Monday, October 11, 2010

10/11 Quickie: Cards, Favre, Moss, Phils

What a great "just when you thought you had a handle on the NFL season" week: The Cardinals beat the Saints (who looked ordinary). The Raiders beat the Chargers (who looked horrible early). The Lions put up 44 points in a rout win (behind Week 5 fantasy MVP Shaun Hill).

The NFC East is fascinating: The Redskins edged the Packers. The Giants throttled the Texans. And the Cowboys are now 1-3, losing at home (to the Titans) after a bye week.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs losing means there are no more unbeaten teams, after only 5 weeks (in the Stat of the Day, it's the first time since 1970 that no team has made it to 4-0.)

The big point: It is a best-case scenario for the league that after 5 weeks, it is impossible to pinpoint a clear-cut Super Bowl favorite -- and even at the division/Wild Card level, there is a ton of uncertainty. (Well, except in San Francisco and Carolina, where things seem pretty hopeless already.)

MNF: Vikings-Jets, with plenty of sub-plots -- Moss's return to Minnesota, Favre's return to NYC (where the whole cell-cam-pics thing happened), LaDainian Tomlinson showcasing in-his-prime form on a national stage, a Vikings team desperate to spark a playoff run, a Jets team desperate to justify Super Bowl aspirations. Could be the most-watched NFL game of the season so far.

(And then there's the Brady vs. Moss undercard: Why can't people take surreptitious cell-phone video of their teammates fighting, rather than photos of their junk? I love that they are reduced to complaining to each other about their hair -- Brady about Moss's beard; Moss about Brady's Bieber-cut.)

CFB Weekend Wrap: Even though the South Carolina win over Alabama should remind everyone that presuming undefeated seasons is foolish, the new meme is -- well -- the same as a week ago:

Sizing up like we'll have multiple undefeated teams (Oregon, Ohio State, Boise, TCU-Utah winner) and, most likely, a 1-loss SEC champ (Alabama) that by the time we get to BCS selection day should have a pretty good case for being picked for the BCS title game.

In the meantime, new No. 1 Ohio State (not No. 1 in MY Top 25, but the mainstream polls) gets its toughest challenge of the week, next week in Madison. Here's my BlogPoll ballot this week, but I have an explanation coming later today.

The initial BCS standings -- out next week -- should be more contentious than ever. I really hate to devolve into the old "there's a lot of season left," but the South Carolina win really should show you any team can lose under the right conditions. Then again, it is unclear that Ohio State or Oregon -- let alone Boise -- will ever have to prove themselves under those conditions.

MLB Playoffs: The Phillies now join the Yankees having swept their way through to the LCS. Halladay was near-perfect; Cole Hamels wasn't far behind.

The Rays and Rangers will have an epic Game 5: David Price vs. Cliff Lee -- two of the Top 5 pitchers in the AL this season -- with the Rays having come back from being down 0-2 to force a Game 5 back at the Trop. (And consequently the Yankees are going to get either a Rays or Rangers team without use of its ace to start the series.)

The Giants-Braves series feels kind of irrelevant; the winner is going to get the unstoppable Phillies pitching buzzsaw.

(BTW: "Brooks Conrad" is a trending topic on Google, for his game-costing error in the 9th -- part of 3 errors in the game and endless errors over the past few games he has played. It's a brutal burden to bear, particularly for a journeyman bench player suddenly in the negative national playoff spotlight.)

Who had the best weekend? The fans in SF who like the odd combo of the Giants and the Raiders. Wonder how many cross-over fans there are? You'd figure that most Giants fans would also like the 49ers, and most Raiders fans would like the A's.

-- D.S.

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