Archive for November, 2009

NFL Recap Week 12

It’s the final weekend before the stretch run… time to decide the Wild Card, Division, and Home Field races in the months of December and January. Remember this recap and these records by the end of the season. Which team collapsed? What team marched down the field and won at the final second? Finally, who won the Sunday Night Classic? Let the recap begin….

Tampa Bay 17, Atlanta 20- With their season on the line, and two of their key players gone from the game due to injury, the Atlanta Falcons found a way to save their season. On 4th & Goal from the 5, Chris Redman, filling in for Matt Ryan (who left the game with a toe injury), threw a five yard touchdown pass to Roddy White for the go-ahead touchdown, and the Falcons avoided a major upset at home to the Buccaneers. Rookie QB Josh Freeman had a decent game, going 20-29 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, and the Buccaneers defense played very well until the final drive. But the questionable offensive playcalling led to a missed 51 yard field goal by Connor Barth, and the game winning drive. The win puts Atlanta a game behind Green Bay and Philadelphia and still in the hunt for the playoffs, and a remote chance to win the NFC South. Tough loss for the Buccaneers as they still get used to Raheem Morris. Buccaneers (1-10), Falcons (6-5)

Miami 14, Buffalo 31- Fred Jackson ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and Terrell Owens scored on a 51 yard touchdown reception and the Buffalo Bills dominated the fourth quarter and gave the interim head coach Perry Fewell his first win at the NFL level over the Dolphins. Ryan Fitzpatrick had a solid game, going 17-26 for 246 yards and a couple of touchdowns (one pass, one rush). The Bills generated 336 yards of total offense, and for the second straight game, they reached 300+ total yards. The loss was a blow to the Dolphins, who got back into the playoff picture 10 days ago against the Panthers. Dolphins (5-6), Bills (4-7)

Cleveland 7, Cincinnati 16- In a hard-fought game between in-state rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals used a stingy defense and timely plays on offense to knock off the Browns to sweep the AFC North and beat all three division rivals twice. Shayne Graham kicked three field goals (37, 53, and 28) and Carson Palmer threw a touchdown pass to J.P Foschi. Larry Johnson came in the game for an injured Cedric Benson and a slowed up Bernard Scott (who had a minor injury to his knee) and ran 22 times for 107 yards. It was the most significant time he has received since coming over from Kansas City. Brady Quinn went back to the quarterback we have seen all year that he’s played by going 15-34 for 100 yards, far from the 4 TD 300+ effort he had against Detroit. (Then again…) The Browns’ 10th loss of the season is their eight in the past 11 years since rejoining the NFL in 1999. Browns (1-10), Bengals (8-3)

Indianapolis 35, Houston 27- This can be looked at two different ways: One way is that Indianapolis knows how to come back, and the other way is that Houston melted down… again. For the fifth straight game, the Colts have overcome a deficit to win the game, and for the second time in two years in Houston, the Texans had a double-digit lead squandered. Trailing 20-7 at halftime, Indianapolis scored 28 second half points, including 21 in the third quarter, and beat the Texans for the 15th time in 16 games all-time. Peyton Manning overcame his two first half interceptions and threw two touchdowns in the second half, including the go-ahead pass to Dallas Clark with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. On the next Texans drive, Matt Schaub threw an interception to Clint Session for a 26 yard touchdown return to ice the game for Indianapolis, who goes to 11-0 and in the process, wins the AFC South for the sixth time in the past seven years. Colts (11-0), Texans (5-6)

Carolina 6, NY Jets 17- Darrelle Revis took back a bizarre interception from Jake Delhomme which bounced off the foot of Steve Smith for 67 yards, and Thomas Jones ran for a touchdown, and the Jets kept their playoff hopes alive with a huge victory over the Panthers, who were trying to keep their own hopes alive. Delhomme threw four interceptions in the game, which was turned into 14 points, and with the running game not as effective as it has been the past few weeks, the Panthers were in clear trouble. Mark Sanchez went 13-17 for 154 yards, with an interception, but looked the best he has been in the tough stretch the Jets had in the past few weeks. Big momentum for them going into their rivalry game against the Bills in Toronto on Thursday night. Panthers (4-7), Jets (5-6)

Washington 24, Philadelphia 27- Donovan McNabb threw for 265 yards and a touchdown, David Akers kicked four field goals, including the game winning 32 yarder, and the Eagles won over the Redskins for the second time this season, sweeping the series. The Skins fought for most of the game, leading 24-16, when McNabb marched his team down the field and the drive went 90 yards, capped off by a 1 yd TD run by Eldra Buckley. After tying the game with a two point conversion, McNabb led the Eagles again down the field which led to the go-ahead field goal. The rallied from behind for the second straight week, keeping pace with the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Wild Card, and staying a game behind Dallas for first place in the more-important NFC East. The loss eliminates Washington from playoff contention. Redskins (3-8), Eagles (7-4)

Seattle 27, St. Louis 17- Justin Forsett continues to be effective at running back for the Seattle Seahawks, running for 130 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns and Josh Wilson took back an interception from Kyle Boller 65 yards and the Seahawks picked up their first road win of the season, and kept the Rams winless at home. The win also gave Seattle their 10th straight victory over St. Louis. Matt Hasselbeck did not have the best days statistics-wise, going 14-25 for 102 yards, but since Forsett was effective on the ground, there was not a need to rely too much on the passing game. Steven Jackson ran for 89 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown, and Kyle Boller, starting for an injured Marc Bulger, threw for 282 yards on 28-46 passing. The Rams are tied with the Buccaneers and Browns for the worst record in the NFL. Seahawks (4-7), Rams (1-10)

Kansas City 14, San Diego 43- Phillip Rivers went 21-28 for 317 yards and two touchdowns, LaDainian Tomlinson ran for two touchdowns, and Antonio Gates caught two touchdowns, and the San Diego Chargers defense forced the Kansas City Chiefs into four turnovers and the offense turned into 28 points which made all of the difference. Matt Cassel was 19-31 for 178 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Chargers defense also forced three fumbles, but lost Shawne Merriman in the game due to a foot injury. The Chargers have won six straight and remain in first place in the AFC West over the Denver Broncos. Chiefs (3-8), Chargers (8-3).

Jacksonville 3, San Francisco 20- Alex Smith went 27-41 for 232 yards and threw two touchdowns, and the San Francisco 49er defense forced Jacksonville QB David Garrard to fumble the ball twice in the redzone and the 49ers kept their playoff hopes alive with a Singeltary-style victory with great defense and timely offense. The loss was bad for Jacksonville, as they fall out of the lead for the AFC Wild Card, and handed the AFC South division crown to Indianapolis. Maurice Jones-Drew became the second player in Jaguars’ history with 1000 yards for the season (joining Fred Taylor) with 75 yards on the day. Garrard threw for 307 yards on 25-36 passing, but the missed opportunities didn’t just come on the fumble, but also on special teams as kicker Josh Scobee missed on a 40 yard field goal wide left in the second quarter and a 21 yard field goal off the left upright in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville is 0-2 on the West Coast this season (they lost to Seattle 41-0) Jaguars (6-5), 49ers (5-6)

Chicago 10, Minnesota 36- Brett Favre is getting better and better as the season goes on. Favre wen 32-48 for 392 yards and three touchdowns, and Adrian Peterson ran for another touchdown along with 85 yards rushing, and the Minnesota Vikings steamrolled the Bears to keep pace with the New Orleans Saints for the home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Ryan Longwell kicked three field goals for the Vikings as well. The Vikings defense was not bad either, as Jay Cutler was forced into throwing two interceptions and was sacked four times to go along with it. The loss is another blow to Chicago’s playoff hopes as they are not eliminated, but in trouble. Bears (4-7), Vikings (10-1)

Arizona 17, Tennessee 20- In What was the game of the day, and what will be known as “The March”, Vince Young marched his Tennessee Titans 99 yards from one end of the field to the other, on 18 plays, which included three fourth-down conversions, and took 2:37 off the clock. On the final play of the game and time expiring, Young found Kenny Britt in the back of the endzone for the game-winning 10 yard touchdown and the Titans won their fifth straight game after starting 0-6, and putting them right back in the playoff hunt. Young went 27-43 for 387 yards, with that touchdown, outdueling Matt Leinart for the second time the two have met (2006 Rose Bowl in which Young scored the GW TD with his legs). Leinart went 21-31 for 220 yards and no touchdowns. Chris Johnson has to be in serious discussion for MVP, rushing for 154 yards on 18 carries, including a 85 yard touchdown run, giving him six straight games with 125+ rushing yards, joining Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner missed the game due to sensitivity in his eyes from his injury last week at St. Louis. He may be ready for the Sunday night game against Minnesota. Cardinals (7-4), Titans (5-6)

Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 20 (F/OT)- Dennis Dixon made his first NFL start, and played very well, going 12-26 for 145 yards and a TD, along with a rushing touchdown, but it was a costly interception to Paul Kreuger in overtime which set up Billy Cundiff’s game-winning 29 yard field goal to give the Ravens the victory and move into the final Wild Card spot over Pittsburgh and Jacksonville. Dixon started the game due to Ben Roethlisberger’s ill effects from his concussion last week against Kansas City and backup Charlie Batch fracturing his wrist in the same game, threw his first career NFL touchdown on a 33 yd TD pass to Santonio Holmes, and made plays with his legs on the 24 yard TD run. Joe Flacco had a good game, going 23-35 for 289 yards and a touchdown of his own to Derrick Mason. With five games left, the banged up Super Bowl champs are on the outside looking in, and are in a little jam going into crunchtime. Steelers (6-5), Ravens (6-5)

Be back next week with the Sunday Slate, but be on the lookout for the Monday Night Recap from the Bayou, as the New England Patriots take on the New Orleans Saints.

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Thanksgiving Day NFL Recap Week 12

Week 12 of the NFL began with the traditional Thanksgiving Day games in Detroit and Dallas, with the Mile High city hosting the nightcap. Would the Lions snap a five game losing streak on Thanksgiving, would Tony Romo and the Cowboys go to 4-0 on Thanksgiving since he’s been the starting QB? And would the Broncos step it up when they need to the most? Let’s go into the recap

Green Bay 34, Detroit 12- Aaron Rodgers threw for 348 yards on 28-39 passing, with three touchdowns, and the thin Green Bay Packer defense picked off Lions’ rookie QB Matthew Stafford four times (two by Charles Woodson) and Green Bay took care of business over Detroit for their third straight win and to stay in control of the Wild Card hunt. The Lions have lost on Thanksgiving for the sixth straight year, and in the process have not beaten the Packers since Mike McCarthy was hired as Green Bay’s head coach (0-8). Donald Driver also had a big day, with seven catches for 142 yards and a touchdown, on a 68 yard strike from Rodgers. The Lions offense that showed promise against the woeful Cleveland Browns was very inefficient against Green Bay, who was without DE Aaron Kampman and CB Al Harris, both out for the years with ACL injuries. Stafford has came a long way and is learning on the go, and has to just bounce back from the rough game. Still hard times ahead for the young Lions. Packers (7-4), Lions (2-9)

Oakland 7, Dallas 24- The Cowboys got their offense back. After only 14 points in the last two games combined, Dallas scored 17 first half points (after scoring zero in the first half of their games last season). Tony Romo went 18-29 for 309 yards and threw a couple of touchdowns, and the ‘Boys easily took care of the Raiders. Felix Jones added a 46 yard TD run for Dallas, giving him 68 on seven carries. Dallas had two 100 yard receivers in this game, as Miles Austin had seven catches for 145 yards and Jason Witten had five catches for 107 yards to give them six wins in their last seven games. going into the month of December, where they have been 5-10 in the past three seasons in Dec. & January. For the Raiders, Bruce Gradkowski had a decent day, going 18-35 for 200 yards and a touchdown to Darrius Heyward-Bey, his first career NFL touchdown in a losing effort. Raiders (3-8), Cowboys (8-3)

NY Giants 6, Denver 26- Knowshon Moreno ran for 88 yards on 19 carries and Matt Prater kicked four field goals, and the Denver Broncos stopped the bleeding of a four game losing streak by outplaying the Giants on both sides of the ball. The Broncos defense forced three turnovers and sacked Giants QB Eli Manning three times. Kyle Orton got the start tonight and was efficient in managing the game, going 18-28 for 245 yards and a 17 yard TD pass to Brandon Stokely. The Broncos stopped the bleeding, and the Giants are on the outside looking in the playoff picture, putting them a half-game behind the Eagles and two full games behind the Cowboys going into their showdown on Sunday. Giants (6-5), Broncos (7-4)

Stay tuned tomorrow for the NFL Recap for Week 12. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

The Best & Worst of Week 11

It’s NFL Wednesday, and it’s time to kick this day off with the Best & Worst of Week 11. Send all NFL related questions to thesportsexpress@gmail.com, post them on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/thesportsxpress, or on the Facebook fan page here:

This week had some great moments. Two of the worst teams are on the best side, and the whole AFC North is on the duds for this week. And it took two years for this ordeal to happen? What am I talking about? Just stay tuned and find out.

THE BEST

Brett Favre- Many people thought that the offseason drama that he caused about retiring and unretiring (again) would result in the same disaster that was the New York Jets. Instead it has been the opposite. Favre had the highest completion percentage of his career (88%) completing 22/25 passes and four touchdowns. This season, he has 21 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions. The Vikings were at 10-6 team before he signed. Now they are on the verge of a potential Super Bowl trip and Brad Childress can thank him for his contract extension that he received.

The Cleveland Browns & Detroit Lions- The Browns and Lions played the best, and most entertaining game of the season and week. It was filled with drama, excitement, and the toughness displayed by Matthew Stafford after a time out was called (see worst of the week: Eric Mangini) was simply amazing. Stafford’s five touchdowns were the most by a rookie QB in 72 years (Ray Buivid did this for the Chicago Bears in 1937). The Browns showed more offense in this game than they have all season long. Brady Quinn was impressive, throwing for over 300 yards and four touchdowns. Who knew that the worst can bring out the best?

The Kansas City Chiefs- The Chiefs stayed in the game throughout against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and it’s always said when a good team (and World Champions) plays a team that has struggled and not seen great times, and the bad team hangs in the whole game, they start to believe. The Chiefs started to believe and wanted the game more, and they showed in their overtime win. Has anyone noticed that this team is now 2-0 without Larry Johnson on the team? The Chiefs, Lions, and Oakland Raiders all won on the same day for the first time since September 30th, 2007.

THE WORST

The AFC North: The Bengals (with the aforementioned Larry Johnson) lost to the Raiders, in which they gave up the game and blew a seven point lead in the closing moments. The Steelers lost to the Chiefs, the Ravens came up short against the Colts, missing huge opportunities to capitalize off three Colts turnovers and a missed field goal by Billy Cundiff made the difference again. The Browns lost to the Lions, which was made by a bad decision by…..

Eric Mangini: Mangini is on here for a couple of reasons: 1. Your team is up 24-3, in the first quarter, you had to just coach up your defense, tell your coordinator to do something… the secondary just was flat, and Stafford torched them for 422 yards. 2. This was the real thing here: you suffered a terrible pass interference call on Hank Poteat, and the red hot Stafford is out of the game w/ a shoulder injury. The ice cold Daunte Culpepper enters the game, and “Man-genius” decided to call a timeout. For what?!?! This allows Stafford to enter the game with one arm and find Brandon Pettigrew for the GW touchdown. Too bad this is his last season in Cleveland. There’s no way he stays after this one.

Kris Brown: For the second straight game, against a DIVISION opponent, and to top this off, this is a HUGE rivalry game for your team, the Houston Texans. The score once again, was 20-17. And you missed for the second straight game. These two misses from the last original Texan has hurt this team, and they really could be looking at 7-3 instead of 5-5. The rope has to be getting tighter for the normally reliable kicker. Tough week for him indeed.

THE BEST OF THE WORST

Brady Quinn: Fellow blogger, The NFL Chick, said it best: He can throw a pass for more than eight yards. Quinn was very efficient on Sunday, going 21-33 for 304 yards and the four touchdowns to zero interceptions, giving him a QB rating of 133.1, which is very good. He was poised in the pocket, and this should really boost his confidence for the next game. Too bad his game was overshadowed by the dumb decisions of his head coach and the defensive side of the ball.

MLB Postseason Awards- Cy Young Award

More MLB postseason awards have been handed out over the past few days, and the Cy Young Award Winners were selected a few days ago. One winner is a first time winner that has overcome so much in life on and off the field. The other has been here before, and also he joined a pretty exclusive club.

In the American League, Zack Greinke has come a very long way. From being the #6 pick in the 2002 MLB Draft to a major-league leading 17 losses in 2005, and then suffering from social anxiety disorder and depression throughout the 2006 season, Greinke had his career season in 2009. Signing a four year, $38M contract in January with Kansas City, he returned on the first year of the investment, with a career best 16-8 record, and a major league leading ERA of 2.16, six complete games and three shutouts, and a career-high 242 strikeouts, which was second in the American League to Detroit Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander. The award is Greinke’s first Cy Young award, and he’s the first Royals’ pitcher to win since David Cone in 1994.

In the National League, “The Freak” goes back-to-back. Giants’ young ace Tim Lincecum barely won his second Cy Young Award for the National League, beating Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals. He went 15-7 on the season with a 2.48 ERA, and 261 strikeouts, which was tops in the National League. Lincecum became the 15th player in Major League history to win two or more Cy Young awards, and also became the youngest pitcher to win back-to-back awards in just his third season in the majors.

Next up on the MLB Postseason Awards- the Most Valuable Players of the American and National League.

(photos courtesy of Getty Images)

Monday Night Football Recap Week 11

The most underrated rivalry in the NFL took place on a Monday Night in Houston as the Tennessee Titans (old Houston Oilers) came into town to face the Houston Texans. The game was fierce (as expected) and filled with drama. Let the recap begin

Tennessee 20, Houston 17- Vince Young threw for 116 yards and a touchdown, and kicker Rob Bironas hit a 50 yard and the go-ahead 53 yard field goal to give the Tennessee Titans their fourth straight victory after an 0-6 start and split their series with the Houston Texans. The Texans had a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime, but Kris Brown’s 49 yard field goal attempt was wide left. It was the second game in a row that Brown has missed a game-tying field goal attempt to the left, as he missed a 42 yard field goal in Week 9 at Indianapolis against the Colts. Matt Schaub had a good night at QB for the Texans, going 25-39 for 305 yards with two touchdown passes to Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson, but it was a sound rushing game from Young who had 73 yards on 11 attempts, and Chris Johnson, who had 29 carries for 151 yards. The win not only puts the Titans back in the hunt for a playoff spot, it’s a blow to the Texans’ chances, but hope is not lost as they try to get their first playoff berth (and winning season) in franchise history. Titans (4-6), Texans (5-5)

Weekly NBA Rankings: Vol. 4 (11/23)

The rankings are out again, and there is a new #1. Who is it? How far did the former #1 fall? When will New Jersey get it together? The rankings begin right now.

1. Orlando Magic (11-3) (previous ranking: 9) Five straight wins have vaulted the Magic to the best record in the NBA and the top spot in the rankings. Despite losing Jameer Nelson for four to six weeks, this team is still deep and they are really coming together.

2. Atlanta Hawks (11-3) (previous ranking: 2) If the Hawks had not of lost to New Orleans last night, the talk of them being #1 would be a no-brainer, but this team is still one of the tops in the East. They are really showing themselves as a contender. This is another team that is deep, and if they can stay healthy, they could go a long way in May.

3. Phoenix Suns (11-3) (previous ranking: 1) The Suns loss to the Hornets prevented them from holding the top spot for the week. With Orlando and Atlanta on fire as of late, they had to be bumped down two spots. Not many impressive wins for them to stay among the tops in the rankings

4. Los Angeles Lakers (10-3) (previous ranking: 4) The Lakers stay put after a 3-0 week, and it is good for them that Pau Gasol is back, he will be able to take the load off Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum. The team is complete again, but Phoenix is still holding their ground against them for first in the Pacific Division.

5. Dallas Mavericks (10-3) (previous ranking: 5) The Mavericks may have beat the Lakers, and have won five straight, they were all hard fought victories. The Lakers right now look better than Dallas and with Gasol back from injury, they look more like a better team. If Dallas can beat the Lake Show for a second time with Gasol in lineup, it will be good enough to overtake them. Good 3-0 week for them.

6. Boston Celtics (10-4) (previous ranking: 3) The Magic and Mavericks rise has knocked Boston down a couple of spots. The C’s were a victim of Orlando’s win streak, which was their only loss of the week. Thank Kevin Garnett for avoiding an embarrassing loss to the Knicks at the Garden.

7. Cleveland Cavaliers (10-4) (previous ranking: 5) The Cavs took a pounding from the Wizards this past Wednesday, but responded with wins over Indiana and Philadelphia. At least Shaq has been at home for the games he’s been injured from, and not just the Washington game. Those that know the backstory can have a good laugh.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (8-3) (previous ranking: 10) The Bucks could not beat the Mavericks, but they did take advantage of the weak part of their schedule, beating, New Jersey, Charlotte, and Memphis to cap a 3-1 week and stay tied for first with Clevleland in the Central Division.

9. Denver Nuggets (9-4) (previous ranking: 8] The Nuggets crush the Lakers at home 10 days ago, and in the next week, they lose to the Clippers at Staples Center. This team started out strong, but have been hot and cold since. They have to find a way to stay consistent.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (10-5) (previous ranking: 6) The Blazers went 4-0 last week, but only 2-2 this week. They lost to the Hawks, which wasn’t a surprise, but they also lost to Golden State. Just like the Nuggets, they have to find a way to stay consistent as well. They are good, but we forget that this team is young still.

11. Miami Heat (8-5) (previous ranking: 7) The Heat continue to free fall down the rankings. A huge loss at home to the Thunder, and another bad loss to the Raptors. Udonis Haslem did save the team’s free fall from being worse with a game-winning jumper to sink the New Orleans’ Hornets

12. Houston Rockets (8-6) (previous ranking: 12) The Rockets won the games they were supposed to win (Timberwolves and Kings), but loss the games that they were expected to lose (Suns and Hawks). The 2-2 week has them staying put at #12.

13. Utah Jazz (7-6) (previous ranking: 20) Playing the Cavaliers, and coming close to beating them has had a great effect on the Jazz. They have won three in a row since the Cavs loss, and have a long homestand ahead of them in which they have six straight at home (they started it by beating Detroit on Sat. night).

14. Oklahoma City Thunder (7-7) (previous ranking: 16) Another big win against a good team on the road as OKC beat the Heat on South Beach. That along with a win at Washington were good wins. Tough losses against Orlando and the Lakers result in a split week, but as with the Thunder’s season, those wins keep going a long way.

15. Chicago Bulls (6-6) (previous ranking: 14) A 1-2 week puts the Bulls at .500, They beat the surprising Kings, in which that was no surprise. They have loss to the Lakers and Nuggets in this West Coast road trip and then have two tough games in the Blazers and Jazz on the road. Some injuries have set them back, but this team should be better and are better than what their record shows.

16. San Antonio Spurs (5-6) (previous ranking: 17) The Spurs are still struggling to maintain the high expectations. They all haven’t been healthy together, as the Big Three of Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili have been injured at various times of the year. Richard Jefferson has really been non-existent. It’s still early, but when will they finally start to peak?

17. Indiana Pacers (5-6) (previous ranking: 13) Three straight losses has the Pacers dropping four spots. A loss to the Cavaliers is one thing, but to lose to the Knicks and Bobcats is a MAJOR setback, especially blowing a huge lead to New York and losing the game.

18. Toronto Raptors (6-8) (previous ranking: 19) The only team to go 1-3 and move up, it must be because the teams below are doing awful, but the Raps did just run into teams that are better than them, losing two in the mountains (Denver & Utah) and Orlando, but an impressive win over the Heat was their saving grace this week.

19. Sacramento Kings (5-7) (previous ranking: 15) The Kings have lost three straight, against the teams they should really lose to (Chicago at home, Dallas and Houston on the road), but the schedule is encouraging for them to get back to .500 by Wednesday with games at Memphis and against the New York Knicks. Still playing hard and playing with fight, something that has not been seen in Sacto in a long time.

20. New Orleans Hornets (6-9) (previous ranking: 25) Had it not been for Udonis Haslem’s jumper to sink them at Miami, the Hornets could have risen further in the rankings. The team looked like it was in major trouble, but they had impressive wins over Phoenix and Atlanta. Maybe hope is not lost in the Big Easy.

21. Philadelphia 76ers (5-8) (previous ranking: 21) The Sixers escaped with victory over the Charlotte Bobcats in a game that they weren’t supposed to win, but they followed that up with a very bad loss to the Memphis Grizzlies and the fell to the Cavs on the road. This team is not that impressive, but luckily for them, a lot of teams are not that impressive either.

22. Los Angeles Clippers (5-9) (previous ranking: 22) The Clippers lost a couple of bad ones in New Orleans and in Memphis, but they did come on national television this past Friday and won a good game over the Denver Nuggets, so their ranking stays put for another week.

23. Detroit Pistons (5-9) (previous ranking: 18) During the five year anniversary of the “Malice at the Palace”, many bloggers and media people were so focused on how the Pacers have been rebuilding. Sure the Pistons have been in the playoffs consistently, but has anyone noticed that Indiana is ahead of Detroit right now. Five straight losses has the Pistons in the Central Division cellar, and John Kuester needs to know that Joe Dumars has very little patience.

24. Golden State Warriors (4-8) (previous ranking: 24) The Warriors winning percentage in 2009 before Stephen Jackson trade: .333. The winning percentage in 2009 after Stephen Jackson trade: .333. Not much of a difference since Jax’s departure, but it is good to see Stephen Curry get more playing time for the Warriors.

25. Charlotte Bobcats (4-9) (previous ranking: 23) The Bobcats winning percentage in 2009 before acquiring Stephen Jackson: .333. The winning percentage in 2009 after acquiring Stephen Jackson: .250. The one thing that is said though is that they have shown a lot more offense in the last few games, and they ended their seven game losing streak with a win over the Pacers Sunday night.

26. Memphis Grizzlies (4-9) (previous ranking: 27) The Grizz are 2-1 since Allen Iverson was officially released from the team. This team is playing with more confidence, and more loose since the departure of A.I., and by beating and staying with teams that are better than them, it can go a long way (just ask the Sacramento Kings and Oklahoma City Thunder)

27. Washington Wizards (3-9) (previous ranking: 26) The Wizards have their Big Three healthy and together again, but they are still playing the same? What is with this team? It looked as if they turned a corner when they beat their rivals, the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they have lost big to the Thunder and to the Spurs. This team is just hard to figure out. Is Gilbert Arenas on to what he says about this team and “hidden agendas”?

28. New York Knicks (3-10) (previous ranking: 28) The poor Knicks go 2-1 over the week, and can’t move up anywhere. Mike D’Antoni’s bunch could have moved up quite a bit if they could have beaten the Celtics last night, but a 1-7 record at MSG is not going to help matters in this team’s quest to improve.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves (1-12) (previous ranking: 29) The Timberwolves have quietly lost 12 in a row, if it wasn’t for their only win against New Jersey, this team would be 0-13. The question is with them has to be: What does Ricky Rubio think of this? The worst thing about losing 12 in a row is that majority of these losses have been extremely bad.

30. New Jersey Nets (0-13) (previous ranking: 30) The only chance for the Nets to win was lost on Saturday at the hands of the New York Knicks. Lawrence Frank is still around has to be due to the fact that management knows that this team is ravaged with injuries. But at the same time though, there seems to be no wins in sight as they hit the West Coast for a road trip. How much longer will the rope hang for Frank?

NFL Recap Week 11

The NFL is full of surprises. The Colts and Saints entered the weekend undefeated, but which one survived by the skin of their teeth? The AFC West battle was up for grabs, and was won in sound fashion, but by who? And what division went 0-4 this weekend? Let’s go to the recap…

Indianapolis 17, Baltimore 15- The Colts overcame two interceptions by Peyton Manning and a fumble with great defense, holding Baltimore to no touchdowns and five Billy Cundiff field goals. The difference in this game was the missed field goal from 30 yards from Cundiff in the third quarter. Matt Stover, the former longtime Baltimore Raven, kicked the game-winning 25 yd field goal to make it 17-15, which in the following possession, Joe Flacco threw an interception to Gary Brackett. Despite the costly turnover, Baltimore had one last chance, but Ed Reed fumbled the punt return with 17 seconds left. For the Colts, it’s 19 straight regular season victories and for the Ravens, they are in trouble heading into the Sunday night game against the Steelers. Colts (10-0), Ravens (5-5)

Washington 6, Dallas 7- Tony Romo had a rough day, but he came through late by throwing a 9 yd TD pass to Patrick Crayton and the Dallas Cowboys defeated their archrival Washington. The ‘Boys were shut out most of the game, but two missed field goals by Shaun Suisham (who was perfect coming into the game) costed the Redskins the game. He missed field goals from 39 yards (before halftime) and a 50 yards before the game-winning drive by Romo and the offense. The win keeps Dallas ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in the tight contested NFC East. The bad news in the ‘Skins running game is that Ladell Betts is done for the season with a torn ACL AND MCL. Redskins (3-7) Cowboys (7-3)

Cleveland 37, Detroit 38- Who knew that two 1-8 teams could deliver the best game of the week. In the Toilet Bowl matchup of the week, the Cleveland Browns opened up the game with a 24-3 lead with three Brady Quinn TD passes. Yes you’re reading this correctly. Quinn went 21 for 33 for 304 yards and 4 TDs, but it was the #1 pick in the draft that stole the show in this one. Matthew Stafford willed his team back into the game by throwing for 422 yard on 26/43 passing with FIVE touchdowns, becoming the second rookie and the first in 72 years to throw for five TDs. Late in the game, the Browns were up 37-31, Stafford threw a Hail Mary pass, and got slammed to the turf. However, a pass interference was called on safety Hank Poteat, and with time expired and a defensive penalty, the Lions got the ball on the 1 yard line, due to the penalty happening in the endzone. After a Browns’ timeout, Stafford came back into the game with a bad shoulder, and threw the game-winning TD pass to Brandon Pettigrew for the win, and Detroit picks up their second win of the season, and dropping Cleveland to the worst record in the NFL (along with Tampa Bay). Browns (1-9), Lions (2-8)

San Francisco 24, Green Bay 30- Aaron Rodgers showed why that the San Francisco 49ers should have picked him instead of Alex Smith in the NFL draft. Rodgers went 32-45 for 344 yards and threw two touchdowns, and the Packers held off a furious 49er rally engineered by Smith to keep their hold in the NFC Wild Card. The win came at a price as the Packers may have lost Aaron Kampman, Al Harris, and Nick Barnett, three major players on defense to serious injuries. Smith had a decent day, going 16-33 for 227 yards and three second half touchdowns, but it was his one interception that made a difference, as the second half turnover led to Green Bay scoring on a Ryan Grant 1 yd TD run that put the Pack up 30-10. This appears to be the matchup of the future in what was one of the NFC’s best rivalries of the 90s. The 49ers are not out of the playoff hunt, but the road does not get easier for them. 49ers (4-6), Packers (6-4)

Buffalo 15, Jacksonville 18- David Garrard threw the game winning touchdown pass to Mike Sims-Walker with 56 seconds left and gave the Jacksonville Jaguars its first winning streak in over two years, and putting the Jags in the AFC Wild Card picture and the Jaguars rallied to beat the Bills. The win spoiled the debut of Bills’ interim head coach Perry Fewell and it also spoiled what was a great day for Terrell Owens. Owens, who has not seen much success in Buffalo this season, had his best game with the team having nine catches for 197 yards, including a career long 98 yard TD reception from Ryan Fitzpatrick, which was also the longest play in the Bills’ 50 year history. While the win puts Jacksonville in the drivers’ seat for the playoffs, the Bills hopes are fading fast. Bills (3-7), Jaguars (6-4)

Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 27 (F/OT)- This is not a typo. This is the real deal. The Kansas City Chiefs showed that as long as you stayed in the game and had a chance to win, anything is possible and that nothing is guaranteed. Matt Cassel went 15-30 for 248 yards and threw two touchdowns, but it was his 61 yard pass to Chris Chambers in overtime that set up Ryan Succop’s game-winning 22 yard field goal to give the Chiefs the upset over the Steelers. Succop, who was the last person picked in the 2009 NFL Draft, dashed the hearts of fans of the 2008 World Champions, and Kansas City snapped a 10-game losing streak at Arrowhead Stadium. The Steelers may have another big injury as Ben Roethlisberger left the game with a possible concussion. It is uncertain at this time how severe the injury may be. For Kansas City, it’s now two straight wins since the departure and release of former running back Larry Johnson. Steelers (6-4), Chiefs (3-7)

Seattle 9, Minnesota 35- Brett Favre is having the best season at the age of 40 and on Sunday, he had the game of his career, going 22-25 for 213 yards and four touchdowns, throwing to the four receivers that were all interviewed on Fox NFL Sunday: Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe, Bernard Berrian, and Sidney Rice. The 88% that Favre had was the highest of his career, and he had his 22nd four touchdown game, surpassing Dan Marino in that list. The Seahawks only touchdown came from Justin Forsett on a one yard TD run. After a 123 yard effort a week ago, he was only held to nine yards. Favre left the game in the fourth quarter due to the score, and Tavaris Jackson entered the game and threw a pass to Rice for his second TD reception of the day. The Vikings as of now look more like the NFC’s best team than the Saints, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s prediction of Seattle going undefeated the rest of the way was nixed already. Seahawks (3-7), Vikings (9-1)

Atlanta 31, NY Giants 34 (F/OT) In a matchup of two teams heading in south in the standings, one team had to make a statement, and stop the bleeding. On Sunday, it was the NY Giants as Eli Manning threw for a career-high 384 yards on 25-39 passing, with three touchdowns (two to Kevin Boss), and the Giants snapped a four game losing streak after starting the season 5-0, and in the process, handed the Falcons their third straight loss, and fourth in the last five games after they started the season off 4-1. It was the first time the Giants beat the Falcons at home since 1979, in fact with these two teams, the visiting team has won 12 straight coming in. The Falcons were down 31-17, but Matt Ryan threw two fourth quarter touchdowns to Eric Weems and Tony Gonzalez forced overtime, which Lawrence Tynes kicked the game-winning 36 yard field goal to give Big Blue their first win in over a month. Falcons (5-5), Giants (6-4)

New Orleans 38, Tampa Bay 7- Drew Brees went 19-29 for 187 yards and three touchdowns (two to Robert Meachem) and Mike Bell ran for two touchdowns, and the Saints easily handled division rival Tampa Bay to continue the best run in the team’s 43 year history. The Saints have a huge showdown with the New England Patriots Monday night, and if they win, and the Atlanta Falcons lose on Sunday, they will be in the playoffs as the 2009 NFC South Division Champions. The balance of the Saints was great, 187 passing yards and 183 rushing yards, and when this team still feels like they have not reached their peak yet, it seems real scary. Other teams need to beware. Saints (10-0), Buccaneers (1-9)

Arizona 21, St. Louis 13- Kurt Warner was on his way to a big day in the building where his legend began, but he was out for the second half after a blow to head and concussion related symptoms. But he did build a 21-3 lead, and the defense held strong and the Cardinals beat the Rams 21-13 for their third straight win, and padded their lead on the NFC West to three games over the 49ers. After a 1-2 start the Cardinals have won six of the past seven games. The bright spot for St. Louis is that Steven Jackson became the first Ram in the team’s 73 year history to post five consecutive 1000 yard seasons after a 24 carry, 116 yard effort. St. Louis is showing more signs of life on offense, but still has a long way to go. Cardinals (7-3), Rams (1-9)

San Diego 32, Denver 3- The surging San Diego Chargers came in prepared for both of Denver’s QBs, as the young Chris Simms got the start for Denver, but trying to get a spark, Kyle Orton played the game with a sprained ankle. Did not matter as the Chargers defense played a flawless game and dominated Denver 32-3 to get their fifth straight win, and sending the Broncos spiraling down to their fourth straight loss. The win also puts San Diego in the drivers’ seat in the AFC West, a division they trailed by 3 1/2 games just five weeks ago. Phillip Rivers threw for 145 yards and LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 73 yards and a touchdown, but it was the defense that stole the show. Simms was pulled after going 2-4 for 10 yards and Kyle Orton was brought in. He played well throwing for 171 yards, and moved the ball efficiently in his first drive, but rookie Knowshon Moreno fumbled the ball trying to reach for a touchdown, and resulted in a San Diego turnover. Brandon Marshall let his frustration show and got in Moreno’s face, and Moreno responded by shoving Marshall. The Chargers are peaking at the right time, and are looking like the best team in the AFC, and the Broncos are sinking very fast. Chargers (7-3) Broncos (6-4)

NY Jets 14, New England 31- Looks like people will quiet now about 4th & 2. The Patriots held their 31-14 lead this week by forcing three of the New York Jets’ five turnovers in the fourth quarter and picked off rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez four times and the Jets have lost six of seven since starting the season 3-0. Sanchez’s 16 interceptions are second to Jay Cutler’s 18 picks this season. Tom Brady went 28 of 41 for 310 yards, Wes Welker had 15 catches for 192 yards, and Lawrence Maroney ran for two touchdowns and gave the Patriots some much needed momentum going into their Monday Night showdown with the Saints at the Superdome. The five turnover game will really give Jets’ head coach Rex Ryan something to cry about as the playoff hopes for Gang Green are quickly fading. Jets (4-6), Patriots (7-3)

Cincinnati 17, Oakland 20- The AFC North got swept this weekend due to a 10 point swing in 33 seconds. Down 17-10 late in the fourth quarter, Oakland Raiders’ QB Bruce Gradkowski, who started the game in favor of JaMarcus Russell, threw a 29 yard touchdown pass to Louis Murphy, and then on the ensuing kick off, Brandon Myers forced a fumble that set up Sebastian Janikowski’s game-winning 33 yard field goal that gave the Raiders their third win of the season, capping off an emotional day that was in memory of the late Marquis Cooper, who was involved in the boating accident this spring off the coast of Florida. After the game, the game ball was given by Raiders’ head coach Tom Cable to Cooper’s family, who was on hand for the game. The Bengals bright spot was a 119 yard effort from Bernard Scott, who started for the injured Cedric Benson. Larry Johnson made his debut with Cincinnati and only had two carries for five yards in a tough loss for Cincy. Bengals (7-3), Raiders (3-7)

Philadelphia 24, Chicago 20- Donovan McNabb threw for 244 yards and two touchdowns, and LeSean McCoy scored the game winning touchdown to give the Philadelphia Eagles a huge victory over the Chicago Bears on the road and keep their position in the Wild Card position in the NFC. McCoy redeemed himself on the 10 yard touchdown run after fumbling the ball on the previous drive that resulted in an Eagles’ turnover. The special teams unit for Philadelphia came through as Antonio Dixon blocked a 48 yard field goal attempt by Robbie Gould, and McNabb marched the Eagles 62 yards down the field, capped off by the McCoy run. He finished the day with 99 yards starting in place of Brian Westbrook, who is sidelined with a concussion. Mike Vick entered the game and had a 34 yard run, which was his longest run this season. The Eagles still trail the Cowboys by a game in the NFC East, and the Bears playoff hopes are fading away quickly. Eagles (6-4) Bears (4-6).

Catch the MNF Recap tomorrow from Houston as the Titans take on the Texans, and the Best & Worst of Week 11 on Wednesday.