Greetings from the Hoodwood, where the proud men and women who served our country are always honored and revered. We salute our veterans today and everyday!
Leading off: Another wild weekend in football
I love this time of the year in sports, except for the shortening days, the football is what I crave and enjoy. High school is getting into the big time playoff atmosphere, colleges are grinding through the conference schedules with the stakes getting higher and higher every week. And the NFL is its usual wild and wacky self. Preps and Pros have a way of shaking themselves out as November progresses. Before this year I used to rail against the notion that the regular season was the playoff to shake the pretenders out, but what I like is that you have the conferences that play and the conference title games to follow. Then the plain jane named college football playoff its an exciting buildup and now you have the high powered games that really do act as a knockout stage. Examples:
Arizona State proves ND is fake again
Notre Dame Seems to always be the one team the pundits want so badly to be the great national power, but it seems that as of late the Irish seems to fold on the national stage. This time in Tempe in Sun Devil Stadium where Arizona State raced out to a huge 34-3 lead then weathered a hard charge rally by the Irish that had their faithful believing that they were going to rally for another predestined win. But a funny thing happened in the desert, the Sun Devils buckled but didnt break, cashing in on a pick six, they parried the Irish charge and rolled to a 55-31 win. I think we've seen the last of the Irish this year...good riddance. Ive long railed against the fake Irish and their supposed superiority, but playing all these cupcakes and soft teams in the friendly confines of South Bend and other Irish friendly venues like Yankee Stadium comes back to bite them hard when they play in a venue that isnt kowtowing to them and the audience is truly hostile. Both times the Irish played as a true visitor they have lost and Ill bet that they will lose when they play at USC too...
Ohio State: Comeback Bucks?
I saw the Buckeyes get taken to the woodshed by Va. Tech to begin the season. As someone who loathes the Bucks and their noisy arrogant fans, I saw it as a delicious comeuppance. I saw a flustered JT Barrett and thought that my beloved Bearcats had a real chance to pull an upset. Well of course we know how that went. The Bucks rolled the Bearcats on the last Saturday and September and have rolled to a number of wins. But after struggling with a so-so Penn State, went to East Lansing to face the 8th ranked Spartans. Falling behind 21-14 in the 2nd after Sparty lumbered downfield on a methodical drive the Bucks looked like they were actually in peril. But the Bucks began ripping off points. Barrett looked more and more poised as the game went on and shredded the vaunted Spartan defense. When it was all said and done the Bucks had a 49-38 win suddenly they look more and more like a formidable threat and nearing the head of the 1-loss teams that have a realistic shot at being selected for the College Football playoff. I still loath the Bucks make no mistake but as the wise philosopher Sheedy Wallace taught us here in Hoodwood “Ball don’t lie.” The Bucks are ballin’ and are in position to make noise.
Bama still lurking
Speaking of lurking, that team from Tuscaloosa is hanging around…again. The Crimson Tide are like Freddy or Jason. You think that you’ve killed them off and are just starting to relax and look for something to drink when they pop up again and start slashing. Most people wrote Bama off after they took a stunning loss to Ole Miss and struggled mightily with Arkansas but the Tide just keeps rolling. Now after thrashing Texas A&M and Tennessee then getting a crucial win in Death Valley over LSU don’t look now but the Tide are right in the thick of things themselves. SEC honks think that they are deserving of two berth and Bama keeps making a case for one of them. But with a supershowdown on the docket against Mississippi State, this might serve as an elimination game. With their hated rival Auburn out of the way with a loss to Texas A&M the path clears more for the Tide
Oregon plays it smart and wins
The Ducks were on the ropes to be sure. Utah had burned them on long pass play to Kaelin Clay and were about to go up 14-0 in front of a rowdy home crowd in Salt Lake City. When things turned bizarre, as Clay crossed the goal line dropped the ball. But he hadn’t crossed the goal line with the ball and the ball was on the ground on the 1 yard line. The refs stood there eyeing the ball suspiciously but not going near it, a couple of Oregon players and a Utah player trailing the play briefly tussled over the ball before Oregon linebacker Joe Walker emerged from the scrum and went trundeling back down the field toward the opposite goal. Now keep in mind that a third of the Utah players were in the end zone celebrating what they thought was a score and the other 2/3 was headed the sideline on the far side of the field. Meanwhile Walker was rumbling down the sideline with a virtual secret service convoy detail around him. Taking out the one Utah player that was still on the field, the Ducks scored on an improbable play and instead of the Utes being up 14-0 they were now tied and the air took out of a potential upset bid. The Ducks cruised to a 51-27 win behind the sharp play of Marcus Mariota, the player no one east of the Rockies really has seen much of but should be a shoo-in for the Heisman. Oregon is ranked #4 and is likely headed for a showdown with the aforementioned Arizona State for the Pac-12 title and a likely playoff berth. And what was it we were saying about every week a playoff?
In the Pros its just as nutty and fun
Detroit the quiet 7-2
Contrary to what many think it’s the Lions not the Pack that are leading the NFC North and like their quiet coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions have adapted a more low key tone and are playing tough. They won a slugfest with the Dolphins on a last minute toss from Matthew Stafford to Theo Riddick gave the Lions a 20-16 win. The Lions now face the equally hot Cards in what could determine home field for the playoffs. You read that right the Cards and Lions, long sad sacks of the NFC are this years kingpins. Why couldn’t the NFL flex this game to primetime. Don’t they say in their own fact and record book that flexing games gives a chance for surprise teams to play their way on to primetime? I know that the Pats and Colts are division leaders in their own right, but it would be nice to see other teams get the primetime spotlight every now and then
Rodgers shreds Da Bears
I mean really, this is getting almost criminal. The Bears got throttled by Tom Brady and the Pats two weeks ago, then went on their bye. When they resurfaced after the bye they were in the Jaws like sight of Aaron Rodgers and the Pack…at Lambeau…on a primetime stage. It was almost sickening to watch Rodgers abuse the Bear secondary again and again. 6 touchdowns in one half??? Are you kidding. What was sadder was watching Jay Cutler just flounder against a less than formidable Packers secondary. The Pack rang up a 55-14 thrashing and the Bears become the first team in the modern era to give up 50 or more points in back to back games. The only other team to do that was the legendary Rochester Jeffersons, I think they beat the Raiders a couple weeks ago…
Its rare when I give dap to a White Sox, since I still despise the team but you have to give it to Jose Abreu who was named the AL Rookie of Year unanimously. When you lead AL rookies in home runs (36), RBIs (107), hits (176), doubles (35), runs scored (80), OBP (.383), slugging percentage (.581) and OPS (.964). You are a lock to win the honors, hats off to a breakout star.
To the Arizona Cardinals. Not for their 8-1 start but locking up Carson Palmer on a 3 year $50 million contract with $20.5 million guaranteed then Palmer goes out the very next Sunday and shreds his knee the same one that he hurt in 2006 in the playoff against the Steelers.
Could the Sixers tank as bad again?
Kansas State Fails another primetime test
I don’t know how who is more on a downward spiral, Jay Cutler or Andy Dalton. I would say the former more than the latter,
Is Charlie Strong really in trouble?
Why are my Wings so damn frustrating?
Dont look now but my Bearcats are still in a postion to shot call in the American (I know its not a power conference, but winning is winning)
A million apologies for the delay in posting, Routers and passwords and other things dont like IT guys like me...
Don't forget to check me out on Twitter: @TheOneTrueJay
With Halloween over, it is now time for the Christmas season....err...excuse me?...what?...oh, please excuse this interruption...
And now back to your regular scheduled programming.
Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. It is a type of brain tumor/cancer that unfortunately has a 100% fatality rate. Have you ever heard of DIPG before? I know I hadn't until I caught a news article/video about a 19 year old basketball player down in Ohio and now I'm likely to never forget her or DIPG.
I've been following the story of Lauren Hill for the last few weeks. Last Sunday, the culmination of all the articles that were written, video pieces produced and shout outs from pro athletes took place in the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier University.
The Mount Saint Joseph University women's team basketball team took the floor against Hiram College and Lauren Hill was there to play. For Lauren it was "One Last Game" or as she asked the broadcasters to say "her first collegiate game". Here's a fantastic start to finish photo gallery from Susan J. Wilden on Sportspagemagazine.com. (all photos used here in this section are from the AP).
I had planned to watch the game online, but as luck would have it, power went out here twice due to a storm. While the power came back on, I wasn't going to risk my computer with the storm still raging. I was resigned to not seeing the game, but then my mother told me the game was on a Fox channel that we had. Hell yeah!
I did miss the start of the game but caught most of it. And for that I was happy. The broadcast team was made of a local broadcaster, the guy who actually did the initial story on Hill. The color analyst for the game was Debbie Antonelli. For those who follow women's college basketball, this was quite a thing. Antonelli broadcasts tons of games on the Division 1 level, but she made time for this game.
There were a bunch of WNBA stars in attendance at the game including Elena Delle Donne, Delisha Milton Jones and Tamika Catching. Buffalo Bills player Fred Jackson brought his family to the game too. LeBron James sent her a message on Instagram, and a number of athletes from the high school level to the pros took up her #Layup4Lauren Challenge.
Lauren took part in the pregame warmups and was introduced in the starting lineup. "OneMore4Lauren" was about to get underway.
One of the things that as a former coach is when a basket is fixed so a player can score or reach some milestone they might not have been able to do without an agreement between two parties. It just irks me. But in this particular case, I would've taken off my ex-coach's hat and just gone along. But I did read an article that said while Hiram College hoped Lauren would score, they would defend her.
Though I missed it when it occured, Hill did score the first basket of the game. She hit it as she crossed the lane and made it with her left hand (her coordination making it difficult to shoot with her dominant right hand). Now the defender got hung up on a pick, but again, the coach in me saw that she could've gotten by the pick easy enough. But enough of that. The basket was made (see the pic and video below), and the game stopped while there was a brief celebration.
Hill was removed from the game and spent most of the rest of the game on the bench cheering on her teammates. She had to wear sunglasses and headphones to block out some of the stimuli that you and I wouldn't even notice.
At halftime, she was presented with the United States Basketball Writer's Association Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award. The award was voted early, usually being presented at the Final Four. In a surprise move, Pat Summitt herself was on hand to help present the award.
With 26 seconds left in the game and the crowd chanting "We Love Lauren", Hill went back into the game. She took another shot that missed, but her teammate rebounded the ball, passed it back and Lauren took what will likely be the last shot of her college career...with her right hand...and MADE IT!
The final score was Mount Saint Joseph 66 Hiram College 55. And while Lauren's team won the game, everyone else got a bigger win. One of her teammates is a senior and had torn up her knee just a few weeks ago. She was more upset that she wouldn't be able to be on the court with Lauren than she was about losing her senior season. But come last Sunday, she got her leg taped up and she took the floor for the game.
After the game was over, she addressed the crowd from the floor and was presented with another award, this one being the Wilma Rudolph Courage award. It is a local Cincinnati honor.
Afterwards, she also took part in the post game presser.
You can read game stories HERE and HERE. ESPN produced a great video report about Hill, narrated by Tom Rinaldi, that you can see below.
A college player shooting 2-3 from the floor for 4 points isn't usually the type of thing that gets news headlines and tons of other forms of recognition. But something about the determination and grace displayed by Lauren touched everyone who saw her story. I can't even explain why the story moved me as much as it did. But move me it did.
A few days after the game, she was presented with an honorary version of an athlete's crowing glory: Her own Wheaties Box.
Oh and there was this too:
I know the doctors said she wouldn't live past December, but they obviously got that wrong. Given the outpouring of support, whether Lauren Hill is physically here or not, her memory will live on long after she has left us.
Perhaps because I lost someone to cancer, perhaps because if I was still coaching and had a player dealing with this kind of prognosis I'd do anything I could to help, or perhaps just combining those things with my love of women's basketball. Whatever the reason, when certain publications are looking for a real candidate for their Sportsman/Sportswoman of the year, for me, as she leaves the stage, Lauren Hill is the best and only choice. She's certainly my choice.
Before I talk about the Patriots game from last Sunday, there was a pretty interesting interview with Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians on SI.com last week. You can check that out HERE. Also, former Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano was profiled here on his life out of football.
As for the Patriots 43-21 beatdown of the Denver Broncos, that was quite a game for Patriots fans, wasn't it? While dominating the first half the game, I was initially worried when the second half started. Denver went down the field quickly and scored with a TD pass to Julius Thomas. The reason that worried me was because it was exactly what Bill Cowher said the team needed to do during the halftime show.
But that was, for all intents and purposes, the real last gasp the Broncos had for the Patriots. While the Broncos had 472 in total yards to New England's 398, those yards went for naught when Denver failed to score. Peyton Manning passed for 438 yards with 2 TDs. But he also got picked off twice (one by Rob Ninkovich and the other by Brandon Browner, pictured below)
Manning was sacked once in the game. Akeem Ayers (pictured below) got that sack and played nearly the entire game on defense despite having joined the team late.
The Patriots got a great performance from their run defense as they held the Broncos to just 43 yards on the ground. While the offensive line for New England didn't open up many holes for the ground game (66 yards), they kept Brady upright for most of the game (1 sack).
Tom Brady was 33-53 for 333 yards and 4 TDs. He got picked off once.
The QB found Rob Gronkowski 9 times for 105 yards and a TD.
Brandon LaFell (#19, pictured below) had 6 catches including one for a score. Shane Vereen wasn't able to make an impact as a rusher, but caught 5 passes for 38 yards and TD.
Along with Stephen Gostkowski's three field goals, the special teams unit had a really good day when combined with an 84 yard punt return for a touchdown by Julian Edelman (pictured below). Edelman caught 9 passes for 89 yards and another TD on the day.
So the Patriots are now 7-2 and have been just laying the smack down on their opponents the last two weeks. They are in control in the AFC right now but are going to face Miami and Buffalo again this season so they haven't sealed the division title just yet. I'd mention the Jets but when your fan base wears shirts like the one below, you know your season is OVER!
Another crappy week as I lost in both leagues. One of those losses was the league's biggest margin of defeat for the week.
Florida State decided to yet again display their hypocrisy when they kicked a reserve linebacker off the team yet kept letting QB Jameis Winston suit up. Here's my take on the story.
Boston College - While I don't have anything good to say about the BC football game, there was a bit of good news related to last week's win over Virginia Tech. DB Manny Asprilla picked up the ACC Defensive Back of the Week award. He was also profiled on ESPNBoston.com.
As for the Saturday night matchup vs. Louisville, the Eagles were simply outclassed. And a lot of that had to do with likely the worst performance all season by quarterback Tyler Murphy (pictured below). He was 7-15 for 149 yards passing. He did throw a TD pass, but that matters little when you stack it up against being sacked twice and picked off four times. At least two of the interceptions were exceptionally bad as you can see in the highlight film below.
Though the run game was pretty much even in total yards with Louisville (BC had 167 to the Cardinals 168), none of the rushers really separated themselves from the other. While Jon Hilliman ran for 2 one yard TDs, with the passing game effectively out of commission in this game, they needed to get more of a ground game going.
The BC defense didn't have much of an answer when it came to timely stoppages of the Louisville rushers. Between Reggie Bonnafon and Brandon Radcliff (pictured below) they had three rushing TDs.
Bonnafon (#7, pictured below), a QB by trade, also managed to complete 4 of 5 passes for 69 yards and 2 TDs.
Boston College drops to 6-4 on the season and this game has to be one of the more disappointing efforts this season. Even in a game they might've been likely to lose, you would've hoped for at least a better effort and not a game full of one error after another.
Alabama - The Crimson Tide spent most of their night on Saturday trying to figure out how to shake off LSU. They trailed late in the game 13-10 and had just 50 seconds in which to tie or win the game. Blake Sims (pictured below) finally was able to do something against the Tiger defense and led Alabama on a drive that got them a tying field goal. Alabama went on to win the game 20-13 in overtime to raise their record to 8-1.
It was Sims who threw a 6 yard TD pass to receiver DeAndrew White (pictured below making winning catch) to win the game. Sims finished the game 20-45 for 209 yards and 2 TDS.
The first TD was to Amari Cooper, who set school record for both the career and single season in receiving yards. He also set the school record for catches in a season. Cooper (pictured below) had 8 catches for 83 yards and that score.
The defenses were a big storyline in the game. While Alabama had the edge in total offense, they couldn't seem to do anything to stop the LSU run game. The Tigers actually out-rushed Bama 183-106. Unfortunately for Les Miles and crew, Bama shut down the passing game holding them to just 76 yards in the air while sacking QB Anthony Jennings twice and picking him off once.
For the Tigers, their defense did what no other team has done this year. They pretty much shut down the ground attack for Alabama. Yes, the Tide finished with 106 yards overall, but they didn't score a rushing TD and while T.J. Yeldon had 68 yards on the ground, the Tigers forced him into a costly fumble late in the game. That fumble led to the field goal that gave LSU that 13-10 lead.
In the playoff ranking system, Alabama is still on the outside looking in. I don't know how this game will affect their standing. Because you never know how people are going to react to a close win over anothe ranked team. But for me, fandom for Alabama aside, I think they belong in that Final Four playoff.
Mass Maritime - The Buccaneers picked up their third win of the season thanks to a 27-7 victory of Plymouth State yesterday. E.J. caught 6 passes for 29 yards, while Richie caught a 16 yard pass to go with 29 yards on 5 carries.
Cody didn't hit the box score for the game, but leading up to the game, he was profiled in the Boston Herald for his battle with cancer last season. You can check out the article reprinted on the school's website HERE.
Despite a fairly lengthy leash when he first started at Indiana, coach Tom Crean has not been able to return the Hoosiers to any real semblance of their glory days. Now, thanks to discipline and injury issues, Crean finds himself on a VERY hot seat. Meanwhile, despite a plea from Hoosier legend A.J. Guyton to former coach Bobby Knight, it seems the feud between Knight and the school is still ongoing. You can read more HERE.
Boston College Men - The Eagles opened their exhibition game slate with a 92-53 rout of AIC. You can learn more about a few players with the following interview pieces: Steve Perpiglia, Will Magarity and Idy Diallo. You can read even more player interviews on the team's news page.
Hartford Hawks - The women's team via a partnership with Team IMPACT has adopted 6 year old Zoey Brown. You can read the story HERE. (Thanks to Lynnepep for reminding me about this story).
There's also a video availabe which you can see below.
Tennessee Lady Vols - Isabelle Harrison has come a long way in her time with the Lady Vols. The team, according to this article is going to be counting on her continued improve play to help try and carry them back to elite program status. However, it is going to be harder than expected to start the season because coach Holly Warlick announced player suspensions related to academic issues (namely skipping a class, it seems). You can read more about it HERE.
It shows the disparity between the men's and women's athletic programs in college. Skip a class for the women, get suspended. Be a budding crimelord like Jameis Winston, watch the coach twist himself into a pretzel defending you so you can keep playing.
Boston College Women - The Boston College newspaper The Heights had a season preview look at the team. You can also check out this Q&A interview with team captain (and my personal favorite player on the team) Nicole Boudreau.
If you missed my blog post on the early start of the Boston Celtics from yesterday, you can check it out HERE.
Former Baylor star Isaiah Austin was slated to become an NBA player, but saw his dream die when pre-draft physicals saw him diagnosed with career ending Marfan's Syndrome. You can catch up with him as he begins a new life both in and out of basketball via this link.
During the New York City Marathon, the NBA took part with an all-star relay made up of retired NBA stars, commissioner Adam Silver and a few WNBA legends as well. New York Liberty assistant coach Katie Smith was one of those that took part. You can see a photo of her after her part of the relay ended below.
While the Red Sox offseason news will likely focus on their scheduled meeting with free agent Pablo Sandoval next week, I thought I'd take a second to mention that one of the key figures in the recent Red Sox success (with rings from 2004 and 2007) has retired. Yes, The Greek God of Walks aka Kevin Youkilis, has ended his career. His career didn't end the way you would've hoped it would, but he'll always be a member of the Red Sox to me.
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
The only high school sports team still active for me is the Wareham High football team. And sadly, they've become the team that other teams look to get better on. For the second straight week, their opponent has come into the matchup winless and left the Vikings with an asswhipping. This time it was Dedham putting a beating on the Vikings, 34-0.
TV - You can check out the recap of the latest episode of Arrow via this Pop-topia.com link. By the way, I tweeted out how much I liked the appearance of Charlotte Ross in the episode, and the actress hit the favorite button on the tweet.
Music - I am a fan of Irish and Celtic music singer Marc Gunn. He recently posted a streaming version of his science fiction song "Browncoats Keep Flyin'" on Soundcloud. As a big Firefly/Serenity fan myself, I loved the song. You can check it out HERE. You can check more of his sci-fi songs on his Sci-Fi Drinking Songs CD. Check out http://www.marcgunn.com for more information.
Queen released a streaming version of a new song that will be released. It was a song they recorded during the creation of their album The Works but it was never used. So yes for those rock fans paying attention, that means this is a new song featuring vocals by Freddie Mercury!
Do I want to talk about Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, the representative scumbags of the NFL? No, the child abuser and wife beater are no news I want to talk about other than one small point: Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome is either a man of virtue and honor or wants to get fired in Baltimore. How many team executives directly contradict their owner who signs their paycheck, their team President who is their direct supervisor, and NFL Czar Commissioner Roger Goodell?
No one, that’s who. Newsome has continually stood by his statement that he was not lied to and was told by Rice that he had struck his then fiancee. In today’s NFL, it is nice to see one league member able to not spit out the company line as written out for him by the league and speak the truth. Maybe the Ravens will reward Newsome for telling the truth by letting him go (it’s what owners usually do when their employees don’t play CYA--cover your ass--as instructed), but remember Ravens: Ozzie Newsome got his start in the NFL from who? Yup, then Cleveland Browns head coach Bill Belichick. Let him go and guess where he likely ends up!
The Ravens have completely rebuilt their defense over the past two years after future Hall-of-Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed retired. Baltimore missed the playoffs last season and are 5-4 this season not because of their defense. Last year the defense folded and an 8-6 record and first place turned into 8-8 and on the outside, but let’s face it: $20 million dollars for Joe Flacco has been an anchor for the offense. Flacco had more interceptions than touchdowns last year and his consistent inconsistencies have hampered the offense to date. His lack of accuracy on the short and intermediate routes have killed the Ravens offensive drives all season.
Of course, the Ravens defense lost a key player as cornerback Jimmy Smith is out for the year after it was determined he needs foot surgery. Originally not thought to be too serious, he is done for the year. Smith is easily the best player in the Ravens secondary, so the loss is huge. Lardarius Webb and Dominique Franks just do not have the cover skills and big play ability of Smith.
Speaking of General Managers, amazingly, despite being set-up to fail by his General Manager John Idzik, Jets head coach Rex Ryan is still somehow in charge in New York despitee a 1-8 start. The only Jets win has been against the Raiders in week one. That could cost them come draft time.
The Jets put up some valiant efforts against Chicago, Detroit, Denver, and New England losing close games before they quit on the season in week 8 against the Bills. The team lost its heart when they lost a heartbreaker to New England 27-25 in week seven. The Patriots gave them the game playing with no energy, enthusiasm or interest. Somehow, the Jets--in what is their Super Bowl--blew the game. The Jets did not show up last week in Kansas City, but in their defense it is tough to garner enthusiasm when Michael Vick is your starter.
It is a question of WHEN Ryan is fired now, not IF. That said, why keep him around? He’s worn out his welcome. His defense has been decimated. The Jets went from the best secondary in football with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie a few years ago to a collection of street free agents.
The offense gave up on quarterback Mark Sanchez who is now in position to put Philadelphia back in the playoffs after a stellar relief performance for the Eagles last week looking better than starter Nick Foles running the Chip Kelly offense. He certainly looked better than Geno Smith and Michael Vick in New York, that is for sure.
OK, all done here for the week. I have a long weekend so I will be sure to raise a glass to salute my pal here on Thursday, Old Harry, on his retirement from the rat race. Salut!
And be sure to check out the always entertaining StorminNorman over here next door ----->
Last week was a decent week of football for me in every aspect except my fantasy teams (Getting blown out in all three leagues is not fresh at all) The picks fell pretty much the way I called it except my upset, (my upsets haven’t went my way most of the year) the Niners (Butterfingers Kap cost me there) and the Chargers (West coast team headed east, should have known better) I’ll try to keep the solid weeks up again with these picks submitted for your review, perusal and approval are this week’s picks. Odds are provided by ESPN strictly for entertainment and comparison purposes only. That means, don’t call me if you bet the lines and lose and since I just paid my rent. I’m broke and would likely rat you out to your bookie for a finder’s fee. Keep in mind that the following teams are on their bye: Minnesota & Washington (Vikings defeated Washington 29-26), Indianapolis (defeated Giants 40-24) New England (defeated Broncos 43-21), Houston (Lost to Eagles 31-21) and San Diego (lost to Dolphins 37-0)
Thursday November 6
Browns (5-3) @ Bengals (5-2-1)
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati 8:25 (NFLN)
Favorite Bengals by 6
Last Week Bengals defeated Jaguars 33-23; Browns defeated Buccaneers 22-17
Fast Fact This is the first time since 1986 that these two teams have met this late in the season with winning records.
An in state rivalry takes on added significance in a fairly high stakes primetime matchup The Browns struggled more than they should have but beat the Bucs while Bengals tottered some themselves but got past the Jags. Both teams in reality should be 6-2 heading into this matchup but the Browns took a pratfall in Jacksonville while the Bengals frittered away chance after chance in a tie with the Panthers. Nevertheless both teams are good and need this win to stay on top of the ultra-competitive AFC North. AJ Green being back for the Bengals is a huge boon; he demands extra attention and can open holes for an often inconsistent running game. Meanwhile Brian Hoyer is making the locals forget about pining for Johnny Football. Both teams have decent defenses and can play a rugged slugfest type game. If the Bengals can establish their running game, I think that makes them tough to beat. Keeping the defense fresh seems to be a key to the Bengals overall health. Meanwhile, keeping Hoyer upright against a big play ballhawking Bengals defense is crucial for a Browns win. Though it would surprise me little to see the Browns take the fight to the Bengals. I think a rowdy home crowd will be the key to a tight win.
Sunday November 9
Chiefs (5-3) @ Bills (5-3)
Ralph Wilson Stadium; Orchard Park, NY 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Chiefs by 1½
Last Week Chiefs defeated Jets 24-10, Bills were on their bye
Fast Fact None of the 11 touchdown passes Chiefs QB Alex Smith have thrown have went to their wide receivers
The Chiefs made short work of the woeful Jets which was the team the Bills thrashed before their bye. This is a matchup of strikingly similar teams Both teams have journeyman quarterback and decent running games. The visiting Chiefs are 2-2 on the road while the Bills are 2-2 at home. This will be a tough game to pick. I don’t know which QB I trust less, Alex Smith of the Chiefs or Kyle Orton of Bills. But I know I trust Jamaal Charles who will find the sledding tough against the rugged Bills defense who gives up barely 92 yards rushing a game. But the Bills runners are battling injuries and I think that makes the difference. The Chiefs will be the more dominant team because I just have the feeling that Kyle Orton will suddenly remember why he’s never been able to stick too long with a team and the vastly underrated Chiefs defense will make a real statement here.
Dolphins (5-3) @ Lions (6-3)
Ford Field, Detroit 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Lions by 2½
Last Week Dolphins defeated Chargers 37-0, Lions were on their bye
Fast Fact The Dolphins are coming off their first shutout win since 2006 and largest win since 1995
The Dolphins are feeling their oats after throttling the Chargers while the Lions come in well rested after their London jaunt and subsequent bye. Though both teams have a winning record, I have no faith in either team long term. Ryan Tannehill seems to be finally getting it as the Dolphins have played fairly well as of late under his leadership. The Lions are the NFC version of the Bengals, they have talent and so much potential, the problem is that they always seem to seize up at a critical juncture. Both teams could use this win as a real resume builder toward legitimacy. I know I’m going to regret it either way, but I think the home team will do just enough to eke out a gritty win.
Cowboys (6-3) @ Jaguars (1-8)
Wembley Stadium; London, England 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Cowboys by 6½
Last Week Cowboys lost to Cardinals 28-17; Jaguars lost to Bengals 33-23
Fast Fact The Cowboys have yet to lose when RB DeMarco Murray has over 20 carries this season, in both losses he has had 19 carries
Two weeks ago all the pundits were ready to canonize the Pokes as Super Bowl winners, Romo was finally ready to ascend to the heralded spot of top dog QB. DeMarco Murray was making Jim Brown look like a run of the mill back and everywhere you saw Jerry Jones or Jason Garrett being lionized as the dynamic force behind the Pokes 6-1 start. Then come back to back losses at home to Washington and Arizona the latter a nasty whipping by the ascendant Cards and the questions have flared anew. I’ve been the voice crying loud and long that these are the same old Pokes, no better than a .500 team in reality. But everyone call me a hater. I’m sorry, I don’t think the Pokes are that good. Put on the world stage (as a road team, you know Jerry Jones would have a Texas size tantrum if they took a home game from him) against the woeful Jags seems to be the perfect antidote for the moment. The Jags showed some real growth against the Bengals but it’s way too much to ask them to beat a clearly better team this far away from home.
49ers (4-4) @ Saints (4-4)
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Saints by 5
Last Week 49ers lost to Rams 13-10, Saints defeated Panthers 28-10
Fast Fact The Saints have an 11 game home winning streak
I’m sure most people saw this matchup wouldn’t be of a pair .500 teams. The Niners gambled on a goal line score and came up snake eyes in a loss to the Rams, while the well-rested Saints pummeled the Panthers on Thursday. The Saints have suddenly found their stride to shake off a middling division morass. Meanwhile the Niners are coming to the cold realization that .500 won’t get them in the same area code as the playoffs and that their middling play will keep them right around that winning percentage. I’m liking Drew Brees to be able to pick on a defense noticeably weakened by injuries and a saints defense that should be able to limit the suddenly punchless Niners offense in check.
Titans (2-6) @ Ravens (5-4)
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Ravens by 10
Last Week Titans were on their bye; Ravens lost to Steelers 43-23
Fast Fact The teams have split their last eight meetings
The Titans picked the absolute wrong time to cross the Ravens path; though coming off their bye they catch the Ravens annoyed at having lost a pair of road divisional games and are looking for someone to take it out on. The Titans are just not ready to deal with the rugged dynamic Ravens offense and their one dimensional offense will get hammered by the Ravens veteran defense. This is almost comical (save for the next matchup listed) I won’t bore you with why I think one team will win, at in front of a welcoming home crowd the Ravens should roll pretty easy
Pick-Baltimore (Lock of the Week)
Steelers (6-3) @ NY Jets (1-8)
MetLife Stadium; East Rutherford, NJ 1:00 (CBS)
Favorite Steelers by 3½
Last Week Steelers defeated Ravens 43-23; Jets lost to Chiefs 24-10
Fast Fact Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger needs three TD passes to match the NFL mark for most TD passes thrown in a 3 game stretch
The Steelers have the opportunity that they always seem to get, with the Browns decimating the Bengals Thursday the Steelers have the perfect opening to slide into first and facing a Jets team that is just criminally bad it’s almost laughable that the Steelers are getting this chance. Ben Roethlisberger has been on another level slinging the rock and facing a Jets secondary that isn’t stopping anything living these days it’s almost amusing to see how bad he might punish them, but the Jets played honorably against Peyton Manning a month ago when he was closing on the lifetime TD mark and one would think that they would rise to the occasion…Naaaaah
Falcons (2-6) @ Buccaneers (1-7)
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa 1:00 (FOX)
Favorite Falcons by 2½
Last Week Falcons were on their bye, Buccaneers lost to Browns 22-17
Fast Fact Something has to give here: The Falcons are winless on the road, while the Bucs have yet to have a home win
Both of these teams are pretty bad, the Falcons have been getting housed week after week after they destroyed these same Bucs in mid-September. Meanwhile aside from an extremely fluky win in Pittsburgh the Bucs have been nothing short of putrid themselves. Though they have had two OT losses and a five point defeat to Cleveland to show that they are at least giving a good outing as of late. I wonder often what happened to that dynamic offense the Matty Ice used to pilot, they just haven’t been putting up the kind of points that we’re used to and the defense is horrid. This is a tossup. I’ll take the home team and call it an upset only because of the records.
Pick-Tampa Bay (upset of the week)
Broncos (6-2) @ Raiders (0-8)
o.Co Stadium, Oakland 4:05 (CBS)
Favorite Broncos by 11
Last Week Broncos lost to Patriots 43-21; Raiders lost to Seahawks 30-24
Fast Fact The 21 points scored by the Broncos was 16 points below their average during their previous four game winning streak
The Broncos got uncharacteristically housed on a national stage against the Pats while the Raiders showed some moxie in rallying back to push the Seahawks hard at home. This is another comical matchup. Peyton Manning rarely has back to back bad outings and the Raiders defense isn’t anywhere close to the Pats. Manning will redeem himself nicely and the Broncos will get back on the winning track.
Rams (3-5) @ Cardinals (7-1)
University of Phoenix Stadium; Glendale, AZ 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Cardinals by 7
Last Week Rams defeated 49ers 13-10; Cardinals defeated Cowboys 28-17
Fast Fact The Cards are gunning for their first 8-1 start since 1948
The Rams stunned the Niners in the big blue jean but the learning curve gets a whole lot steeper as they head to the desert to face a Cards squad who are raising a lot of eyebrows with their strong start. The Cards winning handily in Dallas quieted some critics who said that they had no quality road wins. The Cards rueful of their past history of bad finishes want to keep the accelerator to the floor and have the chops to do it. I think the Cards are for real for real. The Rams, while no pushover are just catching this team on a serious roll
NY Giants (3-5) @ Seahawks (5-3)
CenturyLink Field, Seattle 4:25 (FOX)
Favorite Seahawks by 8½
Last Week Giants lost to Colts 40-24; Seahawks defeated Raiders 30-24
Fast Fact After only ever facing each other 8 times in the first 25 years of the Seahawks existence, the teams have split 8 meetings since the Seahawks switched conferences in 2002
The G-Men head to the Pacific Northwest off their bye and face a Seattle team that nearly took a humiliating loss to the woeful Raiders. Eli Manning is trying like a scout but in reality the Giants losing Victor Cruz and having no real running game is taking its toll having lost its last three by an average of 17.7 points. The Seahawks are getting bit hard by the injury bug and Russell Wilson has regressed some and the defense isn’t as fearsome as it was last year. But at the end of the day, the G-Men are in over their head going to Seattle.
Bears (3-5) @ Packers (5-3)
Lambeau Field, Green Bay 8:30 (NBC)
Favorite Packers by 7
Last Week Both teams were on their respective byes
Fast Fact Bears QB Jay Cutler is 1-9 against Green Bay with 19 interceptions
Both teams are coming off their bye and humiliating road routs the week before. But in reality the Packers loss was just a hiccup while the Bears are coming apart at the seams (again). Rodgers is throwing the ball well though the Pack defense has a tendency to get suspect at times. Jay Cutler needs to be arrested for stealing paychecks as his laconic attitude is really affecting his play. The weak running game and mediocre defense isn’t helping matters but Cutler is really to blame here. I picked the Bears at home against the Pack and got burned. I’m not stupid enough to pick against the Pack in Lambeau at night.
Monday November 10
Panthers (0-0) @ Eagles (0-0)
Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia 8:30 (ESPN)
Favorite Eagles by 7
Last Week The Eagles have an 11 game home winning streak, matching their longest run since 1993
The Panthers have had a long time to think about their downward spiral. The minute you think that Cam Newton is ready to become that transcendent QB, he regresses badly and the Panthers got housed badly in front of a sullen home crowd. Meanwhile the Eagles got a high-priced tough win at Houston that cost them Nick Foles AND DeMeco Ryans to long term injuries. Mark Sanchez gets his first start in better than a year and while not expected to be the force that Foles was is going to have to learn the high speed offense fast. As much as I want to call the upset here, I can’t do it. The Eagles are too tough in their South Philly crib.
With Halloween and the Mid Term elections past we now return to our normally viewed agenda.
Trick or treat story. My wife and I were sitting on the couch watching Jeopardy during the trick or treat hours. I usually win as I know more about most things than Alex Trebeck does.
We had the path lit and the front door open.
My son Chris was on the side deck grilling dinner for himself after work.
A group of maybe 4 little girls aged 5-8 years old walked up on the deck and said “trick or treat”
Chris looked at the 2 little princesses, a dragon and a turtle and said,
“front door is candy, all I have is venison streaks and some beer”
The little dragon replied in a sweet little voice, “ what kind is that?”
Chris said, “roasted bambi and Sam Adams Octoberfest”
The little girl said “ick…lets go to the front door”
Bill Belichick when asked about the solid stats of Peyton’s passing game Sunday night after the Pats 43-21 win
“ What? Really? Stats? We aren’t playing fantasy football here…this is not about a bunch of stats! We are just trying to win”
TomBrady; 51,541passed John Elway 51,475 in career passing yards to move into 5th place alltime.
Oldharry- It’s November and that means that oldharry is officially, in the watchful eyes of the US government, retired.
That’s right, retired. I’ll maintain a part time work schedule at my place of employment but after 45 years of laboring in the work place fulltime and more…I’m ready to take that gold watch.
I’m looking forward to having more free time to spend with family and friends and volunteering at the local soup kitchen and other local charities.
My young supermodel wife still plans to work for several more years so we won’t be on our way to Snobird county FL for a while yet.
She's been encouraging me to do this and said she has but one rule:
Don't go getting old on me! Don’t worry honey,I'm still the grainy old picture of health...still 165lbs just like when I graduated from HS back during the Nixon administration... I’m just a kid inside.
Speaking of retiring, one of my favorite “dirt dog” ballplayers,
KevinYoukilis called it a career last week at the age of 35. Youk played 10 MLB seasons with the Red Sox (8), White Sox (1) and Yankees(1)
In 1061 games he had 1,053 hits, 150 Hr’s, 618 RBI, and batted .281
In 29 post season games he had 34 hits, 6 HR’s, 17 RBI and batted .306
He playe din 3 All Star games and won a Gold Glove in 2007 at 1st base
Youkilis has WS rings from 2004 & 2007
He's retiring because of chronic plantar fasciitis.
Kevin married Julie Brady, the sister of Tom Brady, in 2012.
When asked about his relationship with Brady Youk responded, “ he wasn’t in favor of it at first but after we met and talked he was ok. He did give me crap for signing with the Yankees and said “how can you do that?” I asked him if he could ever play for the Jets or Giants and he said, “not in this lifetime’
But we get along very well, once in a while we have a glass of wine
When Youk was asked if he got along well with his sister in law Gisele Youk replied, “ Me and Gee? we are like two peas in a pod, we always chew the fat around the fire pit with a couple of beers and cigars.
And she loves to take my bike for a spin whenever the occasion presents itself”
The Ditkahs rocked the lanes again, we tied game one and won games two and three handily for a 7-1 night and a 5 point lead over the second place team.
After nine weeks our record is 55-17
This past week I bowled a 156-176-221 for a 553 + 179 handicap = 732
Mrsharry bowled a career high 111-165-132, 408 + 308 handicap = 716
This is her very first year of bowling and I think she has it figured out.
and finally, rest peacfully Mr Mayor, the city honors you for your 20 years of selfless servive.
Im off to split some wood and stack it before the rain moves back in, have a great day and be sure to visit Lanz next door, I think he’s talking sports today.