Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 12

Thanksgiving Day: 2-1
Last Week: 11-5
On The Season: 86-70-6

Sunday, 1:00 PM (EST)

Green Bay At Atlanta This is the game of the week. We could be witnessing a preview to the NFC Championship with these two teams squaring off. Atlanta is undefeated at home and at 8-2 the Falcons are rolling right along. That aside, the Packer defense is no joke and is the second highest scoring defense int he NFL. Turnovers are bound to decide this game between two NFC heavyweights. Packers +1.5

Pittsburgh At Buffalo The Steelers aren't the Bengals and Lions, the two teams Buffalo got off the mat against. After thumping the Raiders last week 35-3, the Pittsburgh offense could be hitting their stride. With the Jets and Ravens in the coming weeks, Pittsburgh will tune up with the Bills. Steelers -6

Carolina At Cleveland As good as the Browns were against New Orleans and New England, they're still 3-7 with backup quarterback Jake Delhomme playing in place of the injured Colt McCoy. Games between two teams with a combined record of 4-16 usually aren't blowouts. Panthers +9.5

Jacksonville At New York (Giants) After losing to both Dallas and Philadelphia, the Giants have to get back on track. Coughlin and the Giants still play great against the run, a Jaguar strength. The Giants are going to give the ball to Brandon Jacobs and hope to stop turning the ball over, six fumbles in the last two weeks. Spotting the Jags a touchdown shouldn't be a problem. Giants -7

Minnesota At Washington The Vikings are in the same spot the Cowboys were several weeks ago, a coaching change mid-season. With Brad Childress out the Vikings are left to rally around interim head coach Leslie Frazier. 0-5 On the road, the Vikings are in the midst of a 3-7 season. I expect the Vikings to put the ball in the hands of their running game early and often against a Redskins rush defense which allows 131 yards per game. Vikings -2

Tennessee At Houston Tensions between Jeff Fisher and Vince Young reached a peak last week. I continue to get the impression that Vince Young is and has just been forced on Jeff Fisher by Houston native and Titans owner Bud Adams. That being said, Young on the IR and Rusty Smith the former Florida Atlantic starter in, the Titans are in trouble. Their defensive line has taken hits with injuries to Jason Jones and Dave Bell. The Texans fell short against the Jets losing their fourth straight, they'll recover this week against a banged up Titans team. Texans -6

Sunday, 4:00 PM (EST)

Kansas City At Seattle The Chiefs put up 62 points against their previous two NFC West opponents, the Cardinals and 49ers. Why would they do any less against Seattle? Seattle can't play well against the pass and over the last two weeks Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has thrown for over 660 yards with six touchdown passes. Kansas City will put up some points today. Chiefs -2.5

Miami At Oakland The 5-5 Raiders are returning home after their beatdown in Pittsburgh. Getting the Dolphins with Tyler Thigpen was what the Raiders had hoped for till Miami announced Chad Henne will start in Oakland. I still like the Raiders to rush all over Miami and setup a big time AFC West matchup with the Chargers next week. Raiders -2.5

St. Louis At Denver Does everyone agree Josh McDaniels may not be a head coach for very long in this league? The videotaping fines weighed down on the Broncos head coach has to be an embarrassment for Bronco ownership. The Rams can still hang around in this game even though they've lost two straight. Bradford and company get back on it in Denver this week. Rams +3.5

Philadelphia At Chicago The Michael Vick MVP tour continues. It'll be impressive if Philly can torch a fast Chicago defense. Going on the road after a less than stellar performance against the Giants last week, the Eagles will have their hands full in Chicago. With all the hype around Vick, running back LeSean McCoy has been able to fly under the radar in Philly. On pace to go over 1,700 yards in total offense, McCoy is coming off a week which he ran for 111 yards and caught an additional five passes out of the backfield. Eagles -3

Tampa Bay At Baltimore After playing Carolina and San Francisco in back-to-back weeks, the Bucs may have forgotten what it was like to play quality teams. With Ed Reed now back in the Baltimore defense, expect the anti to be raised. No way Ray Lewis and company let Josh Freeman beat them on his field. Ravens -7

Sunday, 8:20 PM (EST)

San Diego At Indianapolis I love the way the San Diego offense has been playing. They're scoring from all over the field and now they go indoors. With Manning and Rivers, you can expect a ton of points to be scored that is for sure. The Chargers have made up from their terrible start and are really gaining a ton of respect around the league. Still, Peyton doesn't lose games two in a row and not three of four. The Colts win this one late. Colts -2.5

Monday, 8:30 PM (EST)

San Francisco At Arizona ESPN has really got to be upset about their Monday night game, two 3-7 teams going head to head. The 49ers have been a mess all season long and Arizona really misses having a reliable quarterback. I'll watch all of about ten minutes of this game, maybe not even that. 49ers on the road! 49ers -1.5

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

From The Readers: Too Many Turkeys

The readers have sent in a few comments and questions over the past couple days, I've selected a few to respond to . .

Get After It!

Thoughts on that Saints Thanksgiving Day stomach punch just landed on Jason Garrett and the Cowboys? - Joe. Fort Worth, TX

A few. I'd love to tell you that the most star crossed Cowboys fan can look at this and say something in the neighborhood of, "at least they fought back being down 17," but that isn't good enough. These are the types of games Jason Garrett needs to win to prove he's something more than a mouthpiece. Proving that costly errors aren't as frequent, proving that failing to drop the hammer is a thing of the past, but he and the Cowboys just didn't do that. Roy Williams was stripped of the ball inside the ten with the game on the line, and the Saints sprinted down the field scoring quicker than you can blink. Ball game over. Cowboys drop to 3-8.

Do you like the Auburn Tigers any more or less after their 24-point, come from behind victory in Tuscaloosa on Friday afternoon? - Mitchell. Cedar Bluff, AL

I've always thought Auburn was 1A, and I still do. Let me say something about 'Bama though, they're soft. The defending National Champions finished their regular season at 9-3 with three SEC losses. South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn all proved they were more mentally tough than Alabama. Up 24-points against Auburn at your own place and you can't put them away?!? As Auburn and South Carolina set to square off for the SEC Championship, it's only fitting that both teams had to go through the defending champs to do so.

Oregon has a gear that no other team in college football has, Arizona just felt that. - Dan. Pasadena, CA

Not just Arizona, and yes they did experience that on Friday night. Arizona, among others, watched Oregon explode in the second half and outscore them to the tune of 34-10 over the last two quarters. Both USC and Stanford watched Oregon do the same thing to them earlier this season. The one constant in Eugene is speed, from the coach and quarterback to their entire offensive line, they're moving. They play possum in the first half and find out where they can attack after halftime, then they go for the throat. Head coach Chip Kelly was interviewed just as his team was headed into the locker room down 19-13, he told the sideline reporter he was more than confident and not worried at all about the Ducks 6-point halftime deficit. Of course he was confident, just a little over a minute into the second half in just two plays, Oregon went 85-yards and took a 20-19 lead and never looked back. Oregon is scary good, flat out.

You've been a huge proponent of Boise State, after their stunning loss in Nevada, what do you have to say now? - Brian. Lincoln, NE

It all works out. As much as you want to say that the BCS is broken, it's again going to give us the best team in the country as the National Champion (well, TCU might not be happy about it), but everyone else will be. As bad as I felt for the Boise State kicker missing two chip-shot field goals in the final minutes as his teams National Championship hopes slid away, Boise State had no room for error and they knew that. Just as Auburn & Oregon have to win every week, so does Boise and TCU, and now there are three. Just know that Boise is a very good program and losing to Nevada doesn't change that.

I'm a Sox fan and I've always hated the Yankees, but wouldn't Jeter look great at 3rd base in Boston? - Jose. Jamaica Plain, MA

Isn't going to happen. I've thought about this for two weeks now and as needling to the Yankees as it'd be, the Red Sox can't honestly think it's even worth an offer. However, I'll entertain the thought some more:

[1] The Red Sox are prepared to let Adrian Beltre walk. He's going to get paid this offseason and the Red Sox aren't going to be the ones who pay him, leaving an open position at 3rd base. Jeter's range has definately slipped in recent years, it's obvious at 36-years old (maybe a few years early) he should make the move over to the hot corner.

[2] Look, some players are worth the extra money. Derek Jeter is the most veteran postseason player you can find. If the Red Sox are prepared to move to the youth in their organization, wouldn't Derek Jeter be the ideal player to mentor them?

[3] I'm a fan at heart and I'd love to see the Red Sox throw around some money at a guy like Jeter. He'd instantly be a hit in this market and he'd up the anty in this rivalry for sure. The thing Red Sox fans hate most about Derek Jeter, is there isn't much to hate about him. He isn't a blantant a**hole like Rodriguez. He's 'The Captain,' just stop and think about it for ten minutes. Derek Jeter in a Red Sox uniform?!?

If you're looking to send in questions, feel free to send them in to leave comments or follow me on Twitter!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pick 'Em: Thanksgiving Day

Gobble! Gobble! Happy Thanksgiving readers! The defending champion Saints, not one but two AFC East powerhouses, the train wreck that has become the Bengals 2010 season, and of course your traditional Turkey Day teams Dallas & Detroit. It truly doesn't get much better than this. On the west coast you'll wake up to the Patriots in Detroit. On the east coast you'll knock back the recliner and recover from dinner just in time for Saints at Cowboys. Finishing off everyone's day, you get the Bengals in the Big Apple. Oh, it's going to be a good one!

Get After It!

Last Week: 11-5
On The Season: 84-69-6

New England At Detroit 12:30 PM [EST] I read this week that the Lions were 4-38 since 2008, that's eye opening. Please turn your focus to the New England Patriots at 8-2 boasting recent victories over San Diego, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Indianapolis. As their defense continues to be a work in progress, at times allowing teams back into games, Tom Brady's offense is excelling. Rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski have combined for nine touchdown catches. However, even more impressive would be the two of them individually averaging 12+ yards per catch. The Patriots are going to be a different team when they welcome the 1st place Jets into their building on December 6th. It's Thanksgiving folks and the Lions are bad, Patriots get to work quickly. Patriots -7

New Orleans At Dallas 4:15 PM [EST] As hopeful as the Cowboys last ten days have been, the Saints are the team which has turned things around as of late. New Orleans has outscored their last three opponents 88-32 while winning three straight and improving to 7-3. An added motivation for the Saints is beating a Cowboys team that ended their undefeated bid last season. For the Cowboys, a win on Thursday would really cement Jason Garrett's turnaround of a now 3-7 ball club. Interim head coach Jason Garrett is no stranger to memorable victories. In 1994 as the 3rd quarterback behind injured Troy Aikman and Rodney Peete on these very same Cowboys, Garrett lead the Cowboys to a big win over Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers. Cowboys win a close one late. Cowboys +3.5

Cincinnati At New York (Jets) 8:20 PM [EST] It's alarming how these Jets have needed to pull out wins late with teams they should be putting away. From their late win in Detroit to their overtime win against Cleveland and last week's almost give away against Houston, I'm not sold on the Jets just yet. As bad as the Bengals have been (2-8), and the blowing of a 31-14 lead to none other than the Bills just five days ago, I still think they've got some fight in them and now's the time to show up. Contrary to popular belief at the beginning of the season, Terrell Owens has actually been as big of an asset to the Bengals as a 2-8 team can have. Owens has caught 62 catches so far and is closing in fast on 1,000 yards receiving. Just like Houston put up points late on a lazy Jets defense playing with a lead, the Bengals have showed signs they can at least make a game of it late. The bottom line is, the Jets have "we're golden" written all over them and that attitude has resulted in more than a loss or two with teams boasting that same attitude in the past. J-E-T-S win, but Cincy keeps it close. Bengals +9

Have a Safe & Thanksgiving! Check back tommorow for the rest of Week 11's picks!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Heisman Vote: Incomplete Ballot

Should I regurgitate the Heisman Trust's mission statement to you? Should I stand on a soapbox preaching integrity? Should I blindly ignore every allegation swirling around our top candidate? Should I ignore what could and has happened in the past?

The 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy winner will no doubt come with more than just a piece of hardware. If you're Cameron Newton, the prolific Auburn signal caller, are you just that? Or are you the player who made two SEC programs bid for your services? If you're LaMichael James, Oregon's 1,500 yard rusher, are you good enough to be more than just another athlete charged with domestic violence? If you're Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State's stud wide receiver arrested for DUI on October 27th at 3:45 AM, is your 17-touchdown season enough to overcome your poor off-the-field judgement? If you're one of the three squeaky-clean quarterbacks remaining, TCU's Andy Dalton, Stanford's Andrew Luck, and Boise State's Kellen Moore, are you prepared to accept a Heisman Trophy with a less impressive resume on the field, yet a clean one off? This is the reality we live in. Less than three weeks from Heisman night, and we don't know where to go.

[3] Three Decisions To Make Prior To Submitting My Ballot:

Are you really innocent till proven guilty? Of course not, this is America. You're guilty till proven otherwise. And so goes the Heisman candidacy of Cameron Newton, the Auburn super quarterback with a season for the decade. The player who out dueled Tigers, Gamecocks, Razorbacks, Bayou Bengals, two sets of Bulldogs, Rebels, and gets a shot at 'The Tide,' won't factor. As accusations of improper benefits to Newton's family swirl, so does a season which saw him record some of the more mind boggling statistics in SEC history. His game doesn't pass the smell test, flat out. Wether or not Newton's family took advantage of his second shot at Division I football, it's too close to call. Within twelve months of revoking our 2005 Heisman Trophy (given to USC's Reggie Bush) for the very same accusations, the Heisman Trust will not risk the same embarrassment. Cam Newton may have thrown for 21 touchdown passes while running for another 17, setting records all the way through, but one thing he won't do is raise the most prominent award in collegiate athletics.

Does Oregon's LaMichael James make you feel comfortable? With that out of the way, who's next?!? The Ducks are undefeated, they're about to be the PAC-10 Champions, and above all they have running back LaMichael James to thank for that. James has been the most dominant running back in college football throughout the 2010 season. The 2nd year sophomore from Texarkana is repeating his freshman year success. Closing in on 1,500 yards, while sitting out the first game of the season due to suspension, James is again set on breaking records. Heisman winners come to play on the biggest of stages, right?!? In LaMichael James two biggest games this season, against both Stanford and USC, James rushed for 496 yards and six touchdowns. Blow out your candles, there's only one player this side of the Mississippi that can hold a dimly lit flashlight to Cam Newton, that player is LaMichael James. Unfortunately for you and I, James was arrested earlier this year on charges of domestic assault . That's the guy you feel it's appropriate to make a call of character on?!?

Is this where you reward Boise State, more specifically, quarterback Kellen Moore? Allow me to preface this by saying Stanford's Andrew Luck deserves to be in New York on December 11th - 2,746 yards passing, 24 touchdowns, 7 interceptions - impressed? Back to Boise State's Kellen Moore. Closing in on a 3,000 yard, 30 touchdown passing season, Kellen Moore is the nation's premier collegiate quarterback. Like both Newton and James, Moore's Broncos have yet to lose a game in 2010, but Moore has been down this road before. In Kellen Moore's three seasons as a starter at Boise State, a span of 37 games, including bowl games, Kellen Moore is an astounding 36-1. He hasn't lost since 2008, he puts up all the numbers you want from a Heisman winner, and he passes the integrity test. So why not him?!? Chew on this while you ponder that question: Would you really want to saddle a player of Kellen Moore's quality with being the recipient of a circumstance Heisman Trophy?!? The Heisman winner due to being the only candidate able of keeping his name in box scores rather than police blotters? That's the question you're going to need to answer.

Wether it falls the way of Boise State and Kellen Moore or the Heisman Trust gives it to the best player in the country, either Cam Newton or LaMichael James, this Heisman Trophy has the cloud of controversy swirling heavy.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

PIck 'Em: Week 11

Housecleaning: Man this is becoming difficult! Hat's off to NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Michael Vick. The Eagle quarterback went off on Monday night scoring six touchdowns, four through the air and two on the ground. In doing so took the reigns on the NFL MVP race. Yes, Leavenworth's own Michael Vick. That in the bag, you're getting the Jason Garrett Cowboys twice in the next week and an AFC West showdown on Monday night. But that's not all, the game's two most prolific passers will square off in New England this weekend.

Let's get after it!

Last Week: 8-6
On The Season: 73-64-6

Thursday Night 8:20 PM

Chicago At Miami The Bears did a masterful job containing Vikings RB Adrian Peterson last week. Peterson managed only 51 yards on 17 carries as the Bears beat up the Vikings 27-13. Hmmmm, what will Miami do with Tyler Thigpen under center in replacement of the injured Chad Pennington and Chad Henne? One of the league's best rush defense rolls, Bears +2

Sunday, 1:00 PM (EST)

Buffalo At Cincinnati Are the Bills the cure for the common six game losing streak?!?! The Bengals will look for veteran quarterback Carson Palmer to get back on track after throwing three interceptions in a week 10 loss to Indianapolis. Not this week. The Bills ran the ball for 133 yards last week against a better Detroit run defense, the Bengals give up 115+ per game. Bills +5.5

Cleveland At Jacksonville How can the Browns not have a let down week? For the past six they've prepared for the absolute best this league can give them. Atlanta (7-2), Pittsburgh (6-3), New Orleans (6-3), New England (7-2), and the Jets (7-2). Whatever happens in Jacksonville this weekend you can bet you'll find out what kind of character this team has, that is if you haven't already. Browns +1.5

THREE ROAD DOGS - track 'em

Detroit At Dallas From 14-point underdogs to nearly 7-point favorites a week later. You'd think the Cowboys woke up not only themselves, but quite a few others as well. The Dallas secondary is going to be tested against Detroit this week. Even in the absence of quarterback Matt Stafford for the majority of this season, the Lions have been able to get going in the passing game. It's too late for them now, but Dallas rolls. Cowboys -6.5

Baltimore At Carolina With the Panthers currently sitting at 1-8 tied for the NFL's worst, is it safe to say head coach Jon Fox is on the outs? No? Baltimore is once again among the top of NFL defenses and is gong to use Carolina as a tune up for Tampa and Pittsburgh, both coming to their place in the coming weeks. Ravens -10.5

Green Bay At Minnesota A loss on Sunday, comes a firing on Monday. With the chaos surrounding the 2010 Vikings, head are about to roll. Bringing in Brett was his idea, bringing back Brett was his idea, bringing in Randy was his idea, sending Randy away was his idea, this is head coach Brad Childress' team through and through. Slipping to 3-7 with two straight losses to division opponents would be all the Vikings ownership has to see, right?!? Packers -3

Houston At New York (Jets) Let's make one thing clear right now, you don't recover from the way Houston lost to Jacksonville last week. Your last four opponents have gone for 29+ on your defense. You can't stop anybody inside the twenty, let alone the Jets. In last place in the AFC South, the Texans entire season has been a disappointment. Wrap-it up, Jets -7

Washington At Tennessee Come on now, we're going to give Vince Young's team points after he couldn't play injured? Randy Moss is not replacing Kenny Britt, Vince Young isn't great, and I just don't buy the Titans any longer. If they were playing any other team I'd tell you how bad I didn't buy them. The Redskins are not only soft, but they lack character. Titans -7

Arizona At Kansas City The Chiefs were embarrassed last week against Denver. Watching Kyle Orton put four touchdowns up on the board has to damage your ego just a little bit. Because I'm on the "tear down Arizona" world tour, I'm guessing Kansas City is going to take out a small piece of revenge on the Cardinals at Arrowhead. Chiefs -8

Oakland At Pittsburgh I really like Oakland. They move the ball on offense and are fast on defense. I don't think Pittsburgh has really put everything just yet, and they lost a step against New England last week. With two weeks to prepare. Call me crazy, but I think the Raiders can actually win this game. Raiders +7

FOUR ROAD DOGS - track 'em

Sunday, 4:00 PM (EST)

Atlanta At St. Louis Doesn't any dome feel like home to the 6-0 indoor Falcons? St. Louis has played well this season, but not well enough to slow down a Falcon team gaining steam. Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan is going to have to come up big against a St. Louis defense that plays well against the run. Falcons -3

Seattle At New Orleans The Saints have returned to their winning ways and the win against Pittsburgh two weeks ago was proof enough. If not, you saw them torch Carolina by four touchdowns this past week. New Orleans isn't playing around anymore, they've got to win their home games and that spells trouble for Seattle coming to their place. Saints -11.5

Tampa Bay At San Francisco Wake-up call for the Bucs! With me on board this week, I'm guessing San Francisco will turn it around. Pulling out a big win against St. Louis last weekend, the 49ers are going to come on strong now and make a final run at their division. If Tampa plans to continue their miracle season, they're going to have to find a way around Patrick Willis. Buccanneers +3.5

FIVE ROAD DOGS - track 'em

Indianapolis At New England After the Patriots dropping of Pittsburgh last weekend in their own back yard, I think we're through seeing them as an underdog anywhere. From injuries to Austin Collie, Joseph Addai, Anthony Gonzalez, the Colts are decimated. Heavy doses of Tom Brady and his cast of players who "weren't good enough," just three weeks ago. Patriots -4

Sunday, 8:20 PM (EST)

New York (Giants) At Philadelphia What's left to say about Michael Vick that hasn't already been said?!? At 30-years old, after missing two seasons of football in 2007 and 2008, an 18-month prison term, he's better! On the heels of a mind numbing game in Washington, he'll get an opportunity to show it off against the Giants on center stage again. With those young receivers in Philly and Mike Vick under center, the Giants better get their track shoes on. Eagles -3

Monday, 8:30 PM (EST)

Denver At San Diego Be careful Josh McDaniels. I'll caution the Broncos head coach on running up the score for one reason: PHILIP RIVERS. The most underrated quarterback in the game, Rivers is getting weapons back this week and has been more than dangerous over the past two weeks. Before you post a near 50-spot on a division rival, make sure you don't have a high powered one the following week. Chargers -9.5

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Get After It!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Quick Hits

After another exciting week of NFL action, several things have stuck out. Between the Cleveland Browns shocking both the Patriots and Saints, the Cowboys miserable start, and several usual suspects coming to play in 2010, there is plenty going on.

Some quick hits . .

It's one thing to act like the favorite, it's another thing to be the favorite - The New England Patriots don't act like the favorite, they are the favorite. [1] They haven't been hit by the injury bug much like Indianapolis has. [2] Neither getting rid of Randy Moss or playing without All-Pro guard Logan Mankins has hurt them. [3] They just don't lose at home. [4] Aside from the Jets & Packers, their remaining games should all be considered wins. Currently at 7-2, the Patriots are really coming to terms with being the NFL's favorite. Their young defense is maturing while Tom Brady and Belichick are getting back to the roots that won them three championships. This past Sunday night in Pittsburgh, the Patriots blew up a defense with 32 points, a defense that hadn't given up more than 21 points in any games prior. Noticed served. The Patriots may have slipped up in Cleveland two weeks ago, but how can anyone not call them the favorite right now.

Here come the Chargers! Bouncing back after a 2-5 start, the Chargers are on the move. In each of their last two games, both wins, Philip Rivers has really put this team on his back. Rivers has thrown for 6 touchdown passes, 600 yards, while completing 44 passes. The 62-point outburst in the last two games have really let you asking where this was earlier this season. Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee are going to return to an offense that has started to already put things together. Divisional games against Denver, Kasnas City, and Oakland in three of the next four games are going to hopefully erase an awful start. I'll leave the Chargers with this, it's going to be hard to say you'd take any quarterback in this league over Philip Rivers, he's a gamer who both wants to win and has the ability to do it.

Respect the Falcons, they've earned it - The 7-2 Falcons put their best foot forward against Baltimore last week. Against a quality defense, Atlanta flexed their muscles tuning up the Raven secondary for 316 yards. Quarterback Matt Ryan is officially over his sophomore slump from a season ago (22 TD's, 14 INT's) and has already thrown 16 TD's through 9 games and only five interceptions. Receiver Roddy White is also in the midst of a breakout season on pace to record almost 1700 yards receiving and catch 13 TD's, both career highs. Their rushing offense is among the top eight in the league while their rushing defense is ranked #7. Taking their show on the road in four of their next five, away from their 5-0 home record, the Falcons have the opportunity to set themselves apart from the rest of the NFC. Now they're earning respect from everyone.

Speaking of the NFC South - Did anybody believe the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be 6-3 heading into week 11? With losses against only Pittsburgh and divisional rivals Atlanta and New Orleans, the Bucs have really impressed. They've got three of the next four games on the road, including in Baltimore. The big test will be their second match up with Atlanta. The division leader coming to their place to play, a win would really cement the Buccaneers season, especially if it put them in place to play for both the division and a wild card playoff birth. With a 31st ranked rush defense, the Bucs are finding ways to puts points on the board and keep themselves in position to win. 2nd Year quarterback Josh Freeman is putting together quite a season. He's completing over 60% of his passes and has thrown over 12 touchdowns, two more than he did all of last season. You've really got to be impressed with this team, a team that won just three games a year ago.


World, Meet Jason Garrett's 1-0 Dallas Cowboys - It's just one game, after five consecutive losses. However, that team who showed up in The Meadowlands on Sunday afternoon, that was something entirely different. The Cowboy running backs moved the ball in the ground game, rushing the ball 27 times for 103 yards. A head coach standing at a podium answering questions, not sitting down looking dejected. Players dressing in full pads on Wednesday & Thursdays, and dressing ready to work on Sunday. I won't overreact . . wait, yes I will. Despite their starting quarterback being laid up, this team is too talented to not answer the bell at some point, you saw that on Sunday. Receiver Dez Bryant torched the Giants, he outplayed their secondary and made their special teams work. Bryant caught three Kitna passes for over 100 yards receiving and returned four kicks for 86 yards. Receiver Roy Williams was blocking down the field for over 50 yards ushering running back Felix Jones into the endzone. Working together, staying away from costly penalties, standing up to the Giants, these Dallas Cowboys were something different. Maybe it is just one game, or maybe Jerry was right about Jason all along.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 10

A rough go of it last week. The Highs; The Giants improved to 6-2 while establishing themselves as the NFC favorites through week 9. With a win against divisional rival Kansas City, the Raiders continue to raise eyebrows sitting at 5-4. The Lows: The Cowboys 45-7 loss in Green Bay resulted in the firing of Wade Phillips. As AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh improved to 6-2, the Bengals have slid to 2-6. With Thursday night football starting this week . . .

These are the Week 10 picks.

Last Week: 3-8-2
On The Season: 65-58-6

THU, NOV 11 8:00 (ET)

Baltimore at Atlanta Atlanta is going to run the ball tonight. With receiver Roddy White being hampered by a knee injury, Matt Ryan and the passing game won't be able to take advantage down the field. The Ravens and Falcons are going to battle it out keeping things close. Ravens +1

SUN, NOV 14 1:00 (ET)

Detroit at Buffalo Back to the well for the Lions quarterback position. Matthew Stafford was injured yet again, making way for backup Shaun Hill to take over the offense once more. No cause for concern though, the Bills look like they're actually trying to ensure that #1 pick. Lions +3

Minnesota at Chicago I like the Vikings in this one for the simple fact that they've somehow been able to stay out of the news this week. The 5-3 Bears aren't as good as their record. Expect for Vikings head coach Brad Childress to give them heavy doses of Adrian Peterson. Vikings -1

NY Jets at Cleveland If your a Jets fan, last week splashed cold water in your face for sure. The Jets overtime win in Detroit bailed them out while the Browns blowout win against New England woke them up. The Jets are going to have to go into Cleveland against a tough Browns team looking to rattle the cage. Could go either way, hence the three-point spread. Browns +3

Carolina at Tampa Bay The Bucs get to go home against a division foe after dropping one in Atlanta. Their division foe, the 1-7 Panthers who are just an off season away from firing head coach Jon Fox. Come on, the Buccaneers have played too well to take a team lightly and get stunned at home. Buccaneers -7

Houston at Jacksonville At 4-4 with the Titans and Colts playing well in front of them, it's time for the Texans to get back on board or risk missing the postseason. With three of their next four on the road, Houston rights themselves this week. Playoff teams should beat the Jaguars. Texans +1.5

Cincinnati at Indianapolis Despite their massive amounts of injuries, the Colts are still in first place and have yet to lose at home. Cincinnati has not been the type of team to rebound and recover after bad starts in recent years. Their rushing game has looked very poor at times this season. Still, I'm not convinced Indy with their injuries can blow teams out. Bengals +7

Tennessee at Miami Is Chad Pennington the answer in Miami? A quarterback who had contemplated retiring in the offseason, now is being elevated to the #1 starter going forward in Miami. Just days after finishing his second 3-interception game of the season, the Dolphins have seen enough from Chad Henne. This should be an interesting game with Randy Moss joining the Titans offense in the same week. No Kenny Britt for the Titans is the biggest factor in this game. Dolphins +2

SUN, NOV 14 4:00 (ET)

Kansas City at Denver The losses have begun to pile high in Denver, no pun intended. With their loss to San Francisco in London, the Broncos slipped to 2-6 on the season. Getting Kansas City looking to keep pace after their lost to Oakland last week isn't the best thing for Denver. Have more respect for Kansas City. Chiefs -1

Dallas at NY Giants Things won't get completely turned around in Dallas this week. The fact of the matter is, Tony Romo is about to get put on the IR and won't be coming back this season. Without a quarterback who can avoid the pass rush, there is no way things will turn around, especially not in New York. If this group of Cowboys has any pride remaining, they'll take offense to getting tagged as 13.5 point dogs against a division rival. Cowboys +13.5

Seattle at Arizona This ought to get the fans excited. I liked Seattle when they were playing at home against Arizona. Now on the road, I like Arizona. For the simple fact that watching this game is about the last thing I want to do on a Sunday afternoon. Arizona -3

St. Louis at San Francisco The Rams are a ream which needs to be respected. At 4-4 and out front in their division, they're going to start separating themselves from the pack. Sam Bradford threw for another two touchdown passes this past weekend and stayed interception free. So long as he keeps his eye on Patrick Willis, the Rams are going to improve to 5-4, something we couldn't have imagined a season ago. Rams +6

SUN, NOV 14 8:00 (ET)

New England at Pittsburgh This will be a big test for both teams. The Patriots are going to attempt to recover after an embarrassing loss in Cleveland and the Steelers are going to have to prove they can win against a team they'll most likely see in the postseason. I like Tom Brady in big games, but for Brady and the Patriots, this is just any other game and it'll be close. Patriots +4.5

MON, NOV 15 8:00 (ET)

Philadelphia at Washington The Skins got by Philadelphia earlier this season, primarily because Mike Vick was on the sidelines with injured ribs. This time, that isn't the case. I'm convinced these two teams are further apart than three points. Eagles -3

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Firing Wade Phillips

It was the inevitable - Jerry Jones' firing of head coach Wade Phillips. In the aftermath of an embarrassing 45-7 loss, in prime time on Sunday night, the Cowboys seventh loss in just nine weeks, it was inevitable.

In what has become the most disappointing season in Cowboys history, the firing of Wade Phillips is a mere afterthought. Phillips' defense had allowed 121 points in the last three games. The Cowboy offense is now being led by 38-year old Jon Kitna. A 1-7 record heading into The Meadowlands, what was left for Jones to do? As Green Bay took a 28-7 lead into halftime on Sunday night it had become painfully apparent, the 2010 Cowboys had given up on both Phillips and the season. In 100 days North Texas will play host to Super Bowl XLV. The Super Bowl many pegged these very same Cowboys to reach, with the dream scenario gone for The Owner, the string could not be played out, and Wade Phillips was fired on Monday afternoon.

Enter Jason Garrett: The 44-year old offensive coordinator turned interim head coach. The man selected by Jerry Jones to precede former head coach Bill Parcells prior to Parcells abrupt retirement following the 2006 season. Jones has retained Garrett each of the last four seasons, to both run his offense while grooming quarterback Tony Romo and play heir to the Cowboys till Phillips' eventual departure. With eight games remaining, Jason Garrett's training wheels are off and his trial starts in the toughest of places in New York.

Moving on. What YOU need to know:

1. The Cowboys weren't going to win a Super Bowl under Wade Phillips. Saints head coach Sean Payton, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, all head coaches who are NOT referred to as "a very nice man," and all coaches wearing Super Bowl rings. I'd like Wade Phillips to run my general store while whittling a bird house out of beechwood, but it when it comes to beating up the Redskins and Eagles week in, week out, he's not your guy.

2. The Dallas offensive line is in need of a serious tune-up. We're not talking a couple of free agent fill-ins, we're talking major overhaul. It doesn't matter how well balanced your offense is, if you can't protect the quarterback and you can't push the defensive line off the ball, neither your passing attack or ground game will produce. Tackle Marc Colombo was dominated by Packers linebacker Clay Matthews on Sunday night, he's 32 and sprinting to the end of his career. If guard Leonard Davis needs to be benched another time to remind him of his responsibilities, it's over. He's a 32-year old overweight, out of shape veteran. That's just two of 'em.

3. If you haven't landed on it yet, you can blame Mike Jenkins for the majority of this secondaries issues. Jenkins was a Pro Bowler a year ago, now he's leading the league in pass interference penalties. If you're really a defensive back from South Florida, it's about time you start living up to it. He's getting abused by quarterbacks who know the referees are staring directly at his hands every time he drops into coverage. When the Cowboys select Patrick Peterson, DB LSU next season, (wishful thinking here) Jenkins will get it. Peterson is a monster in the SEC. He's one of the most feared defensive backs in college football who commands respect and makes quarterbacks be aware of him at all times. If the Dallas Cowboys plan to restock their secondary next season you do it at all costs through Patrick Peterson.

4. Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher?!?! Just because two Super Bowl winning coaches, who more resemble Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells, are off the sidelines but itching to get back, doesn't mean they're Jerry's #1 choices. Not by a long shot. The Cowboy owner wishes for one thing to happen here, Jason Garrett be successful. The ultimate hands on owner wants no part of giving personnel control to Gruden or Cowher, men who not only deserve that control but will demand it. Garrett becoming a winning head coach in Dallas proves one very important thing for Jerry Jones; he's done it his way. Keeping every last bit of control he currently has, ensures this team is his and his only. The successes and the failures, something Jerry has never been afraid to own.

5. Impressed by Dez Bryant? Take that to the bank. The rookie 1st round pick has done nothing shy of impressed everyone who has watched him. As sad as it sounds, he's at times looked like the only player this side of Bradie James and Keith Brooking who cares. The veteran quarterback Jon Kitna seems to started looking for Bryant more and more. Catching 16 balls in the last two games combined, Bryant has found the endzone 4 times in the last four. Returning kicks or making catches, Dez Bryant is fighting his way to respect in this league, if you like it or not!

So we're turning the page on this half-a-season in Cowboyland. The firing of Wade Phillips is done, it's not looming any longer. Tony Romo is going to miss the remainder of the season. I've ripped off the band-aid as fast as possible.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Ducks, Tigers, Horned Frogs, Oh My!

This is the most exciting time of the college football season. You have programs clamoring for wins to make them bowl eligible. You have others looking to play spoilers to possible National Title contenders. Heisman candidates making their final cases. Time to get after it!

The State Of The BCS

#1 Oregon Ducks Oregon continued to flex their muscles this weekend. The top ranked Ducks improved to 9-0 through the Washington Huskies. Another 500+ total yard output, another 50-point game, what's left to say about Oregon's offense?!? They're flat out dominating. More so, I watched Stanford play Arizona this weekend. The Cardinal won 42-17, completely blowing out Arizona. That's the team that is going to knock off Oregon?!? With remaining games against Cal, Arizona, and in-state rival Oregon State, the reality of Oregon competing for a National Championship is becoming much more likely.

#2 Auburn Tigers As rumours of Cam Newton's NCAA investigation swirled throughout Auburn last weekend, the Tigers put them in the rear view and smashed Chattanooga by 38-points. Exactly what this team needed in a distraction filled week. The same weekend which Auburn went to 10-0, SEC rival Alabama fell to 7-2 in Baton Rouge. Now Auburn's path to the SEC Championship Game gets slightly more simple: Beat Georgia, and you're in. Even with a loss against Alabama in the final week, as long as Auburn beats Georgia, they're going to the SEC Championship. Why is this important when it comes to the National Championship discussion? Because even going 2-1 between Georgia, Alabama, and the SEC Title game, could put Auburn in Glendale despite undefeated TCU & Boise State.

#3 Texas Christian Horned Frogs What more can TCU do? At 10-0, coming off a 47-7 stomping of previously undefeated Utah, in their building, they're still #3. A conviction on the Mountain West Conference if I've ever seen one. Know this, Gary Patterson is a tremendous coach and the Horned Frogs 10-0 record is evidence of that, however that no longer matters. The polls are saying one thing week in and week out, it's not only who you beat, it's who the teams you've beaten have played. Auburn wraps up with Georgia and Alabama. Oregon wraps up with Cal, Arizona, and Oregon State. TCU, San Diego State and 1-8 New Mexico. Andy Dalton has had a tremendous season quarterbacking the Horned Frogs, but there is still a possibility that Dalton and the Horned Frogs might just get leap frogged by a 1-loss Auburn program if that were the case.

#4 Boise State Broncos It's getting awfully chilly in Boise. The Broncos are going to be left out in the cold unless football Armageddon takes place. A 1-loss Auburn team, with their SEC strength of schedule, will take what they'd hoped would be their spot in the National Title game. While the Auburn Tigers have yet to lose, they can still lose once and play spoiler to Boise. Furthermore, the previously discussed Horned Frogs, are getting the nod before eyes even turn to Boise. TCU's victory in week 10 against a previously undefeated, now 14th ranked Utah team, is the kicker. Both Boise and TCU have victories over Oregon State, and Virgina Tech's loss to James Madison is still looming large on Boise. Bottom line is, the Broncos are effectively being boxed out. Yes, I'd still take them on a neutral field against any team in the country, but my vote doesn't count.

#5 Louisiana State Tigers World, meet your 1-loss darling. The Mad Hatter (LSU coach Les Miles) came out and said it best, "We have to get through our schedule, but I know this, we play everybody." After delivering a standing eight count to Nick Saban and Alabama's shot at defending their National Title, Les Miles said what everyone was thinking; If you're going to claim TCU and Boise State deserve a shot at the National Championship, but a 1-loss LSU team with victories over Alabama, at Florida, vs. West Virginia, vs. North Carolina, and possibly at Arkansas isn't getting a shot, you better think twice. Can you blame him? A 7-point loss at Auburn two weeks ago could cost LSU a chance at the SEC Championship, and they're O.K. with that. The problem remains, the SEC programs are not going to be O.K. with a 1-loss SEC program being left at home while watching the Mountain West or Western Athletic Conference regular season champion play for the National Title, not by a long shot.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pick 'Em: Week 9

Last Week: 10-3 (Season High)
On The Season: 62-50-4

1:00 PM Games

Tampa Bay At Atlanta If you want to discuss surprises this season, you better include the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At 5-2, the Buccaneers have the opportunity to take over fist place with a win in Atlanta. Quarterback Josh Freeman has completed 20 or more passes in four of his last five games. Heading into this week, against a depleted Atlanta secondary, expect good things. As for Atlanta, if the Falcons want to handle their business, they better run the ball early and often against Tampa's 30th ranked defense against the run. Buccaneers +9.5

Chicago At Buffalo The Bills are going to win this game outright. Yes, a winless Buffalo team, playing in Toronto, Canada is going to get their first victory. Even Vegas is willing to give the Bills only 3 points in this one. For two straight weeks, in Baltimore and Kansas City, the Bills lost overtime games to better opponents. The Bears?!? They're a mess. They've lost three of their last four after opening up 3-0. Both Seattle and Washington gave them fits in their own building in recent weeks. Bills +3

New England At Cleveland Yes, I think New England is in the proverbial driver's seat. Happy?!? They only play Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and the Jets remaining, other than that, who's beating 'em? They've got rid of Randy Moss, and it didn't hurt 'em. The offense seems to be progressing and their defense is learning on the fly. Seriously though, who's beating them?!?! Patriots -4

New York (Jets) At Detroit This is going to be a tough one for Mark Sanchez. After playing near flawlessly for the first five weeks, Sanchez has had a rough go of it. Over the last two games Sanchez has thrown four interceptions, and over the last three his passer rating has slipped from 101.9 to 54.3, not exactly the super sophomore start he'd jumped out to. Against Detroit, a team with 8 interceptions and 23 sacks, today won't be an easy Sunday for Sanchez and the Jets. Lions +5

New Orleans At Carolina The Saints have yet to string together back-to-back wins since the first two weeks of the season. So after their 20-10 victory over Pittsburgh last week, what do you expect them to do this Sunday? Without the injured Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush, the defending champions have been very limited on offense. The Saints ground game is averaging just under 85 yards per game and has only produced two touchdowns through eight games. Panthers +6.5

Miami At Baltimore As far as the Dolphins go, I'm not out on 'em yet. After getting beat up by division rivals New York and New England, the Dolphins have rebounded with wins against Green Bay and Cincinnati and a 1-point loss to Pittsburgh. 4-0 On the road, traveling to Baltimore, can the Dolphins keep this up? The Ravens allowed almost four-hundred yards passing to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills last week. You'd be kicking yourself if Miami did cover and you went the opposite way because you were still considering the Ravens a Super Bowl favorite. Dolphins +5.5

San Diego At Houston The Texans have given up 30+ in each of their last three games. Injuries to Demeco Ryans and a beat up Mario Williams has clearly had an impact on the 4-3 Texans. Despite how badly San Diego has played this year, they can still score, see where I'm going with this? Everyone does, possibly the reason Houston is getting points at home. Texans +3

Arizona At Minnesota The Vikings have become an every day episode of As The World Turns. From Brett Favre and all that comes with him, to the departure of Randy Moss, to the rumours that head coach Brad Childress was going to be fired, and then yesterdays rumours of in-fighting between Childress and receiver Percy Harvin. Is there any surprise that this team is 2-5? They'll get a win against a weak Arizona team, but they've still got more problems than we have enough time for. Vikings -7.5

4:00 PM Games

New York (Giants) At Seattle The Giants have been looking as good as any in the NFC. Their defense is getting after the quarterback, they're sitting at 5-2 in the driver's seat of the NFC East, the offense is putting points on the board, doesn't get much better. The Giants are knocking out quarterbacks every week and getting back to the defense that was taking over games three years ago. Seattle is just in their way, especially after a bye week. Giants -7

Indianapolis At Philadelphia I like the Eagles in this game, Michael Vick is starting. I don't think all these injuries to Peyton's receivers are going to come to a head just yet, but soon. Their dicing up of Houston is more on the Texans than a tip of the cap to Peyton & Co. The Eagles are 11-0 under Andy Reid after a bye week, he prepares. Philadelphia is still laying in the weeds in the NFC and with Vick back, he's going to look to beat Indy on his own. No way the Colts win this game on a short week with Philly having two weeks to prepare. Eagles -3

Kansas City At Oakland I'm on the bandwagon with Oakland. They don't do it conventionally, they run the heck out of the ball, and they're fast. If they beat up Kansas City this week, they could be looking at a path toward the postseason. Did anyone have Oakland and Kansas City as the two teams who've amassed the most rushing yards till this point? Because they are. More than one site have this as a straight up pick 'em. But I'll take the Raiders -3

Sunday Night

Dallas At Green Bay I don't need to tell you how poor the Cowboys have played this season, you get it. With Romo laid up, it did get worse last week against Jacksonville. The real problem is the big play, which Dallas has let up countless times this season. The secondary has played so bad that quarterbacks are taking three seconds to get rid of the ball to wide open receivers, making it impossible for Dallas' big hitters on their defensive line to get to the quarterback. Cowboys +7 (I'm loyal to a fault)

Monday Night

Pittsburgh At Cincinnati Losers of four straight get Pittsburgh on Monday night followed by Indianapolis next week, ouch. Running back Cedric Benson has scored just two touchdowns for the Bengals and their defense is giving up 120 yards per game on the ground. Troy Polamalu is going to be able to drop back in coverage with a defense that allows just 60 yards on the ground per game, stabilizing a Bengals pass offense that has been good. It'll be a close one on Monday night, five points might just be too many. Bengals +5

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

You Missed It

You missed Tim Lincecum going 8 innings and throwing 10 strikeouts in a World Series clinching game. You missed 14-year veteran journeyman Edgar Renteria driving in 3 runs in that same clincher, earning him World Series MVP. You missed centerfielder Cody Ross slamming 5-postseason homeruns, including two against Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the game that sent San Francisco to The Classic. Giants unsung starter Matt Cain going 7 innings in his LCS start allowing no runs and just two hits, then following up that performance with a World Series start in which he went 7.2, giving up no runs and just four hits. You missed closer Brian Wilson striking out 16 over 11.2 postseason innings while posting saves in the clinching games in the DS, LCS, and World Series. Finally, you missed the 2010 World Series Champion win every series on the road, in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and ending it in Arlington.

Yes, while you were too busy for a non-Yankee, Phillie, Red Sox, or Cardinals World Series, the now reigning champion Giants put on a performance for the postseason books.

Winning 7 of their final 10 games, the Giants were able to hold off San Diego and pull down the National League West. Behind starter Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants September playoff push became a reality. Sanchez took the mound six times down the stretch, and the Giants were 5-1 over those games. With a 1.17 ERA, Sanchez allowed just four runs over six starts. Even more important to the Giants playoff road, Sanchez won two games against division rival San Diego. His most impressive start came at the expense of the Dodgers. Sanchez struck out 12 over seven innings, allowing just one run. His September performance took the Giants into the postseason, while pulling together a rotation set to take on the National League best.

Then came Cody Ross, the Giants standout center fielder acquired mid-season. Ross drove in the only and winning run in the Giants postseason opener against Atlanta. With Tim Lincecum going nine innings and shutting down Atlanta hitting, someone was going to have to step up and give the Giants the win, that was Cody Ross. Then in the NLDS clinching win in Atlanta, Ross followed up his game 1 RBI with a homer and a game-winning RBI single. Ball game. Cody Ross would smash two homeruns in the NLCS and another in the Classic, carrying a Giant offense that wasn't used to putting big runs on the board, players like Cody Ross put enough on the board in order to turn it over to the Giant staff.

Every season there's one closer who turns the postseason into turn the lights out, game over! Foulke, Jenks, Wainwright, Papelbon, Lidge, Rivera, and welcome to the club, Brian Wilson. Fear the beard! The Giants peculiar closer, Brian Wilson had a postseason for the books. He struck out 16 batters in just 11 innings. He had two saves against Atlanta, he had three saves against Philadelphia, and it was only fitting Brian Wilson was on the mound as the Giants clinched the World Series, striking out his final batter. He walked only four batters, allowed just 1 earned run on five hits. Brian Wilson transformed the Giants into a bunch of starters who can take you deep into games, into a staff that showcases THE turn down the lights closer! Get after Brian Wilson, because he's the toughest pitcher to take the mound this side of Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn!

Raise your hand Tim Lincecum. Of all the postseason stars from Roy Halladay to Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum defeated each one of them. The Giants 26-year old 2x Cy Young award winning righty took to the big stage with ease. Lincecum opened the postseason with a 9-inning, 14 k's, two-hit gem. He baffled the Braves lineup, yet was still overshadowed by the no-no from Halladay in Philadelphia. Yet by the time all was said and done, it was Lincecum standing tall. Closing the postseason on an 8-inning, one run, 10-strikeout performance against the American League champion Rangers. Lincecum looking to grab his third straight Cy Young has answered all questions, there isn't a pitcher better.

What you missed was one of the greatest postseason performances we've seen from a collective team. The Giants were a team of pieced together players from Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria to rookie Buster Posey and other home grown talent like Lincecum and Cain. Keep talking about writing a baseball death sentence with the Rangers and Giants being in The Classic, and I'll keep watching fascinating baseball.

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