Pocket Change – The Weekend in Football


The air’s getting crisp and the leaves are falling.  Must be the best time of the year!  There’s no denying it – this is just too good a time of year for a sports fan.  The baseball playoffs are in full swing, the hockey season has gotten underway, and football season is rolling along.

The football weekend has ended and as the weather gets cooler, the season is just beginning to heat up.  In the NCAA we have several undefeated teams that appear to be setting themselves up for a run at the championship, while in the NFL a group of surprise teams have begun to make their move.

Too much can be made of how a team starts the season, and it’s important for all of us not to go overboard with too much praise (or otherwise) for any team.  Remember, we’re only in October and it’s a long season.  November starts the second half of the season, and as John Facenda once put it, “November can be surly…”

The Lions are 5-0, the Colts are 0-5.  What a crazy NFL we have.  Now the Colts problems are directly related to the loss of Mr. Manning, that’s understood.  The Lions are finally starting to show the rebuilding is taking shape.  Near the end of last season they showed some signs of improvement and while Detroit hasn’t won ANYTHING yet, the playoffs are certainly in the discussion this time around.  If the Colts can take anything from this season of futility, they really only need to look north to Detroit.  Turnarounds can happen, and even if Peyton is out for the rest of this season, next year still has promise.  Even if that promise is only the first pick in the draft.

We’re in the middle of the college season already and I can’t remember a time when it looked like so many teams could actually end the season without a loss.  The schedules for those teams are starting to look like it’s a forgone conclusion that we will have four or five (or more) undefeated teams come bowl season.  It’s a real shame too, because given the current nature of how the NCAA determines it’s national champion most of those teams will be left on the outside looking in.  What’s going on could definitely provide the pollsters some problems toward the end of the season (and maybe prove the current system too flawed to continue to be used?)  We can only hope that when the season ends and these teams are left out that this will finally be the motivation for change.

Thinking about the undefeated college teams, is it too much to ask to NOT have polls ranking any teams until later in the season?  I mean, I know that the BCS poll makes it’s season debut later this week, but do we really need ANY poll before that?  All those “pre-season” monsters seem to do is hype up too many teams who don’t deserve the attention, and leave out those that do.

If those polls are going to be used, I don’t know any teams that have impressed more than LSU or Clemson in the first half of the season.  Most of the “experts” are in agreement that if Alabama or LSU or Oklahoma or Oklahoma State win out, that they will end up in the national championship game.  It’s not even a consideration for any of the other teams.  Once again, while the college game is GREAT, and gives us something new and exciting every year, the idea that none of the other potential undefeated teams won’t even have a shot is absurd.

The NFL lost an icon this last weekend with the passing of Oakland Raiders’ chief Al Davis.  The Raiders, for their part, gave him a great tribute, rallying to win a tough game on the road in Houston.  If that is any indication, the team has a good future ahead for the rest of the season and could challenge for the playoffs for the first time since 2002.  It would be a nice story if they were able to pull it off.

One more thing – I HATE bye weeks in the NFL.  The season starts to get cranked up and then stops dead when the bye weeks begin.  It’s a bummer to think a team could get on a roll and have that roll ended because of an unnecessary bye week.  What a momentum (and fantasy team) killer!