Thanx To The Jets…

The NY Jets did sports fans a service yesterday. You could tell that the talking heads were revving the engines to hype the upcoming Pats/Steelers game as the “next” game-of-the-year. It will still be one of the best games of that weekend because both are teams that threaten to go deep into the playoffs and there will be more than sufficient hype for the game, but with the Jets win yesterday, we can keep the hype level under marginal control.

Because of the intense focus on the Patriots and their season of excellence, some folks are already peeking all the way ahead to December 29 when the Pats and Giants close out the regular season. It is inconceivable to me how the Pats will not have wrapped up the AFC East title by then; they may already have home field advantage throughout the playoffs secured; the Giants may need a win to make the playoffs because it sure doesn’t look as if they can catch the Cowboys in the NFC East. Will the Pats rest their starters? Count on this; you will hear speculation about this for the next month or so.

However, here in Curmudgeon Central, I like to look at the world through the other end of the telescope. Instead of focusing on what may or may not be an important game at the end of the season, I scour the schedules looking for dogs. And you need look not much further than December 2 when the NY Jets fly south to play the Miami Dolphins in a game that has all the gravitas of a hangnail. No, I do not see yesterday’s Jets victory as a signal of a resurgent team ready to assert itself, make a run, save its season or anything like that. That game in Miami could wind with a final score of 6-3.

The Dolphins epic journey to “stinkdom” continues. No team has ever gone 0-16 in the NFL. The Cowboys were 0-11-1 in their expansion year (1960); the Colts – then in Baltimore – were winless in the strike year of 1982; the Bucs went 0-14 in their expansion year (1976) and the Carolina Panthers once lost 15 games in a row after winning their opening day game. So the Dolphins have milestones to pass on their way down to the Tenth Ring of Stinkitude…

In the Lions’ loss to the Giants yesterday, they ran the ball 11 times for 25 yards. That’s pathetic all by itself. However when combined with the egg they laid the week before, the Lions now have a net of +7 yards rushing in the last two games. That goes well beyond pathetic…

If you would like to understand just why the Niners are stinking out the joint on a weekly basis, consider that they are last in the NFL in points per game (11.3) and last in the NFL in yards per game and last in the NFL in first downs. Yesterday, the Niners ran the ball 16 times for 32 yards. I hope you don’t need a calculator to tell you that’s just miserable or that the Niners gained fewer yards per rush yesterday than even the Lions did. Yes, I know that defense wins championships; but you have to move the ball and score just a little bit…

With two minutes to go in the first half yesterday, the Browns led the Ravens 10-7; at that juncture, the Ravens had zero first downs and a net of minus11 yards passing. The game went into OT with a final score of 33-30; the Ravens ran up 240 yards passing for the game and a total offense of 368 yards. So, where was the Ravens’ offense in the first half?

The Bengals outgained the Cardinals by 149 yards yesterday. Normally, that results in a comfortable win for a team; the Bengals lost by 8. How did that happen? They threw four INTs and lost a fumble and were penalized 11 times; that’s how.

I think I’ve seen this movie before. The Eagles struggle through the first eight or nine weeks of the season; and then, Donovan McNabb gets hurt; and the back-up QB comes in to play heroically; and … The Eagles won yesterday to bring their record up to 5-5 and McNabb hurt his ankle in the second quarter …

Who woke up the Vikings’ offensive line? Even with wunderkind Adrian Peterson on the sidelines in street clothes, they produced 3 rushing TDs and 278 yards rushing offense on 32 carries. Where was this kind of offensive output a month ago?

Even though the Chargers are atop the AFC West, will someone demand an explanation from the ownership level out there about why it was so important to fire Marty Schottenheimer 10 months ago? They aren’t running the ball all that well even with LaDanian Tomlinson back there; Phillip Rivers throws as many INTs as he does TDs now; the fearsome defense isn’t all that fearsome any more. The players are basically the same. So, somebody needs to channel Ricky Ricardo and tell the braintrust in San Diego that they got some splainin’ to do…

And if anyone tries to justify the Chargers’ loss to Jax yesterday on the basis that the game started at what was 10 AM San Diego time, please refer that person to one of the political campaigns for the Presidential nominations ongoing at this time. That’s the only place where that kind of stretch to find an excuse for incompetence is even marginally acceptable.

Enough about the NFL for the moment, MLS played its championship game at RFK Stadium in Washington DC on Sunday between New England and Houston. It drew a crowd reported at 39,859; I watched the first half of that game; judging from the crowd shots, I estimated the attendance at 35K so I don’t think MLS padded the number here. That’s a really nice figure for a game in which the DC team was not involved; there were lots of people in the colors of the Houston and New England teams and there was a large contingent of DC United fans there in that team’s colors.

Importantly, these folks went to RFK Stadium despite the fact that the Redskins were playing the Cowboys later that afternoon. For people who do not live in the DC area, “Dallas Week” is a very big deal here. My long-suffering wife has been known to schedule shopping trips for the afternoon of a Dallas/Washington football game because there are no cars on the roads and no customers in the stores. Nonetheless, the MLS game drew a big crowd. Additionally, these folks showed up even though David Beckham was not involved in the game; they were not there “celebrity watching”. That is a very positive sign for MLS as a sporting entity.

Finally, here is an item directly from the agate-type section of yesterday’s Washington Post – minus the names of the four individual players because naming them does not add to the item at all:

“NCAA – Reinstated Alabama football players … from suspension for improper receipt of textbooks.”

      Does “improper receipt of textbooks” mean they were opened?

      Note that they were not accused of “improper utilization of textbooks” – like actually reading them or something like that…

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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