Da Scent

This is my first real attempt at an on-line journal. It'll be parts political, parts personal, parts other. I'll try to keep it interesting, whatever I write. Feedback is appreciated...

UPDATE: Ok, I've taken a step to avoid spammers. So anyone can post comments again, you'll just have to do a word verification first. No big deal, just a minor pain in the ass, courtesy of the fucktards.

Location: Pasadena, Maryland

Aspiring novelist (hey, write, call or e-mail if you can hook me up with a literary agent...no hurries though, I've only just started).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Bye bye Meirs

Harriet Meirs withdrew her own Supreme Court nomination yesterday, in a move which should have surprised nobody, seeing as I predicted it last night.

This is a pretty sad occasion, actually, as I had been enjoying this debacle whole-heartedly. However, all good things must come to an end - this one came to an end, coincidentally, just in time for Bush to make another nomination to take the focus away from all of the Plame indictments. So, what now?

We're still waiting for the Other Shoe to drop, of course, in the Plame Case, which is far, far, far from being over. And then we've got DeLay, and another Supreme Court nomination. So, keep your hands and feet inside the car, ladies and gentlemen, the ride ain't over yet. In fact, it's just starting to get interesting...

Till later, P&L...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Back, after a while

Well, I've taken a couple of weeks off from the blog, as anyone who might read this has noticed. It's probably a good thing.

I'm gonna alter the format a little bit. First, I'll scale down the football content on this blog. This has become a football blog, and there really is no reason for that to be true. If you want football analysis, there are better places to go. I'd love to believe I know all regarding the gridiorn sport (hey, my fantasy team is whooping some serious ass this season...) but the fact is ESPN and Foxsports and cbs sportsline, etc, etc, all have guys who know more about the game than I do. That being said, here are the games I'll be following this week, pro and college:

Maryland/Florida State
Purdue/Penn State
Boston College/Virginia Tech (tomorrow)
North Carolina/Miami (FL)


In other sports news, the White Sox won the World Series last night. The White Sox and Red Sox won the World Series in consecutive years in 1917 and 1918, neither won the World Series until last season, and now they have won the Series in consecutive years again. The odds against such an occurence must be astronomical - that's why I love baseball, and sports in general.

Rosa Parks died the other night. Rosa's legacy is, pretty much, the entirety of the Civil Rights Movement. While her death saddens me, she was 92 years old, so at least she wasn't cheated. The lesson of Rosa Parks, to me, is if you don't like something, goddamit, go take a stand. Who knows...you might change history. Before she sat down on the bus seat and refused to move, Ms. Parks was just another anonymous black woman in the South. Half a century later, we all know who she was, and we are all better for her having lived and done what she did.

Colbert Report (pornounced "re-pore") debuted last week. Brilliant as could be expected. Last night's episode was week, I thought, but then again I was pretty pissed while I was watching it, for unrelated reasons. Hopefully, tonight will be much more enjoyable for me...

The other shoe is finally looking like it may drop in the Plame Case. We're waiting and watching (the media make asses out of themselves, see last night's Daily Show)...hopefully something...soon...

The Harriet Meirs Debacle goes on...not for long though. This lady is gonna withdraw shortly. Almost a shame, this makes great TV.

Ok, all for now...P&L...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pro Ball Week 6 Primer

The last couple weeks I've been combining this with the college ball recap, but Saturday was probably the best day I've ever had watching college ball. Every game, or so it seemed, came down to the final minute. My point is, I'm too tired to adaquately recap today's (yesterday's) action right now, and it deserves its own post. So I'll pound that out tomorrow. As for right now, here are the top 5 games to look for on Sunday:

5. Dolphins/Buccaneers - There is a lot of good pro football being played in Florida this year. Both the Dolphins and Buccaneers have shocked the masses with their quick starts, although the Dolphins imploded last week in Buffalo. Both teams, in fact, are coming off of losses. Each team is also playing in a division where wins each week are important, so even though this is a cross-conference match-up, it's a pretty important one.

4. Redskins/Chiefs - Both of these teams are coming off of losses, as well, although the Cheifs had last week off. This is the second of two consecutive tough road contests for the Skins, who still find themselves atop the NFC East. Once again, each of these teams is in a very competitive division, and so each win is paramount. Another cross-conference match-up with greater than average importance.

3. Jaguars/Steelers - Well, the Jaguars seem to have their work cut out for them. Indy doesn't look like they will be losing anytime soon, so if Jacksonville has postseason plans, they need to win, win, win. It appears as if the Steelers are going to be challenged this year for the division title by the Bengals, so they as well need every win, especially at home. I don't see this being a tie-braker as far as head to head is concerned, but division record is important when determining post-season seedings, so each of these teams will want to have this one when the season is said and done.

2. Giants/Cowboys - The Cowboys came out like gangbusters and fucked up the Eagles something awful last week. Now they host the Giants, in their final divisional home game of the season. Once again, having lost one of their first two (14-13, to the Redskins) this is pretty close to a must-win for Dallas. At least, as close as you can be at this point in the season. For the Giants, a win here coupled with a Redskins loss would catapault them into first place in the division. Also, road divisional wins are a prize to be treasured, indeed. Big game.

1. Patriots/Broncos - Thanks to their dramatic win over Washington last week, the Broncos are sitting pretty atop the AFC West at 4-1. The Patriots are coming off of an emotional win over Atlanta, but Atlanta was playing without Michael Vick. This game has lots of impliactions, both potentially for the post-season, as well as right now about where these two teams stand amongst the AFC's best.

In other match-ups, the Ravens better fix their season in a hurry, because a loss to the Browns might mean they're headed for a last-place season; the Vikings and the Bears are ridiculously still in the hunt for a division championship, they get each other; the Panthers will try and reestablish themselves as an NFC power vs. the Lions; the Saints will try and pick up the pieces at "home" against the Falcons; the Bengals will try and rebound against a Tennessee team that is coming off of a rare win; the Bills are going to try to make it two division wins in a row against Vinny & the Jets; the Raiders are going to host San Diego in an important match-up for both teams, as well as my fantasy team; the Texans are looking for a win, any win, and the Seahawks are going to try and make sure they have to keep looking; and on Monday Night, the Colts will see if they can't hang 100 on the Rams' "defense".

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Pro Ball Week 5 Recap & College Ball Week 7 Primer

Ok, not a bad weekend of football in the NFL. In fact, I'd asy it was, overall, probably the best week sofar (this is Big Picture, of course; the fact that the Redskins lost is tragic & wrong - more on that later). Anyway, here were the big games:

The shocker of the week came in Dallas. The shock wasn't that the Cowboys won - it was one they HAD to win, after all, for reasons I explained in the primer. But the final score, 33-10, certainly raised some heads. Once again, the Eagles let their opponents get out to a large lead, USC-style, but this time they couldn't complete the comeback. Philly suddenly has questions in their secondary, once considered the best in the NFC, and their lack of a running game is as apparent as ever. With the other three teams in the NFC East so much better this season (so far), don't be too shocked if January rolls around and Philly isn't in the picture...

The Bengals lost on Sunday night at Jacksonville. This was their first loss of the season, and it was on the road against a tough foe, so we shouldn't read too much into it. This was a huge win for Jacksonville, who got buried at home two games ago by Denver, and are trying to make a playoff push this season. We'll be seeing a lot of these two teams on on Top 5 games lists this season.

Same, it appears, with the Redskins and the Broncos, who fought a thriller in Denver with the home team prevailing after the Skins failed to convert what would have been a game-tying two point conversion with just over a minute to go. For the Redskins, this loss was as impressive as their wins have been. The Broncos are by far the best team they have played this season (or are they? who knows after this weekend's Dallas/Philly game...) and hanging tough like that on the road showed that this is not just a team that has taken advantage of weaker competition. For the Broncos, this was a good win, and it sets up a big time showdown next weekend.

The Falcons were without Michael Vick, the Patriots were without a slew of people, but the two teams still played a classic in the Goeorgia Dome. Atlanta scored a TD and converted their game-tying 2 point bid late in the fourth quarter, but the Patriots did what they do...marched down the field and set up Adam Vintieri for the game winning figgie (although, is it just me, or are all of Vinitieri's game winners from like 20 yards away...I'm not saying it's not impressive that he hits them all, just that it's not that impressive...). What does this mean? Who knows? It seems like Shaub is a good QB, but he's not Michael Vick. I guess we'll know more as the season goes on, as always...

Finally, the Monday Night Game lived up to it's billing (but was completely overshadowed by the Yankees losing to the Angels that night). The Steelers made a game-winning figgie drive of their own, after the Chargers scored the go ahead TD and failed on a 2 point conversion that would have put them up by three (2PCs were the theme of the week, aparently). So, in the past three weeks, the Patriots have won at Pittsburgh, the Chargers have won at New Englan, and the Steelers have won at San Diego. What does that mean? That you can not make sense of the football season. And that one game doesn't really mean much.

In other action, the Packers beat the living shit out of the Saints (bad karma, GB, running up the score on a team knocked around from place to place by a hurricane); the Titans triumphed over the god-awful Texans; the Ravens went on meltdown mode committing 21 penalties in a loss at Detroit; the Dolphins also went into meltdown mode, committing 18 penalties and five turnovers on the road at Buffalo; the Colts offense was surprisingly quiet again, but good enough to beat the 49ers and improve to 5-0; the Browns got a big comeback win at home against the Bears; the Panthers beat the Cardinals, despite another big passing day from Josh McCown; the Seahawks took control of the NFC West with a big win in St. Louis; and the Buccaneers suffered their first lost at the hands of Vinnie & the Jets.

Ok, College Primer...

Lots of good games this weekend. The best of the best are as follows:

5. Wisconsin/Minnesota - these are two very similar teams at this point in the season. Both have one loss, Wisconsin's coming last weekend to Northwestern, Minnesota's coming to suprising Penn State. Both schools have a win over "preseason top five" team Michigan, who has been a huge dissapointment. Both teams are curretnly vying for the Big Ten Title, and neither can afford a second loss if they want to keep that dream alive. There's also the matter of Paul Bunyan's Axe, the trophy which goes to the winner of this game, currently in the possession of the Badgers.

4. Louisville/West Virginia - the prohibitive favorites to win the Big East this season, both schools have a single loss, although West Virginia's came outside of conference play. Louisville abslutely needs this win, after embarrassingly losing their Big East debut against the Bulls of South Florida. For West Virginia, they've had to hear all season about how Louisville was going to walk into their conference and dominate, and they have to want to get in their shot at the Cardinals. Since the winner of this game likely goes to a BCS Bowl, this game has huge implications.

3. Colorado/Texas - Texas has been pounding their opponenets into submission ever since their thrilling win in Columbus early in the season. Colorado is certainly the best team they have played since then, and is trying to win the Big 12 North. For second-ranked Texas, with Virginia Tech, Florida State, Alabama, Georgia, and Penn State all playing so well behind them, every game is a must win if they want to stay in the National Title picture. For Colordao, a win here would be a huge feather in their cap, as well as make them the prohibitive favorties in their division (if they aren't already).

2. Florida/Louisiana State - quite simply, each team has a loss, each team has a conference loss. That means whoever loses is not only completely knocked out of the National Title picture, but out of the SEC Title picture as well. With such high expectations for each squad, this game is going to kill somebody's season. If LSU were to win this game, that would put Georgia up by two losses in their division (unless they lose a shocker to Vanderbilt).

1. Southern California/Notre Dame - perhaps this game shouldn't be ranked so high (the Trojans are 11 point favorites), but I'm tired of putting SEC match-ups at the top every week. OK, so that's a lie, but I do have high expectations for this match-up. If the Trojans have a weakness, it's their defensive backfield, and Charlie Weiss has been able to exploit secondarys so far this season. And the Irish have certainly been able to win match-ups like this in the past, even if it has been the distant past. I think we'll see 100+ points in this game. The question is, can Notre Dame get enough of those to make this entertaining?

Ok, my Top 25 heading into this week (and their opponents):

1. Southern California (@ Notre Dame)
2. Texas (vs. Colorado)
3. Virginia Tech (Idle)
4. Alabama (@ Mississippi)
5. Georgia (@ Vanderbilt)
6. UCLA (@ Washington State)
7. Penn State (@ Michigan)
8. Florida State (@ Virginia)
9. California (vs. Oregon State)
10. Texas Tech (vs. Kansas State)
11. Notre Dame (vs. Southern California)
12. Michigan State (@ Ohio State)
13. Louisiana State (vs. Florida)
14. Miami (FL) (@ Temple)
15. Florida (@ Louisiana State)
16. Ohio State (vs. Michigan State)
17. Wisconsin (@ Minnesota)
18. Nebraska (@ Baylor)
19. West Virginia (vs. Louisville)
20. Colorado (@ Texas)
21. Tennessee (Idle)
22. Auburn (@ Arkansas)
23. Minnesota (vs. Wisconsin)
24. Oregon (vs. Washington)
25. Boston College (vs. Wake Forest)

Should be a good one. Till Later...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

College Ball Week 6 Wrap-up & Pro Ball Week 5 Primer

The Nittany Lions are back. More on that later...

This week's games were, as a whole, much closer than last week's. That does not mean there were not exceptions to the rule, but it was, for the most part, a very entertaining day. The top 5 games...

Texas Tech edged Nebraska in one of the day's nailbiters, 34-31. The loss was cross-conference, so Nebraksa still controls its own destiny in the Big 12 North, but the loss pretty much does in any thoughts they may have had about a National Title, and it shows that Nebraska is still a ways away from returning to its previous glory. For Texas Tech, the dreams are still alive, both of a Big 12 South and a National Title.

The Red River Shootout was a Red River Blowout, only this time it was Texas that did the trouncing, 45-12 over an Oklahoma team that looks just plain bad at this point. Oklahoma's season was already in trouble, although they could have salvaged it with an upset here. By getting blown out, Oklahoma's season is now pretty much completely destroyed. It's not even necessarily automatic that they get into a bowl, at this point.

UCLA eeked out a win, 47-40 over Cal, in a game that was even closer than the scoreboard indicated (UCLA scored a TD as time ran off the clock to turn a 1 point victory into a 7 pointer). The loss does not kill California's season; they still have a game with Southern Cal coming up and with one loss aren't necessarily out of the National Title hunt (especially if they could beat USC). As for UCLA, this win is a major feather in their cap, but they also have a game with USC on the schedule that will ultimately mean much more than this game. If today's game was any indication, the Trojans might have a couple of battles on thier hands, even if they don't take the first half off.

The Nittany Lions of Penn State got their biggest win in years, knocking off Rose Bowl hopeful The Ohio State University. For Ohio State, the National Title dreams are dead as disco with their second loss (the first coming against Texas in week 2). A Big Ten Championship is not out of the question, although now they need two teams to knock off the suddenly mighty Lions. Joe Paterno has now been completely redeemed, and this Penn State team could easily finish the season undefeated. Well, maybe not "easily", but they suddenly look like the best team in their conference.

Finally, Georgia dominated Tennessee, 27-14, in General Neyland Stadium. Tennessee's season is now shot, having lost to both of its big time SEC East rivals, and the Georgia loss coming at home. They still have a couple opportunities to play spoiler, but any thoughts of an SEC, let alone National, Title are now just that, thoughts. As for Georgia, tey have jumped into the driver's seat of the SEC East, although they still have to win at The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party if they want to play in the SEC Championship Game (and, of course, in the Rose Bowl).

Undefeateds not mentioned: Alabama had the week off; Florida State trounced Wake Forest; Southern California let Arizona hang around for a half, but then beat them down; Virginia Tech annihilated Marshall; and Wisconsin got upset by Northwestern in a game featuring no defense whatsoever(51-48 was the final).

So, the remaining undefeateds are (with their next week's opponents in parantheses):

Alabama (@ Mississippi)
UCLA (@ Washington State)
Florida State (@ Virginia)
Georgia (@ Vanderbilt)
Penn State (@ Michigan)
USC (@ Notre Dame)
Texas (vs. Colorado)
Texas Tech (vs. Kansas State)
Virginia Tech (Idle)

Yup...just 9 undefeateds remaining. Things are starting to get interesting in the land of College Ball...

As for Pro Ball...

Week 5 kicks off tomorrow. High entertainment valuse in sveral games. Here are the 5 best...

5. Eagles @ Cowboys - the Dallas Cowboys have had a bit of hard luck, losing to the Redskins by a single point after a ferocious comeback by said 'Skins, and then losing to Oakland last week after being in position to score what would have been the go ahead touchdown with under two minutes remaining. This week they host the Philadelphia Eagles, in a game that will either vault them back into competition for the division championship, or knock them out of it, at least for a while. Dallas already has one division loss at home, they can ill-afford two. As for Philly, they need to keep on rolling. Both the Redskins and Giants have been doing a lot of winning recently, but Philly could be in position to leap over them both if they win and the Redskins lose (more on htem later).

4. Bengals @ Jaguars - the Bengals of Cincinnati have almost everyone believing after a 4-0 start, but the competition they have faced thusfar is less than stellar. If they want to be an elite team, then they need to go on the road and beat a good, but struggling team (Jacksonville). This is potentially an opportunity to go up by two losses over the Steelers, who have a whale of a match-up this week that is going to be described later. For the Jaguars, this is a team that has been struggling of late, especially on offense. After being humilitaed by Denver on their own field last week, they can ill-afford another home conference loss. If Jacksonville does not win this game, I don't see them making the playoffs this year.

3. Redskins @ Broncos - the Redskins have shocked everyone with their 3-0 start, but the haters are quick to point to the fact that none of those three teams boasts a winning record (although that is due in a large part to the fact that the Redskins have beaten those teams). Also, wins of 2, 1, and 3 points are hardly convincing in and of themselves. This could be a big time statement game for the Redskins. For the Broncos, this is a game they are expected to win, especially if they want to take the next step. San Diego just trounced New England at Foxboro - Denver doesn't want to follow that by losing at home to a team that went 6-10 last year. However, this is cross-conference, so a loss would not cripple either team.

2. Patriots @ Falcons - once again New England finds themselves with their backs to the wall. The Falcons were close to heading to the Super Bowl to face the Patriots last year, this year they have already beaten the team that went instead (Philadelphia), and now they get a chance to knock off the team that won, as well. The Pats are banged up almost beyond recognition, and reeling off of an ugly loss. This is always the time in the past few years where Bellichek & Co have stepped up and reaffirmed their spot atop the heap. If they lose here though, it could mark the end of an era.

1. Steelers @ Chargers - San Diego pounded New England on the road last week, now they return home, but the opponent hasn't gotten much easier. The Pittsburgh Steelers had last week off to try and figure out what went wrong at the end of that Patriots game a couple weeks ago. For both teams, the potential stakes are high - each is looking to get as many conference wins as possible, as well as grab the head-to-head tiebraker that might come in especially handy. This is on Monday Night.

In other action, the Packers will be looking for their first win against the Saints; ditto for the Texans, who host the Titans; the Ravens and the Lions will be displaying some truly awful offense in Detroit; the Colts will see if they can't score 100 points on the pathetic 49ers; the Bears and the Browns will challenge the Ravens and Lions for fewest points in a game; the Panthers fly out to Arizona to meet the Cardinals in a battle of teams tat have dissapointed thusfar; the Dolphins are gonna go on the road and try and grab a firm hold on the AFC East lead they currently enjoy by half a game; the Seahawks and the Rams do battle in St. Louis for the early lead in the NFC West; and the Buccaneers go to New York to face Vinny Testaverde in is comeback to lead the Jets.

Ok, recap soon. P&L...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Return of Hockey

The NHL came back for real last night, with all 30 teams in action.

In addition to some of the new players, including the Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin and the Penguins' phenom Sidney Crosby, the much-balleyhooed rule changes also made their debuts, and the impact was felt immediately. One game went to a shootout (the Senators defeated the Maple Leafs) and the scoring went through the roof. The average score of the 15 winning teams was 4.1 goals, and only one of the 30 teams was shut-out.

Earlier, my buddy Dave wrote an entry in his blog where he blasted the rule changes. As is not uncommon, we disagree entirely. So, here is my counterpoint, and my explanation of why I think these rule changes are good, not only for the future of the game, but also in terms of making the game better.

First of all, hockey has not always been a low scoring game. In the 1980s, scoring was way above what you'd find in your rinks recently. The highest goal scorers in the league last year had 41 goals apiece - in the 1980s and early 1990s the goal scoring leaders always had over 60, sometimes over 70 and even a few seasons over 80. Now, mostly the goal scoring leaders were Wayne Gretzsky and Mario Lemiux, possibly the two greatest players ever to put on skates, but Jarri Kurri led the league with 68 goals in 1986 and Brett Hull put the puck in the net 80 times as recently as 1981. So it's not like the NHL is reversing a thousand years of tradition here - scoring used to be more prevalent in hockey, that's a fact.

It's also a fact that hockey's momentum is killed way too often. Every time the game seems to get into a flow, there's a whistle, play stops, and you have a face-off. If I wanted to watch a bunch of guys skate around in circles aimlessly, I'd go to the ice rink. Rules like touch-up icing and not allowing line changes on icing will keep the momentum of the game going, and drop this whole herky-jerky thing that has been plaguing the NHL as late.

The virtual elimination of the red line has double bonus effectiveness. Not only will it cut down on the number of play stoppages, but it also will open up the rink for long passes and award speed. Because to me, speed is what defines the NHL. I love watching hockey because the athletes fly around the playing surface much faster than they go in any other sport (NASCAR is neither a "sport" nor does it feature "athletes"). This facet of the game should be celebrated, not punished.

Saying the NHL changed the rink dimensions is misleading. The size of the surface of the ice is not affected (which is too bad, they ought to make it bigger - like the size they play on in international competition), but the lines have been moved to create bigger offensive zones (if you don't follow, don't worry about it - suffice to say the team with the puck now has more room with which to set up an offensive play). This will lead to more scoring opportunities, especially on the power play, thus giving talented puck handlers and speedy forwards better opportunity to showcase their skills.

The goaltenders pads have been reduced, which was necessary...I mean, look at this, and compare that to this. This will not only give the offensive players some goal at which to shoot (instead of increasing the size of the nets, which would have been a horrible idea), but it will also allow the goaltenders to be more flexible and showcase their athletic ability, rather than their ability to stand in front of the net and be bulky.

There's a rule about the goalies not being able to handle the puck in the corners, which I don't see making much difference one way or the other. If there is a purpose to it, great, because I don't see how it hurts, but I can't see the purpose.

The big rule change, of course, is a shoot-out, which normally I would hate. I hate it when games are decided by something that has nothing to do with the actual play of the game, like a shoot-out in World Cup soccer or the silly college football overtime. But the hockey shootout is acceptable to me, for two reasons:

1. The games don't mean as much. We're talking about regular season hockey here. 82 games. This isn't like college football, where one loss cripples your shot at a National Title and two losses kills pretty much kills your season. Or like the World Cup, where the winner moves on and the loser goes home (they even have shoot-outs in the final game of World Cup play, if it comes to that). When the hockey games really start to matter, in the postseason, they scrap the shoot-out and go to sudden death until somebody scores. If they keep it that way, then shoot-outs in the regular season are fine.

2. Even if you lose the shoot-out, you still get a point. So it's not like you're getting screwed for losing a penalty-shooting exhibition. you just aren't getting the full 2 points your opponent is.

So, all in all, I think the new rules are great. They'll really open up the game, when the game most needs opening up. Add in the growing popularity of HDTV, which will make more of a difference watching hockey than it will watching any other sport, and hockey might have a chance this time around. No more turning off the TV because your team is down 2-0 after the first period. This will make games more exciting, more fun, and just plain better.

And if you've never watched hockey because you thought the game was too boring or too confusing, give it another shot. You'll like what you see this time. Promise.

Pro Ball Week 4 Wrap-up and College Ball Week 6 Preview

It was indeed my intention to get both of these done earlier this week, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice & men...

We'll start with the Pro Ball Wrap-up.

In the five games I had slated as the games of the week, this is what happened:

The Falcons trounced the Vikings, 30-10. Daunte Caulpepper looked like the '05 (read: sucky) version of himself again, chucking 2 picks vs. 1 TD. Vick got hurt, but former UVA star QB Matt Schaub was up to the task of leading his team the rest of the way. Of course, since the Falcons got 285 yards on the ground, that wasn't too much of a task. For the Vikings, this meant that the first two weeks of the season were no anomaly - they simply look like a bad team that got lucky by matching up with a road-weary Sainst team (who looked really good at "home" in San Antonio - more on that later...) last week. For the Falcons, this was more proof that they are the best rushing team in football, and we all know that rushing and defense win championships.

The Broncos surprisingly ran roughshod over the Jaguars, 20-7. After an impressive opening win against Seattle, Jacksonville has looked extremely mediocre the last three weeks, their only win coming in overtime against a Jets team that was without their starting QB for most of the contest. The offense has struggled, and the defense hasn't looked good these past two weeks, either. Whther this says more about the Jaguars or Broncos is yet to be determined. The Broncos have now lept into first place in their division, and look poised to make a move into the upper ranks of the AFC.

The Redskins moved to 3-0 with an overtime victory over the Seahawks, 20-17. The Skins dominated much of the game, and the Seahawks were not able to do much on offense until Redskins CB Shawn Springs left the game with an injured shoulder. What the game really came down to was 3rd down conversion, with the Skins going an astonishing 13-18, including 3 long conversions in the extra session. If they can keep the chains moving on offense, that defense can carry this team.

Whoa! The Chargers blew the Patriots to smithereens, 41-17. It was the first loss at Foxboro for the Pats in like a hillion skillion years, and it was never particularly close. They were not able to do anything with the ball, and they certainly were not able to keep the Chargers offense the least bit at bay. This does not bode well for the defending champs, who have been bruised and battered to such a pulp that they now hardly resemble the team that has won three Super Bowls the last four years. They still have Tom Brady and Bill Bellichek - let's see if that's enough. It wasn't on Sunday...

Finally, the Kansas City Chiefs got started early against the Philadelphia Eagles, jumping out to a 24-6 lead...and then proceeded to give back every point and then some, until the Eagles had a 37-31 victory. So much for that improved defense, which has looked miserable the last two weeks. For the Eagles, this win kept them on pace with the Redskins and Giants, and established that they are never out of a game, regardless of the score.

In other action, the Bengals barely escaped with a win over the Texans; ditto with the Buccaneers over the Lions; the Colts found their offense in a 31-10 stomping of Tennessee; the Saints showed that home is where the heart is, posting an impressive 19-7 victory over Buffalo in San Antonio; Eli Manning threw all over the Rams and his Giants won, 44-24; the Ravens won a 13-3 decision against the Jets, in a game featuring no passes by an actual NFL quaterback; the Raiders held on for a 19-13 victory over the Cowboys, their first of the season; Arizona routed San Francisco 31-14 in front of 105,000 crazed Mexicans; and finally, Brett Favre ran out of Monday Night magic in the final minutes of a 32-29 heartbreaker loss at Carolina.

Ok, College Ball Primer:

The top 5 games of this week are:

5. Texas Tech vs. Nebraska - Two teams, undefeated thusfar (albeit not against much of a schedule in either case, although Iowa State had been ranked prior to losing to Nebraska last week). For Nebraska, a return trip to the Big 12 Championship Game is in sight, but they need every conference win they can get, and they can get this one. For Texas Tech, a division championship is a much taller order coming out of the Big 12 South with Oklahoma and Texas (more on them later), but anything is possible at this point. A loss in this cross-divisional game will cirpple neither team's chances, but one of these two teams will be undefeated no longer after Saturday, which at this point of the season makes this game compelling by itself.

4. Oklahoma vs. Texas - Nine times out of ten, the Red River Shootout is almost gauranteed to be in the top two games of the week - at worst - in spite of Oklahoma's recent dominance of the rivalry. However, this year the Sooners have not held up their part of the bargain this season, losing at home to Texas Christian and getting blown out on the road at UCLA (more on them later). Texas has Longhorn fans thinking National Championship, the biggest feather in their cap being a win at Ohio State in week 2. For Oklahoma, a National Championship is out of the picture, but a win in this game could save their season.

3. California vs. UCLA - Two undefeated teams go heads up in Los Angeles. Both Cal and UCLA have dreams of knocking off Southern Cal this season (good luck with that) and both are off to fast starts. The stakes are the same for both teams, and a loss would cripple each's dream of a Pac 10 and National Championship. The big game for both teams is when they play USC later on in the season, but this is gonna be the game where one of these two establishes themselves as the number one contender.

2. Ohio State vs. Penn State - Wow...Joe Paterno has his squad sitting pretty after a trouncing of previously undefeated Minnesota. That's a nice win, but the big prize is this weekend, as Penn State takes their shot at the big dog in the Big 10 pack, the Buckeyes, also coming off of a dominating win, theirs over Iowa. I've said it before, and it will continue to be said: the Big Ten is the most competitive conference this season. Every win is critical, every loss crippling. And for Joe Paterno, the stakes are even higher - a win here would be major redemption, as well as a pitcher of Shut The Hell Up for all of those who say it's time for Joe PaPa to retire.

1. Georgia vs. Tennessee - Once again, the Game of the Week comes to you from the SEC - the land of college ball. Florida looks mighty vulnerable after taking that pounding at the hands of the Crimson Tide, and now Tennessee and Georgia have a chance to jump in the driver's seat in Georgia's case, or get back into the passenger's seat in the case of the Vols. Of course, it's not just the SEC East that these teams are worried about. Undefeated Georgia and once-defeated Tennessee are both thinking National Championship, so of course for them every game is crucial - especially for the Vols, since another loss would knock them out of the picture entirely.

Here is my Top 25 for this week, and the opponents in parantheses:

1. Southern California (vs. Arizona)
2. Texas (vs. Oklahoma)
3. Virginia Tech (vs. Marshall)
4. Alabama (Idle)
5. Georgia (@ Tennessee)
6. California (@ UCLA)
7. UCLA (vs. California)
8. Florida State (vs. Wake Forest)
9. Penn State (vs. Ohio State)
10. Ohio State(@ Penn State)
11. Notre Dame (Idle)
12. Tennessee (vs. Georgia)
13. Wisconsin (@ Northwestern)
14. Texas Tech (@ Nebraska)
15. Nebraska (vs. Texas Tech)
16. Michigan State (Idle)
17. Louisiana State (@ Vanderbilt)
18. Miami (FL) (vs. Duke)
19. Florida (vs. Mississippi State)
20. Virginia (@ Boston College)
21. West Virginia (@ Rutgers)
22. Auburn (Idle)
23. Colorado (vs. Texas A&M)
24. Georgia Tech (vs. North Carolina State)
25. Minnesota (@ Michigan)

Ok, all for now...


Sunday, October 02, 2005

College Ball Recap

The Crimson Tide is back. But more on that later...

Blow-outs ruled the day yesterday. Some were expected, some were not. Here is the recap of the top 5 games...

In the number 5 game, Michigan defeated Michigan State in overtime. This loss knocks Michigan State out of the National Championship picture, as well as mucks up the Big Ten standings. As for Michigan, this is the type of win which can turn around a season, if they let it. With 2 losses, a National Championship is out of the question, but they could still win the Big Ten.

Nebraska won a thriller over Iowa State in Lincoln. Kansas State and Colorado could each have something to say about it, but right now the Huskers are in the driver's seat to win the Big 12 North. Also, they're undefeated, but not impressively so. Iowa State now needs help to win the division, and their National Championship dreams are pretty much done.

Southern California has found an interesting way to challenge themselves...they let their opponents beat up on them for a half, then come roaring back. This time they were down 21-3 at the break, and ended up winning 38-28. Despite poor performances in the first halves of consecutive games, this So Cal team is the real deal (like they need me to say that).

Notre Dame pantsed Purdue. Whoa... This would be a top 5 team right now if it weren't for that loss vs. Michigan State. As it is, the Irish are looking at a big game with Southern California in a couple weeks that would definately get them back in the National Championship picture if they won.

The Irish aren't the only once dominant team that's thinking National Championship after a blowout of a good team. The Crimson Tide of Alabama whooped it up against the Florida Gators, 31-3. For Florida, this probably puts the National Championship out of reach, but they still control their destiny in the SEC East. Revenge in the SEC Championship Game? They better hope so...

Undefeateds not yet mentioned: Baylor lost to Texas A&M in overtime; California drubbed Arizona; UCLA got a game from Washington, but prevailed; Florida State trounced Syracuse; Georgia had the week off; Wsiconsin beat Indiana in a battle of the undefeateds; it was also a battle of the undefeateds as Texas Tech beat Kansas; Kansas State fell to Oklahoma; Minnesota got crushed by Penn State (yet another battle of the undefeateds); Oklahoma State got beaten down by Colorado; Texas beat the crap out of Missouri; Texas El Paso lost at the hands of Memphis; Toledo fell Tuesday night to the Bulldogs of Fresno State; Vanderbilt lost to Middle Tennessee State (yes, Middle Tennessee State); Virginia lost to the Maryland Terrapins in a shoot-out; Virginia Tech took out West Virginia, in one more battle of then-undefeated teams; and Washington State lost to the Beavers of Oregon State.

So, for those of you paying attention, the remaining undefeated teams (and their next week's opponents in parenthesis) are:

Alabama (Idle)
California (@ California Los Angeles)
California Los Angeles (vs. California)
Florida State (vs. Wake Forest)
Georgia (@ Tennessee)
Nebraska (vs. Texas Tech)
Penn State (vs. Ohio State)
Southern California (vs. Arizona)
Texas (vs. Oklahoma at Dallas)
Texas Tech (@ Nebraska)
Virginia Tech (vs. Marshall)
Wisconsin (@ Northwestern)

My new Top 25 when I do next week's preview tomorrow. Till then, P&L...

NFL Week 4 Primer

Week 4 of the NFL season kicks off tomorrow (or, probably by the time anyone reads this, today). The match-ups this weekend do not appear to be quite as intriguing as the weekends of late, but then you don't really know until afterwards, do you?

These are the five games that most interest me:

5. Vikings vs. Falcons - The Vikings looked like the team a lot of people (not me) thought they would be this season when they dismantled a road-weary New Orleans team. The Saints, it seems, are so caught up in the injustice of playing a "home" game at Giants Stadium (and it was ridiculous, but you have to get over it - the Cardinals are getting robbed of a home game this weekend and I don't hear them complaining...) that they've come put completely flat-footed the last couple of weeks. Whether that had a little or a lot to do with the Vikings reemergence will be seen in a large part when they go up against the Falcons. For the Vikings, this game provides them with an opportunity to make a statement that they are ready to take control of the miserable NFC North. For the Falcons, every win is crucial since they are in one of the League's most competitive divisions AND they figure to be challenging for the NFC's best record.

4. Broncos vs. Jaguars - Denver is headed back to sunny Florida, where they were served a humiliating loss to the Dolphins in week 1. It's week 4 now, and the Broncos will be in Jacksonville, not Miami. But you'd better believe it's gonna be hot & humid there, as well. Denver, like Atlanta, is in a very competitive division and needs every win they can get. Jacksonville is trying to keep up with Indianapolis and therefore can not afford to be losing home games, especially home conference games.

3. Seahawks vs. Redskins - This is the first time I've put my Skins on this list, so don't be bitching. Washington is coming off of a bye week following that monster comeback in Dallas. The Redskins offense still has serious questions and no one knows what to expect from QB Mark Brunell. If the offense can merely be competent, this is a team that can do a lot of damage with their outstanding defense. If they look as weak as they did the first 116 minutes of this season, though, it'll be tough for them to win many games, at all. With a record of 2-0, the Redskins have, at least temporarily, inserted themselves into the NFC playoff race. If they want to prove they belong, they have to win their home conference games. As for the Seahawks, this has been a team that has been plagued by inconsistency and a horrible road record the last several years. A win here would go a long way towards putting that reputation behind them.

2. Chargers vs. Patriots - Rodney Harrison's knee has turned into a medical experiment, and now the Patriots find themselves missing the two biggest leaders of their defense. Of course, we all know what happens when Bill Belichek's team goes up against the wall, however. The Chargers are coming off of an offensive explosion against the Giants at home, but the Giants aren't exactly the Patriots, and San Diego isn't exactly New England (although it isn't really cold in the northeast quite yet...just cooler than the Chargers have had to play in, thusfar). For the Chargers, their 0-2 start still has them in dire straits even after their big win last week. Win here, and they're right back in the playoff race. Lose here, and their position becomes tenuous, at best. Pretty big stakes. As for the Patriots, the big win in Pittsburgh came at the cost of two very important players. They need to prove they can still win, minus Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weiss, Teddy Bruschi, Ty Law, and now Rodney Harrison and Matt Light. Pretty tall order...

1. Eagles vs. Chiefs - In the game of the week, the defending NFC Champion Eagles head to Kansas City to test their improved defense. The Chiefs were taken to Federal Pound Me In The Ass Prison last Monday Night by the Broncos, but this time they'll be at home, in what may be the loudest environment in American sports. This is a cross-Conference game, so it's not critical to either team (although KC does not want to be dropping home games playing in that division), but it is certainly a potential statement game for both teams, and thus should be very compelling television.

In other match-ups, the Rams and the Giants will duke it out in what should be a high-scorer; the Cowboys vs. the Raiders is another potential shoot-out (Randy Moss loves playing against Dallas); the 49ers and Cardinals will be coming to you live from Mexico, in a game certain to turn off an entire generation of Mexicans from Americn football; the Packers and the Panthers will be doing their thing on Monday Night; the Lions will be big underdogs when they travel to Tampa Bay; the Saints will finally get to play a home game as they host the Bills at the Alamo Dome; at the Jets vs. Ravens game there won't be a legitimate NFL QB to be seen (the closest things to NFL QBs will be on the bench, in the form of Vinny Testaverde and Kordell Stewart - yuck!); the Texans will try to keep it close versus the suddenly mighty Bengals; and the Colts will try to right their offense against the depleted Titans in Tennessee.

College ball recap tomorrow...till then, P&L...