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THE AMERICAN MAGAZINE ONLINE
Features & Blogs
"Life in the UK"
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale
Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em
In the absence of a dedicated baseball correspondent (please get in touch if that could be you!), it falls to me to acknowledge the impressive fight–back of the Boston Red Sox to book their place in the World Series. The final 11–2 scoreline in game 7 against the Indians might give the impression of a walk–over, but at 3–2 midway through the sixth innings, the series finally provided a tight moment in a postseason that, to that point, had been a matter of whitewashes.
Scorelines of 10–3, 6–13, 2–4, 3–7, 7–1, 12–2 and 11–2 still didn't provide a lot of classic memories, even if the series went the distance, so we can only hope that the World Series is set for an edge–of–the–seat battle. Facing the Sox will be the dangerously hot Colorado Rockies — who, hopefully, you've heard about by now, despite staying under the radar for most of the season.
At least, the Rockies are the hottest team in baseball if you're looking back over the past two months. If you're just looking back over the past week, it's the Red Sox, whose fight–back had them outscore the Indians 30–5 over the final three games. With a week’s lay–off, it remains to be seen if the Rockies are still hot, or like Ohio State in last year's BCS game, stone cold from waiting (see, I had to get it back to football somehow).
So, what's it going to be? A cinderella season for the Rockies, or the Red Sox cementing their growing reputation as the new Yankees? Only time – and hopefully some fine, close games — will tell.
Okay, before I try to stretch my football–locked mind into breaking down where Kaz Matsui sits in Colorado's batting ineup or marveling at ‘Yook’s’ postseason batting average (see, I could talk baseball if I wanted to), let's switch the subject to football.
Two weeks ago, Hawaii were sitting at 15 or 16 in the polls, depending which poll you care to look at. At that point they were 5–0. With two more wins under their belt, the BCS rankings have them at... No. 17. A 'not–ranked' response from the computer aspect of the BCS doesn't help: how useful IS a computer factor that can't assign a value to a 7–0 team? Meanwhile, even the humans won't rank them higher than 14th.
Now, I understand the argument that 'Hawaii hasn't played anybody', and I've witnessed (at least through audiocast, which is the best we can hope for over here in the UK) Hawaii struggling to beat Louisiana Tech and San Jose State. And I'm not about say that Hawaii should be in the top 10 just because they can put 66 points on Charleston Southern with their back–up QB. But what does concern me is that every now and again, somebody suggests that the BCS rankings could be integrated into a 16–team playoff compromise.
The fact that a team can go 7–0 and not even figure in that top 16 is a problem.
You play who you play, and as things stand, the Warriors' only ranked test may end up being Boise State – whose 19–1 record over the past two seasons isn't worth a mention in the top 25 as of this week. So, not much hope for Hawaii.
If you can't find sympathy for a team with that bad of a defense, try the Kansas Jayhawks. They're in a BCS conference, they've kept all but one of their opponents to two touchdowns or less, they're averaging 45 points a game of their own, and they are also unbeaten. And they're ranked No.9 (one place outside a 'top 8 playoff', compromise fans). There's five teams with a loss ranked above them.
The excuse for ranking Kansas as low as 11th in one poll: 'They haven't played anybody'. And at this point I call 'foul!'
The Jayhawks have at least beaten Kansas State, who were a top 25 ranked team when they played them and might still be ranked with a 5–2 record if they hadn't lost to the Jayhawks. How can you play ranked opponents if you're the one stopping them from getting ranked?
Okay, not definitive evidence, and their regular season schedule avoids Texas and Oklahoma. I heard one radio analyst comment 'If the Jayhawks can beat Missouri, they can prove how good they are in the Big 12 title'. So they have to prove how good they are in a post–season game? Er... surely that's what the playoff lobby is saying, isn't it?
But let me cry foul again, louder (and slightly more convincingly):
Every NFL power ranking out there, from ESPN to Fox to Yahoo has the New England Patriots ranked ahead of the equally–unbeaten reigning champion Indianapolis Colts (who, by the way, beat the Patriots in both meetings last year). Can somebody tell me why? Because they're beating up on people? Whatever happened to strength of schedule?
The Patriots play in a division with the Bills, Jets and Dolphins. Those three rivals have managed 3 wins between them in seven weeks, and only one of those wins was against somebody other than the other two! The Colts play in a division where the worst team is only a fieldgoal from being above .500 and whose combined 8 losses in seven weeks were to each other save for two road games.
As much as the Patriots beat the Cowboys and the (then–disoriented) Chargers, the Colts are the team playing quality opponents week after week.
I can only presume that the people compiling these power rankings are fantasy owners (oh, here he goes – pinning it on the fantasy guys again) and don't pay too much attention to defense. They didn't, for example, notice the 55 points New England conceded the past two weeks, including 28 points engineered by Cleo Lemon and half a Ronnie Brown. They didn't, for example, take note when Indianapolis held then 4–1 Jacksonville to a single touchdown.
Yes, I do know that David Garrard was knocked out of that game, but I think that the host of Colts swarming into the Jaguars backfield may have influenced that a little. The Colts, it might be argued, are the team with the defense here. And reigning champions (I mentioned it before, but that was a whole minute ago, so if you're a poll voter, you might have forgotten by now).
Of course, I know what happens next: the Kansas Jayhawks will lose to Texas A&M this week, the Patriots will beat the Colts the week after, and Fresno State will end Hawaii's tenuous run the week after that. Probably NOBODY will end the college season unbeaten, and the whole 'playoff' thing will kick off again big–time.
But for now, I'm just trying to work out how an unbeaten reigning champion who has dominated a solid, talented division gets to be anything other than No.1.
Dolphins – The Aftermath:
To some extent mirroring the argument above, somebody asked me this week how I could say for sure the 'Fins are the worst team in football with the Rams about. Good question.
The answer is 'talent'. As inept as St. Louis are, we know there's an explosive offense hidden in amongst the garbage of their results. Marc Bulger, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Randy McMichael still add up to experience and talent. Steven Jackson is a stud runner, and would be showing it if OT Orlando Pace wasn't gone for the season. If you were going to make a talent–tally for the Dolphins, you'd have to be suspicious of the age of the previously–dominant defensive.
And now Ronnie Brown, the one great thing about the Dolphins' season, is gone for the year with a torn ACL. Ironically, the report of Brown's status came just a few hours too late for The American's print deadline, which still carries the tone of 'at least Fins fans have Ronnie'. Oh dear.
Ah well, at least Fins fans have Jesse Chatman.