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