The New Jersey coastline has been ravaged (New York City was hit hard too. Flooding in the subways. 100 homes in Queens destroyed in a massive fire. Hospitals shut down.) Part of the boardwalk has been destroyed in Atlantic City; the beach in Point Pleasant resides in the street; it's amazing South Jersey towns, like Wildwood and Cape May were lucky and remained in tact. The Jersey Shore is personally attached to me, like many people I know, and many people I don't know. Summer hits, get in the car, head east to the Jersey Shore and then take a ferry over to Southern Delaware. Wonderful towns populate the coast, from LBI to Cape May. It is sad to see and hear about the damage done to those wonderful seaside towns. Two months ago I stood on the Point Pleasant beach which now is in the streets of the great city; I saw on TV a boardwalk shop blown open, with splintered wood surrounding the property. A gorgeous sunrise could be seen behind the NBC reporter, bringing to mind the cliché 'it's always darkest before the dawn.' Powers coming back on slowly to homes in the state, and the sky hadn't been so pretty in days. There are ways to donate to help relief efforts, so do Google that.
Onto the nonsense:
San Diego over Kansas City
-The Chargers couldn't score a touchdown in Cleveland and fans don't want to pay to watch the team in Qualcomm. Corporate Sponsors are putting up the cash so the city avoids the ignominy of a local Thursday Night Football blackout. I dropped Phillip Rivers for Brendan Myers of the Oakland Raiders. If Rivers is reading this, I'm sure he spit out his made-with-sugar Pepsi on his expensive macbook. I thought hard about the decision. Should I drop Rivers? Will a team in my league swoop him up? The Cleveland game killed his stock. No one will touch him, especially not with Tony Romo available. He may throw 4 INTs a game, but he'll throw for nearly 500 yards doing so. Rivers will throw for 2 TDs and 130 yards. The Chargers are falling back into their old identity; you know, the years when the nation thought Drew Brees sucked while leading San Diego to 4 wins, but he had one great season with them, spurring minor conflict about which QB
to go with.
Denver over Cincinnati
-Michael Silver's Monday column focused on Peyton Manning's MVP chances. Manning sheepishly swatted away any talk of being MVP. Silver insisted. Manning's gotten better each game. The Super Bowl speculation might be starting for the Denver Broncos. It's not like a great defense is needed to win championships anymore. Peyton's only ring was won with a pitiful defense that played well during the playoffs. Cincy's now a "silver platter" team. Manning, Silver guessed, looks on the Bengals as an easy and pleasurable meal. Doesn't it seem inevitable for these lovestruck reporters to witness a bad loss for Peyton in which they're forced to reevaluate everything previous because their profession stresses immediate reaction to everything? The Bengals were off Week 8. The Daily News ran a story about their long-snapper who drove 12 hours to Cincy during Sandy, from the Jersey Shore. I hope his house made it through okay.
Baltimore over Cleveland
-Baltimore had 2 weeks to prepare for Cleveland. The defense is still a hot-topic. They're 28th in the league. Harbaugh's only plan, according to Yahoo! Sports, is to insert younger defensive linemen into the game. They should beat Cleveland by two touchdowns and limit Cleveland's offense, killing the sports world's focus on their defense. Cleveland's scrappy, though. They don't lose easily.
Green Bay over Arizona
-The 49ers weren't the ideal opponents to end a slump against. Green Bay's not ideal either. Arizona's essentially screwed. They've lost four in a row. The offensive line is atrocious. The defense can't stop every team from driving down the field and scoring more points than their offense. Last month I was all-in on AZ and insulting folk who weren't eager to agree. I look a fool at November's beginning. Skelton turned into a pumpkin during Kolb's starts. Kolb will start when he's healthy, right? Maybe Green Bay winning isn't a foregone conclusion. Green Bay had fits against Jacksonville.
Chicago over Tennessee
-What's interesting about this game? Yeah, the Bears are 6-1, and Tennessee's not a horrible team anymore. Hasselbeck's been good filling in for Locker. Chris Johnson doesn't rush for 7 yards on 24 carries anymore. Kenny Britt isn't hurt yet. The Bears defense rocks again. I will not remember this game a month from now.
Miami over Indianapolis
-The Carling Cup games were wild this week. Arsenal overcame a 4-0 deficit to win 7-5 in extra time. Norwich City scored twice in six minutes to eliminate Tottenham Hotspurs. Chelsea overcame deficits thrice to eliminate Manchester United. The Carling Cup seems like the least liked Cup in England. Some managers opt to play the reserves in the games; others opt to mix regulars with reserves. Usually lower-level teams care more about winning the Carling Cup because of a spot in Europa. The top-tier teams are focused on Champions League and won't burn their best guys out in the Carling Cup. Crazy shit happens in League Cup play, too, like Bradford advancing over poor Southampton (also: oops...it's the Capital One Cup). It's been enjoyable to follow. Miami vs. Indianapolis should be entertaining in its own right. Matt Moore's BACK as long as Tannehill's hurt. Their defense was spectacular against the Jets. They deserve a steak dinner. These are two up-and-coming AFC teams playing some football.
Carolina over Washington
-Robert Griffin III won't be as unpopular as Cam Newton is next season. Newton's fall from grace has been confounding to follow. Maybe sports writers saved their pent-up self-righteousness after the Cam's Dad stories from college since Cam's Auburn team won the National Championship, and Cam rocked the league last season. Now, he's questioned for throwing a pass out of bounds because of the thought he'd rather lose a game than hurt his stats. Carolina's loss to Chicago was bad. I thought they had the W until Robbie Gould nailed his kick through the uprights. Newton face expressed what I think a pro athlete feels when he knows a gathering of miserable sports writers await him after his shower.
Jacksonville over Detroit
-Detroit acquired Mike Thomas in a trade to replace Nate Burleson. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson's been referred to as a ghost since Sunday. I looked to see if the Lions inactivated him because his stats were absent from the ticker. Rashean Mathis will be matched up with Calvin all day. Mathis is still one of the better corners in the league (Mathis' dreads are still great). Jacksonville played Green Bay tough last week, earning a weird sort compliment from a Packer about the Jaguars being a NFL team. The Jaguars are playing well in losing efforts. A win's going to break their way. Detroit is the team to give them the break, probably because of 21 penalties taken.
Houston over Buffalo
-This could get ugly. Buffalo can't stop any offenses. Houston scored at will on the slightly less bad Baltimore Ravens defense. Fitzpatrick might throw four INTs. He checks down a lot. JJ Watt's going to be anywhere Fitzpatrick is. Joseph's going to jump a route and take one back for a TD. Buffalo usually scores points in blowouts, but not so sure it'll happen against Houston's defense. This will be a game where Buffalo's just beaten.
Oakland over Tampa Bay
-Anytime a color commentator beams about a new head coach during the last minutes of a win, it means something. I don't know exactly what it means. Dennis Allen is a coach's son. Any color commentator might beam about a coach's son even if he was leading a 0-7 team. Oakland's a game behind Denver in the AFC West (is that right?). I think I heard "The Raiders believe in what Allen's preaching and it's showing." The Raiders beat a miserable Chiefs team that had just scored its first points in 30 possessions. Oakland v. Tampa Bay is about two mediocre-to-below-average teams fighting to earn the 'gritty' title. I guarantee, if Tampa's winning, one of the broadcasters says, "Greg Schiano's got his team playing his brand of football now and WATCH OUT."
Seattle over Minnesota
-Both of these teams lost last week; it sort of took the wind out of their respective hype. For whatever reason, I think Russell Wilson vs. Joe Webb would be hilarious to advertise. Seattle's the home team. Minnesota had more rest.
Pittsburgh over New York Giants
-New York's going to lose sometime. The yearly slump is nigh. New York will play with more emotion, or be portrayed as such, because of the devastation in NY & NJ. New York might be referred to as a Jersey team for one weekend only, given they play in the state; or the old NY/NJ tag of the extinct XFL will be attached to NYG football. Pittsburgh won, setting up their inevitable winning streak and my own head-scratching in Week 15 about how they're on the verge of a first round bye and division title.
Atlanta over Dallas
-Dallas ran three plays in 9 seconds whereas the Eagles would run half a play in 9 seconds and turn it over in the process. Shawn Ryan, creator of ABC'S Last Resort, opined that Dez Bryant would've scored if he didn't cushion his fall. Yes, he would have. Bryant's cushion was more instinct than choice. Anyone falling down extends their arms, right? Atlanta was well-coached last week, and looked every inch an undefeated town. Dallas is embarrassing in long stretches of the game. Romo's throwing interceptions four times a game. The game will be fun to watch.
Philadelphia over New Orleans
-Philadelphia can't beat the Saints. Well, they couldn't beat Sean Payton's Saints. The Saints aren't the team they were when coached by Payton. Philly is basically weak in all three phases. The offense is bad; the defense is mediocre; the special teams are horrible. There's only consistency of the team in games is their terrible play. The offense drives end in three and outs. The line can't block. Receivers aren't open. The defense can't pressure the QB. Thankfully the max-protection nonsense excuse is gone since the Birds failed to pressure Ryan without max-protection. New Orleans defense is ranked 32nd in the league. Might the offense come alive for once? Vick may be playing for his job, and Andy Reid's definitely coaching for his job. The guy in the booth Monday Night might be the Eagles coach next season. Gruden will probably compliment the hell out of the Eagles, even if Dallas Reynolds decides to snap the ball to himself and play QB.
Last Week: 9-5
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK