by Tom Weppel
NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are the last two undefeated teams in the NFL going into this weekend. Many fans expected the Packers to do well, coming off their Super Bowl victory. NO ONE expected the Lions to be here!
But they continue to play well, having beaten their rivals, the Bears, last Monday night. And now, they will go up against another upstart squad on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers, who have emerged from total mediocrity, thanks to new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
In fact, its almost too difficult to determine which team is more surprising…the Lions, or the Niners. Both have done a good job within their own respective games. The Detroit defense has allowed only 89 points so far going into this weekend…only three other teams have allowed less. One of them is San Francisco (78), who has outscored their opponents overall by more than 60 points.
And both QB’s have played well. Detroit’s Matt Stafford has thrown 13 TD passes, which is third in the League. For the Niners, Alex Smith carries a QB rating of 104.1, which ranks him third overall.
Both teams have also done well on TO ratio, with the 49ers 1st in the NFC at +10, while the Lions are tied for 3d, at +7.
Detroit, playing at home, goes into this one as a 4.5 point favorite. We’ll see if they can hold off the Niners and keep their undefeated record in tact!
Meanwhile, the Colts, of all teams are 0-5! This is another unexpected record, without question.
And the one question everyone continues to ask, is whether or not this is entirely because there is no Peyton Manning. Obviously, neither Kerry Collins, Dan Orlovsky, or Curtis Painter has done a formidable job for Indianapolis. Their offense ranks 30th overall in total yardage, with both rushing and passing at the bottom.
But their defense has struggled as well, giving up 135 points in five games, and they rank next-to-last in rush defense. And so, contrary to popular belief, this is more than just a quarterback thing!
This weekend, the Colts go in to face Cincinnati, a 3-2 team that has played some decent ball with a rookie QB, Andy Dalton. The Bengals will be playing this weekend, though, without their top rookie WR, as AJ Green is down due to injury. Still, Cincy is a touchdown favorite. We’ll see if they can hold that up…
There are thirteen teams still carrying an undefeated record left in college football. Give credit to Kansas State, Illinois, and Georgia Tech for coming out of no where. And certainly it is almost a re-emergence to see Michigan, Clemson, and Boise St. all with unblemished records.
And while it is fun to watch Oklahoma State and Wisconsin make a hard push to get to the top, there is no question three teams have established themselves in their own class, for all intents.
That would be Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma. All three have done a great job so far in all of their contests, showing consistent dominance in all of their games. All three should continue to roll this season, but then we’ll see the Tide and Tigers go head-to-head on November 5th. That might be your national championship right there!
This weekend, the three teams go on the road, with Alabama at Mississippi, LSU at Tennessee, and Oklahoma at Kansas. All three are favored by more than two TD’s, so they should have no problem picking up a ‘W’.
Meanwhile, two undefeateds go into this weekend as underdogs. Kansas State plays at Texas Tech as a three-point ‘dog, while Michigan goes to #19 Michigan State as a two-point ‘dog! Go figure!
Interestingly, Oklahoma State is favored by a touchdown AT Texas! I also consider that a little surprising…
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
For most of the last decade, he did a solid job of making sure the Boston Red Sox were a strong, solid, successful organization, coming through with two World Series titles.
And now, Theo Epstein will move from Boston to Chicago to become General Manager of the Cubs, a franchise that has not on a World Series title in over a century!
We will certainly find out whether Epstein has the wherewithal to turn a franchise around. He goes into relatively the same circumstances he inherited a decade or so ago when he climbed into the chair in Boston, although this setting might be even that much tougher. He has a lot of decisions to make involving numerous players on the roster. He also has to consider whether Mike Quade is worthy of being the team Manager. It should be interesting to see how it all plays out, and the city itself is certainly showing a strong interest and a sense of excitement in the Cubs, all to see if they can become winners!
In the meantime, we are once again seeing how pitching AND hitting can make a huge difference in a team getting all the way to the World Series! And it is all totally necessary to have the BEST record in the regular season, in order to make it to the Championship, as the Phillies and Yankees have shown us.
Fans for both of those clubs are still feeling a sense of disappointment, and will do so for quite a while during this offseason, wondering how and why their respective team aren’t in the Finals. Both New York and Philadelphia played so well throughout the season. Everyone essentially assumed they would both be going against each other in the end.
But they both ran into problems, with both their pitching and hitting, and it ended up costing them. Now they will have to see what to do and what changes to make, if any, to prepare for the start of next season.