Strike Point Sports: Who's Hot/Who's Not
by Strike Point Sports - 09/27/2006
Strike Point Sports offers a weekly look at who's hot and who's not in the world of sports.
New Orleans Saints
It doesn't get any better than this: 3-0, back in the Superdome with the entire world behind this team. After easily defeating Atlanta this past Monday night, 23-3, all signs point towards the playoffs for the Saints. They are legit and even if they wind up not making it, they will be in the thick of things for the remainder of the season.
Drew Brees has been the quarterback they were looking for, while the backfield duo of Reggie Bush and Deuce McAllister are playing well together sharing carries. Joe Horn is a solid No. 1 wideout and Marques Colston is emerging as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate. Even the defense is looking like a rejuvenated bunch.
The State University of New Jersey
Rutgers is alive and back in the top 25. Ranked No. 23 coming into its Friday match-up with South Florida, the Scarlet Knights are poised for one of their best seasons in recent memory. Now a major threat in the Big East race with West Virginia and Louisville, Rutgers is led by a dynamic duo in the backfield. Sophomore tailback Ray Rice and senior fullback Brian Leonard have carried the load and will do so throughout the rest of the season. Head coach Greg Schiano has done so well with this program. He has been linked back to his Miami (FL) days and could possibly take over the job if/when Larry Coker gets axed.
Bye, bye hot seat. Michigan's head coach need not worry about being fired. Granted, there is still plenty of time for the No. 6 Wolverines to slip up, but this team looks to be for real. Michigan will likely remain undefeated as they head into the Horseshoe to face Ohio State in the final game of the year. Running the table would not only certainly guarantee UM a BCS birth, but even a one loss season could still find them playing in the Rose Bowl if the Buckeyes are in the title game.
NFL's Defending Champs
After its big win to open the year against the Dolphins, Pittsburgh has looked nothing like last year's Super Bowl winner. Big Ben is out of whack and not close to the nearly perfect record quarterback he was the past two years. With five interceptions in his first two games, Pittsburgh has steered away from its tough-nosed running style and has chosen to throw much more this year, for reasons beyond comprehension. The Steelers defense has been just as dominant. However, with an offense that cannot effectively control the turnover battle, Pittsburgh could be in for a down year.
Michigan State Letdown
After appearing to have Notre Dame on the run, the Spartans seemingly turned passive and allowed the Irish to cruise back into the game and steal a win in East Lansing last Saturday night. Charlie Weiss saw his season stay alive with 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, none greater than the game-winning interception for a touchdown off a miserable and forced throw by Drew Stanton.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cards could be in the midst of the greatest baseball collapse of all time. Up 8 ½ games in the division to the Astros last Wednesday, the lead is now 1.5 one week later. Houston has won seven in a row while the Cardinals have dropped their last seven. With five games left, anything is possible, but there is no reason to believe St. Louis is going to stay on top. Even the Reds have gotten back in the race, sitting 2.5 back.
AL Playoff Race Drama
So much for an exciting conclusion to the AL regular season race. After Wednesday's set of games all four playoff spots have been clinched. The Yankees hold the East, the Tigers the Central, the A's the West and the Twins the wild card. But up for grabs still is home field advantage for this league. Right now Detroit and New York are tied for that honor with 95-62 record. Minnesota is one game back at 94-63 and even the Athletics are still up for it at 91-66.