Playoff Picture: The race in the AFC is a mess. The Bungles are 1-8, the Texans are 2-7, and the 14 other AFC teams are all between 6-3 and 4-5. Amazing. Over in the NFC, the six playoff teams remained stagnant. The Falcons tie kept them a half game ahead of the Giants, who've won two straight since looking abysmal against the Eagles on Monday night.
1st Round Byes:
Wild Card Teams:
1st Round Byes:
Wild Card Teams:
Looking Ahead: With the bye weeks now all past, we're back to a full 16 game slate for the final 7 weeks of the NFL regular season schedule. This week's slate is headlined by four big games matching 8 of the 14 teams within one game of the AFC's six playoff spots. We've got Buffalo at Kansas City, Pittsburgh at Tennessee, Baltimore at Miami, and New England at Oakland in prime time on Sunday night in a rematch of last season's memorable AFC playoff match-up. Over in the NFC, games of note include a couple of big divisional duels between
Around the NCAA…
Quest For The Fiesta: And then there were two.
Heisman Watch: As we head down the home stretch, the race is still wide open. Here's my take on the top 16 contenders, ranked in order of deservedness (last week's rank in parenthesis) as it presently stands…
- Willis McGahee,
(1): Another solid effort against the Vols, and the frontrunner at this point. He has been more consistent and more valuable than Ken Dorsey this season. Miami Fla.
- Chris Brown,
(2): The nation's leading rusher has another big day in the OT win over Mizzou as the Buffs moved one step closer to the Big 12 Championship game. Colorado
- Jason Gesser,
Washington St.(4): Ascent continues. Has been solid all season, and has posted big wins over , USC, Cal Arizona St., and since loss to Buckeyes. Oregon
- Ken Dorsey,
(3): If he wins, it will be a lifetime achievement award. Two words. Gino Toretta. Miami Fla.
- Brad Banks,
(6): Dude has been unstoppable this season. Very dangerous with his arm and his legs, and just 3 INT's this season in leading the Hawkeyes to a 10-1 mark. Iowa
- Byron Leftwich,
(5): Great talent, and a laser arm. But Leftwich struggled mightily against a Hokie team that others have since been able to throw on in his only true test. Marshall
- Carson Palmer, USC (7): Three huge games left (
Ariz St., UCLS, Notre Dame) for this trendy pick to steal a wide open race.
- Larry Johnson,
Penn St.(16): Were it not for a slow start, he'd be at the top of the list with 's Chris Brown. A very talented big back. Colorado
- Avon Cobourne,
(15): Continues to shatter records in a stellar senior season. West Virginia
- Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma (11): Although he had a good game, the loss to A&M likely hurts his chances as voters would be looking for a candidate from the Sooners if they stayed unbeaten.
- Chris Gamble, Ohio St. (NR): Alright, it's time to mention Gamble as a legitimate Heisman candidate. Purdue threw nowhere near him all day until he sealed the game with a late INT. Was also taking back punts, and made some big grabs on offense. Wow.
St. (13): The nation's top defensive player this season is on pace to record 25 sacks. Terrell Suggs, Arizona Tech (NR): Is two bad games away from being a top 5 contender. Has Kliff Kingsbury, Texas and Oklahoma on deck, which essentially killed Seneca Wallace's campaign. Texas
- Michael Turner, Northern Illinois (NR): The best player on the MAC's best team and the nation's 3rd leading rusher.
- Nate Burleson, Nevada (NR): Has 30 more catches than the 2nd highest WR in the country.
- LaMarcus McDonald, TCU/Brandon Everage, Oklahoma (NR): McDonald, an incredibly athletic LB, and Everage, the Sooner DB…are the nations 2nd and 3rd best defensive players this season.
FU BCS: The Buckeye fan in me desperately wants to see the ‘Canes and the ‘Bucks finish out the season undefeated and meet in the Fiesta. The BCS hater in me wants to see the top 8 teams in the country all have one loss. Here's my weekly look at what a month long 16 team NCAA Football tournament would look like. Included are the winners of the 6 major BCS conferences, as well as the 10 next best teams in the country based on their spots in the polls, strength of schedule, and W-L record. I know the below scenario is a pipe dream, but look at some of these potential second round match-ups!
#7 Notre Dame (9-1) vs. #10
This past week was an all around successful one for me, as I was able to go 3-1 ATS in the NFL and 3-2 in the NCAA in this column last week against the Vegas number. The Saturday morning mailing, where I send interested readers my late Saturday morning selections in the NCAA and NFL, was also a winner. I went 5-4 in college, and 3-2 in the NFL. For the season in the Saturday morning newsletter, I stand at 28-27 in the NCAA and 20-19-1 in the NFL. Hardly outstanding, but I've yet to deliver my breakout week, and traditionally have been much better in November and December since beginning to handicap games in print. This season has pretty much been a wash for me so far this season, but I like where I stand. I'm looking forward to a big finish. To be added to the mailing list for the Saturday mailing, drop me a line at email@example.com.
It's almost getting tired at this point, but playing underdogs in the NFL once again proved fruitful for bettors this week as the covered 8 of 14. On the year, ‘dogs are now 82-57-5, and are hitting at over a 60% clip. Road teams also once again came out in the black, going 9-5 ATS, and improving their season tally to 77-62-5. Nine games went over and five games went under. For the year, 71 of the 144 NFL games played to date have gone over and 73 have gone under. On to my selections for this week…
The Vikings, historically are one of football's best teams to bet at home when getting points. This was even true last season when they were almost as terrible as they are this year.
This one could get ugly, as the Eagles play angry as well as any team in the league. They responded from their 1st 2 losses (vs. Ten and Jax) with dominating performances over
A payback game here, as the Jags win over the ‘Skins last week puts them just a game out of the playoff hunt. The Jags have looked as good as they have all season in their last 6 quarters, starting with the 2nd half of the Giants game 2 weeks back. And the defense shut out
Gut play here, as a
Like the Raiders to keep rolling off their Monday night thrashing of the Broncos. They have finally realized the true nature of their offense is to throw short often, and run just enough to keep the defense honest.
The Gophers are the worst team I have ever seen start out 7-1. Defensively, their front 7 is tiny, and Fred Russell and Brad Banks should have no problem running all over them behind the nation's top offensive front. This is
Upset special here.
‘Bama has absolutely owned the Tigers in their place over the years, and get the win again this year by virtue of just being the much better team. The Tide's strength is stopping the run, and LSU has struggled every time they have been forced to throw with Marcus Randall at the helm…who is replacing the injured Matt Mauck. Roll, Tide, Roll.
Auburn +2 ½ vs.
I backed the Huskies last week in their impressive home win over Oregon St. and I will go with them again this week. Now at 5-5, a win here will make them bowl eligible heading into their season ending game vs. rival Washington St. The Duck pass defense is horrid, and Cody Pickett has tossed for 300 yards more times this year than anyone in the country. This game will be a shootout, and one that the Huskies should be able to keep close if they don't win outright.