Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: Pats Mute Doubters

Today's Calls: Pats vs. Doubters, Rays vs. Bandwagon, Mike Singletary vs. Mike Nolan, Pacman vs. LJ, Tim Tebow vs. Colt McCoy, Derek Jeter vs. Lyla Garrity and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Wow, were we all just saying the Pats were finished? ↵

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↵It's like Bill Belichick lives for these moments — when the conventional wisdom is that his "genius" ended with Tom Brady's season and that his team is toast. ↵

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↵Then they go and beat — no, obliteratea very good Broncos team. Belichick's genius has been re-affirmed. ↵

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↵Here is more updated conventional wisdom: ↵

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↵— Who needs Brady? The D is intact, creating +5 turnovers (including two Cutler INTs) and holding Denver to 106 yards rushing. ↵

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↵— Who needs Brady? Matt Cassel has found his groove, completing 75 percent of his passes for 3 TDs and 0 INTs. ↵

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↵— Who needs Brady? The RB-by-Committee produced 257 yards and 2 TDs on 6.8 ypc (without Laurence Maroney, deactivated for the season yesterday). ↵

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↵Bottom line: Who needs Brady? If the Pats were finished a week ago, with the AFC an unpredictable free-for-all, would you really pick against the Pats when it counts? ↵

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↵World Series Lead-Up: It's a shame no one will watch this World Series*, because there have been few stories in all of sports — let alone baseball — like the Rays turnaround this season. ↵

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↵More on this tomorrow, but the Rays are America's Team. (Did you hop on the bandwagon at any of the points I recommended you to over the course of this season? Because now it is officially full.) ↵

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↵(* Game 7 of the ALCS set a new record for audience size of an MLB game on cable, but I suspect that was a function of Boston.) ↵

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↵49ers fire Mike Nolan, hire Mike Singletary: Beyond his sub-sub-.500 career record, Nolan felt like a weird fit from the start, with his focus on gameday wardrobe. Singletary enjoys the reputation of having the players' respect; we'll see if that translates to Ws. ↵

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↵Sounds like this Favre-turncoat story won't go anywhere, which is a shame. The NFL says if it happened, no rules were broken, but fans know it is a betrayal of the unwritten rules. (At least Mike Florio is with me on this one.) ↵

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↵Pacman enters rehab: It is now officially safe to call Adam Jones the "Amy Winehouse of the NFL." ↵

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↵(Bad day for the Joneses: Matt Jones will reportedly get a three-game ban for his offseason dalliance with coke and credit cards.) ↵

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↵NFL Crime Blotter: Ah, Larry Johnson ... spitting on someone? That's not just rude; it's kind of gross. ↵

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↵NFL in London: OK, Londoners, it's not like this is your first time with this. (Remember the giant-sized Jason Taylor last year?) ... So I don't want to hear any "We don't understand your 'foot-ball.'" (But sound smart by saying, "Eh: Reggie Bush was overrated anyway.") ↵

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↵Heisman Watch: Tebow backs McCoy. Tim Tebow is taking his new responsibility as a Heisman voter seriously, and he agrees with the rest of us that Colt McCoy is the clear front-runner right now. ↵

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↵Speaking of Texas, Mack Brown has the quote of the day: "I do not think we're a great team right now." ... That would be news to Oklahoma, Mizzou, poll voters and BCS computers. Brown is sort of right: Texas in '09 will be even better. Scary. ↵

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↵(How is Oklahoma State handling their game-of-the-week Saturday match-up? With enthusiasm typical of a Gundy-led team.) ↵

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↵CFB Injury Watch: Terrence Cody. No player's status, figuratively or literally, is bigger than the Alabama NG. He is reportedly out "two weeks" with that knee injury — coincidentally, just in time to return for ‘Bama's make-or-break game at LSU. Tracking. ↵

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↵CFB Name to Know: Wilbur Hackett, the SEC ref turned YouTube sensation after his "hit" on South Carolina QB Stephen Garcia prompted the most universal "WTF?!" reaction of the year. (Reviewing the tape, I personally think that Hackett absolutely meant to hit Garcia, but he didn't intend it maliciously — he simply forgot he was working and had a momentary flashback to his old playing days.) ↵

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↵CBB Top 25 Countdown: No. 21 Tennessee. The Vols were just picked by SEC media to win the league; Tyler Smith was preseason POY. Is it possible the SEC's best team isn't even among the 20 best in the nation? Hmm: Haven't seen Florida in this countdown yet. ... ↵

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↵NASCAR: I have dinged the Chase "playoff" system before. Here is a reasonable argument against the system — and a possible solution. (I still contend the Chase should include a "knockout" component, where the Chase driver finishing last each week is eliminated.) ↵

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↵NHL: Will Toronto get a second franchise? They could certainly support it, no less than Chicago or New York does in baseball. ↵

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↵NBA Preseason: There is no trendier pick this season (and over the next, say, 10 seasons) than the Blazers. Last night, the Blazers beat Sacto, and you saw reasons for the enthusiasm: Oden 13 and 9; Aldridge 24; Roy 21; Rudy 16 off the bench. ↵

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↵More NBA: Wow, remember when Darius Miles was relevant? The "KG Lite," the jazzy Jordan TV ads with BFF Q Richardson? That's so over. ↵

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↵MLB Award Season: Sporting News is rolling out their picks, including Cliff Lee and Tim Lincecum as A.L. and N.L. Pitchers of the Year. (I'm sympathetic to CC — or at least Lidge — but OK, I'll accept it.) ↵

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↵MMA: EliteXC is going out of business, just a few months after it debuted its product on CBS in primetime, which was supposed to be a big deal for the sport. Apparently not. Now, maybe EliteXC is simply a poorly run business. Or maybe this is the signal of a larger MMA bubble. Consequently, it feels like a moment for industry consolidation, likely under MMA impresario Dana White. ↵

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↵Gossip: When Derek Jeter was spotted by TV on the Texas sideline during the Mizzou-UT game, I chuckled at his fair-weather-ness ... Right up until I rewound the DVR and recognized he was standing next to Minka Kelly (or "Lyla Garrity" from "Friday Night Lights"). ↵

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↵Yes, they are rumored to be an item, which shouldn't surprise you in the least. Derek Jeter: "Making your fantasies his reality since 1995." ↵

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↵Media: More on the Oilers-Bloggers showdown, in a sensible from a member of hockey's mainstream media. ↵

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↵The Last Word: If I could be anyone in America yesterday, it would have been John Abel, who was caddied at Torrey Pines by ... Tiger Woods. ↵

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↵I'll settle for trading parenting tips with Tiger. I can't compete with Woods on the links, but I'll go toe-to-toe on diaper theory anytime. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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