Tuesday, November 29, 2005

11-0 and Counting

The Indianapolis Colts are the best team in football!! There is no question, or arguments about it. I do not care what teams you throw out there, the Colts are simply a better team, period.

Monday Night the Colts all but bought their tickets to Detroit this winter, with a dominating performance over perennial powerhouse Pittsburgh. When the dust cleared the finial score read 26-7 Indianapolis, and the Colts looked like they meant business to achieve a perfect season, and a Super Bowl Championship.

The Colts came out with their usual bag of tricks, opening the game with an 80 yard TD pass to Harrison. This pass was of course set up by a perfect play action fake delivered by Peyton Manning. Edgerirn James, rushed for a hard fought 124 yards. His efforts keep the Steelers defense on the field longer than they wanted, and allowed Peyton to continue calling play action at will.

Indianapolis also showed off a new trick that they have featured all year, and continues to impress. The Colts defense slapped the Steelers in the mouth. Throughout the night the Colts D, applied heavy pressure to Roethlisberger, not allowing him to set his feet and look downfield and recorded three sacks, and picking him off two times. Their defense also stifled the Pittsburgh three headed rushing attack, holding them to 58 total yards. Big Ben actually led the team in rushing going into the fourth quarter.

Despite the utter dominance by the Colts, this was still a close game through the first half. Pittsburgh kicked off the second half down 16-7, and I am not sure what Cowher was thinking, but he started the half off with an onside kick that Indy recovered giving them amazing field position. I do not know what would possess anyone to give the Colts good field position at any point of the game. After failing to recover that kick, it was obvious the wind was knocked out the Steelers sails, as Indianapolis marched downfield to a touchdown and never looked back. For that move I have to give Coach Bill Cowher the bonehead move of the week. Your still in the game, give your team a chance to win, that means make Manning and that offense work as much as possible.

The Colts stand at 11-0, and look as dominant of a team that I have ever seen. What impresses me most is the defense. The Colts defense is second in the league in points allowed behind the Chicago Bears giving up 14.5 points a game. With a defense that is that dominant and an offense that will score 30.1 points a game it’s not too hard to win games. Indianapolis looks flat out scary at times with their passing and rushing attack. Now you throw in the leagues second best defense, and its going to be a long season for a lot of teams.

Indianapolis is firing on all cylinders right, looking stronger every week. They have withstood shots from two of the AFC’s best. The number of potential foes is dwindling down, 5 games and counting.

I have to say, I want to watch the Colts go undefeated. That was one of those marks I never thought would be met, but Indianapolis poses a legitimate threat. Also I want to put an end to this absurd dog and pony show we are subjected to every year watching the 72 Dolphins gather and sip champagne as the last undefeated team falls. It was a cute and funny act at first, but now it is just tasteless. So with that said, I make a cry to Colts head Colts Tony Dungy, if your team is going into Christmas Eve undefeated, please play your starters. Let them go for the record. You deserve it, and the fans of this great league deserve to an undefeated.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Unaswered Questions

After Sunday’s games there are more questions raised than questioned answered. Who is the NFC’s best team? Can the Bears really be better than the 85 team? Is LT the greatest running back ever? Why am I incapable of predicting a score? And why does someone who isn’t even part of the team have the opportunity to decide the outcome of the game (kickers)?

Sunday gave some teams in the NFC a great opportunity to establish themselves as leaders in their division and in the conference. After a Cowboys lost on Thursday, the Giants had a chance to take control of the NFC East with a win over Seattle. The Giant’s game out with a solid game plan allowing Tiki to run the ball for over 150 yards, and it is always a pleasure to watch the maturation of Eli Manning as he grows into a late game specialist. Yet with all the late game heroics and hard runs from the offense, the game came down to special teams. Jay Feely had three chances to put the game away including potiential game winning kicks in late in regulation, and in overtime. He was unable to convert on any of these attempts allowing Seattle’s Josh Brown to place one through the goalpost for the win. New York let a game slip through their fingers, but at the same time Seattle missed an opportunity to prove themselves as the leader of the NFC. Seattle might be the worst 9-2 ever. If you want to argue that with me, remember their schedule; 2 wins over STL, 2 over Arizona, 2 over San Francisco, and do not forget the Texans. We walk away from the weekend, with a tie atop the NFC East, a weak NFC leader, and a race that is still wide open in the South. It will be a dog fight to see who goes where in the NFC playoffs.

Also on Sunday, in Chicago where possibly the best team in football resides. The Tampa Bay Bucs traveled to the windy city to take on the resurging Bears. This game had ugly written all over it. Both teams have young QB’s who are still finding their place in the league, and both posses a proud defensive tradition. The Bears have gone back to playing football that would make the 85 squad proud. Knowing exactly what their strength is, the Bears relied on a strong pass rush, and solid defensive play, to confuse, and immobilize the Tampa attack. The Bears defense comes off as being more impressive every week. They lead the league in 3 of the 4 major defensive categories, including; Yards per game 254.2, Passing yards per game 161.5, and the most important, Points per game allowing a measly 10.9. The Bears are also 6th in the league giving up 92.6 yards a game. While Chicago does not lead the league in takeaways or sacks, they lead in the major categories, showing they are playing a strong team oriented style of defense. When you watch a Bears game it seems like they get 3 or more guys to the ball every time. This swarming defense might not have the swagger of the 85 Bears, but it has the heart and the tenacity of that team. They could go a long long way.

After a tight overtime win, (that I predicted) San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer, declared his back LaDainian Tomlinson as the best running back he has ever seen. This of course opens the always controversial conversation of who is the best back in NFL history. We all know the usual suspects, Jim Brown, Gail Sayers, Walter Payton, and Emmit Smith. While all of those backs are legends in the sport, and their place in history cannot be questioned. Yet we cannot be so focused on the past that we fail to realize something special when it is right in front of our face. LT is a very special back; with his speed his size, even his ability to throw the ball (perfect passer rating with 4 TD’s this season). He put the Chargers on his back on Sunday and ran through defensive guru Gary Williams' defense like they were a Pop Warner team in the second half. LT has the ability to do that any game he wants. He is a force to reckon with, and no defense can forget that. Is LaDainian the best of all time? Not yet, out side of Sayers who had the greatest 68 game career in history, LT has not been around long enough to be one of the elites of all time. However, he is on the fast track to join them, and don’t be surprised when he joins their ranks.

Last week I picked four games and their finial scores. Turns out I am terrible at predicting the scores to games; this is why I chose not to gamble. However, I can pick a winner, as I am 2-1 going into the Monday Night game, therefore guaranteeing a record of .500 for the weekend. So if you’re reading this remember I know a winner when I see one, just don’t ask me the spread.

Finally, there were several games yesterday and on Thursday were the outcome was decided by a kicker, on a last second field goal. The Giants were destroyed by the play of their kicker, as were the Jets. This brings me to something that has always bothered me about football. How is it that a glorified soccer player, who spends no time with the team, gets to come on and have so much control over a game? Give me the old days when linemen kicked extra points from head on. As annoying as it is to watch a teams hard worked gashed on a kickers bum foot, it is even worse to watch a kicker celebrate and dance around like they are the greatest gift to football when they make a game winning kick. It is terrible to watch these guys strut out there and hit a 25 yrd field goal and act like they just made the greatest athletic achievement in history. Break a few tackles, make a pass, and make a hit. Then you can celebrate, like you are Gods gift to football. Till then, sit down, do your job, kick a field goal, and walk off the field.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Thanksgiving Means Football

It’s Thanksgiving Week, and that means the football weekend kicked off early. The Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons started the day off, followed by a meeting of respective powerhouses Denver, and Dallas.

The Falcons game out strong, attacking a terrible Lions defense, but despite all the flash and show the Falcons put up, it was still an uninspiring victory. The Lions are a hapless team, with no options at QB (Brett Farve?), and a defense that spends so much time on the field that it’s impossible for them to continually stop anybody when they take 20 plus shots at them a game. Despite all of the Mick Vick still had a mediocre performance going 12-22 for 145 yards, 7 of those passes were caught by TE Alge Crumpler. Once again I am not proven on Vicks abilities as a QB. He is an amazing athlete, but any other QB puts up those numbers, and it’s a bad day, yet we still give him an excuse week after week. AT some point this must stop, and I am putting my foot down now.

The late game on the day proved to be much more exciting at the Broncos defeated the Cowboys 21-24 in OT. What stood out most in this game was Ron Dayne, who exploded back onto the NFL scene with his 55 yrd run to set up Denver’s game winning field goal. This game showed me two things, first if the Boys want to throw the ball 44 times in a game, they better find a better QB than Drew Bledsoe, or pick up some first option receivers instead of the team of 2nd receivers they are working with now (Thanks Mike). Second I HATE NFL O.T. There has got to be a better way to decide a game than sudden death. It doesn’t have to be like the NCAA and have games that into 8 O.T. but this is not hockey, and thank God its not soccer, so lets show the game some respect and let the guys play it out on the field for another 10 min period. If teams know that’s all the time they have, the coaches will call the game aggressive.

Looking forward to the Weekend, we have some intriguing games on tap. Tampa Bay v, Chicago, New England v, Kansas City, San Diego v. Washington, and Indianapolis v. Pittsburgh. All of these match ups have playoff implications and will end up becoming marques match ups for the season.

Tampa Bay v. Chicago will be the game that holds the most importance of the weekend. The Division leading Bears continue to look for respect with a win against another NFC contender. This game also features two of the young faces in Chris Simms, and Kyle Orton both QB’s are looking for respect in the NFL. The saying goes defense wins championships, and I’m sticking with that, the Bears win this one in a defensive struggle 17-14 and move on to 8-3.

Kansas City and New England square off in what was thought to be a powerhouse match up of AFC leaders. While those expectations have been dashed, this is still an important game to both teams. New England is trying pad their lead in the AFC East, while KC is just trying to keep pace with the surging Broncos. Any lost KC takes from here on could spell trouble serious trouble for their playoff hopes. Arrowhead stadium is a tough place to play especially in the winter. However, New England is not phased by cold weather. Injuries have plagued the Patriots all season, look for them to overcome that Sunday and win in a tight one 28-20.
Back to the NFC the Chargers are making what seems to be their ninth trip across the country to play an East coast team in Washington DC. The Skins are struggling at the moment losers of two straight, including a close lost to former coach Norv Turner. San Diego might be the best 6-4 team in the league. This game also marks the return of Marty ball to the Washington area. While Dan Snyder was not impressed with it five years ago, he will be amazed by this version of Marty ball starting Ladainian Tomlinson. Washington has had trouble handling the run, even with a returning Cornelius Griffen in to fill a huge hole at tackle, its not going to be enough to stop LT and crew. Washington will drop their third straight in a 35-17 lost.

Finally in the Monday Night game the Colts gear up for another big test as Pittsburgh travels to Indianapolis, and attempt to end the Colts 10 game win streak. Adding to the suspense, this game marks the return of the Steelers star QB Big Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh is in the middle of a dog fight for the AFC North with Cincinnati (who would have thought that?) and needs every win to stay one step ahead of the Bengal’s. Indy is riding high after knocking off Cincinnati last week. This is going to be another hard game for the Colts. The Steelers are going to play physical hard football on both sides of the ball. Look for them to try to put pressure on Peyton Manning, and for the corners and safeties to hit Harrison and company. On the other side of the ball, expect a heavy dose of the Pittsburgh running attack we have all come to know, especially with Roethlisberger is still banged up. This will be the hardest test of the Colts season to date. If it was in Pittsburgh I would pick the Steelers, but it is in the dome where the Colts can play fast, and get that place rocking with some noise. Colts will win 24-14.

Those are my key games and predictions on the weekend to come. Let’s see if I know as much if I think I do. Good luck, and enjoy the games.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Let me be begin by saying this will be my first, and hopefully the last piece I write about T.O. so I will do my best to get in everything I have to say.

Arbitrator Richard Bloch made his ruling today and it came down in favor of the Eagles, granting both their desire to suspend T.O. for four games, followed by deactivating him for the rest of the season. The ruling allowed the Eagles handle this situation in the manor they felt best.

It is good to see that end to what might have been the worse sports soap opera in the history of the world. The T.O. saga has been unfolding since February, when T.O. first showed his dissatisfaction with the Eagles, and took a jab and Donavan McNabb. What many thought was only a minor blip on the radar at that time progressed into driveway interviews, talk show appearances, training room brawls, and irate interviews from a weasel of an agent.

All of this has been an embarrassment for T.O., the Eagles, NFL, and team sports as a whole.

However, the arbitrator finally put an end to the half ringed circus, and restored the order in team sports. From the documents released during the arbitration hearings, T.O. has been the worse teammate and employee that could be imagined. His transgressions go far beyond an off handed comment made in response to a Michael Irvin interview. The list included making threats that he would purposefully become a distraction if allowed to be around the team. There is also documentation of him fighting a staff member at the Eagles facility, and possibly the worse, he routinely parked in handicap parking spaces. Wasn’t there an episode of Seinfeld about what happens to people who wrongfully use a handicap space? Actions of that manor go beyond being an arrogant athlete; it is simply being an ass and a menace to society.

With the ruling today, the end of the T.O. Philly relationship is finalized, and not a moment too soon. Finally the rest of the NFL can focus on what is important, THE FOOTBALL GAMES ON THE FIELD.

The Eagles no longer have to worry about how to keep T.O. happy, because not only will he not be at the games; he is banned from using the teams facilities.

I would like to extend my hand, and tip my hat to the NFL and Richard Bloch today because they got it right. Football is the ultimate team sport, 11 men 1 team 1 mission. Characters are welcome on those teams, but one man cannot become more than a team. To go beyond that, if a player signs a contract he should be held responsible for honoring that deal. With the league allowing the Eagles to deactivate Owens, it sent the message that a player cannot whine his way out of a deal. T.O. got away with that once in Baltimore, but this time the NFL got it right, and set a precedent that will hopefully be upheld in the coming CBA.

Today we saw the greatest team sport standup for the team. I am proud to be an NFL fan, now let’s watch some football, and put this nightmarish experience behind us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

College Football Take Note From College Hoops

College basketball season has arrived, and it is pulling out the stops in route to prying our eyes away from the nonstop football coverage we have become accustomed to over the past few months. College hoops gained our attention with the promise of what could shape up to be a season to remember.

When I first saw Dickie V, on ESPN a few weeks ago I knew the basketball season was right around the corner. Yet, to tell the truth I was not ready for it. A great NFL season, and an exciting college football season at their peaks, I wasn’t ready to move my attention to the hardwood.

Yet, with exceptional lineup of games, I couldn’t help but stop in my channel surfing to peer in and watch a bit of the 2k Sports classic, and I was soon sucked back into the world of college hoops. This fast change of heart left me with one question to ask myself, “Why is it that college ball can grab my attention so quickly and this early in the season?” The answer was simple, it was the match ups.

The 2005 college season kicked off with its normal lineup of tournaments. However, this year it seemed as though every tournament had a stellar list of teams competing in them. Rather it was watching Bob Knight and Skip Prossor battle it out in a game of basketball chess, or watching a new look Florida team defeat another well drilled Syracuse squad, the early basketball season has provided nothing but extraordinary games for the college hoops fan.

The best of the preseason tournaments so far, is without a doubt the Maui Invitational, with a field that included six past national champions. These past champions came out ready to defend their respected school names, and plant their mark on the new season. Tuesday night overtime thriller between Michigan State and Gongzaga may be one of the best games all year.

With the college basketball season starting off with these top level games its enough to make any hoops fan get excited for what thrills will occur as the season unfolds.

Watching these early prestigious match ups between college powerhouses, makes you wonder if the boys at the NCAA, are watching and getting any ideas to change their format for the BCS.

The entire nation watched as Texas and OSU clashed in early September, now imagine if the rest of the month was peppered with other games of the same caliber. That could be the one thing that could take what is already an exceptional sport to the next level.

Sadly though we will never see that happen with the current BCS system, especially after this season when OSU was ousted from the BCS ranks after their lost. Top notch teams are too scared to take the risk of being eliminated from the big dance before the invitations are even sent out.

What we can take away from college basketball is its ok to let the top teams go at it early in the season and often. It’s a great way to grab the fans attention, and keep it throughout the day. Now why is basketball able to do this? It’s because of the NCAA tournament… a tournament… hmm… who would have thought a tournament can make for a more entertaining sport… huh, wonder what the boys at the BCS think about that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One more time Brett Please

After watching the Monday Night Football game, one thing became apparent to me; Brett Favre is not done yet!! That’s right folk all that talk about Brett being done, is simply wrong, I don’t care what the outcome of the game was.

Brett Favre strolled out, onto Lambou field Monday Night in hopes of resurrecting some of that Green Bay magic of old and getting a much needed win for his team. While he was unable to find that magic of old, one thing became apparent to me, Brett Favre still has what it takes to play in the NFL.

Brett had a solid day in the pocket going 20-33, for 225 yards 2 TD’s and 2 interceptions. In many ways this was a very typical Brett Favre day, young or old. With stats like that, I can think of more than a few teams out there right now who would be willing to take on a quarterback who can produce like that.

Green Bay's record has slipped to 2-8, this is hardly because Brett Favre cannot carry the team to victory. Dropped passes plagued the receiving core. The offensive line appeared like a strainer allowing the Minnesota defense to bring pressure on Favre almost at will. I won’t even get into the problems of the running game, where Green Bay is about to start posting adds in local papers looking for people to fill the running back position. Despite all of this, Brett Favre has come out every week and played to win.

Look around the league, 10 teams started quarterbacks this weekend that passed for under 200 yards. After being shutout and having his two quarterbacks combine for 67 passing yards in Cleveland on Sunday, I guarantee that Nick Saban at Miami would take in Bret Favre with open arms

I know it is easy to make the argument that Brett is older, and he doesn’t have the same pop on his passes. That is time for Green Bay to start grooming Aaron Rogers to step in. However I am too selfish to accept this jargon.

Growing up in this era, I have been privilege to watch some of the greatest athletes ever in their respected sports. Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Barry Bonds. These are all men who revolutionized their sports and took their positions to new levels. Brett Favre is right there on this Mt. Rushmore of sports elite. The way he plays the game is the same way every young kid should take the field, with a smile on their face, and an enthusiasm to want to be the best they can, and take their team to the next level.

From myself and other football, and sports fans around the world, I say Brett don’t hang it up yet. Stick around for one more round. From what I saw on Monday night, Brett still has something left to show us, and long as he is out there, I will be glued to my seat watching, knowing that I am seeing one of the greats at his trade.

Monday, November 21, 2005

A lost day for the University of Virginia

This past Saturday the University of Virginia met the Virginia Tech Hokies, in the Commonwealth Cup. In what was set out to be a mismatched, cut competitive game.

Mismatched and competitive would end up being the understatement of the day.

Virginia Tech came out strong and early to show no ill effects left from the thrashing the Canes left on them the previous week. Quickly an under matched but prideful Virginia squad was left looking at the score board wondering where things went wrong, and how did it ever get to be that bad?

Two answers to the above question: 1) RUN DEFENSE 2) No Pass Offense.

Virginia Tech had 2 RB’s go for over 100 yards rushing. It is difficult for any team especially an underdog, to win when a team has one back go for over a hundred yards. But Two back exceeding the century mark is going to make a long day for any defense.

The game also showed us the lack luster, passive Virginia passing attack. This has been a problem for the Cavs for several years now, and sees no immediate answer in site.

QB Marques Hagans went 17-30 on Saturday for 130 passing yards. Virginia made no attempt to stretch the field till late in the game, when it was too lade to overcome the near 40 point lead Va. Tech had established.

The Tech defense was content with letting Hagans find Lundy and other receivers underneath, and then having their speedy linebackers swallow them before they ever started up field.

Saturday once again proved that Va Tech is still the standard of not just Virginia football but probably the ACC.

Unless Virginia finds a way to expand their offense, and establish a run defense, they can look forward to continue being kicked in the mouth by Va. Tech, and any other team, that wants to enforce their will on the struggling Cavs.

Leaving the stadium Saturday, this was one Cav fan who was disappointed, and hurt by the performance on the field. I tip my hat the Va Tech and wish them will to represent the conference and the state in the BCS. However, Saturday was one sad, sad night in Hooville