Shanoff's WUC: NFL Kickoff, Pats The SB Pick

Today's Calls: Patriots vs. the Field, Steelers vs. Titans, Brady Quinn vs. Brett Favre, Jonathan Dwyer vs. CJ Spiller, Derek Jeter vs. Albert Pujols, Adam Wainwright vs. Gabe Feldman, Melanie Oudin vs. Caroline Wozniacki, AI vs. D-Wade and More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: NFL 2009 is the Season of the Comeback. ↵

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↵• Tom Brady is back, (presumably healthy) and the reason the Patriots are the popular pick to win the Super Bowl. ↵

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↵• Mike Vick is back, (not until Week 3) and the biggest X-factor in the league, the next evolution of the single-wing offense. ↵

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↵• Brett Favre is back, (perhaps not for all 16 games) and the ultimate selling of the Vikings' soul for an iffy chance to win now. ↵

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↵Favre will be a sideshow, but I think that impacted by Brady and Vick's comebacks, the Patriots and Eagles will meet in the Super Bowl. That's how big their returns to the league will be. (Would-be 2010 contenders take note: Implode your season now, reap the benefits a year from now!) ↵

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↵Other Top Story Lines: ↵

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↵This year's Wildcat: Everyone goes single-wing ↵

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↵This season's Cards: Texans? 49ers? No one? ↵

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↵This season's Brady: Ben? Peyton? Eli? Kerry? ↵

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↵This season's Ryan/Flacco: Mark Sanchez? ↵

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↵This season's Lions win total: More than 0. ↵

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↵Division Winners: Giants, Packers, Falcons, Cards (NFC WC: Eagles, Panthers); Pats, Steelers, Titans, Chargers (AFC WC: Ravens, Texans). That's right: Peyton misses the playoffs, as does Favre. And I don't buy this 49ers bandwagon. Texans, however ... ↵

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↵Super Bowl: Pats over Eagles. I don't want to pick the Pats. I really don't. But I have a standing rule that you don't pick against the Pats to win the Super Bowl, then kick back and really enjoy it if they fall short. As for the NFC, one word: Vick. ↵

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↵NFL Kickoff: Titans-Steelers is about as good as you could ask for -- two likely AFC playoff teams, including the defending champs. A year ago, who knew the Titans would have the '08 season they had? That's the promise of Week 1: Your team still has a shot at a playoff season. Set your fantasy rosters. Pick: Steelers ↵

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↵Who will be the first NFL coach to get fired? Well, we know it won't be Jeff Fisher or Mike Tomlin. But Florio has the hot-seat listings for the AFC and NFC. I will say Wade Phillips is the first to go, but I'm with Florio that Brad Childress is in "playoffs-or-fired" territory. ↵

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↵Brady Quinn named Browns starting QB: Ehh ... will it really make a difference? Will the Browns team really compete for an AFC playoff spot, let alone an AFC title? I guess, if nothing else, it makes the folks with Quinn jerseys look less foolish. ↵

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↵CFB Tonight: Georgia Tech is my pick to win the ACC and -- maybe -- be a surprise unbeaten team. If nothing else, tune into the GT-Clemson game tonight to marvel at Paul Johnson's triple-option offense. Or the Dwyer-Spiller matchup of future NFL stud running backs. That's 2 NFL fantasy 1st-rounders in 2011. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points ↵

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↵• Milestones: Jeter ties Gehrig. ↵

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↵• NL West: 2.5! Walk-off walk dooms Dodgers. ↵

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↵• Meanwhile: Rox WIN on walk-off. ↵

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↵• Cards roll on: Pujols 2 HR, Wainwright 18th W. ↵

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↵• Lidge done as closer? '08 hero not so much in '09. ↵

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↵• Fantasy Stud: Scott Feldman (16th win). ↵

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↵US Open: Oudin out. Caroline Wozniacki was just too tough. Or maybe, finally, it was all the pressure, which had grown exponentially since the weekend. Oudin had been playing with house money since she beat Sharapova. Now: Time to cash in. ↵

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↵NBA Offseason: AI to the Grizz! News broken himself on Twitter! A decision directed by God, no less! How can you NOT love the idea of an AI-OJ backcourt? If you have never seen AI play in person, be sure to catch him when Memphis comes to your town -- good seats undoubtedly available. ↵

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↵2010 Free Agency: This update from Dwyane Wade, while transparent and a simple confirmation of his previously stated intentions, should make Heat fans feel no better about Wade's chances of staying in Miami, rather than, say, going to the Knicks. ↵

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↵NBA Hall Watch: David Robinson will be overshadowed tomorrow night by Michael Jordan -- and John Stockton -- but he deserves his own moment. One of the last of the great "franchise" centers, the Admiral was the foundation of the Spurs' dynastish run. ↵

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↵(But let's stop calling the Spurs the "model" franchise, unless you're willing to call them the luckiest franchise, too; they lucked into both the Admiral and Duncan -- without them, all those clever moves make them ... the Suns: Overachievers but no champions.) ↵

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↵Stadium Watch: Brooklyn. So the Nets released a new rendering of their proposed arena, within walking distance of my apartment. You know it's iffy when the AP describes the roof as looking like "wicker." It's like they're the Pier 1 Nets. ↵

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↵Twitter: Chad Ochocinco insists he has a way around the NFL's Twitter policy and we may see it Sunday. I can't wait -- 85 makes an otherwise brutal Bengals-Broncos game worth following. ↵

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↵Rehab: Billy Gillispie goes to Houston for the John Lucas treatment plan for his apparent alcoholism. I hope he gets the help he needs. (If I were to be flip about it, I would say that when he goes through the "makes amends" step, that's a lot of Kentucky fans to apologize to for his tenure in Lexington.) ↵

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↵Sports Business: The UFL is putting ads on helmets? Good for them -- their only means of survival is to be innovative (that, and take my sage advice to undercut the NFL's age limit by 2 years). Get used to ads everywhere: Your team's helmet ain't that special. (I go back to this: Nothing is more "sacrosanct" than a European soccer jersey -- and they pimp that thing out like NASCAR.) ↵

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↵Media: Hartford Courant hires Geno Auriemma's daughter. Smart move: It's not like she is going to be the beat reporter; she is there as a guest-blogger -- something traditional media has increasingly done more and more. And there is a ton of local interest in her father's team; who better to offer insights than his kid? ↵

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↵Tebow Watch: When Tim Tebow met Kenny Mayne, Tebow's inner comedian actually flashed itself. (The line about the meth labs was particularly funny. Curious? Check it out here.) ↵

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↵US Soccer tops T&T: Your new American soccer hero -- Ricardo Clark! (All this success just amps the expectations for next summer. Will advancing to the knockout round be enough? Will not advancing set back US soccer a decade?) ↵

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↵The Last Word: "I may not finish the year." -- Brett Favre, setting expectations about his ability to play all 16 games this season. Hey, if he can find a team willing to let him play, say, a mere half-dozen games a year, he could play 'til he's 50. ↵

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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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