Swerb's Blurbs, Vol. 13

This last week has been about as traumatic for a Cleveland sports fan as it can get. Well, short of some heart-breaking moments in the late 80s, that is. Still, Swerb soldiers on like on Cleveland sports fans can, continuing to blurb away no matter what. Here are this weeks blurbs from the world of college and pro football.

NFL Notebook


Playoff Picture:  The mess that is the AFC playoff race saw the Chargers, Colts, and Raiders all emerge with big wins this week to move to 8-4, putting them at the head of the pack of the many teams embroiled in a bitter chase for the six playoff spots as well as home field advantage in the AFC. 


Over in the NFC, the playoff field is all but set.  Losses by the Rams and Redskins all but eliminated them leaving only the Giants as a possible but unlikely contender for the final wild card spot still held by the Saints, now at 8-4 after defeating Tampa for the second time this season.  The Buccaneer loss also put a damper on their hopes at securing the home field, as they now find themselves in a three-way tie at 9-3 with the Packers and the Eagles…and with the Falcons, 49ers, and Saints all now within one game.




1st Round Byes:  San Diego (8-4) and Indianapolis (8-4)

Other Division Leaders:  Pittsburgh (7-4-1) and Miami (7-5)

Wild Card Teams:  Oakland (8-4) and Tennessee (7-5)

Stalking the Pack:  New England (7-5), Denver (7-5), NY Jets (6-6), Buffalo (6-6), Kansas City (6-6), Cleveland (6-6), and Baltimore (6-6)




1st Round Byes:  Tampa Bay (9-3) and Philadelphia (9-3)

Other Division Leaders:  Green Bay (9-3) and San Francisco (8-4)

Wild Card Teams:  Atlanta (8-3-1) and New Orleans (8-4)

Stalking the Pack:  NY Giants (6-6)


Looking Ahead:  Thirteen of the sixteen teams in the AFC have a .500 record or better, and four showdowns between 8 of those 13 squads headline an impressive slate of games this Sunday in week 14 of the NFL schedule.  Included are battles for supremacy in the AFC South when Indianapolis visits Tennessee as well as in the AFC West where the Raiders will play at San Diego.  Bledsoe-Brady II has huge playoff implications, and Denver looks to rebound from a two game losing streak with a visit to play the Jets.  Over in the NFC, the most appealing contest has the league's top defense in Tampa Bay looking to find a way to control the league's most exciting player in Michael Vick.  Also, in a game with dwindled playoff implications, Dick Vermeil plays host to the Rams in what could be the week's most exciting game.  The prime time contests see Minnesota visit Green Bay on Sunday night and the Bears play at Miami in the Monday night affair.


Around the NCAA


Quest For The Fiesta:  Virginia Tech at Miami Fla.  The final game standing between a showdown between the Hurricanes and the Ohio St. Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl in the national championship game.  Miami is an 18-point favorite this week and are already being posted as 11-point favorites vs. the Buckeyes.  As far as BCS implications in other games this weekend go, the one thing we know for sure is that the winner of this week's Georgia-Arkansas SEC Championship game will go to the Sugar Bowl.  Florida St., the ACC Champion is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl, as well as the winner of Oklahoma-Colorado as the Big 12 representative.  USC is also a lock for either the Rose Bowl as the PAC 10 champ, or as a BCS at-large due to their spot in the top 4 of the BCS rankings.  Which leaves 2 spots for the 6 slots in the Rose, Sugar, and Orange Bowl.  One spot is Washington St.'s (in the Rose as PAC 10 champ) if they defeat UCLA this week, and Iowa is the most deserving candidate of that final spot.  What could screw things up, and incense Hawkeye fans in the process, is the Orange Bowl selecting Notre Dame as their at-large selection.  The mere fact that this possibility exists tells you all you need to know about the serious flaws in the system we currently have in place.


Heisman Watch:  And then there were five.  Which coincidentally is the number of players who receive invites to the awards ceremony in the big apple.  The race is wide open.  Everyone has their favorite, and while Dorsey and McGahee figure to be the frontrunners, each of these five guys has a legitimate shot at bringing home the hardware.  Here's my take on the Fab Five…


  1. Brad Banks, Iowa (1):  Barely hangs onto my vote despite another impressive McGahee performance.  Having watched Banks play all year, there has simply been no player more valuable this season.  That said, if McGahee stars in another big game this week for the ‘Canes against Va. Tech…it will likely be enough to push him over the top for me.


  1. Willis McGahee, Miami Fla. (2):  The MVP for the team ranked #1 all season, and in my opinion, the nation's top runner this season.  Has broken off a 50+ yard TD run in 6 different games this season, and has led the Hurricanes ball control attack.  Good hands, and a capable blocker, and about to become a rich man in the NFL next season after he leaves school after his sophomore (redshirted) season.  To me, it's a coin flip between Banks and McGahee.


  1. Ken Dorsey, Miami Fla. (5):  I've become more and more impressed with Dorsey's poise and the large part he plays in making the Hurricanes such a successful team.  Although he has struggled a bit at the outset of some big games, when the time has come for Dorsey to make plays, he has made them time and time again.  Although still Torretta-esque to a point, he's nipping at the heels of Banks and McGahee.


  1. Larry Johnson, Penn St. (3):  Definitely worthy of the award despite a slow start.  Where LJ loses me is the 71 yard/game average he posted against the 3 best defenses on his schedule this season.  Taking nothing away from what has been a ridiculous season for him, the guys above him have excelled in the tougher games on their schedules and he did not.


  1. Carson Palmer, USC (4):  His solid effort in a nationally televised humiliation of the golden domers will likely send him up many voters' boards but not mine for some reason.  As good as a season as Palmer has had, he is still clearly the nation's 3rd best quarterback in my mind this season, and I could not justify placing him higher than Banks or Dorsey in my pecking order.


FU BCS:  The fact that the Orange Bowl will likely select Notre Dame over a host of more qualified teams as their at-large selection to face the four loss Florida St. Seminoles in a rematch of a game that was boring the first time they played this season exemplifies the massive flaws in the current system.  Here's my weekly look at what a month long/16-team NCAA Football playoff tournament would look like as it presently stands:


#1 Miami Fla. Hurricanes (11-0) vs. #16 North Carolina St. Wolfpack (10-3)

#8 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2) vs. #9 Texas Longhorns (10-2)


#4 Iowa Hawkeyes (11-1) vs. #13 Michigan Wolverines (9-3)

#5 USC Trojans (10-2) vs. #12 Colorado Buffaloes (9-3)


#3 Georgia Bulldogs (11-1) vs. #14 West Virginia Mountaineers (9-3)

#6 Kansas St. Wildcats (10-2) vs. #11 Penn St. Nittany Lions (9-3)


#2 Ohio St. Buckeyes (13-0) vs. #15 Florida St. Seminoles (8-4)

#7 Washington St. Cougars vs. #10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-2)


Handicapper's Corner


Unable to ride the wave of momentum I was riding behind winning weeks in 5 of my last 6 tries, the HC stumbled this week with just one winner in this column and a 5-7 effort in my Saturday morning newsletter that I send out to about 100 readers.  Heartbreaking late losers (Cincy, SF, Den, Min) were the theme this week, and what could have been a great week came undone in the final seconds of nearly each contest I selected.  The Saturday morning update remains profitable for the season, as I stand at 41-37 in my college selections against the spread and 28-26-1 in the NFL.  To be added to the mailing list, drop me an e-mail at swerb@berniesinsiders.com.


Underdogs rebounded from one of the only weeks of the year where they did not turn a profit to once again rule the roost with 10 covers in the 16 games on the board.  Teams playing at home covered 9 of 16, and 11 of the games this week went over the posted total.


Underdogs:  10-6 (109-78-5)

Road Teams:  7-9 (97-90-5)

Over/Under:  11 games over, 5 games under (95 over, 97 under)


And those of you who elected not to check out sportslynx.com this past Saturday missed out on a 5-1 day in college football from Chad, the site administrator and resident handicapper.  For the season, Chad is now a whopping 52-35 in his NCAA key plays, and is the #1 ranked college handicapper in the country by the National Sports Monitor, a mega-service that tracks and documents the plays of pro ‘cappers.  He hasn't been too shoddy in the NFL either, with a 41-37 record in key plays and a winner on Buffalo this past week in his first "3 key" selection of the season. 


Time to move on to my weekly selections.  I'll save the analysis this week for the Saturday morning update.


NCAA (22-23-2)


Cincinnati –8 over East Carolina


Toledo +5 ½ at Marshall


Oklahoma –6 over Colorado


Washington St. –3 over UCLA



NFL (18-23-1)


St. Louis +4 at Kansas City


Tampa Bay –3 ½ vs. Atlanta


Denver -1 at NY Jets


Tennessee –2 ½ vs. Indianapolis

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