Thursday, December 16, 2010

NFL Week 14-15

NFL Week 14

Lions win...Lions win...Lions win...Detroit breaks their own NFL record 19 game losing streak within the Division with a 7-3 thriller (please note - thriller is being said sarcastically) over the Green Bay Packers...The Pack lose the game and in the process lose QB Aaron Rodgers who is unlikely to play this week at New England 
Another big play from Troy Polamalu

Steelers win by scoring 2 TD's on D as they, again, find a way to win a football game...if you love the Steel Curtain then for the millionth time you were pleasantly surprised that the team played so-so but come away with a W...if you are a hater then this team will drive you to drink...I have never seen a team win in so many different ways...

Anything in Week 14 more incredible than the Washington Redskins scoring a TD on their last play of the game only to botch the game-tying extra-point for a 17-16 L...The Super Bowl this year could be Miami vs Washington if either one didn't continue to invent new ways to lose football games...As for the TB part of this, that W puts them at 8-5 which is 1 game back of the #6 and final playoff spot in the NFC currently held by the 9-4 NY Giants

Speaking of the Giants, they lose WR Steve Smith and have #3 WR Mario Manningham hurt during the game too, but they did get a 21-3 win over Minnesota in a game that ended Vikings QB Brett Favre consecutive start record streak at 297 games...a remarkable #, but for me another remarkable # is 3 as in only 3 games left to have to hear anything about Favre anymore

Jones-Drew is a legit MVP candidate
 The Colts won on Thursday night, and thanks to MVP candidate RB Maurice Jones-Drew the Jacksonville Jaguars were able to remain atop the AFC South with a thrilling (for real this time) 38-31 W over a Raiders team that has shown up the last 2 weeks on the road after a disastrous 2 weeks prior to that

Since the Thanksgiving Day game was tied after 3 quarters between Detroit and New England the Patriots are on a 102-10 scoring run...those insane #'s came at home, on the road, in the snow...this O loses Randy Moss, Laurence Maroney, and Kevin Faulk (Faulk due to injury) and replaces them with Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead and they have not skipped a beat...you will be hard pressed to find someone who will not have the Pats as the fav to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XLV

Making its return to the New York Jets football team and its fans is...PANIC...we saw the panic after a lack-luster opener to the 2010 season and these last 2 weeks surely will have Jets fans uneasy...the most recent failure on O came Week 14 with a 10-6 home loss to the Miami Dolphins...this is a Dolphins team that improved to 6-1 on the road...let's not even talk about Jets Strength and Conditioning Coach Sal Alosi and his trip of  Dolphins player Nolan Carroll...let's just agree it was the opposite of sportsmanship and about as dumb a move as we have seen...The Jets are stacking L's the last few weeks, and the entire coaching staff is being exposed as boobs lately

The Dallas Cowboys are still trying to catch DeSean Jackson

The Houston Texans will surely end the season by firing Head Coach Gary Kubiak and in Week 14 they set an NFL record by losing for the 4th time this season in a game that they rallied from down at least 14 points to tie, or take the lead, only to lose that game...

Week 15

San Fran @ San Diego...Thursday night tilt vs 2 teams who started the season horribly, but both have rallied of late to be just 1 game back in each of their respective Divisions...If you are a Patriots fan I would be watching the Chargers closely...if they make the playoffs they are the only O that can hang with the Brady Bunch

Houston @ Tennessee...both teams got out to a 4-2 start and both have plummeted to their current 5-8...The Titans are 0-5 since claiming Randy Moss off of waivers from Minny...both teams will have new Head Coaches in 2011

Jacksonville @ Indy...BIG game in the AFC South...the winner needs to win their last 2 games of the season after this game to ensure they win the AFC South title and thus qualify for the playoffs...the loser will need to win their final 2 games and also get help

KC @ St Louis...both teams have at least a share of first place in their Divisions...the Chiefs hope to have QB Matt Cassell back following his appendectomy last week...the alternative is back-up QB Brodie Croyle who is a pathetic 0-10 as a starter

Philly @ NY Giants...both teams are 9-4 and are tied atop the NFC East...these 2 teams met for Round 1 in Week 11 with the Eagles winning 27-17 on the strength of turning over the Giants 5 times...this time around the running game for New York is hot and the passing game has injuries...the Eagles O has Vick/Jackson/McCoy doing their thing and accounting for several big plays

New Orleans @ Baltimore...Super Bowl XLV preview?!?!  Both of these teams are currently in Wild Card position and both could make extended runs in the playoffs...This Saints O faces a tougher D than they usually see and he Ravens D has a stiff test with Drew Brees and his crew

Atlanta @ Seattle...last road game in 2010 for Hotlanta and if they win that will be literally the last road game as they will be in primo position to have the #1 seed and home field in the NFC playoffs...they hope to have 1 more road game in Feb 2011 in Dallas for the Super Bowl...Seattle needs a W to maintain at least a share of 1st place in the putrid NFC West
Glass Joe

Green Bay @ New England...the Packers Week 14 loss to Detroit is way more than a bump in the road as they have to follow that up with a trip to Foxborough where Tom Terrific et al is likely to face a Packers team led by QB Matt Flynn...this is like Mike Tyson in his prime vs Glass Joe from Mike Tyson's Punch Out...we have said numerous times if you are travelling to Foxborough to face the Brady Bunch you need to bring your A+ Offense...that means 30+ points and zero turnovers...with Matt Flynn at the helm that falls under the ol' "hey, good luck with that" category...

New York @ Pittsburgh...Jets have not seen the End Zone in the last 2 games...a trip to Heinz Field to face the Steel Curtain is hardly the cure for what ails you...2 teams here who believe themselves to be legit Super Bowl contenders

Chicago @ Minny...in a long list of stripid things that Brett Favre has done lately rushing back from injury to QB a 5 win team is the stripidest...add to that the team he will face is the Chicago Bears...PREDICTION - the Bears D will knock Favre out of the game so seriously that it will also end his miserable 2010 campaign and finally force him into retirement


Monday, December 13, 2010

NBA at the 1/4 pole

We just passed the first 25% of the NBA schedule for every team in the Association...let's take a look at where we are...the good...the bad...the ugly...

The Good

Best record in the NBA belongs to the San Antonio Spurs (19-3)...the Spurs are off to their best start in franchise history...The most games Tim Duncan had in 1 season being held to single-digit points was 4...this season he is already at 7 and counting...The Spurs are getting 67 points per game from the foursome of Duncan (13 ppg), Manu Ginobli (20 ppg), Tony Parker (17ppg), and  Richard Jefferson (17 ppg) plus check the contribution from the role players too...George Hill (11 ppg), Matt Bonner - DeJuan Blair - James Anderson - Gary Neal all contribute 7 ppg on this deep team...add veteran Antonio McDyess and rookie Tiago Splitter and we see why Duncan has not been called on every game to lead this team...All that is coached by the man at the helm Greg Popovich...with the Legend of Phil Jackson in the same conference at the same time Pop is often times under the radar, but this is a 4-time Champ...Remember the Alamo as the Spurs are for real...

At 19-4, and currently with a winning streak at 10 games, the Boston Celtics are off to a monster start...the thing that stands out to me is the 10-1 home record...the 2009 Celtics were the only team in NBA history to go to the Finals having had a better regular season road record than home record...a team supposedly built for the playoffs is playing at a high level right now...The Celts have 6 guys averaging double digit points per game...at some point the likes of Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal, and Kendrick Perkins will return from injury and this deep team becomes deeper...Phil Jackson said recently when comparing the Heat's team D to the Celtics said that Boston is the only team that you have to account/game plan for their D as it is that prominent and that good...Celtics have the best record vs the Eastern Conference at 15-2 and that includes 2 W's over Miami and Chicago each

Dallas Mavericks have opened up the season a remarkable 18-4 with a current 11 game winning streak...let me throw this out to you...is Disco Dirk Nowitzki underrated?  This is a guy who will average at least 21.8 ppg for the 11th straight season in 2010-2011...remarkable...to give an example here Andrea Bargnani is having a breakout season on the offensive end at 21.3 ppg...Dirk has done that plus more for double-digit years...again I say remarkable...the Mavs also get double-digit ppg's from Jason The Jet Terry and The Matrix Shawn Marion...add a fav of mine Caron Butler who can fill it up, plus Jason Kidd and Jose Barea...all that plus of course ex-Raptor Tyson Chandler...Chandler provides the consequence at the rim in Big D that the Raptors sorely need...Brandon Haywood and DeShawn Stevensen also give quality minutes to a Mavs team that actually focuses on D first...Dallas has the #5 ranked D through the first 1/4 of the season

New York Knicks (15-7) are off to a 10-4 start to their road schedule...no other team has double-digit road W's...the story in the Big Apple is Amar'e...the current 7 game Knicks win streak has seen Amar'e go for at least 31 in every game tying a Knicks record...the other off season addition this summer in New York was PG Raymond Felton who is giving them 18 ppg and dishing out 8 assists per game

The Bad

We will put the Heat's 9-8 start in the Bad column, but we will take note that they have currently won 8 straight and are looking much better, especially on D

The Phoenix Suns (11-12) and the Houston Rockets (8-14) are off to surprisingly bad starts...to have a sub-.500 record in the desert is not like the Steve Nash-led Suns, and I love Houston's roster and am really surprised with their bad start

The Charlotte Bobcats were the #7 seed in the East last season, but are struggling at 8-15...notice we never hear Jordan fans speak of his time as an NBA Executive...he was Isiah Thomas-like in Washington, and continues to struggle in Charlotte

Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of talent, but are off to a slow 9-13 start...I like this team a lot and they need to get healthy and improve the bad 2-8 road start

Of the 8 teams that would make the playoffs in the West currently can you guess who has the worst home record through the first 25% of the season?!?!  The Utah Jazz...surprising

The Ugly

Pretty standard to have the Los Angeles Clippers in an Ugly column...0-10 on the road...5-19 overall...no team has a worse record...standard behaviour from this putrid franchise

Sacramento is a league worst 3-9 at home in the Arco Arena

Franchises like Golden State, Minnesota, Memphis, New Jersey, Washington, and Philly join the Clippers and Kings as teams that continue to stack L's season after season...that being said we certainly have had our share of L's up here in Canada too

Stop me if you have heard this before...Portland C Greg Oden will miss the season as he requires knee surgery...in 2007 the Trail Blazers had their choice at #1 overall pick between Oden and Kevin Durant...they went with Oden...Oklahoma City thanks them

Orlando Magic have Dwight Howard, Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, and Mickael Pietrus all miss games with stomach flu...ugly
No team in the Association has more losses when scoring 100 points than YOUR TORONTO RAPTORS...even when they score they still lose...ugly inside D on this team

Thursday, December 9, 2010

NFL Week 13-14

Week 13

Is there any other place to start than the beat down at Foxborough this past Monday Night...The class and decorum of the Brady/Belichick era laid an ass-whoopin' on the brash, and often arrogant and ignorant, New York Jets...For Tom Terrific this was the 26th straight Regular Season game in New England that he has won...that is an NFL record...the last time the Brady Bunch lost at home with Tom at the helm was over 4 years ago...when was the last time your team lost at home?!?!  For me it was days ago as my Dolphins lost to the Browns...Cincy, Detroit, Tennessee, Indy, San Diego, Arizona, Baltimore, and Tampa Bay all lost at home days ago...for Brady the last home loss was November 2006 17-14 to the Jets...and as for the Jets, only one of their 9 wins - Week 2 home win vs New England - came vs a team with a winning record so perhaps they could have been SIGNIFICANTLY less arrogant heading in to Foxborough...Rex Ryan I am looking at you...and while I am looking at you Rex let me ask how you managed only 149 net passing yards vs the last ranked Secondary in the NFL?!?!...not only was your conduct leading up to the game embarrassing, but so was the game plan...

Side note - In a 2010 NFL season that has seen the Legend of QB's Brett Favre...Peyton Manning...Carson Palmer...Donovan McNabb all take hits, Tom Brady continues to add to his Best Ever resume...another QB that I feel warrants a nod this season is Matt Ryan in Atlanta...Falcons have lost only 1 game at home since Matty Ice took the helm as a rookie in 2008...Honourable mention to Rams QB Sam Bradford...11 TD's vs just 2 INT's in winning 4 of the last 7 games...this is a Rams team that won 1 football game last year...

Philly outscores the Texans 14-0 in the 4th Q to get their 8th W of the season...are you sold on Philly?  Let me throw a scenario at you that has had me drooling for a while now...imagine this...Hotlanta maintains their level of play and enters the playoffs as the NFC #1 seed thus hosting the NFC Title game (they will be off Wildcard weekend and then have to win at home in week 2 of the playoffs) and if you are sold on Philly then you likely have them going to the NFC Title game...Michael Vick going back to Hotlanta!!!  Wow...the winner goes to the Super Bowl...it writes itself

Speaking of the Texans surely this latest failure to make the playoffs will cost Gary Kubiak his Head Coach job putting another talented Offensive Coordinator on the market...Norv Turner will follow...possibly Ken Whisenhunt too...they will join Brad Childress and Josh McDaniels as talented Offensive Coordinators who are much better served in that role as apposed to Head Coach...the Defensive Coordinator equivalents would be Wade Phillips with guys like Marvin Lewis, Jeff Fisher, and John Fox likely available too...

The coaches above are all likely ex-Head Coaches...guys like Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville, Lovie Smith in Chicago, Steve Spagnola in St. Louis, Todd Haley in KC, Tom Cable in Oakland, Raheem Morris in TB have all seemingly done enough in 2010 to get them off the hot seat...

Dez Bryant helped off field with season-ending injury
The Colts lose in OT to the Cowboys...Interim Head Coach Jason Garrett did get his 3rd win vs only 1 loss, but it came at a cost...rookie WR Dez Bryant fractured his ankle thus ending his 2010 rookie campaign...For the 2nd straight game Peyton Manning tosses the ball to the other team 4 times...that is now 11 INT's in the past 3 weeks...wow...things are really catching up to the Colts...the running game is non-existent which is horror for a QB as good at the play-action pass as Peyton is...these days ain't nobody falling for play-action vs Indy...couple that with the loss of 3 big-time studs...Dallas Clark done for the year, and WR's Austin Collie and Anthony Gonzalez have been out for a while...all that also allows teams to double team WR Reggie Wayne which also means he is limited for Peyton too...

The San Diego Charges blow a chance to keep pace with the KC Chiefs in the AFC West as they are humbled at home by the Raiders

Did Bills fans enjoy the fact that ex Bills RB Marshawn Lynch scored 3 TD's for the first place Seattle Seahawks last Sunday?!?!  Bills RB CJ Spiller has 199 yards and 0 TD's on the season......ahem.............

Week 14

Indy @ Tennessee...Thursday Night tilt...the winner will remain in the AFC South race while the loser will have their 2010 season all but ended...

Green Bay @ Detroit...the Lions are in the midst of an NFL record 19 game losing streak vs teams in their Division...amazing futility

Oakland @ Jacksonville...the winner continues their surprisingly strong 2010, while the loser will be brought back to reality

St Louis @ New Orleans...The Rams have won 2 straight on the road the last 2 weeks, but a trip to the defending Champs will surely prove to be a major test...the Rams are tied for 1st in the NFC West, while the Saints need a W to keep pace with the NFC South leading Atlanta Falcons...this game features current great QB Drew Brees vs future great QB Sam Bradford

1985 Super Bowl shuffle...2010 Bears singing too?
New England @ Chicago...this is a game I have had circled all season as a litmus test for both teams...The Pats Secondary is amongst the League's worst so I think New England likely has placed heavy importance on finishing with the AFC's #1 seed so that D does not have to go on the road...the Pats remaining schedule after this game is home vs Green Bay and Miami and @ Buffalo...3 winnable games there so if the Pats can get this big road W they will be in the driver seat for the #1 seed...For Da Bears they need this W to keep one step ahead of the Packers for 1st place in the NFC North...I love this Bears team and I am in the minority there...not a lot of believers in this team, but the O has improved and the D has been awesome...this is a D who has a goal of getting 3 turnovers each game...a lofty goal indeed, but they are so damn good that they actually have the talent to accomplish that...Super Bowl preview?!?!

KC @ San Diego...the Chargers laid an egg in Week 13 vs a Division foe (Raiders) and a Week 14 loss to Division foe KC will end their season...no team in the AFC West has a chance to be a Wildcard team so only the Division winner will qualify for post-season play and the winner of this game has a great chance to be that team...


Monday, December 6, 2010

Brett Lawrie

AA...the man with the plan
My name is Craig Ballard and I am a Jays fan...time to hold another AA meeting...as you know by now our version of AA meetings is to look at Alex Anthopoulos and his moves to build a perennial contender here in the T-Dot...

Latest move was a stunner, but hopefully will produce a stud for years to come...

2010 Opening Day Starter Shaun Marcum gets moved to Milwaukee for 20 year old 2nd baseman Brett Lawrie (6'0...213 lbs)...he was drafted #16 overall in the 2008 MLB Draft by Milwaukee...the Jays had the next pick and were likely going to take the scrappy Lawrie, instead they took First baseman David Cooper...at #16 he is the highest drafted position-player to hail from Canada...Lawrie is from Burnaby, BC...bats right with a classic lefties swing but from the right side...open stance...throws right and has a good arm

Brett and sister Danielle have rep'd Canada many times
Lawrie has represented Canada on numerous Team Canada teams...he was also selected to represent the World Team at the 2009 MLB All-Star Futures Game, and again in 2010...he was also an 2010 All-Star at AA Huntsville in the Southern League

Lawrie is a Catcher but a few months ago began the move to 2nd Baseman...The Jays have Aaron Hill at that spot currently, but Hill was a Shortstop who converted the 2nd Base so either one of these guys could be asked to switch positions again (my guess is one of them to third base OR Aaron Hill gets traded)...the Jays have flirted with several trades in the last few months that would have landed them a 2nd Baseman in return so my thinking here is they are not enamoured with Hill as the every day 2B

In Brett Lawrie the Jays get the top ranked prospect in the Milwaukee organization...he has raw power (once hit 5 HR's in a double-header vs Seattle's Dominican team using all fields...his performance vs the Dominican Pitchers is legendary for those who saw it...in that tourney he went 21 for 30 with 14 extra-base hits) and raw speed (16 Triples in 2010)...

ANY Scouting Report you read projects this guy to have plus-power...the comparisons to Jeff Kent are there...the mention of what a good athlete he is are there...the talk about his desire is there...also there is a lot of talk about his tendency to get in streaks where he is too pull-conscious - I would say that most 20 year old studs have that issue and with time he can realize his potential to use all fields consistently...he is a "one speed" kind of competitor and that speed is balls-out

I am Craig Ballard, and I am a Jays fan...

I look forward to a potential double-play duo of SS Adeiny Hechavarria and 2B Brett Lawrie for years to come...even if Lawrie does change positions his bat is still a high upside bat worthy of optimism

I was a big fan Shaun...good luck to you sir

He came at a price...Marcum was the most available Jays Pitcher, but anytime you trade your Opening Day starter you fell a tad taken aback...Vernon Wells tweeted "Shaun will be missed. He's a bulldog on the mound and the Brew Crew will love playing behind him."

Marcum missed all of 2009 due to Tommy John surgery and returned in 2010 to start 31 games...13-8 record...3.64 era (very good)...1.15 WHIP (extremely good...Walks and Hits per Inning Pitch is what WHIP stands for, and it is a stat that has exploded as far as having importance to show a Pitchers effectiveness...at 1.15 Marcum had the 5th best WHIP in the AL)

Personally I take the trading of Marcum trade to replace Shaun i.e. a Zack Greinke trade...or...AA has liked what he saw in the Arizona Fall League from starter Marc Rzepczynski and will use the draft to stockpile more young up-side arms like last season, and as for 2011 go with Romero-Morrow-Cecil-Drabek-Rzepczynski as the 5 man rotation...Drabek would likely have to be part of a Zack Greinke deal so time will tell...

Either way AA wanted a talent like Anthony Gose - he went and got him - and he wanted Brett Lawrie too so he pulled the trigger on this deal...

Go Jays Go

as always send me your thoughts/comments...  craig.ballard@hotmail.com

Thursday, December 2, 2010

John Farrell

Hello again friends...as you know by now my name is Craig Ballard and I am a Jays fan...from time to time we hold our version of AA meetings around here...our AA of course is short for Alex Anthopoulos...AA is the GM of YOUR TORONTO BLUE JAYS and in his 1+ year in that role we have seen much to be excited about...the latest is the hiring of 48 year old John Farrell to a 3 year deal to be the teams new Manager replacing the moving-on Cito Gaston (Cito will still be gainfully employed by the Jays as part of his new 4-year Consulting Contract with the club)...

AA led a search for a new Manager and looked through dozens of good candidates before finalizing on Farrell...let's take a look together at what we have coming here in the T-Dot and take a look at John Farrell

John Farrell was a pitcher with the Cleveland Indians twice ('87-'90 and then again in '95) plus stints in Cali with the then-named California Angels, and his career ended early in 1996 with Detroit...Farrell won 36 while losing 46...

A big part of why we should be excited about the hiring of Farrell is his experience after his pedestrian MLB career is really good...Farrell served as the Director of Player Development for Cleveland from the 2002 season through the 2006 season...in the middle of that the Indians were named Organization of the Year by USA Todays Sports Weekly back to back years...the renowned Baseball America named the Indians as having the top farm system in professional baseball during his tenure too...player development and accolades = a great start to the management career of John Farrell

In 1997 Farrell took a new challenge at Oklahoma State University - his Alma Mater - as Assistant Coach and Pitching Coach; Recruiting Coordinator...he was there for 4 years...

John Farrell in coach-mode
In 2006 Farell made his return to MLB as the Pitching Coach of the Boston Red Sox...Boston Manager Terry Francona knew Farrell from their days together as Indians players...Farrell was the Pitching Coach for the 2007 World Series winning Red Sox

When you are the Toronto Blue Jays, in particular AA, you see an organization being flooded by young, high upside, arms that will be used at the MLB level by the Jays as they develop and/or some will be used as trade pieces to bring in position-player assets...further to that there will also be young arms used as back-fill when the Marcum's/Cecil's/Morrow's etc get too expensive and are better as trade chips...with all that said we see the coach of this young team needs to have player development experience - experience with young talent - experience as a big-time and successful pitching coach at the MLB level to bring along this young and talented pitching staff...Farrell gets a check mark in all those areas

John Farrell is a baseball man...he has 3 children...all male...all baseball stars...Luke pitches for Northwestern...Shane is a pitcher at Marshall (Marshall Thundering Herd where Randy Moss and Chad Pennington went)...Jeremy is an infielder in the Pittsburgh organization

AA introducing new Manager John Farrell
 On October 25, 2010 Farrel was named as the 10th Manager in the history of this franchise...he is the 8th to make his MLB managing debut with the Jays...only Bobby Cox (1978-1981 Atlanta) and Jim Fregosi (1,800 previous games with Philly/White Sox/Angels) joined the Jays as Manager with previous Manager experience...

The fact that Paul Beeston and AA like Farrell enough to put him in charge of the on-field product is certainly good enough for me, but I was also extremely excited to hear the praise Manny Ramirez has for Farrell...including the fact that he believes that John Farrell "trains ballplayers"...music to my ears as there is a ton of high-upside talent in this organization and Farrell looks like the guy to lead us going forward


NFL Week 12-13

Week 12

Tom Terrific puts up the first perfect passer rating of the 2010 season in the Pats romp at Detroit...talk about 2 complete opposites...what must it be like to be a Pats fan vs what must it be like to be a Lions fan...nothing but W's vs nothing but L's

NY Jets outscore the Cincy Bungles 23-3 in the 2nd half to cement their 9th W and keep pace with the 9-2 Pats setting up the game of the year this upcoming Monday Night in Foxborough

Speaking of 9-2 how about Matty Ice and the Hotlanta Falcons...Matt Ryan aka Matty Ice has started 21 games as QB in Atlanta for the Falcons and the team has a 20-1 record in those games...impressive

Peyton Hillis continues his impressive 2010
 Cleveland RB Peyton Hillis has another big game...this guy has been the find of the year...Browns pick him up in return for QB Brady Quinn...that means Broncos man in charge Josh McDaniels has traded Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, and Hillis for nothing much in return and as a result the Broncos have lost 16 of their last 21 games

The last 7 games Randy Moss has played since being traded from New England have resulted in a 1-6 record...0-3 with his new Titans...in that same span the Pats are 6-1...looking like the Moss trade was a great one for the Pats and looking like Moss is getting exposed as a cancer

2 weeks ago Raiders fans were on a high they haven't felt in years and years...2 weeks later and 2 L's later the team has crashed back to earth...Jokeland has been bombed 68-20 in those 2 games...RUN DMC aka Darren McFadden had been great the weeks previous, but the last 2 he has a total of 16 yards on 18 carries...

KC (7-4) continues to be the most improved team in the AFC and Da Bears (8-3) continue to be the most improved NFC squad

Rams QB Sam Bradford has his first career 300+ yard passing game...Sam has been really playing well lately...last 6 games he has 11 TD's vs just 1 INT...impressive

QB Phillip Rivers is EXTREMELY good...playing EXTREMELY well
 San Diego continues their resurgence...4 straight W's...shut out Peyton and the Colts in the 2nd half of their 36-14 W on Sunday Night...#1 D...#1 O...all 5 of their losses were 8 points or less...if the playoffs started today they would not be in as KC would be the AFC West winners and Pitt and NE/Jets being the 2 Wild Card teams...next 3 games are all in SD and are all winnable...Jokeland/KC/SF then they finish the 2010 season @ Cincy and @ Denver

Week 13

New Orleans (@ Cincy) and Chicago (@ Detroit) plus St. Louis (@ Arizona) all won last week and are all in position to get a road win vs a team they should beat to continue their march to the playoffs...KC (vs Denver) and NY Giants (vs Washington) plus San Diego (vs Jokeland) all have the same chance to follow up week 12 W's with home games vs teams they should beat to also continue their march to the playoffs

Jacksonville @ Tennessee...The Titans hope to have QB Kerry Collins back for this game plus WR Kenny Britt...2 teams in the AFC South are 6-5 and the other 2 are 5-6 so any inter-Division game in the AFC South takes on that much more meaning...the Titans have lost 4 straight games but they play an AFC South foe 4 times in their last 5 games so they still have a great chance to make the playoffs...for Jacksonville they are wanting to rebound from a 2nd half collapse in New York last week in a 24-20 loss to the Giants

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay...the 9-2 Falcons can drop the upstart Bucs to 7-5 with a win this week...Atlanta will still have the Saints (currently 8-3)  to deal with, but here is an opportunity to narrow the race in the NFC South to 2 teams...a TB win would have them at 8-4 and just 1 game back...hanging around

The Nighter games for Week 13 are as good as they get...Sunday Nighter Pittsburgh @ Baltimore...Monday Nighter NY Jets @ New England...34-10 combined records here...4 legit AFC contenders...

Pitt @ Balt...last 3 years the games in this series have all come down to the wire and have all been phenomenally physical...both teams sit at 8-3 currently...Baltimore won 17-14 in the first meeting this season back in Week 4 at Pittsburgh...that was the last game QB Ben Roethlisberger sat out as part of his 4 game NFL imposed suspension...Big Ben is listed as Questionable (sprained foot)

NY Jets @ New England...Week 2 the Jets won the first game of the 2010 matchups in this series 28-14 in New York...both teams have had extra time to prepare as A) Monday Night game so extra day there and B) both teams played last Thursday on US Thanksgiving...A Jets victory would give them a major leg-up in the AFC East as they would be 10-2 plus 4-0 in the Division and 2-0 vs New England so all the tie-breakers would belong to them...a Pats victory would put the Pats at 10-2 and back as the #1 seed in the AFC...with Pitt/Balt/Jets all have better D than the Pats do so I believe New England will have heavy emphasis on getting the #1 seed so they can have their high-powered O and their D play at home which is their best chance to go  a 5th Super Bowl in the Brady-Belichick era...surprising stat for me is that Jets QB Mark Sanchez only has 230 less passing yards than Tom Terrific has so far this season...of course Brady is all about putting points on the board (23 TD's vs only 4 INT's) but Sanchez is impressing in his 2nd season