Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yo, Meathead!

So baseball has been over for a few weeks, and the NFL is starting to rev up toward its inevitable regular-season conclusion six weeks from now. The races are starting to come clearer. As of this moment, in the AFC, only Pittsburgh and Tennessee seem like locks to make the playoffs. The Jets are doing great, but the rest of the AFC East is no more than 2 games back and there are enough teams close in the conference that maybe even a wild card is no sure thing. (Who’d have ever guessed after 10 games this season that the Dolphins would be tied with the Patriots at 6–4 and only a game out of first place?)

In the NFC, things seem a little plainer--the Giants, Cardinals, Panthers, and Bucs all figure to make the playoffs this year. I make no predictions on the NFC North--the Packers, Bears, and Vikings are all tied for first at 5–5, with the Lions dead last at 0–10. Pretty miserable division! Seems like Brett Favre’s departure for New York left a power vacuum that no one else wants to fill.

I am looking forward to seeing how the stretch run plays out, if for no other reason than to see if the Giants can finish strong and head into the playoffs on a high note like they did last year. They have to play Arizona this afternoon, and they still have three division games left against tough opponents. Still, the Giants and the Titans seem like they are playing at another level than the rest of the NFL this year--still think the Giants’ Super Bowl win last year was a fluke?--and if this ends up being the matchup in this season’s Big Dance, it would be a title bout for the ages. The Titans might be the only team the Giants could meet and still claim that they are the underdogs--their “us against the world” mentality is what propelled them to their great upset victory against the Patriots last season.

I know, I know, my fans (?) might be getting tired of what they could see as many puff pieces on the Giants, but what can I say? The Mets let me down hard. The A’s were out of it by the All-Star break last year. The Knicks still stink, and until they find a way to dump Stephon Marbury, they won’t ever be able to wash the reek of carrion from their franchise. And while the Dolphins look pretty good, they can’t hold a candle to the bulldozer that is Big Blue, so my attention remains riveted on the Meadowlands. Sorry, folks! But unless the baseball offseason gets a little more interesting (yeah, I know, the A’s got Matt Holliday) or the Knicks find a way to make me take even the slightest interest in hoops again, I’ll be plastering these pages with more praise of Eli and Co. in the weeks to come!

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