by Tom Weppel
The Jags were able to pull off exciting victories in their two-game home stand. Now, at 6-4, they go on the road for the next two weeks, starting Sunday at the Meadowlands, against former Jag HC Tom Coughlin and the New York (football) Giants.
The Jaguars have been very fortunate in pulling out wins in these last two contests, considering their level of play was good, but also shaky in spots. Last week, their numerous turnovers were abominable…in most every NFL game, a team with two fumbles and three INT’s should get their ass beat.
But the Jags hung tough, holding the Browns down, then coming up with some memorable plays at the end to pullout a win. Jacksonville is now tied with the Colts in the AFC South division.
That said, Jacksonville needs to stop making mistakes and playing better football on a consistent basis, especially when going up against the opponents in the rest of their schedule. It’ll start with the Giants, who have been dealt two tough loses the last two weeks, both to division rivals (Cowboys, Eagles).
And New York has problems of their own. QB Eli Manning has been slightly inconsistent in his play, especially in giving the ball up, in the air or on the ground. Meanwhile, New York’s WR corps has been badly beaten up, to the point where they had to sign worn-out veteran WR Michael Clayton, who, after being cut by the Ravens, was playing last week in the UFL!
Nonetheless, the Giants are a tough team, with a strong Defense, and a decent running attack. And we all know their Head Coach…former Jag leader Tom Coughlin. He will have his guys ready to play, I’m sure.
In the past few years, the Giants have floundered towards the end of the season, after starting off with solid play. If the Jags win this one, it’ll be a big step, putting them at 7-4 and looking good in their wishes for a playoff berth. But they will need more than a Hail-Mary, or a rash of turnovers, to beat New York. It should be interesting to see how things go…
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in going 7-3, are a team that has not garnered any degree of respect whatsoever. A perfect example was last week, when they went out to the West Coast to play the 3-6 49ers as a three-point underdog. The Bucs came away with a 21-0 win, and are sitting right in the hunt for a playoff spot. On Sunday, they face yet another tough battle, in going to Baltimore to play the Ravens (7-3). Once again, they are underdogs, and a win here would certainly let everyone know they are one damn good football team…
In Chicago, another team has lacked some respect, that being the Bears. With no feature player on either side of the ball, and a QB (Jay Cutler), who some fans simply don’t like, the Bears have not been the sexy, popular team that fans have taken a liking to, as in past seasons.
At 7-3, they are tied for the lead in the division with the Packers. This week, they will host Michael Vick and the Eagles. This game should certainly give us a good indication as to what Chicago is REALLY all about. They are not favored to win, as Philly comes in on a nice roll. Let’s see how the Bears fare, then see how their fans react…
As always, this weekend will feature a host of significant games this weekend…many with implications on a number of levels.
A lot of the more prominent games spotlight in-state rivalries. You’ve got Florida playing at Florida State, Georgia Tech playing at Georgia, South Carolina going against Clemson, and Oklahoma tangling with Oklahoma State. In each contest, the winner can and will hold rights in claiming the ‘state’ title, for all respects. What those games also do is let the fans of each team go head-to-head with their friends and neighbors! In many cases, next-door neighbors usually pull for the opposing team! It creates a lot of interest, discussion, and in some cases, angst! Those four games will be fun to follow.
You also have a very traditional contest going out in Los Angeles, as Notre Dame travels out to the West Coast to face USC. Neither team is ranked. Both of them have dealt with setbacks, throughout the season. And so whoever wins this one will consider this the hallmark of the season, for all intents.
And then you have two games featuring BCS contenders. Boise State plays at Nevada on Friday night, while Arizona goes up to face the Oregon Ducks. For Boise, they have chance to prove their worth against a ranked opponent, on the road. Meanwhile, Oregon hosts a decent, but not great, Arizona squad. If either team is upset, it would quash their title hopes.
But I don’t see it happening…
Finally, the game carrying the most weight will be another in-state rivalry, held in Alabama, as the Crimson Tide will be taking on the undefeated Auburn Tigers. The storylines here are huge and numerous, from the continuing Cam Newton whirlwind/drama, to the simple fact that the Tide, already with two losses, would LOVE nothing more than to upset the visiting Tigers, who are going to the SEC Championship.
Auburn wants this win to keep their BCS Championship hopes alive. They also want to keep their momentum going as they prepare to face South Carolina next week in Atlanta. And of course, everyone is talking about whether QB Cam Newton should be playing, considering the turmoil with payment and whatnot, or if he should be still be considered for the Heisman.
Interestingly, Alabama is favored in this one. Both teams want to win this game, as they each consider the other their fiercest opponent. It should be a good one. It could even get nasty!
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
As we speak, negotiations are continuing between Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees, in getting Jeter signed to once again play in the Bronx for another season or two. And as we should’ve expected, the two sides are at odds as to what the deal should be worth.
In his fifteen-year career with the Yankees, Jeter has been paid over $205 million! He has become an icon throughout his career, with his solid, consistent play. He will no doubt have his #2 jersey number retired when he finishes.
Last season, though, the Yankee SS produced numbers that weren’t that prolific, hitting .270, with only 10 HR and 67 RBI. He is now 36 years old and easily on the twilight of his career playing days.
Reports have suggested the Yankees have offered Jeter and his agent a three-year, $15 million contract, which they have considered too low. The Yankees, specifically GM Brian Cashman and owner Hank Steinbrenner, have suggested Jeter test the market and talk to other teams to measure his value, if they wish.
And so this is all creating that much more discussion and revelry between management, the fans, and anyone else who has even a slight opinion.
You would think this could’ve been handled in a more calmer, professional fashion, with Jeter taking a fair deal from the Yankee, then going from there. If he were to sign with another club in the near future, it would certainly cause consternation and jaw-dropping, without question. Stay tuned…