SPORTS w/The Jock 9/23/11

by Tom Weppel
In the first two weeks of the season, the headlines have focused on the amount of scoring, the vast amount of passing as opposed to rushing on offense, and the higher than usual amount of injuries…
So far, more points have been scored (1502) than any other season in NFL history. Also, more TD’s have been scored (172) than ever before. Many coaches and coordinators have suggested they are going with more passing because of the lack of time to practice in the preseason, due to the lockout. Combine that with a lack of strength in defensive backfields, and it makes for some ample ‘gun slinging’!
That said, it should be interesting to see if and when various ground games will establish themselves this season within the League. And even if they do, will they strengthen a teams’ offense in their production?
In the meantime, there has been an ample amount of significant injuries each team has sustained throughout the NFL. Once again, the lockout, and lack of a solid training camp, has been partially-blamed for the long list of problems.
Now, we’ll have to see what teams can and will do to replace starters who are down and out, how those replacements perform, and under what type and degree of conditions. Even one or two subs could make a huge difference for one or two teams…
There is one game featuring two undefeateds, with the Patriots heading over to Buffalo face the Division rival Bills. Buffalo is considered fairly upstart in their complexity, while the Pats are certainly one of the more dominant franchises in the League. Even with their two wins, the Bills are a ‘Rodney Dangerfield’ of the NFL, pulling no respect. The Vegas line proves that, as New England goes in as a nine-point favorite! Should be a fun, entertaining contest.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins started the season with two games at home…and lost both, to the Pats (2-0) and Texans (also 2-0). Now, at 0-2, they hit the road, going to Cleveland to play the 1-1 Browns. Although Reggie Bush hasn’t even rushed for a total of 60 yards, their offense statistically ranks in the top 10 over all. Chad Henne has thrown for 586 yards combined, and his QB rating puts him amongst the top ten.
It is the Miami defense that has not come through, giving up a total of 61 points, and their stats currently have them ranked last.
Vegas has Cleveland is favored by three. The Dolphins have two more on the road after this one, at San Diego, then to New York to face the Jets! That’s scary, to say the least! If Miami starts out 0-5, we might be talking about mid-season changes! We’ll see…
Heading into a normal, typical college football weekend, we would be all excited and focused on some good Saturday match ups, such as Arkansas going to Alabama for an SEC battle, or Florida State heading up to Clemson.
Instead, the focus, without question, is, has, and will continue to be almost completely on nothing but the high volatility and uncertainty of major universities in trying to get a feel and decide exactly what conference they should hold their allegiance to. This has turned into nothing more than a complete slugfest between school power brokers, with a good amount of wheeling and dealing being done, depending on where each school stands.
For a while, it seemed the impending, and perhaps desired movement of various select schools was unprecedented. From Texas A&M (BIG 12 to SEC), to Pitt and Syracuse (BIG EAST TO ACC), school Presidents and AD’s, as well as Conference Commissioners, were all trying to get a fix on what exactly what was going on, including how, why, to what extent, and of course, what were going to be the ramifications.
And the dust has certainly NOT settled! The next coming days and weeks should certainly offer a window for which all those who carry a level of significance can consider how things can and will play out.
While all this is happening, biggest question to easily debate is…are, and will, these potential moves end being a good or bad thing? Also, how will they influence each individual school and conference, all depending upon the status and position? There easily is no comprehensive right or wrong answer, and there is still way too much to comprehend out of all the changes.
There is plenty more to be seen and realized…stay tuned!
With a few games left, there are still a few playoff spots left to be determined.
Going into the weekend, we’ve got three Divisions locked up. The Phillies have clinched the NL East, while the Yankees locked up the AL East, and the Tigers won the AL Central. As for the other three Divisions, The Brewers (NL Central), Diamondbacks (NL West), and Rangers (AL West) have the inside track on winning their titles and getting into the playoffs.
Then you have the two wild card slots, which for the most part had been solidified by Boston in the AL and Atlanta in the NL.
But both teams have slumped in the past few weeks, mainly because of their porous starting pitching rotations. That has opened the door for the Rays and Angels in the AL, and the Cardinals in the NL, to make a solid run towards those wild card spots. St. Louis has won eight of their last ten recently, heading into the weekend, while Tampa and the Angels have both done a solid job in winning a majority of their games as well.
Whoever comes out on top in the end will almost breathe a sigh of relief, while those losing out will feel the kick in the ass! Should be fun to watch…