Folks, the mailbag is lacking so far this week. Maybe it's the post-college football blahs, but we still need a couple.
From the "Talks too much" studios, better late than never and better never than dead... or something like that.
Fab 4-plus-1 picks
We are still crafting the bowl contest and we are pledging a 60-percent rate against the spread. So there's that.
Still, with only one college game on the slate this weekend, we're going to look around and see what else we can pick. Our nose? Check. Our lunch? Check. Sporting events? Absolutely, but remember, it's for entertainment purposes only.
We finished the regular season 50-40-1. Last year we went 41-21-1 during the regular season, which shows clearly that more can be less. (Side note: We went 35-17 against the number in bowl games and late-season NFL games last year. Our total against the spread for the last three seasons is now 194-108-6. Not too bad, but we need a rebound. Side note, part II: Looking back to get our record against the number we stumbled across this prediction last January: "Auburn — These Tigers could be the surprise team in the league next year if new coach Gus Malzahn can turn one of the quarterbacks into a functioning asset." Hmmm.)
So to the picks.
Navy minus-13 over Army: In one of the true great rivalries and environments in all of sports, the annual Army-Navy game takes center stage Saturday afternoon. We're in because it's football and because we're not going to stand here and let you bad mount the United States of America. Gentlemen. Also, Navy sophomore quarterback Keenan Reynolds is a dangerous weapon in the Midshipmen's option look.
Denver minus-10 over San Diego: The Broncos are smashing people. And there still is motivation on the table for everyone involved. Denver has not secured the home-field edge. Heck, it has not even secured the division. Also, Peyton Manning is chasing one of the best seasons in all of sports history. And he'll likely get another chance to tell his cold-weather critics where to put the, "Manning can't play in sub-32-degree temperatures."
Kansas City minus-4 at Oakland: The Chiefs get after the quarterback. The Raiders would like to have a quarterback. Yes please.
Saints minus-5 at St. Louis: The Rams also get after the quarterback. Are they changing the state slogan of Missouri from "The Show Me State" to "The Show Me a Pass Rush State" this weekend? Wow. Still, a dynamite pass rush can work well against underprepared or overwhelmed QBs. Saints trigger man Drew Brees is neither of those.
New England minus-2 at Miami: Yes, we are down with some road favorites. And we even like the power teams from the NFC West coming East for 1 p.m. kicks. There are teams that are playing for bigger things and there are teams playing for themselves. We'll take the bigger things. And the better quarterbacks.
Manning the Magnificent
As the Denver Broncos sprint toward AFC home-field advantage, Peyton Manning will quickly and emphatically explain that the number of wins is the only stat for which he cares.
And we know he means it.
Still, Manning is closing in on arguably the best single season in NFL history. It started with a 460-plus-yard, seven-TD season opener and it has continued to collect steam. Here are the records Manning has within reach:
Passing yards: Manning is on pace for 5,565 yards, which would top Drew Brees' record total of 5,476 in 2011. This one could be tough because Denver plays three stink-tastic teams to close the season and may not need to throw a great deal to beat the Chargers, Raiders and Texans.
TD passes: This one seems like a dunk. Manning has 45 TD passes and three games to top Tom Brady's mark of 50. Done and all-but done.
Passer rating: This is a stretch. Manning's rating is 114.5, which is good enough for fourth all time. It would take a magic act to get to Aaron Rodgers' record of 122.5.
MVPs: The record is four. It's held by Manning. And it's a no-brainer he'll add No. 5 this season, which would be a new league record.
Want to know the true definition of sports void, the vacuum created when one season ends and we start on another before we're completely ready?
Look at the RGIII story. (Side note: RG 3-and-10 to equal the Redskins record is good stuff.)
Seriously, the Redskins are relevant how? When was the last time — beyond the social ripples of their mascot choice — that the Redskins were even in the top third of NFL discussions.
But with college football ending, the Heisman being a dunk, the NFL races starting to crystalize and the basketball seasons in their infancy, sports talking heads (of which we can be somewhat guilty possibly) have dissected the Washington meltdown almost as much as the political talking heads have.
Side question: Are we guilty of talking about the RGIII-and-10 mess even if we're talking about how silly it is to talk about it?
Here's a thought: What happens if Kirk Cousins wins the final three games? It's a big shot for Cousins, who will replace RGIII, who has been shelved by coach Mike Shanahan, who wants to get fired and who wants to show the world there is a dysfunctional relationship between RGIII and owner Dan Snyder, who likely is going to hire his eighth coach in 16 years as the Redskins chief.
This and that
— Now the reports are that Texas is prepared to fire Mack Brown. Today figures to be judgement day, and we'll say it again, unless Texas has a plan in place to land someone better than Mack Brown, who went a very Fulmer-esque 158-47 with one national title in 16 seasons, the Longhorns may fall into what is forever known as the UTumble after replacing a successful veteran head coach.
— Baltimore safety Matt Elam said the Ravens are going to get physical with Detroit wide out Calvin Johnson, who Elam said was "pretty old." Elam also complimented Johnson, the best wide receiver in football history not named Jerry Rice, but the lasting sound bite will be "pretty old." enjoy Monday night Matt when Megatron goes for 11 catches for 220 and three TDs.
— Baseball is looking for approval from owners and the MLB players union to ban home-plate collisions. We're not sure how to feel about that. Thoughts? On one-hand, we have had it at lower-levels of baseball for years, so it likely could be a culture change that we don't miss in a decade, not unlike 'spearing' in football. On the other hand, if we're going to sanitize and safety-ify every game, well, why don;t we just play XBox tournaments? Oh yeah, we may get carpel tunnel from the controllers. Stupid controllers.
— Wow, talk about opposite ends of the spectrum: BCS title tickets are approaching the $525 mark on Stubhub. Heck the parking passes are $65. And then there is the Titans-Cardinals ticket in Nashville, which is going for $3 on TicketCity.com. Yes, for roughly the price of a $5 footlong at Subway (plus tax) you and a buddy can see Arizona-Tennessee on Sunday in Nashville.
The mailbag still has open space.
If you need talking points, and we're going to open this one up for the listeners on Press Row on ESPN 105.1 starting at 3 p.m. today: Best single season in sports history?
Also, we said earlier that Calvin Johnson was the best received in football history not named Jerry Rice. Is Calvin Johnson a better player than Rice just without the chance to play 15 years with Joe Montana and Steve Young in the perfectly suited Bill Walsh system?
Does Saban go?
Is RGIII a top 10 QB in the NFL? Better yet, would you trade Joe Flacco for RGIII?
Is Manning's season the best in football history? Best in sports history? It's on the short list right?
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...