As I sit to write this, my mind isn’t on football, it’s on basketball. College basketball has been on my TV for the last 24 hours like that Friends episode where Joey and Chandler get free porn: afraid it will be gone if I turn off the TV, I keep it on 24 hours a day.
The NBA on the other hand, much like the Philadelphia Eagles, have proven that the more great athletes you have, the more disposable you become. Filled with the greatest collection of talent in a generation and building on 3 or 4 great years that saw the resurgence of the Lakers, Celtics and the creation of the Heatles, the NBA has decided to take the year off.
I guess they decided if it worked for Dave Chapelle, it will definitely work for them.
Of course he lost his TV show.
While basketball is being defined as both a beginning (college) and ending (NBA), football, outside of the depraved showers of the Penn State locker room, is defined at the moment is ‘in between’.
College football is in between the marquee mid-season match-ups such as LSU/Alabama and Oregon/Stanford that have shaped the BCS title race and the late season match-ups that will finalize the Bowl schedule – Bedlam in Oklahoma and the SEC title game.
The NFL is in the late season, where the true contenders start to separate themselves from the early season pretenders (paging Detroit Lions, Detroit Lions, Reality is holding for you) but not yet to the point where playoff spots are being locked. At least outside of the NFC West where the Niners are on the verge of clinching the NFL’s equivalent of the PAC 12 South.
For the next couple of weeks, the entire NFL world sits in limbo. No conclusions reached just more questions and clues. Which is fine for most people because anticipation is at least half of the fun of sports. But for people writing about sports, it means generating stories out of thin air. Whether it is digging around and looking for anything that is even tangentially interesting relative to the Penn State scandal (see: Sports by Brooks) or just making up dumb arguments to keep a dialog alive (see: Bleacher Report and ESPN).
After spending weeks analyzing the Tim Tebow phenomenon from every angle short of asking what uncircumcised kids in the Philippines think of him, I have run out of things to say. Until something actually happens, there is only so much to talk about.
And so we all wait together.
But as a bright spot today I am in between something else: in between a busy fall of work and a long weekend in Vegas with the THH crew beginning Thursday. With Vegas on my mind, the THH theme this week is simple. Given the opening spread, which team would (will) you bet on?
Nebraska at Michigan (-2.5)
If it were October 2010, this would be a fascinating match-up of 2 of the most exciting playmakers in football: Michigan QB Denard Robinson and Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez. Unfortunately a year later and the weaknesses of each have been exposed. Robinson can throw the ball only marginally better than Mr. Robinson, Eddie Murphy’s old SNL character. Martinez is as consistent under center as acting legend A Martinez’s work schedule. If I were a betting man (wait, I AM a betting man), I take Nebraska here. Nebraska has about the only defense in the Big Ten athletic enough to contain Denard. And God help Michigan if they have to rely on a passing game. As Michigan receiver Junior Hemingway might say about the UM passing game.
The ball leaves his hand; launched into the clear, blue sky.
It hits the cold, unforgiving turf.
The faces of his receivers show frustration and anger.
It is real. It is ugly.
Colorado @ UCLA (-11)
It would be easy to paint this game as an opportunity for the Buffaloes to exact revenge on the coach that deserted them and sent them from perennial national contender to Big-12 Pac-12 doormat. But then you realize that when Rick Neuheisel left Boulder most of these players were so young that they were still eating their own boogers. The Buffaloes do not care about Neuheisel’s past but, more importantly, they do not play football well. UCLA, as crazy as it is to imagine, still has a chance to be the sacrificial virgin that gets slaughtered by Oregon in the Pac 12 title game. The Buffaloes won their first ever Pac-12 game last week and I fear that a level of satisfaction now permeates the team – at least they got that off their shoulders. I think the Bruins roll the Buffs and both CU fans that still care more about football than ski season, curse Neuheisel once again.
Chargers @ Chicago (-4)
Is there anyone outside of the sports books and Chargers owner’s box that still think Norv Turner can coach this team? How is this only a 4-point game? Are the sportsbooks banking on Philip Rivers seeing Jay Cutler across the field and playing like he did when he would blow out Cutler’s Broncos? I don’t see it, mostly because Philip Rivers seems to have become the quarterback equivalent of Sean Alexander ‘one year too late’ and comparing the Bears defense to those old Bronco defenses is like comparing Homeland to NCIS –two things trying to achieve the same goal but one being vastly superior at it.
The Bears should roll to an easy win and after the Broncos beat the Jets to tie for the division lead, maybe the Chargers leadership will finally realize that Norv and this Charger team peaked about 3 years ago and it is time to blow it up and start over.
Bengals @ Ravens (-9)
It is an odd numbered week in the NFL, so that must mean that the Ravens will play well. That makes as much as sense as anything else the Ravens have done this year, so I will go with it. The Bengals have been a nice story and Andy Dalton certainly looks like a young Brad Johnson but I think their time near the top of the division has reached its end. It was fun while it lasted and we will always be able to look back at the first 2 months fondly, like a warm summer in high school. Though with his fair skin, I imagine no summer under a scorching Texas sun is remembered fondly by Dalton.
Will Joe Flacco lead the Ravens past the Bengals by double-digits? That’s as sure a bet as saying Reverend Ray Lewis never broke one of the Ten Commandments.
Oh. Hmmm. Yeah, this seems like a game to tease down to -2. Tease with the Bears? Free money.