Football Is Back - Plus NFL Draft Top Ten
If you were suffering from post-Super Bowl / football-in-general withdrawals this past week, who could blame you? Still, following a 22-weekend run of gridiron action, we were all faced these past couple of days with a no-football weekend ... unless you tuned into the Alliance of American Football which drew some 3 million fans to the TV sets 'round the country this past Saturday night. Gotta say it ... not a bad start for "The Alliance" which produced four chalk winners in its debut week:
On Saturday, it was ...
Orlando (- 5.5) defeated Atlanta, 40-6
San Antonio (- 5) def. San Diego, 15-6
On Sunday, it was ...
Birmingham (- 1) def. Memphis, 26-0
Arizona (- 4.5) def. Salt Lake City, 38-22
One thing we learned right out of the AAF starting gate is that born-again head coaches such as Steve Spurrier (in Orlando) and Rick Neuheisel (Arizona) haven't missed a beat when it comes to play-calling - did you see where Spurrier used the "Philly Special" to score one of the Apollos' touchdowns while Neuheisel utilized the RPO (run-pass options) to perfection on one great deep throw for a score for the Hotshots.
It's gonna be fun to have four football games each/every week for the next nine weeks - two games every Saturday, two games each Sunday -- followed by a four-team playoff and we're certainly gonna be tuned in for all the action ... and all the AAF winners!
COLLEGE BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK
Lots of key college hoops games this week involving power conference bubble teams ... here's a sampling of what to check out:
ST. JOHN'S (17-7. 5-6) - Maybe we're fooling ourselves into believing that this Red Storm bunch even is a "bubble team" as Chris Mullin's highly erratic squad comes off a bummer 70-56 home loss against 5-point underdog Providence this past Saturday afternoon - no effort, no diving for loose balls and bashed on the boards once again. If the Johnnies lose Tuesday night's home game against Butler, then the Queens kids are in real/real trouble.
SETON HALL (14-9, 5-6) - Hey, the SJU gang is not the only "bubble team" inside the Big East as the SH Pirates can't get any traction these days with three losses in their past five games including close losses versus DePaul and Butler. If "The Hall" has any real NCAA Tourney hopes, then beating old rival Georgetown this Wednesday night is an absolute must.
MINNESOTA (16-8, 6-7) - No doubt these Golden Gophers are heading in the wrong direction as Minny's dropped three in a row while heading into Wednesday's Big 10 road tilt at Nebraska. The Gophers have stopped scoring - 55, 51 and 63 points in the three-in-a-row setbacks - and head coach Richard Pitino may have to face the fact his guys are running on fumes.
OREGON (15-9, 6-5) - The $64,000 question with this year's NCAA Tournament is just how many teams is it gonna take from the Pac-12 who might get as few as five clubs into the "Big Dance". If the Ducks - who have the arrow pointed up with four wins in their last five games - want to stay on a positive path, then beating rival Oregon State on Saturday is Corvallis is uber-important to the cause.
THE NFL DRAFT REPORT
Sure, there's a lot of time between now and the start of the National Football League Draft on April 25th but it's not too early to examine the early portion of this year's Draft. Here's how we see it ... for now:
1. ARIZONA - Josh Allen, DE/OLB, Kentucky: Obviously, all these selections are subject to change but word is the Cardinals love this kid's motor and trust he'll stay healthy which is a concern with some other folks in this draft.
2. OAKLAND (trade with San Francisco) - Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State: Remember the Raiders currently own three first-round draft picks (#4, #24 and #27) and some combo of them plus another player will get the job done to move up to the second pick.
3. NEW YORK GIANTS (trade with New York Jets) - Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State: Hey, if we get the 49ers and Raiders / Giants and Jets swapping draft positions here then it's gonna be a real doozy of a draft. Now, will Giants' QB Eli Manning get waived prior to March 1st?
4. SAN FRANCISCO (trade with Oakland) - Greedy Williams, CB, LSU: The Niners moved down two slots and still get the best cover corner in this draft plus we'll say they nab pick #24 too. Not a bad little haul.
5. TAMPA BAY - Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama: The Bucs must rebuild this wobbly defense and Tide stud is best guy on the board.
6. NEW YORK JETS (trade with New York Giants) - Jeffery Simmons, DT, Miss State: The J-E-T-S could go in a ton of different directions here but they nab this fast riser and hope he energizes an impotent D-line.
7. JACKSONVILLE - Daniel Jones, QB, Duke: Trust us, this kid's a bit of a reach here (we think of Jones as a top 20 pick) but Jaguars are desperate to get away from the Blake Bortles Era/Error.
8. DETROIT - Montez Sweat, DE, Miss State: Second-year boss-man Matt Patricia needs a pass-rushing fiend to jump-start this no-name defense.
9. BUFFALO - Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson: The Bills will be ecstatic that this national champ star "dropped" into their laps here.
10. DENVER - Kyler Murray, QB, Oklahoma: Gotta believe that John Elway will keep "pitching" until he finds the right guy to pull the trigger.