Sunday, November 30, 2008

Same Old Jets Rear Their Ugly Heads Again

BRONCOS 34
JETS 17

Hey, guess what? You can take those Jets Super Bowl tickets and stick 'em where the moon don't shine! For the fortieth straight season the Jets will be doomed for failure because they are who we thought they were. The Jets are back to being ... well ... the Jets. Not even Brett Favre could save Jetland from the type of play that we have seen year after year, and decade after decade from this team better known as Gag Green.

The Jets did everything in their power to not only lose a game, but completely blew their chances at grabbing the number two seed in the AFC playoffs. Yes, the Jets will win the AFC East because the Patriots lost again today to Pittsburgh, but the Jets will have to not only go to Tennessee but will have to fly to Pittsburgh as well if they want to get to the Super Bowl. In other words, FUGGEDABOUTIT!

The game got off to a whacky start. Favre tried to do a double reverse to Jerricho Cothery, but Cothery lost the handle on the ball. Cothery was able to recover the fumble and was tackled at the Jets 30, but the ball trickled out from underneath Cothery's belly, and Denver's Vernon Fox picked it up and dashed into the end zone from 23 yards out. Eric Mangini tried to challenge the play, but according to some stupid rule, the Jets could not challenge Cothery's second fumble even though it was clear that he was tackled after the first recovery.

Anyway, the Broncos got away with one and would keep up the pressure all night long.

The Jets did answer the gift wrapped touchdown as Thomas Jones broke free of a couple of tacklers and skated 58 yards for the tying touchdown. Still, it was not enough to stop the Broncos. Jay Cutler from hitting a wide open Eddie Royal down the sideline for a 59 yard touchdown. It appeared that Royal may have stepped out of bounds on the play, but it didn't matter, touchdown Broncos.

From here the Jets went into a proverbial hole. They got the game to within 17-14, but Favre was picked off by Dre' Bly after he badly overthrew Cothery at the Broncos 35. The Broncos proceeded to pound the rock on the Jets. Third string running back Peyton Hillis had a huge night, gashing and slashing the Jets defensive line. One reason the Jets had so much trouble stopping Hillis, was the fact that DT Kris Jenkins was constantly double-teamed, allowing the back to look like Terrell Davis. Hillis took it in from one yard out to give Denver a 10 point lead.

In the third, the Jets finally got it going. Favre hit Leon Washington for a 34 yard gain to get the ball to the Denver 33 yard line. Favre hit Washington two more times for gains of 14 and 12 to get the ball to the Denver goal line. Interestingly enough, after each Jets gain, a Bronco defender fell limply the ground. Was it a strategic tactic by coach Mike Shanahan? Perhaps, and if it was, it was brilliant! The Jets got out of their rhythmn becuase of the Denver injuries. Favre was sacked and stripped of the football on a huge third and goal to force a Jay Feely field goal. The score now became 27-17. Once again, the Jets were down ten.

Whenever New York got to within ten and was in position to cut deep into the Denver lead, the Jets found a way to screw it up, whether it was stupid turnovers or penalties. The Jets may have been at Giants Stadium physically, but they were not there mentally, and it may have cost them a huge playoff spot.

Cutler and the Broncos put the finishing touches on the game when he found a wide open Brandon Stokley stading in the end zone waiting for the ball to drop into his arms. 34-17. Ball Game over.

The Jets are now 8-4 on the season, a game ahead of Miami and New England in the AFC East. They also trail the Steelers by a game for the number two seed. Also, if the Jets and Broncos should finish with the same record, Denver now owns a tie-breaker that could drop the Jets to the fourth seed. What a disaster, but we have seen this movie one million times before.

BURRESS TO BE CHARGED FOR GUN FIASCO

Well. Plaxico Burress can begin kissing good-bye to that lucrative contract he signed at the beginning of September. His career and life are taking a turn for the worse

The star receiver, who made news on Saturday morning for shooting himself in the leg, is expected to face charges for carrying a unlicensed weapon, which is a felony offense. According to a report from Yahoo Sports, Burress is expected to turn himself in and plead not guilty to the "criminal possession of a weapon" (read more).

In an interesting twist on this story, linebacker Antonio Pierce was live and in person for Burress's latest fiasco, but he would not comment on the matter to the mainstream media.

The NFL will be looking into this situation as well. It is not clear what kind of fines, suspensions, or even possible sentencing awaits Burress in the coming weeks, but none of it should be any good for him. Burress has blown it. He had it all. He caught the game winning touchdown in last year's Super Bowl, got a great contract and now, almost a year later, he could be serving time for being ... an idiot.

Steelers Dominate Patriots; Take Control of 2nd Seed

STEELERS 33
PATRIOTS 10

Hey folks, I think the Steelers are healthy again. Now you know why I will never commit to saying that a team like the Jets or Titans are better than them. The Steelers not only beat up a good Patriots team, they blew them out in a rainy and cold Foxboro Stadium and let it be known that they are, indeed, the second best team in football behind the New York Giants.

Trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, the Steelers wasted no time in getting back into this game. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was picture perfect on the a game tying scoring drive. He was five for five on the drive for 42 yards and a touchdown. On the tenth play of the drive, Roethlisberger hit a wide open Santonio Holmes in the end zone from 19 yards out to tie the game at 10.

In the third quarter, the Steelers imposed their will on New England. With Pittsburgh up 13-10, the Patriots fumbled the kickoff, giving Pittsburgh the football at the New England 15. Two plays later, Roethlisberger hit Hienes Ward from 11 yards out for the touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 20-10 lead.

The Patriots could not protect quarterback Matt Cassel from the Steelers heavy blitz packages. First, he was sacked and stripped of the football by James Harrison. Lamar Woodley recovered it at the Patriots 29 yard line. The Steelers ended up kicking a field goal to take a 23-10 lead.

In the fourth, Cassel was picked off by Troy Polamalu, who returned the ball 23 yards to set the Steelers up at the Pats 34 yard line. The Steelers once again settled for a field goal to extend the lead to 26-10.

The Steelers finally put the nail in the coffin after Larry Timmons picked off Cassel and brought the ball all the way back for a 89 yard gain to the Patriots one yard line. Greg Russell took it in from there extending Pittsburgh's dominating lead to 33-10.

Pittsburgh improves to 9-3 on the year, keeping pace with the 8-4 Ravens in the AFC North and keeping the Jets (8-4) away from the number two seed.

Giants Take Care of Business

GIANTS 23
REDSKINS 7

Who need's Plaxico Burress? Apparently, the Giants do not need him at all. With their troubled receiver recovering from a self inflicted gun shot wound, the Giants took care of business against the Redskins, beating up Washington 23-7 on a rain soaked Sunday.

Even though the Giants running game was virtually stopped by Washington as Brandon Jacobs had only 71 yards rushing and Derek Ward had only 30 yards rushing, the Giants found a way to win.

Defense was the name of the game for Big Blue. They got four sacks on quarterback Jason Campbell, holding the Redskins helpless throughout the contest.

The only bright spot for Washington was a 29 yard run for a touchdown by receiver Devin Thomas on a reverse, but that is not saying a lot for the Skins.

Eli Manning was solid once again completing 21 of 34 passes for 305 yards with a touchdown to Amani Toomer in the first quarter.

The Giants know how to make football boring; that happens when you are a great football team playing against mediocore competition. The Giants improve to 11-1 on the season with a shot at clinching a playoff spot next week against Philadelphia.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Idiot Burress Shoots Himself, Literally

A strange report came over the wire about an hour and a half ago, stating that Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress shot himself in the foot Friday night. It is not know as to why Burress decided to shoot himself, or in what circumstance he was in to percipitate such an event.

Burress was already scheduled to miss Sunday's game at Washington due to a sore right hamstring, now he gets to miss some more time with a gunshot wound.

Opinion: Burress is a complete idiot. The man signed a huge five-year contract during the offseason, and all he has been this year is trouble. Early in the season, he was late to a team meeting and was suspended a game and a week's pay for the situation.

Clearly, Plax needs to get a life. He has a psyhcological problem that allows him to be a pain in the neck not only to his teammates and coaches, but to himself. He is a danger to himself as well, because there must be more than meets the eye as to why he would shoot himself.

Get help Plax, you need it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cohen's Week 13 NFL Selections

Ok everyone it's time to hit the tredmill after a hearty feast on Thanksgiving. That's right even us non-athletes have to find ways to stay in shape after a day of gorgeing ourselves for an entire day.

Meanwhile the NFL did not have a feast on Thanksgiving. In fact all three games were of the blowout kind and did little to depreciate the fact that the league must consider revising it's Thanksgiving Day schedule for 2009 and beyond. The fact that the Lions, who have not won a thing are still on Thanksgiving is a joke. Also, the fact that the Cowboys seemingly always play an inferior opponent in Dallas on turkey day has to stop as well. Yes, I know nobody knows what the record of each team will be on Thanksgiving when schedules are released in April, but it's time for change.

Still, there are some more interesting games left to gobble up this weekend. Here are some picks:

SAINTS (6-5) @ BUCCANEERS (8-3): The Saints actually showed up Monday night putting up 51 points on the Green Bay Packers. Drew Brees continues to set records; already with 3,574 yards passing, Brees could break Dan Marino's record for most yards passing in a single season if he keeps it up. However, he will have to do that against a defense that is second in the league against the pass. The Buccaneers surrender only 174 yards through the air a game, and have recored 14 interceptions of opposing quarterbacks.

This matchup will be critical. If Brees has any success against the Buccaneers pass defense, then the Saints could and should win this football game. Anything less will result in a sure defeat. PICK: BUCCANEERS 24, SAINTS 20.

GIANTS (10-1) @ REDSKINS (7-4): The Giants are exactly what their record says: the best team in football. No one has stopped the Giants yet this year. Even without Brandon Jacobs and Plaxico Burress, the Giants found a way to out slug the Arizona Cardinals. Interestingly enough, Jacobs should be ready to go on Sunday, but Burress will not play because of a sore right hamstring. This is big, considering Burress tourched the Redskins for 10 catches and 133 yards in their first meeting back in week 1. However, the Giants still have the weapons to beat the Redskins.

The Redskins are not the same team that played the Giants in early September. That Redskins team had little self-confidence. This one has it. Quarterback Jason Campbell has played well at times this year, but, he is not as clueless as he was back in week 1 in his first game with new Head Coach Jim Zorn. Interesting stat: when the Giants went into Washington last year, their season was on the line at 0-2. They opened that game trailing 17-0. Then things changed with a comeback victory late in the second half of that game. Since and including that moment, the Giants are 24-5 with a Super Bowl victory. PICK: GIANTS 23, REDSKINS 17.

FALCONS (7-4) @ CHARGERS (4-7): At the beginning of the season, if you told me that Atlanta would be 7-4 and San Diego would be 4-7, I would have called you crazy, but that is where these two teams are right now. The Chargers are in desperate straits. They are 4-7 and another loss away from making it even more difficult for them to catch the underacheiving Denver Broncos. LaDanlian Tomlinson has had a bad year, by his standards, rushing for only 770 yards all year. He will need to get going against the Falcons 24th ranked defense or else.

The Falcons have been a mircale story this year. Former Chargers' back-up running back Michael Tuner is the one turning heads. He has 1,088 yards this season, and has helped Atlanta become the second best rushing team in the league this year. With Turner, rookie quarterback Matt Ryan can take his time to learn the in's and out's of the NFL, without too much pressure on his shoulders. By the way, Atlanta has had two impressive road wins this year, at Green Bay, and a shutout at Oakland. PICK: FALCONS 27, CHARGERS 21.

BRONCOS (6-5) @ JETS (8-3): The Jets are rolling. Everyone in New Jersey this week is talking about Subway Super Bowl and two conference title games at Giants Stadium. But hold your horses folks, because the Jets still have five games to go. A letdown is always possible, especially when it involves the Jets.

Speaking of horses, the Broncos come in as the league's biggest conundrum. The Broncos have no identiy. They cannot run the ball as well as they did in year's past, and can't stop anybody. The only thing going for Denver is the rise of quarterback Jay Cutler and receiver Brandon Marshall. Still that may not be enough to save coach Mike Shanahan's job, who is long overdue to be fired. Since making the switch to Cutler, exactly two years ago in 2006, the Broncos are 14-18. Not good for a team with very high expectations every year. PICK: JETS 38, BRONCOS 21.

STEELERS (8-3) @ PATRIOTS (7-4): Speaking of gems this is it. This would have been the perfect Thanksgiving day game. When this game ends, we will learn alot about both of these teams, and where their future's lay. A win for Pittsburgh, and they begin to seperate themselves from the Baltimore Ravens in the North, and the Jets in the race for the two seed. A loss, and it could begin to spiral out of control for Pittsburgh. It has games against the Cowboys, Ravens, and Titans in the horizon, all of which could be losses. The key for the Steelers is the health of the offensive line and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Because of all the problems up front, Roethlisberger and running back Willie Parker have been banged up all year. This will be a tough order for them to get it together up in Foxboro.

The Patriots are hitting their stride. Matt Cassel is growing with confidence, and he can taste that $8 million check in March when he becomes a free agent. If Cassel takes the Pats to the playoffs, and looks good doing it, the Patriots will be in a tough position. They want to keep Cassel, but would invest too much money into one position, with Tom Brady all ready in the fold for 2009. The audition continues, and the Patriots return from the ash heaps does as well. PICK: PATRIOTS 34, STEELERS 24.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Titans Dominate Detroit Turkeys

TITANS 47
LIONS 10

I think I now know why the NFL likes to schedule the Lions for Thanksgiving Day every year ... they need the giblets!

The Lions gave America even more reason to believe that this tradition of 69 years needs to come an end once and for all. Perhaps the league should consider giving CBS and FOX a flex schedule for Thanksgiving so they can avoid the Lions and Cowboys when they are dreadful. Imagine if we had Steelers/Patriots or Jets/Broncos to chew on at 1:00 that afternoon, instead Lions/Titans. Oh, if only the world were so pleasant!

Anyway, this game was over two seconds after the Macy's Thanksgivng Day Parade ended. Santa Claus didn't even get a chance to take his fake beard off before the Titans put some points on the board. On the second play of the game, Lions quarterback Daunte Culpepper hit Shaun McDonald in the flat and was immediately stripped of the football by Kyle Vanden Bosch. Two plays later, Titans running back, Chris Johnson, put six on the board with a six yard touchdown.

On the next Titans possession, the other back, LenDale White, took it to the house with a 58 yard touchdown to give Tennessee a 14-3 lead.

Finally, Culpepper was picked off by Dave Ball, who walked into the end zone from four yards out to give the Titans a 21-3 lead before the quarter was over! No mercy rule folks; this is the NFL.

The Titans rolled up 47 points on the afternoon. White and Johnson combined 231 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Even whacko Vince Young got some reps, completing a 54 yard pass to White down the sideline.

The Titans are now 11-1 and are offically in the postseason party. They can win a division title Sunday, if the Colts lose to Cleveland.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Day NFL Picks

Nothing is more fitting for a holiday that involves lots of eating than football on Thanksgiving. It is a family tradition. Whenever you need a break from the in-laws, or your crazy aunt or nosy grandparents, turn on the HDTV and watch something really enjoyable.

Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has become a time where the NFL can subject America to the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys every year. For some reason it's tradition, but enough already. The Lions have never been good. The only time I can remember one of their Thanksgiving day games holding any significance was back in 1998 when offical Phil Luckett awarded Detroit a victory after he screwed up the overtime coin toss in a game against the Steelers.

Other than that, Detriot has been pathetic, and even more pathetic this year at 0-11. Can they keep the streak going and break the Buccaneers 1976 record of 0-14? Yes!

The Cowboys, on the other hand, are usually on one extreme or another during their turkey day games. The Boys are either really good and face an inferior opponent, like they did last year against a 4-12 Jets team, or as this year against a 2-9 Seahawks team. Or, the Cowboys themselves can be terrible. And there have been many of those instances over the years.

Can we please allow other teams the opportuntiy to host Thanksgiving Day games? Imagine if we had Pats-Jets and Cowboys -Redskins from Washington? How about Steelers-Browns? or Raiders-Chiefs? It would be so much more entertaining, and every fan could get their teams involved in the national holiday. At least, the Eagles play the Cardinals on Thursday night to, at the very least, give the rest of us the kind of football we want to see on Thanksgiving.

TITANS (10-1) @ LIONS (0-11): Need I say more? The Titans should be moving into this game extremely pissed off after getting destroyed by the Jets on Sunday. The key will be for Titan receivers to actually catch the ball! The Lions, well ... they stink! PICK: TITANS 31, LIONS 17.

SEAHAWKS (2-9)@ COWBOYS (7-4): After ripping apart the 49ers on Sunday, the Cowboys can really get themselves back into the playoff race if they can do similar work to Seattle tomorrow. Tony Romo is back with a vengeance after throwing for over 340 yards and three TD's. It is clear that the Cowboys missed Romo's arm and energy. Now if only they can make up for lost time. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are a mess. Matt Hasselbeck has been banged up all year, and it hasn't helped that Seattle has no running game and can't keep their Pro-Bowl receivers healthy. Not exactly the way Mike Holmgren envisioned his last season as a head coach. PICK: COWBOYS 37, SEAHAWKS 14.

CARDINALS (7-4) @ EAGLES (5-5-1): Finally a game with some storylines. Donovan McNabb is on a shorter leash than the Snoopy balloon, and it is guaranteed that the Philly faithful will wish their QB a happy Thanksgiving with boos and beer bottles. In case you were under a rock this past weekend, McNabb was benched after throwing two more interceptions in the first half of a loss to Baltimore. It has created a huge firestorm in Philly, as many expect McNabb to be on his last wings as an Eagle. A loss to the Cards and McNabb may be finished.

As for Arizona, they have to fly across the country after just three days rest to play this game. They have had all of one and a half days of preperation, so expecting a west coast team to be ready to play on the east coast on Thanksgiving is asking a lot. PICK: EAGLES 24, CARDINALS 20.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cohen's NFL Power Rankings

Happy Thanksgiving, America! Even though it is not great times in America this year, the day still offers an opportunity to get touch with old friends and family and begin to experience the good in life once again.

As for the NFL, we have finally hit the playoff rush. The race is heading toward the stretch, and it will be interesting to witness who finishes ahead of the rest in order to qualify for division titles and wild card berths.

1) New York Giants (10-1): With Tennessee's loss to the Jets Sunday, the Giants stand alone as the best team in football. I have said it all season; there are no weaknesses on this Giants squad. They have depth at every position, whether at running back, the defensive line, or wide receiver, the Giants can and do it all. It doesn't look like anyone can stop them in the NFC, but time will only tell. The Giants can clinch a playoff berth with a win against Washington yet will need to sweep this three game stretch in the division in order to clinch that.

2) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3): Sorry, Jet fans, your team is good, but I am still not convinced that the Steelers are a weaker team. Pittsburgh has had its troubles all season. Their offense does not score anymore, putting tremendous pressure on the defense to pick up the slack. So far they have been up to the task; can it continue with a four game stretch against the Patriots, Ravens, Titans, and Cowboys? We shall see.

3) N.Y. Jets (8-3): The Jets are rockin' and rollin' right now. Brett and the Jets destroyed the once invincible Tennessee Titans in Tennessee, exposing the Titans as sheep in wolf's clothing. The Jets have a very easy schedule ahead which could allow them to run the table and finish at 13-3. If that happens, the Jets will be a lock for the number two seed, and if Tennessee should slip up in their final two games against Pittsburgh and Indianapolis, then the Jets will have home-field throughout, based on tie-breakers. The key for the Jets is to remain focused and win out before any of this can happen.

4) Tenneessee Titans (10-1): A debilitating loss to the Jets exposed the Titans as frauds. We knew that they had a bunch of no-names at wide receiver and they sure did back that up with a million dropped passes on Sunday. Oh, and that great Titans defense? Yeah, they gave up 192 yards on the ground to the Jets. Nonetheless, best be wary future Titan opponents, losses like that allow a team to refocus and get back on track real fast.

5) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-3): The Bucs are an impressive and strange lot. They find themselves trailing the winless Lions 17-0 on Sunday, but come from behind to win 38-20. Big win for a team that plays better in Raymound James Stadium than on the road. Even with age, the Buccaneer defense is still one of the best, yielding only 176 yards a game through the air, and a total of 180 points this season. Quarterback Jeff Garcia has been solid, completing 69.8 percent of his passes this season. Even though they are not eating up the chunks of yards they did earlier in the year, Warrick Dunn and Earnest Graham have combined for 1,129 yards this season.

6) Atlanta Falcons (7-4): The Falcons continue to amaze and dazzle. A blowout victory over the first place Panthers was quite impressive. Running back Michael Turner is making a case for the league MVP award after rushing for four touchdowns against the vaunted Panther defense. The Dirty Birds travel to San Diego, and if they come away with another big west coast victory, then this team is a serious playoff contender.

7) Indianapolis Colts (7-4): Peyton and Co. are alive and well. On Sunday, it was just another typical Colts victory. Peyton Manning leads a game winning drive in the final minute; Marvin Harrison has a huge catch on fourth and one, and Adam Vinatieri, kicks the game winning field goal. Same old, same old. The Colts are red hot and are the best story going right now after a sluggish 3-4 start.

8) New England Patriots (7-4): Not much to say other than Matt Cassel has been brilliant lately. The man has thrown for 815 yards and six touchdowns in the last two weeks. Any more questions that he can't drive Tom Brady's Chevy? Didn't think so. Talk about a walk year; Cassel is making an argument for a big time contract from somebody in 2009. Look for the Pats to win out and make it to the postseason party at 12-4.

9) Dallas Cowboys (7-4): The Cowboys are back in town. Tony Romo's 341 yard and three touchdown effort was exactly what Jerry Jones ordered. Even Terrell Owens can't complain after recording a 213 yard effort with one touchdown. By the way, he didn't need 20 catches to get to 200 yards! If the Boys keep it up, there is no reason why they should not make it to January.

10) Carolina Panthers (8-3): Are the Panthers beginning to fall apart? Seems that way after a bad loss to Atlanta on Sunday. The Panthers defense gave up 28 points in the fourth quarter alone to Atlanta, which is inexcusable. The schedule does not get any easier for the Panthers. They play in Green Bay this week, Tampa Bay and Denver at home, and conclude the season with a two game road trip to Giants Stadium and to New Orleans. Can you say 10-6 or 9-7?
Honorable Mentions:
11) Arizona Cardinals (7-4)
12) Washington Redskins (7-4)
13) Baltimore Ravens (7-4)
14) Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
15) Miami Dolphins (6-5)

Chill Out on Subway Super Bowl

Okay.It is getting a little crazy around here. I open up today's New York Post, and I find a breakdown of the Super Bowl between the Jets and Giants by Steve Serby. Humm, just in case you are wondering, it is not even Thanksgiving Day yet!

To seriously talk about a Subway Super Bowl right now is totally ridiculous. Yes, I posted on Sunday night that the two best teams in the NFL were in New York, but I did not say they were guaranteed an all expense paid trip to Tampa Bay. It's a long season for a reason. There are still five weeks left to the regular season, which could be five opportunities for the Jets and Giants to lose, or five opportunities for the Jets and Giants to win.

Anything can happen.
Then there are the playoffs. The Giants will have to contend with a red hot Tampa Bay Buccaneer squad that totally dominates its opponents at home games and has surrendered only 180 points all season. The Giants will likely see the Cowboys and Redskins in January as well. If the G-Men have to meet Dallas again with a healthy Tony Romo and a Cowboy team bent on revenge, the Giants could be in trouble no matter how good they have been.

The Jets road to Tampa is much more difficult. The Steelers are, arguably, a better team than the Jets. They have a great defense that lives by pressuring the quarterback. Even though their offense has done little this year, Pittsburgh is bound to explode at some point. Then there are the Patriots and Colts. Even though both teams may enter the playoffs as wild cards, they still know how to win in January.

So nothing is guaranteed! We will have to wait and see before anyone can starting booking flights to Tampa Bay.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Two Best NFL Teams Reside In Jersey

It is a very rare occurence when New York/New Jersey fans can be proud of their teams. It has been a long time since the Yankees and Mets were playing at the pinnacle of their games, when the two matched up in the World Series in 2000. It has been a long time since New York's beloved hockey Rangers last won a Stanley Cup, and it has been an eternity since basketball actually mattered on either side of the Hudson.

But, for some reason, this season is different. Not only are the Giants defending Super Bowl Champions and playing like it with each passing week, they are joined by a familiar neighbor from across the street. Yes, folks, the Jets.

The last time New York got this excited about Jets/Giants was 1986, when both teams were in first place of their respective divisions. The Jets were 10-1 and the Giants were 9-2. Big Blue raced all the way to Super Bowl XXI, beating the Denver Broncos 39-20, while Gang Green gagged on six losses in seven games, including a 23-20 loss to Cleveland in the second round of the playoffs.

That is enough to show you that anything can happen in the final two months of a football season; nevertheless, for the first time since Week 12, 22 years ago, fans can dream the impossible dream.

The Giants have been the most dominant team in football this season. They can run with the power of Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw; they can rely on the now steady arm and heart of Eli Manning; they can count on the strength of a defense that loves to eat quarterbacks for breakfest, lunch, dinner and a midnight snack.

There is no team in the NFC, right now anyway, that can beat the Giants. They are that good. Whenever faced with a tall order, whether it be going into Philly on a Sunday night, or playing a physical Ravens' team, the Giants have answered the call.

The Jets, on the other hand, were a nice story in August, when the team jettisoned the fans target of hatred and criticism, Chad Pennington, as far away from Florahm Park as possible, and, in his place, called on the gods of pro football to save their ship: Brett Favre. Favre, along with DT Kris Jenkins, have injected renewed confidence in a team that had lost its mojo many years ago.

After a rough start that included a hard to figure loss to Oakland, the Jets have taken off. First, they beat the then first place Bills, then they destroyed the Rams; then, they stole one away from the hated Patriots, and finally, stomped all over the once unbeaten Tennessee Titans.

Favre has done his part, throwing for 20 TD's and helping the Jets become the second highest scoring offense in the league behind only ... the Giants. Jenkins has done more, leading a brutal defense that stuffs the run and harasses quarterbacks with constant pressure from the front line to the secondary.

Even though it is a long season, the Steelers, Patriots, and Titans figure to give the Jets all they can handle in January, while the Panthers, Buccaneers, and, possibly, the Cowboys could be obstacles for the Giants. It is easy to dream of Super Bowl XLIII becoming the Jersey Bowl, or Subway Super Bowl, or the FUGGEDABOUTIT Bowl, or the BADA BING Bowl, or the intersection between Route 3 and 17 Bowl. Yes, children, there is a Santa Claus, and he could have a Super Bowl for all New Yorker/New Jerseyans tucked away nicely in that bag of his. Ho. Ho. Ho.

Giants Fight Off Fiesty Cardinals

GIANTS 37
CARDINALS 29

The New York Giants returned to the scene of the crime on Sunday. For the first time since their memorable 17-14 victory over the New England Patriot is last year's Super Bowl, the Giants returned to Arizona. The game was not as dramatic, but the result was the same: Giants win!

With Brandon Jacobs on the self due to a nagging leg injury, Eli Manning picked up the slack and delivered a huge blow to the Cards, who were hoping to clinch their division before Thanksgiving Day

Manning was picture perfect, completing 26 of 33 passes for 240 yard, three touchdowns and one pick. It was by far his best performance of the season.

The Giants struggled to hold off the Cardinals in the first half, as the teams traded blows only to see Arizona hold a 12-10 lead late in the first half. Then Domick Hixon took off. The speedy receiver returned a kick off 68 yards to put the Giants in great position at the Arizona 32. Manning would then hit Amani Toomer in the corner of the end zone from 12 yards out to give the Giants a 17-12 lead into the break.

In the second half, the Giants blew the Cardinals wings off. First Cards quarterback Kurt Warner was stripped of the football on a thrid down play. Mathias Kiwanuka recovered the fumble. Manning hit Toomer again for nine yards to get them the Arizona 31. Later, Manning hit Steve Smith from 30 yards out to get to the Cards 2 yard line. Finally, Manning hit full back Madison Hedgecock from two yards out to give New York a 24-12 lead.

Still, the Cardinals would not relent. Arizona put together a 14 play 4:30 minute drive that culminated in a Tim Hightower touchdown to cut the defict to five, 24-19.

The Giants answered. Manning hit Kevin Boss for 28 yards down the right sideline to spot the ball at the Arizona 37. Six plays later, Manning found Boss again from 10 yards out to give New York a 31-19 lead early in the fourth quarter.

After Warner was intercepted on the next Cardinal drive, the Giants put the game away. Manning hit Hixon on back to back completions to get the Giants deep into Arizona territory. Three plays later, the Giants settled for a field goal to make it 34-19.

The game was basically over at this point. Even though Arizona scored 10 more points, it was too little too late.

The Giants are now 10-1 and are by far and away the best team in the NFL.

McNabb Benched In Defeat

Donovan McNabb's career in Philadelphia is falling apart and could be coming to an end. In a disastrous 36-7 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, McNabb was benched after a terrible first half of play in which he completed only eight passes in 18 attempts. He threw two interceptions and fumbled one.

McNabb has thrown five interceptions and has fumbled twice in the last two games for the Eagles. The Eagles are now 0-2-1 in their last three, with McNabb playing a big role in each defeat.

Kevin Kolb came in relief of McNabb and was not much better. Kolb went 10 for 23 for 73 yards and two picks. His only excuse is that he is a second year player, McNabb is a 10 year vet.

The Eagles are now 5-5-1, and are entrenched in last place in the NFC Eastern division. It's unknown whether McNabb will play on Thanksgiving when the Eagles face the Arizona Cardinals.

Jets Dominate Punchless Titans

JETS 34
TITANS 13

Talk about a statement game! The Jets not only made a statement that they are the class of the AFC East, they are quickly becoming the class of the AFC conference. The Jets dominated the once unbeaten Tennessee Titans in every facet of the contest. The Jets held the ball for over 40 minutes, had 27 first downs, and rushed for 192 yards against what was once considered a vaunted front seven for Tennessee.

Brett Favre was fantastic. He completed short and precise slants and cross patterns to his receivers, who ate huge amounts of yards against a beat up Tennessee secondary. On the Jets opening drive, Favre went six for six, culminating the drive with a 10 yard shovel pass to Thomas Jones, who squeezed through the Titans defense for the touchdown.

The Jets could have made this a blowout early, but a fumble by Leon Washington and a Favre interception prevented New York from adding points; however, Tennessee did not take advantage of the Jet turnovers. On Tennessee's first six possessions, they were forced to punt. Every Titans receiver dropped passes from quarterback Kerry Collins. As for Collins, he looked a look like the Kerry Collins of his dismal days with the Giants and Raiders. Collins overthrew and underthrew receivers and misread the Jets coverages at several points in the game.

The Jets blew things open in the second half. Favre hit a covered Laveranues Coles in the back of the end zone to complete a seven minute drive to give New York a 20-3 lead to open the third quarter. The touchdown put Favre ahead of Dan Marino for most multiple touchdown games in a career.

Later, Leon Washington took off, bursting through the tackles and down the sideline for a 61 yard touchdown run to make it 27-6 Jets. The 61 yard run was the longest Jets rushing touchdown in six years. In sum, Washington had a huge day, rushing for 82 yards on eight carries. He's a special player that is the best offensive player on a team that has Brett Favre on it.

The Titans got a little antsy as this game wore on, pushing and shoving Jet players when the game entered the final two minutes. Clearly, Tennessee showed no class; they do not know how to lose a game. In fact, they don't even know how to win. How many rings does Tennessee have? ZERO! Maybe the Titans should win a couple of Super Bowls before they strut the strut like world beaters.

The Jets are 8-3, tied with Pittsburgh for the number two seed in the AFC, although the Steelers have a tie-breaker with a better overall conference record. The Jets remain in first place in the AFC East, a game ahead of New England, and two ahead of Buffalo and Miami.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Knicks Make Huge Changes

The New York Knicks have been mired in obscurity for years, but it appears that only now they are beginning to see the light.

Today the Knicks sent Jamal Crawford to Golden State for Al Harrington, a forward who averages about 12 points a game this season. In another trade, the Knicks got rid of head case and malcontent Zach Randolph, trading the center to the L.A. Clippers for foward Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley.

None of the players the Knicks received in the deal are flashy players. They mostly average between 10 to 12 points a game, but the fact that the Knicks were able to clear so much cap space by ridding themselves of Crawford and Randolph is a step in the right direction for New York.

Some speculate that New York is planning for a run at either Cleveland's LeBron James or Miami's Dwayne Wade, when both players hit the free agent market in 2010. The Knicks will need to clear plenty of cap space in order to afford one of those players.

Maybe another New York team that dresses in blue and orange should take note. There is nothing wrong with cleaning house, especially when it is full of terrible ball players.

Cohen's Week 12 NFL Selections

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas follows quickly. The NFL regular season is approaching its conclusion, and playoff football will start to heat up the fireplace.


So here are some picks for week 12.


JETS (7-3) @ TITANS (10-0): After beating the Patriots in overtime, everyone on the planet is going crazy about the Jets. Can the Jets take off to the Super Bowl? Can they win the AFC title? Can they beat the unbeaten Titans? Those questions and more have been tossed around this week, and the real answer to all is ... no ... for right now. The Jets are a good team, but not a great team. They are not as good as the group from 1998 that went to the AFC title game, but a win in Tennessee will begin to change my mind a tad.


I don't buy the idea that the Jets will somehow find a way to run the ball on a vaunted Titans defense led by Keith Bullock and Albert Hanyesworth. I don't buy the idea that Brett Favre won't turn the ball over to a team that is the best at causing turnovers. Moreover, the Jets defensive pass rush has been weak in the last couple of games, and if they struggle to get to Kerry Collins, it will be a long afternoon. Remember, the Jets are a good team, not a great team. PICK: TITANS 20, JETS 13.


Patriots (6-4) @ Dolphins (6-4) : So the Dolphins are all of a sudden world beaters, and Chad Pennington all of a sudden knows how to throw a football. I don't buy it at all. If the Dolphins were a stock, I would advise anyone to stay away from it, because it is bound to plummet. The Dolphins lucked out against the awful Seahawks and the dreadful Raiders, beating both teams by only two points in each game. If the Fish play like that against the Patriots, they are bound to lose.


The Pats, seem to be coming into their own, especially quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel threw for 400 yards against the Jets and seems to be gaining confidence with each week. If the kid keeps it up, he will be a hot commodity on the market in 2009. Don't expect the Patriots to fall for the wild cat offense this time around. Bill Belichick is great at making adjustments, and I am sure he has a plan to stop Ronnie Brown. Prediction: Brown will rush for about 40 yards, and the Pats will eat Chad Pennington alive, as they always have. PICK: PATRIOTS 24, DOLPHINS 14.



EAGLES (5-4-1) @ RAVENS (6-4): Shhhh; don't tell Donovan McNabb that games end in a tie when nobody scores in overtime. McNabb's excuse that he didn't know the OT rules was not only lame, it was the dumbest thing to admit to the media in years. McNabb should be ashamed of himself that he was unaware of such a rule because it makes it look like he didn't care about the game. That's something that McNabb is good at doing.


The Ravens, on the other hand, got exposed as a fraud football team in a 30-10 loss to the Giants. Their defense is overrated, and the offense is still pathetic even with an energetic rookie at quarterback. But, for some reason, I believe that the Ravens will find a way to win this one and get back on track. PICK: RAVENS 27, EAGLES 20.


GIANTS (9-1) @ CARDINALS (7-3): The only thing that can stop the Giants is the Giants, but this game looks like a prime game for Big Blue to blow. The Cardinals have one of the league's most high powered offenses, with a revitalized Kurt Warner, and the terrific receiving tandem of Larry Fitzgerald and Anquain Boldin. This is something the G-men have not seen this year, so it will be imperative for Big Blue to get a rush on Warner, or it will be a long night.

Offensively, the Giants should be fine in this game. The Cards are not known for a great defense; remember, this is a group that gave up 56 points to the Jets earlier in the year. Expect a shootout in the desert. PICK: UPSET SPECIAL: CARDINALS 41, GIANTS 38.

PACKERS (5-5) @ SAINTS (5-5): Here is a game of major playoff implications; in fact, this is very much like a playoff game for both teams. The Packers have been up and down all season, but with quarterback Aaron Rodgers improving each week, it is hard to believe that the Pack will be contained for much longer. Of the three 5-5 teams in the NFC North, the Packers have the most talent, and eventually it should come out big time. A blowout win versus Chicago was a start in the right direction.

Speaking of the right direction, the Saints are going in the wrong direction. Reggie Bush and Duce McAllister have completely disappeared, leaving Drew Brees to figure it out for himself. Brees has done his part, leading the leauge in passing yards, but the fact remains that his stats are not good enough to win games. This is a huge problem for New Orelans, flashing stats, but no results. The only good thing to come out of this Saints season is Brees telling tight end Jeremy Shockey on the sideline to shove it sideways a couple of weeks ago. PICK: PACKERS 37, SAINTS 27.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Adam Pacman Jones Reinstated, Again

Adam Jones has more lives than a cat.

The NFL will reinstate the troubled Jones, after he was suspended for beating up his own bodyguard in a bathroom in mid-October.

Jones will not play this week or on Thanksgiving, according to the report on NFL.com; he could play December 7 against Pittsburgh.

Either way, Jones has been a waste of time since going to Dallas. The guy was originally suspended for all of 2007 because of a scuffle inside a bar/strip club. The Cowboys got him with the hope that they could "change" him, but that didn't work. Now, he will get one more chance.

Not good PR for Commisioner Roger Goodell who has to live with the officiating disaster from the Steeler/Charger game from this past Sunday.

Mike Mussina Will Retire

It appears that it will now be official. The final game of Mike Mussina's career will be a game in which he clinched his first 20 win season.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Yankees right-hander is "selling his home in Bedford N.Y ... and planning to spend more time with his family in Montorsville, PA."

If Mussina does indeed retire, he will be 30 victories shy of 300 wins, a mark that usually is an automatic bid to the Hall of Fame. Nonetheless, Mussina will deserve consideration since he has been one of the most durable pitchers in the game the last two decades.

Cohen's NFL Top Ten Rankings

We are rapidly approaching Thanksgiving and the nitty gritty part of the NFL schedule. Playoff pictures are taking form, and windows are starting to close for teams that are in the 6-4, 5-5 or 4-6 category.

Time is running out, so let's see where the league stacks up after 11 weeks.

1) New York Giants (9-1): The Giants continue to destroy its opponents, the latest victim being the Baltimore Ravens. The Giants rushed for 208 yards against a once vaunted Raven defense and stopped the impressive rookie quarterback Joe Flacco in his tracks. Can anyone stop the Giants? Just the Giants at this point. They have completely dominated every single opponent on their schedule, and it should not stop anytime soon.

2) Tennessee Titans (10-0): All season I have been skeptical of quarterback Kerry Collins and his ability to win games. Well, in the past two weeks, he has shut me and many detractors up, single-handedly picking apart the Chicago Bears and Jacksonville Jaguars in come-from-behind fashion. The Titans defense is still the best in the league, surrendering only 13 points a game. DT Albert Haynesworth is having a huge November, spearheading the Titans front seven with seven sacks of the quarterback.

3) Carolina Panthers (8-2): The Panthers have won four straight and have done so by playing sloppy football. First, quaterback Jake Delhomme went 7 for 27 with four interceptions in a victory at Oakland; then, the Cats got outplayed by the winless Detroit Lions but still found a way to win. I don't know how they do it, but it has a lot to do with the running back tandem of Jon Stewart and DeAgnelo Williams. Against the Lions, the duo combined for 250 yards rushing in the victory.

4) Pittsburgh Steelers (7-3): In spite of a weird ruling in their 11-10 victory over San Diego that took away a Troy Polamalu touchdown that would have made it 18-10, the Steelers are working on healing themselves after dropping two of three. The offense still has not been Steeler-like, but the defense is making up for it. The Steelers are tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for most NFL sacks with 36. The Steelers are also the number one defense in the league in yards allowed, 237 per game. The defense will have to keep it up because Pittsburgh will be entering a brutal stretch run.

5) Arizona Cardinals (7-3): Kurt Warner is well on his way to his third MVP season in the eyes of some, not me however. Warner has been very good passing at a 70 percent completion rate, but he is not as sharp as he used to be with St. Louis. That being said, Warner has the Cardinals flying high for quite possibly the first time ever. The Red Birds can all but clinch the NFC West with a win Sunday vs. the Giants and losses by Seattle, St. Louis and San Francisco.

6) N.Y. Jets (7-3): Speaking of an old time quarterback helping a team to fly high: Brett Favre is providing the kind of miracles the Jets have never seen. In the past, if the Jets blew a big lead in the second half and gave up a game-tying touchdown in the final seconds, they would have crawled under a rock. Not with Favre. He drove them on two potential game winning drives, one of which ended the game in OT with a Jay Feely field goal. The Jets are in first place for the first time since 2002 when they won the division. Can they do it again against the unbeaten Titans?

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3): The Bucs are rolling. The Bucs came from behind to beat a decent Vikings team last Sunday, and, with Atlanta losing to Denver, the Buccaneers are really the only team that can challenge Carolina for the division and a number two playoff seed. They have a favorable schedule with the Lions and struggling Saints on the horizon. The Bucs finish the year with a two game home stand against western division teams, San Diego and Oakland. In short, 11 wins looks likely for Tampa Bay.

8) Indianapolis Colts (6-4) They're baaack! For the first time this year, the Colts have cracked the top ten. They have done so after Peyton Manning and his receiving corp have revitalized themselves in a three game winning streak. Manning has now thrown for 17 TD's this year and 2,568 yards, proving that he is finally healthy after two knee surgeries. The only problem is the running game. Joesph Addai just can't get it going this year with only 387 yards rushing in eight games. If the Colts are to complete this turn around and get into the post season, they will need the running game to click.
9) Denver Broncos (6-4): Will the real Jay Cutler please stand up? In the first few weeks of the year, Cutler was terrific leading Denver to a 4-0 start, but he fizzled in October and part of November. Now, in the last two weeks, Cutler engineered two fourth quarter comebacks to beat the Browns and Falcons. The Broncos are still too inconsistent for words. If it weren't for the Chargers lousy play this year, the Broncos would have been looking in on the post season party from the outside.

10) Dallas Cowboys (6-4): Have to be impressed with the effort the Cowboys showed on Sunday night against the rival Redskins. Marion Barber dominated all night long, and Wade Phillips' gutsy call to go for it on fourth and two to ice the game paid off. Maybe a quarterback does make the difference. Even though he did not play well, Tony Romo's presence seemed to keep the team loose.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Philly/Cincy Earn First Tie of Season

BENGALS 13
EAGLES 13

You know you're bad when you struggle to win games like the Bengals have all year. You know you're bad, when your quarterback gives you headaches, as Eagle fans can attest about their quarterback, Donavan McNabb.

Perhaps it is fitting that the Bengals and Eagles finished in the first tie of the 2008 season. The tie marked the first in the NFL since the Falcons and Steelers tied in a game in the 2002 season.

The Eagles did everything they could to lose this game. McNabb threw three interceptions and even fumbled a ball that set up the Bengals first score of the day. As for the Bengals, Ryan Fitzpatrick and receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh had career days. Late in the second quarter, Fitzpatrick found Houshmanzedeh wide open in the end zone for a 26 yard touchdown, giving Cincinnati a 10-3 lead before half time.

The Eagles would not go away. McNabb led Philly back. In the third, McNabb hit L.J. Smith from four yards out to get Philly to within three points, 13-10. Late in the fourth, McNabb orchestrated a 13 play drive with his arm and legs to get the Eagles to within field goal range at the Bengal 19. David Akers connected on a 27 yard field goal to tie it at 13.

In overtime, no one wanted to win the game. Both teams exchanged punt after punt after punt with no results. Finally, the Bengals seemed to be on pace to win the game. Fitzpatrick hit Houshmanzadeh down the middle for 10 yards. There was an additonal 15 added because of a roughing the passer penalty on Phialdephia. The Bengals set up for the field goal, but kicker Shane Graham missed it wide right with 13 seconds to go.

McNabb then heaved up a Hail Mary with seven seconds to go, but the ball was knocked down to preserve the tie.

The Eagles fall to 5-4-1 on the season. The Bengals fall to 1-8-1.

Giants Cruise To Victory

GIANTS 30
RAVENS 10

Let's face it, the Giants are the equivalent of a red hot team in Division I college football. Think Florida or USC teams that find ways to make football boring by outscoring their opponents 50-10 in the first half alone!

The Giants cruised against the perceived stingy Ravens, blowing out Baltimore 30-10 Sunday afternoon. The Giants defense harrassed quarterback Joe Flacco all day long, sacking him once and forcing two interceptions. One of the picks decided the game, when Flacco's pass bounced off the hands of receiver Derrick Mason into the hands of cornerback Aaron Ross, who went coast to coast for the touchdown.
The Giants defense even kept the Ravens run offense in check all day. Willis McGahee couldn't find any holes as he struggled to 18 yards rushing on nine carries. Ray Rice, of Rutgers, only had 19 yards on nine carries.


As for the Giants, they ripped apart the Ravens run defense. The three-headed monster of Brandon Jacobs, Amhad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward combined for 211 yards on the ground. Bradshaw had the biggest day of the three running for 96 yards on nine carries. As for Jacobs, he had two rushing touchdowns to open the game.

This game was never in question for Big Blue; they dominated from start to finsh,earning their ninth victory of the year. The Giants are 9-1 and well in command of the NFC Eastern division.

Photo: Speaking of three-headed monsters, Brandon Jacobs, Derrick Ward and Amhad Bradshaw have earned the nickname Earth, Wind and Fire; maybe King Ghidorah (above) would be more apporpiate! ;)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Yankees Make $140 Mill. Pitch To C.C.

The Yankees are prepared to do what they do best...spend lots and lots of cash in order to find a way to buy a World Series championship.

Even in a plumeting economy, the Yankees will not be detered from their pursuit of C.C. Sabathia, the star pitcher of the Milwaukee Brewers, who revitalized his free agent status by going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA with Milwaukee.

The Yankees offered a $140 million six year contract to Sabathia, which would make him the richest pitcher in the big leagues. Believe it or not, the Yankees have the payroll flexibility with $90 million coming off the books for 2009.

It is not yet known whether Sabathia will accept the offer. He has built a home in Los Angeles, and would prefer to stay in the National League, which makes the Dodgers a favorite. However, with the Dodgers pursuit of Manny Ramirez, it might be complicated for LA to hand out two $100 million contracts in one winter.

Cohen's week 11 selections

It's week 11 already! Boy time sure flies when you are having fun!

RAVENS (6-3) @ GIANTS (8-1): This is an intreguing matchup. The superior Giants defense goes up against the upstart Ravens offense. Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has not seen a good defense since early in the season, when he threw for 153 yards and two interceptions in a 13-10 loss to Tennessee on October 5; so it will interesting to see how he handles a heavy pass rush coming from Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, the key matchup will be the Giants ground attack going up a soild Ravens front seven, lead by non-other than veteran linebacker Ray Lewis. The Ravens surrender only 65 yards on the ground a game. Giants running back Brandon Jacobs is fifth in the league in rushing this year. Whoever wins this battle, will likely win the game. PICK: GIANTS 31, RAVENS 10.

VIKINGS (5-4) @ BUCCANEERS (6-3): Now this is a tough game to predict. The Buccaneers haven't played in two weeks, and the last time we saw the Bucs, they barely won a game agaisnt the lowly Kansas City Chiefs. The rest should help an aging ball club like Tampa Bay, but they will have to find a way to stop a red hot Adrian Peterson. Peterson now leads the leauge in rushing with 1015 yards, and is well on his way to another 1600 yard season. Guss Ferrotte has done just enough not to hurt the Vikings. He has not turned the ball over, and with Peterson behind him, he has the easiest job in the world. PICK: VIKINGS 23, BUCCANEERS 20.

CHARGERS (4-5) @ STEELERS (6-3): This is as tight as it could get. In one corner are the slumping Steelers and in the other is the conundrum known as the Chargers. Now it has been well established that teams from the west coast that travel east, do not play well. The Chargers are a case in point, having lost in Buffalo and in London against the Saints this year. That being said, Ben Roethlisberger has been a giving mood lately, throwing three interceptions in a loss to the Colts a week ago. How Roethlisberger responds will be the storyline of the night. PICK: STEELERS 27, CHARGERS 24.

COWBOYS (5-4) @ REDSKINS (6-3): Well Jessica Simpson's love glove comes home for the Cowboys! Tony Romo is back under center after missing more than month of action with a broken pinkie. In case Romo is wondering what happened, his Boys are on the brink of extinction. If anyone thinks that Romo can save the Cowboys with a broken finger than you need your head examined. Even when Romo was healthy the Cowboys were playing lousy football, including a loss to Washington on September 28, to get the ball rolling in oppisite directions for both.

The Redskins have had a long time to lick their wounds from the bruttle loss to the Steelers, will look to get back on track. What a better way to do it on a Sunday night against their most hated rival. PICK: REDSKINS 34, COWBOYS 17.

NFL Outlook for Stretch Run

The stretch run is now on the horizon and some really interesting playoff races are starting to develop.

In the AFC, the Jets took full control of the AFC East after beating the Patriots Thursday night. With that win the Jets, right now, have the inside track to the number two seed. The AFC North winner will have a lot to say about whether the Jets get that top seed.

The Steelers are in first in the North with a 6-3 record, but have really struggled of late, losing two of their last three. Both of those losses were also at home, which is a huge concern. Injuries to the Steelers offensive line, running back Willie Parker, and a banged up Ben Roethlisberger, could doom the Steelers late in the season.

The team that has really come on is the Ravens. Quarterback Joe Flacco has energized what one of the league's worst offenses. Flacco's poise has been suprising, considering he is a rookie from a division II school. The combination of Willis McGahee and rookie Ray Rice have brought stability to the running game, and the Ravens defense is still one of the best. The Ravens are tied with the Steelers, and have a more favorable schedule down the stretch.

Watch out for the Colts! Indianapolis has won two in a row to get to 5-4 on the season. Their defense is playing better, now that Bob Sanders is back in the secondary, and Peyton Manning is starting to chip off the ice that has been on his arm most of the season. The Colts only play one game against a team over .500 for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile the NFC North, South and wild card are all up for grabs. In the South, the Falcons, Panthers, and Buccaneers are all within one game of each other for the division lead. The Panthers have the inside track at 7-2, but still have to play in Atlanta and in New Orleans before the season is over. The Falcons have shocked the world. Rookie coach Mike Smith is in for coach of the year, making a doomed franchise matter again. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan has lit it up for Atlanta.

In the North, no one wants to win the division. Chicago has lost two in a row, the Packers have lost two in a row, and the Vikings have a difficult roadtrip coming up in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. 10 wins will likely win this division, but someone needs to get red hot real fast for that to happen.

With all this ambiguity atop these divisions, it has created a logjam for the wild card. Right now nine teams have a shot at the two spots: Redskins (6-3), Buccaneers (6-3), Falcons (6-3), Vikings (5-4), Bears (5-4), Cowboys (5-4), Eagles (5-4), Packers (4-5), and Saints (4-5) all have a shot to make some strech noise before Christmas comes and goes.

Favre, Feeley, Keller Lead Heroics

JETS 34
PATRIOTS 31
OVERTIME
Now this is drama! In typical Jets fashion, New York found a way to make a sure blowout victory into a nail biter, pulling out a heart-stopping overtime win in New England, Thursday night.
The Jets held a commanding 24-6 lead late in the second quarter, before Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel orchestrated a last minute touchdown drive in the final minutes before half time to get the Patriots to within 11 at 24-13.

Cassel had all day to throw against the Jets. For some reason the Jets could not get any pressure on the quarterback. Cassel was brilliant, throwing for 400 yards for three touchdowns while rushing for 62 more. By allowing Cassel ample time to throw, the Jets blew one lead after another.

In the third quarter, the Jets really lucked out. Patriots tight end Ben Watson fumbled on a third down conversion, costing the Patriots a sure scoring drive. Later, Cassel muffed the snap from center, allowing the ball to roll behind him for about a 28 yard loss. These mistakes were key because the Jets offense, that was so potent in the first half, mustered only 38 yards in the quarter.

However, the Jets defense just couldn't hold on. With time expiring in the third, Cassel hit Watson in the middle of the end zone for the touchdown to get New England to within five 24-19. The Patriots converted on the two point conversion to make it 24-21 Jets.

All of sudden, the Jets couldn't hold the ball. Jerricho Cothery fumbled at the Pats 40 yard line allowing the Patriots to start right over and take full command. But the Jets defense found a way to hold on. They finally got some pressure on Cassel and hit him for only a one yard gain to force a long field goal. Stephen Gostkowski connected on the field goal to tie it at 24.

Then, Brett Favre took over. The wily veteran drove the Jets down the field in a 7:00 minute drive, completing four of five passes, including a huge 14 yard completiton to rookie Dustin Keller to spot the ball at the New England 22 yard line.

The Patriots started to play dirty, as they were flagged for two holding calls near the end zone, moving the ball closer to the goal line. Favre pitched it to Thomas Jones; he dived over the line on second and goal to give New York a 31-24 lead.

Then, Eric Mangini had a brain cramp! With the game well in hand in the final 1:59, the coach decided that giving the ball to Jones on a third and two at the Jets 23 yard line was a good idea. Not so good! The Patriots stuffed Jones and forced the Jets to kick it away.

Cassel proceeded to rip apart the Jets defense, connecting on two quick strikes to Watson to get the ball to the Jets 42 yard line with 36 seconds left to play. Cassel hit Wes Welker up the middle for 17 more to put the ball at the Jets 15. Then, in as bizarre a play as can possibly happen, Cassel hit Randy Moss in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown with one second to play. Before that catch, Moss had only one reception for a total of two yards. The play went under review, and, even though it was obvious that Moss did not get both feet down, the officals had to give the touchdown to New England to avoid any controversy. 31-31-OVERTIME!

So the game came down to a coin toss, and, once again, Favre was in the middle of it. Favre hit Kelller for 16 yards to convert a huge third down to get the ball to the Jets 30. This play was perhaps the turning point of the game. Four plays later, Favre found an open Lavernous Coles right down the middle for a 16 yard gain to the Patriots 24 yard line.

After a couple of runs by Leon Washington and Jones, the Jets set up the potential game winning field goal. Jay Feeley, who had a huge week against the Rams, connected on the winning kick as the ball struggled to avoid the goal post, shaving it as it went through, hitting the net. The Jets sideline exploded in jubilation. Owner Woody Johnson stood in the tunnel high-fiving and hugging all his players. Yes, finally, Johnson's investment is starting to pay off.

The Jets are in sole possesion of first place with a 7-3 record. They have the inside track to the number two seed in the AFC playoffs. Now, ten days off before a trip to unbeaten Tennessee, in what could be an AFC Championship preview of coming attractions.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jets vs. Patriots Preview


It may not be the Super Bowl, but it looms almost as large. It is hard to put so much significance on a game that occurs in the middle of the season, but when it is Jets versus Patriots and first place is on the line, it is hard not to get the sense that this is like a championship game.

The winner of this game will be 7-3 and will be well on its way to winning the log jammed AFC East and will have an inside track to the AFC's number two seed; a seed that will give that team a week off during the playoffs.

In one corner stands Bill Belichick, a man who commands respect and a lot of hatred from his opponents. Yes, he is a genuis as a coach, just look at the job he has done this year without the services of his three-time-Super Bowl winning quarterback, Tom Brady, but Belichick's hatred of losing makes him look a sore loser.

Observe at how he has treated Jets coach Eric Mangini, who worked for Belichick for years. The two haven't spoken in even more years; they never acknowledge each other during pregame and brusquely shake hands without looking at each other at the end of a game. All of this because Belichick didn't want Mangini to go to the Jets three years ago. Now, they square off for the right to be the best in their division.

The other story line is the revamped Jets. They spent $140 million in the off-season to get this orgainization on a winning track. The additions of Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace have given the Jets a new dimension on defense. For the first time in years, the corps harrass opposing quarterbacks and has yet to yield a 100 yard game on the ground. It is this group that will determine who wins Thursday's game. If the Jets defense can stop running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and pressure quarterback Matt Cassell, there is no reason to believe the Jets will not win.

Then there is Brett Favre. The Jets brought Favre in for this game. He is known for magical moments, like the one he spun in Super Bowl XXXI against the Patriots, or, more recently, last year's overtime win in Denver on a Monday night. Favre lives for these moments that earned him the nickname as a gunslinger. If Favre doesn't turn the ball over and proceeds to rip apart a Patriots defense that has shown signs of age this year, the Jets should prevail.

But, one never knows with the Jets. The Patriots have won 13 of their last 15 against Jets teams since the 2001 season. The only times the Jets were victorious against the Patriots in this stretch were two victories in Foxboro in 2002 and 2006. The Jets made the playoffs in both of those seasons. It will not be easy for the Jets ... it never is, even if they have a better team on paper than the Patriots.

If the Jets need extra motivation, they should look across the sideline to see Tom Brady in street clothes and to remember that this is their chance, their time, their opportunity to accomplish the ulimate goal.
PREDICTION:
JETS 24, PATRIOTS 21.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jets Bring Back Law

In a move that was more strategic than necessary, the Jets have brought back cornerback Ty Law, signing the Pro Bowler to a one year contract.

Law, who made his name with the New England Patriots, played one year with the Jets during the 2005 season. He had 10 interceptions that season to lead the team.

According to the NFL Network, Law is expected to play Thursday against the Patriots. This is a move of strategy for New York. The Jets may figure that the Patriots will target rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery to put either Randy Moss or Wes Welker up against him. With Law in the mix, the Patriots will have to think twice before throwing in that direction.

However, don't be fooled; Law has not played anywhere this year, so to expect him to play at a high level without any training camp or season action is expecting way too much. Law will wear number 22 on Thursday. His identical number 24 is worn by Darrell Revis.

BREAKING NEWS: Holliday Traded To Athletics

That fireball you see is a gigantic piece of wood burning in the baseball hot stove.

Just days after the MLB General Manger meetings, a huge deal has been completed between the Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics.

The Rockies have agreed to trade outfielder Matt Holliday to Oakland for Carlos Gonzalez, pitcher Greg Smith, and closer Houston Street. The story was broken by Sports Illustrated WFAN baseball insider Jon Heyman.

Street was the only big name that the A's have left on their ballclub but has not closed more than 18 games in a season since 2006 when he saved 37 ballgames. Street gives the Rockies a needed closer or setup man, especially with Brian Fuentes set to hit the free agent market.

As for Holliday, the Rockies wanted to get prospects for him because they cannot afford enough money to keep Holliday beyond this season. Holliday is a free agent in 2010, and he is a client of Scott Boras, who likes to get the most money for his clients; for example, $300 million for Alex Rodriguez and $137 million for Johan Santana in years past.

Holliday, who is a .319 lifetime hitter, should request over $100 million in 2010 when he is a big ticket free agent. There were rumors that the Mets and Yankees were interested in Holliday, and no doubt they should be, but both clubs did not have the prospects for Colorado.

Expect Oakland GM Billy Bean to trade Holliday by the July 31 trade deadline in 2009. The only question is whether the Mets or Yankees will be desperate enough to part ways with their top prospects, i.e. Fernando Martinez and Jon Niese for the Mets, or Phil Hughes and Austin Jackson for the Yankees.

Either way this is a one year detour for Holliday. Chances are he will hit it big in 2010 by signing with a big market team like the Mets, Yankees, or Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers or Angels.

Giants Sneak Away With NFC East

GIANTS 36
EAGLES 31

This game was a wild as a game could get. The Giants dominated the Eagles on the line of scrimmage all night long, holding the ball for 39 minutes yet had to sweat out a 36-31 victory Sunday night.

The game turned in the Giants favor after a controversial call. With the Eagles up 24-20, Giants quarterback Eli Manning stepped over the line of scrimmage at the Eagles 20 and threw the football for a first down to tight end Kevin Boss. The officals originally said that Manning had stepped over the line, which represents a 10 yard penatly and loss of down. If that call had stood, the Eagles would have gotten the ball back with a four point lead.

Instead, the Giants challenged the call, and it was reversed in the Giants favor. Clearly, the officals dropped the ball here. It was obvious that Manning was over the line when he threw the ball to Boss. It was the difference in the game. With the call now in the Giants favor, Brandon Jacobs took up the middle for the touchdown to give the Giants a 27-24 lead.

Jacobs and Derrick Ward had huge nights against the Eagles defense. The duo ripped apart the Eagles front seven from start to finish for 219 net yards. The Eagles defense had no answers for the Giants rushing attack. Every run was four or five yard gains, costing the Eagles any hopes of getting the football.

Later in the fourth quarter, Jacobs scored again, but as he was crossing the goal line, he was stripped of the football. Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged that the ball was out of Jacobs' possession before he crossed the line. The call stood as a touchdown. A good call this time, and video shows that the ball didn't fall out of Jacobs' arms until after his body was over the goal line.

As for the Eagle offense, they were pathetic at the end. Donovan McNabb was winded by the end of the game and didn't hurry the offense down the field at all for the potential winning score. It was reminscent of McNabb's futility in the Super Bowl four years ago when he took seven minutes to lead a touchdown drive to get the Eagles back in that game.

The Giants are now a dominating 8-1 on the season, clearly the best team in the NFC.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Silence of the Rams; Jets Blow Away St.Louis

JETS 47
RAMS 3

The Jets were in dire need of a blowout victory Sunday, the kind of blowout that could give them some peace of mind before a huge Thursday night contest up in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Jets got that blowout; in fact, it was better than expected.

The Jets put up 40 BIG points in the first half against the Rams. It broke a franchise record for points in a half set earlier this year when the Jets held a 35-0 lead against the Cardinals at half time.

From start to finish, it was a dominating afternoon for New York. On the opening drive, Thomas Jones broke it open for a 20 yard scamper to start the game. Later, Brett Favre hit Jerricho Cothery for 18 yards to move the ball to the Rams 42 yard line. Next, Favre hit Lavernous Coles from 14 yards out to spot the ball at the Rams 20. Jones finished the drive off with a 13 yard carry and went untouched into the endzone.

The Rams had no answer for the Jets offense and defense. On the next Jets possession, Favre hit a wide open Dustin Keller on a play-action fake for a 54 yard gain to the St. Louis 11 yard line. The Jets settled for the field goal, but the story of the day was set in stone.

Once St. Louis got the ball back, they gave it up. Marc Bulger was blindsided by last week's hero Abram Elam. The ball popped into the air and was scooped away by Calvin Pace who rumbled 50 yards for the score. 17-0 New York.

The Jets put the game away in the second quarter when Thomas Jones rushed for 26 yards on the drive, including a two yard score to make it 24-0.

With New York up 30-0, Bulger put up a pass of desperation, but it was picked off by Jets safety Kerry Rhodes, who rolled down the sideline for 50 yards to set the Jets up at the St. Louis 18. Favre did the rest as he rolled left and hit Keller in the back of the endzone for the touchdown to make it 37-0.

Later, Rams backup running back Ken Darby fumbeled and it was recorverd by the Jets at the Rams 44 yard line with 11 second to go before half time. The Jets sent out Jay Feeley for a 55 yard field, which he nailed, to make it 40-0 at half time.

Feeley had three field goals, all of which were from distances greater than 45 yards. As for Jones, he had a breakout game. Jones rushed for 131 yards and three scores, cleary his best day as a Jet. As for Keller, he had six catches for 107 yards and a touchdown, his biggest effort to date in his rookie campaign.

The 47-3 victory is the most lopsided in Jets history. The Jets are now 6-3 on the season and are tied with the New England Patriots going into the big game on Thursday night.