Today's Names to Know: Patriots, Dolphins, Tom Brady, Sage Rosenfels, Tim Tebow, Darren McFadden, Armanti Edwards, Michael Vick, Eric Gagne, Chris Bosh,
NFL: It's coming down to perfection. The Pats are 13-0, marching to 19-0. The Dolphins are 0-13, stumbling to 0-16. Except for "your team" (whether they are real or the fantasy version), everything else in the middle is rather irrelevant.
Why? Because every time the Pats take on one of the so-called "contenders" of the AFC, they destroy them. Yesterday, they throttled the Steelers, with Tom Brady throwing for 400 yards and 4 TDs.
Looking ahead to next week, the Pats host the Jets in the highly anticipated follow-up game to the Pats' cheating incident at the beginning of the season. Given that it was the Jets who turned in the Pats to the NFL, it could be "mercy rule" territory.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins were crushed by the Bills, putting them one loss next week to the Ravens from tying the legendary 1976 Bucs for futility. (It won't matter if
More NFL: Three games to play in the regular season and playoff jockeying is beginning to take some shape. (Again: Not that it matters this season. Whoopee: Your team made the playoffs. They're not beating winning the Super Bowl, unless you're a Pats fan.)
Packers clinch NFC North, not that that should qualify Brett Favre for something like SI Sportsman of the Year (Hunh? What? REALLY?)...
The Vikings are in 6th in the NFC playoff chase and hold their playoff fate in their hands. (Didn't I take a ton of abuse before the season started for picking them to make the playoffs?)
So do the Browns: If the season ended today,
Cowboys come from behind to roll along to 12-1 (see above for why this doesn't matter in the "Super Bowl champs" scheme of things)...
If the Jags played in the NFC, they would be considered strong contenders to win the conference...
Milestone Watch: Peyton Manning became the fifth QB ever to reach 300 career TD passes. Hardly a stretch to say he'll end his career as the all-time leader.
Fantasy Hindsight: Were you smart enough to start Sage Rosenfels? Come on: It was only the fantasy playoffs! (Related: Oh, great, NOW Jay Cutler throws 4 TDs; where was that when before I was eliminated from playoff contention?)
Heisman: See yesterday's post for my (over-enthusiastic) comments about Tim Tebow winning the Heisman. In summary (and a bit more measured): Breaking the "Class Ceiling" for every great young player who came before or will come afterward is the highlight.
It also makes for fascinating tracking over the next two years: Between his Offensive MVP role on a national title team a year ago and his Heisman Trophy this season, Tebow has put himself in a unique "all-time" historical position -- IF he can win more Heismans, more national titles... or both.
(Meanwhile, congrats to Darren McFadden for his back-to-back runner-up finishes. He is one of the greatest talents fans have ever seen take the field. Can't wait to see how he looks in a Patriots uniform. Cripes: It'll be a joke.)
I think we will find out later, with some hindsight, that this Heisman ballot was special: An all-time Top 10 college QB and an all-time Top 10 college RB.
Can Tebow win a second straight Heisman next year? Remember the last player to have a shot: Matt Leinart was competing with Vince Young and his own electrifying teammate Reggie Bush, whom he eventually lost to.
Who will Tebow be competing with? McFadden will be long-gone to the NFL, as will record-breaking QB Colt Brennan. On the other hand, the short list includes Pat White, Chase Daniel and Percy Harvin.
(Hmm: Like Leinart, Tebow will be competing with a dynamic title-contending dual-threat QB -- two of them, actually -- and a teammate with skills even more telegenic than his own. This is a lot like Leinart, except presumably without the dancing, virility and general douchebaggery.)
If you didn't see (or contribute to) Saturday's post about your personal favorite college football player of all time, check it out... and send in your own. It's a fascinating list we put together. (You won't be surprised who I picked, but other people's picks will amaze.)
More CFB: 1-AA Playoffs! The playoffs that most college football fans SAY they want, but when it comes time to actually watch (or even follow them from a distance), they don't follow through. Anyway...
The two-time defending 1-AA national champs (cripes, can we please lose the "FCS" label?) are one win away from an unprecedented three-peat. App QB Armanti Edwards set a 1-AA record for QBs with 313 rushing yards (including 4 rushing TDs), while throwing for 182 yards and another 3 TDs. It might just have been the most dominating performance by any player – at any level – this season in college football.
Vick Watch: Michael Vick will be sentenced today by a federal judge. The expectation is that he'll get 18 months, but you never know: Maybe the judge will go a little batty and give Vick 5 years.
(Great timing: The Falcons host the Saints on Monday Night Football; needless to say, this game won't be breaking the all-time cable viewing record that last week's Pats-Ravens did.)
MLB Hot Stove: How is Eric Gagne worth $10 million a year? The Brewers overpaid... Milton Bradley is bringing his Funhouse of Crazy to the Rangers... LaTroy Hawkins is a great pick-up for the Yankees, who really needed the middle-relief help... Legal experts say Barry Bonds could play the entire 2008 season without having to deal with a trial (it would still be hanging over his head). Any takers?... Thanks for the name-check, Dugout boys. Hilarious as ever.
NBA Weekend Recap: Shots fired at Jamal Tinsley? Yikes... Sunday: Chris Bosh came back from injury to have 21 and 10 in a Raptors win over the Rockets... Saturday: After racking up NBA Rookie of the Month in November, Al Horford may be on his way to a second straight
College Hoops Recap: Congrats to
CFB Coaching Carousel: Navy's Paul Johnson to Georgia Tech. If he had just waited a few more days, he probably could have gotten a
Meanwhile, UCLA needs to hire Norm Chow: UCLA is apparently down to a short list that includes Steve Mariucci (ugh),
More College: Congrats to USC, whose women's soccer team defeated
Obituary: Jon Barkan, 39. A rarely cited part of my professional biography was a 1-year stint I had at SI.com (then CNNSI.com). I was based in SI's office in