Monday, April 30, 2007

The Dwarf's Return

Hey all!

Well, it's been since February 28 since I've written anything on this blog, but with the NFL Draft going down this weekend, I couldn't pass up this opportunity to resurrect the Blog. As a matter a fact, so much has happened since my last post, including the Canadiens not making the playoffs, Chelsea inching closer to a Champions League title, Tiger losing a very tight Masters and some absolutely wonderful music being released, but today I will focus on the NFL Draft, which was very interesting, to say the least.

The big story of the first day was, without a doubt, Brady Quinn, QB from Notre Dame, being passed up by Cleveland and then Miami, and sliding down the board before being swept up by the Browns with the 22nd pick, which they got from Dallas. There are two interesting side stories that were born from this: Cleveland went on to have a great first day, at least on paper, and Miami passing up on the possible heir to Marino.

When the Browns went on the clock with the 3rd pick in the draft, experts everywhere were divided. Joe Thomas, the best tackle on the board, was a possibility, as were the hometown boy Quinn and mercurial running back Adrian Peterson. All three made sense, as the Browns have a terrible O-Line, no really good running back to speak of (they signed Jamal Lewis in the off-season, but he is on his last legs), and nothing too exciting at QB either. In the end, they made what I believe is the right pick, getting Thomas, the guy who will protect their QB's blind side and open up holes for whoever is their running back for the next 15 years. But when Quinn started to slide down the board, Phil Savage, the Browns GM, started to work the phones and eventually cut a deal with Dallas to get their pick at #22 and scoop up Quinn. So, in a matter of a couple of hours, the Browns got their QB of the future and his "bodyguard". Not bad. In the second round, they also managed to pick up CB Eric Wright from Nevada, who has character issues, but great speed and pure cover skills. That's a pretty good first day.

Meanwhile, Dolphin nation is enraged at the moment, still in disbelief at their team passing up on the opportunity to pick Quinn. Instead, the Dolphins used the 9th pick in the draft on WR Ted Ginn Jr. from Ohio State. Then, in the second round, they tabbed John Beck from BYU to be their QB of the future. Now, I must say, when I heard the pick of Ginn Jr., I was mad too. But I've read a lot since, and my opinion has evolved. Essentially, the Dolphins were going to pick a WR and a QB with their first 2 picks, and the question that remained was which would come first. Obviously, they felt that the second-tier quarterbacks were better than the second-tier receivers. Ted Ginn Jr. has speed to burn, and while his route running needs a lot of work, he spent the last season running past the best CB's in the division with relative ease. He will definitely help stretch the field for an offense that desperately needs a deep threat. He can also contribute as a punt and kick returner for the Dolphins. As for Beck, the book on him is that he might not be NFL-ready yet, but he has all the tools. He is very accurate and his mechanics are natural and sound. He needs more coaching than Quinn, but his upside might be higher at this point.

As for Brady Quinn, the big question is how could he possibly slide all the way to #22. Well, Aaron Rodgers went through the same thing 2 years ago, before being picked up by Green Bay. And when you look at it, the question marks with both are similar: both have quirky mechanics., neither has a great arm or is particularly accurate, and both had their troubles when the pressure was on. In my opinion, Quinn will be as good as his surroundings. Some QB's, like John Elway, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Tom Brady or Joe Montana, just to name a few, can make everyone around them better just by being there. Experts are convinced that JaMarcus Russell, the first overall pick, is that kind of Quarterback. But, personally, I don't think that Quinn is. In the end, Quinn will be just as good as Joe Thomas, Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow become. If his receivers can stay healthy, if the Browns can fix the offensive line and find a running game, then Quinn will have a nice career. Otherwise, he'll be just another Tim Couch.

Random Thoughts From Around The Draft:

  • I liked the Bills draft. Experts can't seem to see it, but I think Marv Levy is doing a wonderful job, slowly putting the pieces together to make another great run in a couple of years. J.P. Losman is slowly settling into the QB's job. Lee Evans has developed into a very nice #1 receiver. Now, Levy added the third piece of the offensive puzzle with RB Marshawn Lynch from Cal, who has size, speed and hands. If you really think about it, Losman has a little bit of Jim Kelly in him, Evans a little bit of Andre Reed and Lynch could turn out to be as versatile as Thurman Thomas. Then, Levy picked up Trent Edwards, another tough-as-nails QB in the third round (a great value pick), just in case Losman doesn't pan out. Meanwhile, he also found the guy who will lead his defense for the next decade in LB Paul Posluszny from Penn State. This kid was born to play in Rich Stadium. There's hope Bills fans... and not only that, there is something to really like about this team.
  • Another controversial pick was the Eagles' second round choice (their first pick in the draft), QB Kevin Kolb of Houston. Now, I won't pretend I know anything about this kid, but even though some experts thought it was too early to pick him, I'll take Andy Reid's judgement over Mel Kiper's any day. Now, the big controversy came from Philly picking a QB so early. Steve Young couldn't believe it, saying this meant the Eagles didn't think McNabb could come back healthy from his injury. Sean Salisbury echoed those comments, as did Kiper. But words of wisdom finally came from Michael Smith's (check him out, the best writer at in my opinion) mouth: "Kolb could be Matt Schaub", he said. Yes. The Eagles aren't worried about McNabb this year, otherwise they would be in the Trent Green lottery, or at least trying to get a starting caliber quarterback on the roster. No, Kolb is a project. The Eagles are looking 3-4 years down the road: what if McNabb keeps getting injured? What if his knees are shot by 2009? Then they'll have a quality guy in the system, someone capable of picking up the slack when #5 goes down for good. And if, by chance, McNabb manages to stay healthy and plays at a high level for the next 6-7 years, then the Eagles will have the option of trading Kolb for a couple of second round picks, like the Falcons did with Schaub this year.
  • I like Randy Moss to New England. I would've preferred Moss to Green Bay, but him going to the Patriots should be exciting. I don't know if it will work out though: Moss is one lazy dude. But if it does, watch out!
  • Speaking of the Packers, how boring have they become? No trade for Moss. No big-time receiver of runner picked in the first round. I mean, Justin Harrell? A defensive tackle? What??? This is sad. Brett Favre must be cringing right now.
  • My favorite pick of the draft? Aside from Paul Posluszny to Buffalo, I really like Michael Bush to the Raiders in the 4th round. This kid was Heisman potential before he broke his leg. He will come back healthy, and by mid-season, he will he at the forefront of the Raiders' three-headed running back monster of Bush, Dominic Rhodes and Lamont Jordan. The Raiders are still a year away, but still, they won't be fun to play against this year.
  • The worst draft? Houston. David Carr never had a shot with the Texans because they've had the worst offensive line ever since they entered the league. Now, they go out and get Matt Schaub, but don't draft anyone to protect him. Yeah, I'm sure he'll be great at running the offense while being sacked 57 times like Carr was. Oh, and Ahman Green will relish running into non-existing holes. Great job Texans... that's a D-minus for you.
Well, that's enough for now, but it's good to be back. I'll see you next time!

Dwarf out.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Thoughts on the NHL trade deadline...

Well, as opposed to last year when I spent the whole day working on my computer with the Trade Tracker always visible in bottom right corner of my screen, this year I was out on the road all day, and so I arrived at home last night without a single clue about what had gone down.

Like in 2006, there were some pretty big trades that were made in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline. We already knew since Sunday that Craig Rivet was going to finish the year in a Sharks uniform. Peter Forsberg was already a Predator. We already knew Keith Tkachuk would be helping the Trashers reach the playoffs for the first time in their history. Brad Stuart had been a Flame for a while when Tuesday started, and Marc-Andre Bergeron had been with the Islanders for almost a week.

But Deadline Day did not disappoint when it comes to big trades. We saw Bill Guerin leave the Blues to join Craig Rivet in San Jose. The Penguins added some much needed grit and toughness with Gary Roberts from Calgary and Georges Laraque from Phoenix. Meanwhile, Toronto was adding Yanic Perreault, Detroit picked up Todd Bertuzzi and Dallas added Mattias Norstrom, the long time defenseman and captain of the L.A. Kings. F Jason Ward of the Kings took the direction of Tampa while D David Hale left New Jersey to become a depth defenseman for Darryl Sutter in Calgary. The Bruins lost faith in second-year center Brad Boyes (69 points as a rookie) and sent him to the Blues for defenseman Dennis Wideman. There were more trades, notably Martin Biron ending up in Philadelphia and Dainius Zubrus winding up in Buffalo.

But there is no doubt that the shocker of the day was Ryan Smyth leaving the team he cheered for as a youngster and the one he has embodied for the last 12 years, the Edmonton Oilers, for the shores of Long Island. Smyth was traded for 2 prospects and a draft pick. Now, as disappointed and frustrated as I felt last night, I understand that this is a business and that's how things work in the NHL. Smyth was asking for a 5-year/$5.5 million deal, and Kevin Lowe was not willing to go higher than 5-year/5.2 millions per year. Most Oiler fans will be mad at Lowe for not meeting Smyth's price, as I was yesterday, but there is also something a bit disgusting in seeing the heart and soul of a team, a guy who has been called "Captain Canada", decide he will not re-sign with the team he has played all his career for, and all that for $250,000 dollars. The reality is, both sides were thinking from a business standpoint... whatever that says about our favorite sport. I think more players should look at how Martin Brodeur has handled his own contract negotiations in his career. He is a great example of how these greedy bastards should conduct themselves. But anyway, it's done.

The fallout of this deal, however, is horrible, and on 2 fronts. First, losing Smyth means the Oilers will almost assuredly not make the playoffs (losing yesterday to Phoenix 3-0 won't help either). But it also means that by adding Smyth, as well as Bergeron last week and Richard Zednick too, the Islanders have just become a major player in the Eastern Conference Playoff picture. With the Islanders getting much better, Atlanta adding Tkachuck, Toronto adding Perreault, you might wonder where that leaves our beloved Canadiens. I still have hope they will make it into the postseason, but it will be very hard.

Dwarf out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The State of the Montreal Canadiens Address

Hey everyone!

So, here we are, Thursday, February 22, just about 2 hours before the Canadiens take the ice against the very dangerous Nashville Predators and their new acquisition: Peter Forsberg. As I am writing this, the Canadiens are sitting in 7th in the Eastern Conference, with 68 points and 20 games left, 1 point in front of the Carolina Hurricanes. But both these teams are in serious danger, because Toronto and the NY Islanders both have 66 points (only 2 back of Montreal) and 2 games in hand. So, with 20 games, what can we say about the Habs?

Well, the biggest word, as always, is 'Playoffs'. Will they make it to the postseason or won't they? We all know that if they make it, anything can happen. The Oilers proved that last year, taking the Carolina Hurricanes down to the wire.

The first thing I'm looking at here is the loss of Cristobal Huet. I've said it many times, I do not think Huet is among the best goaltenders in the league. I think he is prone to too many bad streaks, and he gives up too many soft goals to be mentioned alongside Brodeur, Kipprusoff, Luongo and Co. But losing him until the playoffs will no doubt hurt Montreal. I have not seen enough of Jaroslav Halak to pass judgement on him, but I doubt he can save this team. As for Aebischer, well, he's proven time and time again that when the pressure comes up, he usually cools down. I do not think that losing Huet is the proverbial 'final nail in the coffin' for Montreal, but there is no denying that it hurts their chances.

The second impactful factor, in my opinion, is the schedule. The Canadiens still have to face Boston 4times, Toronto and the NY Rangers 3 times, and the Islanders twice. This means that in 12 of their last 20 games, Montreal will be playing teams chasing them for a playoff spot. In other words, if they can get their act together, they control their own destiny. Literally. If they can come up with more wins than losses in these 12 games, then their chances of making the postseason are excellent. Go under .500 against these teams, and they'll likely be watching the playoffs on TV.

The big wild-card, of course, is the trade deadline. When I look at the Canadiens, I do not see the stellar goaltending I saw from Mikko Kipprusoff in 2004 for the Flames or the desperate abandon which the Oiler players played with game in and game out last year. What I see is a seven-or-eight-seeded team that will likely bow out after 1 or 2 rounds of postseason play. I think it would be ludicrous of Bob Gainey to mortgage the bright future of this team to salvage a season that is not destined to amount to anything substantial anyway. Luckily, the rumors we are hearing right now do not include any of the really good prospects. One rumor has Adrien Aucoin coming to Montreal, which i think would be a mistake. Think about it, he still has 2 years left on his over-inflated 4 million/year contract. Bad choice if it happens, but I don't think it will anyway.

Another rumor that popped out of Montreal today had Saku Koivu and Andrei Markov (who will be an unrestricted free agent and will test the market) for Pierre-marc Bouchard and Benoit Pouliot. Another had Marian Gaborik heading the Canadiens'way. I'll tell you, the guys in Montreal really do invent the craziest rumors in the world. That's just nonsense. Clear-cut idiotic. Whoever started that rumor obviously had no way to validate it (probably because he doesn't speak english).

One rumor that did get some traction is Sheldon Souray heading to San Jose. This does make sense, as the Sharks would probably be on Souray's radar as a free agent anyway, as he wants to move to California to be closer to his daughter. The rumor says that should the Sharks be able to come to an agreement with Souray on a new contract, then they would send D Matt Carle to Montreal. Some of you may not know who Matt Carle is, but he is an excellent defenseman. He is also very young. This year, as a second year player, he has amassed 26 points, while being a very respectable +4. He is a big kid who's got a good shot from the point and, at 205 lbs., he's much more physical than Souray. Plus, he's only 22, so he's got all the upside in the world. Last year, he really opened some eyes with his savvy performance in the playoffs. Personally, I don't understand why the Sharks would ever part ways with him, but then again, they are shooting for the Cup, and it'sscary to think what Souray could do on a power play where Joe Thornton is feeding him the puck.

Montreal is also rumored to be in the running for Bill Guerin and Bryan Smolinski, and of the two, I think Smolinski is a possiblity, but Guerin will be going to either Detroit of to the Rangers.

Whatever happens from now until Tuesday, I like the Habs' chances of playing hockey past April 7th. Common sense would say that a team that has gone 9-14-1 in 2007 and 3-7-1 in their last 11 doesn't have much chance of making it. But I believe that somehow, someway, they will get out of their funk and muster enough points to just get in. And I believe they can achieve this with the team they have now. I do. And so, I write it now, the Canadiens will get into the 2007 Postseason Tournament.

Still, if I was Bob Gainey, and I too was looking at losing Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov and Craig Rivet as unrestricted free agents, I would trade both Rivet and Souray for young players that could help me next year, and I would try to re-sign Markov. I would also make Kovalev and Koivu available on the market. I would basically put my destiny in the hands of the team's youth and start building for next year. This has been too many years in a row of barely making the playoffs (or not making them) and not having a real shot at taking it all the way. Sometimes, the only way to truly go foward is to first take a step back. I believe this is the time to do it. But that's just me.

Check back this weekend for further analysis on the trade rumors around the league as we get near the deadline.

Dwarf out.

Monday, February 19, 2007

CD Reviews

Hey all...

It's been a really long while, and I'm sorry for not posting more often. Now, let's see... since my last post, the Colts were crowned NFL Champions, Tiger won his first tournament, Chelsea has played alright and are still within a reasonable distance from a 3rd English Premiership title in a row, the Montreal Canadiens have fallen from grace and are now on the outside looking in in regards to the playoffs, and finally, a couple of really good rock records have started the year in a pretty good way.

Check back with me on Thursday for my 'State of the Montreal Canadiens Address'. Tomorrow, Chelsea faces off against Porto in the Champions League, so next week I will discuss Chelsea's chances in both the Premiership and the Champions League in 2007. Also, the 27th at 4pm (next Tuesday) marks the NHL Trade Deadline. I will have a full outlook on the rumors (good and bad) that surround what should be now known as 'Canada Day 2'. But first, let's take a quick look at 2 very, very good music albums that came out in the last couple of weeks.

The Shins - Wincing the night away
With their first 2 releases, 'The Shins' established themselves as one of the best indie-rock outfits with excellent, albeit somewhat unsual, melodies and lyrics. Just as important, if not more, was the inclusion of 2 of their songs, 'New Slang' and 'Caring is Creepy', on the award-winning Soundtrack to the movie 'Garden State'. As was the case with 'Death Cab for Cutie' and 'The Decemberists' latest releases, most indie-rock pundits were a little worried, thinking 'The Shins' might "sellout". But, as is usual with bands of a certain integrity, it is not the case at all here.

Instead of "selling out", the band expands on its sound. Where 'Oh, Inverted World' and 'Chutes Too Narrow' sounded like they were pulled straight out of the sixties, 'Wincing the Night Away' features a wider palette of sounds, some still pulled out of the sixties, others from the eighties and some even sounding somewhat current. This is perhaps due to a lusher production. Indeed, while the band's 2 previous efforts were minimaly produced, a lot more effects are introduced here: the sound is a lot more textured. Also, the songwriting is better and a lot more constant. While there is nothing as good and catchy as 'New Slang' here, 'Sleeping Lessons', 'Phantom Limb' (the first single), 'Turn on Me', 'Black Wave', 'Spilt Needles' and 'A Comet Appears' are all excellent compositions. These 6 cuts constitute the meat of the album, and it makes for a very solid core. 'Black Wave', in particular, is a haunting and beautiful ballad. On 'A Comet Appears', the band sounds as direct and naked as they ever have. That being said, 'Turn on Me' just might be the best track here, with its Echo & The Bunnymen-like guitars and extremely addictive harmonies.

All in all, this is a very solid outing by one of the bands rock music has to offer today. While I have yet to hear them put out a great album, they continuously write great songs. And if this album has a bit of filler, it also features six awesome songs, all listed above. As far as I'm concerned, that's quite good.

Rating: 8/10

Bloc Party - A Weekend in the City
Bloc Party is, in my opinion, one of the best bands to come out of London in the last few years. Their first record, 'Silent Alarm', was an excellent mix of furious beats, crunchy guitars, punk-infused lyrics and The Cure-ish or U2-ish ballads. On 'A Weekend in the City', Bloc Party deliver the logical next step in their musical journey, and it works to near perfection.

After a intro lasting a little more than a minute, 'Song for Clay (Disappear Here)' starts the album off with a bang. The song is fast-paced, giving it an immediacy few bands are capable of getting to. In a way, it reminds us a little bit of 'Banquet' (the lead-off single of 'Silent Alarm'), but the melody is stronger here, as is the lyrical content. 'Hunting for Witches' starts with an interesting collage of voices that set the tone for the song, just before the amazing and very original main riff kicks in. The whole song is centered on this guitar riff, which is worth many, many, many listens. With pounding beats and Kele Okereke's soothing voice supporting the guitars, the song is a pure pleasure.

Then, the band turns the volume down a notch, but they keep the intensity level high. On 'Waiting for the 7.18', Okereke's voice is at its best, and the guitars sound as rich and as Cure-ish as ever, painting a beautiful sonic landscape that is beaten and battered by Matt Tong's ferocious drumming. On 'The Prayer', a song that deals with the coldness and emptiness than exists on club dance floors, Tong introduces a very unusual drumming pattern that fuels the verses, while keyboards and beautiful melodies dominate the chorus. 'I Still Remember' sounds like a cross between U2 (circa 'War') and a 'Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me, Kiss me'-era The Cure. The guitars are all U2, but the song is joyous and infected with poppy hooks. It's very simply a very fun song. Then, the London group follows with one of the bst songs I have heard in years. 'Sunday' is again driven by an inventive and original drum pattern, but here Okereke's voice is as soothing and relaxing as ever. Somehow, it floats over beautiful melody delivered by Russell Lissack's gentle guitar. And through this, the song builds towards a huge climax that features multiple guitar and vocal overdubs and, of course, Tong's great drumming. Love songs can sometimes be very cheesy, but when Okereke sings "You see giant proclaimations are all very well/But our love is louder than words", you somehow believe him.

While these 6 songs are the best of the bunch, 'On', 'Kreuzberg' and the album-closing 'SRXT' are all very good. It is a shame that 'Bloc Party' are not better known outside of the UK, but this might be their breakthrough album in the US. Even this early in the year, I know this one will be in my Top Ten 2007 in December. Pick it up. It's well worth it.

Rating: 9/10

See you Thursday!

Dwarf out.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A look ahead to the Conference Championship Games

Today, we'll take a look at next week's AFC and NFC Championship games. But first, let's take a look back at last week's games.

Indianapolis 15 - Baltimore 6

For some reason, I was pretty confident Indianapolis would win this game. it was the only one I was truly sure of. I thought Peyton Manning and the Colts rushing attack could drive the ball on the Baltimore defense. In the end, I wasn't completely right, nor was I completely wrong. While the Colts failed to score a touchdown, Manning was continuously able to convert on third downs. I thought he played an extremely gritty game, and while his stats weren't very good, he was clutch when he needed to be. And with the game on the line in the 4th quarter, the Colts shoved Dominic Rhodes down the Ravens' throat, and there was nothing Ray Lewis and company could do about it. On another note, Steve McNair should be ashamed: in the playoffs, the time when he needed to be good, the reason why his new team signed him, he failed to generate any offense whatsoever. Worse yet, he followed Manning's 2 interceptions with 2 interceptions of his own, on the very next drive. Very un-clutch, and very unlike a veteran quarterback of his stature.

New England 24 - San Diego 21

I should've seen this one coming. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady just don't lose in the playoffs. But as much as it is a rule to not bet against them, it is an even bigger rule never to bet Marty Schottenheimer's teams in the playoffs. The Chargers multiplied mistakes in this game. Fumbles, dropped balls, stupid penalties: they were out of control. Not only that, Marty's play calling was out of control too: the man who has become known as ultra-conservative seemed more interested in shedding those labels than winning the game. He gave the ball to LT, their MVP as well as the league's, only 23 times, even though Tomlinson was averaging over 5 yards per carry. The Patriots seemed to not know what to do when he had the ball. Yet, Marty put the ball in Rivers' hands, and the youngster couldn't pull out the victory. Furthermore, he called a challenge on a play where there was no doubt the call on the field was the right one. He decided to go for it on 4th-and-11 instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal. In a word, he was awful. On the Pats' side, like Manning, Brady had a shaky game. But when it came down to crunch time, like at the end of the first half and in the 4th quarter, he made plays. I thought Belichick made a great call on the 2-point conversion. The Pats have been there, and in this game, it showed. They let the Chargers beat themselves and made enough plays to prevail.

New Orleans 27 - Philadelphia 24

What a game! That was a great one, surely the best one this weekend. On one side, you had the Saints relying on their workshorse, Deuce McAllister. On the other, Westbrook was hitting big runs, and Garcia was killing the Saints with the deep ball. I thought one of the turning points of the game was Shawn Andrews, the all-pro guard of the Eagles, injuring his neck. His replacement, Scott Young, wound up making a couple of key mistakes. The other turning point? Andy Reid making an atrocious call to punt on 4th down with less than 2 minutes left. Even if the Eagles didn't make it, they would've at worse probably surrendered a field goal and at least gotten the ball back 6 points down. Bad call. Otherwise, I salute the Eagles for a strong effort. Their defense, I thought (and I know Huy will strongly disagree) showed a lot of heart at the end of the game. They tried hard. But they were tired. And McAllister was on fire. But again, great game.

Chicago 27 - Seattle 24

Unlike the other NFC matchup, this one was a sloppy affair. Botched punts, broken coverages, fumbles, interceptions. The Seahawks shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion. The vaunted Bears defense looked awfully human, surrendering big drives to an offense led by Shaun Alexander and Hasselbeck, neither of whom was at 100%. Rex Grossman threw some beautiful passes, really beautiful. But he also made plays that made you wonder if he belongs in the NFL. In the end, it was one of his beautiful passes, to Rasheed Davis in overtime, that won the game for the Bears. Like the Patriots, the Seahawks watched their opponent hand them the game on a plate. Unlike the Pats, they just couldn't grab a hold of it.


The rules say Brady beats Manning. The rules say Belichick beats Dungy. The rules say Manning will choke and Brady will pull it off. I migh be making a mistake, but I'm gonna go against the rules. I think the Colts will run the ball down the Patriots' throats. Watch Joseph Addai on the stretch play. Watch Dominic Rhodes pound it inside. The Colts will put 150 yards rushing on that defense. Manning will throw 1 or 2 picks, but he will pick up huge 3rd downs, like he did against the Ravens. And he will hit Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrisson for a big one each. On the other side, the Colts will stack up 8 men in the box, like they've been doing. The Patriots will respond by throwing a lot. They'll put up some points, but it's gonna cost them a couple of turnovers. And when Brady is on the sideline, with 4 minutes left, waiting to get his offense back on the field, he will watch Addai and Rhodes eat up the clock and score the field goal that puts Indy on top by 10 points with just over a minute left. (Indy 30 - NE 20).


First of all, Grossman will probably serve us with another couple of beautiful deep passes. The Eagle showed the Saints' secondary can be exploited. But unlike Garcia, he will throw a couple of picks as well. And in a game where the Saints will march up and down the field on the Bears' defense, that will prove to be the difference. McAllister will pound it. Bush will bounce it outside. Brees will exploit the weak safeties and throw it over the top. The Saints offense is much better than the Seahawks', and that will translate into a flurry of points. (NO 31 - CHI 17).

Make no mistake, whoever wins the AFC Championship game will win the Super Bowl. Now, let's see what my bros think.

See ya!

Dwarf out.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Wild finishes for 2 wild-card games...

Tonight I'll take a look back at the 4 wild-card games from the past weekend, and then we'll peek ahead to next week's divisional playoff games.

A Look Back

  • Indianapolis 23 - Kansas City 8: Contrary to what the 3 interceptions might say, I don't think Manning had a bad game. He meticulously dismantled the KC defense, and when he and Marvin Harrison didn't miscommunicate (in which case the ball wound up in Ty Law's hands), the Indy offense put points on the board. Still, if towards the end of the 3rd quarter the Chiefs still weren't completely out of it, it's because Manning threw those interceptions. In the end, it didn't really matter because the KC offense took 41 minutes to get a first down. Thumbs down to Herm Edwards for not doing what he could to win the game: putting Damon Huard in should've been done at the beginning of the 3rd quarter.
  • Seattle 21 - Dallas 20: How Dallas figured running the ball was the right strategy against a defense that featured a safety and dime back as starting quarterbacks is unbelievable. I would've put Romo in the shotgun and let him air it out against the depleted Seattle secondary. But I hate the Cowboys and the Fat Tuna, so it's all good. Kudos to the Seahawks for hanging in there and showing the character of a championship team. Oh, and as much as I hate the Cowboys and was happy to see them lose, even I felt bad for Tony Romo. That's just sad... poor guy.
  • New England 37 - NY Jets 16: This game was much closer than the score indicates. The Jets moved the ball well against New England. Pennington had a good game and hung in there for the most part. Towards the end of the game, though, the Jets inexperience showed a bit and that's when the Pats' veterans showed they've been there before. Also, that's when Lawrence Maroney finally got going.
  • Philadelphia 23 - NY Giants 20: Boy can heart make all the difference. In the 4th quarter, Eli Manning showed heart in the face of the blitz-heavy Eagles defense, and he overcame a 2nd and 30 to throw the tying touchdown. But then, Brian Westbrook showed even more heart, running through the Giants defense despite suffering from severe leg cramps at the time. Great performance by a great player.
A Look Ahead
  • Indianapolis at Baltimore: Peyton Manning will not throw 3 interceptions again this week. That being said, I don't see the Indy offense putting up too many points either. So the question is this: can Steve McNair and the Baltimore offense (which has been pretty inept this year) put up more points than the Colts. Short answer: no. Indianapolis 24 - Baltimore 16. (Veillotron's pick: Baltimore. Sweet LP's pick: Indianapolis).
  • Seattle at Chicago: Seattle put up a valiant effort last week. They might get a corner back this week, which would help tons. I believe Chicago will not repeat Dallas' mistake and they will attack the Seattle secondary. The only problem is Rex Grossman is so inaccurate, he will still throw 3 interceptions. Still, the Bears defense will hold. Chicago 20 - Seattle 13. (Veillotron's Pick: Seattle. Sweet LP's pick: Chicago)
  • New England at San Diego: Tom Brady is the best quarterback in the league right now. Plus, he always saves his best for the big games. But as good as he will be next Sunday, he will not be able to keep up with Tomlinson and his gang of SuperChargers. Rivers will make a couple of big plays, but LT will run for 150 yards while catching 1 TD pass and running in 2 more. San Diego 34 - New England 31. (Veillotron's pick: New England. Sweet LP's pick: New England)
  • Philadelphia at New Orleans: It's great to see the Saints there. The Eagles will have trouble stopping the Saints' offense. Lito Sheppard is out, and Brees will go up top often and connect a few times. But this is a different Eagles team than the one the Saints faced earlier in the season. They are showing a lot of heart, and with Brian Westbrook taking on a bigger role, they have learned to finish games. This will be a wild one, and it will go down to the wire. Philadelphia 38 - New Orleans 35. (Veillotron's pick: New Orleans. Sweet LP's pick: New Orleans).
I would like to point out, before I go, that I was 4 out of 4 in my predictions last week. The scores were a bit off, but still impressive. Let's see if my brothers beat me this week.

Dwarf out.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The long-awaited return...

Hey all!

It's great to be back on the blog. Now, things might change a little bit in 2007. After talking to some of my faithful readers, I decided that I will keep the blogs shorter this year, but write more often. So stay on the lookout...

Now, before I get into my predictions for this weekend's NFL Wild Card games, I would like to give a special shoutout toVeillotron, who perhaps had the biggest night in the history of our pool yesterday: his team scored 28 points! Yes, you read that right: the second-to-last team in the pool got 28 points in 1 night. Cujo got a shutout, Ovechkin had 3 points, Marleau had 4, Ryan Smyth also had 4, and he had 6 other players with 2 points. That, my friends, is an amazing night.

Now, onto my NFL Picks:

Kansas City at Indianapolis: The last time these 2 teams met, not a single punt was attempted. This could be the same type of game. 2 things are for sure: Larry Johnson will run wild on the Indy defense and Peyton Manning will torch the very average KC secondary. In the end, it's going to come down to who gets the ball last and who can score the quickest. That's the Colts. Indianapolis 41 - Kansas City 34

Dallas at Seattle:
Here are 2 teams that are literally backing into the playoffs. Neither of those teams has any momentum right now. The Seattle secondary is hurting badly, and that will be exposed by Tony Romo. Still, Romo is going to make mistakes. And with the Dallas defense having huge issues these days, 1 or 2 mistakes could make the difference. Seattle 24 - Dallas 17

NY Jets at New England:
The Patriots suffered a real blow when they lost S Rodney Harrison for this game and possibly more. The Patriots will try to impose their running game, but the Jets will be ready for it. This game is gonna come down to the play of the QB's. In the end, I don't see either Brady or Pennington playing a great game, but when the game is tight, I have learned that you don't bet against Brady. New England 16 - NY Jets 10

NY Giants at Philadelphia:
The Giants finally played a good game last week against Washington, but it was, after all, just the Redskins. Look for D-Coord. Jim Johnson of the Eagles to crowd the line of scrimmage to stop Tiki Barber and try to confuse Eli Manning. That means that there will be single coverage on the outside for most of the game, so the Giants will get a few big plays. But Manning will freeze, he will get sacked, and he will most likely throw 1 or 2 costly Interceptions. Offensively, the Eagles will run the ball well and support Jeff Garcia who will shine. Philadelphia 34 - Dallas 24

See you next week for analysis of the games!

Dwarf out.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Dwarf's NFL Musings - Week 14 Edition


Before we kick things off, just a little note. Our thoughts, here at The Dwarf's Musings, are with Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, and his family. Hunt is currently battling cancer, and the 74 year-old has been under severe sedation for the past week. Carl Peterson, the Chiefs' president, says everyone is "praying for a miracle". Hunt has been one of the best owners in the NFL for many years, and his loss would be a huge one for the league as well as his friends and families. So, Mr. Hunt, our thoughts are with you.

Now, you had to be in front of your television set on Sunday night, because Drew Brees put on a quarterbacking clinic. As good as his numbers were (26 of 38, 384 yds, 5 TD's, 0 INT), his performance looked even better than that. In his weekly 'Monday Morning Quarterback' feature on, Peter King wrote this week that he thought Ladainian Tomlinson could score 40 TD's this year, the way Brees is playing, he would still give the MVP to Brees. I agree. What Brees has done is almost single-handedly turn around a franchise that was going nowhere. Sure, they changed the coaching staff, they added Reggie Bush and Marques Colston through the draft and somewhat revamped their defense, but this is Brees' ship. He is the captain and he is the one guiding it. When he signed with New Orleans, Brees instantly made this team and this offense better, and he gave them instant respectability. Sure, no one could foresee what was to come (although one of our faithful readers, Veillotron, did predict a very good year for the Saints), but we all knew the Saints were finally on the right track. In any case, wth the receiving corps that he has, and his unchallenged command of the offense, on top of his amazing statistics ( 318 of 479 for 4033 yds(1st in the league), 25 TD's (1st in the league), and only 10 INT's for a rating of 101.2 (1st in the league)), Drew Brees is my MVP through 14 weeks.

Last week, we mentioned how close Ladainian Tomlinson was to breaking Shaun Alexander's one year old record for touchdowns in a season, standing at 26 through 12 games. Well, little did we know, he would go on to not only tie but break the record in his thirteenth game, with a 3-TD performance against the falling Broncos. With 3 games to go, Tomlinson has now totaled 29 TDs this season, which is ridiculous. If he scores only 1 TD/game for the next 3 games, which would be well below his current average, he will finish with 32 TDs, or 2 TDs/game. Consider this: 3 years ago, the record for TDs in a season was 24 (Emmitt Smith), while the record for TD passes in a year was 48 (Dan Marino), so twice as many. This year, Tomlinson has 4 TDs more than Drew Brees the NFL leader, has TD passes. Again, Tomlinson's numbers are just crazy. Congratulations to him and his offensive line!

Random Thoughts from around the league:
  • While Brees and Tomlinson are fighting for the league's offensive MVP, Jason Taylor is making huge strides in catching up to Julius Peppers and Champ Bailey as the defensive MVP. It now looks like Urlacher and Taylor will probably fight it out to the least game. Bailey is still playing great football as the only true shutdown corner in the league, but the Broncos 'D' has fallen off, and so has Bailey's status as MVP candidate. Peppers' play has fallen off. What it will come down to, though, is whether voters are willing to nominate a guy playing on a team that didn't make the playoffs. If they are unwilling to do so, Urlacher will get the title. But make no mistake, the most dominating defensive player in the league, right now, is Jason Taylor. On Sunday, against the 9-3 Patriots, he lined up wherever he wanted, and he wreaked havoc all afternoon. The Belichick-led Pats had their whole scheme designed around Taylor, how to keep him away from the ball, but he helped the Dolphins shutout one of the league's best teams. Truly a great performance by #99.
  • I don't know if you saw Michael Irvin's interview of Terrell Owens this week, but Owens is an idiot. I mean, we all knew he was selfish and had no idea what a team was. But he is really dumb. As in "not the brightest bulb in the tree". That being said, what was really disgusting was how Irvin defended Owens in the following segment. When he first came onboard the ESPN NFL Countdown team, Irvin brought something different to the table, an exuberance that had been perhaps lacking. But now, things are just getting a little out of hand. He needs to go. I hope ESPN does not bring him back next year.
  • Jeff Garcia sure looks like the same guy who was leading the 49ers to the playoffs a few years back, doesn't he? The guy is running around, keeping plays alive, throwing short, throwing deep. You know what stands out: in 3 1/2 games, he hasn't thrown an interception. I really like the Eagles' chances of making the playoffs, and I'll tell you why: Jeff Garcia is a winner. The guy won in the CFL and he has won in the NFL. No matter how bad the defense gets, watch Garcia claw, scratch his team to victories. I believe it will continue this weekend with a win in New York. And next week, Philly will battle Dallas for the division crown. Those next 2 games will be dandies.
  • Vince Young has really impressed me recently. Now, let's give credit where credit is due, and Travis Henry deserves a large part of it, just like Jerome Bettis, Deuce Staley and Willie Parker deserved a lot of credit for making Ben Roethlisberger look so good. But Young has one thing very few QBs have: the undying will to win. The guy just chooses the best moment to make his best play. His overtime run in Sunday's game was a good one, but Mike Vick has probably had around 50 better runs in his career. The thing is, how many of those were in overtime? I think Young will never develop into a great 'statistics' quarterback, but right now, he reminds me of John Elway.
  • Huge weekend coming up in the NFC: the (8-5) Cowboys will play the (7-6) Falcons, and the (7-6) Eagles travel to NY to play the (7-6) Giants. With the Eagles and Giants both having better records in their division than the Cowboys, a Dallas loss would mean that the winner of the Philly-NY game would be wind up first in the NFC East. A Falcons' loss would seriously hamper their chances of getting in, with their last 2 games coming against the Panthers and Eagles, two teams fighting for a wild card shot as well. The other game I will be watching in the NFC: Detroit at Green Bay. Brett Favre needs 7 TD passes to tie Marino's career record. With the last 2 games coming against Minnesota and Chicago, Favre is going to need 3 this week if he wants to make it happen this year.
  • In the AFC, Cincinnati (8-5) at Indy(10-3) will be a dandy on Monday night. The Bengals can really put themselves in a great position in the wild card race with a win. On the other hand, Indy does not want to lose, because that might mean losing their bye week to start the playoffs. Denver (7-6) at Arizona (4-9) could be a good game. The Cardinals have really played well the last 2 weeks, and this game will feature, if nothing else, Matt Leinart and Jay Cutler, two guys from the class of '06. Denver absolutely needs this game to stay alive in the playoff hunt. Finally, check out the Bills vs. Dolphins game. Ok, both teams are only 6-7, and this game has no playoff implication. But Buffalo and Miami have been a combined 9-3 in the last 6 weeks, and both teams are fighting hard and playing well. It could be an excellent game in cold Buffalo.
I will be back on Friday for my NHL Thoughts of the week!

Dwarf out.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NFL and NHL thoughts; 10 best CD's of 2006

Well, I'm sick. I went to Montreal for the weekend and got sick. Maybe I should stay in Florida a little bit more...

That being said, this will be my only blog of the week. I've got a big week in front of me, and being sick means going to bed early, so not a lot of time to blog around.

So, without further ado, let's get to my NFL and NHL thoughts...

Random thoughts from around the NFL:
  • Veillotron pointed to this in a comment recently: Ladainian Tomlinson is on the verge of shattering Shaun Alexander's single season touchdown record. Alexander's record is 28 and LT is up to 26 now, with 4 games to go. Last week, he became the fastest player in the history of the NFL to reach 100 td's for his career. But what's amazing about LT is what a pleasure it is to watch him play the game. Just like Thurman Thomas, LT is much more than just a runner: he is the best receiver out of the backfield in the NFL today, and like the future Bills hall of famer, he is a tremedous blocker on blitz pickups. When he runs, he reminds you of Barry Sanders more than any other RB we've seen since #20 retired. He jukes, he stops and starts in a flash, he makes people miss... he is a running highlight reel. And on top of it, he is as consistent and durable as any back since Emmitt Smith. And that is why he will break the all-time rushing record when all is said and done. Still, with all he has done this year, he isn't my MVP.
  • No, that would be Drew Brees. The Saints are now looking at a minimum of one home game in the playoffs. While they are the feel-good story of the year, the Saints are also much more than that: in a very weak NFC, they are a possible Super Bowl contender. The Cowboys are on a roll, but Tony Romo still has a lot to prove, especially once he gets in the postseason. The Seahawks are going to be part of the mix, but you have to wonder just how good they are after getting most of their wins against a very, very weak division (think the Detroit Red Wings last year). And then you have the Bears, who have a QB who seems intent on throwing around 2-3 picks/game. Make no mistake folks, the Saints could do some damage in the playoffs.
  • Speaking of the weak NFC, the playoff picture looks like this: Chicago (10-2) are Champions of the NFC North and have the inside track at home field advantage. Then, the Cowboys, Saints and Seahawks, all 8-4, all have at least 2 games lead in their own division and will probably wrap those up very soon. Then, 7 teams are battling for the 2 wild card spots: the Eagles, Giants, Panthers and Falcons are all 6-6, and the Vikings, Rams and 49ers are standing at 5-7. At this point, it's not out of the question that an 8-8 team could make the playoffs. The Giants and Rams are slumping badly, and their prospects don't look too good right now. The Falcons are the most inconsistent of the bunch, and I don't see them making it either. That leaves the 49ers, Eagles, Panthers and Vikings. The Vikings are also in a slump, and I don't think the 49ers will be able to make it. That leaves the Eagles and Panthers joining New Orleans, Dallas, Chicago and Seattle in the Playoffs.
  • In the AFC, while the playoff race involves much better teams, it seems like the same story. The South looks like it belongs to the Colts (10-2), and the West is the Chargers' (10-2) to lose. New England and Baltimore hold 2 games leads in the East and North divisions, respectively. The Wild Card race will go down between the Jets, Jaguars, Bengals, Broncos and Chiefs. The Broncos and Jaguars have a pretty tough schedule down the stretch, and they meet in the final game of the season. I don't think either of these teams will make it. The Jets, on the other hand, have a pretty light schedule and I think they will get in. It leaves the Bengals and Chiefs, so I would give the upper hand to the Bengals. The biggest game will be on Dec. 17, when the Broncos and Bengals meet. That could decide the last playoff spot.
Random thoughts from around the NHL:
  • As we move toards Christmas, trade talks are heating up. Of course, the woldest rumors seem to be coming out of Montreal, where the hockey community there seems to have no connection whatsoever to the rest of the league. Last week, Ron Fournier came up with the rumour that Sheldon Souray and Sergei Samsonov would go to Detroit and in return the Canadiens would get Chris Chelios and Pavel Datsyuk. There is as much truth to this rumour as there was to the one that would bring Lecavalier for David Aebischer and a first-rounder. Yesterday, Michel Villeneuve reported on 110% that Souray would be heading to Vancouver for Markus Naslund. Even if that rumour makes a bit more sense than the previous ones, Montreal needs a center and Naslund does not fill that need. If indeed Souray is dealt by the Canadiens, it will be for a top center. My guess is Gainey will stand pat until the trade deadline, and then he will try to get a "rental" centerman at a reduced price. I think Souray will quarterback the Montreal power play all the way to the playoffs, and he will sign elsewhere after the season.
  • Ken Hitchcock has really turned the Blue Jackets around. Unfortunately for them, it will be too little too late in a strong western conference.
  • Don Cherry is the most entertaining hockey personality around, but he needs to stop talking about fighting on every saturday night. It's getting a bit old.
  • After an awful start, Cujo and the Coyotes seem to have settled down. They are now sitting at 5 games under .500. While the playoffs are definitely out of reach, they could climb back towards respectability. Getting young stud defenseman Keith Ballard will help a lot. That being said, look for the underachieving Ladislav Nagy to be dealt before the trade deadline passes.
  • The Senators have clawed their way back into the playoff pictures. With Ray Emery plying very well and Martin Gerber looking like he is on his way back, things are looking up for Ottawa.
  • Things are still pretty tight in the hockey pool. There is still more than half the season to go, and only 60 points separate first place Sweet LP from last place me, of course. While Veillotron and I are further behind, it seems like The Dick and Huy could jump to second place with only 1 huge night. Remember, at this point last year, The Dick was in first place, yet he finished at the bottom of the rankings. My Good Pick of the Week? I am giving it to Veillotron for his pick of Vesa Toskala, the last goalie he chose. Toskala has a very, very good 33 points, and in only 15 appearances! As the season progresses, he will probably get more and more of a workload in preparation for the playoffs. Right now, this pick looks as good as Mat's pick of Khari Lethonen, a previous GPOTW. My bad pick of the week? I will give it to Huy for his pick of Janne Niinima, who currently sits dead last in the pool standings with 1 tiny point. Consider this: the second worst player in the pool (Mark Bell), has 7 points. That is indeed a truly terrible pick.
I know I haven't written about music in a while, but here are my ten best (my ten favorite) releases of the year:

10. Brand New - The Devil and God are raging inside me: These emo-punkrockers come up with an album full of great riffs and hooks and filled with good lyrics. They leave the screamo tendencies to their contemporaries and focus on strong melodies instead. Great work.

9. Loreena McKennitt - An ancient muse: The celtic/eastern influenced new wave artist comes back on the music scene with an album that is sometimes uneven, but still features some of her best melodies ever. Nice to hear her work again.

8. Regina Spektor - Begin to hope: The Tori Amos sound-alike ditches her piano and voice format to incorporate more instruments. Driven by the presence of musicians from The Strokes, the record is refreshing and features some of the sweetest hooks of the year. 'Better' and 'Fidelity' are real standouts.

7. Snow Patrol - Eyes open: The album that brought you single-of-the-year candidate 'Chasing Cars'. Better yet, it's not even one of the best tracks here. The duet with Martha Wainwright is a gem. Very strong follow-up to the smash hit 'Final Straw'.

6. Ani DiFranco - Reprieve: The Buffalo singer-songwriter offers up her most consistent album yet. She isn't as angry anymore, and the melodies strongly benefit from that. Furthermore, she incorporates Jazz influences in her music, which is most welcomed.

5. Damien Rice - 9: Rice's second album is not as good as his first, but it still beats most of what's out there today. This time around, Rice puts some real rock songs in, and the result is mostly very good. We might be a bit disappointed by this release, and it is a bit of a sophomore slump, but it is a great record nonetheless.

4. Jeff Martin - Exile and the Kingdom: This is pretty far off The Tea Party's best work, but songs like 'The world is calling', 'Lament', 'Daystar' and 'The Kingdom' alone make this one of the year's best records. We can only hope the best is yet to come for The Tea Party's former frontman's solo career, but this was a good start.

3. Muse - Black holes and revelations: Muse build on the best of their previous albums for this record. Their melodies are as strong as ever, and they blend electronics, hard rock and acoustic ballads seemlessly here. Very, very strong effort that is constent from the first minute to the last.

2. Joshua Radin - We were here: On his debut album, this indie-folk musician offers up a beautiful, quiet and all-around very enjoyable record. The melodies are carefully crafted and they lyrics are beautiful and stay with you. Radin got his break this year on Zach Braff's "The Last Kiss" soundtrack, and his career skyrocketed on Itunes. He finally got signed and his record is now available in stores. A great story, and a better album.

1. Placebo - Meds: Their best work since 'Without you I'm nothing', which gave us the hits 'Pure morning' and 'Every you every me'. This record is excellent from start to finish, with not one disapointing song. The slower numbers are mesmerizing ('Pierrot the clown', 'Follow the cops back home') and the rockers truly hook you ('Post blue', 'Meds', 'Drag', 'Because I want you'). But the real standout, and one of my favorite songs of the year, is 'Space Monkey', a song Trent Reznor will spend his whole life wishing he had written. 'Meds' is an excellent record, and my favorite release of the year.

Honorable mentions: Neko Case - Fox confessor brings the flood; Badly Drawn Boy - Born in the U.K.; AFI - Decemberundground.

See you in the comments section!

Dwarf out

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday NFL Musings - Week 12 Edition

Hey all!

After a long layoff, The Dwarf's Tuesday NFL Musings are back! And boy is there a lot to talk about... But before we get to my random thoughts, let's take a closer look at some of our readers' favorite teams, the Bills (Veillotron), the Broncos (Sweet LP), the Dolphins (me), the Eagles (Huy) and the Patriots (The Dick), and see how they have been doing recently.

Buffalo Bills (5-6): The Bills are currently sitting in last place in the suddenly much stronger AFC East, tied with Miami. Still, after a horrible 2-5 start in which they got outscored 153 to 100, the Bills have won 3 out of their last 4, with their only loss coming to the hands of the Indianapolis Colts. Even more impressive, the Colts only won by 1 point, 17-16. In the last 2 games, J.P. Losman has finally showed signs of coming into his own, directing his offense to game-winning drives in the dying seconds of both games. Their defense is playing well and they have the best special teams in the league, so things are definitely looking up for them. But with games against San Diego and Baltimore left, running the tables and having a shot at the playoffs is out of the question. That being said, a 7-9 or 8-8 record, major improvements over last year, are definite possibilities.

Denver Broncos (7-4): Just 2 weeks ago, the Broncos were 7-2 and on top of the world. They had the best defense in the league and seemed destined to win their division. Then, they fell, first to the Chargers and then to Kansas City, both very important division games. When they met the Chargers, both teams were 7-2 and fighting for the division lead. The Broncos lost. Then, at 7-3, they met the 6-4 Chiefs, looking to stay ahead of them in the wild-card race. They lost again. Jake Plummer has been benched and now Jay Cutler, the rookie with the big arm, will start against the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. If he can revive the offense, Denver will be fine. Otherwise, with the Bengals, the Jets, the Jaguars and the Chiefs all in the playoff race, getting in to the post-season will be tough.

Miami Dolphins (5-6): The Dolphins are sitting 3rd in their division. The playoffs are not in the team's future, but this is a franchise that is going up in a big way right now. Joey Harrington is not exactly playing like a man possessed, but he has been providing the Dolphins with steady and reliable play at the Quarterback position. On the other side of the ball, Jason Taylor has got to be the defensive MVP for the month of November. In 4 games, all Miami wins, he made 2 sacks (9 for the season) and had 2 interceptions, which he returned for touchdowns. He has also been constantly batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. Plus, he has an amazing 7 forced fumbles this year. The defense as a whole has been playing very well, but it is the mergence of the offense that has made the biggest difference.

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6): The Eagles are going the opposite way of the Dolphins, whichwould be down. After a promising 4-1 start that saw the offense hit on all cylinders and Donovan McNabb get mentioned as MVP candidate, Philly has dropped 5 of their last 6. Still, this should not be so surprising, even though I, for one, did not see it coming. When you look at their first 5 games, the Eagles allowed 24 or more points 3 times. But, in each of those games, they scored 30 points or more. So, when their offense started to struggle to get over the 30 point mark (which, in recent years, no offense aside from Indy has been able to consistently do), they started losing games. Simply, their defense has been pretty bad all year long. They haven't been able to stop the run at all, and lately they have been dropping interceptions as well. With McNabb gone, Philly's playoff hopes have taken a big hit, but in a weak NFC, anything is possible. On the bright side, Jeff Garcia has played really well since replacing McNabb.

New England Patriots (8-3): The Patriots are having another very good season. Still, this year's team seems to strangely resemble last year's team: a very good team that is missing a little something. Their defense, while adquate, is still very thin, and just got thinner with the loss of Junior Seau at linebacker, who was second on the team with 69 tackles. Tom Brady might be the best QB in the league, but his receiving corps is mediocre at best. What helps their offense tremendously is the play of rookie RB Laurence Mahoney. When they get to the playoffs, that strong running game will come in handy. That being said, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Indy again this year, and the Patriots haven't beaten Peyton Manning in 2 years.

Random Thoughts from around the league:
  • Good to see the New Orleans Saints still on top of their division at 7-4. Drew Brees is my pick for MVP this year. He has turned this franchise around and he is making 6th and 7th picks at wide receiver look like Jerry Rice. Consider these statistics: 275 of 413 (66.6%), 3463 yards, 19 TDs and 10 INTs. If you project that on 16 games, it makes 400 of 601 for 5037 yards, 28 TDs and 15 INTs. Wow! Only Dan Marino has broken the 5,000 yard mark in a single season. Sure, Philip Rivers looks really good in San Diego, but Drew Brees is playing like the best QB in the league right now.
  • This past weekend, Brees, the classic drop back quarterback, faced off against Mike Vick, the most "lethal" weapon in the league. Listen, I will never argue that Vick is not a very dangerous runner. That being said, he is an awful, as in really very bad, quarterback. Statistics of 9 of 23 fro 84 yards should never be accepted from any passer in this league. The fact is, even with very limited pressure because of the best rushing attack in the league, Vick is still unable to see the field well. He is now in his sixth year in the league and he still can't read coverages. To top that off, his accuracy is mediocre at best, as he regularly overthrows or underthrows his receivers. The real loser in all this: Falcons back-up QB Matt Schaub. Schaub is a very promising young QB. Numerous teams inquired about trade possibilities this summer and all were turned away because of Vick's injury history. If I was coaching the Falcons, I would take a cue from Bill Parcells and Mike Shanahan and I would put Schaub in there pronto.
  • Speaking of Parcells and the Cowboys, I have been a longtime supporter of Drew Bledsoe, but it seems like yanking him in favor of Tony Romo might've saved the Cowboys' season. It is hard to accept that any guy with a name like Tony Romo can have this much success, but the kid is really looking good.
  • The Giants are in a big mess right now and almost sound like the 2005 Eagles with all the in-fighting that's going on.
  • Could the real Jacksonville Jaguars please stand up?
  • Looks like Byron Leftwich could become a Raider next year. That would be good news for both player and team, but that offensive line needs help.
  • In the Sunday game between the Jets and Texans, both teams rushed for 52 yards combined, but still managed to put 37 combined points on the board.
See at you the end of the week!

Dwarf out