Detroit Lions Tickets are a Hot Ticket for the Falcons Game

The seventh week of the NFL season has a surprisingly few premier games on the schedule. There is one game that stands out among the many others though. On Sunday, at 1:00 PM ET, the Atlanta Falcons will travel to Ford Field to play the Detroit Lions.

This game is particularly important to both football teams. The Atlanta Falcons are 3-3 and in third place in the NFC South. They are chasing the Bucs and Saints, both of whom are 4-2. If they hope to remain a threat in the division and, more importantly, keep a playoff berth within sight, then they need this win desperately. So far it seems as though the two wild cards are coming out of the NFC North and NFC South, so this is an early must-win game for the Falcons.

The Lions harbor hopes of earning a first round bye, which will require 5-1 Detroit to catch 6-0 Green Bay. Lions tickets for this game are not NFL tickets for a must-win game, but a game that is very advisable lest they fall two games behind the Packers.

The team stats definitely favor the Lions. Detroit has been a pass happy team since the beginning of the season, and now that the Lions are missing Jahvid Best they should be an even more pass heavy football team. Matthew Stafford is averaging 272.5 yards a game and has thrown 15 touchdowns to just 4 interceptions. The Falcons defense has allowed 226.2 passing yards a game. That is the 13th worst in the league, so the Stafford-Calvin Johnson connection should have a field day. The only hope is that the opportunistic secondary add to its nine interceptions in 2011.

I would expect safety Thomas DeCoud to come over the top on double coverage for Johnson all day. Atlanta should be able to keep him in coverage since the rush defense is already one of the best in the NFL and the Lions struggle running the football when they have their starting running back. Maurice Morris is the third string, so I doubt he is going to challenge the Falcons front seven.

Still, never underestimate the motivation generated by desperation. The Falcons were able to keep up with Vick and beat the Eagles and contain Cam Newton and defeat the Panthers. Obviously, this football team has the potential to upset the Lions. Otherwise this game would not be my game of the week.

Which NFC Team’s Fans Should Be Expecting Super Bowl Tickets This February?

One look at the NFC standings and I wonder if any of these teams truly deserve Super Bowl tickets to Cowboys Stadium as players or fans. The list of teams more than two games over .500 is short, just four teams. This is quite embarrassing compared to the plethora of AFC teams meeting that criterion – eight teams. Of those four teams with the best early season chances, which is most likely to survive the remaining 10 weeks of the NFL schedule?

Least Likely

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers(4-2)

Should I be giving the Buccaneers some respect? They are 4-2 and have a few fourth quarter wins under their belt. Certainly, I do not want to give Josh Freeman the chance to win the game with two minutes left. But, this is the same team being outscored by 30 points over the course of the season.

How is this possible? Well, the wins have been stomach churning affairs. They won in Week 1 by three games, Week 2 by 13, Week 5 by 3, and Week 7 by 1. The losses have been nothing less than utter devastation. I tried to find the appropriate word to describe the 25 points loss in Week 3 and Week 6 and all of them – annihilation, cataclysm, catastrophe, decimation, holocaust, annihilation, genocide, carnage, slaughter, massacre – seemed germane.

What’s more, the wins have come against a field of teams (Browns, Panthers, Bengals, and Rams) with a collective 8-18 record. The wins have against teams (Steelers and Saints) fielding a combined 9-4 record. Basically, it appears the Bucs a slightly below average team surviving against terrible teams with quarterback problem.

The Bucs have some major offensive issues of their own. Although Freeman likes to play the role of 21st century Captain Comeback, he can hardly be praised for being dangerous all game long. His total quarterback rating is 82.8, the 22nd best in the league. He has issues with completion percentage (58.8 percent, 24th) and yards per pass (6.31, 27th). There is no turmoil at this position, that upheaval is coming at the running back position.

Cadillac Williams is averaging 2.5 yards a carry and has gone from the feature back to splitting time with LaGarrette Blount to the verge of being little more than a third down and goal line back. I believe the Buccaneers season is in Blount’s hands. If he can become an effective feature back and allow Freeman to do little more than have to make big throws using the play action, then the Buccaneers might actually be a dangerous team.

The schedule is stacked from Week 12 on, with Baltimore beginning the sequence of potential playoff ending opponents. Until then, the Bucs can feast on the likes of the Cardinals, 49ers, and their second division game against the Panthers. The Falcons will be a reality check in Week 10. If this ends in another 20-plus point blowout, I expect Tampa to end the season on a 0-6 run.

Just Barely Better Than the Bucs

Seattle Seahawks (4-2)

When I say I do not know what to make of the Seattle Seahawks, I do not mean I do not know if they are a good team or a great team. I mean I do not know if they are a mediocre team or an average team. Luckily, they play in the NFC West, where mediocre is average and average is king. So far they have gone 2-1 against division opponents and I expect them to finish the 2010 season at least 4-2 in the division. Outside of the division, they have an identical 2-1 record, winning against teams on the verge of implosion (Chargers and Bears).

Really, the only thing this team does well is stop the run. They have the second best run defense in terms of yards surrendered and the second best yards per carry allowed. If I was going to do one thing well, I guess stopping the run would be the aspect of football to specialize. You build on defense around stopping the run, so this is a good place to start. Why do I say that and why is this is a major part of the reason the Seahawks allow just 17.8 points a game (5th)? Well, run defense plays a major role in stopping other teams from scoring when the field becomes much shorter in the red zone and it is more difficult to spread the field with passing routes.

I also have to give the Seahawks some credit at quarterback. Matt Hasselbeck is not the perennial near-Pro Bowl caliber player he once was, but he is still an experienced quarterback that knows how to win. Think of it as muscle memory, and some of that memory has survived the countless concussions. Now more of a game manager, I still have confidence he could lead a rally in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, a position he will likely be in thanks to the stingy defense.

If I were a Seahawks fan I would feel significantly better about the offense if new number one running back Marshawn Lynch could run for near 4 yards a carry. He and Justin Forsett may work well if they split time and punish the oppositions defensive line. Basically, I would rank the Seahawks as an average team if they could control clock and limit the run. If they can only stop the run, then this team is nothing more than a slight notch above mediocre.

That slight notch could be good enough to win the division, but they are going to see some competition from a lucky Rams team (the lone division team to beat them). Looking at the schedule, the Seahawks play three teams capable of ending their perfect season at home at Qwest Field, the Giants, Chiefs, and Falcons. I only see one away game completely out of reach for Seattle, the Week 11 game with the Saints. Oddly enough, I can see the Seahawks ending the season with 10 wins, but fully expect a first round loss.

The Real Contenders

Atlanta Falcons (5-2)

The Atlanta Falcons are on top of the standings in the NFC South, arguably the best division in the NFC. They have the 14th best passing offense, the 6th best running offense, average the 12th most points, have the 8th best run defense, hold the opposition to the ninth fewest points, and are tied for the fifth most takeaways in the NFC. In fact, the 11 picks offset the fifth worst pass defense. This is as complete a football team as there is in the NFC and maybe the NFL. This is an elite team with a realistic shot at playing in Super Bowl XLV.

Why do I like this team so much, apart from the stats? They are young with a third year quarterback quickly maturing into a top tier player at his position in Matt Ryan, a wide receiver who might be the best in the NFL in 2010 in Roddy White, a couple of running backs with yards per carry averages greater than 4.0 in Michael Turner and Jason Snelling, and the token veteran leader in TE Tony Gonzalez.

I am not 100 percent sure this is “the” team in the NFC though. Why backtrack after lauding them in the past two paragraphs? Well, apart from covering my own butt, I took a look at the schedule. They lost in Week 1 in overtime to a Steelers team without Ben Roethlisberger. They lost badly in Week 6 to an Eagles team with Kevin Kolb starting in place of Michael Vick. They barely beat the struggling Saints and the a Bengals team stuck in purgatory.

Luckily, they play four more games against the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Bucs, a team I fully expect to breakdown in the second half of the season. This means four more wins. This puts them at 9 wins with five more games to play. I believe the Falcons will draw a first round bye, giving their players a weeks rest after nine straight weeks of playing this physically brutal sport and giving leaving them a home game away from the NFC Championship.

New York Giants (4-2)

Despite the letdown out of the NFC East (Isn’t this an annual occurrence? A big letdown in the first half followed by redemption and insanity in the second.), the New York Giants are leading the way with a 4-2 record. They have Top-10 rankings in passing yards (9th), running yards (4th), passing yards allowed (2nd), and rushing yards allowed (3rd). The Giants average the 8th most points in the NFL (25) and are tied for forcing the third most turnovers in the NFC (16). It appears the only thing that can beat New York and end their Super Bowl aspirations is team itself.

There is an old football adage proclaiming the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game. So far, the Giants have amassed 21 turnovers while just taking away 16. This is the biggest concern for New York Giants fans. Even scarier is the fact it is equally the fault of running backs and special teams as the inconsistent Eli Manning. The team has 11 fumbles and 10 interceptions.

Another question that must be raised is: Is the NFC bad enough that a team tortured by its predilection to loose the football can win the conference? The Giants still force turnovers and still force opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket and into terrible throws. They still have a stifling run defense. They still have a very capable running game. They still have a quarterback with the ability to win games in spectacular fashion. They still have a pair of receivers in Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks who may rank amongst the best duos in the NFL. They still have everything, including that one fatal flaw.

They also have the backing of a fan base excited by the potential to open the first season at a new stadium with a Super Bowl run. At the same time, they have a demanding fan base expecting a Super Bowl run after seven weeks of the NFL season.


I look forward to watching Falcons play the Giants at the Georgia Dome for the NFC Championship. I feel bad for the Falcons though, since quarterback experience matters in these games, and Manning already has a Super Bowl ring to guide him.

The NFL Playoffs Begin With Tickets to Studs and Duds

After four weeks of meaningless preseason games and 17 weeks of football that twisted and turned, beginning with an injury that cost the Patriots NFL Playoff tickets and gave every team a chance to fill the void in the Super Bowl, the wild card round of the postseason finally began.

Saturday proved to be an exciting start. The first game featured two teams that many did not expect to make the postseason, the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals. I had become enamored with the Falcons and their incredible story. This story took them from a shattered franchise thanks to the actions of Michael Vick to a second year surge thanks to a roster full of young talent.

I was sure that Matt Ryan would continue playing like a veteran and that the team would continue rolling after winning five of their six games to enter the playoffs. I though Michael Turner would have a career day against a soft Cardinals defense. However, it was the Arizona Cardinals that will play next week. They won 30-24 thanks to a suffocating defense and despite losing star receiver Anquan Boldin to a hamstring injury in the second quarter.

Kurt Warner threw two touchdown passes. One came early in the game off a flea flicker. The pass floated deep to a double covered Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald and the two defenders jumped, but it was Fitzgerald who came down in the end zone with the 42 yard pass. The second came off a seemingly mundane short drop off to Boldin. Boldin turned the quarter and sprinted up the sidelines, turning a seven yard gain into a 71-yard touchdown. He left the game with a hamstring injury on the run and would not return.

Sure Ryan finished the quarterback doing his best John Elway impression, ending the half with a two-yard touchdown pass to Justin Peelle and giving the Falcons a 17-14 lead. The second half proved to be his undoing. He had a pick in the first half, but it was the short armed handoff to Jerious Norwood that turned into a 27-yard fumble return for a touchdown by the Cardinals safety Antrel Rolle.

Edgerrin James kept the ball moving on the ground proving to those fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium that Arizona could do more than rely on the arm of Warner. The Cardinals would score later in the third on a four yard Tim Hightower run forcing Ryan to take risks.

Ryan held the ball too long and was called down in his own end zone when he was wrapped by Card defenders. The call could have gone either way, but his desperate pass was seconds too late and the game seemed out of reach. Still, Ryan began working form a 30-17 deficit and put together an impressive drive that closed the gap to 30-24, but the Cardinals were able to waste four minutes and keep Ryan off the field, cementing the victory.

The second game featured two teams on winning streaks. The Indianapolis Colts had won nine straight and the San Diego Chargers had won four straight, including the division winning in Week 17. The game was teeming with history too. Last year in the second round of the playoffs the Chargers shocked the NFL with a win over the Colts.

This time the Colts came in favored again and again the Chargers played the role of the upset. San Diego won 23-17 in overtime in an exciting game that had a strong performance from NFL MVP Peyton Manning and LT’s backup, Darren Sproles.

Manning threw for 310 yards and a touchdown, but suffered from an offense devoid of a running game. The Colts could not stop Sproles in any facet of the game. Sproles finished with 105 yards rushing and two touchdowns, five receptions for 45 yards, 106 kick off return yards, and 72 punt return yards after taking over for an injured LT.

The Chargers special teams did more then simply have great returns for great field position. San Diego punter Mike Scifres punted six times and each time put Indianapolis deep inside its own 20. He averaged 52.7 yards a kick with a long of 67.

In the end it was the Colts who helped the Chargers the most, committing costly penalties that set up the game tying field goal at the end of the fourth quarter and set up Sproles for the 22-yard game winning touchdown in overtime.

Sunday proved to be a le down after Saturday’s games. The day began with the Baltimore Ravens at the Miami Dolphins. The Ravens decimated the Dolphins 27-9. The stats do not do justice to the level of dominance of Baltimore.

Chad Pennington may have thrown for 252 yards and a touchdown, but he also had four picks, including one returned for a touchdown by Ed Reed. He was also sacked three times and the Wildcat formation was fruitless against Baltimore.

Joe Flacco only completed 9 of 23 passes for 135 yards, but he seemed to hit have all those completions for big plays. Willis McGahee had a big 48 yard run and finished with 62 yards on seven carries and Le’Ron McClain had 75 yards on 19 carries in a game that had the Ravens running down the clock from the opening minutes of the third quarter on.

The second Sunday game was between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings came in as favorite despite barely beating the second string of the New York Giants. The Eagles entered the playoffs in spectacular fashion, tearing apart the Cowboys with defense and forcing turnovers.

I felt the story line coming into the game was the match up of two quarterbacks who have reclaimed their starting roles after losing them earlier in the season. The difference in the 26-14 Eagles win was that Donovan McNabb earned his way back while Tavaris Jackson returned under centre thanks to the back injury to Gus Frerotte.

Philadelphia was not able to establish a run game, but was able to come through with big plays. It was the 44-yard interception return by Asante Samuel that kick started the lingering doubt of Jackson by the Viking fans in the Metrodome and it was the screen pass to Brian Westbrook that went for a 71-yard touchdown in the middle of the fourth that broke the game open 23-14 and left the next round beyond the Vikings grasp.

Adrian Peterson had two touchdowns, one on a 40 yard run where he came through the line barely touched to begin the second quarter and one from thre yards out to end the quarter. Still, he only managed 83 yards on 20 carries thanks to the underwhelming performance by Jackson.

A Peterson facing nine men at all times could do little to keep the game close in the end and McNabb’s ability to feel the pass rush coming and move in the pocket kept the Eagles offense on the field.

Next Saturday the Baltimore Ravens go to LP Field to play the Tennessee Titans and the Arizona Cardinals travel to Bank of America Stadium to play the Carolina Panthers. On Sunday, The Philadelphia Eagles meet the division rival New York Giants at Giants Stadium and the San Diego Chargers travel from the West Coast to the freezing cold at Heinz Field to play the Pittsburgh Steelers.

NFL Playoffs, First Round Preview

The one and done feature after 17 weeks of jarring hits, needless holding calls, and general professional football drama is set to start this weekend. It is almost fitting that the second chapter of the NFL should begin the first week of the New Year. The only thing that matters from the 16 previous regular season games and the pointless four preseason contests only matter in the respect that they got these 12 teams here.

The first round will see a total of four games. That first game to kick off the postseason will be between the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals. The game is being played in Phoenix at the University of Phoenix Stadium, so the Cardinals get to play in front of a nice partisan crowd.

Though the Cardinals have home field advantage, they definitely do not have the late season play advantage. Apart from the nice tune up game last Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, the team has fallen apart. Kurt Warner was a prime MVP candidate four weeks ago, after several questionable performances the potency of Arizona’s vaunted passing attack has been called into question.

For all the talent Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald, and Steve Breaston have, a quarterback who starting to show his age (37) and a complete lack of a running game could be their undoing. These are postseason caliber teams with good defenses that are better equipped to handle the offense attack.

They other huge issue is the defense. The Arizona Cardinals defense gave up 426 points over the course of the season, or 26.6 points a game. The sad fact is that against two playoff caliber teams late into the season the team crumbled like a House of Cards and gave up 35 and 47 points in bad losses.

I have not even discussed the opponent and things are looking bad. The Atlanta Falcons come in after a surprise season that ended with an 11-5 record in perhaps the toughest division in football, the NFC South. The team managed to be an offensively brilliant team with Michael Turner, a running back who had his stamina questioned, and Matt Ryan, a rookie quarterback, leading the way.

The brilliance comes not from the points total (only 24.4 points per game), but from the balance that let them score quickly or bleed the clock. Turner was unstoppable (1,699 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Ryan was able to take advantage of the underappreciated Roddy White as a consistent receiver threat.

The defense is not superb, but it handled high-powered offenses like the New Orleans Saints very well. In fact the Saints are very comparable. The team won the first meeting, but lost the second in very competitive 29-25 game. Without question this is the Atlanta Falcons game. Only a complete breakdown in the secondary or a case of nerves for Ryan can lead to a loss.

The second game on Saturday is the Indianapolis Colts- San Diego Chargers first round match up. Both teams came back from dismal starts. The Colts have a disadvantage playing on the road at Qualcomm Stadium, but they have the advantage with proven winner Peyton Manning at the helm.

Manning was brilliant down the last stretch of games, leading the Colts to nine straight wins. The defense deserves a great deal of credit as well. Indianapolis struggled during the first half uncharacteristically and it was the D that made sure they were not out of the playoff chase. Manning eventually got the machine back on track and the team averaged 25 points a game during the winning streak.

The Colts will need Manning and the defense to be on their best behavior because the San Diego Chargers have won four straight, including two final wins against two teams fighting for a place in the postseason. Philip Rivers has been amazing own the stretch and LaDainian Tomlinson seems to have found his rhythm in the uplifting division clinching decimation of the Denver Broncos last weekend.

The Colts should be able to handle Vincent Jackson as the deep threat and a struggling LT. I think that Rivers history of choking in the postseason does not end here. That, and the Colts are playing equally inspiring football, so I believe the Chargers will end the season with their character again called into question.

Sunday starts with a game between two teams nobody outside of diehard sports fans thought would make it to the postseason. The Baltimore Ravens go to Dolphin Stadium to play the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins have a unique offense with the comeback player of the year, Chad Pennington.

Pennington posted the second best QB Rating in the league despite have no real receiving threats. The defense was in top ten form thanks to Joey Porter and his All Pro season. The three headed wildcat running back formation proved to be more effective than gimmicky. The Dolphins just kind of pulled out big wins when most thought they might win three games the entire year.

The Ravens already had an amazing defense. That is no surprise to anyone who has remotely followed the NFL since Ray Lewis entered the league. The surprise is the offense. Never have Ravens fans seen such a fluid game when their quarterback is in the game. It is that quarterback, rookie Joe Flacco, who has given Baltimore a balanced offense.

Willis McGahee and LeRon McClain were a solid pair on the ground, and Flacco spread the field with bombs to Derrick Mason. I believe this new balance will end the Dolphins season. Perhaps I am too much in love with the scoring numbers and am not giving the tenacity of the Dolphins big wins, but the numbers are simply too overwhelming for me to ignore.

The last game of the first round brings the Philadelphia Eagles to the Metrodome to play the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles won in dramatic fashion with a 44-6 bombing of the Dallas Cowboys. The win ended the Cowboys seemingly assured postseason appearance and gave Philly fans an extended football season.

Donovan McNabb came back from being benched to throw for nearly 4,000 yards and 23 touchdowns. Brian Westbrook battled injuries throughout the second half of the season, but in the end the talent was still there and the defense was still in the top five in the league.

I could write about how amazing Adrian Peterson is. I could write about the Williams twins clogging the middle for Minnesota. I could talk about a lot of things, but the simple truth is that despite the comeback win against the New York Giants second stringers, the Vikings should not win this game.

Tarvaris Jackson lost the starting quarterback job for a reason. Coming back to start because of injuries does not mean he ha redeemed himself. Bernard Berrian is not a number one receiver in the NFL. This is the shortest and easiest game to analyze and predict. The Eagles are better talent wise and are coming off an emotional high. They are going to destroy the Minnesota Vikings.

NFL Playoff tickets

The NFL’s S.A.D. Kicks in This Week

This week feels like its time to keep the dream going or give the fans a little End of the Season Affective Disorder. While this week has a couple of great marquee games, the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Bucs versus the Carolina Panthers, there is that wonderful sense of urgency for a number of teams.

The Washington Redskins have to win if they want to have any chance to catch the Dallas Cowboys and the Atlanta Falcons for the final wild card spot. They play the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens may not be in such a desperate position, but with the Patriots and the Dolphins playing well the team could use a win to move a step closer to the post season.

Both teams have been a surprise so far. The Redskins were not counted out of the NFC East in the season previews, but were not really taken seriously. The Ravens, on the other hand, were supposed to struggle through a tough year by Joe Flacco. Instead, the rookie quarterback has made the Ravens one of the top offenses in the league. Ironically, this was supposed to be the breakout year for Jason Campbell, but he has remained a non-factor in Washington’s struggling offense.

Elsewhere on the NFC East front, the Philadelphia Eagles are in need of a win, but they have to go to New York to get it against the division rival Giants. McNabb may have had a field day against the Cards on Thanksgiving, but the Giants secondary is going to be much less generous and the Giants D-Line is going to force McNabb into more throws than he likes.

The Bears have to win against a very tough 4-8 Jacksonville Jaguar team to avoid the locker room collapsing on their early season postseason hopes. Similarly, the Packers need a win, but they get to face Matt Schaub in his comeback, whether this is good or bad is unknown to even the omnipotent.

In the AFC it is a similar story with the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins. Both need a win to stay in the hunt for the wild card, and now they stand in each other’s way. I like the Dolphins. I think Trent Edwards needs a few CAT scans after his performance in the last five or six weeks.

NFL Tickets

The NFL Mod Squad – Vick, Plaxico, and Pacman – Every Saturday Morning

Between the days of cocaine suspensions in the 1980s and the steroid allegations of the late 1990s, there was a period where our superstar athletes were known purely for their on-the-field exploits and not their off-the-field antics. This was the early 1990s and at its pinnacle was ProStars, a Saturday morning cartoon on NBC that featured Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky fighting crime.

In the spirit of recycling, but in the spirit of the new Batman movies I think the series should take a harder edge. I think ProStars: The 21st Century should embrace this new age of scandal and bring Plaxico Burress, Michael Vick, and Pacman Jones together. I do not think they would be opposed, according to all reports they are quickly doing their best to get kicked out of the league and are destined to file for bankruptcy.

Yes, Pro Stars: 21st Century is the MOD Squad edition. Plaxico Burress takes over as the brains of the group from Michael Jordan. The New York Giants immensely talented receiver is by far the most intelligent since he is the only won to not face possible prison time so far. Instead he simply has a restraining order and has alienated everyone in the locker room, in an attempt to put the Giants season at risk. He no faces gun charges for carrying a concealed weapon into a club and then shooting himself in the league.

One may ask why Burress gets to be the brains. Well the answer begins with Michael Vick. Vick had an elite career ahead of him. He was destined to become one of the best ever at the quarterback position for his rare ability to throw, run, and lead and the chace to be the Atlanta Falcons’ savior. Those skills make a genetic freak and make him the closest kin to two-sport athlete Bo Jackson, making him the muscle of the group. He used that muscle to control the pit bulls of his Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting ring. He also managed to go bankrupt while serving time in prison. Vick had close to 18 million dollars when he entered prison eight months ago and now has filed for bankruptcy.

The sheer numbers in this case boggle the mind. I read Rick Reilly’s breakdown of the money trail and am dumbfounded as to why he continued to let his posse, which helped put him in jail, have anything to do with his money. You would think a man about to go to prison for illegal activities would change it up and shed everyone not related to him by blood or by association of having birthed his child, but no, boy genius kept the gauntlet of stupidity going. For those numerous reasons and the fact that he is going to get out of prison and immediately become a star in the Arena Football League, Vick is Jackson and not Jordan.

Every group needs its comic relief, a character who offers timely bits of amusing distractions to fill the gap between the scenes of the focal points. That player/problem is without question Pacman Jones. What would we have done with our thirst for legal mishaps with this man? The time between Vick’s trials and Plaxico’s breakdown would have left an awkward void. Enter the Pacman. We needed the allegations of his associations with drug dealers, shootings, and beatings to get us through those dull moments when football players were only discussed in terms of their on the field play.

I personally could not imagine a season without the possibility of Jones being kicked off a team or physical battery charges being filed by strippers. Pacman has stayed in the news enough in his first four years (including two years with the Titans, a year suspended from the league, and his latest stint with the Dallas Cowboys) to carry us from Burress distraction to Vick suspension. He completes the team. Now all we need is a Kanye West to sample the theme song, “We Are ProStars” (which is like a Weird Al version of Queen’s “We Will Rock You”) and the ProStars redux is complete and ready for the new audience of children in the 21st century.

This Last Week’s NFL Tickets were tickets to a Buffet of Scoring

54-31! 54-31! How often does a team (the Kansas City Chiefs) score 31 points and still get blown out by 23 points?!?

This was the weekend of big, the weekend of extravagance, the weekend of multiple trips to the goal line. Michael Turner crossed the pylon’s plane four times. The man scored four times and tied the Falcons record for touchdowns in a game. Atlanta used every one of them and scored 17 more points to beat the Carolina Panthers 45-28. The game put any of my doubts as to the legitimacy of the team so soon after the post-Vick fallout.

Marquee players made a return to the tops of the fantasy standings as well. Terrell Ownes may have only scored one touchdown, but he also went for 213 yards on seven catches as the Dallas Cowboys easily handled the 49ers 35-22. Owens averaged 30.5 yards a catch. He averaged three first downs a reception. Apparently the 49ers safeties were under the impression that he was still on their team despite wearing a blue and white jersey.

Randy Moss put on a show scoring three touchdowns and gaining over 100 yards for the first time in four weeks to remind corners that they cannot handle him. The New England Patriots prevailed 48-28 over the Miami Dolphins to stay one game behind the Jets.

Speaking of the Jets, New Yorkers have to love Brett Favre as he leads the team through this inexplicable season. He took the Jets to new heights with a win over the Titans, the last undefeated team in the NFL. Broadway Joe is going to have to make room for Broadway Brett in the hearts of Jets fans so desperately looking for something to take them out of the looming shadow of the New York Football Giants.

Those Giants put on an offensive barrage in the second half to hold off Kurt Warner and the three-headed monster in the receiving corps. New York won 37-29 over the Arizona Cardinals to hold off the rest of the NFC East and remain comfortably atop the division.

NFL Tickets in big cities like New York, Pittsburgh, and Boston are going to be for more than just the diehard fans willing to brave the bitter winds and the plummeting temperatures. This season, they are all contenders and the fans will have to fight the fair weather crowd for their rightful place in the stands.