The Weekender (Oct. 13-15)

 

The weekend that was definitely had no shortage of intrigue. We received some clarity in college football and an abundance of a lack of clarity in the NFL. We had drama in Major League Baseball and we had rain all over the Midwest. What else did we have? Well I’m glad you asked… in case you were asleep all weekend here is all you need to know about the good and the bad of this past weekend and what you have to look forward to this coming one.

The Rising

Felix Baumgartner – At some point don’t you just get to be “The Man” for the rest of your life? Wouldn’t jumping 128,000 feet and breaking the sound barrier while not passing out qualify you for that? I passed out watching the video of him stepping off the platform to take the dive. He could ride around on a pink pony for the rest of his life singing Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I feel like a woman’ and still not have anyone come close to revoking his Man Card. Felix… I tip my hat to you sir.

Russell Wilson – The lowest pick of the 5 rookie starting quarterbacks, Wilson had started to hear rumblings of some folks questioning if he should be the starter in Seattle. So what did he do? He stared down a 13 point deficit against Tom Brady and the Patriots and led two 4th quarter touchdown scoring drives to lead the Seahawks to victory and a 4-2 start. I really think that he’s answered everything he needs to. Oh, and the “He’s too small to play QB in the NFL” comments should also cease. He’s a gamer that was born to play the position.

Aaron Rodgers – So the Packers have scuffled out of the gate and they were going on the road to face the most dominant team in the NFL through 5 weeks. All Aaron Rodgers did was throw 6 touchdowns and lead the Pack to a beat-down of the Texans. The best moment was when he was asked after the game what his performance said to the critics that were asking what was wrong with him… his response was simply, “Shhhhhhhhhhh”. I’m willing to bet two Discount Double-Checks that Green Bay is going to be just fine.

Robert Griffin III – Uh… Wow. I think his head is ok. He led the Redskins back from 9 points down early and then when the Vikings tried to get back into it he turned a scramble for a first down into a 76 yard touchdown run that iced the game. He wasn’t perfect, but he was efficient in the passing game and nothing if not spectacular with his legs. I’ll go ahead and say it… Dan Snyder did NOT overpay to trade up for RGIII.

North Carolina – UNC hasn’t flirted with a division title since the ACC went to 12 teams, but that seems poised to change this season. Currently there are 4 teams in the division all with one loss and the only game that really looks like it could be a battle is their annual matchup with NC State in two weeks. So following a rare combination of victories over both Virginia Tech and Miami, the Tar Heels could have a conference title birth on the docket, and even more surprising, could be relevant even after the basketball season tips off!

Oklahoma – OU fell off quite a few people’s radar after they lost to a very good Kansas State team. They did everything possible to put themselves right back on the radar with a near-flawless first half and an all-around evisceration of Texas on Saturday. Any time you beat a team bad enough to make the media begin talking retirement for the other coach, it was quite a victory. The matchup in two weeks against Notre Dame will be the key to moving OU to the top of the 1-loss heap and getting all the way back in the national discussion.

Raul Ibanez – It’s kind of amazing when you can re-write everyone’s opinion of you as a player after you turn 40 years old. Raul Ibañez is the definition of a journeyman player. He had never been able to get on the field for even 100 games during his first 5 years in the league and then Seattle let him go and he was searching for an opportunity. Kansas City gave him that opportunity and really allowed him to kick-start his career in his 30’s. Since then, he went back to Seattle and then has had stints in Philadelphia and New York and has actually been a postseason staple since 2009. So what will everyone remember about him? The 2012 playoffs, which are taking place after his 40th birthday. To come off the bench and pinch hit for the most highly paid player in baseball and hit a game tying home run is straight out of a storybook. To follow that up with a walk-off home run that same game? Spectacular. To then hit another game tying home run in game 1 of the next series? Mind-blowing. Let’s just say that right now, it’s a good time to be Raul.

Georgia Tech – THEY DIDN’T LOSE!!! (Yes, I know they didn’t play… )

Peyton Manning – It almost had a schoolyard feel to it. I picture a conversation between Manning and Rivers as going something like this:

  • Manning: Hey Phil. Listen, I know this has been your division for years, so I’m going to spot you a few touchdowns as a show of goodwill.
  • Rivers: Huh? Ok. Well that’s very kind of you. But if you do, I’ll destroy you  and jump around like I’m the greatest thing ever!
  • Manning: That’s fine… I’m not too worried.
  • Rivers: Ha ha!! 24-0! You stink Manning!
  • Manning: Ok, time to start trying…

(Mushroom cloud appears in San Diego)

  • Rivers: What happened?!
  • Manning: Sorry Phil… this division belongs to ME now. But I’ll give you style points for your tantrum. Way more graceful than when Cutler does it. Oh, by the way, didn’t you get traded for my little brother before?
  • Rivers: *sobbing uncontrollably*

Ok, not really, but it was an amazing performance in the second half last night and it was a clear message that Manning is definitively back.

Tweet of the Week (after catching a wide open deep pass that should have gone for a TD but inexplicably ended when he was tripped up by a blade of grass): @EricDecker87 – If yall didn’t see, they had trip wire out there tonight. I reported it to the NFL so an investigation is pending. #humblingmoment

We Are The Fallen

Derek Jeter & Alex Rodriguez – When you are an aging star there are two things you are always trying to avoid: 1) Injury and 2) Declining skills. Apparently the left side of the Yankees infield avoided those things this postseason as well as Phillip Rivers and Michael Vick avoided turnovers this weekend. Jeter was one of the only Yankees actually hitting the ball when he succumbed to a broken ankle, while A-Rod has been struggling and has been made the scapegoat for all things wrong with the Yankee offense. It makes it worse for him that the clutch hits the other night were from Ichiro and Ibañez who are both older than him. At least the Yankees only have 5 years and $114 million left to pay on his contract while he continues to get pinch-hit for and benched in critical moments.

The AFC – I can’t imagine there were a whole lot of people that predicted that only TWO teams in the entire AFC would have winning records after 6 weeks. In fact, there were probably more people that would have predicted 2 undefeated teams in the AFC than would have predicted 2 winning teams. It is pretty staggering. I’m not sure if it screams parity or mediocrity. (For comparison, the NFC has 7 out of 16 teams that have winning records)

Brady Quinn – The best job on earth is the backup QB behind a struggling starter. Everyone assumes you are a good option. The bad part is when you are thrust into duty and you prove why you are the backup and not the starter! Everyone clamors for Brady Quinn and then they remember that HE IS BRADY QUINN!  Oh, well. At least he had 1 week where his team thought very highly of him. I think I’ll repurpose the old Proverb “Even a fool is thought wise when he is quiet”  to be “Even a terrible QB is thought gifted when he isn’t throwing passes”. Or something like that…

The Dallas Cowboys – The Cowboys were already struggling, but Sunday they were in a position to turn the season around and claw back into things. A late touchdown brought them within one score. An improbable onside kick recovery got them the ball back with enough time to pick up some ground and kick the game winning field goal. And then they decided to manage the clock about as well as a K-1st Grade flag football team. Jason Garrett failed to be prepared for more than one play. Tony Romo failed to inspire any urgency or show any assertiveness to adjust on the fly. Dez Bryant failed to realize that winning is important and he should try helping his team out. It is one failure after another for the team that is currently losing its grasp on being America’s Team. (Though in fairness you could make some comparisons to the way the Cowboys are managed and aspects of how America is managed, but I won’t go there)

The NFL’s Top Defenses – Let’s think through the defenses that have been the best in the league this season or are usually at the top of the heap every season and take a look at how they did this weekend:

  • Steelers – Lost to the woeful Tennessee Titans 26-23
  • Ravens – Gave up 29 points and were a 51 yard field goal away from losing to the Cowboys
  • Cardinals – Lost at home… to the BILLS
  • 49ers – Gave up 26 points in a blowout loss to the Giants
  • Vikings – Gave up 38 points to RGIII (almost by himself)
  • Texans – Allowed Aaron Rodgers to throw 6 TD’s in a 42-24 loss

It’s pretty safe to say that it wasn’t a banner weekend for defenses.

Dennis Pitta – I have given Pitta loads of love and 4 straight weeks he has mocked me… I’m done. (at least until sometime in the next couple of weeks when he proves me right…)

West Virginia – Uhhhhhhhhhhhh………Apparently I can jinx more than just Big X+II teams now?! How did they let Texas Tech get up 35-7?!?! The Mountaineer defense is beginning to approach historic levels of ineptitude and there are still some good offenses left on their schedule.

Texas – Apparently just having highly touted recruiting classes doesn’t guarantee victories in college football! Who knew?!  I’m pretty sure Oklahoma scored 4 more TD’s since I started typing this column. Just sayin’.

The Ravens Defense – When the line at the MRI is longer than the line at the DMV it is not a good sign. When the MRI’s on one lineman, one linebacker, and one cornerback all come back with the first word being “Torn” it’s a bad day at the office. The Ravens are still a threat to come out of the AFC (after all they are one of the two teams with a winning record) but it’s going to have to be even more of a team effort than ever. As Torrey Smith tweeted, “Next Man Up” is definitely the motto in Baltimore. (By the way… it’s also the title of a very good book about the 2004 Ravens season)

The Skillet

  • The MLB Playoffs – Can the Yankees dig out of a hole? Will the Giants and Cards go the distance?
  • LSU @ Texas A&M – Was LSU’s victory last week a sign of righting the ship or a product of being at home?
  • South Carolina @ Florida – Will Florida separate from the pack or will the SEC East powers pick each other off and eliminate the division winner from the National Title hunt?
  • Kansas State @ West Virginia – Pretty sure we’ll learn whether Offense or Defense wins games.
  • Florida State @ Miami – It shouldn’t be close, but if it were to come down to a field goal will Wide Left or Wide Right ring out from Tallahassee once again?!
  • Ravens @ Texans – Can the patchwork defense hold up for the Ravens? Oh, and I guarantee there will only be one 1-loss team left in the AFC next week! I dare anyone to argue with me on that!!
  • NASCAR @ Kansas  – Will the 3 man race continue at the newly reconfigured track, or will Jimmie, Denny, or Brad separate themselves?
  • NHL Action – *Crickets Chirping*
  • Apple – The invitation is out for the iPad Mini (likely) announcement. Will that announcement completely deflate Microsoft’s balloon surrounding the launch of the Surface? Will the Kindle Fire take a huge hit?
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Categories: Sports General

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