Shanoff's WUC: Brady, Cassel, Cutler, Giants

Today's Calls: Tom Brady vs. Matt Cassel, Jay Cutler vs. Kyle Orton, Giants vs. Rockies, Tim Lincecum vs. Adam Wainwright, Zack Greinke vs. Cliff Lee, Rich Rodriguez vs. NCAA, Andre Debose vs. Ronald Johnson, Ole Miss vs. Expectations, California vs. Chinese Taipei and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Any prediction that the Patriots are going to make the Super Bowl -- let alone win the Super Bowl -- rests almost entirely on the assumption that Tom Brady will stay healthy for the entire regular season and then through the playoffs. ↵

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↵Friday night's shoulder injury shows just how tenuous that assumption is. It didn't even have anything to do with his previously injured knee; it was something new -- yet another thing for Pats fans to worry about for their star. ↵

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↵Two things compound the situation: The Pats' backup QB situation is a mess. There is no Matt Cassel this year; the Pats just released the ineffective Kevin O'Connell and now have only the ineffective Andrew Walter as Brady's insurance. Andrew Walter is no Matt Cassel. ↵

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↵(Of course, Matt Cassel is no Matt Cassel this year. This year's Cassel is more like last year's Brady -- crumpling with that leg injury that may or may not keep him out of Week 1; may or may not impact the rest of his season; and may or may not make KC regret signing him to that massive deal, rather than muddling through the year before drafting Sam Bradford.) ↵

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↵Meanwhile, don't expect anything but misdirection and mystery from the Pats coaches and front office. If Brady's shoulder -- or any other part of his body -- is hurting, you will only have his on-field, in-game performances from which to judge. ↵

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↵Which brings us back to the "Big If" of the 2009 NFL season: "IF" Tom Brady is healthy, the Pats should be the favorites to win the Super Bowl. ↵

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↵But that's a big "if." A huge if. ↵

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↵Bears at Broncos: Cutler booed! What did you expect? But you got the sense that Broncos fans were just venting their frustrations at their own QB (the injured Kyle Orton), their own coach (the beleaguered Josh McDaniels) and their own team's sorry state. ↵

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↵SN SB Pick: Giants over Pats in SB 44. Even if the Giants had the Pats' number in 42, it took the perfect game (and game plan). If they met again, the Pats would take it back. I think any "Pats-in-SB" pick relies entirely on an assumption that Tom Brady will stay healthy all year long. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵• NL Wild Card: Great weekend for Giants. ↵

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↵• Wainwright wins 16th: Pujols rules again. Can we rewind to Pujols' walkoff HR from Friday? ↵

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↵• Cliff Lee for NL Cy: So much for THAT. As if Tim Lincecum didn't remind me otherwise. ↵

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↵• Meanwhile: Greinke for AL Cy! ↵

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↵• Prediction: Kazmir is THE X-factor of the AL. ↵

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↵• Tejada Scandal: Tipped pitches? Me? No! ↵

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↵Michigan football: NCAA violations? It's hard to take the "they practice TOO hard!" thing seriously, given that (a) every elite program does it, and (b) that's the cost of playing for an elite program. Don't like it? Shoulda taken that partial scholarship to Wesleyan. ↵

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↵And yet, Michigan -- given its tainted history in hoops -- is obligated to investigate. There will be much hand-wringing, wrist-slapping and promise-making. (As Dave Curtis points out: The whole thing fades into nothing if RichRod puts wins on the board.) ↵

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↵More CFB: Florida loses super-frosh Andre Debose. He has a bad hamstring and could be out for months. There were 3 ahead of him at the "Percy Position" anyway (Demps, Rainey, James), so either rehab him in time to contribute vs. FSU and in the SEC and national-title games or just redshirt 'til 2010. ↵

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↵(Far bigger deal: USC losing WR Ronald Johnson for 6-8 weeks with a broken collarbone, a time frame that will include that game in a few weeks in Columbus -- Matt Barkley needed all the experienced WRs he could get.) ↵

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↵CFB SN Countdown No. 5: Ole Miss. Either you're on the bandwagon or you're not. On the one hand, the Rebels beat Florida at The Swamp last year, then whupped Texas-slaying Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. On the other hand, do you really trust Houston Nutt to lead a team -- no matter how talented -- to an 11-1 or 12-0 regular season? ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: Stephen Jackson -- the heart and soul of the crazy Warriors teams of the mid-decade -- wants out of Oakland. And it sounds like his destination could be Dallas, where he could slide right in at small forward between Dirk and Josh Howard. ↵

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↵LLWS: Congrats to California. After 3 innings, it looked like Chinese Taipei had the US champ stifled, but the Chula Vista kids came roaring back to give the U.S. its 5th straight LLWS title. For how many of these 12- and 13-year-olds will this be the "glory days" of their lives? ↵

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↵Twitter Tweet of the Weekend: Chad Ochocinco scoops everyone by announcing the Bengals have signed 1st-round draft pick Andre Smith. ↵

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↵Tiger falls short again: Out-putted at the Barclays finish by Heath Slocum? It is almost like Tiger is ... just a regular top golfer now, rather than the supernova of the sport. ↵

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↵Happy Retirement, Tedy Bruschi: Although with Bruschi, you never know if we will get to the midpoint of the season and he will suddenly decide to unretire and come back to the Pats in an emotional return. It totally works for him in a way it doesn't for Favre. ↵

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↵The Last Word: "It's not going to be a disruption. Believe me, it won't be. It's not an issue." - Eagles OC Marty Mornhinweg, on Michael Vick's place in the offense and whether it might ruin the rhythm of the Eagles offense. ↵

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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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