Shanoff's W.U.C.: NFL Schedule Release Mania

Today's Calls: NFL Schedule, Josh Beckett vs. AJ Burnett, Ken Griffey vs. Seattle, Jazz vs. Lakers, Mark Sanchez vs. Matt Stafford, Hasheem Thabeet vs. John Wall, Isiah Thomas vs. the NCAA and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Who are this year's Falcons or Dolphins? After the release of the new NFL schedule ... not the Falcons or Dolphins. ↵

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↵I love that the release of the NFL schedule has become an event unto itself -- like a smorgasbord appetizer before the wedding meal that is the Draft. Most fans are checking out their team's schedule and evaluating their chances at a playoff run. ↵

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↵Of course, this time last year, they were probably eyeing the Falcons or Dolphins and penciling in a W. ↵

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↵But why not indulge the fantasy of trying to glean something from "X vs. X" on paper and divining the NFL future? ↵

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↵I'm with Florio: The NFL punished its surprising turnaround teams from '08 -- both the Falcons (per Florio) and the Dolphins were "rewarded" with dramatically more difficult schedules that could see both regress right out of their playoff spots from last year. ↵

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↵That kind of "oh-no-you-don't" treatment is otherwise lauded as "parity." ↵

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↵So who are the new Falcons? Use Breer's handy 1-to-32 schedule ranking to spot a contender: Green Bay? Houston? Hey, why not the Lions? After their historic "oh-fer," even a couple wins would be the biggest turnaround in the league. I'm calling a Detroit win within the first two weeks -- either at New Orleans in the opener or the Week 2 home opener vs. Minnesota. ↵

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↵By the way, the "parity" treatment only seems to extend as far as the new guys -- one glance at the Steelers schedule (rated the most favorable by Breer) puts the defending champs in prime position to repeat. ↵

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↵Because championships ARE awarded in mid-April, am I right? ↵

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↵We interrupt the column for the weirdest story of the month: Greg Paulus' future as an NFL player. ↵

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↵Coming off yesterday's rumor that he worked out for the Packers, there is a new rumor that Paulus may transfer to Michigan and play QB for Rich Rodriguez. Is this some kind of joke?!?! (I have to admit: I'm a Paulus-hater, but that's as a HOOPS player -- Paulus the college QB gets a clean slate with me ... and I actually think I love this idea. Do it, Paulus!) ↵

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↵NBA Playoff Seedings: The Jazz got the worst possible scenario in that tangled mess in the West -- they locked up the 8-seed and will play the Lakers. (Let's call it Lakers in 5, already.) The 2-7 seeds are still up in the air. ↵

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↵Wake-Up Call NBA Awards coming tomorrow. ↵

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↵NBA Coaching Carousel: Flip Saunders will be the next coach of the Wizards, reportedly. They can use his playoff-stocked resume, his emphasis on offensive innovation and his "star-friendly" rep. If everyone is healthy next season (and the Wiz add Blake Griffin), they could go from worst to Top 4 in the East. ↵

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↵MLB Myopia! ↵

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↵• Beckett suspension: Presume it'll be lowered. ↵

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↵• Yankees Watch: Burnett pays off again. ↵

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↵&bill DL-bound: Hard-luck Carpenter. ↵

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↵• Griffey homecoming: Memories of '95 ↵

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↵• Retirement? HOF lock Tom Glavine ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: John Buck ↵

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↵NFL Moves: Braylon Edwards to the Giants? They need a top-line WR to replace Plaxico Burress. Just keep Edwards away from the clubs -- especially if he's planning to wear sweatpants. ↵

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↵NFL Draft: Mark Sanchez is enthusiastic enough about his NFL draft prospects to skip his senior season at USC, but he doesn't want to go to NYC to be part of the pre-, mid- and post-draft hysteria? ↵

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↵NBA Draft: Hasheem Thabeet is entering the draft (not unexpected), and he immediately is installed as the consensus No. 2 overall pick -- behind Griffin, but ahead of Evans, DeRozan, Harden and others. Waiting on Ricky Rubio ... ↵

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↵Name to Know: John Wall. He is the best high school hoops player of the Class of 2010 -- and also perhaps eligible for the NBA Draft (for basically the same reason Larry Fitzgerald could turn pro after his true sophomore year at Pitt). And, oh, do I hope he pushes himself into the draft. ↵

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↵I don't think the NBA wants to make Wall their test case about the validity of the age limitation, particularly because Wall could leapfrog not just Rubio as the draft's No. 1 PG, but Blake Griffin as the draft's No. 1 overall pick. How can you possibly argue he's "not ready?" (Yeah, Fitzgerald sure has been overmatched in the NFL ...) ↵

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↵The Last Word: Florida International hires Isiah Thomas. Echoing what I said on Twitter when the news broke yesterday: The over/under on the number of days before Isiah commits a massive NCAA recruiting violation? I'll set it at 100 days (and you won't offend me if you all take the under.) ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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