Take a moment and let that tea bag steep.

Take another moment and have a good chuckle. ">
Take a moment and let that tea bag steep.

Take another moment and have a good chuckle. ">

Wednesday Apple Pie

Here's a thought, no one could have predicted, "AFC North Division: The Best Division In Football." <br><br> Take a moment and let that tea bag steep.<br><br> Take another moment and have a good chuckle.

Okay, stop laughing, because I'm serious. You think I'm joking? Consider that no division in football has won more collective games (23) than the AFC North. In case you don't believe me, here is the proof:

AFC North – 23 Wins
AFC East – 21 Wins
AFC South – 21 Wins
AFC West – 20 Wins
NFC East – 20 Wins
NFC North – 20 Wins
NFC South – 19 Wins
NFC West – 16 Wins

If you're counting at home, that's 7 more wins that the lowly NFC West. In fact, the AFC North is only 6 games from tying last year's collective win total for the season and 5 games from tying the 2002 season total. Should the AFC North average 3 wins per team the rest of the way they would most likely finish the season as the top division in football with 35 wins.

You want a wild stat? Since the reformatting of the divisions in 2002, the AFC representative to the Super Bowl has come from the AFC division with the most collective wins (New England, 36; Oakland, 36).

What makes the North so special this year? Well, it starts at all starts at home. The North is the only division in football where every team is at least .500 or better at home. The North is tied with the AFC South for most conference wins (16), however has played one less conference game than the South.

Looking defensively, the North holds a slight lead over the AFC East on average team defense rank within the division

AFC North
Pittsburgh – 1
Baltimore – 3
Cleveland – 12
Cincinnati – 16

Total: 32
Average Rank: 8

AFC East
Buffalo – 4
Miami – 7
NY Jets – 9
New England – 13

Total: 33
Average Rank: 8.25

While the AFC North does not lead the NFL in division rushing statistics, it can proudly boast that its teams win their home games and play the best overall defense in the league. That is a recipe for success and if the young tradition of division wins and Super Bowl visits continues, either Pittsburgh or Baltimore will go to the Super Bowl this season.


Apple Six-Pack Recap

1. Baltimore 30 Dallas 10 – And the Drew Henson Era starts. I'm getting a little tired of the "era" talk. Look at Detroit for instance. Just recently we were hearing about the start of the Joey Harrington Era. In San Diego, we were touting the Drew Brees Era, then the Philip Rivers Era, but now back to the Drew Brees Era. In Pittsburgh it's the Big Ben Era. And in Baltimore, they've been living with the Kyle Boller Era. This nightmare in Baltimore is starting to get less scary. The coaches are finding that for Baltimore to win games, they have to let Boller throw the ball. But, if Jamal Lewis misses any more significant time, the Ravens may be in trouble.

2. New England 27 Kansas City 19 – Here is what I don't understand. When the Patriots have Earthwind Moreland, Randall Gay and Troy Brown in the secondary on their dime package, why would you not try deep at least a dozen times a game? I think the answer is that some teams still are completely intimidated by the "Belichick mystique". Don't expect that from the Ravens this week, because if the Steelers proved anything, you have to smack this Patriot team in the mouth and gamble to win.

3. Atlanta 14 NY Giants 10 – Atlanta was the beneficiary of some really iffy calls at the end. Michael Vick continues to shorten his career with his out of control play. Let's be honest. This team will go nowhere if Vick gets hurt. Falcon faithful should enjoy the ride while they can. Jeremy Shockey continues to prove how overrated he really is as a tight end. And I love that FOX #1 crew, but could they break down any more routine plays by Eli Manning?

4. Green Bay 16 Houston 13 – Earlier in the season, Green Bay would have lost this game. Thoroughly out-played by the Texans and David Carr, the Packers responded with a defensive lock-down in the fourth quarter. Brett Favre and Donald Driver renewed acquaintances as I still think Driver is the better receiver in Green Bay. Javon Walker still doesn't know how to help his quarterback out by coming back to the ball.

5. Tennessee 18 Jacksonville 15 – The Jacksonville lack of offense is now finally catching up with them. In a must-win divisional game, the Jags may have handed the division over to the Colts. In the process, they also fall out of the playoff race. I fearlessly predicted a Jacksonville playoff berth, but with a visit to Minnesota and a visit from the Pittsburgh Steelers over the next two weeks, the Jags could easily be 6 - 6 and on the outside looking in.

6. NY Jets 10 Cleveland 7 – We finally saw the reason why Jeff Garcia should continue to be the starting quarterback in Cleveland. He's better than Holcomb, who is more flavor of the month. Garcia can do more with less than Holcomb, who two years ago threw to a more talented wide receiving corps. We also saw why Butch Davis should have been fired years ago: Garcia on the sidelines, wanting to return, but Davis holding him out. Garcia wins that game for the Browns, instead Quincy Carter squeaks out a late drive and the Jets escape.


Power Core Post-season Monitor

AFC – Current Seeding
1. Pittsburgh
2. New England
3. Denver
4. Indianapolis
WC1: Baltimore
WC2: NY Jets

Holding their own destiny: San Diego, Jacksonville
Need help: Cincinnati, Buffalo, Kansas City

NFC - Current Seeding
1. Philadelphia
2. Atlanta
3. Green Bay
4. Seattle
5. Minnesota
6. St. Louis

Holding their own destiny: NY Giants
Need help: Detroit, Arizona, Chicago


Apple Six-Pack

1. Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (GOTW): I know, I know, this is not supposed to be the GOTW and my personal rules state that I can't start changing the GOTW until next week. But, I've already done it once this season and if ABC can start changing Monday Night match-ups in-season, then by God, I can too. The implications for this game are huge. After the Ravens visit, only the NY Jets would stand in the way of a 15-win season for the Patriots. But, that's assuming the Patriots can muster enough offense to beat the Ravens. I'm saying on record that they won't. I see the Ravens winning a mild upset, but only because I think their defense will really clamp down on the Patriots. This keeps the Ravens' hopes for a division title in reach. Even with the Steelers hosting the woeful Redskins, the Ravens could technically afford this loss, but in many, many ways they really can't afford to lose.

2. St. Louis Rams at Green Bay Packers: This is a huge game for the St. Louis Rams. Should the Rams beat Green Bay, it inevitable forces the Packers to either win the NFC North or hope that the NY Giants continue to slide off the radar. The Packers would thus lose head-to-head tiebreakers with both the Rams and Giants. But, does anyone really see the Packers losing a late season game at home at this point? More importantly, the Rams need to win this game to hold pace with the Seahawks for the division and to hold their playoff standing. Remember, the Giants have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Packers and Vikings, but since they haven't played the Rams, lose the conference record tiebreaker to the Rams.

3. Philadelphia Eagles at NY Giants: The Giants have lost three straight, benched their quarterback and still have a great shot at making the playoffs. What? Such is life in the awful NFC these days. The Eagles can't afford a slip-up to the G-Men because Atlanta is devouring the NFC South like Homer Simpson and pork roast.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars at Minnesota Vikings: Somewhere the gods of football are very angry with the Jaguars. Last week while Indianapolis got to play pitch-catch with the JV Chicago squad, the Jags had to contend with the return of Steve McNair to the Titans, which is never a good thing for opposing teams. This week, the Colts get to play enjoy Thanksgiving in Detroit, where the Lions should be dispatched rather easily (although the Lions always play well on Thanksgiving), but the Jags get to visit Minnesota and a rather gutsy (at times) Viking squad.

5. Indianapolis Colts at Detroit Lions: My future father-in-law gets a kick out of the fact that when the Girl Apple and I visit, I end up watching some sort of sporting event while he takes long walks outside, studies Native American culture and/or works in his garden. I chalk it up to priorities. He really gets a good chuckle when we spend Thanksgiving with him (this will be my third such trip) and I inevitably watch football Thursday through Saturday at some point in each day. Not often do we get a great Thanksgiving match-up, but the Lions always play hard on the holiday so the Detroit offering is usually the best choice.

6. San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs: The Chargers get the Chiefs while the Broncos host the Raiders. Well, it's easy to see who has the upper hand. It's never easy to win in Kansas City especially when no one is really sure when they will decide to play defense. If the Chargers can stop Derrick Blaylock like the Patriots did last Monday, a win is quite likely.


Seeds Of Wisdom From the Girl Apple

Girl Apple: I would like to give thanks that your Steelers are winning…

Apple: That's very kind of you.

Girl Apple: You're welcome, but you didn't let me finish.

Apple: Well...er...okay.

Girl Apple: I would like to give thanks that your Steelers are winning because when you are in a good mood work around the apartment gets done during the week.

Apple: Ahh...I see...selfish motives, huh?

Girl Apple: Yes.

Apple: Well, I'll be selfish thank you. I've waited 25 years for another Super Bowl victory.

Girl Apple: And I've waited 28 years for an engagement ring.

Apple: See...we have our priorities. You got yours and hopefully I will get mine.


Apple's Fantasy Football Results

TheDallasCowboysSuck 131 (6 - 5) Los Locos Leprechauns 114: Next Week vs. The Sweatin' Sopranos (9 - 2)
I jump into second place with a surprisingly easy win over the Leprechauns.

The Woodside Geminis 21 (9 - 2) Dogs Of War 26: Next Week vs TBA
This was a hard loss to swallow. I held a 39 - 28 point lead on the TD's and ended up losing because the San Francisco 49er's forgot to show up and Tampa's defense got 18 points. Still, I've clinched my division and have a first round bye, and I'm still holding a one game lead for top seed in the playoffs.

DCFB 74 (5 - 6) Conventry Road Bling Bling 59: Next Week vs. 69th St. Ruperts (6 - 5)
The Steelers defense and a weak game from Coventry Road Bling Bling cap my mad rush to get into the playoffs. I'm now 2 games out of the playoffs. I need a lot of help, but if I sweep the final three games, I'll be singing playoff tunes.


Bites

  • It bears repeating. 50+ touchdown passes during the regular season never guarantees diddly in the playoffs.
  • I'll say this one thing about that embarrassment in the NBA last Friday. Sometimes the most courageous thing to do is "walk away." The problem is all these young men are throwing around the word "disrespect" without a care or thought that the word is now a cliched term for anyone who feels inferior to someone else or someone who gets doused with beer. Ron Artest got what he deserved. Now, if these players could start acting like men instead of rich brats the NBA might return to some sense of decency and sportsmanship.
  • There is no need to play Plaxico Burress this week. That being said, it is Lee Mays and not Antwaan Randle El that needs to step up and stretch the field.
  • James Farrior is just behind Ed Reed for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. But, he's All-Pro in my book and having a much better season than Ray Lewis. Some national media are starting to pay attention now. Dr. Z, Peter King and Clark Judge are all jumping on the bandwagon.

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