September 10, 2004
Willie McGinest:
Pats QB Tom Brady may get all the hype, but it's the LB who keeps making huge plays vs. the Colts; this time, a critical sack-for-loss.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
EYEING.  IVAN.

Aside from the unfortunate reasoning, is it such a bad thing that Ivan has moved the Titans-Dolphins season-opening NFL game to Saturday at 1? NFL a day early is kind of a treat, no?

Five more solid W1 subplots:

b>Game of the Week: KC at DEN. Broncos draw toughest opponent to test revamped D against. (8:30 pm, ESPN)

Welcome back: I predict that, at least in Week 1, unretired Joe Gibbs will be less rusty than unretiring Deion Sanders.

FFL bonanza: Jamal Lewis feasts on the Browns, who let him run for a zillion yards in one game in '03. This year? Two zillion.

Vick Watch: Michael Vick is always must-see, particularly against a sorry 49ers D.

Fast starter: No team busts out of the gates like the Vikings. Nevermind Weeks 9-17; for now, they are the Cowboys' problem.

See Big 5 for more subplots.

Pats Keep Rolling
16 Ws in a row, and Tom Brady (335 yds, 3 TDs) looks ready to make the leap from simply a playoff-clutch QB to one of the NFL's top week-in/week-out performers. And what was up with that early-game no-huddle? Belichick flexes the genius. No reason to sweat my pick of Pats Super repeat.

AL East Ripple
Oh, what a difference a day makes: Nothing shifts mo' like winning a double-header (Yankees), then watching your rival lose in a late West Coast game (Red Sox).

That's a 1.5-game swing, and instead of a tenuous 2-game division lead (or worse), New York is up 3.5. Gotten so used to Boston winning every night, an L -- especially to lowly Seattle -- is a strange feeling.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Royals: Score 26 runs in DH opener (then blanked in G2!)
St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli: Gets new deal through 2012
US Open All-US women final: Lindsay, Jenny need semi wins
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Candace Parker: Top NCAA hoopster done for season (knee)?
NHL labor progress: Do I even need to say it? Non-starter
US Open All-US men final: Roddick, Agassi both bounced
 
Watching NL WC
In the NL: Two streaks ended, as they were bound to. The Astros split a DH with the Pirates; the Marlins lost (to the Mets... ugh). Florida has a huge DH with the Cubs on Friday.

Meanwhile, Ivan forcing schedule changes isn't that odd. But relocating the Marlins to play "home" games vs the Expos at Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field? That's just unnatural. The upside: Novelty begets interest; White Sox fans can finally root for a World Series champ.

Miami/FSU, Cont'd
The road to hell Miami is paved with the ACC's good intentions. Having these two teams meet in their season opener is a dramatic debut for the revamped ACC, but means one contender limps off with a BCS-cramping loss.

Good thing, then, that the media-coaches axis of polling evil persists with the ridiculous myth of "better to lose early than late."

More Coll. FB
Five match-ups to watch:

7 Mich/ND: Irish eyes crying
19 AUB/MS St: Croom for more?
16 Utah/ARIZ: Utes sexy pick
8 TX/ARK: Hogs d. Horns in 03
E Mich/11 FLA: I'll be there

Five match-ups to watch:

7 Mich/ND: Irish eyes crying
19 AUB/MS St: Croom for more?
16 Utah/ARIZ: Utes sexy pick
8 TX/ARK: Hogs d. Horns in 03
E Mich/11 FLA: I'll be there

Glide: Hoops HOF
Inducted Friday: Like many of his era, Clyde Drexler played in the shadow of Jordan (Glide was even the reason Portland skipped drafting MJ). But Drexler won a ring, won O.G. Dream Team gold and proved that a guy with an ungainly bald spot could still sky with the best of 'em.

No. 17 Missouri:
Took advantage of prime-time exposure on ESPN2... to lose in an upset to Troy (albeit in Alabama). Brad Smith for Heisman? Or not.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2
The Morning Quickie
Fantasy Football
 
Even more NFL subplots:
NYG/PHI
Coughlin, TO in debuts
 
SEA/NO
RBs: Alexander vs. Deuce
 
CIN/NYJ
Marv expects W; Herm, hot seat
 
DET/CHI, JAX/BUF
All 4 have big expectations
 
ARI/StL
Upset? Don't be surprised
 

Week 1 office-pool suggestions: SEA, CIN, StL, TEN, OAK, HOU, BUF, CHI, BAL, WAS, ATL, MIN, PHI, KC, CAR (Knock-out pool pick: MIN)...

Ichiro Hit Watch: Thu: 2. '04: 229, breaking own AL single-season hits record. Needs 29H in 23G to break Sisler's all-time record...

MLB weekend WC-obsessed series to watch: (NL) FLA/Cubs, HOU/PIT, SF/ARI; AL scoreboard-watching is BOS/SEA, NYY/BAL...

Smarty Jones' stud fee was set at $100,000 per live foal; heard Ivy grads with good hair who played sports can do similarly well...

Boxing reality: Congress should act on Muhammad Ali's testimony supporting a U.S. Boxing Commission to oversee the sport...

Only 2 NFL games that didn't make Lead Item or Big 5 subplot preview: OAK/PIT and SD/HOU. The absence should tell you everything...

Must-see: Starting Saturday, 1 and 2 a.m. SportsCenters will be broadcast from Camp Arifjan in Kuwait...



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