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New England Patriots - The Patriots had a busy week as they played last Sunday against the Bills and then followed that up with the Thursday night game vs. the Jets.
The two straight AFC East divisonal matchups saw the Patriots win both games and take control of the division as they raised their record to 5-2.
Against Buffalo, the Pats won 37-22 but the win was a costly one as both Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley went down with what turned out to be season ending knee injuries.
In the first half of the game, the Patriots offense was just miserable. They managed just 101 yards of total offense. Thankfully, they woke up in the second half and rolled up nearly 300 yards of offense in that half. Tom Brady had a great game with 361 yards passing and 4 TDs. He spread the ball around to 10 different receivers in all.
Brandon LaFell had 4 catches for 97 yards and most importantly, two TDs. Rob Gronkowski caught 7 balls for 94 yards. Meanwhile, Tim Wright and Brian Tyms caught just 1 pass a piece, but each of them went for a score. Julian Edleman had 9 catches for 91 yards.
When the passing game is as effective as it was against the Bills, the Patriots can look positively unbeatable. But they are really going to have to lean on that passing game with the loss of Ridley. He was their workhorse back and while Shane Vereen can be effective out of the backfield catching passes, he is not the same time of runner Ridley is. As for the rest of the rotation of running backs, they haven't shown any reason for fans to expect them to do much better.
While their defense held the Bills to just 68 yards rushing, the Patriots run game was even worse. They had just 50 yards for the game, the rushing attack being thoroughly ineffective. It was a good thing the passing game took off in the 2nd half or the Patriots would've gotten beaten down quite soundly.
The defense also harassed Bills QB Kyle Orton all day long, they picked him off once and sacked him five times. Three of those sacks came from Rob Ninkovich. The defense also recovered a couple of fumbles along the way too.
I don't think anyone was really expecting the New York Jets to give the Patriots much trouble on Thursday night. They were 1-5 coming into the game and in what seemed to be complete disarray. They don't really have an NFL caliber quarterback on the roster and can't seem to get out of their own way most of the time.
But the team certainly hasn't quit on coach Rex Ryan and they showed up and gave the Patriots all they could handle. In the end it was a blocked field goal attempt, by Chris Jones, on the last play of the game (see below, Jones has the red glove on), that gave New England a 27-25 victory. It was a highly competitive and exciting game and one that FINALLY let the Pats fans exhale.
As they awaited the Jets, the questions facing the Patriots were 1. Can they have a balanced run game with Ridley out? and 2. With Jerod Mayo out, can the Patriots defense stop the run (when Mayo went out last year, that's when the Patriots run defense went into the crapper)?
The Jets got a surprisingly solid performance from QB Geno Smith (pictured below 1st) and the question about the Patriots defense was answered for one night at least when New York put up 218 total yards on the ground. Chris Ivory (pictured below 2nd) tallied 107 yards rushing for the Jets to go with four receptions out of the backfield.
What helped the Patriots win the game was their defense sacking Smith 3 times while New England's offensive line kept Brady upright for most of the game. The Jets defense was credited with 1 sack of Tom Brady, but it was a sack that saw Brady moving out of the pocket and then slid to give himself up.
Speaking of Brady (pictured below), he had 261 yards passing and 3 TDs on the night. And once again, he really had to get things done through the air because the other question facing the Patriots was answered by the team managing just 63 yards on the ground for the game.
Shane Vereen (pictured below) had 43 yards to "lead" the rushing attack, but he made his biggest impact catching passes. He had 5 receptions for 71 yards (also the team lead in that category), including a beautiful 49 yard diving catch for one of his two TDs on the night. You can check out the video below to see both scores.
But the Patriots still couldn't put the Jets away. It wasn't until forgotten man Danny Amendola (pictured below), who had been playing on special teams most of the evening, caught his first TD of the season that the Patriots took the lead for what would be the final time.
I love the two wins for the Patriots, but given that they came over relatively weak (despite playing solid games against the Pats) teams in the AFC East, I'm by no means convinced this turnaround means New England can consistently beat the better teams in the NFL this season. They are going to have to find someone who can run the ball to give their offensive playcalling some balance. If they don't, they are going to be in trouble if teams start paying more attention to their receivers. And if they can't run the ball, what happens to the offense when the passing game gets shut down too?
They also still need to figure out how to cut down on their penalties. They had 9 called on them against the Jets. I'm sure Bill Belichick can figure things out, he usually does. But the team is going to have to win games by guile as much as skill while they get things figured out.
One final semi-related Patriots note: There is a new book about former Patriots coach Bill Parcells coming out October 28th entitled Parcells: A Football Life. Sports Illustrated ran an excerpt from the book detailing the behind the scenes machinations that happened when Parcells quit as coach of the Jets and Belichick was supposed to take over. Football fans know what happened next, but you can read this article for a more in-depth look at what it took for Belichick to be able to be hired to coach the Patriots and change the course of the franchise.
Chicago Bears - Bears cornerback Charles Tillman is out injured this season, but this interview with Robert Klemko of the MMQB.com website gives you a great look at a player who's time in the NFL is winding down. A lot of other topics are covered as well.
Miscellaneous Article of Note - Former NFL player Irving Fryar spent the early part of his career in varying degrees of trouble. But he turned his life around becoming a really good receiver, and later became a preacher. But according to Greg Hanlon's lengthy article, there's been a big hiccup in Fryar's reformed life recently as he found himself in a lot of trouble. He now stands accused of bank fraud. You can read more HERE.
The Red Sox are playing in the quest for the World Series championship this year, so I haven't really been paying much attention to the MLB Playoffs. But I wanted to take a quick moment and congratulate the Kansas City Royals (first playoff and World Series appearance in 29 years) and the San Francisco Giants (3rd World Series appearance in the last 5 years) for making it to what promises to be an electrifying conclusion to the baseball season.
Boston College - Before I talk about yesterday's game against Clemson, I wanted to note that after the Eagles win over North Carolina State last week, Josh Keyes was named ACC Co-Linebacker of the Week while defensive end Brian Mihalik (pictured below) was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week.
As for the Clemson game, the Eagles looked to pull the upset over the 24th ranked Tigers, but ended up falling short. They lost 17-13 to drop to 4-3 on the year.
The BC defense got torn up for 398 total yards despite the relatively low point total for Clemson. But it seems more like the inability of the offense to put more than 13 points on the board is what really did the Eagles in. QB Tyler Murphy (pictured below) was just 8-19 passing for 108 yards. Granted, two of those completions were for touchdowns, but it was another game where his inability to pass the ball consistently hurt the team. It was even more evident because the run game was stifled this time around as well. Murphy led the team in rushing with just 55 yards. Meanwhile, Jon Hilliman, Myles Willis and Sherman Alston (who caught one of Murphy's TD strikes) combined for just 65 yards all together.
Alabama - With the Crimson Tide's upset loss last week, it seems to have become open season on Alabama. More than a few have opined that the team's run of dominance in the SEC West could be over. That led into yesterday's nationally televised game against Texas A&M where the Crimson Tide laid such an ass whipping on the Aggies that A&M coach labeled his team's performance "embarrassing". The final score: Alabama 59 Texas A&M 0. Yes, that's right a big fat nothing for the Aggies as Alabama improves to 6-1. Apparently, reports of their demise have been greatly exaggerated.
A&M's offense had been averaging 565 yards in total offense coming into the game, but got outgained a monstrous 602-172 by Alabama. It all keyed off of the resurgent performance of quarterback Blake Sims (pictured below). He freely admitted that he hasn't played well in the last two games but yesterday, he threw for 268 yards and 3 touchdowns while adding 54 rushing yards. That rush total includes a beautiful 43 yard run for a TD that you just have to see to believe.
Alabama's defense was in razor sharp form on the day. They picked off Aggie QB Kenny Hill once while racking up 6 sacks (see sack celebration pic below) on the day as well. They also held A&M to just 31 yards on the ground (Bama's backs had 298 yards).
Bama receiver Amari Cooper has been held in check the last couple of games but he had 8 catches for 140 yards and 2 TDs yesterday. He had a 45 yard TD and you can see his 24 yard TD reception below.
As for the run game, T.J Yeldon led the way with 114 yards and 2 TDs for Alabama. Derrick Henry had a solid day as well. He ran for 70 yards and a TD and had a 41 yard catch and run from Sims for a second score. You can see that below.
Mass Maritime - While the Buccaneers struggled in their 32-16 loss to Westfield State on Saturday, my ex-player E.J. continue to extend his hold over every receiving record at the school. He caught 12 more passes today for 103 yards and a touchdown. The loss drops MMA to 1-5 on the season overall, with an 0-4 conference record.
Georgia - I'm not talking about any game the Bulldogs played but rather the suspension of running back Todd Gurley for allegedly making money off of signing memorabilia. I know that a lot of people out there are incensed that the NCAA and its member schools can make billions of dollars off of these athletes who labor for peanuts (scholarships). I happen to agree with them.
But while the rules stink, I don't agree with the notion that Gurley violating them is somehow a noble thing. It isn't. He knew the rules going in. They may suck, he may hate the rules, but he agreed to them. You can and should lobby to change rules you don't like. But I'm a firm believer in not breaking the current rules governing your participation in college athletics. And if you do break the rules and get caught, I have no problem with an athlete's career being in jeopardy or even over.
The NCAA is a corrupt organization as it is currently set up. They need to be changed from the top down as the playing field of college/amateur sports evolves. But until that happens, an athlete that agrees to the idiotically draconian rules of the NCAA must abide by them.
The big news out of the women's basketball league this week was the rather surprising move by the New York Liberty. The team declined to pick up the option on coach/GM Bill Laimbeer. They'll be looking for someone new to lead the team for next season.
The Liberty took a step back the last two years under Laimbeer, who was unable to recapture the magic he had as the head of the now defunct Detroit Shock. They didn't make the playoffs either season but I don't think anyone really saw this move coming.
Laimbeer, who I hated as a player, but really like as a coach and GM in the WNBA, commented about his time with the Liberty in this article.
So far, I haven't been able to find out if assistant coach Katie Smith is still with the team or has been officially dismissed. I do know that if she isn't back with the team, my fandom for the Liberty will be a thing of the past. I go where she goes. By the way, Smith's latest blog post on her KatieSmithBasketball.com site is about her dog Logan. You can check it out HERE.
Tennessee Women's Track - I know that I don't usually spend much time on college sports other than football and basketball, but this past week brought a story about the Lady Vols track team that just pissed me off. And I wasn't the only one as noted women's college sports writer Mechelle Voepel and men's college basketball analyst Jay Bilas also tweeted about the story.
It seems new track coach Beth Alford-Sullivan revealed herself to be thoroughly disreputable and not worthy of being a coach. She kicked athletes off the team who had done nothing wrong. This was two weeks into practices and the players she dismissed were ones she had praised publicly not two months before. The parent of one of the dismissed athletes took the story public.
The coach and the school are hiding behind the lame ass excuse of Sullivan not having done anything wrong and while they are technically right, that is a purely gutless counterpunch to the way they have completely screwed over these athletes. This story is yet another example of the atrocious level of corruption that abides in the current NCAA system. You can read more HERE.
Mount Saint Joseph University - And then you have a story like this one, where it shows what can be right and good about college sports. Lauren Hill is an incoming freshman on the women's basketball team. She's eagerly looking forward to playing her first college basketball game...because it will be her last game as well. And that is if she lives that long. Lauren is dying from an inoperable brain tumor. She was originally given two years to live, but things got worse and doctors told the family she wouldn't live past this December.
NCAA rules don't allow Division 3 teams to play games that count in the standings until mid-November. But even they were moved because they granted MSJU an exemption. With Hiram College agreeing to move the game to November 2nd, Lauren will dress in her #22 uniform and play "One Last Game". You can read more and see the local news report via this link. Yahoo! Sports also covered the story HERE.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Wareham Girls Soccer - The Vikings lost to Middleboro 3-1 to start off their week. The one positive in that game was the news that my former player Paige scored her first career goal. A 6-1 loss to Bourne dropped Wareham to 0-15 on the season.
Wareham Boys Soccer - A 2-1 loss to Middleboro (Eoghan had an assist on the goal), a 4-0 loss to Bourne and a 6-1 loss to Case dropped the team to 0-13.
Wareham Girls Field Hockey - Westport beat Wareham 9-0, then lost to Seekonk 5-1 on Friday dropping them to 2-12 for the year.
Wareham Girls Volleyball - The Vikings got swept 3-0 by Bourne and 3-0 by Case to fall to 4-13 for the year.
Upper Cape Girls Soccer - The Rams beat Blue Hills 2-1 early in the week. Friday night saw them beat Old Colony 6-1. While she isn't one of my former players, Krystle scored all 6 goals and raised her scoring tally for her high school career to 99 goals. Below is an Adam Ellis photo of Krystle (in white) on one of a couple of chances where she could've scored that 100th goal.
Wareham Football - In their annual Cranberry Bowl matchup, the Vikings came up on the short end of a 21-12 decision against ORR. They are now 1-5 on the season. Josh (pictured below) ran for 58 yards on the ground and had 28 receiving yards in the game. (Photos by Adam K. Ellis of the Wareham Courier.)
MISCELLANEOUS SPORTS ARTICLE
One of my favorite sportswriters is Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan. It seems others hold him in high regard as well. You can learn more about Ryan by reading this Grantland.com profile.
TV - If you didn't watch the season premiere of The Walking Dead last Sunday, wow did you miss a fantastic show. Seriously, go watch it on On Demand right now, you won't regret it.
As for a couple of other shows, you can check out the Pop-topia.com recap of The Flash Season 1 Episode 2 "The Fastest Man Alive" HERE. The recap for Arrow Season 3 Episode 2 "Sara" is available via this Pop-topia.com link.
I also added to my TV on DVD collection this week when I picked up Cagney & Lacey - The True Beginning. It is the second broadcast season of the show but the first with Sharon Gless in the role of Cagney.
Music - Country singer Glen Campbell is dealing with the effects of Alzheimer's Disease. The last song he ever recorded is called "I'm Not Gonna Miss You". You can check out the official video below. It's some moving stuff.
I’m a busy bee and have been reduced to my old “Lurker” status here as I check in for a quick read. Like the great Steve Miller sings, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future”
So the New England Patriots are playing their division rival New York Jets in a monsoon on Thursday night so I will have this posted and ready to go before 8:30PM. A lot of fun storylines with talk of Darrelle Revis playing some wide receiver? Practice squad running back Jonas Gray stepping into the New England backfield? Jets tight end Jace Amaro finally putting together a good game last week.
STORY OF THE WEEK:
The best storyline is the the Bill Parcells book set to be released in a few weeks and news of the advance copy having plenty of juicy details about the divorce of Parcells-Belichick. Since the divorce--don’t forget--Parcells won nothing while Belichick won three Super Bowls and went to five.
That said, going back twenty years to what football in New England was pre-Parcells and Drew Bledsoe is almost comical. Whenever the team found the smallest measure of success, they found a way to ruin it in spectacular fashion. The Lisa Olsen Scandal. The Cocaine Scandal post getting Super Bowl shuffled in 1986. General Manager Pat Sullivan getting his ass kicked by Matt Millen and Howie Long after he taunted them after the Patriots upset the Raiders in the playoffs in ‘86. Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour failure nearly bankrupting the team owners. The debacle of drafting quarterback Tony Eason over Dan Marino. Steve Grogan, John Hannah, and Steve Nelson playing so many years for so many bad teams. Trading away the draft picks that became Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cortez Kennedy. Head coach Chuck Fairbanks bailing on the team. Roughing the passer against Oakland in 1976. This list goes on and on and on and on and on. I am sure the Northeast Gabbers can add about 20 more without taxing their brains.
The Patriots owe a debt of gratitude to Parcells for sure, but kudos to Belichick for getting out from “Big Bill’s” shadow. Belichick has hinted at how he hated being linked to Parcells when he saw him as a defensive assistant coach who got the lucky break of taking on the Giants top position. Belichick always visibly reacted whenever a reporter made the mistake of referring to him as a Parcells protegee. Belichick really is a part of the Joe Collier coaching tree as Collier was the long-time defensive coach in Denver and where the “Orange Crush” 3-4 defense took root. Parcells was a Ray Perkins acolyte and Belichick was more established in his defensive philosophy prior to landing in New York. To lump Belichick into the Parcells family tree is really a stretch when you look at the differing styles and philosophies.
That said, I am really looking forward to Parcells’ book and gleaning a little more information about his ending in New England. Should be a fun read.
I’ve been keeping my eyes on the AFC East as always as I write primarily about the Patriots, but in watching Buffalo the demise of C.J. Spiller has been eye-opening. While the benching of 2013 first-round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel has been the top story, the declining touches for Spiller has been shocking. He’s hit 15 carries just twice this season and against New England had just six carries after just ten against Detroit the week prior.
The offensive line in Buffalo is atrocious and Fred Jackson’s quick-decision running style is more conducive to toughing out yards after contact. Center Eric Wood is adequate and left tackle Cordy Glenn is excellent, but right tackle Seantrel Henderson and guards Erik Pears and Cyril Richardson are dreadful and not NFL starting quality.
Now, backup running back and former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown is healthy at last and Spiller looks like the odd man out. Spiller is still effective in the return and passing game, and I believe the game tape does not lie: the problem is his poor blocking offensive line.
The Boston Hollywood Sports Guy returned to Grantland/ESPN this week as his three week suspension for criticizing of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Three weeks later and my life was no poorer not reading his “mailbag” or not listening to his podcast as I haven’t tuned in to that since probably 2007 a few weeks after it came out. Simmons reportedly was furious about the suspension but didn’t go on a public diatribe or anything.
On one hand, Simmons is the godfather to us all. Blogs were not even really a “thing” back in the nineties. Simmons actually is a good writer who was a bartender after not being able to break into the Boston sports reporting scene. Simmons started writing on AOL Digital City (ahh, the heady 90s go-go Internet days!) and had his own website: BostonSportsGuy.com. By 2001 he was onto the big time at ESPN. After a hiatus to join the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood, he was back and soon had his site Grantland.com.
In the pre-ESPN days, I adored Simmons and his unique style of writing. Without him, would TSN have blogs? Would I have started my BostonSportPage.com blog in 2005? Would we be sitting around the Gab loving and sharing sports? Probably not. That said, he went from “Must Read” to “ehhh, whatever” in the past few years. It is hard to maintain momentum and there are a ton of imitators who have come and gone.
I was ecstatic to see Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll come out against the seven inactive players on game day. Currently, the NFL has a 53 man roster that receives full pay and counts against the salary. Randomly, the league has the team only be able to play 46 of the 53. They’re paying them but not playing them? Why?
Since I never heard a rational reason and having more healthy players able to contribute can limit teams using starters on special teams (Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm in 2012 blocking on an extra point?) is a good thing, what the heck is the league doing? It seems ludicrous for teams to have to pay these players a full salary and sit them? Make it 46 players or keep it 53, but LET THEM PLAY.
Wow, got on a few tangents there. OK, folks, time for me to watch some Thursday Night Football. P.S. Kudos to IHM filling in superbly for the great O.H. here on Thursday. Be sure to swing by next door to check in with the always interesting, informative, and opinioned StorminNorman as well --->.
Greetings from the Hoodwood, where sometimes you are just trying to get by.
College Football: Look Who’s Running things…Mississippi State?
Most casual observers of college football would look at the fact that Florida State dropped from the #1 slot for an SEC team and shrug their shoulders, the fact that the team that replaced them is not one of the usual suspects from the SEC is the one that would be the eye catching fact. Its not Bama, not LSU not Auburn. Its Mississippi State. Read the following line slowly and digest it.
Mississippi State is the #1 team in the country in college football.
And their in-state arch rival Ole Miss, is lurking dangerously at #3. The oft maligned Magnolia State who was more infamous for the antics of Ross Barnett and the shameful chapters of the civil rights movement are now living large with two of the best teams in the country. From the Bulldogs do everything QB with the cool name, Dak Prescott to the Rebels junkyard dog tough defense that just abuses its opposition. These teams are fun to watch and are making the football world sit up and notice. The Egg Bowl on November 29th could be for a lot higher stakes than simple bragging rights, it could better the Iron Bowl as the conference’s big game in the SEC West as the gateway to the SEC Championship game in Atlanta. Mississippi State has only a trip to Tuscaloosa on its docket that may keep them from heading to their showdown game unbeaten. Ole Miss has a bit of a tougher run, they have head to Baton Rouge for a likely Saturday night tangle in the Bayou, never a good time then they host Auburn the very next week. The very idea that these team could be playing the final regular season game as unbeatens should quicken the pulse.
Meanwhile Florida State keeps chugging along, despite the growing noise that Jameis Winston may still face some sort of disciplinary actions for his alleged involvement in a sexual assault case, this all in front of a sort of conference showdown with Notre Dame who is still an independent but seem to be playing a few ACC teams here and there. But a matchup of unbeaten teams this late in October is always nice to see.
NFL: A tie?
For reasons I cant explain, Ive seen on TV each of the last three tie games. In 2012 I sat in my man cave and watched the Rams and 49ers slug into early evening but without a victor in a 24 all draw, last season I was visiting my Grampy and watched my Vikes and the Pack battle to a 26 all standoff, Sunday I again was visiting my Grampy and caught the tail end of a wild 37 all draw that set an NFL record for the highest scoring tie since 1974. The thing that amazes me about ties is the general football populaces ignorance about overtime and tie games. Tie games to be sure are a rarity nowadays, there have only been 20 ties since overtime has been instituted for regular season games in 1974. Before then overtime only happened in playoff games and only had happened four times in NFL history before the extra period was instituted for all games. Since the overtime rules were instituted the Packers have had the most ties with 5, and all teams in the NFL except Houston, Jacksonville and Seattle have had ties. Though the Patriots have not had a tie game since the merger, their nine ties in their AFL days go forward with their overall won-loss total. Ties were a regular occurrence before 1974, if the 60 minutes were played and the score was tied that’s what it went into the books as. There was at least one tie game in the NFL each season from 1952-1974 and as many as nine in 1967 & 1970, it wasn’t uncommon to see teams with 2 and sometimes 3 ties on their ledger the 1963 Bears finished 11-1-2 in their title season, I liked the 1965 San Diego Chargers who won the AFL West with a 9-2-3 record. More ties than losses, go figure. In 1970, every team in both the AFC and NFC West had at least one tie. 1975 was the first full season with no ties. And only 19 times since the Steelers and Broncos played to a 35 all draw in 1974, with the addition of sudden death then the modified possession overtime there have been more OT wins and fewer times that the game has ended in a draw. Ironically the Bengals last tie was at home due to a missed field goal.
But now you have the crying wonks. “Uhnnnnh there should be a winner, keep playing.” Can you imagine if either of these teams had to play on Thursday and had to keep playing till there was a winner?
Its rare when I give dap to a St. Louis Cardinal, since Im not a big fan of them, but I always like to see someone gain a measure of redemption. And Kolten Wong got a bit of it Sunday night against the Giants. Wong got picked off to end a World Series game last year and in some circles wore the goat horns for the Cards lost to Boston. But Wong had a solid year for the RedBirds and clubbed a walk off homer in Game 2 to level the NLCS at a game a piece heading to the Bay Area. I still think the Giants are the better team and will win in 5 or 6 but Wong won a game by himself Sunday.
To the useless jerk in Philly that was clapping over the prone figure of Victor Cruz as he lay in agony on the Lincoln Financial Field turf Sunday. Cruz tore his patella tendon and is out for the rest of the season and the picture in the NY Daily News said it all, that was uncalled for.
The TCU-Baylor game was a fun shootout to watch, Ill bet the score of either of their basketball games doesn’t match the 61-58 score
The Rain was the only thing that could stop the Royals, good to see that Buck Showalter hasn’t lost his overmanaging touch
KD out for 6-8 weeks with a foot injury…not fresh at all. You know Russell Westbrook is salivating at the chance to jack up shots
Ok so Romo and the Pokes beat the Seahawks…when he wins in the crunch let me know
If not for a mistype (I wanted to pick Cleveland and typed Tennessee) and a pick that I even said as much that was going to be a pick that I was going to regret (Cincinnati) I would have notched 11 wins, but 9 is still a decent number. Still nonetheless I strive to get better and submitted for your review perusal and approval are this week’s peerless picks. The Chiefs (lost to 49ers 22-17) and the Saints (defeated Buccaneers 37-31 in OT) are the only teams with a bye this week. Odds are provided by ESPN.com and are strictly for entertainment and comparison purposes only. I will not hesitate to rat you to your bookie if you go into hiding after betting the lines and losing.
Colts (3-2) @ Texans (3-2)
NRG Stadium, Houston 8:25 (CBS/NFLN)
Favorite Colts by 2½
Last Week Colts defeated Ravens 20-13, Texans lost to Cowboys 20-17 in OT
Fast Fact Colts lead the series by the count 20-4; a visiting team has yet to win a Thursday night game this year
The week leads off with a crucial divisional showdown. The Colts are fast putting their 0-2 start further and further in their rearview as they have reeled off 3 straight quality wins. Andrew Luck is looking more and more like one of the elite signal callers in the game with his crisp precise passing. The Texans took a tough loss to the Pokes but have one of the more feared defensive units in the game with the brooding bruiser JJ Watt leading the charge. This is a game way too close to call and happily for CBS and NFLN will be a tenser drama than the five previous Thursday. I think that the Colts should be able to control the offensive tempo and put enough points to outslug the home team.
Patriots (3-2) @ Bills (3-2)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Patriots by 2½
Last Week Patriots defeated Bengals 43-17, Bills defeated Lions 17-14
Fast Fact This is the first pro football that Wilson family has not been involved in since 1959
Shaking off rumors of infighting and an imminent collapse, the Pats throttled the Bengals on Sunday Night looking like Pats teams that we’ve grown accustomed to, while the Bills gave the Wilson family a nice sendoff as former owners with a win in Detroit (where the Wilson family is originally from) I don’t think the Pats demise was seriously exaggerated and the Bills are still a team searching for a real identity. The Pats have been dominant in B’Lo and I don’t see a real reason why they shouldn’t win
Panthers (3-2) @ Bengals (3-1)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Bengals by 6 ½
Last Week Panthers defeated Bears 31-24, Bengals lost to Patriots 43-17
Fast Fact The Bengals are tied with the Pats for the longest current home win streak at 11
The Panthers remain one of the more puzzling teams in the NFL, playing like a team with something to prove they rallied smartly to beat the Bears. While the Bengals hoping to make a big impression on a national stage got housed on Sunday Night. I don’t think that the previous game were true indicators of the teams’ outlook for the season. The Panthers still have no running game and the return of Vontaze Burfict will bolster a defense that got trampled by the Pats two tight end sets, though their offense will be missing star wideout AJ Green (no relation) The Bengals have played a lot better at home and I don’t trust Carolina to be able to play good enough offensively to change that thinking.
Lions (3-2) @ Vikings (2-3)
TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Vikings by 2
Last Week Lions lost to Bills 17-14, Vikings lost to Packers 42-10
Fast Fact The Vikings have won 13-4
The Lions whined about the Bills carrying Jim Schwartz off the field as their defensive coordinator but the fact remains they took another puzzling loss and had no one to blame but themselves. They head to Minnesota to face a Vikes team that got strafed and steamrolled on Thursday night. With the return to health of their dynamic QB Teddy Bridgewater the Vikes have high hopes for a better offensive output, but facing a stingy Lions defense who lead the league yards and first downs allowed. With Megatron Johnson slowed and possibly out with an injury the onus falls on Golden Tate to pick up the slack. I will go out on a limb and say the more things change…
Steelers (3-2) @ Browns (2-2)
First Energy Stadium, Cleveland 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Browns by 1
Last Week Steelers defeated Jaguars 17-9, Browns defeated Titans 29-28
Fast Fact The Browns 25 point rally to win over the Titans last week was the largest comeback for a road team in NFL history
The Steelers have been tottering along, their offense and defense is becoming the textbook definition of inconsistent. That said the Browns have quietly gotten rather dangerous with a heroic rally from a 28-3 deficit to shock the Titans before a stunned Nashville throng. I really don’t trust either team but I’m looking at the Steelers propensity to blow leads. I’m going to regret this but the Browns have been more sharper on offense and play tough in the second half. If they have a lead at halftime they could run the Steelers out. Here goes nothing, I call this an upset because the Steelers like to lord their dominance over the Browns and I think that they get another comeuppance this week.
Pick-Cleveland (Upset of the week)
Ravens (3-2) @ Buccaneers (1-4)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Ravens by 3½
Last Week Ravens lost to Colts 20-13 Buccaneers lost to Saints 37-31 in OT
Fast Fact Both teams sport 3 game winning streaks against their opposite conference
The Ravens were hampered by a stunning inability to move the ball at all against the Colts, after moving the ball easily the week before. They should be able to get their offense back rolling against the Bucs who give up points by the bushel and yards by the acre. I’m looking at Joe Flacco to get his touch back against a putrid Bucs secondary while Mike Glennon continues to struggle against the Ravens rejuvenated defensive corps
Packers (3-2) @ Dolphins (2-2)
Sun Life Stadium; Miami Gardens, FL 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Packers by 3
Last Week Packers defeated Vikings 42-10, Dolphins were on their bye
Fast Fact The Packers are 3-10 against the Dolphins, their worst ledger against any team
The Packers barely broke a sweat in thrashing the Vikes while the Dolphins are well rested after a bye following a London style beatdown of the Raiders. I think that the Dolphins will be able to move the ball against the weak Packers run defense. I know I should go with the Packers crisp offensive efficiency but something just tells me the Packers will melt in the south Florida heat. Call it a hunch
Broncos (3-1) @ Jets (1-4)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (FOX, CBS, NBC, ESPN)
Favorite Broncos by 8½
Last Week Broncos defeated Cardinals 41-20, Jets lost to Chargers 31-0
Fast Fact Peyton Manning needs five touchdown passes to match Brett Favre’s record career mark. Manning has thrown five touchdowns eight times in his career, including twice last season
The Broncos toyed with the Cards for a while then blew them away behind PMannings precise passing, while the Jets are looking more and more confused with each passing week. Geno Smith is looking like more and more like a buster quarterback than the long awaited franchise savior. I don’t care if the Broncos are a western team heading east, they are just that much better than the Jets and the grins and jeers from their buffoon coach are getting more and more far in between. This game shouldn’t even be close.
Pick-Denver (Lock of the Week)
Jaguars (0-5) @ Titans (1-4)
LP Field, Nashville 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Titans by 4
Last Week Jaguars lost to Steelers 17-9, Titans lost to Browns 29-28
Fast Fact Since allowing ten points in their opening win at Kansas City the Titans have allowed 32.3 points a game in their four game losing streak
The Jags have been playing better as of late but have no wins to show for it, meanwhile the memory of the upset win in Kansas City is but a distant memory as the losses are piling up none more painful than the fall from ahead loss to Cleveland. I like the development of Blake Bortles, though the Jags have no wins to show for it. There will be one for his efforts today
Chargers (4-1) @ Raiders (0-4)
O.Co Coliseum, Oakland 4:05 (CBS)
Favorite Chargers by 7½
Last Week Chargers defeated Jets 31-0, Raiders were on their bye
Fast Fact The Raiders have the longest NFL losing streak at 11
The Chargers looking chillingly crisp in dismantling the woeful Jets, and get another joke team to play in the Raiders who have just looked abysmal. Do the Chargers have the tools to challenge the Broncos and Chiefs in the AFC West, playing like this? You betcha. They are solid on both sides of the ball and Philip Rivers is enjoying a renaissance as a signal caller. The game? You think the Raiders are really going to give it a game? Ok it’s in Oakland, and it might stay close for a while over under is one quarter
Cowboys (4-1) @ Seahawks (3-1)
CenturyLink Field, Seattle 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Seahawks by 8½
Last Week Cowboys defeated Texans 20-17 in OT, Seahawks defeated Washington 27-17
Fast Fact Seahawks QB Russell Wilson leads the NFL in completion percentage at 70.3 Cowboys QB Tony Romo is second at 69.2
The Pokes continue to be the darling of the media pundits with their continued strong start, while the Seahawks dominated the game more than the scoreboard would show in DC. The Pokes offensive balance has been their strength and DeMarco Murray has been dominant but they have played weak teams with the exception of the Texans. The Seahawks were three dumb penalties away from blowing Washington out, those three penalties wiped out 21 points. I refuse to jump on the Pokes bandwagon (I never will to be sure, but I’m still leery of their legitimacy as an NFC contender) yet. I think winning the noise factory that is CenturyLink is too tall an order and that Seahawks defense will stop Murray and badger Romo into mistakes. The spread is way too high, but the Seahawks still win.
Washington (1-4) @ Cardinals (3-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Cardinals by 2½
Last Week Washington lost to Seahawks 27-17, Cardinals lost to Broncos 41-20
Fast Fact Washington has won the last seven meetings
Washington got trampled on something serious on Monday while the Cards hung with the Broncos for a while then got worn out late. I just do not trust Washington’s ability to move the ball in spite of Kirk Cousins discovering that DeSean Jackson is a viable offensive threat. The Cards defense while not as good as Seattle is good and should rebound nicely but their lack of offensive punch is going to be a troubling point on more than a few occasions though I don’t think that this will be one of them.
Bears (2-3) @ Falcons (2-3)
Georgia Dome, Atlanta 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Falcons by 3
Last Week Bears lost to Panthers 31-24, Falcons lost to Giants 30-20
Fast Fact Falcons WR Devin Hester recorded 19 of his 20 return TD’s with his opponent
The Bears are a tough team to figure, and Jay Cutler is regressing to his usual maddening inconsistent play. The Falcons for their part are looking like a one dimensional team, tough at home but road kill outside of the friendly confines of the ATL. The thing I detest about the Bears is the minute you write them off they roll to wins and when you think that they are coming together they fall flat. I don’t trust Matty Ice that much anymore but I trust Cutler less.
Giants (3-2) @ Eagles (4-1)
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Eagles by 2 ½
Last Week Giants defeated Falcons 30-20, Eagles defeated Rams 34-28
Fast Fact Giants QB Eli Manning is completing 70.1 percent of his passes and has a 115.2 passer rating in the Giants three game win streak
The G-Men have looked sharp in their 3 game win streak and head into Philly to face their bitter divisional rival. The Eagles are 4-1 but their offense is far from the juggernaut that it was last year. They are winning games with defensive and special team’s proficiency. It seems that Eli Manning is getting the hang of the new offense that was installed and is spreading the ball around more. I don’t know why but I can’t shake the feeling that the spotty play of Shady McCoy isn’t a temporary thing and that Nick Foles was a one season flash. The G-Men are a ragged mutt of a team but they seem to always be right there in the mix when you are ready to write them off.
Pick-New York Giants
Monday October 13
49ers (3-2) @ Rams (1-3)
Edward Jones Dome, St. Louis 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite 49ers by 3½
Fast Fact The Niners have allowed 282.8 yards of offense a game and have held the last two passers to under 200 yards passing
Last Week 49ers defeated Chiefs 22-17, Rams lost to Eagles 34-28
The Niners grinded out an ugly win against the Chiefs but winning ugly beats the pretty losses in St. Louis where the Rams rally in Philly fell short. Jim Harbaugh’s seat seems to get warmer by the day. But the offense still plays efficient and the defense is still its rugged self. The Rams are just a mess, their offense is way too inconsistent and though rookie Austin Davis seems capable he will make mistakes and you can’t make mistakes against this defense.
While still shaking my head in anger, frustration and disappointment...
WHERE STUPIDITY REIGNS SUPREME...APPARENTLY
As many of the Yougabsports community know, I was once a youth basketball coach. I've made it a point to happily report on the high school athletic exploits of my former players over the last couple of years that I've been here on the site. On occasion, I've found myself also writing about former players of mine who found themselves in legal trouble.
And this week, it was a whopper and a half. Four of my former players are in jail where they will soon see the charges against them upgraded to murder. They apparently got into a fight in the middle of a convenience store with some other guy and that guy ended up dead on the ground.
Of the four ex-players, three of them come as no surprise to me at all. As much as it seems cold and unfeeling, I file them under "it had to happen sooner or later". But the fourth guy was a big surprise to me. He played for me for two seasons and was one of the best players I'd coached. He did everything I asked from him on the court and did it without complaint. He went on to have a pretty solid high school basketball career as well. Hell, I'd written about him here in this blog numerous times. He only just graduated in June of this year.
As I read the story, I quickly and silently thanked my parents for being strict with me when I was growing up. It kept me out of trouble (okay MOST of the time) and on the relative straight and narrow. And my sense of disappointment with that one ex-player grew as more details came out.
*WARNING - EXPLICIT LANGUAGE AHEAD*
But don't let that sad disappointed feeling let you think I'm feeling sympathetic towards any of them. Unlike some of the morons that have posted comments on the newspaper articles or on the Facebook pages for the newspapers, I don't feel that they are somehow still "good kids". Good kids know how to stay out of trouble. They don't get tied up in a fucking murder case! There are many rumors floating around town as to why this confrontation happened. And frankly since I don't have any knowledge about which of those theories might be true I'm not going to dignify any of them by writing them here.
But can there really be a reason, short of defense of your own life, that can allow for you and three "buddies" to kill someone in broad daylight in the middle of a store?
In case you are wondering, the answer to that question is no. I don't know where the lives of the four soon to be defendants were going in the passing decades but I doubt the Oval Office was on their life achievement bucket list. But I can't imagine prison was on their minds either. That may be because none of them seemed burdened by an overabundance of brains and/or common sense but still.
Instead, their lives are fucked. You can read the story for yourself, but these four dipshits are candidates for a spot on World's Dumbest Criminals.
So that was the biggest news of my week. Yet more athletes that I had a hand in coaching chose a path that will lead them to a life of being inconsequential.
*Sarcastic Button Turned On* - Just what a former youth coach always hopes for his players, no?
New England Patriots - Wow, the Patriots looked like the Patriots last week eh? Even when you allow for the fact they were playing the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that always fails to come up in a big game on TV, the way the Patriots played had you almost ready to forget how mediocre they'd been over the first month of the season.
I did say almost...because they are still being penalized as if they are the Raiders back when the Raiders were a good team. They got nailed 12 times for 114 yards. With Bill Belichick hating even one penalty in the team execution, 12 yellow flags must've driven him nearly batty.
The most consistent part of the Patriots offense has been kicker Stephen Gostkowski and as the Patriots battered the Bengals 43-17, he again had a big night. He finished with 5 field goals.
But the offense was really clicking as well. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been getting pilloried in New England for their craptastic offense but he was making some solid play calls against Cincy.
Tom Brady passed for 292 yards and 2 touchdows and looked like the Tom Brady we've come to know and love.
And Brady did it without much help from the wide receivers. Instead it was the one-two punch of tandem tight ends that made the passing game so effective. Rob Gronkowski (pictured below 1st) had his best game of the season with 100 yards receiving and a TD. And Tim Wright (pictured below 2nd) caught a TD as well.
The defense helped set up the offense by recovering three fumbles on the night. This helped set up running back Stevan Ridley (pictured below) to rush for 113 yards and a touchdown.
The reaction to just how badly the Patriots beat the Bengals was relatively split. A lot of people acted as if things were suddenly back to their glory days while others were decidedly more cautious in their praise of the team's performance in this one game.
I'd probably fall on the latter side of that judgement. It was great to watch the parts of the beatdown that I watched but I'm by no means convinced this means their struggles are over. They still need to play like this consistently. They can't backslide into mediocre offensive playcalling and execution when they play Buffalo this week. The offensive line has to continue to keep Brady upright and open holes for Ridley and/or Shane Vereen. And while it is great that the scary tight end duo could be making a return for the Pats, the wide receivers have to make their contributions. Julian Edelman has been the best pass catcher for New England this season but he had an off game against Cincy and his was the best performance out of everyone not lined up as a tight end. The continued ineffectiveness of Danny Amendola (I believe he's hurt again but trying to play through) and the release of Kenbrell Tompkins means there is playing time for someone that can actually step up and CATCH THE DAMN BALL!
There were a number of articles this week written about teams or players in the NFL that caught my eye and I thought I'd share them with you.
New York Jets - Robert Klemko's SI.com article didn't include the late week admission by backup QB Michael Vick that he didn't really prepare well for the team's loss to the Chargers last week, but he did have a pretty solid breakdown on exactly how and why the Jets stink. You can check it out HERE.
San Diego Chargers - Speaking of the Chargers, their 31-0 beatdown on the Jets was just the latest example of how things have seemed to turn around for their QB Phillip Rivers. Once again SI.com writer Robert Klemko provides an excellent story and analysis.
Miscellaneous Stories - Two more stories that caught my eye focused on two people now out of the game. One by choice, the other not so much. You can learn about retired cornerback Chris Carr's new life as a law student HERE. As for coach Ken Flajole, he's learning to live life without a coaching job for the first time in 37 years.
In a move that should surprise NO ONE given the recent history, it seems integrity might not be all that important to the Heisman committee anymore. You can read more in this article.
Boston College - After enduring a lighting weather delay, the BC Eagles raised their record to 4-2 on the season with a 30-14 win over ACC opponent North Carolina State. It's their first conference win of the season. Quarterback Tyler Murphy (pictured below) was the big standout on the day. While his passing numbers were relatively mediocre (12-19, 101 yards), it was on the ground where he made his biggest mark on the game. He ran for 132 yards and two scores. One of those TD runs came on a beautiful 47 yard scamper.
Sherman Allston and Jon Hilliman also ran for scores in the game.
Meanwhile the Eagles defense had a solid game. They picked off NC State QB Jacoby Brissett once and sacked him four times. Their rush defense held the Wolfpack to just 43 yards on the ground.
You can see the game highlights below.
Alabama - Blake Sims tossed two touchdown passes (including one to running back T.J. Yeldon, pictured below) as the Crimson Tide avoided a second straight upset and squeaked by Arkansas 14-13. For a rather large turnaround in the scheme of things, Alabama was the team that was held to a low total of rushing yards. They managed just 67 yards on the ground against the Razorbacks.
While the Bama defense held Arkansas to 98 yards rushing, it is always a bit odd to see Bama get outgained on the ground. The defense also picked up four sacks and two fumble recoveries. Unfortunately, Sims got sacked twice and the offense lost two fumbles (out of four made) as well.
I don't know what happened with the offense in this game but something is going to have to give to get Alabama back to looking like an efficient if not entirely thrilling offense.
Mass Maritime - The Buccaneers dropped their game against Western Connecticut 30-19. The loss leaves them at 1-4 on the season. E.J. caught 6 passes for 74 yards in the game.
For Red Sox fans of a certain vintage the fifth game of the 1986 ALCS between the Sox and the California Angels was a legendary game. It all boiled down that Dave Henderson whalloping a home run off of Donnie Moore that led to Boston eventually winning the game. It has long been posited that Moore's suicide a few years later was due to this one game. You can read Michael McKnight's longform SI.com story "The Split" and learn more about Moore's story and the falsehood of the home run leading to his death HERE.
It was another crappy week for me as I got wiped out in both leagues last week.
After announcing he would be entering rehab to deal with his alcohol problems, Michael Phelps found himself suspended for 6 months by USA Swimming. And he's apparently won't be competing in next summer's World Championships (long after his suspension ends) either. As I wrote last week, I'm fully in support of Phelps being suspended. Of course, I don't understand why he can't swim at the championships, but that's another matter entirely. You can read more via this Yahoo Sports article.
But what makes me chuckle a bit is how quickly USA Swimming acted in dealing with Phelps. He gets busted for DUI and they whip out the old "code of conduct" stuff. Yet you have "coaches" who molested young swimmers for YEARS and no one either knew or did anything. Driving under the influence is terrible but destroying a life by molestation is something you'd think the paragons of virtue (yeah right) that run USA Swimming would've moved faster to deal with as well.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Wareham Boys Soccer - The boys season continued down a bad spiral as they lost to ORR 5-1 and to Case 4-0.
Wareham Girls Volleyball - As their hopes for a playoff berth flickered down to almost nothing, the Vikings lost two five set thrillers to ORR and Dighton Rehoboth. Against D-R, Erica (pictured below from the ORR game, photos by Adam K. Ellis of the Wareham Courier) had 16 digs and 12 service points.
Oh and here's a shot of Rae-Lyn from that same ORR match:
Wareham Girls Soccer - ORR gave Wareham yet another shutout loss beating them 7-0.
Upper Cape JV Football - The Rams picked up their first win of the season beating Blue Hills 22-14 this past Monday.
UCT Girls Soccer - Upper Cape stands at 4-8-1 after a 4-0 win over Old Colony and a 6-1 loss to Pope John Paul II High.
Wareham Football - After their big win last week, the Vikings were unable to keep that momentum going and lost to Fairhaven 20-8.
Wareham Girls Field Hockey - After a 7-1 loss to Apponequet and a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bourne to start off their week, the Vikings closed out their week with a 2-0 win over Case. Kali had one of the goals, her first career score. The team is now 2-10. You can see an excited Kali after the goal (in pink) below. (Photo by Adam Ellis of the Wareham Courier). There's also a video of the goal that you can see HERE. (also by Adam Ellis)
Books - I finished the Archer Mayor novel Proof Positive this week. Although the ending of the book was rather abrupt I still quite enjoyed this latest Joe Gunther story.
TV - It was a big week for TV this past week as two shows debuted that had comic book fans breathless in anticipation. The series premiere of The Flash lived up to most of its hype as the show began to set up their storytelling tent. The Pop-topia.com site I do some writing for is covering both The Flash and Arrow this season. You can read the recap for The FlashHERE.
As for the 3rd season premiere of Arrow, let me just say that I loved it. It might just have been the best premiere of any of the returning series that I watch. And what an ending to the episode to make fans gasp or cry out "NOOOOO!". Here's the recap.
Of course, the premiere that is almost certainly the one a LOT of people are waiting for is tonight's 5th season premiere of The Walking Dead. I know that I'll be glued to my TV tonight. To whet your appetite, check out the season 5 trailer below.
Oh, and I picked up Season 7 of NYPD Blue on DVD this week too.
Movies - I saw the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow this week. It's a military science fiction version of Groundhog Day. For the most part it was a very good action flick. But for me, I thought the ending was just a bit too blase for my liking. Overall I gave it a 7 out of 10 on the IMDB.com site.
For those of you on the fence about seeing the Ben Affleck movie Gone Girl, why not check out the Pop-topia.com review.
Music - Last week, I linked my review of the new John Mellencamp CD Plain Spoken here. I linked it on a few other places as well including Mellencamp's own Facebook page. Well they shared it there and it's been pretty successful there. It's been liked more than 700 times and shared at least 40 times. It is likely my most viewed CD review thus far.
My latest CD review is for the Unisonic album Light of Dawn. You can check it out via this KNAC.com link.
The new AC/DC album Rock or Bust is due out December 9th. The first song from the album is called "Play Ball" and you can listen to that below.