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Monday, January 9, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: January 6, 2006


 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
WHO.  DIS?

I think disrespect has been disrespected.

Playing the "D" card reached what could possibly have been an all-time low earlier this week when Tom Brady -- of all teams, of all people -- played it.

That the Patriots are disrespected (or that Tom Brady should be the one to deliver that message) is one of the most laughable ideas of the year.

Heading into Wild-Card Weekend, apparently home-field advantage and "Team No One Wants to Play" status isn't enough for the Pats. Maybe that's motivational, but if that's what they need for motivation, they're really in trouble.

"Disrespect" is the last (sometimes first) refuge of the desperate. But why should the Pats have a monopoly on it this weekend?

Previewing each game of the Wild-Card Weekend, here's a look at the disses that could drive each team to victory:

Redskins/Bucs

Skins Dis: As recently as Week 12, not even on the playoff radar. Of any playoff team, they have the least legitimacy.

Bucs Dis: They scammed their way to that Week 10 win over Washington; QB Chris Simms can't possibly lead a team to a playoff win.

Pick: Redskins. Picking against Joe Gibbs in the playoffs? Now that's disrespect. (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Jags/Pats

Jags Dis: Well, start with the fact that the Pats are flinging the "dis" card in their faces. (But how about those questions at QB?)

Pats Dis: Who is anyone kidding? The Pats have as little right to gripe about disrespect as any team in sports today.

Pick: Pats. Here's respect: After last season, most doubters said they'd never pick against the Pats in the playoffs again (until they lost). (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Panthers/Giants

Panthers Dis: They couldn't win the big one in 2003. They choked away the playoffs in 2004. Why should we buy into them in '05?

Giants Dis: Eli Manning is in line to get his first taste of traditional "Manning Playoff Disappointment."

Pick: Panthers. Here's what I respect: Carolina has the experienced, steady hand of Jake Delhomme at QB. (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, CBS)

Steelers/Bengals

Steelers Dis: Bill Cowher's legendary "intensity" is simply a mask to hide the fact that he has no idea what he's doing in the playoffs.

Bengals Dis: They're acting like they're simply happy to be there. A home playoff game and simply happy to be there?

Pick: Steelers. It's way too early for the traditional Cowher meltdown. Give it another week to percolate. (Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

V.Y. Mania!

That's "Vince Young," whose college football parting gift (no matter how he finishes in the pro game) is that fans have etched him among the greatest big-game QBs of all time.

He needs a Heisman to go with his national title to be considered at the same level all-time as Leinart, Wuerffel or Frazier, but with the new glare of "will he or won't he go pro?" -- he may never have a chance to win one.

Young should turn pro: Sure, he could win a Heisman next year and Texas could win a second straight title, but there's no guarantee he'd become a better pro prospect simply by doing more of what he did in '05. Would Mack Brown sacrifice a win to develop Young's skills? Doubt it.

Young almost certainly would be one of the top four picks: If he's not going first overall to hometown Houston, he could be picked ahead of Leinart and maybe even end up back in L.A. someday (Saints); play under Leinart's guru, Norm Chow (Titans); or get to play in the biggest market (Jets). Not bad.

NFL Job Board
Vikings hire Brad Childress: Philly's offensive coordinator will presumably know how to get the most out of Daunte Culpepper, take advantage of an improving defense -- and keep an eye on the local boat-cruise schedule.

Herman Edwards to K.C.? Could happen as early as this weekend, though all the reports are that the Chiefs and Jets aren't playing nice when it comes to compensation. It'll get done, but the bigger question is: Who will the Jets get to replace him?

Alexander: NFL MVP
A year ago, Shaun Alexander was the malcontent complaining that he missed the rushing title by a yard, then holding out for a big contract. Now, he's the league MVP, single-season TD record-holder and the new man-crush for every Fantasy Football GM in America.

More Quickie NFL Superlatives:
Best Coach: Lovie Smith
Scariest on D: Brian Urlacher
Best Nickname: "Cadillac"
Biggest Breakout: Steve Smith
Funnest Player: Chad Johnson
Funnest Cheerleaders: TopCats
Fantasy-est: Larry Johnson
Best Story: Vikes Boat Cruise

Manny Staying?
"There will be no trade, I'm staying in Boston, where I'm familiar with the system and where I have a lot of friends, especially David Ortiz," Ramirez told ESPNdeportes.com.

This could be Manny using the old "reverse jinx" to try to get out of town, but -- more likely -- this keeps Boston's nasty 1-2 lineup combo of Papi and Manny intact and positions the Sox to avoid 3rd place in the AL East.

CBB: Proved It!

No. 3 'Nova Beats Louisville: All season long, I've been giving outsized credit to would-be contenders based on the level of competition they've beaten.

No. 3 Villanova just set a new bar, winning on the road at No. 8 Louisville -- and looking so impressive doing it, with their pressure perimeter defense (held UL to 3/20 on 3s) and wild 4-guard offense.

It's time to put outstanding 'Nova guard Randy Foye (24 points) right up there with J.J. Redick and Adam Morrison for Player of the Year.

D and Dee for No. 6 Illinois: The unbeaten Illini smothered No. 7 Michigan State in Champaign. The Spartans were averaging 83 ppg; meanwhile, reigning Big Ten MVP Dee Brown obviously likes the return to conference play (34 points).

Texas: 1 in '06?
Pat Forde installed Texas as his preseason No. 1 team for 2006. If Young returns, I like it. Ohio State is No. 2, but remember that it's almost impossible for these two teams to finish the season that way, because they play each other in September and, undoubtedly, another top team will go unbeaten to play that game's winner in the national title game.

Meanwhile, I love the love for West Virginia. Forde has WVU at No. 3, and with only one loss in 2005 (and a win over SEC champ Georgia in the Sugar), West Virginia could be the disregarded Big East's team to crash the BCS title game next year. (Of course, last year I said the same thing about Louisville.)