NFL Surprises, In No Particular Order:
Minnesota took advantage of the Lions' lack of consistency to get back on the winning track and re-enter the NFC North race. Chicago is the class of the division, but if Cutler is out for any period of time, it gives the Packers and Vikes a chance to contend. The Bears, as was evidenced last year, are nowhere near the same team without their starting QB, especially now that he has reunited with Brandon Marshall.
The NFC Least is a real mess, especially with the Giants' sloppy performance against the Bengals. A 3 - 5 Cincinnati team has no business dominating New York, but it just goes to show how balanced the NFL really is. Unfortunately for the Giants, they lost a great chance to get some distance over the rest of the division. They're still the clear favorite, but Washington could continue to show improvement under rookie RGIII and the Cowboys could finally play up to the potential of their players. The Eagles, with Vick sidelined at least a week with a concussion, need to pull it together. I don't see it happening anytime soon. Bye Bye Andy!
A tie? Really? The Niners and Rams couldn't even produce a field goal in overtime? Does this mean the Rams are showing improvement under Jeff Fisher? Probably. Of course, they did it against an inexperienced backup QB, so we'll have to wait and see. That tie could likely come back to haunt San Francisco in the competition for home field advantage in the playoffs.
Atlanta biting the dust in New Orleans isn't a huge surprise, but it could signal the Saints are poised to make a run in the second half of the season Their secondary still got burned for over 400 yards from Matt Ryan, but they still got the win. At least they're well equipped to outscore their opponents if necessary.
Baltimore put up 55 points on the hapless Raiders, with all but one touchdown coming on offense. The other one was a kickoff return. Who would have thought the Ravens would score that many points without a defensive touchdown? If Big Ben is out any length of time for the Steelers, he could miss both games against Baltimore, giving the Ravens a big edge in that division.
Tampa Bay under first year coach Greg Shiano seems to be playing the same caliber football they played a couple of seasons ago. A lot of folks were skeptical that the college style rah rah and intensity could translate to the NFL, but it's working so far. There are very few real quality teams in the league right now, making it possible for teams like the Bucs, Bengals, Vikings, Seahawks and Colts to aspire to finishes beyond their talent level.
Lakers Hire D'Antoni: With L.A. foregoing the opportunity to bring back Phil Jackson, it definitely signals that they want to emphasize the offensive end of the floor, reuniting the coach with Steve Nash. Does this make Kobe Bryant the assistant coach in charge of defense? The Lakers better hope so.
Baseball You Say? In November? I've always wondered why MLB doesn't hold a big ceremony on ESPN to hand out all of their postseason awards. The NFL is heating up, the BCS is in a terrific battle of unbeatens, yet baseball chooses to give us the water dripping torture of accolade announcements. Do they really think they can break through the football laden coverage with one or two awards a day? Two of the most celebrated and exciting rookies in decades were named Rookies of the Year, yet it goes largely unnoticed. Come on, Bud Selig, get with the program. ESPN would promote the show like crazy, with fan votes, tweets, commercials and hype lasting for at least a week or two. For a sport whose championship was almost an afterthought this past season, you would think they would be searching for a way to increase the attention given to their sport.
Jeff Gordon, Tough Guy? Really? Jeff Gordon? Are we talking about the pretty boy that drives the 24 car? It's only a rumor that Gordon was pulled out of the post-race fracas in the garage area by the 9 year-old son of a crew member...
Has Anyone Noticed That the NHL is Still In Lockout? That's what I thought...