Case of the Mondays: Slip-sliding Away from Title Contention
by Ricky Dimon - 11/26/2012
They say one is the loneliest number. That may be true, but not when it comes to the BCS standings.
The number is three; just ask the Florida Gators. They picked up another big win on Saturday, but they are third in the rankings, and that’s where they’ll remain when the championship matchup is determined. Although no fault of their own (aside from that turnover fest in an October loss to Georgia), the Gators could not have been feeling good when they woke up on Monday.
Others had more to say about their own destiny. Take the Pittsburgh Steelers for instance. They had every reason to improve to 7-4 and stay within striking distance of Baltimore. Instead, Pittsburgh decided to turn the ball over an outrageous eight times and lose to a 3-8 Cleveland squad. Nobody was bad as Pitt over the weekend, but Mike Tomlin and company are not alone in their misery (all odds provided by Sportsbook.ag).
Jim Schwartz. Something has to be done about the ridiculous, awful, ridiculously awful illegal challenge rule. And the process of something being done has already started. But for now, you have to know the rule and Schwartz failed in that department on Thanksgiving. A Texans’ 81-yard touchdown was upheld when it would have been overturned, and Detroit eventually lost in overtime (in which Schwartz gaffed again by settling for a 47-yard field goal that Jason Hanson missed). The Lions, whose designs of a playoff berth are all but over at 4-7, are five-point home favorites vs. Indianapolis on Sunday.
Fantasy owners who didn’t start the Rams’ defense. The St. Louis ‘D’ was the 14th-most added “player” for Week 12 in ESPN’s fantasy football, and whoever picked up the unit probably started it against a horrid Arizona offense. But if you didn’t? Rough. The Rams returned two INTs for scores (both courtesy of Janoris Jenkins), picked off Ryan Lindley four times in total, and had two sacks for good measure. St. Louis is a 6.5-point home underdog vs. San Francisco in Week 13.
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Playoff hopes. All three 6-4 NFC wild-card contenders lost in Week 12, but the Cowboys and Saints could not capitalize on a chance to gain ground. Dallas laid an egg at home against Washington on Thanksgiving and New Orleans coughed up a lead over San Francisco when Drew Brees threw one of his two pick-sixes at the end of the first half. The Saints never came close to recovering. In the AFC, San Diego blew a 13-3 fourth-quarter advantage over Baltimore (and let the Ravens convert a game-saving fourth-and-29) and stuck a fork in its own coffin by dropping to 4-7. This is hard to believe just one season after getting the No. 1 pick, but guess whose hopes are not fading. Yep, the Colts!
Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia survived Phoenix on Sunday, 104-101, and is a respectable 8-6 to begin the season. That’s all well and good, but this whole Andrew Bynum saga is anything but. He has degenerative conditions in both knees, and the Sixers are no longer giving any timetable for his return. This is not going to end well; not this season, and maybe never. Philly is +600 to win the Atlantic Division and +2000 to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
Washington Wizards. When you don’t get the breaks, you lose. When you’re losing, you just aren’t going to get the breaks. It’s working both ways for Washington right now, and the result is an 0-11 start. The Wizards have lost their last two in overtime. At Atlanta last Wednesday, a tip-in that would have won the game came milliseconds after the buzzer sounded. Against Charlotte on Sunday they missed one of three free throws at the end of the first OT when they could have won it before squandering a three-point lead in the second extra frame. No other team has fewer than three wins. Hell, even the Bobcats have seven!
Florida. It doesn’t get much better than an 11-point road win over your arch rival, so why are the Gators feeling blue? It’s because, of course, they are the odd men out of the National Championship picture. When the final standings come out next week, Florida will be third (where it is now) behind Notre Dame and the winner of the SEC Championship. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a group that has three wins over Top 10 teams, plus a victory at Texas A&M. The Gators are no longer listed in the BCS title odds. Alabama is favored at -200.
ACC football. Well, it can’t get any worse than that! Saying the ACC lost all four ACC-SEC matchups on Saturday is putting it nicely. The conference — favored in two of the four contests — didn’t just lose; it got positively humiliated. Vanderbilt covered its spread against Wake Forest by 21, Florida covered against Florida State by 18, Georgia covered against Georgia Tech by 17.5, and South Carolina covered against Clemson by 16.5. Just how bad is it? A 6-6 team (Georgia Tech) is playing in the conference championship. The Jackets are 13.5-point underdogs against FSU this weekend in Charlotte.
“Monday Night Football”. It’s true that you never know exactly what you’re going to get on MNF. Two weeks ago, Steelers-Chiefs was expected to be terrible and it ended up going into overtime. Last Monday, Bears-49ers was supposed to be a blockbuster but it resulted in a slaughter. For Week 12 we get none other than…wait for it…Panthers-Eagles! Seriously? It has absolutely zero implications other than on the order of the Top 5 picks in the 2013 NFL Draft. But hey, at least it’s supposed to be a close game, right? Philly is a three-point home underdog.
Auburn. The final was 49-0. By the looks of it, the Crimson Tide could have made it 100-0 if they’d felt like it.