Water Cooler Talk wasn’t sure whether to solely go all-out crazy on the NFL this week, but thanks to certain events it’s got to happen. There’s a shake-up in the Heisman candidacy and of course in the College Playoff Rankings. Oh, and did I mention some things regarding the NFL? Water Cooler Talk has plenty for you to get caught up on from this past weekend and the week ahead so you can be the sports guru of the office. As always, Water Cooler Talk highly encourages you to share your experiences of spreading your sports knowledge in the office, by contacting me on Twitter.
Let’s backtrack to Friday, shall we? Photos were released by Deadspin showing Nicole Holder’s bruises from when Greg Hardy assaulted her last spring. The ex-girlfriend of the Cowboys defensive end was a lot more roughed up than I think most people expected, including myself. If you haven’t been able to see the photos, check them out here.
My problem with this, is that Greg Hardy is playing. The NFL has done what they could, but that doesn’t mean the Cowboys shouldn’t at least consider releasing Hardy. Ray Rice has been sitting out of the NFL since the video of him knocking out his wife became public, because teams are smart enough not to touch him…including the Raiders. I’m all for second chances, but Rice and Hardy, or anyone else who assaults a woman are one of the exceptions.
We’ve already seen Hardy have a spat with his teammates on the sidelines, which should be a red flag in itself. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants Hardy to sign for the long-term with his team and be a leader moving forward, but how can anyone follow the leader of a woman-beater? Here’s the message I’m getting from the NFL: We’ll punish you for everything except domestic violence.
Let’s move onto the field. Another unbeaten is unbeaten no more as the Denver Broncos were defeated by the sub-.500 Indianapolis Colts. While the Broncos defense wasn’t able to carry the team to yet another victory, it was what happened towards the end of the game that really shocked me. Aqib Talib eye-gouged TE Dwayne Allen that resulted in a personal foul, which ultimately led to the Colts win. I had to do a double-check to make sure I wasn’t watching ‘The Waterboy’…”Captain Insano shows no mercy!”
The Bengals and the Patriots got by their week nine opponents without much difficulty. Obviously they’re the class of the AFC and no one is arguing that.
The Panthers are now 8-0 after defeating the Packers 37-29 on Sunday…a game in which myself and my fellow Panthers fans had another near cardiac arrest. Carolina now has a two-game lead in the NFC, but there is still doubt on whether the Panthers can close out the season because of the lack of offensive weapons. I’ll say this, if Devin Funchess can build on what he did on Sunday, then they’ll be fine. I worry about them closing out games as they nearly blew a double-digit 4th quarter lead for the second straight game. Head coach Ron ‘Riverboat’ Rivera has been in this situation before as he was a member of the 1985 Chicago Bears team that started 12-0 before losing to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football. How did they do after that? Oh that’s right…they won the Super Bowl.
One more thing on the week nine action, and that’s what happened between the Vikings and the Rams. Teddy Bridgewater got knocked out on Sunday…literally…after taking a hit to the head from LaMarcus Joyner. Everyone immediately screamed ‘dirty play’ when it initially happened except for me. Joyner reacted before Bridgewater began to slide, and the angle he took was proper. Bridgewater just slid late, and that’s no fault to Joyner. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer was fuming about the play and even went as far as to hint Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams perpetrated the hit. Ridiculous is the only word I say to that. It was a bang-bang play, that’s what happens in football. There will be no Bountygate II investigation.
Looking ahead to this week’s games, I’m eyeballing a few matchups. I have to start with TNF as the Bills take on the Jets, a game in which Rex Ryan returns to New York. I’m more intrigued about the uniforms than the game itself because let’s be honest…Thursday football is hard to watch. I’ll take the Jets to move to 6-3 with a 20-12 win. Keep an eye on the uniforms and you’ll see why I say this game should be closer to Christmas than Thanksgiving.
I like the Vikings-Raiders game if Bridgewater can play. If he can it’ll be a good game, if he can’t then the Raiders will get an easy one. With Bridgewater, I say Vikings win 24-20, if he doesn’t play then I’ll take the Raiders to win 27-9.
We’re supposed to get excited for New England and the New York Giants, but it’ll be an easy one for the Patriots as they’ll win 30-13.
Finally, we finish with SNF where the Cardinals travel to Seattle to face the Seahawks. Both teams are coming off their bye week, so it might be a little ugly. The Cardinals are the better team, and they’ll win 21-13.
Oh Clemson, you didn’t disappoint. It was scary for a bit, but the Tigers ultimately prevailed over the Seminoles to clinch a spot in the ACC title game and hold onto their #1 ranking (or at least should still be #1). What’s scary about this team, is that they have 40 freshman on their squad…40! Clemson will be good for quite some time.
It wasn’t the usual game we’re used to seeing from Alabama and LSU. No last-minute drive to win the game or low scoring game, but still a good game nonetheless. Bama solidifies their stance in the CFB Playoff Ranking, and they didn’t do it alone thanks to Arkansas beating Ole Miss. Expect to see the Crimson Tide stomp a mud hole in the Gators in the SEC Championship game.
Because TCU and LSU lost this past weekend, we have to wonder about the Heisman balloting. TCU QB Trevone Boykin and LSU RB Leonard Fournette were running away from the field, but both were stymied on Saturday. Both of these players need their teams to either win out or lose a close game to a good team to distance themselves from the rest of the pack. I got in an argument on Saturday night with a friend over me snubbing Florida State RB Talvin Cook from the race. My argument is this…the voters won’t vote for a player with a team that has 3+ losses (I think FSU loses to Florida) and isn’t contending in a major bowl. That’s why TCU and LSU need to finish strong for Boykin and Fournette to stay in the running.
As for the CFB Playoff Rankings that will be released tonight, this is my top four this week: 1) Clemson 2) Alabama 3) Ohio State 4) Oklahoma State. Yes…I know Baylor will be a popular snub, but the OK State victory over TCU was more impressive than Baylor’s seven-point defeat of Kansas State. And yes, Notre Dame could be in that 4th spot as well, but I’ll keep them at #6 behind Baylor because of the crooked number. I will admit this, OK State jumping to #4 might be a stretch considering they were #14 last week, but if they vote correctly then this shouldn’t be a shock.
For the games this weekend, there are a few that stand out:
Let’s begin with Alabama (8-1) at Mississippi State (7-2). I’ve already said Alabama reaches the SEC title game, which means they have to win-out in the conference. So I’m obviously taking the Crimson Tide to win in a hostile environment, 31-17.
Here’s one in which no love is given…Memphis (8-1) at Houston (9-0). These teams are a lot better than people think, because they just see what conference they play in and give no credit. This is a battle for American Athletic Conference (AAC) supremacy. If the current system was an eight-team playoff rather than four, Memphis would be in the discussion. The Tigers come away with a win this weekend, with a score of 37-31.
Finally, we have Oklahoma (8-1) at Baylor (8-0). If Texas hadn’t defeated Oklahoma, the Big 12 would be even more jumbled to see who will come out on top. The Sooners are still in it, but they absolutely need to win this game. Baylor is screaming “snub” in the CFB Playoff Ranking…but not after this week. Oklahoma wins easily, 35-22.