This Week in Betting, A to Z
by Trevor Whenham - 11/19/2007
A - Amazing. They may not be the best team in the league, but no one has consistently delivered thrills and memorable endings this year like the Cleveland Browns. They threw away a 27-14 lead, looked dead before kicking a tying field goal with no time left on the clock, and then won in overtime with a truly bizarre field goal. It's not always pretty, but the Browns are in the heart of the wild card race and, with their schedule, there is no reason the winning has to end.
B - Beck, John. There were several QBs moving into a new role as starter this week but none deserves more pity than John Beck. The rookie from BYU has the impossible task of playing for the Dolphins, a team with questionable receivers and even worse problems with the running game. He didn't look great, and he needs to calm down and take a breath, but he didn't throw any interceptions, he recovered his only fumble, and he certainly wasn't the reason his team lost. For Miami that's a victory.
C - Chargers. If I was in charge in San Diego I would officially be panicking right now. For the first time in years no one is afraid of their running game. That means that they aren't packing the box to stop it, so receivers aren't being left under-covered, and the whole offense is struggling. On the other hand, 5-5 is enough to be on top of their pathetic division, so maybe they should just keep doing what they are doing. At this rate it will only take seven wins to make the playoffs.
D - DeAndre Jordan. I don't know how they are doing it, but Big 12 coaches are recruiting out of their minds recently. Last year Kevin Durant was in the conference. This year, Kansas State's Michael Beasley broke the conference rebound record in his first start. Now another frosh, Texas A&M's Jordan, has set another conference record. Over his four career starts he has scored 16-straight field goals without a miss. Strangely, the 7-foot freak has only sunk three of his 15 foul shots, so his accuracy isn't universal.
E - Evans, Rashad. UFC has had 78 events now, and the one that took place this weekend was quite possibly the least notable and least thrilling of all of them. In the main event, that had no business being anything more than an unforgettable mid-card match, The Ultimate Fighter 2 champ Evans beat TUF 3 winner Michael Bisping by decision. The best part of the drab evening was the continued emergence of the undefeated Thiago Silva, who got Houston Alexander onto the mat and then made him eat a giant helping of fist.
F - Freeney, Dwight. The Colts could open their own ward in a hospital, and Freeney is the latest patient. He's been placed on IR and is out for the year. For the third straight week we have seen that this team has more injuries than it can handle if it still wants to be competitive over the long term. Last week was ugly, and this week was only marginally better. Manning cut down his interceptions by five, but he struggled again. Brodie Croyle was the better QB in the game. That just can't happen.
G - Green Bay. I keep saying this, but I have to in order to make myself believe it - Green Bay is a really good team. They really won 28-3 today - everything else happened in garbage time. The offense was almost flawless, the defense was smothering, and even special teams was blessed, with a pooch punt returned for a touchdown. I have no idea what will happen when they play Dallas, but I can't wait to find out.
H - Hallelujah! Lloyd Carr is done! By the time you are reading this he will have confirmed his retirement, and his dignity-filled but disappointing and under-performing era will start fading into the depths of the memory where it belongs. As a big Michigan fan I haven't been high on him for a while, but that disgusting non-effort against Ohio State Saturday was the final straw. Good riddance, Lloyd. See you in a couple of months, Les.
I - Illinois. I love the Big Ten, and I feel the need to defend it. My Wolverines disgust me, and Ohio State makes me ill, but I hope you are paying attention to Illinois. Ron Zook has a team that is extremely dangerous. Their potent offense will be back next year (unless RB Rashard Mendenhall leaves early as he probably should), and Zook may finally have a serious contender on his hands. Juice Williams will get serious Heisman consideration next season.
J - Jimmie Johnson. Just a few weeks ago it looked like the NASCAR championship was going to come down to the wire. Then Johnson decided he wanted a second straight title, and he made a mockery of the thing. He cruised to an easy seventh in the season-ending Ford 400, and that was more than enough to take the title. How good was he this year? He had 10 wins and 20 top five finishes in just 36 starts. That doesn't leave a lot for the rest of the drivers in the field.
K - Karma. The fates were obviously telling the Detroit Red Wings something on Tuesday night. They got on their chartered plane to leave St. Louis after a game only to have it get stuck in the mud on the side of the runway. It was so bad mired that it was still trapped on Wednesday, and the team was stranded. It didn't really matter because the NHL schedule is so bizarre this year that they didn't play again until Saturday.
L - Larry Hughes. The Cavs are ridiculously short on talented players not named LeBron. One of the few bright(ish) lights is Hughes. Unfortunately, he's at least as fragile as he is talented. He'll miss a month with his latest of many injuries. On the plus side, Hughes has been pretty lousy this year, so the pretty average Cavs won't suffer too much in his absence.
M - Maclin, Jeremy. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that is paying attention that Missouri is a good team (so is Kansas, so their game this weekend should be a classic). What is surprising about the Tigers is that freshman Jeremy Maclin isn't getting more attention than he has. That could change after the game he had Saturday - 143 yards receiving with two touchdowns, and 194 yards on kick returns with another touchdown for good measure. His receiving numbers were almost identical to what he did the week before, too.
N - No. 2. Another week, another fallen No. 2. Oregon dropped hard this week, joining all the others in the No. 2 graveyard - Cal, USC, Boston College, South Florida. Given that track record, Missouri looks like a no-brainer pick against Kansas this week. As staggering as the plight of the No. 2s is this stat - Oregon and Oklahoma became the 10th and 11th top five teams to lose to an unranked opponent this year. Obviously that's a record.
O - Oregon. I don't know about you, but my heart broke at about the same time as Dennis Dixon's knee packed it in for the year. Oregon was a great story, and I wanted them to have a shot at LSU with everything on the line. Now they are stuck with two losses and Brady Leaf at the helm. Given the way they collapsed when Dixon left this will be a very hard team to handicap down the stretch.
P - Pittsburgh Steelers. What the hell was that?!? Almost by default you have been rated by a lot of people this year as the third or fourth best team in the league. The third best team in the league does not lose to the Jets. Sure, it was in overtime, but the team was down 10-0 and 13-7. That doesn't happen to good teams when they play teams as bad as the Jets. It's a good thing New England is so good, because I'm not sure there is another AFC team that is worth a damn.
Q - Quite enough. I don't buy the argument that the Pats are running the score up on their opponents. Or at least I didn't. I think there might be a bit more to that opinion after watching some of that Sunday night mess in Buffalo. Maybe backup QB Matt Cassel could have come in for more than two passes. That was a ruthless, heartless performance by the turf killers from Boston. Incredible. The Pats may be hard to like, but they sure are good. Damn good. My favorite stat - they have scored 54 offensive TDs this year. The rest of the AFC East has combined for 53.
R - Roger Federer. For a brief while it looked like Federer may have been on a downswing after stringing together a couple of losses within a week. Well, the dark period is over. The Swiss super-freak bounced back to win the Masters Cup to cap the season. To lift the Cup he dispatched rival Rafael Nadal in the semi, and then destroyed the scorching hot David Ferrer in the final.
S - Sooners. Ouch. That was an ugly, ugly game. If you dropped someone who doesn't know college football in front of that game and told them that one team was in the top five and the other was unranked, 100 percent would have guessed that Texas Tech was the better team. On that day they were. Sam Bradford went down early, but I'm not sure his presence would have been enough to salvage that mess. Tech QB Graham Harrell is incredibly impressive in that system.
T - Tim Tebow. Wow. How can you possibly complain about a guy who manages to throw for 20 touchdowns and run for 20 in the same year? It's almost impossible to believe, but no player in the history of college football has ever done that before. Sure, Florida has too many losses this year, but Tebow is the last one to blame for that. He had four more touchdowns on Saturday. What a machine.
U - U.S. Soccer. The national team played a friendly against South Africa this weekend, and they came out with a 1-0 win. The match itself was pretty unremarkable, but what was noteworthy was that Freddy Adu made his first of what could be hundreds of international starts for the side. Adu is coming into his own in Portugal this year, and the future is bright.
V - Vikings. Adrian Peterson was gone, and how much did his Vikings miss him? Not at all. Chester Taylor ran for 164 yards and three touchdowns in the stud rookie's absence. That Minnesota offensive line is so good that I am of the opinion that I could run for at least 80 yards if I got my touches behind them. Actually, that's not true - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't get up from the first hit.
W - Warriors. It wasn't pretty, and they left it to the very last minute, but Hawaii got their 10th-straight win to remain undefeated, and they deserve a lot of credit for it. We saw two top teams wilt badly when they lost their star quarterbacks, but Hawaii held up well. Tyler Graunke stepped up and looked pretty good in the absence of Colt Brennan. If Hawaii beats Boise State this week then they will be very tough for the BCS to ignore.
X - Xavier. If you've read this column for a while, you know that Xavier's basketball team is our mascot for the sole reason that they start with X when so little else does. They had a great run last year, but they will have to get their act together if they want to keep their mascot gig. They lost to Miami of Ohio on Tuesday as 4.5-point favorites after a truly awful second half in which they seemingly forgot how to shoot. A game this Tuesday against Coppin State should cure what ails them.
Y - Yikes. The Colts wouldn't cut Adam Vinatieri, would they? I'll tell you one thing - if his name was Frank Smith and not Adam Vinatieri he'd be on the Greyhound out of town. He missed two more against Kansas City to make the game much closer than it needed to be. Mr. Clutch is all of a sudden a better bet to miss then he is to put it through the uprights.
Z - Zzzzz. This week's sleeper game was definitely the mess between St. Louis and San Francisco. The Rams won for the second-straight week, but there was little to be proud of on either sideline. St. Louis only won because someone had to. What I really want to know is what is wrong with Frank Gore - 15 carries for 32 yards is terrible for a guy we know can be so, so good.