Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Sox Sign Brad Penny

The Red Sox signed Brad Penny to a one year deal for $5 million. That's a nice little pick up for them to beef up the back end of the rotation. If he can make pitch 170 innings and keep his ERA at 4.00 or below, I would definitely take that to compliment Beckett, Dice-K, and Jon Lester.

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 NFL Regular Season: Final Thoughts

  • The Redskins completed the season losing a close one to my friend Dennis' 49ers who have been playing well. Washington finishes the season scoring 265 points. The Lions scored more points.
  • Speaking of the Lions, they did not deserve to finish 0-16. At least they played hard every week. There are some other teams who in my mind are much more pathetic. I'm looking at you, Chiefs, Browns, and Bengals.
  • Did the Bucaneers (poop) the bed the final month of the season or what? I don't know why I kept trying to convince myself to keep them on my power rankings.
  • My MVP is Peyton Manning. When the Colts were playing like crap, he pulled a couple of wins out of his (behind) to keep them from falling off the face of the Earth. Their win vs. the Vikings in Week 2 should be one for the ages. Plus, he did it Tiger Woods-style on a bum knee. Rounding out my top 4 MVP choices are Adrian Peterson, Drew Brees, and Michael Turner (who has contributed a great deal to helping Matt Ryan eventually win Offensive Rookie of the Year).
  • I am very interested to see how Ryan and Joe Flacco handle their first playoff games. I was impressed with Ryan the one time I saw him play. I was less so with Joe Flacco. Both teams aren't stupid though and will run the ball 40 times if they can. The Ravens and Falcons ranked one and two respectively in rushing attempts this season. That's how you break in a rookie QB.
  • My two pre-season Superbowl picks will miss the playoffs. Dallas is out and deservingly so since they wilted like bad lettuce yesterday. New England deserves to be in (insert tirade regarding the playoff system here), but it will be refreshing to have a Patriot-less playoffs, just like a Yankee-less playoffs was for baseball. Heh, heh.
  • I would be a little concerned if I were the Titans. I know the season finale was meaningless, but to get shut out by the Colts, a team Tennessee could very well meet in the playoffs, is no confidence booster. The Colts didn't need the game either, but they showed a little pride. The Titans couldn't even muster a field goal.
  • Next weekend features three wildcard games where the road teams should be favored. My predictions for the entire playoffs will come before the end of the week.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yanks sign Kevin Cash, realize he has none

I wasn't even aware that Cash was a free agent but the Yanks seem to have picked him up on a minor league contract as a bit of insurance for Jorge and Molina. I also think the Steinbrenner boys got their hands on a baseball history book but they didn't get past the chapter where the Yankees bought the entire 1918 Boston Red Sox lineup, including Babe Ruth from Sox owner Harry Frazee since that seems to be their new plan of action.

I think it is also worth noting that the Yanks are doing something pretty cool for the preseason openers in Yankee Stadium. The two games the Yankees will play against the Cubs on April 3 and 4 will feature ticket prices from the original Yankee Stadium opener of 1923. Its a nice gesture, but it seems that the average fan will be last in line to get a hold of these cheap tickets.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Teixeira to the Yanks

This one hurts. I didn't care that they got the 300 LB Lefty. I didn't care when they got the second coming of Carl Pavano. Now, they have Teixeira and I am worried. No, they Yankees aren't ruining baseball by spending more money then everyone, but, this blow definitely will make the tough AL East even tougher. It should come to no surprise Teixeira went to the Yankees they had the most money and a need at 1st base, I hate myself for being so foolish.

My next question, what is Theo's next move?

The rich get richer

I didn't see this coming but it looks like the Yanks have swept in and stolen Mark Teixeira from the Red Sox and the Nationals. Jon Heyman is saying the deal is sitting in the range of $180 million over 8 years. I don't know where the Yankees are pulling all this money from but I can't really believe they actually can afford all of these huge contracts. Maybe they have some old couch in Old Yankee Stadium that they haven't cleaned out since Mickey Mantle retired. There is a ton of money coming off the books in a couple of seasons, but the Steinbrenner accountants most be livid right now.

I think Teixeira is a good player and of course he is going to be overpaid. He was going to be overpaid no matter which team signed him, but I am happier that the Sox didn't get him than I am the Yankees getting him. They haven't had a first baseman of this quality since the Tino days of the late '90s. A guy who can pick it at first and swing the bat.

It will take a lot for this team to gel, but if the Yanks haven't beaten the Sox on the field since '03 they have certainly won the spending wars during the off-season. Cashman couldn't have done it better really as he got everything the Yanks needed this off-season (except a centerfielder though, Swisher could fill that role) and I don't believe that any Yankee fan should feel bad that they have spent so much. It's not our money and the Yanks are just playing by the rules.

Believe it or not this trade probably helps them shave money from the payroll over the next couple of years. Now they don't really have to worry about Matsui, Damon and Nady walking next season as Swisher can move to a corner spot and Austin Jackson should be ready to take over centerfield by then (hopefully).

I'm sure Teixeira to the Yanks will create an uproar throughout baseball. Whether happy or mad everyone is going to have something to say. I'm sure most of it will be negative but hey, the Yankees know how to deliver a Christmas miracle to their fans.

NFL Top 10: Week 17

This will be the final installment of the power rankings for this season. Come next week, I will predict the playoffs, NCAA Tournament style. It figures, anytime I jump on or off any band wagon, I get proven wrong. The top four are back to where they were back in Week 15. I'm glad I spent all this free time on the rankings every week. Sheesh.

1. Giants (12-3): Last week #3. Just as I thought, with Jacobs back and the offensive coaches recommitted to the running game, the Giants are back on track. I like the way they stayed the course with the ground game though they were down early to the Panthers. The D is looking a little depleted however. Perhaps there is cause for concern.

2. Titans (13-2): Last week #4. I thought their D would struggle without Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch, but wrong again! The defense may be just nasty enough to get them through the playoffs, but I still just can't get excited about them.

3. Pittsburgh (11-4): Last week #1. When Big Ben becomes Bad Ben, this team doesn't have a chance. The one constant during their win streak had been Roethlisberger's ability to take care of the football. That's the only way they could win a rematch with Tennessee.

4. Panthers (11-4): Last week #2. 301 yards rushing? Ouch. A week after running for 299 themselves, they allow a monster day to Jacobs and Co. I'm banking on that performance being an aberration.

5. Colts (11-4): Last week #5. It hasn't been Peyton's best year statistically, but if ever he deserved MVP consideration, it is now. The Colts have won eight in a row and shown that they have brass ones in the process, pulling out a number of close games including their last win vs. the Jags. This sets up an anticlimactic season finale with the Titans, where nothing is on the line and no one will play. It will probably be a boring game on top of it, with neither coach wanting to tip his hand in case these teams meet in the playoffs.

6. Dolphins (10-5): Last week #6. Time for Chad P. to get the last laugh on the Jets. No one is talking about a weak arm anymore.

7. Ravens (10-5): Last week #7. If nothing else the Ravens know how to play to their strengths. They have a rookie QB and a great defense, therefore they have more rushing attempts than any team in the league.

8. Falcons (10-5): Last week unranked. I should have gone with my gut instead of my head last week. The Bucs were ranked instead. I said I was skeptical all year, yet I kept the Bucs in the rankings. Now they're sucking wind and the Falcons have clinched.

9. Patriots (10-5): Last week unranked. It's scary to see them scoring 40+ with regularity again. The AFC better hope New England doesn't get in.

10. Cowboys (10-5): Last week #8. God, I hate you guys. Do they beat up on the weak or what? Then they cower like dogs when they play a big boy defense like Baltimore. Even still, win and they're in. I hope they don't.

What the hell is up with...? The Broncos. You let the once 4-8 Chargers back in the mix. If you had any cajones you would have wrapped up this putrid division weeks ago. All you had to do was win one stupid game. It sickens me to think that either you or the Chargers are going to show up for one game only in the playoffs and the Patriots could be 11-5 and watching from home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Wang and Yanks agree on 2009

Word coming now about the Yanks avoiding arbitration with Chien-Ming Wang. They have agreed to a one year deal at the pay rate of $5 million. Not much to say except that its good for the Yanks relationship with Wang that they avoid the messy process of arbitration hearings like they had last year. Those can only make future contract negotiations more difficult to work out.

Wang was 8-2 last year with a 4.07 ERA. He has been the anchor of the staff since 2006 and when he went down last year it pretty much killed the Yanks rotation. He is kinda being forgotten about during this whole CC and A.J. mess, but he is a huge factor in the Yankees 2009 plans. If he can bounce back to be his reliable economic old-self, then the Yanks rotation will be formidable and it will take pressure off of Joba and the youngsters to eat innings.

Barring any major injury the Yanks will probably look to lock him up for a longer deal after the season. Something that will be economical and team friendly. Though, nothing is stopping Wang from looking to his left and right and wanting the same deal as the guy who weighs 300 pounds and the guy with his arm in a sling.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sox out on Teixeira

Well word has come from the top that the Sox are no longer in on Mark Teixeira. Can't say I'm surprised. I don't trust any rumor I hear about the Red Sox being in on a big time free agent or some kind of big time trade. It seems that Theo Epstein has thoroughly proven that his M.O. is to try and drive up the price on other competitors and then bail out as soon as the other side comes to the table for real.

In all honesty I never thought he would fit into their plans anyway. They have a stud first baseman in the system in Lars Anderson and there is no way they would have been able to trade Mike Lowell, unless they gave him away for free. Sure he would have made their lineup great again, but you don't need a ridiculous lineup to win. You just need pitching to keep the hitters down while you put up three or four runs. Everyone would want a lineup of all-stars but it just doesn't work. The Yankees have proven that.

Anyway, this just proves that Theo is a shadowy guy and you can't really trust any rumors you hear about who the Red Sox are in on. The only time they actually ended up being a high bidder trying to acquire a big name was the Matsuzaka Sweepstakes. The Santana deal was a myth and now, so is the Teixeira contract.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Just in case

Just in case you haven't seen them in a million other places, here's a link to Peter Abraham's blog and a few snap shots of the two newest Yankees.


On ESPN's homepage, the sportsnation poll question is, "Who will win more games in 2009 AJ Burnett or CC Sabathia?" Really?? I justed laughed out loud when I read that one. The real question should be, will every win by AJ Burnett as a Yankee cost more or less than $1 million? I say more and it's not even close. Great signing!

Welcoming wagon is out

Going on live at the moment; CC and A.J. donning their pinstripes for the first time at the Stadium. Right now I'm finishing a paper but I'm keeping one eye on the screen.

Update: 1:06 p.m. - CC looks pretty excited to be at the Stadium. Not necessarily what I expected. A.J. looks about right: serious like he wants his money and he wants to get out of there quick.

Update: 1:10 p.m. - The pinstripes can only do so much for CC. He is one huge individual. Nonetheless they both look pretty good in their Yankee digs. Bad omen for Burnett though, he's wearing one of Jaret Wright's old numbers 34. Well at least that was the year Wright didn't get hurt too much.

Update: 1:20 p.m. - CC sounded cool and confident behind the mic. I think that's a good sign for him. The real test will be what he does when he gets bounced out of a game after two innings. He does seem to have a personality to deal with the adversity though.

Update: 1:24 p.m. - A.J. is all done now too. Burnett said that the reason he missed a lot of time was he didn't know his body well at a young age and now he does. He even said that he would take the ball on three days rest if necessary. Well I'm sure every Yankees fan will say the same thing: just try to take the ball every fifth day A.J.

So Long to Slingin' Sammy

A Washington Redskins and NFL great, Sammy Baugh passed away at the age of 94. He was a revolutionary in the passing game and a great all around player in the days when players went both ways. I'll be wearing my number 33 jersey on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

NFL Top 10: Week 16

We have a real shake up at the top here. At this point in the season, I'm basing this on recent performance more so than body of work. Each of the top four teams has an impressive resume this season, so I'm going by who looks good right now. What a great weekend ahead featuring two potential conference championship previews with home field on the line.

1. Steelers (11-3): Last week #3. I had the idea to put the Steelers at number one late Sunday night, but because they get to write sports for a living Don Banks and Peter King of SI scooped me. Big Ben was the difference last weekend (controversial call aside). He was the main reason they won and the Ravens lost. He engineered a 92 yard game winning drive and Joe Flacco looked like a rookie, completing less than 50% and throwing two picks.

2. Panthers (11-3): Last week #4. I love their running game. I hate it when teams rely on the run just because the offense has no talent. This rushing attack is down right explosive.

3. Giants (11-3): Last week #1. Two losses in a row. Tisk, tisk. I refuse to believe that Burress' absence is the problem. Jacobs is the straw that stirs the drink as another NYC sports hero said. Run the ball, then you can go down field.

4. Titans (12-2): Last week #2. See what happens when you stop the running attack and make Kerry Collins try to beat you. Houston did it perfectly. I know Collins has made opponents pay at times this season, but I sure wouldn't fear him if I were the Steelers or Ravens (for example). I would be worried most of all by the prospect of Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch being out for two weeks or more. Without their D this team has jack squat.

5. Colts (10-4): Last week #5. Another double digit win season for Peyton and crew. They just keep finding ways to win. Like I said before, no one wants to face them in the playoffs. I wonder how much, if anything, will be on the line in the season finale vs. the Titans.

6. Dolphins (9-5): Last week #8. The teams on the rest of this list all control their own destiny. In other words, they don't need help to get in the tournament. They just need to win. I think it's completely underrated how much of a stabilizing force Chad Pennington has been for this team.

7. Ravens (9-5): Last week #6. They're still very much in the hunt even after the disappointing loss to Pittsburgh. We'll see how the young QB, Flacco, rebounds from the poor outing.

8. Cowboys (9-5): Last week #9. I wouldn't be surprised if this team won out and made it to the Super Bowl or lost their last two and completely imploded.

9. Buccaneers (9-5): Last week #7. They're reeling after two straight losses, and I'd love to put the Falcons here, but I can't. The Bucs are in a better situation with tie breakers.

10. Jets (9-5): Last week unranked. See above only switch Falcons with Patriots.

What the hell is up with...? Fairness. There are a number of teams who, in certain scenarios, could finish 11-5 and miss the playoffs, while the Cardinals could finish as 8-8 division winners and still get in. In my opinion, the divisions are too small. You only have to be better than 3 teams to get into the tournament. This will never happen, but you could keep the division structure to help with scheduling and still allow the 6 best teams from each conference in based completely on record and seed accordingly. The NFL would hate this, but in my system, the top two teams could come from the same division and both get byes. Oh well, a guy can dream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Eagles still in flight

After the Ravens destroyed Philly and Andy Reid sat Donovan McNabb I, like most other Eagles fans, felt the Eagles were done. Now, three weeks later, they're still on the outside looking in but they are still very much alive in the NFC Wild Card hunt and they are playing like a team on a mission.

Somehow this offense has found a rhythm that they haven't really had on a consistent basis all season. All of their receivers are stepping up and at the moment the don;t seem to need that number one guy as long as McNabb keeps distributing the ball equally.

Donovan McNabb has somehow returned to his 2004 form and the Eagles offense looks as dynamic as ever. They have two tough games left but I think they can handle the reeling Redskins and they should be able to edge the Cowboys at home.

Now aside from winning out, they also need some help from the Buccaneers or the Falcons. One of those teams needs to lose a game and that is a possibility in Week 16. The Bucs take on the Chargers who are still mathematically alive in the AFC West and the Falcons take on the Vikings who just trounced the faux division winning Cardinals. Both have easy match ups in Week 17 so the Eagles need one of those teams to slip up now.

This still my be the end of McNabb in Philly and that may be the best move for each party, but at least glad that he is reminding Philadelphia why he is one of the best in the game when he's right.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Redskins Reach Nadir

Washington's offense is even more pathetic than I thought. Only 13 points against the Bengals? Though their playoff chances were slim going into this week, I figured they would at least give it the old college try. Instead they spot Cincinnati a 17-0 lead.

I really hope that this doesn't prompt Dan Snyder to try to coax Bill Cowher out of retirement. I have a lot of respect for the guy and I think he's a good coach, but his brand of football drives me crazy. I've had my fill of three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust from the Redskins over the years, thank you. I've said it before. Washington desperately needs someone explosive on offense.

Friday, December 12, 2008

And the other shoe falls

Well Part II is now in the fold. First it was CC and now it's A.J. Any other free agents with initials for names better watch out cause the Yanks have tons of money left and we'll buy you too. Anyway the deal for Burnett looks to be in the absurd range of 5 years and $82.5 million.

Now I know that this deal has no standing in reality and that you would be foolish to expect Burnett to actually survive all 5 years of the contract, but his ability is pretty damn exciting. Watching him school the Yankees all last season gave New York a close up view of his 98-mph fastball and that filthy curve that just breaks knees.

Of course his talent is only exciting when he's on the field. In the first season that Burnett topped 200 innings he only through 23 innings the following season. In his walk year with Florida he again cracked the 200 inning barrier only to see his innings total drop to 135 2/3 during his debut with the Blue Jays. Now he hasn't had any major arm issues since he had Tommy John surgery in 2003. Since then it has only been minor things that have kept him from being a horse of the Blue Jay rotation.

The hope is that Burnett doesn't have to be the number one in New York and it's very likely he might only have to be the number three guy. It is a very risky signing. The easy way out would have been for Cashman to sign Derek Lowe, but the general feeling was probably that they wanted the guy who would miss bats. It also helps that over the past three seasons, Burnett has posted a 5-0 record against the Red Sox with an ERA of 2.56. Don't forget, a former teammate of Burnett's went to Boston in 2006 with a very small track record of success. Now look at how Josh Beckett is regarded throughout baseball.

Sox Unveil New Road Unis

Check it out. I'll always love the classic Red Sox "B" on the hats, but I kind of like the hanging Sox logo too.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Good'ole T.O. finally makes an appearance

You have to give credit where credit is due. Kudos to you T.O. It took you almost three full seasons to go all locker room virus on your new team. In Philly you managed to get yourself thrown out of town in just 21 games.

As an Eagles fan it gives me great pleasure to see these types of things, especially when it with a division rival that I despise more than any other team save the Patriots.

My hope would be that this little riff leads to another meltdown in Dallas and the Cowboys slip just a little more. Anyway with the way Philly is playing right now the Boys probably won't be able to handle them in Week 17 anyway. Nonetheless it is fun to watch T.O. work his magic.

Cashman still wheeling and dealing in Vegas

Cashman may not have received a mandate from the Steinbrenners to win this year, but he sure is acting like he has to win now.

After handing out the largest contract ever to a starting pitcher, he is supposedly deep into talks with A.J. Burnett and it looks like the Yanks are in prime position to steal him from the grasp of the Braves. The rumored deal is for five years and somewhere between $80 and $90 million. Now obviously this money is pretty absurd for a guy who has only been sporadically healthy through his career and only shows up against certain teams or when he his playing for his next contract. But the one thing I like about Burnett is that he shows up against both the Yanks and the Sox. If all he does is kill the Sox the $16+ million a year would have some value if only to see how mad Red Sox Nation gets when Burnett is 14-11 with a 4.50 ERA and still schooling them when he can't beat the Royals.

The other deal that Cashman has just about completed is the one to send Melky Cabrera to the Brewers for Mike Cameron. Much like getting Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, this a steal of a deal. Melky has potential but I get the feeling he won't reach it or it will be a very long time before he does. Plus the Brewers may eat some of Cameron's contract. Cameron may not be long for the Yanks, he is likely to be just a place holder until they feel that Austin Jackson is ready, so he doesn't cost the Yanks a lot but he upgrades the lineup and the defense in the outfield.

So far the Yanks have spent a lot of money, even by their standards. But on paper they are a much better team and that's all Cashman can do is put the best team on paper and then hope they perform on the field. What I like about all these deals is that he hasn't given up any of the Yankees future. He has held all of the major young pieces that he wants to keep and traded away others that were expendable.

I can't argue with what Cashman has done. I probably would have made all the same moves too. Ironically the Yanks payroll will probably still fall this off-season and next year it will drop a little further.That's a feat in itself.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sabathia and Yanks near a Deal

The Yanks and CC Sabathia are close to finishing a 7 year $160 million deal. That is a lot of years and money for a guy who is over-weight and has thrown literally 500 innings the past 2 seasons. This deal might work out for the Yanks, but those factors have got to be in the back of Cashman's head. When we look back in 5 years, Johan Santana might look like a bargain compared to Sabathia in dollars and players even though the Mets gave up some prospects.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

NFL Top 10: Week 15

Finally, I can say with some confidence that the top five teams should be pretty apparent to just about anyone. We should all be able to reach some kind of consensus on this, shouldn't we? Well the top three anyway. No? How about the top... Oh never mind.

1. Giants (11-2): Last week #1. Heck yeah they're still number one. I find it hard to down grade them after a tough divisional loss against a team fighting for its playoff life in the Eagles. Besides, I had them ahead of the Titans all season even when the Titans were undefeated. By the way, thanks for making me look like a fool after my post last week, Mr. Hixon.

2. Titans (12-1): Last week #2. They took care of business against another inferior opponent last game. The upcoming match up against the Steelers ought to be a real slobberknocker. I for one can't wait.

3. Steelers (10-3): Last week #3. That was a man sized comeback against the Cowboys. It was helped along quite a bit by Tony Romo, but give the Steelers credit. You have to play all 60 minutes flat out.

4. Panthers (10-3): Last week #8. Believe it or not, the Panthers control their own destiny for home field advantage and a first round bye in the NFC. If they win out it will include a victory over New York so the Giants had better be careful.

5. Colts (9-4): Last week #5. As unlikely as it may appear the Colts could finish 12-4...again. They are certainly getting it together at the right time. I know the schedule has gotten lighter, but you roll with the hand you're dealt.

6. Ravens (9-4): Last week unranked. It's easy to forget about these guys. That defense is still nasty after all these years.

7. Buccaneers (9-4): Last week #9. How can I move them up after a crushing loss? The Cowboy's loss was more crushing. The Bucs still have the inside track to a wildcard berth.

8. Dolphins (8-5): Last week unranked. Last season after thirteen games they were 0-13. Now they control their own fate for a division title. Things look bright for the last three games; San Francisco, at Kansas City, at NY Jets.

9. Cowboys (8-5): Last week #4. It was devastating loss vs. Pittsburgh to be certain. Call me crazy, but I'm not quite ready to give up on them. What did you call me?!

10. Patriots (8-5): Last week #7. The Pats are looking uncharacteristically sloppy lately. The signing of Junior Seau smells like desperation to me. I wouldn't be surprised if they got back on track, but this could be a Patriot-less post season.

What the hell is up with...? The NFL League Offices. Wow. The economy must be bad if the NFL is handing out pink slips. They laid off a bunch of people from the New York office this past week. How is that possible with the billions they make?

Monday, December 8, 2008

'Skins Swoon

After starting 6-2, my beloved Redskins sit at 7-6, on the outside of the playoff bubble. Sunday's thrashing at the hands of their next door neighbor Baltimore Ravens served notice that they are done. I warned all of you 'Skins fans not to get too excited after the first half of the season.

For some reason, although they have played well by and large, Washington's defense feels the need to spot their opponents with a 7-0 lead at the outset of every game. Clinton Portis, their only offensive weapon of any note, has way too much wear on his tires to be effective. The passing game continues to lack any kind of identity or go-to player (no disrespect to Chris Cooley but he's not going to stretch any defense with his speed).

In the offseason, they need to get some kind of threat a wide receiver and find a legit pass rusher. Jason Campbell will continue to develop if you give him more targets. They are just a couple of pieces from being a real playoff contender.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

NFL Top 10: Week 14

It pains me to do so, but my Redskins have dropped out of the Top 10. The offense looked putrid against the Giants on Sunday. There is still no one on that side of that ball that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing defenses. The 'Skins D is solid and kept Washington in the game for a while. However, it's hard to continue to do that when the offense is punting every five minutes. Anyway, on to the Top 10.

1. Giants (11-1): Last week #1. Plaxico who? Domenik Hixon is a receiving star on the rise. Very dangerous.

2. Titans (11-1): Last week #2. What is a better way to rebound from a loss than to bury the toothless Lions on Thanksgiving day? Are they destined for 0-16 or what?

3. Steelers (9-3): Last week #3. They showed the Patriots who's boss. After falling behind 10-3, they scored the game's next 30 points. Think they were motivated by some past playoff failures against the Pats?

4. Cowboys (8-4): Last week unranked. I know, I know. How can I bring them from unranked to number four on the list. Because it's my list, damn it! Clearly, the return of Tony Romo has the 'Boys clicking again. It's amazing how teams can overcome just about any injury except to the QB.

5. Colts (8-4): Last week #5. That was an ugly, ugly win against the Browns. C'mon, only 3 offensive points! But sometimes you have to find a way to win in the mud and gunk. The Colts stepped out of their comfort zone and did just that.

6. Jets (8-4): Last week #4. I give the Jets somewhat of a pass for the loss on Sunday to Denver. They were working off a couple of big wins where they expended a lot of physical and mental energy. They have three winnable games in a row on the upcoming schedule. Don't screw it up!

7. Patriots (7-5): Last week #6. They just got manhandled by Pittsburgh on Sunday. You can never count out BB though. A playoff rematch might yield different results.

8. Panthers (9-3): Last week #8. When they run the ball, all is well. Will they be able to avenge their October 12th loss to the Bucs on Sunday?

9. Buccaneers (9-3): Last week #9. The winner of Bucs vs. Panthers could very well end up the 2nd seed in the NFC (and a coveted top 5 ranking in Dan's list).

10. Falcons (8-4): Last week #10. Everyone is sleeping on the NFC South. The winner could cause trouble in the playoffs for the favorites. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan is having one of the best rookie seasons ever for a QB. He has thrown just 6 interceptions and has only been sacked 13 times to go along with his 61% completion rate.

What the hell is up with...? Plaxico Burress. Certainly you don't need me to analyze the events of a few days ago. All the sports media will be doing that ad nauseum. But what baffles me the most is how Plax was such a good soldier last season. He played hurt all year. He made big catch after big catch. He kept is nose clean. So now that he has his ring he has no desire to work hard anymore or keep himself out of career risking situations? He should be trying especially hard to keep out of trouble considering that it's quite clear that the Giants don't need him.