Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Impact Five

BAM! Here are THE FIVE PLAYERS in the 2008 NFL postseason that need to have the most impact for their teams to win: (If your looking for the brothers Manning or Donovan F. McNabb, you won't find them here)

Brandon Jacobs (Running Back, Giants) I think by now we've established that the New York Giants may be in a league of their own. They buy into what their coach is selling, they have a rushing attack second to none, and a newly anointed Manning son, that hasn't fallen far from the proverbial tree. However, this team didn't finish the season undefeated, like every other playoff team, they had their share of hiccups. Most notably, the two divisional losses to both Philadelphia & Dallas in the final month of the season. What was missing from the vaunted defending champions in those two games? A 100% healthy Brandon Jacobs. The Giants 1,000 yard rusher with 15 touchdowns is the motor of the Giant offense. No amount of Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward can equal the factor that is Brandon Jacobs. An injured knee has held up Jacobs since week 12, when he didn't play against Arizona. When playing against Philadelphia in a week 14 loss, Jacobs, in a limited role, ripped off 5.2 yards a carry. The Giant offense was unable to get an offensive touchdown in their week 15 loss against Dallas, playing without Jacobs. Against Carolina in a must win game, for home field advantage throughout, the Giants had a partially healthy Jacobs, who tore off 87 yards and three touchdowns to help the Giants to a 34-28 overtime victory. What Strahan & Umenyiora were to the Giants in the postseason last year, Brandon Jacobs will be this postseason. Shhh, but by the time he plays in the divisional round, he will have had 21 days to rest his knee.

Adrian Peterson (Running Back, Vikings) My buddy Dan gets credit for this one, AP is probably the NFL's most dangerous player. I wrote yesterday that as Peterson goes, the Vikes go. Nothing could be more accurate. I can't recall a playoff team with a more questionable quarterback than the Vikings are with the anemic Tarvaris Jackson. The Vikings are 7-3, when their second year horse, goes for 100+. Peterson single handily came back and dropped the Packers with a devastating 29-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He averaged 126 yards in two games against division contender, Chicago. While David Carr was second stringing it for the Giants and the Vikes were looking to get into the playoffs, it was Peterson with a 67 yard TD run in the first quarter and 4.9 yards per carry on the day that would lift the Vikes into the postseason. If Vikings fans, and fans of the NFL in general, are looking to dispatch of Donovan McNabb and the Eagles as quickly as possible, it'll be on the legs of Adrian Peterson.

Jake Delhomme (Quarterback, Panthers) Wait, before you hit that "x" on the top of the screen, hear me out. Delhomme has made it through the playoff journey before, yes the Panthers defense was different then but this Panthers team is very, very good. Their rushing duo of Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are largely responsible an attack that is 4th best in the league and averages nearly 153 yards per game. The veteran quarterback needs to tear a page from the Brad Johnson/Trent Dilfer playbook, don't lose the game and lean on your horses. Don't have games like you had in Oakland, a week 10 win, however, Delhomme was 7 of 27 with four interceptions and only 72 yards passing. Have games like you had in week 17, a road victory at New Orleans in which Delhomme was workman like going 14 of 20 with 250 yards passing and a touchdown. When Delhome stays in the 15-25 passing attempts per game range, the Panthers are 7-1. When Delhome is forced to throw 29+ attempts per outing, the Panthers are a mere 3-3. Keep the veteran Steve Smith involved in the offense, give the ball to your horses, and do not turn the ball over.

Joe Flacco (Quarterback, Ravens) For the Broncos, Browns, and Jets, all teams that have some working parts, take a look at franchies like Baltimore, Dolphins, and Atlanta for direction. Here's the deal, the Ravens had a good defense who needed to be inspired by their offensive direction, enter rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco. Flacco has made this defense believe they could win another Super Bowl, the same way Trent Dilfer made them believe they were good enough to win the Super Bowl. Much like Carolina's Jake Delhomme, Joe Flacco is instructed to notch victories on the board, doesn't matter how you get there, just notch them on the board. Joe Flacco can do that. The games that the Ravens and Flacco have lost, aren't against just anybody. (2)Two less than 4-point losses to Pittsburgh, a 3-point loss to the Titans, a loss to the Colts, and Giants. When the Ravens meet the Dolphins in Miami this weekend, it'll take another Joe Flacco 17/23 performance for 230 yards passing, if they want to advance. First year head coach, John Harbaugh has contained Flacco, the rookie out of Delaware has tossed 30+ balls only three times this season. Like the Dilfer years, you know what the Ravens fierce defense brings to the table, the key is what the man under center can add.

Jason Jones (Defensive Line, Titans) Here is the only guy on this list the average NFL fan won't know. The rookie out of Eastern Michigan plays backup to All-World defensive lineman, Albert Haynesworth. With Haynesworth suffering recent injuries it has been Jones that is forced to fill the huge void on the Titans defensive line. While Haynesworth was sitting out a monumental gave against the Steelers just two weeks ago, Jones stepped in and recorded three forced fumbles along with 3.5 sacks on the afternoon. His effort pushed the Titans to a 31-14 victory and homefield avantage throughout the AFC playoffs. WIth both Haynesworth and fellow defensive lineman, Kyle Vanden Bosch, on the shelf with injuries, the Titans will lean on the rookie to give them the inside push. Given his recent play in the final month of the season, I'm sure the Jeff Fisher lead Titans are comfortable with Jones.

Other titles for this column: Five, Five Dollar Fooooooot Long.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Birds Of Prey

The Falcons and Cardinals had already punched their ticket. The Eagles needed help and to take care of business; done and done. The Ravens won on the road in Dallas, then knocked off Jacksonville in the final week to secure their playoff spot. Four birds not flying south just yet, looking to make a deep postseason run but which one has the best shot? (Then we'll preview Chargers v. Colts, it doesn't fit the analogy but we'll do it just for the hell of it)

Atlanta at Arizona (Saturday, January 3rd) The 9-7 Cardinals have just ZERO wins, against non-divisional opponents since October 13th. Why is this important? Aside from the Cardinals, the NFC West managed just a 13-35 record this season. Kurt Warner and company are stumbling into the playoffs, after losing 4 of their final 6 games. To make matters worse, the team they are playing in the first round of the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons, allowed the 8th fewest points per game during the regular season. However, it isn't all bad for the high flying Cardinals, they get a home game. In 2008 the Cardinals were 6-2 in the state of Arizona, and one of those losses took place after, they'd already clinched a playoff birth and a division title. More good news, the Cardinals average 288 yards through the air, good for second highest in the NFL, and they'll be playing a defense that ranks 22nd against the pass. Their opponents are no cake walk though. The Falcons closed out the regular season with the longest winning streak (3) among NFC playoff teams. They're 7-2 since November 1st, boast road wins in the final month against playoff teams Minnesota and San Diego, and hung 42 on the second seeded Panthers, just a month ago. Falcon RB, Michael Turner, finishes the season second in rushing yards (1,699), 61 yards behind Viking RB, Adrian Peterson, the same Adrian Peterson who cut up the Cardinal defense to the tune of 165 yards, at their place, only three weeks ago. If that isn't a sign of concern for the Cardinals maybe this will be, Turner went over the century mark 8 times this season, including two games of 200+ yards, one in week 1 and the second in week 17, does it look like Michael Turner is slowing down? While rookie head coach, Mike Smith, and rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan are the toast of Atlanta, running back Michael Turner is the backbone of the Falcon offense and should be garnering serious MVP consideration.

Prediction: The Falcons slow down high powered offenses; the most points they've given up all season was 29, in a 5-point road loss to the Saints. In a losing effort the Falcons still held pro bowl quarterback, Drew Brees, to his second lowest passing total of the season. Falcons 24, Cardinals 20

Baltimore at Miami (Sunday, January 4th) Read that match up again, because one year ago these two teams had a combined record of 6-26. The Dolphins 1-16 record gave them the top pick overall in the 2008 draft, and the Ravens 5-11 record got their head coach fired. A year later, (insert time machine noise) the Dolphins are the current AFC East Champs with an 11-5 record and have won 9 of their final 10 games. Baltimore is going into the playoffs with the same 11-5 record, a rookie head coach and quarterback, and more importantly, they've put the bite and bark back into their defense. The Fish opened up their season with a loss to the division rival Jets, and ended their regular season with a division clinching victory over those same Jets at their place, does it get any better? Yes. President of football operations, Bill Parcells, in one game, successfully knocked out two of his former teams from playoff contention, the New England Patriots and New York Jets, Auf Wiedersehen. Funny thing here, we've seen this match up recently. In week 7, the Ravens traveled to Miami and beat up the then 2-3 Dolphins, 27-13. A game that was highlighted primarily, by the return of former Dolphin head coach, Cam Cameron, to Miami, as the Ravens offensive coordinator. First year quarterback, Joe Flacco, was a workman like, 17 of 23 with 232 yards passing and one touchdown. Running back, Willis McGahee rushed for over 100 yards and the Raven defense was . . well, the Raven defense. Linebacker, Terrell Suggs, returned a Chad Pennington interception 44 yards for a touchdown. Why might this game be different than the game back in mid-October? Because these aren't your fathers Dolphins (or they might be if your father was a big Marino guy). Quarterback, Chad Pennington, now has 16 starts under his belt in a new system. The veteran Pennington has thrown 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions since that last start against Baltimore. That loss to Baltimore, in week 7, was the game that woke up the Dolphins, they'd finish the remainder of the season nine wins in ten games.

Prediction: Either Matt Ryan or Joe Flacco is losing in the first round. The Dolphins are playing better than any team in the NFL with five straight wins heading into the playoffs. The game is evenly matched, but the Fish are at their place. Dolphins 27, Ravens 17

Philadelphia At Minnesota (Sunday, January 4th) Someone wanted to see the Eagles in the playoffs. The Tampa Bay Bucs needed just 1 victory in their final four games to get into the playoffs, and they couldn't do it. You played road games against Carolina and Atlanta, lost 'em both. You had upcoming games against San Diego and Oakland at your place, while teams traveling across the country playing in that 1:00 time slot were like 2 for 189,058 and you blew it. The Eagles had to do what they could, win a couple games and punch their ticket, but they needed some help from the Bucs. Thanks for the late Christmas gift Tampa Bay, love, Donovan F. McNabb. Let me get this out of the way real quick, the Eagles are still the Eagles. They might have started the season 2-3, they might have been the only team that has no idea that a regular season game can end in a tie, and yes, they did bench their hall of fame quarterback in favor of a second year guy who would go on to throw two interceptions and have a passer rating of %15.3 but they're still the Eagles. As much as you can't stand to watch them play, they're going to win some games you think they can't. As for the Minnesota Vikings, they are going as far as Adrian Peterson takes them. Period. Nuff said. Put it in the bank. From week 9 to week 17, the Vikings were 7-2. In six of those nine games, Peterson ran for over 100 yards, in two of those six 100 yard games, he went over 150. Against a downright filthy defense in Chicago, Peterson averaged 126 yards each game against Urlacher and Co. When I say as Peterson goes, go the Vikings, I mean it. Over the final two and a half months of the season the only teams which beat Minnesota, Atlanta and Tampa Bay, held him under 100 yards. The Eagle defense and coordinator Jim Johnson give up only 92.3 yards a game and have allowed just seven rushing touchdowns on the season. Between Brian Dawkins, linebacker Stewart Bradley, and defensive end Trent Cole, the Eagles bang up rushing attacks.

Prediction: The Eagles swarming defense has already stopped the Giants and Cowboys in the past month. The Vikes were lucky enough to beat the Giants with David Carr under their center. McNabb is playing to give a giant middle finger to the fans of Philadelphia. Eagles 20, Vikings 19

Indianapolis At San Diego (Saturday, January 3rd) I'm glad to see the Chargers are awake. Your 8-8 playoff bound, AFC West Champion, San Diego Chargers are hosting the 12-4, second best record in the league, Colts. Before we throw another MVP trophy at Peyton Manning for operating with the same coach, in the same system, and recording the same amount of wins as always, take a look at Phil Rivers. (I'm dropping in the "IP" from Philip, he's 27 and only his mother should refer to him as Philip) Let's face it, the Chargers may not have the best record among playoff teams, but do you want to count them out? The same team that lost four games by two points or fewer? When their playoff lives were on the line, the Chargers flew to Tampa Bay and upended the legendary cover 2 Bucs defense, 41-24. With Denver coming to their place in primetime with the division on the line, Phil Rivers and the Chargers dropped a 50-spot on the board. The same Phil Rivers that we bang on because maybe he isn't Drew Brees, has tossed 34 touchdown passes, has a passer rating above 105, and threw for over 4,000 yards on the season. More touchdown passes than Manning, more yards than Manning, and a better passer rating than Manning. An aging Tomlinson in the backfield and Phil Rivers hasn't missed a beat. As for the St. Louis Cardinals of the NFL, the Indianapolis Colts, the ever consistent Colts finished 12-4. (If you count that garbage win against the Titans in week 17) They were 5-1 against teams which are in the playoffs, those five wins include a 24-20 grind out victory over Pittsburgh, and a shellacking of Baltimore, 31-3. More importantly, it includes a road victory, 23-20, over the same Chargers they'll meet on Saturday. Two guarantees for this one: No way will this be a blowout by either team, they're too good for that. Lastly, winner of this game should get the MVP, big stage for Phil Rivers.

Prediction: This is a "show me" game. Tomlinson can show us what is left in the tank. Peyton can show us who THE quarterback in the NFL is. As for Phil Rivers, it is time for him to join Peyton, Tom, and Eli. San Diego 31 Indianapolis 24

Check back each day this week for another playoff preview: Tuesday is "The 5 Most Important People in the Playoffs"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

They're Still Alive

Like every villain in every movie, you can't kill them once. Back from the dead they come, and until this season is officially over, the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys aren't dead yet. The villains of the NFL have gone through more turmoil this season, for both clubs it probably feels like they've played two seasons in one. Injuries, off the field drama, question marks surrounding the future of their head coaches, you name it, the Chargers & Cowboys have experienced it in 2008. After ending their '07 runs on a bad note, the Dallas Cowboys ending with a disappointing home playoff loss to their division rival Giants, and the Chargers becoming victim #18 of the New England Patriots. 2008 was supposed to be the year they broke through, but 2008 would become a season plagued with disappoint for both organizations. However, come 4:00 today, both the Cowboys and Chargers will control their fate and with victories, both of them will be back in the postseason.

The San Diego Chargers Starting in training camp, the absence of all-pro linebacker, Shawn Merriman, became a concern. Merriman, the heart and soul of the Charger defense, was lost for the season with a serious knee injury. An already 20th ranked defense in 2007, would need to play alot better in 2008 if they wanted any significant shot at a Super Bowl in the coming season, and without Merriman, things weren't looking up. The Chargers would drop their first two games of the '08 season in dramatic fashion. A late 4th quarter comeback from Jake Delhomme and the Carolina Panthers and a missed fumble call by the refs in Denver would lead to a Jay Cutler touchdown and loss #2 for the Chargers. Not dead yet, the Chargers would go on to win three of their next four games including one 20-point victory over rival New England. Scheduling did not favor these Chargers, in the weeks following their home win over New England, the Chargers were headed from sunny San Diego to the freezing cold of Buffalo and a rainy trip to London, England to play the Saints in a European Vacation. You guessed it, the Chargers would drop two straight games and fall back to 3-5, their playoff chances looking slim at the halfway point. Escaping Kansas City with a one-point victory over the Chiefs would be the only success the Chargers had in the month of November. After that win, the Chargers would drop three straight games to playoff bound Pittsburgh, Indy, and Atlanta. The now 4-8 Chargers were now left for dead, forgotten and written off, by everyone including myself. With four games remaining, the Broncos had two games on the Chargers and with a win would clinch the division and essentially eliminate the '08 Chargers from playoff contention. The once devastating Charger back, LaDainian Tomlinson, was in the midst of the most dismal season of his career. Between weeks 5 through 10, Tomlinson failed to rush for one touchdown. Over the entire season, LT has only gone over the century mark twice. To add insult to probable injury, his former under study, Michael Turner, is now an MVP candidate and has rushed for nearly 500 yards more than the Charger running back. Head coach, Norv Turner, had just as many problems as his team. Being the guy who was supposed to get them over the hump wasn't what Norv had been. Fans, media, and even players were calling for Norv to be replaced, and at 4-8, who was going to blame them? With all that, the Chargers were Not dead yet, the Chargers would drop Oakland, escape Kansas City with another 1-point win, and destroy Tampa Bay at their place to the tune of 41-24. Phil Rivers & the Chargers were back. After back-2-back losses by the Broncos, the Chargers are alive and well. To add even more pressure to the collapse of the Broncos, they have to go to San Diego and beat the streaking Chargers at their place. The phrase MORTAL LOCK comes into play. The Chargers are better than they've played, sit at 7-8 with an opportunity to make the playoffs, right or wrong, the Chargers are getting in.

The Dallas Cowboys Literally, this is the tale of 15 different seasons wrapped up in one. More controversy in one season than 29 other teams have in ten. From the suspension to the reinstatement of embattled corner, Adam Jones, to the star wideout, Terrell Owens, multiple complaints about his involvement in the offense, the Cowboys put the fun back in dysfunctional. After winning their first three games of the season including a road victory in Lambeau, the Cowboys have been fighting for their postseason lives. The Silver & Blue lost two of their next three games to Arizona and Washington. That wasn't even the worst part, the Cowboys lost pro bowl quarterback, Tony Romo for 3 weeks and fast start rookie, Felix Jones, for the entire season. In Romo's absence, the Cowboys would drop 2 of their next three and score just 14 points per game. Upon Romo's return, the Cowboys had traded for another malcontent wideout in Roy Williams, and were hovering around third place in their division with a record of 5-4. Romo would come back and win his next three starts before a fourth quarter collapse in Pittsburgh which would have put the Cowboys in the drivers seat. The Cowboys' last four games against the Steelers, Giants, Ravens, and Eagles, would pit them against four of the NFL's best defenses, for an offense that was out of rhythm and withstanding constant complaints from their star receiver, Dallas was in trouble. Dropping two of their three games heading into this week put the Cowboys behind the 8-ball. Losses from contending Minnesota and Tampa Bay in week 16, amazingly put the Cowboys right where they needed to be. One game left, needing just a win to launch them into the postseason. Yes, Wade Phillips is on the proverbial hot seat, when your dealing with an owner like Jerry Jones, your always on the hot seat. Yes, Terrell Owens demands the ball and when he doesn't get it, major problems arise. Yes, with Marion Barber, the Cowboys star running back, attempting to recover from his toe injury while playing, the Cowboys aren't playing with all their weapons at full strength. Even still, the Cowboys have a top ranked defense that have been making plays for several weeks now. DeMarcus Ware comes to play every week, never mind what the offense is doing. If the Cowboys can stop Philly from scoring, welcome to the playoffs Dallas. In the words of some dude from the 70's, "what a long strange trip it's been."

In several hours we'll find out if the Chargers and Cowboys are back from the dead for the last time, or we'll know who has been the biggest dissappointment of the 2008 season. GO COWBOYS!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Real Friday: Last of 08'

In the innaugural year of Keep It Real Friday, we've had some fun. With the final FRIDAY of the year upon us, I'm about to do the same:

Lets get after it:

Well, that was worth the hype. The first matchup of the '08-'09 season between the Lakers & Celtics was exactly what we wanted. An exciting fourth quarter that lead to the Lakers snapping the Celtics 19 game winning streak en route to a 9 point victory on their home court. Pau Gasol scored 7 points in the final minutes of the game to push the Lakers past the C's and improve to 24-5.

Barring Lebron and the Cavaliers taking out the Celtics at some point during the postseason, the two teams you watched yesterday, will meet again in June for the championship. If anyone tries to throw San Antonio, Orlando, or New Orleans at you, tell them to watch yesterday evenings Celts/Lakers game, and shut the hell up. Between Pau, Kobe, and Phil Jackson, no one out west is stopping L.A., you can put in the books, I guarantee it. The Lakers have a very deep bench and you'd be stumped trying to think of a team that can give their second squad a run. The Celtics dominate teams to the tune of 19-1 in their last 20 games. Between the emergence of Rajon Rondo as an elite guard and the mid-season acquisition the Celtics have yet to make, (as they did last season by adding veteran big man, P.J. Brown) the Celtics are on a collision course with the Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference crown. The Celtics v. Lakers matchups are the best the NBA has to offer. They feature one of the games most intense players of all-time in Kevin Garnett. They feature the only player to remotely live up to the hype of "next Jordan" status, Bean Bryant. Great coaching, great home court advantage for both squads, great team defense, and great theater. I want to see Celts v. Lakers for another title, and so do you! Keep It Real!

After the Irish defeated Hawai'i at Aloha Stadium, snapping Notre Dame's streak of 9 straight bowl game losses, embattled head coach Charlie Weis had this to say, "I'm very happy for Notre Dame. This was a great step forward for us." Really?!?!? I mean c'mon Charlie, your really excited about hoisting the Sheraton Hotels Hawai'i Bowl Trophy? If this is a great step forward for the Irish then having to play on Christmas Eve in a completely unimportant bowl game, against a 7-5 team who finished FOURTH PLACE in the WAC, is about nineteen steps backward. May I remind you that when finding out Notre Dame was invited to Hawai'i, nearly every national sports show thought it was a joke to begin with. For starters, Hawai'i recruits kids off the beaches of Honolulu, Notre Dame is recruiting farm boys from Indiana who were born in three-point stances. Your really going to celebrate the 4-touchdown victory over these guys? The Warriors of Hawai'i didn't get over the .500 mark until November 8th, they were 1-3 against ranked teams, and their only quality win was against a Fresno team that finished 7-5, yet this is a "great" step for the Irish? Charlie, here is a suggestion, and a good one I might add, earn your way into a Fiesta or Sugar Bowl, drop a top program like Oklahoma or Georgia, then address "taking great steps." Keep It Real!

Yankee fan need to get a grip on reality. You spent $423 million dollars on three free-agents, they may have been the best available of 2008, but that isn't saying much. I can't get over the absurdity of throwing that kind of money around when the economy as a whole is doing as bad as it is. To make it worse, your in the midst of asking the City of New York to take on another $100 million dollars for your stadium, all the while jacking up their ticket prices. Forget the sensible thing when it comes to Yankee baseball, that has gone right out the window. Your new ace, C.C. Sabathia, was terrible in the 2007 postseason, and this is the guy your going to throw out in a game 7? He pitched about 1,000 extra innings for the Brewers to get them into the playoffs, take it from a guy who has seen some postseason like performances from Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, and Pedro Martinez, they aren't the same the next year. All that aside, the guy never wanted to play in New York, on the East Coast, or in the American League. He pratically begged the Dodgers to throw him a bone so he could at least "look" like he took the best offer. Let me get this point across right away, pitching in the National League Central and American League Central for your entire career is nothing like pitching in the American League East, N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Three of the top 15 teams in homers hit last season, were from the American League East. The reigning American League MVP, Dustin Pedroia, resides in the American League East, David Ortiz resides in the American League East, Evan Longoria, the reigning rookie of the year resides in the American League East, and you can't even get anything past the Orioles who while they finished last were 12th in the majors in hits, 13th in homers,and 11th in batting average. It's no wonder C.C. did everything he could to stay away from the A.L. East, that is until the Yankees gave him four truck loads of cash. Next, I'm doing this one briefly. No one was offering A.J. Burnett $80 million plus over five years, N-O O-N-E. Newsflash, the guy can't stay healthy and at best he's a second tier starter making ace like cash. You mean to tell me that no one finds this a little more absurd than giving C.C. $160 million? When A.J. Burnett is the second best starter available, it's time you bring the checkbook back a little. Finally, while Teixeira is a young slugger who demands plate respect, but he isn't Manny Ramirez, nor will he ever develop into that type of hitter. A career .290 hitter who averages 33 homers a year is now getting paid upwards of $20 million a year. When Ramirez and A-Rod got handed their monster deal, each of them had multiple 40+ home run seasons and were consistently hitting over .300. Teixeira has hit close to .300 but has only gone over 40 homers once, and that was in Texas, where EVERYBODY hits homers. More importantly, haven't the Yankees learned anything from being stuck under Jason Giambi? If nothing, they should know that a zillion homers doesn't win you championships, good, young, healthy arms and a strong bullpen do. Keep It Real Yankee fans, $423 million just ain't what it used to be.

Have A Safe & Happy New Year!! We'll be Keeping It Real every Friday in 2009!! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Better Than Advertised

Last April when Matt Ryan was selected 3rd by the Atlanta Falcons and Joe Flacco selected 18th by the Baltimore Ravens, no one believed that these franchises had a shot at going to the playoffs, let alone boasting better than .500 records. By Sunday night, the left for dead Falcons, clinched a playoff birth and the Baltimore Ravens held their destiny in their own hands, and they can thank those two quarterbacks drafted only 8 months ago.

Neither quarterback was invited to the Downtown Athletic Club a year ago. Neither quarterback was playing in a New Years Day bowl game in 2008. Neither quarterback was the uncontested, odds on favorite, #1 overall pick. Somehow, both Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are not only dominating headlines of the 2008 NFL season, but they are trailblazing through the month of December with their franchises strapped to their back.

With 1 game remaining in the 2008 season, Matt Ryan has clinched a playoff birth and is guaranteed the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The former Boston College standout went into Minnesota on Sunday, lead the Falcons to a victory against a team looking for a division clinching win, a team which won 6 of their last 7 games, and a team who was 5-1 at home heading into Sunday. How much more does he have to prove? Ryan was 13 of 24 passing with a touchdown, against one of the NFLs most furious defenses. Simply put, Matt Ryan has ice water running through his veins. In his rookie season he's passed for 3,000 yards, 15 touchdowns, and has thrown for over 250 yards, 5 times. The young rookie has gone in Lambeau, San Diego, and now Minnesota and came out victorious, all three teams were pre-season playoff teams. Finally, in the 4th quarter of games this season, Matt Ryan has thrown for 696 yards, four touchdowns, and has a 92.3 passer rating. In the first quarter this season, Ryan has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and has a 103.4 passer rating. Why is this important? To get the Falcons going his coaches put the ball in his hands and trust it, to win games in the 4th, it is the rookie, Matt Ryan, they turn to. Not Alex Smith (2005 #1 overall pick), not Matt Leinart or Vince Young, and not JaMarcus Russell (2007 #1 overall pick), has seen this type of success this soon. When I told you Matt Ryan should have got more hype for the Heisman last season, this is why. No quarterback coming out in 2009 or that came out in 2008 will have the type of career Matt Ryan is prepared to have, put it in the bank.

In the words of T.O. "I love me some Joe Flacco", okay so T.O. might not have said that, but he totally could have. In any other NFL season, Joe Flacco would be garnering serious consideration for Rookie of the Year, it just so happens that, the only other quarterback drafted ahead of Flacco, has put the Atlanta Falcons back on the map. Sure, both Flacco and Ryan have their defenses to thank for some of their success, but if I recall correctly, and since I have a memory like an elephant, I believe I do, no Raven quarterback since Trent Dilfer could put this team in the playoffs. The Baltimore Ravens opened up training camp with several choices to make under center. For starters, Kyle Boller is still in a Ravens uniform. Behind Boller is former Heisman Memorial Trophy winner, Troy Smith. Due to injury to Boller and sickness of Troy Smith, Flacco becomes the man under center. Since the Ravens declared him their starter, the first year player out of near by Delaware, has never looked back. In Flacco's last ten starts, the rookie is 8-2, the losses being against the home field advantage bound Giants and the second seed in the AFC playoffs, the Pittsburgh Steelers. Flacco has the same number of touchdown passes as fellow rookie starter, Matt Ryan (14), and only three more interceptions. The fiercest defense in the NFL, led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, has Flacco to thank for their AFC dominance in 2008. The 6'6" New Jersey native has thrown for over 2,500 yards and has had a 80.1 or better passer rating in 8 of 15 starts. How many rookie quarterbacks do you know that start off their career 2-3 and are 10-5 after 15 games? The mechanical Joe Flacco led the Ravens to a 33-24 victory in the Cowboys last home game at Texas Stadium, with playoff life on the line, Joe Flacco completed 17 of 25 pass plays. The second greatest Joe to come out of Delaware (Joe Biden would be #1) Flacco is staring down destiny right in the jaw.

With Ryan's win in Minnesota and Flacco taking care of business in Dallas, are there still people who question which quarterbacks are in the NFL to stand up and be accounted for. Move over Brady & Manning (Peyton), Joe and Matt may have something to do about this by seasons end.

Happy Holidays!?!!??!?!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: Ho, Ho

With the holidays upon us several things have become a reality: Without college football, life is 75% less exciting, thank god for online porn errr I mean online poker. The Detroit Lions are more pathetic than when Ross Geller, (Friends) got married and subsequently divorced for the third time. Brett Favre loves attention about as much as Lindsay Lohan loves a long island ice tea, and for the record I could care less if Favre comes back for another season with the Jets.

To the roll call . .

Time to give props. Peyton Manning is the best quarterback since the Young/Aikman era. No quarterback over the past 15 years, has been this good and more importantly, this consistant. The New Orleans born Manning, has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each of his 11 seasons, including eight 4,000 yard seasons. He has thrown for at least 26 touchdown passes every season under center. Since his rookie season, Peyton has never had a quarterback passer rating lower than 90.7 and has yet to throw more than the 28 int's he threw that same rookie season. The two-time MVP (2003,2004) may be having his best season of his eleven year career. Since starting the 2008 campaign with an injured veteran center, questions surrounding Marvin Harrison, and a 3-4 start with two home losses, Peyton has lead the Colts to eight straight wins. Over that stretch, Manning has thrown 16 touchdown passes and only 3 int's. The Colts boast wins against playoff bound New England, Minnesota, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh. Peyton Manning is the 2008 MVP, and there is nothing you can do about it. KEEP IT REAL!

The 76ers are awful. Shall I continue? They spent $80 million on Elton Brand this off season, a guy who averages 16 points and only 9 rebounds a night cost them $80 million. Two guard, Andre Iguodala, is averaging just 14 points a night, 5 off his career average yet he is cashing a check for this season worth $11.3 million. That isn't even close to the worst, center Samuel Dalembert is making close to what Iguodala makes and he's almost seven feet tall yet only puts down 6 points and 9 boards a night. WoooHooo! More than $36 million dollars invested in three players and the Sixers are off to a fantastic 11-14 start, twelve and a half games out of first place, and the kicker, they just got head coach Mo Cheeks canned just a few weeks before Christmas. 27 NBA teams average more ppg than the Sixers, 11 different big men grab more boards than Brand, including Marcus Camby who replaced him with the Clips and 6'9" Knick, David Lee who makes oh gee . . one million a year. The funny thing is, the NBA is so top heavy, the Sixers aren't even in last place. Here's a pre-cursor to all these teams desperately waiting for the slue of NBA free agents in the Summer of 2009, not even $36 million to your three big men can put a banner in the rafters. Then again, the Celtics pay out $61 million to theirs and a second banner in as many years could be raised very soon. Keep It Real!

Charles Barkley needs to stop. You know who I want making my head coaching choices for an elite college football program? Not a retired NBA hall of famer, I'd prefer an athletic director or a school president with his career on the line, or better yet just the guy conducting the interviews would be nice. Sir Charles, you might be right, the hire might have been about race, but by making such an explosive remark, what kind of shot are you really giving the guy they DID hire, Gene Chizik, to succeed. I mean if you want to use college football as a platform lump the entire nation in, the limited amounts of opportunities for African-American coaches,
anything, but to attack your university and say emphatically that the only reason Chizik is there is because the color of his skin, aren't you doing the same thing you despise? You could hide behind the "I wanted my school to make a splash, but all they did was the same old thing" but the truth is, you don't care about a splash you have an agenda and could care less about the university, the Chizik family, or the football program. I agree that there is a root problem in college football, I wonder why Ty Willingham was ousted at Notre Dame but Charlie Weis isn't. I wonder why Lane Kiffin gets a job at Tennessee after a dismal NFL experience, and I also wonder how Syracuse, Clemson and Auburn fill their voids without Turner Gill, but let's talk about the situation as a whole and leave Chizik out of it. You want to go on resumes alone? Last time I checked Buffalo was playing the likes of Western Michigan and Temple while the Iowa State team lead by Gene Chizik is playing Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Missouri, Colorado, and Texas A&M. We even have a "like" opponent, Kent State, who Gene Chizik's team destroyed 48-28, and Turner Gill's squad lost to, 24-21. Do your homework on that Charles? Here's another one, Chizik was a coordinator on that undefeated National Champion Auburn team several years back, you don't think the school wishes they could have made him in charge then? Would you have said anything at that point? Here's the thing about Barkley, his idea is correct, college football is heavily dominated by the good ole' boys network and that is a very big issue, it's even to big for me to talk about, but when it comes to Charles he just pops off about this without scratching the surface. KEEP IT REAL CHUCK! Sometimes you need to do your homework before you present to the class.

Back to the Northeast weather, ughhhhhhhhhhh. Until Next Week.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Championship Swagger

Yes, Lebron James and the Cavaliers are 21-4. True, the Lakers are 21-3 against a Western Conference that has turned into silly putty. However, those are not the, story in the first half of the 2008 NBA season. Oh no, that would belong to the 24-2, winners of 16 straight, defending champion, Boston Celtics.

I thought they would have a bit of a championship hangover. Three veterans with alot of miles on their legs, just accomplished their career goal, what would they have left in the tank? Losing their playoff hero, James Posey, to the New Orleans Hornets in free agency. The Celtics had some question marks coming into the 2008 season.

Consider those questions answered, and in the words of the immortal Jay-Z, "No one on the corner has swagger like us, swagger like us." The Boston Celtics are off and running towards Banner 18, and have become even better than the 2007-2008 version that trail blazed through the Lakers en route to their 17th World Championship.

Among the top five players in scoring, assists, and field goal percentage, you won't find any Celtics. Among the top five players in rebounds, blocks, and steals, you won't find any Celtics. The Celtics aren't even among the top five in points scored as a team. Yet, the Boston Celtics still have the NBA's best record at 23-2. Surprise, surprise, the Celtics are doing it with the same defense that put them above the rest just a year ago. The Celtics are second in the league in lowest points allowed per game and they lead the league in opponents lowest field goal percentage. With Kevin Garnett averaging 16 points and nearly 10 boards a night, Ray Allen & Paul Pierce averaging nearly 19 points per game, and 3rd year guard Rajon Rondo going for 10 ppg and 7 assists, the Celtics are spreading it around. Of their 25 games, Paul Pierce has led the team in scoring just 11 times and Ray Allen led 9 other nights, the C's have 1st options, 2nd options, and 3rd options that can lead the team on any given night.

The absence of James Posey may have left the Celtics without a three point and defensive force but the remainder of the bench has done very well. 6th man, Leon Powe, has gone for double digits in points 8 times. Backup two guard, Eddie House has scored 10 or more 9 times, including hitting 33 from long distance. A healthy Tony Allen has shown flashes that he can bring more offense off the bench averaging 9 points a game.

Between starters Kendrick Perkins (9 boards and 9 points a night) and Rajon Rondo doing what he's been able to, the Celtics have all five starters contributing on defense and offense. During last nights Hawks game, Perkins had a last second block of Joe Johnson and Rajon Rondo put up the assist that would lead to Garnett popping a blood vessel after a thunderous alley oop. The Celtics are currently 5-0 against teams they played in the 2008 playoffs, two against Detroit, two against Atlanta, and the opener against Cleveland. Do we still have any questions about this team? I think not. Come December 25th when L.A. plays host to these Celtics, it'll be a statement game for both teams and you can bet Garnett and Co. will be fired up and ready to play.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Champs Are Soft: Week 14

I figure with all things college football on hold until Bowl Season, what better time to drop some NFL knowledge on the fans of LynchyRightNow.Com, any arguments? No? Good.

After 14 weeks of the NFL season we have pretty much mapped out who is going to be playing for the Lombardi, and how impossible it is to be the wire-to-wire front runner in the NFL. Since September, the Cowboys, Eagles, Titans, Jets, Giants, and Steelers, have all been legitimate contenders this season and each week we see another team fall and another team rise.

Week 14

• The Patriots, Dolphins, and Jets are all too flawed to win the AFC. The Dolphins were 1-15 a year ago and I refuse to believe they will go from chumps to champs in one season. The Patriots are playing without Thomas, Brady, Harrison, Bruschi, Maroney, and maybe Matt Light, one playoff win would cap off a excellent BradyLESS season, but that's all they'll get. The Jets struggle way to much to be legit, and I trust playoff Brett Favre about as much as I'd trust a weather man.

• The Matt Ryan led Atlanta Falcons may have hit a high water mark three weeks ago in San Diego. The Buccaneers intercepted Ryan twice on Sunday and in a losing effort they were able to hold him to a 57.5 passer rating, his second lowest of the season. Matt Ryan will try and lead Atlanta to their 10th win of the season next week against Minnesota. The Falcons still can get into the playoffs, but it is going to take better play from Ryan if they expect to win on the road in either Carolina or the Meadowlands.

• The Steelers are the T-E-A-M to beat. Consecutive wins against New England, Dallas, and Baltimore have validated Pittsburgh and improved their record to 11-3 and staring down the barrel of the Tennessee Titans to take control over the AFC and homefield throughout. It isn't Big Ben, believe you me, it's the Steelers top ranked defense that shuts down opponents and forces Roethlisberger to make 1 or 2 scoring drives and that's all this defense needs. If the game is close, this defense makes plays to end it.

• Speaking of the Titans, if big Albert Haynesworth is sidelined for any amount of time the Titans run as beasts of the AFC is over. The recent losses to the Jets and Texans have exposed Tennessee. Rookie, Chris Johnson, was the Titans leading rusher in both of those losses, (65) against the Texans and (46) against the Jets. Stopping the run is what Pittsburgh does, and that doesn't look good for Jeff Fisher and company come next weekend.

• At 7-7, the Houston Texans are finally becoming what we thought they would be at the beginning of the season, very dangerous. Coming off their 4th straight win, the Texans are giving up just two touchdowns a game and rookie Steve Slaton has gone over the century mark in 4 of his last 5 games. The Texans, who started off with three straight road games due to hurricane season, @ Pittsburgh, @ Tennessee, and @ Jacksonville, have been behind the eight ball since the beginning of the season. However, with wins against Oakland and Chicago in the coming weeks the Texans could finish with their first ever winning season.

• Let me sum up the Arizona Cardinals. 3-4 on the road, their only road wins are against the likes of San Francisco (Pre-firing of Mike Nolan), the lowly, two-win, St. Louis Rams and of course the 3-11 Seattle Seahawks. You think they are winning in New England this weekend? Forgetaboutit. They have quality victories against the Cowboys, a 30-24 overtime win, and a 31-10 victory against the Dolphins. The Cardinals are going to finish 9-7, get 1 home game, and then go on the road, where they suck.

• The commish has to intervene here. The AFC West cannot have a division winner with an automatic playoff bid, that finishes 8-8 or even worse 7-9. In any other universe the San Diego Chargers would have been finished, done, over, had they lost 3 of 4 November games including two in a row at home. Yet, in the AFC West circa 2008, they are alive and well. A win at Tampa and at home against Denver and you have an 8-8 playoff team with a home game. They lost to playoff contenders Atlanta, Indy, Pittsburgh, Miami and Carolina, but they are still hopeful of a playoff bid. Even Denver, who BEAT the Falcons at Atlanta then turned around and let Oakland, yes that Oakland, throttle them in Mile High. Not Denver or San Diego deserve a playoff spot, especially the way Miami has played this season.

What are we forgetting . . . .

• Oh, that's right, the Dallas Cowboys are in the drivers seat for a playoff birth. The left for dead, drama filled, Pacman suspended, Dallas Cowboys just took Eli & Co. out behind the wood shed to the tune of 8 sacks including three from league leader, DeMarcus Ware. May I remind you, that with Romo under center the Cowboys are 8-3, that includes the little hiccup in the fourth quarter at Pittsburgh last week. Maybe this team has too many superstar jugheads, maybe Tony Romo spends too much time on the dirt, and maybe Wade Phillips is the anti-Parcells, but they are 9-5 and in line for a playoff spot. They've won a shootout with Philly, dropped Green Bay before it became popular, the only team to beat Tampa between October and November, are the only team to score a TD on Pittsburgh in the 3rd quarter, and last night gave the Giants their 3rd loss of the season. Oh, and since Wade Phillips took over the defensive calls, DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff have become unleashed. Do not sleep on the leagues most talented team, in the NFL maybe 3 teams can beat anybody, any Sunday, anywhere, and the Cowboys are one of those teams.

On to Week 15 . . .

Friday, December 12, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: 12/12

Michael Phelps is being touted as Sportsman of the Year, you'll get no argument from me. The college football awards are being given to the usual suspects; any major program who wants some hardware. Lastly, the Yankees just agreed to pay a pitcher $160 million dollars in the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression. Whose excited for some Keep It Real Friday?

Terrell Owens is upset that Tony Romo has a favorite target and it isn't him. I suppose Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb would have some input on this situation, no?!?!?!
Reports out of Valley Ranch are that the core of Cowboy receivers, Terrell Owens, Patrick Crayton, and the newly acquired Roy Williams are upset that they aren't the primary targets as tight end Jason Witten is and aren't getting enough balls from quarterback Tony Romo. For starters I trust the hands of Jason Witten more than anyone, secondly Romo has thrown the ball to Owens more than Witten over the past two seasons, and lastly your a receiver at best you should touch the ball 7 or 8 times a game. I'll start with Patrick Crayton, he is the easiest of targets right?!?! Crayton single handily cost the Cowboys a playoff win last season against the Giants, maybe that has something to do with Romo not using him as a safety valve. Hey Pat, is it just me or does Cowboy management have other plans considering they just dealt high draft picks to acquire Roy Williams, who ultimately replaces you on the depth chart. When the owner, general manager, offensive coordinator and head coach all think they need an upgrade, your not exactly the "first option" type. Catch a ball, then you can complain. Roy Williams, your going to start complaining now? Really? After Jerry Jones went and pulled you out of Detroit, Detroit who may I remind you hasn't won a game all season and just took Daunte Culpepper off the garbage heap to play quarterback. Now your going to complain? The Lions will not, I'll repeat, the Lions will not win a game the entire season. If I was Roy Williams I would send a thank you card to Jerry Jones and shut the hell up. By the way Roy, real wideouts wear numbers in the 80's, not 11. Now, to my boy T.O., the chosen one, the all encompassing . . . . .shut the **** up, you are the ultimate pain in the *** and are more intolerable than a bad STD. You know why the ball doesn't get thrown your way when the game is on the line? Because you'd never stand up and admit you ran a rout wrong, you won't admit your finding it harder and harder to get separation when your getting older, and lastly, because Shawn Springs flat out abused you earlier this season. It's tired, your whole act is tiring, I defended you just out of pure fandom for the last couple seasons but its getting real old, real fast. Without Tony Romo, you are nothing more than what Randy Moss is without Tom Brady, yes your a talent but you are limited, drastically. If I was Cowboys offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, who is largely responsible for this train wreck, I'd run the ball 50 straight times with whatever running back I had healthy this week. Let's be honest you have a snowballs chance in hell of beating the Giants without a healthy Marion Barber or Felix Jones, so screw it. Tashard Choice, congrats your up. Furthermore, If I was Jerry Jones I'd walk into the locker room grab Terrell and make him watch those videos of him doing sit-ups like a jackass in his driveway, I'd put the 2007 playoff game against the Giants on loop for Patrick Crayton to see how awful he played when everything was on the line, and then I'd show Roy Williams the clip of backup Lion quarterback, Dan Orlovsky, avoiding the rush by running out the back of his own end zone. You morons want to complain some more? Keep It Real, and stop wasting everybody's time.

C.C. a Yankee . . shocking!?!?! No, it isn't and it shouldn't be to anyone. Would you be all that shocked if C.C. Sabathia turned into a shell of himself come April, May, and June? After the Yanks blew everybody out of the bidding pool a month ago, by offering the lefty-ace a mind numbing $140 million dollars, that wasn't enough. It wasn't that the money was wasn't enough, it was that C.C. just wanted no part of the American League East, the city of New York, and more importantly the added pressure that comes with being the games highest paid pitcher. Sabathia was nearly begging the Dodgers and Brewers to offer him something remotely close to what the Yanks were, but they just wouldn't. For whatever reason Dodgers management couldn't pool their cash together, and the Brewers could only offer $100 million, sorry Milwaukee, that isn't even funny. To C.C. what was important was that he stay in the National League, on the West Coast, and keep his family happy. What became important to C.C., well not to look like a complete jackass for leaving $60 million dollars on the table during one of the countries worst economic time periods. The Yankees were willing to even set a date to determine when they would back off C.C., and if you believed they were doing that, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. The Yanks were so sickly in need of an ace of the staff in 2008 when just a year ago they could have got a guy who wanted to come to New York, who was better than C.C., and at the end of the day, cheaper. But then again who wants to trade Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy for lowly Johan Santana, only one of the games premier pitchers of the last decade. Yanks management couldn't contain themselves any longer, after the Boston Red Sox decided to toy with the Yanks and invite C.C. in for an interview, with no intention of giving the wide lefty that kind of cash, the Yanks got nervous. When you or I get nervous, we talk to much, when the New York Yankees get nervous, they drop another $20 million like it was chump change. Well they got their man, after flying out to California, begging Mrs. Sabathia to come to New York and waving $20 million and an opt out clause in front of C.C., he's a Yankee. Who is the last guy who came because of the cash, he's got a mullet and hates New Yorkers. Keep It Real; Money Talks.

I know I've actually dedicated quality time to the first portion of this season claiming that the NFC East is the NFL's best division. Spade a spade, I'm wrong. The Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins have all underachieved. The Cowboys & Skins account for the only two victories of the 2-11 St. Louis Rams. The Eagles have a tie on their record against the 1-11-1 Bengals. Aside from the Giants who are the hands down favorite to win the Super Bowl at 11-2, the NFC East has been a major disappointment. The majority of NFL fans would tell you that this years power division is the unexpected NFC South. Between quarterbacks Jake Delhomme, Jeff Garcia, Matt Ryan, and Drew Brees, the NFC South boasts the NFL's most efficient passers from top to bottom. Brees is on the precipitous of one of the NFL's most dominating statistical seasons, ever. With just two games left he needs only 752 yards to tie Dan Marino's record of 5,084 passing yards in a single season, and he gets the 0-13 Lions in one of those games. With the Saints being virtually eliminated from playoff contention, you don't think Sean Payton isn't going to open the playbook up for Brees to chase down a milestone? Jake Delhomme's Panthers have three games remaining and despite the great play of the New York Giants, if the Panthers win out they'll finish with a 13-3 record owning the tiebreaker against the Giants for home field throughout. Which brings me to my next point. In divisional games, the home team is a mind boggling 10-0. You need any more proof that they know what home field advantage means? The rushing tandem in Carolina, DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, have combined for over 1,840 yards and 21 touchdowns. The Tampa Bay Bucs may be the most feared of the possible Wild Card teams. A team with a veteran defense, a veteran quarterback, and whose 6-2 in their last eight games. Finally, while just a year ago they finished 4-12, the Atlanta Falcons led by runaway rookie of the year, Matt Ryan, are 8-5 and staring down the 6th and final playoff spot. From Brees & Ryan to coaches Gruden and Fox, the NFC South is the best division in football and I am only trying to KEEP IT REAL. As always.

My bad on releasing Keep It Real so late this Friday; due to the Ice Storms in central Massachusetts I was without power till late this afternoon. As Always, KEEP IT REAL!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

2 Big XII QB's & 1 Gator

Are we sure there is no way I can vote for Matt Ryan in 2008? No? Alright, I will have to choose from one of the capable and deserving candidates we currently have in college football. Two Big XII signal callers and a Gator with eyes on Archie Griffin, a Saturday night for the ages brought to you by Wendy's. (If I can get a free frosty out of that plug, it was worth it.)

Addressing Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. The Red Raider was my pre-season pick for the Heisman Trophy and unfortunately he was the odd man out and failed to get the invite to New York this weekend. Harrell threw the ball more than any division 1 college football quarterback, he has arguably the most feared college football player catching balls for him, and unfortunately the last taste in voters mouth was his teams performance in Norman, Oklahoma. 10 games Harrell threw for more than 300 yards, including 5 over 400 yards, and 1 over 500 yards. His 41 touchdowns next to only 7 interceptions is mind blowing, yet still seven short of Heisman hopeful, Sam Bradford. Harrell threw for nearly 300 more yards than Bradford while averaging more than 13 attempts per game. Bradford is playing for a title, Tebow is playing for a title, and the 3rd candidate, Colt McCoy could argue playing for a title. Sorry Graham.

To the Final 3 Candidates:

Oklahoma Sooner QB, Sam Bradford. He wouldn't get my vote. Certainly capable of being the Heisman Trophy winner, but again he wouldn't get my vote. He's got more yards passing (4,464) than Tim Tebow , less interceptions (6) than Colt McCoy, and still he doesn't get my vote. Sure, he has set the world on fire by tossing 48 touchdown passes. Of course he averages less attempts yet has more yards passing than fellow Big XII quarterbacks, Graham Harrell, Todd Reesing, and Chase Daniel. Wait, now I forgot why this Sooner isn't get my vote . . hmmmmm, oh that's right, because my SEC bias mind won't allow me to. Sam Bradford is a flat out stud, his numbers are off the charts and the kid has tore up the Big XII this season. Since their lost to Texas back in October, Bradford has throw 25 touchdown passes and only one interception in 7 games. In 9 of 12 games this season the Sooners offense led by the sophomore quarterback has scored 50 points or more, including the last five wins finishing the season going over 60 points in each game. However, in his heads up with Texas quarterback Colt McCoy, Bradfords five touchdowns become cloudy given that his two interceptions may have cost the Sooners an undefeated season. Bradford has two receivers with 9+ touchdowns and an All-American tight end in, Jermaine Gresham, who caught 12 touchdown passes on the season. In my mind, it's the wins that set you apart, and no amount of touchdown passes against Texas matter when the final score is 45-35 and your on the losing end.

Florida Gator QB, Tim Tebow You may have seen that impassioned speech from Tebow, back after the Gators suffered their first and only loss of the season and think wow this guy is pissed off about that loss. What do I see? I saw the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and former National Champion decide that not only was he not bigger than the team, but that he wanted nothing more than to win another National Championship. Tebow has lead the countries best team to a impressive 12-1 record and an SEC Championship this season. His passing numbers aren't the god like numbers of McCoy, Harrell, and Bradford, but they are not something to sneeze at. Tebow passed for over 2,500 yards to go along with his 28 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions. He's most likely the only quarterback in the country who would be on a draw 9 times out of 10 on 4th and goal. On the ground Tebow rushed for over 500 yards for the second straight season and banged out 12 rushing touchdowns on the way. Against in-state rival Florida State, Tebow threw three touchdown passes and ran in a fourth en route to a 45-15 thumping of the Seminoles. Against South Carolina, Tim Tebow announced to the world who the new King of the Swamp was. In front of former Gator turned Gamecock head coach, Steve Spurrier, Tim Tebow completed 65% of his passes, threw for two touchdowns and rushed in for another. In between the hedges at Athens, Georgia, Tebow scored 5 times, twice through the air, and three times on the ground. Final score, Gators 49 Bulldogs 10. His most masterful performance was saved for the SEC title game, against previously undefeated Alabama, Tim Tebow turned out a second half for the ages. At the end of the third quarter, Tebow engineered an 11 play 62 yard drive that ate up the final six minutes of the quarter and led to a go ahead touchdown. Mid-way through the fourth, Tebow came onto the field and led the Gators on an 8-play 65 yard drive, eating up four minutes and thirty-seven seconds which would put the nail in the coffin of the Crimson Tide. If your starting, scratch that, if I'm starting a college program, I want Tebow under center and the '07 Heisman under his left arm.

Texas Longhorn QB, Colt McCoy With Mac Brown as the head coach, I never thought their could be another player or coach whose name best suited the school they played for. That was until Colt McCoy set Longhorn Nation into a frenzy. This quarterback can flat out play. If your a big time, big school, big program quarterback there is one stat that separates you from everybody else: Completion Percentage. Anyone can throw the ball 50 times a game, put a few in the end zone, rack up yards, and dominate soft defenses, but completion percentage measures how good of a passer you really are. So when it comes to completion percentage, no one is better than Longhorn quarterback, Colt McCoy. McCoy's 77.6 completion percentage is a nations best. Colt's 28 of 35 passing with zero interceptions against Oklahoma, yes, that would be an 80% completion percentage, was more important than anything in the Longhorns 45-35 victory. Not only does McCoy put up mind blowing passing numbers (32 TD's, 3445 yards passing, and 7 games with an 80% completion percentage or higher), but he, like Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, has rushed for over 500 yards on the season and ten rushing touchdowns. For an entire season leading up to the Texas Tech game, Colt McCoy was the runaway Heisman winner, a stumble on the road in Lubbock kept both the Longhorns from winning a National Title and in my mind it will keep Colt McCoy from finishing any higher than third.

My Pick: Tim Tebow, Florida. if anyone is qualified to join the likes of Archie Griffin, it is Tebow. When he beats Bradford in the National Title game, you'll see why.

Who Will Win: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma. When playing trivial pursuit and the question is; Name the only college football player to take home the Heisman Trophy twice, you'll say Archie Griffin. You'll be right. Voters aren't willing to crown Tebow twice, and his 2008 doesn't compare to his 2007. Bradfords numbers are what will make him the Heisman Trophy Winner.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Butkus Award Robbery

The Dick Butkus Award, named after one of the greatest linebackers of all time, awards the nations most feared and dominant linebacker in college football. This morning and all last night I am thoroughly disappointed at the committee that named Wake Forest standout linebacker, Aaron Curry, the 2008 Dick Butkus Award winner. In a word, it is ROBBERY.

Now I have nothing against Wake Forest, Aaron Curry, or any of the linebackers that were among the top vote getters for the Dick Butkus award. I enjoy watching Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing, but they aren't the player that Boston College junior linebacker, Mark Herzlich has been in 2008. Call me a homer, but after reading this I leave no doubt that you'll agree, or maybe you'll just call me a homer again either way, your choice.


At seasons end the Eagles defense was ranked sixth in total yards allowed per contest, in large part due to the play of one Mark Herzlich. The junior linebacker lead his team in tackles with 105 on the season, 79 of those being solo tackles. Tied with senior defensive back, Paul Anderson, Herzlich had six interceptions to lead a defense which led the country in total interceptions with 26. Of those 26 interceptions, Boston College ran five of them back for touchdowns including two pick sixes from Herzlich himself. Only Baylor's Joe Pawelek has as many interceptions at the linebacker position, and no linebacker or defensive back has returned more int's for touchdowns than him. 105 total tackles, 79 unassisted tackles, 10 tackles for a loss, and 6 interceptions, make Mark Herzlich the most feared linebacker in the ACC and the country.

As for Mr. Curry of Wake Forest. Four less tackles than Herzlich, 16 less unassisted tackles than Herzlich, 5 less interceptions. On a defense which gave up more than 27 yards more per game than Boston College did. He played against the same offenses, the same quarterbacks, and the same position, and Herzlich was better. Ask yourself why Herzlich was selected over Curry as the ACC Defensive Player of the Year?

The boys from USC, Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga Sorry If I'm a numbers guy and I go by the books but this isn't an award for hearsay. Cushing, Mauluga, and USC in general get scouted by more NFL teams than any school. Since it's those scouts and writers that vote for the Butkus, Cushing and Maualuga get votes. Their numbers? Combined they only have 6 more solo tackles than Mark Herzlich, and combined Herzlich has three more interceptions than them.

James Laurinaitis of Ohio State, the 2007 Butkus Award Winner, is in the conversation because he's a previous winner, just like Matt Leinart in the Heisman conversation the year after he won it. Sure he's listed with 121 tackles, yet nearly 62%(75) of those tackles are NOT solo tackles. Herzlich of course has three times as many interceptions and five and a half more tackles for a loss than Laurinaitis does. Simply put, your picking up what I'm putting down.

Then again, should I be shocked at all that Mark Herzlich gets the snub treatment? Of course not, BC doesn't turn out the pros that USC and Ohio State does, they aren't the national program that those teams are either. Aaron Curry has been a touted linebacker for three years and scouts pour into his games, the same way they will if Herzlich remains at BC for his senior season. Congrats to Aaron Curry, but Mark Herzlich had a great season and in my mind is the hands down 2008 Dick Butkus Award winner. BY THE WAY, on December 4th he was named 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, yet misses out on the Butkus to a guy who plays in that same conference?

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Good,Bad, & Ugly: BCS

Bowls are sets, post season awards are being polished, and the Texas Longhorns are still left out in the cold. Were putting that to the side for now, there isn't enough time or words that are making Mac Brown feel better today. Instead we are breaking down the bowl selection into three categories: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, let's get after it.

The Good While I think Southern California is the nations premier college football program in the country, and I follow that with the belief that 75% of college football fans want to see them in the title game, they aren't. As a consolation prize, I give you the 2008 Rose Bowl. The Rose Bowl will consist of the Trojans from USC (Pac 10 Champs) and the Nittany Lions of Pennsylvania State (Big 10 Champs). You want defense? This is the game for you. Penn State and USC are two of the nations top five defenses when it comes to yards allowed per game. The Trojans allow a nation leading 206 yards of offense per game while their opponents allow just 263.9 yards per. Between Navorro Bowman of Penn State, 98 tackles (54 unassisted), and SC's all-world linebacker, Rey Maualuga, these two defenses don't give an inch. In ten of USC's twelve games they've allowed just ten points or fewer, that would include wins against Ohio State, Oregon, Notre Dame, and UCLA. 450-93, USC has outscored their opponents 450-93 in rout to an 11-1 season and a seventh straight Pac-10 title. As for Joe Paterno and friends, the Nittany Lions are flat out dominated their schedule. Blowout road wins against conference foes Wisconsin and Purdue, a late October victory at Columbus, and a early season lashing of Pac-10 Oregon State, 45-14. In their final regular season game the Nittany Lions dropped a top twenty ranked Michigan State team, 49-18, the Spartan rushing attack rushed for only 35 yards on 24 attempts. SHUT DOWN. Junior quarterback, Daryll Clark tossed four touchdowns and ran in for a fifth en route to a 341 yard passing day. If were talking similar opponents, State dominated the Oregon State Beaver team that gave USC their only loss. On the other hand, USC hung 35 on an Ohio State defense that held the Nittany Lions to just one offensive touchdown. USC v. Penn State, Pete Carroll v. Joe Paterno it doesn't get much better than that.

The Bad Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, wait, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in general is BAD. I saw what USC did to Ohio State in September, they got thumped. I watched how LSU and Florida treated the Buckeyes in Back-2-Back national championship games, they got thumped. Now you want to feed their true freshman quarterback, Terelle Pryor, to the Longhorns in Glendale? May I remind you that Texas fans travel well, and now they only have to travel to the state immediately west of them, good idea. Also, Ohio State has two losses against teams that are already in a BCS Bowl Game, apparently the BCS has no problem hanging another loss on this team to further validate how big and slow the Buckeyes have become. About the Longhorns, if anyone is going to play one of these Bowl Games like they were playing for a National Championship, it's Texas. The Longhorns had 1 hiccup, JUST ONE! Like I've said a million times before, if not for the miraculous play of the nations best all around football player, Michael Crabtree, the Longhorns are playing for a title as the nations only REAL undefeated team. (Yes, that was a dig at Utah) Texas averages nearly 44 points a game, they've scored 50+ in 4 games this season, boast four top 15 wins, and are the only team to that has a legit gripe about the national title. Again, the Buckeyes have played defense against Big 10 offenses all year, and now they get a Heisman hopeful whose just tossed 40+ touchdown passes. THAT'S THE TEAM YOU SELECT TO PLAY A TWO-LOSS OHIO STATE PROGRAM? Good Luck Buckeye nation, you get your Christmas present late, it's worse than coal.


The Ugly At first glance I was going to bang on the BCS for the atrocities to Graham Harrell and Texas Tech. Second glance reminded me of the beat down they got served up in Norman at the hands of the Sooners. Instead I'm going to focus on that bowl which handed out some Oranges and round trip airfare to South Beach.

Disclaimer: I get it, I'm a Boston College fan and you don't think I'd say a peep if the Eagles were headed to South Florida, and your right, but since they aren't and this isn't your column, act accordingly.

The Orange Bowl will feature the ACC Champion Virginia Tech Hokies, and the Big East Champion Cincinnati Bearcats. Whose excited? The Hokies are ranked 19 in the BCS standings and the Bearcats are an over ranked and over hyped 12. Yet of course, an undefeated Boise State (9) team, who needs to find a big time conference and latch on or continue to be snubbed, and an 11-1 Co-Big 12 South Champion Texas Tech (7) team is left out in the cold. But I digress. Back to the Hokies and Bearcats. You know what happened when Cincinnati played fellow BCS bowl team, Oklahoma? They got smashed in the mouth 52-26. Their big road wins? Hawaii, Akron, Marshall, and West Virginia? Please, spare me the Bearcats. Virginia Tech beat a red shirt freshman quarterback in his second career start to get to the Orange bowl. Road losses against Miami, Florida State, and Boston College . . . .Oh, and the Pirates of East Carolina who are in the process of losing their coach to Syracuse, that's right 3-9 Syracuse. Still excited about the Orange Bowl? Hey college football maniacs, watch the undefeated Utes against the Tide, the Nittany Lions head to Pasadena to fight the Trojans, and the Gators get a shot at Boomer Sooner . . .Oh, and the ACC Champ is playing some Big East team.

That's the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the 2008 BCS Bowl Games. Don't forget to watch the Music City Bowl, live from Nashville it's Boston College v. Vanderbilt. ARRGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Too Much Tyrod

Ughhh, that was ugly. A second straight let down in the ACC championship game for the Boston College Eagles. For the second time in two years the Eagles get chased from the Orange Bowl and sent to ACB (another crappy bowl) at the hands of the Hokies.

The main focus was on the quarterback play for both teams. Boston College sent their redshirt freshman, Dominique Davis to Tampa in his second start and he met a Hokie defense that didn't give an inch. Virginia Tech on the other hand put the ball in the hands of their quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who gave the vaunted BC defense all they could handle and then some. Countless missed tackles and fumbles led to the downfall of the Eagle defense. A fumble inside the twenty in the first half stopped a scoring drive, an interception in the third to set Virginia Tech up for another scoring drive inside the BC twenty, and a late fumble from Davis which got returned for a touchdown and the Hokies took over.

When I'm wrong, I'm wrong and I now admit that a redshirt freshman quarterback in only his second start cannot be asked to put touchdowns on the board against a top ten national defense. I will not be spending new years on South Beach, and as a consolation prize, the laptop is burning my legs. One last thing, I noticed Bruce Smith was cheering on the Hokies, where were the Vick brothers? Must have had plans. Excuse me while I slip on my Alabama pullover (until the Gators come back) CHOMP, CHOMP!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Keep It Real Friday: 193

Were starting off this week with some good, because after that, it gets pretty ugly. Banging on your ex-girlfriends to the Canadian press, shooting yourself in the leg with your own gun, wait your own ILLEGAL gun, and of course some Heisman hysteria.

Bam! Keep It Real Friday is off and running.

Why Dustin Pedroia is aces in my book, and he should be in yours. Coming off consecutive post-season awards, the American League Rookie of the Year (2007) and Most Valuable Player(2008), Dustin Pedroia was awarded with an approximately six year deal worth 40 million plus from the Boston Red Sox. No, he isn't making the ten million a year plus that fellow American League MVP's, Alex Rodriguez, Justin Morneau, and Vladimir Guerrero make, he's making much less and his new contract will never give him what they make. So why is he aces? Because, in his own words “I probably would have made more money (going year-to-year), But I’m in a place that I love. My first thought was, ‘I play for the best team. Who wouldn’t want to play for the Boston Red Sox? We’re going to have a chance to win every year and the fans are the best, so why not?’ It fits.” In a star driven world with athletes refusing to play until they get theirs, and letting thousands maybe millions of children down in the process, Dustin Pedroia is above all that. The reigning American League MVP will get another chance for a big pay day in his career, but as of right now, nothing is more important to him than winning. As a fan, we can't ask much more than that. KEEP IT REAL!

Plaxico Burress is just another in a long line. Idiot wide receivers aren't at a premium today, they can be found all over the place. The Giants give Plax $35 million and he did what obnoxious wide outs do, screw them. Chad Johnson of the Bengals changed his last name to Ocho Cinco, not his number which is eighty-five, he changed his last name to the spanish form of eight-five. This was all coming off the heels of trying to force his way out of Cincy, that went well for 'ole Ocho. Cowboy wide out, Terrell Owens, has continually tried to pressure offensive coordinator Jason Garrett to run the offense through his 35 year old legs. After owner Jerry Jones bailed T.O. out of Philly when they wouldn't give him what he wanted. You love Randy Moss now, don't you? Woudln't have loved him if you were a Vikings fan, oh no, as a Viking Randy mock mooned the crowd in a post-touchdown celebration, he walked off the field in the middle of a game and quit on his team, and the icing, Randy pushed a meter maid half a block with his SUV so she wouldn't give him a ticket. Instead, he got a felony charge. When the New York Giants make their deep postseason run at a Super Bowl, I hope owners everywhere take notice: You don't need moron wide outs to win the Super Bowl, between Owens, Moss, and Johnson, three of the games premier wideouts, they have zero Super Bowl wins. Give me a running back and a strong defense, we don't need THAT guy. Keep It Real!

Sean Avery, Elisha Cuthbert hates him, the NHL and commissioner Gary Bettman hate him, Martin Brodeur definitely hates him, his coach and teammates have gotten pretty upset with him, and Stars GM Brett Hull isn't to pleased with him. However, you know who likes him? The Canadian press, the fans, and, why? Because he gives hockey a face, he gives us someone to have that love/hate with, and of course, he gives us something to talk about. Yea referring to actress Elish Cuthbert as sloppy seconds probably was, okay it was, inappropriate, but it served a purpose, to keep hockey in the news. Any news is good news right? For a sport that allows you to drop your gloves and fight in the middle of the ice, are Avery's words really that shocking? In baseball we have guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. In basketball we have Dwayne Wade and Ron Artest. In football we have guys like Marvin Harrison and Chad Johnson. Finally, in hockey we have Sidney Crosby and of course Sean Avery. Sports need your villain, just like the movies do. How exciting would Batman be without Heath Ledger, or the Joker whatever? How exciting would Spiderman be without Wiliam Dafoe? Avery's a punk, and not all that special of a hockey player, but without him, am I writing about hockey for the second straight week? NO, KEEP IT REAL! BTW: (sloppy seconds or not, she's incredible)

What happened to the Jets? Spade a spade, he's Brett Favre. He'll take you two steps forward and one step back before you know it. Ask yourself, how in the world to you roll up to New England and back down to Tennessee, achieving two wins in the process and forcing the entire NFL to take notice, THEN you drop a clunker at home to the Broncos? I'll tell you how, because your the New York Jets and that is who you are. All the millions in free agency and all the veteran gunslingers won't shake you of that dirty habit. This team was 4-12 a year ago, no one goes from worst to first that quickly, especially in the division that has the Tuna and Belichick. Then again, they are currently 8-4 and have four games remaining. Those games are againt the likes of Buffalo, Seattle, San Francisco, and Miami, 3-1 or 4-0 at worst. This team isn't good enough to beat Pittsburgh or Indy in the playoffs, and it's time Jets fans come to the realization, he's Brett Favre and he'll win you two, and lose you one. Keep It Real!

And that's this weeks edition of your favorite Friday morning rant. KEEP IT REAL!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Your All Gator Bait

They have you just where they want you. Focused on the Big 12 Championship and how slighted the Texas Longhorns should feel. Your praying that USC backs into the National Championship, and wondering whether or not Charlie Weis is still employed. What thoughts you have about the Southeastern Conference, surround that of the undefeated Crimson Tide and their mastermind head coach, Nick Saban. For all you Sooner, Longhorn, 'Bama, and Trojan fans, I've got one thing for you:


Time to dispell the Big 12:

First off, the angry Texas Longhorns fans. "Ohhhh, we got jobbed because we waxed the Sooners on a neutral field." Wa, wa, wa, stop crying. You know even Mac Brown and Colt McCoy have come out and called a spade a spade, if they'd taken care of business in Lubbock, we wouldn't have gotten into this mess to start with. Simply put, it's probably wrong that your watching a team you beat with the same record in the Big 12 title game, but they'd have that same argument in Lubbock if you had moved on. Furthermore, don't think you get off the hook (lame pun, totally intended) that easy. You played absolutely no one in your non-conference battles, and when I say no one, I mean (5-7) UTEP, C-USA Rice, (6-6) Florida Atlantic. I mean really, what did you think would happen when the computers threw those teams in and came out with a higher seeded Oklahoma team. The Sooners welcomed a TCU team that finished the season ranked #11 in the BCS. They thumped Cincinnati, 52-26, who are the Big East champs and currently ranked #13 in the BCS. So when you dry up all your tears Longhorn fans, blame your athletic director because when Florida Atlantic shows up on the caller ID, you shouldn't be answering the phone, your the Texas friggin Longhorns.

The Sooners, well your going to win the Big 12 Championship, get a Heisman Trophy in Norman, and then become the next team to feel the wrath of the SEC. No? Okay, we'll see. Why don't you confirm with Buckeye nation how it feels to play the SEC in a National Championship. Underdogs or as favorites, they got tortured. In one of those bouts, they had had a Heisman winner as well, Troy Smith. But your probably right, you aren't a soft and slow Big-10 team, and you have hung at least 35 on opposing defenses in every game you've played. However, the Gator defense hasn't allowed more than 31 points the entire season. The bottom line is, Florida has played in tougher places than Stillwater, College Station, and Manhattan. You lost the biggest game of your season at a neutral site, and only after weeks of crying did supposed "Big Game Bob" stop his campaign to talk you into the Big 12 championship game. What do I have against Oklahoma? Could it be that they legitimized teams like Boise State two years ago at the Fiesta? Could it be that they ended the Heisman campaign of Graham Harrell, my preseason Heisman pick? Maybe. This is my problem with the Big 12, and the Sooners get unfortunately lumped in, why is it that every other two division conference goes to head-to-heads to determine their winner, yet you don't? Don't sleep on Chase Daniel.

Out West:

I'm a big fan of Pete Carroll and USC. I think giving up timeouts to wear your home jerseys could be the funniest thing of the '08 college football season, but you shot yourself in the foot, Plaxico style. The Trojans, like the Longhorns, needed one win to take care of business, and they screwed it up. Corvallis might not be the easiest place to play, and I'll agree I thought there was no way you'd lose that game after torching the Buckeyes, but you did. In 6 of your 11 games this season you've allowed 3 points or less including three shutouts and giving up just a field goal to both Notre Dame and Ohio State. When they thought you'd cough it up at Arizona State, you shut up out 28-0. Maybe no one else is impressed that you beat the state of Washington teams, a combined 125-0, but I'm impressed. Some aren't impressed that they covered the biggest spread of the past forty years for a Notre Dame team, 38-3, but I'm impressed. Unfortunately the 2008 PAC-10 is as soft as downey. The silver lining for USC should be that everyone in the country wants to see them in the title game and they'll get another shot to embarrass the Big 10, and lately that's been a theme of these bowl games.

First Up:

Some of these teams will get to actually become Gator Bait, and the first one on that list is Alabama and Nick Saban. Percy Harvin or no Percy Harvin. The Tide are better than EVERYONE thought they were. They haven't lost a game this season, they finished their regular season schedule with zero losses, need me to say it in any other way? They are the only remaining undefeated Division 1 team with any substance, yes, that's right Boise, Utah, and Ball. 'Bama is very good, they have an experienced quarterback under center, John Parker Wilson, dominating receiver in freshman, Julio Jones, and two tough running backs in Glen Coffee and Mark Ingram. They've boasted monster wins at Clemson, Georgia, and LSU. They held four of their last five opponents to under 10 points. That defense is the second ranked defense against the rush and the third ranked overall. The downside, their offense is the 28th ranked in points scored this season and a 22nd ranked rushing offense. To beat a team like Florida, that averages 450 yards a game and 45 points, your going to have to put some points on the board.

The eventual National Champions:

The Florida Gators. For the second time in three years, they'll hoist the crystal football. Since, their 31-30 defeat to Mississippi in week four, the Gators have been on a tear. In their eight straight victories since that loss the Gators have in a word, dominated. The 41-30 victory 'Bama had at Georgia seems a little downgraded since Florida beat that same Bulldog team by 39 at their place as well. While at the Swamp, Tim Tebow & Co. smashed LSU 51-21, a team Saban and Alabama beat in overtime. Florida en route to the SEC championship game defeated Steve Spurrier by 50 points in November, they outscored in state rivals Florida State and Miami to the tune of 71-18. Tim Tebows Heisman campaign includes 25 touchdown passes, two interceptions, and 2,300 yards passing. Tebow's second straight run at the trophy also includes 507 yards rushing and 12 rushing touchdowns. The Florida offense averages 237 yards rushing per game and allows just 275 yards per game on defense, which is good for the seventh best defense in the country. The Gators have four backs who have rushed for over 500 yards and five backs who have scored 4 or more touchdowns. Reciever/Running Back Percy Harvin has rushed for over 500 yards and caught 35 balls for almost six hundred yards. Find the defense in the country that can hold down this offense. If not for the missed PAT against Ole' Miss, they are the top ranked team headed into this weekends title game with Alabama.

That is why the rest of the countries elite is just Gator Bait.