Friday, September 07, 2012

Sports Friday: 9/7/12

I always write these on Friday, so why not just post them on Friday from now on, too?

NFL - Football season is here! And by that, I mean professional football. Err, American professional football.

(By the way, NBC Sports Network has been showing a few CFL games over the past couple of weeks. In fact, they're airing Calgary at Edmonton tonight. Wee!)

So, Maurice Jones-Drew decided to report after all, which isn't surprising. That's obviously good for the Jaguars. But I'm more interested in seeing how Blaine Gabbert and his new receiving corps does. It seems like quite a few NFL teams are playing a quarterback who is only in his first or second year, so if some of them are succeeding while 2nd-year Gabbert isn't, then...no excuse! Fortunately, I think Gabbert looks like a brand new player this season, compared to last. (And not just because he cut his hair.)

As for the receivers, Laurent Robinson has underwhelmed in preseason, but I do like how rookie Justin Blackmon looks, a lot. No more DUIs, m-kay?

Minnesota is a pretty good game to have first. A quarterback (Christian Ponder - he is still the Vikings' starter, right?) with a similar experience level to Gabbert, and a team that the Jaguars can beat on a good day, even on the road. Let's go! Jacksonville at Minnesota - Sun 1:00p, NFL Sunday Ticket

It's taken some time, but my interest in the "local" (not really) Carolina Panthers is growing. Maybe they just needed to, you know, not suck. Don't know if I'd give them "second favorite team" status yet, but they're getting there. Carolina at Tampa Bay - Sun 4:25p, WRAZ

The beauty of Week One is that every single game is watchable, because you don't know who's good and who isn't yet. Even Seattle-Arizona!

College football Week Two of the college football season is often when teams schedule their one interesting non-conference game, and is also when some teams have their conference openers, which makes it the most interesting weekend of the month, usually. Unless, of course, if you're Florida State, who is favored by 70.5 points against Savannah State. (Seriously, if you're betting on a game with a 70.5-point line...what is wrong with you? How can you definitively say whether FSU is going to win this game by more or less than 70?) Savannah State at Florida State - Sat 6:00p, ESPN3

I'm not heartbroken that Penn State lost to Ohio. In fact, if they're going to go 11-1, I'd rather the '1' have come against Ohio than anyone else. (Yes, really!) Ohio actually has something to play for - they have a somewhat realistic chance of going undefeated, so, good for them. That loss wasn't as bad as it may seem for Penn State. But if they start 0-4, which would include home losses to Navy and Temple, then I think we can start talking about those "worst case scenarios" as far as the future of the program is concerned. They may lose tomorrow, but I think they'll surely win at least one of those next two home games...right? If not, then that's what they get for not scheduling Savannah State. Penn State at Virginia - Sat 12:00p, ABC

Other games of interest: Florida at Texas A&M (SEC debut for the Aggies), South Florida at Nevada (yes, AT Nevada), Michigan State at Central Michigan (yes, AT Central, according to my program guide...is that right?)...actually, you know, aside from that UF/A&M game, maybe this week isn't quite as interesting as I thought.

MLB - I've already given my Stephen Strasburg piece, so no need to revisit that again. Instead, let's talk playoffs! (Yes, it's fun to be talking about Washington Nationals playoff scenarios in September. Heck, it's fun to even be watching meaningful baseball in September at all!)

Under the previous playoff system, there wasn't much difference between winning the division and getting the wild card. Now there's a huge difference, because that one-game wild card playoff is basically a crap shoot, so making the playoffs as a wild card effectively cuts your World Series chances in half, compared to winning the division. So...win the division!

As of today, Sports Club Stats has the Nationals' playoff odds at 100.0% (rounded, of course - they're a ways away from clinching outright), and their division title odds at around 98%. But I have to wonder what the playoff odds for the Braves and the Red Sox were at this time last year... Miami at Washington - Fri 7:00p, Sat 1:00p, Sun 1:30p; MASN or MASN2

Auto racing

With NASCAR and Formula One, I always have a hard time coming up with, you know, "analysis". That doesn't mean I'm not watching it, that just means it's hard to analyze sometimes. For instance...Jenson Button won last week's F1 race. Why? Because his car was faster than everyone else's! (And that allowed him to get the pole, which allowed him to avoid the usual Romain Grosjean lap one crash...)

Well, anyway...don't take a lack of analysis to mean a lack of interest. I'm still watching.
NASCAR Sprint Cup at Richmond - Sat 7:30p, ABC
Formula One Italian Grand Prix - Sun 8:00a, SPEED


Soccer - So, last time I talked about this new soccer channel, beIN Sport, upon which I've been watching the French soccer league "Ligue 1" (which, a few weeks in now, I'm actually finding quite interesting). There's no "Ligue 1" this weekend, though, because it's a FIFA World Cup qualifier weekend. The United States team is in action tonight in Jamaica...and, hey, wouldn't you know it, look what channel tonight's USA game is on! Don't you wish your cable/satellite package was as awesome as mine? USA at Jamaica - Fri 8:00p, beIN Sport

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