Today's Names to Know: Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick, TJ Houshmanzadeh, John Carney, Josh Scobee, Taylor Mays, Sam Bradford, LaDainian Tomlinson, Arian Foster, Chuck Cecil, Oregon, SF Giants and More.
Well, at least the Padres made Game 162 meaningful. I was looking forward to a one-game playoff today -- between anyone -- but I'll settle for day-after NFL discussion:
*McNabb wins Philly homecoming: It wasn't pretty, and he showed how painful the exile was in his postgame locker-room speech to the team:
"Everyone makes mistakes in their lifetime, but they made one last year."
(I think the Philly fans handle the whole thing correctly, cheering McNabb before the game, then giving him a smattering of boos -- as they would any visiting QB -- when he took the field when the game started.)
*Vick hurt: From Player of the Month in September to KO'ed by injured ribs a few minutes into October. Really took a lot of the air out of the game.
*Ravens nick Steelers: There are two ways to think about this result. Either the Ravens positioned themselves as the team to beat in the AFC, or it indicated how AFC-leading competitive the Steelers will be once they return from their Week 5 bye week and actually have a quarterback.
*Old guys rule: How can you not love 46-year-old John Carney, just days after being signed by the defending champs, hitting 3 FGs to help the Saints eke out a win.
*Speaking of kickers: Joshhhhhhh Scooooooobeeeeeee! (That's how you type the name of a kicker who nails a 59-yarder with no time remaining to beat the Colts.)
*Winless: Are the 49ers irredeemable this season? It appears so (despite Taylor Mays' sick tip-toe collection of that blocked punt). They are not going to pull off what the Titans did a year ago. (Meanwhile: Sam Bradford and the Rams!)
*Fantasy Stud of the Week: LaDainian Tomlinson. As the new Nike ads say: "Boom."
(How many fantasy GMs freaked when Arian Foster didn't start? No matter: He had a big fantasy day, anyway.)
*Pointing fingers: I appreciate Chuck Cecil's frustration with his Titans, but flipping off the refs isn't going to help anything -- and he will be a lot lighter in the wallet this week.
*Late game: Now THOSE are the Bears we expected to see. (Allowing 9 sacks in the 1st half? If you let a defense get to the QB that many times, knocking him out is inevitable. Between the concussions to Jay Cutler and backup Todd Collins, who will play QB for the Bears?)
CFB Weekend Wrap: Confirmed, that Alabama is the best team in the country. And Oregon is No. 2. And Florida has some substantial identity issues, which lead to massive execution issues.
CFB Polls: Here is where poll inertia (versus resume-ranking) really kicks in -- what has Ohio State done to deserve a No. 2 ranking ahead of Oregon?
(It's going to get very ugly when Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon -- nevermind TCU and Boise State -- all end the season undefeated and the Ducks are left out of the national championship game. It is a best-case scenario for imploding the BCS. Then again, we have been at this point in the season -- even 8 weeks later -- plenty of times over the last decade, only to see things work themselves out between now and the final day of the season.)
MLB Playoffs: I would have liked to have seen the Phillies and Reds play for the NL title, but regardless, it's not like anyone is stopping the Phillies from winning the NL pennant.
In the AL, I don't think any Yankees fans are worried about playing the Twins -- even if Minnesota has home-field advantage. They should be worried about playing the Rays.
(Even in a depressing non-playoff season, Red Sox fans had to take an enormous pleasure in keeping the Yankees from winning the AL East title and getting HFA.)
NBA: Joakim Noah gets paid (5Y/$60M). He will stay in Chicago and anchor the Bulls' attempt to derail the Heat's sense of manifest destiny. The smartest move for the Bulls. (Let's go back to draft night; how many folks saw this kind of payday coming?)
NBA Preseason: Amare was as dominant as promised in his Knicks debut against Armani Jeans Milano; perhaps more intriguingly, the Nets' Derrick Favors was VERY solid in his pro debut, against Maccabi Haifa. (Don't trade him away just yet!)
Ryder Cup: Tiger Woods' year of mediocrity has extended to team competitions, too. So much for "putting him on the team will revitalize his career!", a meme I totally bought into.