1. The Big Ten got lucky. Penn State put up a lousy effort and lost to a team that they never should have lost to. That’s a good thing. I love the Big Ten, but it has been a horrible year for my conference. By losing, Penn State has avoided a third straight ass-kicking for the conference in the national championship game. That will allow the conference to rebuild and strengthen with slightly less scrutiny than they would if they got crushed. The conference will rebuild. There are things to build on – Terrelle Pryor is finding his way, and two of the top three runners in the country are in the conference.
2. Texas Tech – wow. I was expecting them to beat Oklahoma State, but I wasn’t expecting them to humiliate them in the process. Oklahoma looms, but I am now completely and totally convinced that this team has the potetial to go all the way. I’m not saying they will, but I know that they can. Graham Harrell is a beast.
3. Alabama is not going to play in the national championship game (sorry, Al). I respect this team quite a bit, and I am in awe of Julio Jones. I just don’t think that they have what it will take to get past Florida. The Gators look spectacular. Everything was stacked against the Tide going into the LSU game, but a great team would have overcome that in strong fashion. Alabama only barely did enough (though I like that they came back). Saban is going to bring the hardware to town, but just not this year.
4. Tennessee is a disgrace. Wyoming? Seven losses? Quitting is disgusting. Not much more to say about that.
5. The Big 12 is going to be great down the stretch. If the Sooners and Longhorns both win out then there will be a three way tie on top, and any one of the three teams has national champion potential. This has been a spectacular conference all year, and it is only going to be better. Texas Tech at Oklahoma is the next drool-worthy thriller.
6. The Raiders are awful. I know that that is far from a revelation. It’s just that they sunk to a new level ths week. Jake Delhomme was awful. Historically awful. He became only the second QB to complete less than 30 percent of his passes and toss four interceptions and still win. Carolina won by 11. Sure, the Raiders had two backup QBs in action, but that’s only part of the problem. The main issue is that this team is totally out of control. You have to work really, really hard to lose a game when a team tries to give it away as hard as the Panthers did. Carolina is such an interesting team – seemingly vulnerable and troubled, but 7-2, in good position to make the playoffs, and totally under the national radar. It’s not often that the team with the third best record in the league gets so little attention. Their anonymity has helped bettors – they are 5-3-1 ATS.
7. Tyler Thigpen is a pro. The Chiefs blew a two point conversion at the end of the game to lose to San Diego b a point, but Thigpen yet again showed how much progress he is making. He is getting more and more efficient with every outing, and he is surprisingly good at avoiding mistakes. He deserves special credit because he is doing what he is doing at the helm of such a lousy team. The Chiefs are far more competitive than they should be (even though they keep losing, they lose by far less than they should), and Thigpen is the reason. The team has covered three in a row and four of the last six in the Thigpen era. I’m not sure, but that might be a hint of hope there in Missouri.
8. The Colts are going to make the playoffs. I am convinced of that after they beat Pittsburgh. They are only a game out of the wild card, and they will find a way to make that up down the stretch. That makes me ill.
9. Joe Flacco for President. One of the big stories of the year has been the fast success of young QBs. Flacco was given the keys to a team that seemed doom to struggle, but somehow they are 6-3. Even more impressive, they have won four straight, and, unthinkably for the Ravens given their last decade, they are scoring points – 27 per game over the last four. 7-2 ATS – not what you expect from a rookie. It will be fun to watch what Flacco, and Matt Ryan, too, can do with a year or three of experience under their belts.
10. The Jets won big over the Rams and are tied for first place in their division. Another win, and another game in which Brett Favre was adequate but nothing more. When did Favre become Trent Dilfer?