After Week 10 action in the NFL, there may be three teams that really showed they could be the best or among the best teams in the NFL.
The Atlanta Falcons, on Thursday Night, defeated the Baltimore Ravens on a last minute game winning drive by quarterback Matt Ryan. The Falcons are the only team in the NFC that has not lost three times.
The New England Patriots dominated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night, with Tom Brady being as efficient as ever and the Steelers offense not being able to click until late.
The Philadelphia Eagles with Mike Vick at the helm annihilated the Washington Redskins. Vick threw for four touchdowns and ran in two more in a dominating effort.
After these results, one might think that one of these three teams could be considered “best in the league” even though truthfully one could only say one of these three teams was the best Week 10 team.
Let’s go back just ONE week. Then, people were claiming the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New York Giants were among the best teams in the league. Then what happened? The Steelers as mentioned got beat by the Patriots, who lost in Week 9 to an upstart Cleveland team, and the Giants were taken out hard by Jason Garrett’s Dallas Cowboys.
It’s very likely that the Eagles, Falcons or Patriots could go into next week and fall completely flat. Atlanta has a road game in St. Louis where the Rams aren’t that bad, while the Eagles and Patriots have difficult games against their conference-respective Mannings. It is very possible that at least one of these teams could play awful next week, yet even so there will be claims that same team is the best team in the NFL right now. Just like last week with the Steelers and Giants the same will be true this week. The same will also be true next week with another team that had a dominant Week 11, but how long will that last?
It’s a consequence of the sports landscape today, which focuses a bit too much on the present. The past is often disregarded and the future is often only looked at with heavy reference to the present. Not many people care about how a team did or how a team will do down the road, but only how that team is doing right now.
With the lack of a real strong team this NFL season, claims of one team being the “best” should hold off until a team can claim the moniker by winning the Super Bowl. Until then, however, a lot of people will still try to predict the unpredictable.
Avery’s Fight Club
Sean Avery put a beat down on Ladislav Smid in New York’s 8-2 thrashing of the Oilers. Of course, Avery getting into a fight wouldn’t be noteworthy unless his fight consisted of just one single sucker punch (skip to :33 in the video to see). Sure, Smid was looking right at it, but it seemed like Smid had turned down Avery’s fight invite. And everyone knows, you don’t turn down Avery’s fight invite.
On a Lone Islander
The New York Islanders are in the midst of a 10 game losing streak where they have scored one goal or fewer in seven of those losses including the last five. As a result, they’ve fired head coach Scott Gordon on Monday. The Isles, who were 4-3 before the losing streak began, were looking to make some serious strides back into respectability following an improved 2009-2010 season. After these events, though, it looks like that will have to wait.
Kovalchuk probably needs to work on his shootout form. Thankfully for him he made up for it by scoring a game winning goal in OT later in the week. On the power play. Against the Oilers. That’s fine, though, Kovalchuk – and the Devils – will take whatever they can get at this point.
Kings of LA
The Los Angeles Kings just finished off a strong home stand. They won all five games in their most recent home stand, by a combined score of 16-4. Of those five opponents, only the Lightning could actually be considered an offensive threat, though Dallas isn’t bad at offense either, but the Kings are now 8-0 at home and 12-4 overall following a harsh 6-3 loss at San Jose. Following another home game vs. Columbus, the Kings will face a difficult road test against teams from the Northeast division, so we will see just how mighty these Kings may actually be.
Well, speaking of the Lightning, they may not be as offensively potent for awhile as Vincent Lecavalier is out for at least a month with a broken hand. Lecavalier wasn’t exactly hot when he went out, and with Martin St. Louis, Simon Gagne and Steven Stamkos on the team the Lightning should do alright for a month.
My Futility Trumps Your Futility
I don’t really know how much talk there was among Bills fans about their team going 0-16, especially after the Bills came close to winning a game in three straight weeks, but those talks were squashed by the king of 0-16, the Detroit Lions.
The Lions, who went 0-16 in 2008 and then gave the 2009 Rams their only win to prevent 0-16 last season, once again spared a team from that fate by losing to Buffalo 14-12. The Bills defense, which hasn’t been that bad as of late, kept the Lions to just six points for most of the game while Fred Jackson had a great rushing effort to give the Bills all they needed for victory.
The Bills looked like they were going to collapse late when the Lions were able to score a late TD to make it 14-12, but Shaun Hill overthrew everybody for the two point conversion, sealing Buffalo’s first win of the season.
What’s more, the Lions break the NFL record for most consecutive losses on the road with 25. The previous record, 24, also belonged to the Lions who accomplished that feat just a few years ago. Their next chance to extend this streak? Just next week, as they head to Cowboys stadium against a rejuvenated Dallas team looking for their first home win this season. Good luck with that, Detroit.
In a game expected to be a shootout, it’s not completely unsurprising the game between the Jaguars and Texans would end on a touchdown pass. No, what’s surprising was that the Texans, who were driving for a game-winning field goal, fumbled in Jaguars territory, giving the Jaguars the ball with just a few seconds left. After a quick pass and a rather fateful offsides penalty, David Garrard threw a 50 yard Hail Mary pass which got batted by a Houston defender only to fall into the lap of Mike Thomas who needed to hop skip a single yard for the amazing touchdown, in what may be the best play of the season. Congrats to Jacksonville, but one wonders if Houston will once again just miss the playoffs after their defense fails them once again, albeit in a rather unique way this time.
Washington’s Bad Grooves
So, a couple of weeks after benching Donovan McNabb late against the Lions in favor of Rex Grossman, the Redskins decide to extend his contract for five years and nearly $80 million. That’s rather excessive, one would think, for a quarterback who may not be in the best graces with their new pricey head coach Mike Shanahan. McNabb is nowhere near the quarterback he used to be thanks to past injuries, only showing flashes of what he once was from time to time.
Then, following that, the Redskins go on to lie down and let the Eagles completely dance them a grave to possible put their season in. The 4-5 Redskins aren’t done yet, but if they keep playing like they did in Detroit or, worse yet, against the Eagles, they might as well be done.
The investigation into whether money was involved in Newton’s recruitment – and if Newton was aware of these transgressions if true – is moving along rather sluggishly. Nothing may turn up until after Auburn plays Alabama, until after Auburn plays in the SEC title game and, if they win those two games, not until after Auburn plays and maybe wins the National Title. If you’re part of the investigating team here, you can’t let this slide until then, can you? This story needs to be resolved as soon as possible one way or another, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll happen.
Oregon and TCU barely escaped with their lives, Auburn did alright, and Boise didn’t even have to do anything as Idaho pretty much gave them the win. How will this week look for the four remaining unbeaten teams?
For Oregon, they get a week of rest following their two point squeaker at California. Next week, though, they have a tough home game against a ranked Arizona team.
Same goes for Auburn, they too are off this week before they play in the Iron Bowl against rival Alabama.
TCU also has the week off, but next week should be easy as the Horned Frogs play their final regular season game at 1-win New Mexico.
Boise State may finally have a semblance of a challenge as they host Fresno State this week. The only top four team to actually play this week, and to have another game on national TV, Boise State will likely be pulling all the stops again on their blue turf.
The Zips are the last winless team in the FBS. On Wednesday, they get another chance at home against the 6-4 Miami RedHawks. Good luck Zips, you’ll need it.
Big Mess in the Big Ten
Well, it’s less of a mess thanks to Northwestern’s victory over Iowa on Saturday. This leaves three teams in the Big Ten with one conference loss: Michigan State who lost to Iowa, Wisconsin who lost to Michigan State and Ohio State who lost to Wisconsin. MSU and OSU do not play this year, so if all three win out, the tiebreaker goes to the team with the highest BCS ranking, in this case Wisconsin, whose loss to MSU was the earliest of the three.
If Ohio State loses, and it’s possible with a road game at Iowa this week, Michigan State would win the Big Ten having defeated Wisconsin. If Wisconsin were to lose somehow, MSU and OSU would likely go to the BCS again to break their tie, which Ohio State wins out. If Michigan State loses, Wisconsin would edge out Ohio State because the former beat the latter. If that’s not confusing enough for you, just imagine if all three lost.
Wisconsin seems to have an edge for the conference title and the BCS Berth it presents. If all three win out, due to BCS rules which only let in two teams per conference max, one 11-1 team is going to feel pretty sour as they get stuck in the Capital One Bowl.
Cliff Lee’s foregone conclusion?
Everybody pretty much anticipates Cliff Lee signing with the New York Yankees this offseason, with really only the Texas Rangers having an outside shot.
I personally don’t understand why Lee would go to New York. Well, for money obviously, but he’ll get paid plenty by any other team, he’s earned it. Would a few extra million from New York really be that much of a difference?
If it’s about winning, then why not stick around with Texas who just went to the World Series? The Yankees are in a far more difficult division than Texas and the pressure to win in Texas even now is still completely trumped by the pressure to win in New York. What’s more, one of Cliff Lee’s claims to fame is how hard he’s dominated the New York Yankees in 2009 and 2010. He can’t dominate the Yankees if he’s wearing pinstripes.
I won’t be surprised if Lee signs with New York, everybody else has seen to that, but if he does decide to go that route you would do well to avoid surprise if he has a weaker year than in the past couple of seasons.
The Marlins are at it again. Three years ago, they traded away slugger Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers. In return, they received prospects Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Neither has panned out, however, while Cabrera has mostly done well in Detroit.
So now the Marlins have decided to rid themselves of both. They’ve traded Andrew Miller to Boston and Cameron Maybin to San Diego, both for relief pitching. Now, the Marlins did need to improve their bullpen and neither Miller nor Maybin were able to do much with the Marlins, though Maybin hardly ever got the chance. However, the Marlins also plan on trading slugger Dan Uggla. Among the interested teams are the Blue Jays, and the Tigers. After that big trade with Detroit, I wonder if the Marlins will shy away from them this time around.
How about those Jazz? A four game road trip against four teams from the now vaunted Southeast division yield four wins for the Jazz. The Jazz trailed by double digits against the Heat, the Magic, the Hawks and even the Bobcats, but Utah persevered and came back to win every single game. I’m not one for conference vs. conference wars or anything, but its not looking good for the East when Utah can just go and do that to arguable the best division in basketball.
What’s that? Miami has lost four games? What’s that? They’re only ten games in? They’ve lost to Boston twice? Chris Bosh hasn’t done squat? Oh my goodness what shall we ever do?
Sarcasm aside, the Heat will get it together. After all, there are about 15-20 NBA teams that range from bad to just plain awful so they’re bound to string together a few wins while they figure themselves out before the playoffs start. No need to panic.