Today's Names to Know: Matt Ryan, Randy Moss, Ray Allen, Lakers, Kenny Rogers, Steve Spurrier, Travis Pastrana, Jenn Sterger, Brett Favre, Enes Kanter, Manny Pacquiao and More.
NFL: What a win for the Falcons, blowing a 13-point lead (including a would-be game-deciding TD with a minute to go), then coming back with a 65-second, 80-yard drive capped by a Ryan-to-Roddy TD pass to take back the W and stake a claim as the NFC's best.
NFL Week 10 Storylines to Watch: Randy Moss making his Titans debut... Do-or-die for the Vikings on the road (winless) in Chicago... Can the Browns (playing the Jets) make it 3 straight jaw-dropping upsets?... It can't possibly get worse for the Cowboys (can it?)... Game of the Week: Pats-Steelers on Sunday Night, for temporary supremacy of the AFC.
Celtics stymie Heat...again: There are two things to talk about here. The first is that the Celtics are pretty awesome -- Ray Allen (35 pts, including hitting his first 7 3-point attempts, plus lock-down D on Dwyane Wade) is a joy to watch -- and obviously have the Heat's number. It's only been two games this season head-to-head, but it seems hard to believe Miami could beat Boston in a 7-game playoff series.
Meanwhile, the Heat drop to 5-4, including two straight losses at home. Now, in those 4 losses, Miami has lost to the Celtics twice --hardly a sloudch -- plus the Jazz (obviously good) and Hornets (surprisingly good). It's not like they are losing games they shouldn't. That said: Are these games that Miami shouldn't have been losing? Their defensive effort is not in line with a would-be championship contender.
(By the way, as if this wasn't ludicrous to begin with, for the Heat to finish with 72 wins, they would have to go 67-6 the rest of the season. 6 losses the rest of the way? Yeah, sure.)
More NBA: Lakers lose their 1st of the season. Such a typical Nuggets win, beating the seemingly unbeatable best in the league and making fans say, "Why can't they play like this EVERY night?" (But say this for Denver: Even in the midst of the whole Carmelo mess, they can find the focus to beat the best team in the league. So much for maintaining modest expectations.)
Obviously, the whole "can the Lakers win 72?" meme is overblown. Who cares? The only number of wins that count is "16" -- the number of playoff wins it takes to win a championship.
Cam Newton, Cont'd: "It's not gonna be free this time." Yikes. Do you believe Kenny Rogers? Because now it's gone from John Bond's "I say one guy said another guy said" claims to Kenny Rogers' "he said, to me directly" claims. That's one less (alleged) degree of separation for Cecil Newton from "pay to play" -- and one more problem for Cam.
CFB Weekend: A slow weekend for the Big Four. Boise plays on national TV tonight, but featuring yet another WAC tomato can. (Frankly, the biggest part of Boise's weekend is rooting for Nevada to beat Fresno State.) Oregon is on the road at Cal; it's hardly a trap game. Embattled Auburn hosts Georgia. TCU hosts fiesty San Diego State.
The CFB Game of the Week is the only one with real consequences, a de facto BCS quarterfinal: South Carolina at Florida for the SEC East championship. The winner will play... well, let's presume it's Auburn (which may look very different in three weeks), for the SEC's automatic BCS-bowl bid (presumably the Sugar).
Travis Pastrana joining NASCAR? Forget IRL-to-NASCAR. This is the first X-Games-to-NASCAR jump, and it will be huge. For my money, Pastrana is the single-greatest X-style athlete ever. Prediction: He will be the most popular driver by 2015 -- if not a few years sooner.
Jenn Sterger talks to NFL: If she turned over all the text and cell-phone pics -- and the Deadspin leaks are any indication -- Brett Favre SHOULD be in some trouble. The only question is whether the NFL decides to bury it under "Nothing to see here"... and Sterger decides to release all the texts and cell-phone pics publicly.
Speaking of Favre, he continues to say this will be his last season. We should all be so lucky. (Although I think in a sick way, we'll all miss having Favre to talk about.)
CBB: Enes Kanter, Kentucky's stud incoming Turkish big man, has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA. It's a blow for Kentucky, which could have used him in its frontcourt. Presumably, he would have been a starter, and talented -- like NBA-1st-round-pick talented -- bigs are more of a rarity in college hoops than the star guard, which UK still has loads of.
(Here's a question: Can Kanter go to the D League? The draft was last week; how would he be assigned to a team? Could an NBA team that owns its own team -- like the Rockets or Nets -- claim him, then route around the draft process by calling him up to the NBA? Or is he entirely ineligible from going up to the NBA because he is not yet draft-eligible?)
Boxing pick: Pacquiao over Margarito in 3.