Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas weekend in the NFL

While Santa and his elves were making final preparations, packing up the sleigh, and blitzing around the globe to deliver gifts to good boys and girls, teams in the NFL were blocking, passing and blitzing to make this a Christmas to remember.  Some of them got nice gifts and others were left with a lump of coal.

NFL Week 16: The Gifts…
The New England Patriots blew out Buffalo 34 -3 and secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.  So, the AFC playoffs will go through Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  Tom Brady continued to demonstrate why he is the highest paid player in the NFL.  He extended the NFL record to 8 consecutive games with two or more touchdown passes and no interceptions.  He has now thrown 319 passes without any interceptions.

The Lions went down to sunny Miami and won.  They came back from a deficit of 10 points and beat the Dolphins 34 – 27 on the road.  The victory gave the Lions their third win a row – something that they have not had since 2007.  Motown should be singing and dancing this holiday season.

At Soldier Field, Chicago got a quick 10-point lead against the New York Jets.  After a scoreless first quarter, the Jets’ offense came alive, scoring 24 points in the second quarter.  The lead did not last long.  After halftime, the Bears returned and took the lead again.  The Jets fought back but a Mark Sanchez interception sealed Chicago’s 38 – 34 victory.  The Jets still secured a playoff spot.  Thanks to a nice gift from the Washington Redskins.  Their victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars confirmed a Wild-Card playoff spot for the Jets.

The Baltimore Ravens, Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles also secured playoff spots over Christmas Weekend.

NFL Week 16: Lumps of Coal…
While Philadelphia is going to the playoffs because they clinched the NFC East division title, Mother Nature is not being nice to the Eagles.  Due to a blizzard in Philadelphia, they did not play the Minnesota Vikings yesterday.  The game will be played on Tuesday night.  This means that the Eagles will play three games in just 12 days. 

The New York Giants had six turnovers in their loss to the Green Bay Packers.  The defense allowed four touchdown passes from Aaron Rodgers who just returned after suffering a concussion.  The Giants will have to put playoffs on their wish list for next Christmas.

San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Mike Singletary was fired last night.  After two disappointing seasons, the organization relieved him of his duties with just one game left to go.  I think that was more like a ton of coal.

Are you ready for some football?
Tonight MNF heads south to the Georgia Dome for its finale.  It is a divisional rivalry game between the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons.  Atlanta beat New Orleans earlier this year, so they are looking to win the series.  They are already in the playoffs, but they have not clinched the NFC South title.  At 12 – 2, with two games left, they could end the season tied with the Saints who are 10 – 4.  This is what makes this game a “must watch.”  A Saints victory would put them just one game behind the Falcons with the same conference record.  A Falcon victory tonight, would guarantee them the NFC South title and home-field advantage for the NFC playoffs.  Atlanta has not lost at home in over a year.  The Saints demonstrated that they could not handle a strong running game last week when Baltimore’s Ray Rice ran all over them.  Atlanta has someone stronger, running back Michael Turner.  He is ranked #5 this year in the league with over 1,250 rushing yards.  Two good teams, but the Saints defense will not be able to stop Atlanta passing and running.  I’m going with Atlanta tonight.

MNF kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN.  This week we are doing a special game watching party to support the Muskegon Rescue Mission.  Join us this week as we tackle homelessness in West Michigan the only way we know how – with fashion and football!

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 20, 2010

Only in the NFL

The unexpected happens in the NFL, especially in December.  Teams headed to the playoffs lose to horrible teams.  Rookies step up.  Good teams look vulnerable.  It all makes the end of the season very interesting.   Yesterday was filled with some great matchups!  

Favorites from NFL Week 15
Detroit Lions got their fourth win of this season and their first win on the road since 2007.  With a record of 3 – 10, the Lions went down to Florida and beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a playoff contender, 23 – 20 in overtime.  They did this with their third string quarterback, Drew Stanton.  Lions fan should be excited about where they will be next year with a healthy Matthew Stafford.

New York Jets bounced back after losing two games in a row and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 22 -17.  Pittsburgh attempted a come back, but it was unsuccessful.  After being humiliated by the New England Patriots and Miami Heat, the Jets got their first win in December and held on to the Wild-Card playoff spot.

Baltimore Ravens beat the New Orleans Saints, 30 -24 at home.  The defending Super Bowl champs had not lost a game since October.   Baltimore’s offense and defense was on point.  Ray Rice led the offense with 153 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while the defense limited the Saints to just 27 rushing yards.  Both teams are fighting to keep a Wild-Card playoff spot.

Redskins fans had been boasting a better record and a victory over their division rival, Dallas Cowboys.  All of that is over now.  While the Redskins experimented with benching quarterback, Donovan McNabb for Rex Grossman, the Cowboys are ending strong.  Dallas led the entire game.  Washington fought back but missed a field goal to tie the game.  Dallas won, 33 – 30.  The Cowboys and Redskins are tied for third place in the NFC East at 5-9.

While Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Washington failed at coming back, but quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles got it done.  Philadelphia was trailing the New York Giants by 14 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  Vick passed, ran and scored a touchdown to get the Eagles 28 points in the final quarter of the game!  This is why he is leading Pro Bowl voting.  Philadelphia won, 38 – 31.

Rookie Debut
Quarterback Tim Tebow made his first start in the NFL.  He had 138 passing yards, 78 rushing yards and a touchdown.  It was a good start to his NFL career, but not enough for the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders.  The Raiders won, 39 -23.

Are you ready for some football?
Tonight MNF is going to cold Minnesota, but not to the Metrodome.  The Chicago Bears will play the Minnesota Vikings at TCF Bank Stadium, home of the University of Minnesota football team.  This is the result of Metrodome collapsing last Sunday.  Officials ruled that it could not be repaired in time, the Bears petitioned the NFL to disallow the game at TCF Bank, but the show is going on.  Outside of the Brett Favre drama, this game is centered on Chicago keeping its playoffs hopes alive.  Right now Chicago is leading the NFC North, 9-4; but the Green Bay Packers are right behind them.  They meet for the final game of the season.  I think that Chicago will keep it together, while the Vikings still figure out who they are after a crazy season.  MNF kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 13, 2010

If the NFL playoffs started today

Since the regular season is coming to a close, I thought I better get you prepared for the playoffs.  The postseason in the NFL is a three-week playoff system and the Super Bowl.  The rounds are: Wild-Card, Divisional, and Conference Championship.  The conference champions play in the Super Bowl.  Let me explain the how teams get on the road to the Super Bowl.

The NFL is divided into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).  Each of those conferences has four divisions (North, South, East and West).  The playoffs are comprised of 12 teams, 6 from each conference.  The four division winners get playoff spots.  This is the reason why there is such a focus on division leaders.  You may have heard someone comment, “they are leading the AFC East” or “they are only two games behind first in the NFC North.”  It is all about making it to the playoffs.  After the division leaders are determined, two more teams are selected from each conference.  These are the teams that have the best record in the entire conference not including the division winners.  They will play division winners in the Wild-Card Round, hence they are referred to as “wild-cards.”  The best two teams in each conference are off during the Wild-Card Round and they have an automatic home game.  They play the winners of the Wild-Card Round in the Divsional Round.  The overall best team in the conference gets all of its games at home, not including the Super Bowl; unless, of course the Super Bowl is in their home stadium.   Jerry Jones thought his team would do it this year, but they are not even going to make the playoffs.

With three weeks left in the regular season, there are several teams “in the hunt.”  This means that they are close to becoming a Wild-card.  I’ll use the current NFC standings to illustrate this.  At the moment, the New York Giants have a record of 8 – 4 after 12 games.  They would have a Wild-Card spot if the playoffs started over the weekend.  Tampa Bay is at 8 – 5 after 13 games.  They are hunting for the wild-card spot.  The Giants game this evening against Minnesota is pivotal.  If they win they move to 9 – 3 making Tampa Bay’s hunt more difficult.  If they lose, they will be tied with the Bucs.  This helps Tampa Bay with its hunt to become a playoff team. 

All of this leads me to tonight’s games.  The New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings are playing in Detroit at Ford Field because the roof of the Vikings home stadium, Metrodome collapsed early yesterday morning.  As I shared, it is a big game for the Giants.  Minnesota would love to mess up things for the Giants, but I don’t think they are equipped to do so.  They don’t know who is going to be their quarterback (Favre is still trying to recover) and they did not know they had to make a road trip until yesterday evening.  The Giants better stay focused and get it done tonight.  Next week they have Philadelphia at home.

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football is traveling to the Lone Star State.  The Baltimore Ravens play the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.  Even at 5 – 7, the Texans are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.  After a tough loss last weekend, Baltimore’s offense will be solid.  Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Le’Ron McClain should not have any problems against the Texans’ 31st ranked defense.  On top of that, the Ravens’ defense is ranked #7.  I don’t see Houston’s Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson doing too much damage against Ray Lewis and the gang.  I’m going with the Baltimore Ravens tonight.  MNF kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN.  This week we’re going to the hippest part of Washington, DC for the game, U Street.   Join us at Ben’s Next Door.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, December 6, 2010

December separates the best from the rest

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  Ahhh… December.  College bowl games, the Heisman Trophy announcement and NFL divisional battles. 

Yesterday the BCS announced the schools that are going to play in its bowl games – the Rose Bowl presented by VIZIO, Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, Discover Orange Bowl, All State Sugar Bowl and Tostitos BCS National Championship Game.   Auburn Tigers and Oregon Ducks will play in the championship game on January 10 in Arizona.  This was not a surprise.  Both teams won their conference and are undefeated.  Every year there is controversy over whether the BCS selects the right schools and delivers a true champion. 

I think that the right schools are going to play in the title game.  Auburn has a superstar quarterback in Cameron “Cam” Newton.  The guy is big, fast, and can throw the football.  He could help teams in the pros like the Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions today.   With a new quarterback, things started off slow for the Tigers.  They had close wins against unranked Mississippi State and Clemson.  Each week Cam displayed just how good he is and took Auburn through the tough SEC without a loss.  Oregon is a high scoring team.  They dominated all of their opponents.  Thanks to quarterback, Darron Thomas, and running back, LaMichael James, the Ducks won 10 of their 12 games by 17 or more points.

Michigan State got a raw deal.  The Spartans shared the Big Ten title with Wisconsin and Ohio State.  Despite beating Wisconsin during the season they were not selected to a BCS bowl game.  Instead they are going to play Alabama and their former coach, Nick Saban, in the Capital One Bowl.   It will be frustrating for the Spartans to watch the team they beat represent the conference in the Rose Bowl. 

Quick hits around the NFL Week 13
Dallas Cowboys beat the Indianapolis Colts 38 -35.  The Cowboys’ defense intercepted Peyton Manning four times.  Two of them were returned for touchdowns.  Just when Dallas was starting to look like the team people thought would contend for the Super Bowl, they lose wide receiver Dez Bryant.  Bryant suffered an ankle injury yesterday and is out for the season.

For the second time this season, a controversial call clouds the Chicago Bears victory over the Detroit Lions.  The Bears were behind when Lions rookie defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh was penalized for unnecessary roughness.  The Lions’ sideline thought that Suh just pushed Bears quarterback Jay Cutler to the ground.  The referees saw a blow to the back of Cutler’s head.  The penalty setup a Bears touchdown.  Chicago wins 24-20.

Atlanta Falcons came back in the fourth quarter to beat Tampa Bay Buccaneers 28 -24.  They remain first in the NFC South.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback, Brett Favre, injured his throwing shoulder.  With Tarvaris Jackson at the quarterback position, the Vikings beat the Buffalo Bills 38-14 at home.     

Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off a win against AFC rival Baltimore Ravens.  It was a bloody battle between two powerful defenses – literally.  The game left Steelers quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger with a bloody jersey and broken nose.  Steelers win 13-10 and hold first in the AFC North by themselves.

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football is going to feel like the AFC Championship Game.  The New York Jets are going up to cold Gillette Stadium to play the New England Patriots.  They are divisional rivals tied at 9-2 for first place in the AFC East.  So, this is a battle for the top spot in the division and the conference.  Earlier this season (Week 2), the Jets beat the Patriots at home when they still had Pro Bowl receiver Randy Moss.  Tonight’s game is going to come down to experience and talent.  The Patriots have quarterback, Tom Brady, but I don’t think that it is going to be enough.  New York Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, may only be in his second season, but he is surrounded by a lot of experienced, talented players. Jets defensive backs Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis will be able to beat anyone that Brady tries to throw to.  I’m going with the Jets.  I know that the Patriots slaughtered the Lions last Thursday.  Yes, the Jets barely won the last few weeks.  They don’t have to blowout teams to get to the Super Bowl.  They just have to win.  Good teams find a way to win and the Jets will do just that tonight.  MNF kicks off at 8:30 pm on ESPN.

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving football leftovers

I’m still recuperating from a weekend filled with good friends, good food, good wine and of course good football.  So, let me get straight to a few highlights.

College Weekend.
Auburn is #1.  The Tigers put away Alabama 28 – 27.   They now have the top spot in the BCS and will play for the SEC Championship this weekend.

Boise State loss a close game to Nevada, 34-31.  The loss closed the door on their hopes to play in the BCS Championship Game and opened the door for #4 Stanford,
#5 Wisconsin, #6 Ohio State, #7 Arkansas, #8 Michigan State and #9 Oklahoma to move up.   Arkansas and Oklahoma entered the top 10 after beating LSU and Oklahoma State respectively. 

The Big Ten title is a three-way tie this year.  Wisconsin, Ohio State and Michigan State all ended the regular season with 11-1 records.  Big Ten Conference Championship game can’t come fast enough.     

NFL Week 12
The Thanksgiving Day games went as expected.  The New York Jets beat Cincinnati, New Orleans beat Dallas and New England played with Detroit before Tom Brady crushed them. 

A lot of fans and people close to the sport, believe that the Thanksgiving game should be taken away from the Lions and replaced with a game that has playoff implications.  The Lions overall have not been that bad on Turkey Day.  They are 33-35-2.  The problem is that in the last 10 years the Lions have only won twice and the 8 losses were nowhere near competitive.  From a business standpoint, I think rotating the game could build some excitement and generate more interest on a day where people have all day to eat and watch football.  Personally, I’m tired of people complaining to me about their desire to watch a good game on Thanksgiving instead of my Lions. 

Reminder to everyone: I’m from Michigan.  I don’t have a NFL team.  I liked the Bears, Cowboys and 49ers growing up.  I do not own the Lions nor am I the commissioner of the NFL.  Send your concerns to Mr. Roger Goodell.

After Turkey Day…
Brett Favre had a good day with new Minnesota Vikings Head Coach, Leslie Frazier making the decisions.  Without throwing a touchdown pass, Favre still led the Vikings to a 17-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.  McNabb started off the game well.  The Redskins’ first score was a touchdown pass.  By the end of the game, he had an interception and was sacked four times.  The Redskins are now 5-6.

Michael Vick’s 333 passing yards and two touchdowns were not enough to get Philadelphia a win against the Chicago Bears.  The Bears defense discovered a way to stop Vick.  They intercepted one of his passes and sacked him four times.  Chicago won, 31 – 26.

The Buffalo Bills almost pulled a big upset against an AFC leader, Pittsburgh Steelers.  After two consecutive wins (their only victories this season), Buffalo was prepared to make a statement.  They scared the Steelers and forced overtime with just two seconds left in the game.  Pittsburgh finally won the game with a little more than two minutes left in overtime, 19–16.

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football is out west again this week.  The San Francisco 49ers are traveling to University of Phoenix Stadium to play the Arizona Cardinals.  They are in the same division, NFC West.  They have the same record, 3-7.  They suffered embarrassing losses last week by more than 21 points.  (San Fran did not even get on the scoreboard.)  The situation looks bad for both teams, but all hope should not be gone.  This is not the result of a superstar addition or new coach.  49ers and Cardinals fans can still be optimistic because the NFC West is weak.  The “leaders” in this division, Seattle and St. Louis, are tied at 5-6.  So, this game still has some value.  Both teams have the potential to make it to the playoffs.  As their records illustrate, neither team has done anything impressive this year.  However, San Fran is 12 in the league on defense while Arizona is 29.  Despite an ugly loss last weekend to Tampa Bay, the 49ers are undefeated with Troy Smith starting at quarterback.  We may see some great moves from Arizona wide receiver, Larry Fitzgerald, but I don’t expect much else from the Cardinals.  I’m picking San Fran.  Honestly, it’s not because of the defense or Troy Smith.  It’s nostalgia.  Joe Montana.  Steve Young.  Jerry Rice.  Deion Sanders.  I loved those guys.  

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving with college and NFL teams

It’s Thanksgiving week.  My weekend was filled flipping the channel between football games and the Food Network.  As I watched some games over the weekend and developed new ideas to enhance my Thanksgiving recipes, I thought about what some football teams would be thankful for this year.   Before I get to that, I have to share one tip to help with your Thanksgiving dinner.  If you are responsible for the turkey this year, purchase a cheesecloth.  It is the best secret to baking the perfect turkey.  Soak it in your favorite marinade, place it over the turkey and let it bake.  The moist cloth prevents the turkey from getting dry and protects the color from getting too dark.  I create a marinade using apple cider, cinnamon, rosemary and sage.  When the turkey comes out, I garnish with apples and cinnamon sticks to accentuate the aroma.  It is a great centerpiece at the dinner table.  

Now here is my take on what we would hear around the table at Thanksgiving from some college and football teams.

Around the college Thanksgiving table.
Wisconsin: “We are thankful that Michigan’s Denard Robinson’s record setting performance on Saturday was not enough to stop us from beating the Wolverines 48–28.   We are the highest ranked Big Ten team in the BCS.”

Michigan State: “We are thankful that we scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and came back from a 28–13 deficit and managed to beat Iowa 35–31.  In this close Big Ten race, we are grateful that we already beat Wisconsin and don’t play Ohio State this year.”

Ohio State: “We are thankful for Terrelle Pryor.  He ran on a crucial 4th down and brought us back from behind to barely defeat Iowa 20–17.” 

Oklahoma State: “We are thankful that Nebraska loss to Texas A&M.  We are now the highest ranked Big 12 team in the BCS.”

Notre Dame:  “We are thankful that we won the inaugural college football game at the new Yankee Stadium, 27-3 over Army, in front a record crowd of 54,251.   We are going to a bowl game.”

Michigan:  “We are thankful that the superstars on our offense are sophomores and we are going to our first bowl game under Coach Rich Rod.”

Around the Thanksgiving table after NFL Week 11
Washington Redskins: “We are thankful that Tennessee made a ton of mistakes that allowed us to win 19-16 and put us at .500.”

New York Jets: “We are thankful that Mark Sanchez threw a perfect 42-yard pass to Braylon Edwards with 16 seconds remaining in the game.  After blowing a 16 point lead, we beat Houston 30 – 27.”

Dallas Cowboys: “We are thankful that we played the Detroit Lions in our home debut with Garrett as the interim head coach.  It allowed us to get our first win at home.  The 35–19 victory gives us confidence to play like we have talent.”

New England Patriots: “We are thankful that we have Tom Brady.  He makes things happen even with rookie receivers.  We are also grateful that our defense intercepted Big Manning’s first and last pass of the game and we beat the Colts 31–28.

Philadelphia Eagles:  “We are SOOOOOOO VERY THANKFUL, GRATEFUL AND APPRECIATIVE that Kevin Kolb’s injury opened the door for Michael Vick to play.  We are just over filled with gratitude because Vick replaced Kolb as our starting quarterback.  He has demonstrated that he is still a franchise QB.  We look so smart for sending McNabb to Washington.  After beating Young Manning and the Giants 27–17, we are in first place in the NFC East by ourselves.  Again, we are SOOOOOOO VERY THANKFUL, GRATEFUL AND APPRECIATIVE.

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football goes out west tonight.  The San Diego Chargers host the Denver Broncos.  This is an important division game because the AFC West is so close.  Oakland and Kansas City are tied for first place with a 5-4 record, San Diego (4-5) is in third and Denver (3-6) is in last.  Both teams are passing machines.  Both quarterbacks, Philip Rivers (Chargers) and Kyle Orton (Broncos), are on pace to challenge Dan Marino's single-season record of 5,084 passing yards.  I think that this game will come down to defense.  San Diego has the best defense in the league right now.   On the other hand, Denver has defensive tackle Jamal Williams, who is in first season with the Broncos after 12 seasons in San Diego.  I think Jamal may give his new team some insight on how to get past the Chargers’ offensive line.  So, I’m going with Denver. MNF is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.  If you’re in DC, you can join us at Degrees in the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, November 15, 2010

Good teams comeback

Sometimes a team with lesser talent, but more focus and determination humbles a very talented team.  What makes a talented team a good team is the ability to identify the issues, quickly make adjustments and play to their full potential.  Good teams comeback.  Sometimes the comeback is after a shocking first half.  Other times it is after a devastating loss.  This weekend some good teams bounced back.  Others were humbled, so we’ll see in the weeks to come if they are truly good teams.

College Weekend
There was not any movement among the top 10 teams in the BCS Standings.  Some exciting games over the weekend, but the race for the championship remains the same.  Oregon survived a close game with California and won on the road 15 – 13.  Auburn’s starting quarterback, Cam Newton, got the team together and they beat George 49 – 31 after trailing 21-7.  Wisconsin continued its fight for the Big Ten title by punishing Indiana 83 – 20.  Steve Spurrier has officially turned things around at South Carolina.  In 2005, he took over the program, which had only won more than 8 games in a season twice in the school’s history.  South Carolina’s 36 -14 victory over Florida secured the schools first SEC East title and trip to the SEC Championship game. 

This weekend Oregon #1, Auburn #2 and TCU #3 do not play.  As a result, none of the games this weekend will have an impact on the BCS Championship Game.  Look forward to Thanksgiving weekend when Oregon plays Arizona #22 and Auburn plays Alabama #11. 

NFL Week 10
The Cleveland Browns’ luck ran out against the New York Jets.  Their two-game winning streak with surprising victories against the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots ended yesterday.  The New York Jets did not dominate, but as good teams do they pulled it together and won in overtime, 26 – 20.

Detroit Lions fans can’t get a break.  Just when they were getting excited about their future, they are reminded of the shameful records that they hold and humiliated in a game that they should have won.  It was called the Futility Bowl, because both the Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills just seem incapable of success.  Going into the game, Buffalo had not won a game this season and Detroit had not won on the road since 2007.  In a messy game filled with penalties and punts, the Buffalo Bills beat the Lions 14 -12 and get their first win of the season.  The Lions now hold the record for most consecutive road losses with 25.  What makes this worse is that they took the record from themselves.

The Dallas Cowboys got a makeover and things look better already.  Team owner, Jerry Jones, fired Head Coach, Wade Phillips last week.  Jason Garrett is the interim coach charged with salvaging the Cowboys season and at least look like a decent team.  He is off to a good start.  They looked like the talented group that people thought would contend for the Super Bowl prior to the season.  Even with back up quarterback, Jon Kitna, starting, Dallas made a lot of big plays and beat the New York Giants, 33 – 20.  And it was on the road. 

The New England Patriots bounced back after their embarrassing loss last weekend to Cleveland.  Patriot QB, Tom Brady, had three touchdown passes and even scored a touchdown.  The Steelers defense was not able to contain him at all.  Meanwhile New England’s defense sacked Steelers QB, Ben Roethlisberger 5 times.  New England won on the road 39 – 26.

Are you ready for some football?
Tonight Monday Night Football is in the nation’s capital.  The Washington Redskins are hosting the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field.  Redskins QB, Donovan McNabb is playing his old team on national television.  The Redskins won earlier this year in Philadelphia, but Michael Vick did not play the entire game.   He went out early in the game with a rib injury.  Vick is back and with him in the pocket, the Eagles are a tough team to beat.  On top of that, I feel like Redskins Head Coach, Mike Shanahan is full of shenanigans.  In their last game two weeks ago against the Lions, Shanahan put McNabb on the bench supposedly because he did not know the two-minute offense.  Really?  A 12-year veteran, pro-bowl quarterback can’t learn a two-minute offense in 6 months?  Since then the reason for the decision has changed to hamstring injuries and cardiovascular endurance problems.  As I said: SHENANIGANS!  With this type of decision-making and Vick having a spectacular season, the Eagles will win and tie the New York Giants for first place in the NFC East.

MNF is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.  If you’re in DC, you can join us at Degrees in the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. 

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, November 8, 2010

Good teams find a way to win

Sink or swim!  (Clap, clap, clap)
Do or die!  (Clap, clap, clap)
Come on Tigers let’s break that tie!

That is a chant from my high school days cheering for the Muskegon Heights Tigers.  The games over the weekend reminded me of it.  There were some close games and several ties.  The good teams found a way to win and the bad teams loss.

College Weekend
For the first time this season, the top four teams remained intact.  In the BCS standings, Oregon #1, Auburn #2, TCU #3 and Boise State #4 all beat their opponents by 35 or more points.  Utah and Alabama can give up their hopes of playing in the championship game.  Utah suffered their first loss of the season (47 – 7) to TCU and dropped to #14.  Alabama went down six spots to #12 after receiving their second loss of the season in a close game with LSU.  A lot of people call this an upset.  I don’t.  I thought the game would be a battle between two good teams.  LSU loss a game last month, but it was to a very good Auburn team.  Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide loss to a South Carolina team that is now 6-3.   The scoring went back and forth and Les Miles coached his Tigers to a 24–21 victory.  The win elevated them from #10 to #5 in the BCS.   Stanford made the other big jump.  After beating Arizona 42-17, the Cardinals moved from #13 to #6.

Three games to follow on Saturday and why:
1. #24 Kansas State at #17 Missouri – Missouri is trying to prevent losing 3 in a row and stay #2 in the Big 12 North.
2. #19 Mississippi State at #12 Alabama – A Mississippi upset will officially put Alabama out of contention for the SEC West.  Unless something drastic happens Auburn and LSU are not going to lose three games.
3. #23 South Carolina at #22 Florida – Winner leads the SEC East.

Oh, one special note.  Congrats to Penn State Head Coach, Joe Paterno on his 400th win!

NFL Week 9
In the NFL, overtime is played in sudden death.  The first team that scores in overtime wins the game.  15 minutes are put on the clock, but the game is only played until the first score.  I’m going to discuss the three games that went to overtime yesterday.

The New York Jets almost got their second loss in a row (third of the season) against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.  Shockingly the Jets with all its talent did not stop the inferior Lions until overtime.  Before getting to overtime, they capitalized on a poor decision.  With less than 3 minutes left in the game and the Lions up 20-17, Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz decided to pass the ball.   When you are leading, you want to use as much time as you can.  Passing plays are quick, running plays take more time, so the smart thing would have been to run.  Especially, with only a three point lead against a team with the number of offensive weapons that the Jets have! From there, the Jets got a field goal and sent the game to overtime.  In overtime, Jets Head Coach, Rex Ryan, decided to run the team’s 2-minute offense.  (Special plays designed to score in the final two minutes of a quarter.)  It worked.  A little over two minutes later, the Jets kicked a field goal and the game was over.  New York Jets win 23 – 20.

Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings were a different team yesterday.  Well, considering that they let go of Randy Moss last week, they are truly a different team.  With less than 5 minutes left in the game, the Vikings were down by 14 points.  Favre got his team together and they scored two touchdowns to tie the game with 27 seconds left.  In overtime, the Vikings defense stopped Arizona from reaching field goal position.  Favre got the ball back and mixed some passes and runs by Adrian Peterson to put Minnesota in field goal position.  Minnesota wins 27-24.

The Oakland Raiders continued their winning streak.  Like the other two teams that were victorious after overtime, the Raiders were behind close to the end of the game.  With two minutes left in the game, Kansas City was up by 3 points.  Jason Campbell led the Raiders to get in field goal position.  They got the field goal and tied the game with only 3 seconds remaining in the game.  In overtime, Kansas City got the ball first, but did not score.  In just 3 plays, the Raiders got a field goal and the game was over.  Oakland wins 23 – 20.

It was not a tie game, but it was a MAJOR upset.  So, I have to tell you about.   The Cleveland Browns shocked everyone again when they beat the New England Patriots 34 -14.  A couple of weeks ago, they stunned the defending Super Bowl Champs, New Orleans Saints.  Returning from a bye week, they were rested and tore Bill Belichick’s Patriots to pieces.  This is a great win for Cleveland.  Maybe it will help them get over losing LeBron.

Are you ready for some football?
Tonight Monday Night Football heads to Paul Brown Stadium.  The Cincinnati Bengals will host the Pittsburgh Steelers.  This is a divisional conference battle.  If Pittsburgh wins, they will be tied for first with Baltimore in the AFC North.  If the Bengals win, they improve their record to 3-5 and tie for third in the division.  For Cincinnati, as Bengals receiver T.O. said, “This is not a must win.  It’s a gotsta win.”  I don’t think that is going to happen.  The Bengals have two of the best receivers playing right now, but you would never guess that looking at their record or the number of points they have put up this year.  I’m going with the Steelers.  Their defense will force Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer to make mistakes.

MNF is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.  If you’re in DC, you can join us at Degrees in the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown. 

Heels & Helmets®

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tricked or Treated?

Halloween weekend had its share of tricks and treats.  It also revealed scary realities for some teams.  There is just one month left of regular season college football and the NFL is halfway through it season.  November is here, but let's look at how October ended.

College Weekend
Just when I was ready to inform you that for the first time in October, the #1 team won and stayed at the top spot, the BCS tricks me with me a new #1.  Despite, Auburn pounding Ole Miss 51 – 31, the Tigers dropped to #2 in the BCS.  Oregon moved to #1 after beating #24 USC 53 - 32. 

The BCS is a hodgepodge of the Harris Interactive College Football Poll, USA Today Coaches Poll and computer rankings.  In spite of all of the science that is used in the BCS methodology, the process still seems unscientific and subjective.  This is why we end up with quirky situations like a 9-0 team (Auburn) losing the top spot after a win or a one-loss team playing in the championship game over undefeated teams.  I guess Oregon’s victory over a ranked opponent was more impressive than Auburn’s victory over an unranked team this weekend.  It will get messier during the final month of the college regular season. 

The team to watch is Alabama.  At 7-1, #2 in the SEC West and #6 in the BCS, they still have to play LSU #10 and Auburn #2.  If the Crimson Tide continues to roll over its opponents, beat an undefeated Auburn at the end of the season and win the SEC Championship game, they could land in one of the top two spots.  EVEN if TCU #3 or #4 Boise State are still undefeated. 


Alabama surviving the SEC (playing seven ranked opponents) with only one loss illustrates a stronger team to the humans behind the polls and computer rankings, in comparison to TCU going undefeated in the Mountain West Conference (MWC) and playing only two ranked opponents.  This will become more likely this weekend when TCU #3 and Utah #5 play.  I don’t know who will win, but I do know that the loser will drop.  This puts Alabama in a position to get in the top 5 in the BCS.  A win against LSU on Saturday will get them to at least #5.

NFL Week 8
In the AFC, the New England Patriots took the lead in the conference with a 28 – 18 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and their former star receiver Randy Moss.  Scary game for the Vikes.  Favre struggled and ended up out of the game with eight stitches in his chin.

In the NFC, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is back to himself.  After an embarrassing loss last weekend and a scary start yesterday, he ended the game with over 300 passing yards and 2 touchdowns.  In the second half he only missed two passes.  Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could not get one touchdown pass.  It reminded me that the Saints do have the third ranked defense in the NFL.  New Orleans beat Pittsburgh 20 – 10.

Donovan McNabb was benched in the Washington Redskins loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.  Calvin Johnson, a.k.a Megatron, and Matthew Stafford treated Lions fans to a 37 – 25 victory. 

The New York Jets could not handle the Green Bay Packers defense.  They lose at home without scoring a single point.  Scary.  Packers win on the road 9 – 0.  If you forgot the Packers have last season’s defensive player of the year, Charles Woodson.

The Dallas Cowboys can no longer trick anyone into thinking that they are a good team.  The Cowboys were already off to one of the worst starts in the franchise’s history.  Now their starting quarterback, Tony Romo, is out after breaking his collarbone last Monday.  His replacement, Jon Kitna, is old and has not played in a NFL game in two seasons.  It showed yesterday.  The scariest moment came when he collided with Marion Barber trying to hand off the ball.  I don’t think I have seen that type of confusion in Pee Wee in football. 

The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos went to the other side of the pond and played at Wembley Stadium.  49ers fans were treated to a different quarterback, a different country, a different team and a different outcome.  Troy Smith in only his third start as a NFL quarterback ran for a touchdown and passed for a touchdown, treating 49ers fans to a 24 – 16 win over Denver, their second of the season.  

Are you ready for some football?
Tonight Monday Night Football is a rematch between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.  In the season opener, Houston won 34 - 24.  The Colts are without a couple of offensive threats, wide receiver Austin Collie and running back Joseph Addai.  However, they are coming off of a Bye week and they still have Peyton Manning.  He is rested and at home.  I expect him to make good things happen.  The league’s last ranked defense going against the older Manning brother is a scary thought.  I’m going with the Colts.

MNF is at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.  If you’re in DC, you can join us at Degrees in the Ritz Carlton-Georgetown. 

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 25, 2010

Halloween is here and football is getting scary

As we approach Halloween, a couple of the top teams in college and the NFL had fans on the edge of their seats.  Some of them survived scary games, while others suffered frightening losses. 

College Weekend
Oklahoma loss to Missouri and opened the door for someone to take the #1 spot.  In the AP and USAToday Polls, Oregon took the top spot.  However, in the BCS standing Auburn who defeated LSU owns the #1 spot.  As I shared last week, the BCS is the only standing that you need to pay attention to.  Auburn was rewarded for not just being undefeated, but beating three teams ranked #12 or higher.  Following Auburn in the top five of the BCS are Oregon #2, Boise State #3, Texas Christian University (TCU) #4, and Michigan State #5.  

The chase for the BCS Championship game will be tough for the schools behind Auburn because of the lack of difficulty remaining on their schedule.  They all only have one ranked opponent left.  Out of the four of them, only TCU will play a team currently in the top 10.  This leaves an opportunity for Alabama to still get to the BCS game.  In the final month of the regular schedule, they will play three ranked teams, LSU #12, Mississippi State #21 and Auburn #1.

NFL Week 7
In the first weekend since the NFL got tough on illegal helmets hits, there were some shockers, lucky endings and controversial calls.

Who Dat thought that the Cleveland Browns would even compete against the defending Super Bowl Champs?  Probably only Browns players and die-hard fans.  Cleveland not only competed, but they dominated the New Orleans Saints.   Browns fans need to thank their defense and Saints quarterback Drew Brees for their second win.  He was responsible for two of their three touchdowns.  Drew threw two interceptions that were caught and returned for touchdowns by David Bowen.  Browns win on the road, 30 -17.

The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to South Florida to face AFC rival Miami Dolphins.  It was a close game in which Ben Roethlisberger fumbled at the end of the game right at the goal line.  The refs confirmed the fumbled, but said that they did not have a clear visual of who recovered the ball, so they gave it back to Pittsburgh.  I was not on the field, but from the replay I only see Dolphin uniforms all over the ball.  Luck falls on the Steelers side.  They get the ball back at the half-yard line, kick a field goal and win 23 – 22.

In Chicago, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler threw 4 interceptions that helped the Washington Redskins get their fourth win of the season.  It was not all pretty for the Redskins.  Donovan McNabb threw a couple of interceptions, but the defense shined returning one of Cutler’s interceptions for a touchdown and sacking him four times.  Redskins win it 17 - 14.  I have to give some credit to Redskin defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth.  He made an awesome stop at the goal line.  He leaped over the offensive line and tackled Cutler, preventing him from scoring a touchdown and leading to a fumble.  You have to see it.  Now that’s defense! 

New England Patriots get lucky in Southern California.  San Diego Chargers miss a field goal with 23 seconds left that would have tied the game.  Patriots win 23 -20 and remain tied for first in the AFC East with the New York Jets.  Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings were not so lucky in Lambeau Field.  Favre’s interceptions and controversial calls on two touchdowns led to a Green Bay Packers victory 28 -24.

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football will feature a matchup between NFC East teams.  The first team in the NFC East, New York Giants, will play the last team in that division, Dallas Cowboys, at Cowboys Stadium.  After consecutive losses to AFC opponents, the Giants have won three in a row.  Albeit those games were not against New England, Pittsburgh or the Jets, Dallas has won only one game.  The Cowboys problem is not a lack of talent.  It is a lack of focus and discipline.

 I’ll be honest and disclose I have an affinity for the Cowboys.  (I love Jerry Jones and what little cheerleader in the 80s did not want to be a Cowgirl???)   So, even with the problems, turnovers and penalties, I’m going with the Cowboys.  They are in a do or die situation and I think Tony Romo and Miles Austin will lead the team to their second win.

Heels & Helmets

Monday, October 18, 2010

The NFL FINALLY Got The Memo!

Ladies, it has been a very long time coming, but the NFL finally heard our plea – WE DON’T NEED PINK JERSEYS!  For years I could not figure out why sports leagues thought that I would spend my money on a big square cut jersey just because it was pink.  What organization tries to attract a specific audience by manufacturing something that they do not want and does not fit?  Furthermore, why would a business push something that is not truly their brand?  (Forgive me my background is in marketing, so I question these things.)  In a meeting about the Detroit Lions Team store, The Director of Retail Sales walked me through the layout of the store and explained the positioning of the ladies apparel to attract women.  The positioning was not the problem; the product was. 

Women never needed pink jerseys or hats.  We just needed them in our sizes and in styles that were flattering.  If you like the Cowboys, you never wanted to rock the star in pink, you wanted it in blue.  If you are like me, you probably had some tricks to represent your team and still look fly.  Mine was going to the little boys’ section.  While it was not a perfect fit, it was not down to my knees and gave me a closer resemblance of a lady. 

I’m happy to say that those days are over!  There is a NFL clothing line with items that actually fit us!  Not sure if it was because the NFL learned that we (ladies) now control 73% of household spending and own 2 out 3 new business.  Maybe it was the 18 million cracks Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential candidacy put in the glass ceiling of the White House.  I don’t know, but I am glad that they FINALLY got the memo!  Check out the NFL’s new clothing line at and tell them that we sent you.  I’m sure you’ll be just as excited as I am!  While you are shopping, I found the hottest boots from Bebe to go with your new swag.  (Oh, they are giving cash back on your purchases.)   Let me know what you get.

College Weekend
The first BCS standing of the season is out.  Who is at the top?  Not a team from the SEC or the Big Ten.  Oklahoma (Big 12) and Oregon (PAC-10) are #1 and #2 respectively.  The Sooners and Ducks can’t get comfortable.  Auburn #4 and LSU #6 are not far behind.  They play each other this weekend.  The winner will be the last undefeated team in the competitive SEC. 

So where are the Ohio State Buckeyes?  After a disappointing loss to Wisconsin, they are at #10 behind Michigan State #7 the only undefeated team left in the Big Ten.  This was a huge loss for the Buckeyes because it gives the advantage to Michigan State.  Ohio State will not play Michigan State this season and the Spartans beat Wisconsin a few weeks ago.  So, if both teams have the same record at the end of the season and tie for the Big Ten title, the edge goes to MSU.  Iowa may disrupt all of that.  They play Ohio State and Michigan State and are undefeated in the conference.

We have to send prayers and well wished to Rutgers defensive tackle, Eric LeGrand.  He suffered a spinal-cord injury in the last quarter of Rutgers win over Army that left him paralyzed below the neck.

NFL Week 6
It was a weekend of returns in the NFL. 
Ben Roethlisberger returned to the game after a 4 game suspension.  The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cleveland Browns, 28 – 10.  The Steelers won without Big Ben and you can expect that they will be even better with him back on the field.

Deion Branch returned to his old team, the New England Patriots, and had his best game since his rookie year as a Patriot in 2002.  His nine catches helped New England win in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens 23 – 20.

Kevin Kolb returned as the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, playing for injured Michael Vick .  He looked strong in the Eagles impressive 31 – 17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons.  Coach Andy Reid said that Vick was still his starting quarterback and that there was not a QB controversy in Philadelphia, but we have heard that before.

LaDainian Tomlinson continues to return his passes for touchdowns.  (San Diego must be sick seeing his stats.)  LT scored two touchdowns late in the game that pushed the New Yorks Jets on top of the Denver Broncos, 24 -20.  Broncos led most of the game, so some will say that Denver played better.  I picked the Jets to go to the Super Bowl this year, so I say comebacks and clutch time victories are what great teams do.  Let’s Go J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, Jets!

Are you ready for some football?
Monday Night Football goes to Jacksonville tonight.  The Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Tennessee Titans.  Both teams have some fast running backs, Titan Chris Johnson and Jaguar Maurice Jones-Drew.  They are tied at 3-2 in the close AFC South.  The winner will join Houston and Indiana at 4 – 2.  I am going with Tennessee.  Jacksonville’s defense has allowed over 27 points per game.  I don’t think that this defense will stop Chris Johnson.

Heels & Helmets