by Tom Weppel
After two weekends on the road, the Jags come home to host the Oakland Raiders, a team that simply cannot be figured out. They can lose to Pittsburgh (35-3) and Miami (33-17), then turn around and beat the Chargers (28-13) last weekend in San Diego. More on Oakland in a minute.
At 7-5, Jacksonville has started to get a good bit of attention from around the League, mainly for their being a game ahead of the now-mediocre Colts, but also for their prowess in rushing the ball on offense. Maurice Jones-Drew has been a beast on the ground, gaining 100 or more yards in their last five games. He ranks second in the NFL, with 1,177 rushing yards for the season.
And so their rushing game has provided more ball-control and effectiveness in their play. Combined with a decent passing game, the Jags are proving that they have the wherewithal to win. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter deserves a fair amount of credit for what they are doing.
It seems the attitude, personality, and composition of the Jaguars as a team has developed nicely, to the point where they are feeling confident and strong in their playing, both on offense AND defense. The Defense has become more cohesive as a unit, even after the loss of Aaron Kampman.
The Raiders come in with a 6-6 record. Their running game has been strong, ranking third overall in the NFL. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush are talented runners behind a solid O-Line. Their inconsistency has come from their QB play. With Bruce Gradkowski now on IR, Jason Campbell is the starter. He carries a low QB rating of 78.1, having thrown for under 200 yards in six of the nine games he has played in.
A Jaguar win gets them to 8-5, looking that much better towards a playoff spot. We shall what they do against the Silver and Black…
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
While there are plenty of games involving teams with playoff implications, there is only ONE game where both opponents have a record better than .500. That game will be held in Chicago, where the Bears will host the Patriots.
Most of us saw the Pats dismantle the Jets last Monday Night, 45-3. QB Tom Brady has the New England offense on fire, having scored 160 points in their last four games (all wins). Bill Belichick has done a good job bringing along a young defense.
Meanwhile, the Bears have done well, also, having won their last five games. Many have not thought the best of QB Jay Cutler, but he has been effective enough to pull out victories.
This game should be interesting. It should certainly give us a good feel as to how these two teams will go from here on out…
Chiefs QB Matt Cassel had emergency appendectomy surgery on Wednesday, yet he is STILL not out for playing on Sunday at San Diego! I mean…you gotta be kidding me!
Then you have Steelers QB Ben Roethlisburger, who as HC Mike Hamlin mentioned, had surgery and ‘got his nose fixed’! Despite the broken nose, and the bad foot, he seems ready to play for Pittsburgh as they host the Bengals this weekend.
I don’t feel bad for Josh McDaniels getting fired by Pat Bowlen and the Denver Broncos, considering he will still get a paycheck from his guaranteed contract! Actually, the Broncos will now be paying both McDaniels AND Mike Shanahan, whom they fired two years ago. Personally, I would be squirming writing those checks!
I’ll be curious, though, to see where McDaniels will land now, and also who Denver will bring in to try and right their sinking ship…
It was only a week or so ago, when we were hearing tremendous amounts of coverage involving Lebron James and the Miami Heat! Fans and Media alike were ripping the Heat for their poor play and mediocre record. They also treated Lebron being back in Cleveland as if it were a bad reality TV show!
But now we are seeing a Miami heat team winning six straight games, after their 111-98 win over the Utah Jazz. Amazing how nobody is suggesting Erik Spoelstra should be fired! Wild how no one is all over James and Dwayne Wade for their play! Seems its been very quiet, now that Miami is doing what so many expected…simply to win games!
So, we’ll now see if the boys from South Florida can continue their run. If they do, we’ll be hearing tons of accolades and shout-outs!
The Urban Meyer resignation certainly made the temperatures in Gainesville even that much colder this week! Fans who were down and out after their unexpected 7-5 season are even more worried as to what the future holds for their beloved football program.
There will be tremendous speculation and discussion as to who will be brought in to be the next UF Head Coach. Lots of big names will be bandied about. My guess is, in the end, AD Jeremy Foley will have someone he feels comfortable with ready to go. One thought, though…won’t it be odd if a new HC is chosen BEFORE Meyer and the Gators play on New Years Day!
And so, Meyer will coach the Gators January 1st when they play Joe Paterno and Penn State in Tampa for the Outback Bowl. Here is some irony…Meyer is 46 years old, and if I’m not mistaken, Paterno is in his 46th season coaching at Penn State!
Anything can happen in the next few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake out with the Gator Nation…
This weekend the Heisman trophy will be presented. It seems to be almost a given that Cam Newton will be chosen, even though there continues to be all kinds of conversation as to his past experiences and whether he should be considered clean or legit. His acceptance should prove intriguing, to say the least…
The Army/Navy game will be played in Philadelphia. The pageantry and history this game holds each year is simply amazing, making it an EVENT, more so than anything else.
But this year, their contest should be that much more interesting, for the simple fact that both teams have winning records and are heading to Bowl games. It will hold more meaning, and it will show us how their teams have played throughout the season.
Navy comes in as a 7-8 point favorite. We’ll see if Army can pull an upset…