Welcome to the first edition of The Weekend Wrap-Up on wnst.net. It was a very busy Thanksgiving weekend. There’s a lot to get to. So, here we go.
Separating the Men from the Boys: Week 13 in the NFL helped us separate the big guns from the paper lions:
* The Steelers are for real: Pittsburgh’s dominating win over the Patriots is a signal to the rest of the AFC. Before you go and crown the Titans or Jets the favorites to win the conference, take a closer look at the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger’s throwing combined with the running of Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore makes the offense scary. The defense is what puts Mike Tomlin’s team over the top. Tennessee and New York better be scared if they wind up facing the Steelers in January
* The Jets are not who we thought they were: Sure, the win over the Titans last week was great. And sure, Jet fans loved getting the better of New England on national TV a couple of weeks ago. But, if Denver can come into the Meadowlands and beat them, then the Jets shouldn’t be making reservations for Tampa just yet.
* The Giants do not need Plax: No Plaxico Burress, no problem for the Giants, who complete the season sweep over the Redskins thanks to a 23-7 win yesterday. Eli Manning is coming into his own. Earth, Wind and Fire are as tough a running trio as there is in the league. And the Giants should be taken as a serious threat to repeat as Super Bowl Champs
* The Bucs and Falcons are good stories, but not quite ready for primetime: Tampa and Atlanta both posted nice wins yesterday, but neither team is prepared to make a deep run into January. The Bucs are good defensively but offensively challenged. The Falcons have a lot of talent but are just too young, especially at the QB spot.
* Colts fans shouldn’t get too happy: Sure, the Colts have won five in a row. But they aren’t on the same level as the Titans or Steelers. When you go to Cleveland and struggle the way they did against a team looking for a place to fall, it’s not a good sign. The torch in the AFC has been passed from the Colts and Pats to Tennessee and Pittsburgh.
Thanksgiving Turkeys: How many times can Giants WR Plaxico Burress screw up? Shooting himself in the thigh might be the least of his problems. NY Police are going to charge him in the case. The NFL is going to want to talk to him about his off the field conduct. And even though the Giants spent big money on him, do you really think they want to keep him around? They can win without him, as they have proven this season.
Hey Plax, you might want to brush up that resume of yours. You might be looking for work. That is, after the NFL gets done with you (could we see a suspension for violating the personal conduct policy?).
* Could the NFL have given us anything worse to watch than Titans-Lions? The game was watchable for all of about six-and-a-half minutes! Once the Titans seized control, there was no reason to watch. But, with nothing else on, you had to watch. The NFL should be embarrassed about what it gave us. The Lions should not be allowed to host another Thanksgiving Day game until they become a respectable NFL franchise (which should take about six years considering who their owner is). And, why put Rod Marinelli (a genuinely nice man) through another week of this? Put the man out of his misery and fire him already!
* The Cowboys-Seahawks game was not much better. But, it will be interesting to watch how the Cowboys fare without Marion Barber (remember Felix Jones is already hurt). It will also be entertaining to watch Tony Romo work with T.O., Roy Williams, and Jason Witten. There is no better WR tandem than Williams and Owens (with apologies to Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin in Arizona), and Jason Witten is one of the best TE’s in the league.
On the other sideline, it is sad to see how Mike Holmgren’s career is winding down. If it really is winding down, and would you really be surprised if he winds up coaching in San Francisco next season?
* The Eagles-Cardinals game was ugly as well, but, considering most of the country doesn’t get the NFL Network, it flew under the radar.
Bottom line, the NFL needs to give us better games on Thanksgiving Day. Take Detroit out of the mix, give the fans either some divisional rivalries (who wouldn’t want to see Redskins-Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day?) or give us an AFC-NFC matchup that could actually be a Super Bowl preview (that Steelers-Cowboys game, scheduled for next weekend, would qualify). The fans deserve it, and the league would clean up, ratings-wise!
BCS Mess: Alabama retained the BCS’ #1 ranking with a win over Auburn in The Iron Bowl. Oklahoma, thanks to a convincing win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater, jumped over Texas for the #2 ranking. That means it will be Texas and Missouri in the Big 12 Championship Game next weekend.
If you are against the BCS, here’s what you should be hoping for. Missouri to beat the Sooners in the Big 12 while Florida beats Alabame in the SEC. That would give you a Texas-Florida Championship game. That would also make the BCS shake a little bit in their boots. How could Texas, who would not have played for their own conference championship, play for the National Championship?
And you know that 12-0 Utah would complain long and hard about being left out.
Say it with me. Playoff! Playoff! Playoff! Get on that, President-Elect Obama!
Charlie’s Fate: Notre Dame has a decision to make regarding the future of head coach Charlie Weis after the pounding the Irish took at the hands of USC. Bring him back for another year and hope that his young Fighting Irish continue to take the next step in their development or let him go and let someone else try to bring the Irish back to prominence.
Firing Weis now would not be the right thing to do. Sure he won in his first couple of years with Ty Willingham’s players. But, he has rebuilt to a degree. Last season was an unmitigated disaster. The Irish were too young to compete, and it showed in their record. They did take a step forward from where they were a year ago. Sure, the Syracuse loss was tough to take, but there was enough progress made this year that firing him would be a rash decision.
Besides, who would Notre Dame replace him with? The sexy names are not out there this time around. Lane Kiffin is going to be the new coach in Tennessee. Outside of Kiffin, who is out there? The same old suspects, that’s who. If Weis is still a better choice than his possible replacements, you have to keep him.
One more, thing. While Weis did win big with Willingham’s players early in his ND tenure, Willingham did nothing at Washington. Not with Keith Gilbertson’s recruits. Not with his own recruits his last couple of years. That’s why Ty is out of a job right now.
The Fire Charlie campaigns that are being waged need to shut down for one more year.
NBA Egos out of control: In case you missed it, Knicks coach Mike D’antoni asked Stephon Marburyto help his shorthanded team out and play. For the second time in less than a week, Marbury said no, and then decided to rip the team afterwards. Now it seems like the Knicks and Marbury are finally going to go their separate ways.
This can’t happen soon enough. Marbury is a classic example of what is wrong with the NBA. He is all about his $21.9M dollar salary. He refuses to put himself on the line for his team, and this divorce is ending worse than any of his others did, whether it was the one in Minnesota, New Jersey, or Phoenix.
The sad part is someone is going to pick this cancer up and give him a chance to play. Because, in pro sports, it doesn’t matter what kind of person you are. If you can help a team win, someone is going to give you a chance.
In the meantime, did you catch what Allen Iverson of the Pistons pulled on Thanksgiving Day? Pistons coach Michael Curry wanted to hold a practice, but Mr. We’re Talking About Practice decided he wasn’t going to show. Curry kept him out of the starting lineup against Milwaukee on Friday night. But, Iverson did play and had a key role in Detroit’s win over the Bucks.
What Curry should have done was hold him out the entire game. That would have sent a message, something a rookie coach like Curry needs to do. Would it have created friction between him and Iverson? Certainly. But, with Joe Dumars running the show, you can bet he would have settled it, and put The Answer in his place.
That’s it for the Weekend Wrap-Up. I’ll be back later this week to preview the first weekend in December.