Thursday, January 1, 2009
Behind The Scoreboard
Plenty of football for holidays
Holiday tidings, sports fans. I certainly hope that your holidays are progressing well and healthily. I believe that it was George Burns who said that “Holiday happiness is having a large, loving, close-knit family-preferably in a different city.”
While Division I teams in the NCAA are finding happiness by wading through the myriad of post season bowls leading to January 8, 2009, teams in the pro leagues are perhaps not so merry as they muddle through the treacherous turbulence heading to February 2, 2009 and Super Bowl XLIII.
There are 32 teams in the NFL and going into the final weekend of regular season play, 14 had been eliminated. Not unlike the collegiate BCS championship selection process, the pro procedure also becomes a tad tricky.
The Tennessee Titans by virtue of having the best record in the NFL, clinched the conference, South Division title, home field advantage throughout and a first round “bye.” The number two team in the AFC, Pittsburgh, is also a titlist and recipient of a first round “bye.” Still contending for a division title and/or playoff spot were the Broncos, N.Y. Jets, Patriots, Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens. The Colts have already secured their slot.
The N.Y. Giants, like the Titans, are champs in the NFC, their respective division and the home field advantage. Also “in” are the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers and the Atlanta Falcons. Obviously, the pre-season changes made in Atlanta have bode well for the birds of prey. Still waiting, and hoping, to be validated were the Eagles, Tampa Bay, Vikings, Chicago Bears and America’s Team. For the latter to “get in” would require a combination of a win this past Sunday (at the Eagles), or a tie and a Tampa Bay loss or tie. And that is one of the short programs.
Since this column is being written in front of last Sunday’s game schedules (early deadlines), what do we know for sure? Well, we know that Tony Dungy (Colts) and Mike Holmgren (Seahawks) are retiring after the season. And in the words of the head Cowboy, himself, head coach Wade Phillips will return to ride the range once more in Dallas, whether or not the Cowboys make the playoffs.
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