin and Shane Victorino jawed back and forth all game long. It is always fun when the series gets heated in the first inning of Game 1.

Game 2 this afternoon will see Pedro Martinez face off against Vincente Padilla in a 100% unpredictable match-up. Chase Utley and Jayson Werth will each be trying for their first hit of the NLCS.

Things I didn’t know before either today or last night:

Chan Ho Park can still throw 96.

The only guy in the Phillies starting line-up under the age of 30 is Victorino (except Ryan Howard, who will be 30 on November 19th). The Flyin’ Hawaiian will turn 29 in November.

If you throw the ball into the dugout on a double play try and can’t get out of the inning, Manny Ramirez will hit a home run and make you feel bad about it.

Jim Thome does a fist-pump-whoop combo when Manny homers.

Randy Wolf should wear his cleats at all-times because he just might pinch run. That’s how slow Jim Thome is. Do you think Thome even brings a baseball glove to the game?

Game 1 of the ALCS is tonight. I’m saying Angels in 7 over the New York Yankees. John Lackey versus CC Sabathia. Do you remember Sabathia down the stretch last year for the Milwaulee Brewers? Silly.

Torii Hunter, Vlad Guerrero, Kendry Morales, and Bobby Abreu will bring some power into Yankee Stadium’s launching pad that may be tempered by some not ideal weather. Derek Jeter is used to it, Mr. November has been in cold weather playoff games enough in his career. Mark Teixeira a big strong dude, but it just seems to me that he is not going to be a big fan of cold weather. I have a feeling about this.

The biggest question concerning the weather though is will Alex Rodriguez’s lady friend be sitting in the front row if it is cold, rainy, and windy? This is a commitment testing event for their relationship. The many cuts to her cheering probably make Chris Robinson (her ex-husband) Jealous Again.

Did you know Kate Hudson’s dad, Kurt Russell, was a pretty good minor league baseball player before blowing apart his shoulder and returning to his acting career?

So that’s baseball. It’s also a huge weekend in the NFL.

Spotlight on New Orleans where the undefeated Saints play the undefeated New York Giants. It bothers me when radio and TV people say it’s going to be Drew Brees versus Eli Manning. It’s not. Brees and Manning will never be on the field at the same time until they do a man hug at the end of the game.

It is going to be Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and the rest of the New Orleans offense against Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck and the rest of the Giants defense.

And then it will be Manning, Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs and the rest of the Giant offense against Darren Sharper, Charles Grant, Jonathan Casillas (yes, Casillas, I’m a homer, a little love to the Wisconsin Badgers) and the rest of the Saints defense.

The Vikings put their undefeated record on the line when they host the recently fined Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens. Joe Flacco is a guy I like quite a bit, and a guy I like to call Joey Delaware but I will not wince when Jared Allen cattle ropes him. If Cedric Benson can rush for 100+ yards on Baltimore then Adrian Peterson can rush for that plus a bunch more. Hopefully for Minnesota Brett Favre will be doing his post-handoff jump throw fake thing a lot while Peterson is breaking tackles.

The Chicago Bears go to Atlanta to play the Falcons. Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Michael Turner set the San Francisco 49er defense on fire last week. The Bears will want to see Jay Cutler find Devin Hester for some TD’s early so they can just run, run, run with Matt Forte.

The Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns in what should be a close game for at least the first five minutes.

Speaking of the Steelers, check out the ESPN commercial with Snoop Dogg in the Reebok Ascent 2009 Sideline Drift Full Zip Fleece Hooded Jacket. Start looking for these and other Drift items on all NFL sidelines.

In the college game this weekend USC travels to South Bend to play Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen and Matt Barkley are another QB vs QB favorite match-up for the guys in the studios. So is Sam Bradford vs Colt McCoy when the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns go at in the Red River Rivalry. Those two teams love each other.

Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide play the Ol’ Ball Coach and the South Carolina Gamecocks. My favorite college football player this season is Tide RB Mark Ingram.

Boise State already narrowly survived Tulsa and Cincinnati took care of South Florida to keep the hopes of BCS haters alive that someone outside of the Big Ten, Pac-10, SEC, Big 12, or ACC will make a run at the Championship Game.

Tim Tebow is probably receiving accolades somewhere, too.

It is a big weekend for sports. October is a terrible month for marriages and TV remote control control. This is my first October as a married guy. I think it will be important to set a precedent for future years that the MLB playoffs and the NFL and big college football games will be watched. So when I lose this battle, somebody please be prepared to link me to some highlights and provide detailed and accurate recaps.

NFL Week 5: Feast or Famine

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

It was a feast or famine week in the NFL for most teams in Week 5. Some teams looked great in victory, some looked ugly in victory and some looked truly disastrous in defeat.

I hope you found that Miles Austin and Jeremy Maclin were available when you checked to see if they were on the waiver wire in your fantasy leagues this morning. And I also hope that you are in last place so you can pick one of them up or that the guy who is in last place has already given up and hasn’t checked his team since drafting Matt Forte second overall and starting the year 0-3.

Miles Austin caught a few passes and then ran all over, through, and aroundthe Kansas City Chief defense for 250 yards receiving on Sunday. Covering Austin must not have been high on Mike Vrabel’s to-do list this week when he and a few other Chief veterans took over practice after Head Coach Todd Haley pulled his coaching staff off the field because he was so frustrated with how poorly the team was practicing. Also not high on the Chief to-do list: tackling, taking the proper angle of pursuit, running fast, Gatorade baths for the coach.

Austin and the KC D made Tony Romo’s day. He just had to lob it out there and then sit back and watch his passing yards run down the field to an overtime win. Not a bad way to go. It sure beats trying to jam a ball into Sam Hurd with Champ Bailey covering him in the end zone on the last play of the game.

Haley chose to kick the PAT after Matt Cassel drove his team down the field for a TD with less than a minute remaining. Had he opted to go for 2 and been successful, the story today would have been a) Tom Brady’s former backup rallying his team late in the game and leading to them victory b) Tony Romo is terrible…blah blah blah…The Cowboys are terrible…TO somehow…There’s a huge screen in Dallas…Jerry JonesJessica SimpsonWade Philips. But, Haley kicked it and then lost in OT so now we talk about Austin.

Jeremy Maclin in Philly hauled in 2 TD’s from Donovan McNabb to rack up 142 yards receiving. Missouri Tiger fans cheered on their alum while DeSean Jackson fantasy owners threw tantrums while watching him catch the ball once for a total three feet.

Roddy White had the other big WR game in Sunday’s games, going for 210 yards and 2 TD’s against the San Francisco 49ers, who looked more like the 2-14 2004 Niners than any of the teams from the Joe Montana or Steve Young years. Matt Ryan threw for 329 yards in that game and Michael Turner scored three times. Frank Gore sat out again with an ankle injury, not that it would have mattered had he played. Michael Crabtree is supposed to debut for San Fran in Week 7, after their Week 6 bye.

Yeesh

Do the bad teams in the NFL look worse than usual this season? Maybe that is just a thought that has been rattling around my brain the last few weeks. But it sure was reinforced and highlighted by these six games:

Minnesota Vikings at St. Louis Rams
Pittsburgh Steelers at Detroit Lions
Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Bucs
Oakland Raiders at New York Giants
Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs

The six favorites (also the six teams who won) had a combined record of 20-5 coming into the weekend and the underdogs (the losers on Sunday) had a combine record of 2-22. The only favored team of those six playing at home was the Giants. After the weekend the winners are 26-5 and the losers are 2-28.

Ouch.

The Raiders, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Titans, and Rams could not combine the points they put up to beat the individual efforts of the Vikings, Giants, Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks. That’s four teams that scored more than the combined effort of those six teams, which was a blistering 35 points.

Yikes.

I would like to say that the Buffalo and Cleveland defenses were just so stout and beat up on each other so hard they held the offenses to a 6-3 final score, but that’s not remotely the case. Derek Anderson played the complete game on Sunday and completed only 2 of his 17 passes… and his team won! That’s about the same as when in pool you have all of your balls left on the table and your opponent scratches on the 8 ball to lose. You didn’t deserve to win, but you did.

2-17! This is the guy to whom Brady Quinn lost his job. When I was checking on my fantasy team Sunday afternoon, I was convinced that that stat must have been a typo or a mistake. No way can an NFL QB in a NFL offense with NFL wide receivers complete only 2 of 17 passes.

Also perplexing was that Oakland only threw the ball 13 times while getting trounced by the Giants 44-7. Coach Tom Cable clearly has more confidence in his right cross than he does in JaMarcus Russell. Keep in mind also that the team was playing without Darren McFadden at running back.

The Minnesota Vikings avoided faltering against a weak team after two back-to-back thrilling weeks. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead on St. Louis in the first half of the first quarter. Adrian Peterson scored twice, Brett Favre threw for a touchdown pass, and Jared Allen recovered two fumbles, returning one for a TD. Favre turned 40 last week and joins some punters and kickers in the 40+ club. Percy Harvin led the Vikings in receiving. Ram WR Donnie Avery scored a TD in the 4th on a pass from Kyle Boller to bring the Rams within 28 points and then celebrated with a solo dance in the end zone. His teammates apparently weren’t up for a TD dance down 28 points. Steven Jackson went for 84 yards on 21 carries but still hasn’t found the end zone yet this season.

Marc Bulger returned late in the game after Boller left with an injury. Bulger’s return to the field and the fact that Boller started again when Bulger was ready to play should create something of a QB controversy in St. Louis. The bigger controversy in St. Louis though is Rush Limbaugh’s bid to buy the Rams. Most shocking about this story is that someone actually wants to buy the St. Louis Rams.

Maybe James Carville and George Stephanopoulos are interested in the Raiders.

Big QB Days

Matt Hasselbeck returned from injury to throw for 4 TD’s in a Seattle Seahawk beat down of the Jacksonville Jaguars. I don’t get the Jags. They nearly beat the Colts in Week 1, then lost to Arizona in Week 2. They beat Houston and Tennessee after that to get to 2-2 and make people think that maybe they could put together a respectable season. Then they didn’t show up at all on Sunday and lost 41-0. Their season is kind of like the acting career of John Cusack. They won a few games, but other than that it’s been ugly. There was Say Anything, Being John Malkovich, and High Fidelity, and then there was everything that happened after that. In case you haven’t seen 20 or 30 previews for it, he is in a disaster movie (pun may or may not be intended) about the world ending in 2012. So don’t sweat not getting the Olympics in 2016, Chicago, they wouldn’t have happened anyway.

Peyton Manning threw for 300+ yards and 3 TD’s as the Colts took advantage of playing the Titans. Over the weekend I heard both Tony Dungy and Ron Jaworksi say that Manning is playing better than he ever has before. That could be scary. Manning’s career is kind of like Will Smith’s. Will Smith makes one movie a year and it’s a huge financial success, even if it is terrible or the ending doesn’t work or the twist in the middle is ridiculous or he looks hideous. Peyton Manning delivers every season – no matter who the cast around him is, who is directing the action or who is writing the script. Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark are 2nd and 3rd in the NFL in receiving yards and first year coach Jim Caldwell is undefeated thus far.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 3 TD’s against the Rams. Matthew Stafford was out with an injury. Daunte Culpepper threw for 282 yards in his place. Calvin Johnson left the game early with an injury that may or may not have been a knee scrape. Megatron’s status for Sunday against Green Bay is up in the air. Fast Willie Parker was Injured Willie Parker again on Sunday so Rashard Mendenhall did the leg work for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Eli Manning continues to throw Steve Smith’s way. Smith is leading the league in receiving yards and touchdowns. Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw shared the ball carrying responsibilities but it was Bradshaw who scored twice and had three times as many yards per carry.

The Arizona Cardinals blew a 21 point halftime lead before Dominique Rogers-Cromartie returned a Matt Schaub interception back for a touchdown and a win near the end of regulation. Schaub threw for 371 yards on the day, including 101 yards and 2 TD’s to Andre Johnson. Kurt Warner also topped 300 yards and connected with his number 1 receiver for 2 TD’s. Larry Fitzgerald had 79 yards, including the TD’s. Steve Slaton and Owen Daniels both topped 90 yards of total offense for Houston and Anquan Boldin had 81 receiving yards for Arizona.

The legend of Chad Henne was born last night as the Miami Dolphins beat the New York Jets 31-27 with 21 fourth quarter points against Rex Ryan’s Gang Green. Henne was 20-26 for 241 yards and 2 TD’s in an offense that is built for travel by truck or train instead of helicopter or airplane. Ted Ginn, Jr accidentally caught a long TD pass for Henne, who made just his second NFL start out of the University of Michigan. Ricky Williams blazed his way to 70 yards receiving and 68 yards rushing. The Dolphin Wildcat O produced 110 yards of offense.

Despite taking the loss, Jet fans have to be a little bit excited about Braylon Edwards and his 64 yards and 1 TD effort after being on the team for about 100 or so hours. Mark Sanchez should benefit from having that threat line up next to him in the coming weeks.

Man Hugs

I was sitting with my wife watching a football game a few weeks ago and she was noticing that a lot of guys pat each other on the butt after a play or on the sideline. She found it strange and asked me why. I said I didn’t know, it’s just what guys do on the football field. This is an aspect of the game that goes unquestioned and mostly unnoticed. But what does not go unquestioned or unnoticed is Bill Belichek’s hugging habits after and before games.

Has any man’s hugs or handshakes been more analyzed and scrutinized than Bill Belichick’s? The talking heads on TV and the voices on the radio love talking about how this man hugs other men. First it was Eric Mangini and the hugs or handshakes after games when the Jets played the Patriots. This year it is the hug that Belichick shared with Bronco Head Coach Josh McDaniels before the game and the hug that they did not share after the game.

Is he sincere enough at the traditional mid-field Head Coaches handshake/man hug after every game? Does he blow them off? What kind of hug is it? Who does he hug and who doesn’t he hug?

I have a better question. Who cares? This is the sports equivalent to celebrity tabloids reporting an encounter between two rival heiresses at a Hollywood night club. Apparently both men and women love a good soap opera.

Josh McDaniels has taken over a volatile situation in Denver with a quarterback who looks like he dropped out of Stillwater. He reigned in Brandon Marshall and started the season 5-0 after beating his mentor and the New England Patriots. Tom Brady had a costly and uncharacteristic late game fumble. Randy Moss caught only one ball and it was an interception on a hail mary at the end of the first half.

Kyle Orton is 5-0 and Cedric Benson is leading the league in rushing yards. What’s up with that, Chicago Bears?

You saw a lot of retro jerseys during the Week 5 games. This week’s item of the week is a retro look you can have of your own. Sorry, it’s not the Denver Bronco brown and yellow socks.

In a Quarterback’s League, Do You Know Who’s Taking Your Snaps?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Here’s a post from one of our new copywriters. I’ve been promoted to President of Overseas Operations or (POO) as I now force my underlings to refer to me. This is Brent Widmark, and he’ll be thrilling you week in and week out with tales of Norse Heroes. Enjoy…

NFL teams cannot be in a “must win” situation in week 3, can they? Well, yes, they can. Only three teams since 1990 have made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3, the most recent being the 1998 Buffalo Bills, led by Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, and Doug Flutie in the twilight of their careers. In the AFC, after week two the Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and Jacksonville Jaguars all found themselves looking down the barrel of an 0-3 season. In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, and Detroit Lions were trying to replace the donut in their win column. The only two teams of these nine two scrape out a win were the Jaguars and the Lions, who ended a 19 game losing streak. Somewhere Matt Millen is breathing a sigh of relief and hoping he’ll never have to answer another question regarding his credibility as an ESPN analyst after being the architect of Detroit’s flawless 0-16 season in 2008.

Quarterback problems are a common link between teams who are still searching for their first win. Chad Pennington may be lost for the season for the Miami Dolphins. Jake Delhomme is frustrating Steve Smith fantasy owners. And the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Kansas Chiefs are looking for stability at the QB spot. The Chiefs have the best chance at finding that as Matt Cassel continues to bounce back from injury. Also injured last week for the Chiefs was WR Dwayne Bowe. As Al Michaels would say, he had a hamstring. Brand new Chief Bobby Wade could be a sleeper fantasy WR option if Bowe’s hamstring doesn’t mend.

Chicago Bears v Seattle Seahawks

The NFL is a quarterback league. Top quarterbacks can take a team up a level by themselves. That is why the Chicago Bears were aggressive in trading for Jay Cutler. If the NFL is a quarterback league, then the NFL media is a “What did you do last week?” entity. In Chicago, after a week of Cutler bashing on the radio after his week 1 four-interception-performance against the Green Bay Packers, it’s been nothing but praise as the Bears have beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks to go 2-1. Quarterbacks like Cutler, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Ben Roethlisberger prove to be invaluable every season.

Last season Pennington led the NFL in completion percentage at 67.4 percent. His injury is not great news for wide receiver Ted Ginn, Jr, who needs the most accurate passer he can find. If he catches the touchdown pass that went in and out of his hands near the end of the week two against the Indianapolis Colts, the Dolphins may very well be sitting at 1-2 and still dreaming of being the 11-5 team they were in 2008 and not the 1-15 team they were in 2007. The Miami Dolphins will turn to former University of Michigan QB Chad Henne. Also lingering on the depth chart is rookie, Wildcat specialist and former West Virginia Mountaineer QB Pat White.

When the Dolphins drafted Ted Ginn, Jr in the first round of the 2007 NFL draft, fans, commentators, sports writers, hot dog vendors, and Brady Quinn were shocked that the team did not draft Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn. Quinn sat in the green room at the draft and sheepishly watched himself slip through the top 20 before being selected by the Cleveland Browns at number 22 overall. The Browns are now 0-3 and have thrown six interceptions on the season, the second most in the NFL, three by Quinn and three by his backup/quarterback controversy counterpart Derek Anderson.

If the Browns need to seek inspiration for turning their season around, they need only to look a little north to… Detroit? Yep, to the now 1-2 Detroit Lions. Before he was drafted number one overall, former Georgia Bulldog, Matthew Stafford publically welcomed the challenge of trying to turn the Detroit Lions around. He beat out Daunte Culpepper in training camp to earn the starting quarterback spot and the privilege of chucking it up to phenom WR Calvin Johnson. Stafford led them to a win over the Washington Redskins in week 3, their first win since December 23, 2007. After throwing five picks in the first two games, Stafford threw zero on Sunday and connected with Bryant Johnson for his second touchdown of the year. The Lions will now hope that RB Kevin Smith’s shoulder injury is nothing serious as they try to double their win total from the last 22 months next week against division rival Chicago Bears.

After losing to the Detroit Lions last week and barely squeaking out a 9-7 win against the winless St. Louis Rams in week two, the chair under Washington Redskin coach Jim Zorn may be beginning to feel a little warm. No costume Clinton Portis can conjure can hide the way the ‘Skins have played this year, but reason to celebrate is right around the corner as the next three opponents for Jason Campbell, LaRon Landry and company are a combine 0-9 right now. A 4-2 start to the season is Washington’s for the taking.

The only other 0-2 team, besides the Lions, to win in week 3 was the Jacksonville Jaguars, who got 119 yards and 3 TD’s from RB Maurice Jones-Drew. No coach looks better on the sidelines than Jack Del Rio and few coaches walked off the field happier than he did on Sunday. The Jags and QB David Garrard will face two 0-3 teams in the next three weeks and should have a good chance at finding themselves with a .500 record or better after week six. A Jags win may have helped Florida Gator fans forget Tim Tebow’s exit from Saturday’s game. Actually, no. The flags in Florida are still at half-mast and counselors are available on the University of Florida campus to help students cope with the fact that Tebow may miss the Gator’s next game in two weeks.

It’s a QB league and the New York Jets look like they have found a franchise QB in former USC Trojan Mark Sanchez. Sanchez comes from a brotherhood of USC QB’s that includes Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinal Matt Leinart, Kansas City Chief Matt Cassel, and John David Booty, who was bumped to the Minnesota Viking practice squad when Brett Favre unretired, swooped in and stole his roster spot and his number. Sanchez and Head Coach Rex Ryan, son of famed defensive wizard Buddy Ryan, have the J-E-T-S off to an undefeated first three weeks of the year after knocking off the Houston Texans on the road and the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans at home.

For several reasons, Sean Salisbury is not mentioned in the above list of former USC QB’s. No, there will not be a picture.

And speaking of 4, as we call him where I am from, Brett Favre version 2009 was Brett Favre version 1997 for at least one play on Sunday, throwing a 32 yard TD pass with two seconds left in the game to beat the San Francisco 49ers. On the receiving end was former Philadelphia Eagle WR Greg Lewis, who was signed by the Minnesota Vikings just before the season began. The Vikings remain undefeated, helped by a Frank Gore sprained ankle early in the game. Rookie, and former Alabama Crimson Tide RB, Glen Coffee took Gore’s place and rushed for 54 yards on 25 carries against the stout Minnesota Viking defensive line led by Pat Williams, Kevin Williams, and Jared Allen. The Vikings will try to improve to “Favre and O” against the Packers on Monday night. Favre might look across the way at Greg Jennings and Donald Driver and wish he was back in Green Bay. Or he might turn around and see Adrian Peterson and feel really good about being old in Minnesota, in the dome, where it is warm in December.

Joining the Jets and Vikings in the ranks of the undefeated are the New York Giants and Eli Manning, the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees, the Baltimore Ravens and Joe Flacco, the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, and Denver Broncos and John Elway… err Bubby Brister? Nope. Kyle Orton is 3-0, Denver!

Looking to week four, New York Jets shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis has a huge challenge in front of him as he goes against Drew Brees’ high flying New Orleans Saints offense. Isaac Bruce will face his former team when the Rams and 49ers square off. Terrell Owens will try to start a new streak of consecutive games with a catch when Buffalo goes to Miami. TO’s record setting streak of 185 consecutive games with a catch was snapped on Sunday. Brett Favre will square off against the Green Bay Packers for the first time since leaving the team for retirement, before coming back and signing with the Jets, retiring, and then coming back again this year with the Vikings. Hopefully for the Vikings his muscle memory does not kick in when he sees a wide open green and gold clad Nick Barnett. That game is on Monday night and is expect to attract an enormous audience. If the Vikings lose, nobody in Minnesota or Wisconsin will be happy on Tuesday. I wonder what kind of questions the media will serve up to Aaron Rodgers all week…

In fantasy leagues, if you own Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Larry Fitzgerald, Kurt Warner, DeAngelo Williams, Steve Smith, Brian Westbrook, or Donovan McNabb, you’ll want to sit them this week. Their teams have the first bye week of the season.

Item of the week is this classic top seller. Support your alma mater, your favorite NFL player’s former stomping grounds, or just get a great looking long sleeve tee for the fall.