Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Patriots 23, Jets 7 (12/26/2004)

Way to bounce back, boys. A tough Monday Night loss where some crucial mistakes by Tom Brady helped evaporate an 11-point in with 4:00 left, and Brady does what he always does -- came back with a win. In fact, he's now 7-0 in games following a game where he throws at least two interceptions. And so, the Patriots won a relatively easy 23-7 victory over the out-classed Jets, improving to 13-2 and 5-1 in the division. Meanwhile, a Jets team that appeared a shoo-in for the playoffs just one month ago has gone 1-2 recently and has to tie or with their next game just to make the playoffs. And that won't be an easy task; they have to play in St. Louis against a Rams team fighting for their own playoff lives.

The New England victory combined with San Diego's loss gives the Patriots the second seed in the AFC, guaranteeing them a week off between the regular season and playoffs. And man, can they use the rest. Yesterday's starting cornerbacks were safety Eugene Wilson and Earthwind "The Touchdown Maker" Moreland. On the sidelines were Tyrone Poole (out for the year), Ty Law, Randall Gay, and Dexter Reid; and Asante Samuel didn't start, although he did play a lot. Must have been one of those "coaches decision" thing-a-ma-jigs. Additionally, Richard Seymour left the game with a leg injury, Matt Chatham was out, Bethel Johnson missed another game, and Corey Dillon could probably use some rest for minor leg tweaks he's had lately. Fortunately for the Pats, they can rest these guys for three full weeks, because the San Fran game this Sunday can't change anything in the standings for them. The starters might play half the game, but expect Brady and company to be on the sidelines by the second half.

As for Sunday's game against the Jets, Tom Brady and the offense recovered nicely from that Miami loss. They scored first (23 games and counting) and scored 10 points in the second half against a team that has seven second-half shutouts this year. Brady was on from the beginning, with at least five passes dropped *perfectly* in to guys who were tightly covered. He took only on sack, had no fumbles or interceptions, and even ran for a first down. The Patriots gained only 3 yards per rush, but made enough first downs to have a 12 minute advantage in time of possession. The Jets over-committed their defense to shut down Dillon, and that opened up some long passes for Brady. If it was less windy, I think the Pats might have scored 40 points against such a defense; but the Jets were probably counting on the wind to help them defend the pass.

Christian Fauria and Daniel Graham got involved in the offense again, with five catches for 74 yards between them. This probably signals a change in offensive philosophy as the weather gets colder and windier. So you can expect the Pats to run the ball and throw short more until the Super Bowl (should they make it), because all their games between now and Jacksonville (site of this year's SB) would be in New England or Pittsburgh. The rest of the receivers did very well, with David Givens having a sick 32 yard average per catch and Deion Branch keeping drives going with clutch third-down receptions (and a lot of yards after the catch). Oh, and I shouldn't forget Patrick Pass, who had some nice runs and swing passes out of the backfield to go along with solid blocking on blitz pickup. Rabih Abdullah missed the only blitzer he was supposed to block, which is why he's sat on the sideline most of the year. The O-line had only two penalties and gave up only the a single sack, although honestly, Stephen Neal looks out of place about half the time. Brady got hit a few times in the game, but nothing horrendous.

The Patriots defense for this game exploited Chad Pennington's two weaknesses: poor run fakes and average arm strength. Romeo Crennel and his staff seemed comfortable letting Curtis Martin get his yards but making sure the Jets didn't beat them through the air. To that end, they had the front seven handle most all the running plays without help from the secondary. This minimized the effect of play action fakes and draw plays because the secondary wasn't paying any attention to the run. And since Pennington doesn't execute run fakes very well, the linebackers could drop deep into coverage on pass plays -- that's how Tedy Bruschi got his interception 15 yards down field. Given that Pennington can't throw the long ball very well (there are reports he's injured), the Pats kept tight coverage in the 10- to 20- yard zone and hoped that anything deep would be off target; and that turned out to be the case all day long. Even the Jets touchdown was under thrown; the Pats defender simply fell down for a relatively easy score.

This defensive plan changed a bit in the second half, with Rodney Harrison coming up to help occasionally. But for the most part, the Patriots dared the Jets to run it and they couldn't do it (Curtis Martin gained only 33 yards on the day). Rodney had a great game, as did Asante Samuel and Willie McGinest. And Monster Masher Vince Wilfork just gets better and better. When he's not clogging the middle, he's in the backfield after the QB or re-directing a running back. Here's hoping Vince stays injury free and the aforementioned injury to Richard Seymour isn't bad (even though Jarvis Green did an good job replacing him). Oh, and that the secondary gets healthy soon, too. That Earthwind Moreland guy scares the crap out of me, and I'd like to get Eugene Wilson back to safety because Don Davis is too inconsistent. But overall it was a great defensive performance for New England. Even though they dared the Jets to run, NY gained only 46 yards on the ground, averaged 6 yards per pass attempt (in the bottom third of the league for the day, I would guess), and the New England defense caused four turnovers. They also sacked Pennington three times and committed only one penalty on the day.

The special teams were a draw for the day, which means the Patriots must have improved. The average starting position after a kickoff was around the 30 yard line for both teams, and Josh Miller did a nice job downing the ball inside the 20 a couple of times. The wind plays havoc with kicks on a day like Sunday, and Adam missed his second field goal attempt of the year (a 50 yarder just before the half), but overall, he did a great job kicking in those conditions. In fact, he accidentally kicked a kickoff right into a Jets player and the Patriots recovered it right before that 50 yard attempt. (Aside: a month or two ago, I suggested to a friend that when the Patriots have to onside kick, they should kick it *at* the wall of players standing ten yards away. Perhaps the Patriots will try that next time, based on the accidental kick by Adam on Sunday.) I'd like to get a bit more out of the special teams, but if they can play the other teams specialists to a deadlock in the playoffs, that will probably be good enough.

So where does that leave us? Well, the Pats will play a semi-meaningless game this Sunday against San Francisco (and I'll be freezing cold while I cheer on Rohan Davey and Rabih Abdullah). After that, they'll watch the first week of the playoffs to see who's coming to town to lose... er, I mean play them... the weekend of 1/15 - 1/16. If all goes according to form, that will be the Indianapolis Colts, which makes it that much more important to get the secondary healthy. But who knows, maybe they can with Randall Gay and Earthwind -- if there's 10 inches of snow and 50 mph winds :) I'm guardedly optimistic that either the secondary or the weather will come through; but of course, we might not end up playing Indy at all. Since I've got a bye week, I'll drop you an email previewing the playoff game once it's clear who we're playing. And of course, those coveted year-end awards must be given out.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "You know, since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule [1978], only two teams have won as many as 28 games in two consecutive seasons: the Bears in 85 & 86, and the 49ers in 89 & 90. The Bears won 29, but if the Patriots win on Sunday, they will be tied with San Fran for the second most wins in consecutive seasons in NFL history."

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. Sorry the update is late, but I was in Ohio and didn't get to watch the game until last night.

PPS. 13-2!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Patriots 28, Dolphins 29 (12/20/2004)

How the hell am I supposed to sleep *now*?

Well, the Pats finally blew one folks, falling to the Miami Dolphins after taking an 11-point lead late into the fourth quarter. The loss drops them to 12-2, a full two games behind Pittsburgh for the first playoff seed and only a game in front of the Colts and Chargers for that coveted first-round bye. The loss broke their string of consecutive wins when leading at the half (32) and after the third quarter (36), although they kept their string of games scoring first intact at 19 consecutive.

It was a game that proved once again how razor thin the line between a win and a loss really is – all of which makes the Patriots two seasons of success all the more astonishing. How did this team win 21 straight when a single late interception can cost you a game? How did they win 28 out of 29 (playoffs included) when an 11-point lead can evaporate in two minutes? How they avoided this fate 28 out of 29 times is truly amazing, but if they want to continue that run of excellence, they’ve got some work to do.

There’s no sugar coating this one; the loss rests at the feet of Tom Brady. The team that wins the turnover battle usually prevails, and Tom threw four interceptions to A.J. Feeley’s none. Almost every other statistic favored the Patriots: first downs, third down conversions, penalties, time of possession, totals yards, rushing yards, sacks – they all went the Patriots way except the two most important ones of all, turnovers and points scored.

Without Brady’s boneheaded third interception, the Dolphins wouldn’t score two touchdowns in the final four minutes, and without his fourth interception, the Patriots might have had a final drive to win it. They were in a four-down situation anyway, so there was no need to panic on second down. Sure, there was pressure on both those passes, but we’ve come to expect better from Brady under pressure. Maybe last week’s completion while sitting on the turf made him cocky. But whatever the case, he has to play better for us to have any chance against the Jets and as we head into the playoffs.

The rest of the offense ran hot and cold all game long. Corey Dillon ran for 121 yards, but was bogged down for much of the third quarter. The offensive line alternatively received praise and blame from commentator John Madden, having the most trouble in the second and fourth quarters and shining in the first and third.

The receivers did a good job overall, and it was great to see Daniel Graham back and contributing. But they were limited to short completions, never getting behind the defense for a long strike we needed. You can credit the Miami defense, but with the safeties playing deep and the Dolphins two starting inside linebackers out of the game, we should have been more consistent in the running game.

The defense held up well until the end of the game. In the last four minutes, Rodney Harrison had a foolish pass interference penalty, setting up a Dolphin touchdown, and after a Brady interception, Earthwind Moreland and Troy Brown looked like the Keystone Cops, allowing the Dolphins their last touchdown of the night. I think Romeo Crennel should separate Moreland and Brown, because the two of them on the same side of the field is a deadly combination for the Patriots. And while Harrison played well in run support, he added a stupid personal foul (spearing) to his pass interference penalty to account for 33 of the Patriots 53 penalty yards for the game. Not good.

This very poor end of the game overshadowed the solid play of the defensive line and linebackers for the entire game. Vince Wilfork and Jarvis Green were factors on nearly every play, and the ageless Willie McGinest always makes plays, whether he’s rushing the passer or covering a tight end. I also thought Asante Samuel played very well in the secondary; the team could have used two or three of him.

Oh, and the special teams get mention for being anything but special. Kevin Faulk returned okay, but the Patriots were consistently facing a longer field than the Dolphins. With as many starters as the Patriots play on special teams, they should do better in the return and coverage plays than they have lately. Here’s hoping they can get that straightened out before the playoffs; although it is rarely a deciding factor unless your special teams are terrible.

Well, what more is there to say? It was shameful to waste 56 minutes of great effort with two minutes of brain-cramp-itis. But it just goes to prove how difficult it is to win week in and week out in the NFL. Every team has good players, and you don’t get a do-over or another week to plan something else if things don’t work out. No seven-game series in football – one chance and that’s it. It took the Patriots 56 minutes to build an 11-point lead and only two minutes to lose it, and that cost them a game.

So where does all that leave us? Well, in my pre-season preview, I predicted the Patriots would win this game and lose to the Jets this Sunday. Now that they’ve lost the first of those two, I sincerely hope they can reverse those results and beat the Jets on the road. It won’t be easy with the Monday Night hang-over and a division opponent on the road, but the Patriots do match up better against New York than Miami.

Last night’s loss almost certainly assures the Pittsburgh Steelers the first seed in the AFC (they would have to lose their last two games and the Patriots win their last two for Pittsburgh to finish behind New England). And whether the Patriots win or lose against the Jets, the only serious competition they have for that second seed (and the bye week that comes with it) is from the Chargers. The Colts would have to win their last two and the Patriots lose to both the Jets and 49ers for the Colts to take that position.

So your New England Patriots are still looking at a likely second seed in the AFC for the post-season. Now all they have to do is stop turning the ball over and start covering guys with someone other than Earthwind Moreland and who knows; they might just make some noise in the playoffs.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "All three 12-1 teams had trap* games this weekend, and all three game were much closer than most of the experts thought they would be. Maybe now the press will stop mocking Belichick when he says that winning in the NFL isn’t easy. A 12-1 record didn’t buy much respect for anyone this weekend."

* A trap game is one where your team might have a tendency to look past the game to a tough game the next week. This was coined by none other than Bill Parcells.

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 12-2!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Patriots 35, Bengals 28 (12/12/2004)

I know some people have been bored by the Patriots lately because they never lose; but I don't think anyone was bored by yesterday's win. An up-and-down the field battle with over 800 yards of offense, an INT return for a touchdown, another INT in the end zone, a fake field goal for a touchdown, and some helmet-jarring hits in the secondary should never be called "boring." So your New England Patriots held serve at home and kept the good times rolling with a 35-28 win over the Bengals. It was quite an improvement over the pre-season game where the Bengals starters wiped out the Patriots starters 31-0, and yesterday's win put the Patriots in the playoffs for the third time in four years. Later in the day, the Jets loss to the Steelers guaranteed a third division title in four years -- so there will be at least one playoff game in Foxboro. Not bad.

As for the game, it was closer than a lot of people thought it would be. In fact, the Bengals were either tied or ahead in almost every statistic there is: first downs, third-down conversions, return yards, time of possession, total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, and average gain per play. So how did they lose? Well, they lost in two major categories: turnovers (3-0) and penalties (9 for 75 yards versus 2 for 13 yards). The turnovers and penalties are mostly concentration errors where the Patriots just paid closer attention to taking care of the ball and not committing costly penalties. However, the Bengals did a good job overcoming their penalties, although 75 yards versus 13 is a really big differential. The real killer was the timing of their turnovers. Their fumble and one interception came with them poised to score, and their other interception was returned by Asante Samuel for a touchdown. That accounts for 21 points (14 they potentially lost and 7 the Patriots gained), which is huge when you lose by a touchdown.

The Patriots defense did not play very well overall. I know, I know, they played an explosive offense and still won. But this game was like a companion piece to the KC game from earlier this year: the Chiefs exposed the Patriots secondary with long passes; the Bengals did the same with short passes. And just like that KC game, the Patriots defense came up with enough timely plays to win the game, which has been their modus operandi for two years now. It's just that with every other team gunning for them (because they are the defending Super Bowl champions), eventually that formula will fail against the better teams in the playoffs. So they've got to get healthier in the secondary to make a serious run at another championship.

I was glad to see both Asante Samuel (full-time) and Tyrone Poole (part-time) return for this game. Samuel had the aforementioned touchdown return, but the secondary seemed confused overall. Maybe it was too much to bring back both players in the same game and not expect some miscommunication. Samuel played pretty well overall, and I'm sure he will get better with more snaps and better health. He had an injured shoulder but didn't shy away from contact or tackles. Rodney Harrison played his usual great game, even helping out with a run blitz or two. And Richard Seymour was an absolute monster on defense. I counted at least four plays when he was *triple-teamed* by three offensive lineman. Usually, a triple-team is a lineman, a tight end, and a running back; but the Bengals were so worried about Richard that he was constantly double- or triple-teamed by lineman. And he still made some great plays. Oh, and Troy Brown is now tied for the team lead with three interceptions -- not bad for an old geezer, eh?

I thought with all the double- and triple-teams that Seymour faced, the Pats should have gotten more pressure on the Bengals QB. But once it was clear that long passes would be difficult in the wind, Cincy switched to a short passing game, so the ball was out to the receiver before they could pressure the QB. Couple that with a strong running game, and the Bengals offense seemed to move it at will for long stretches of the game. And once again, the Patriots gave up lots of yards but not as many points as those yards should have created. Somehow, some way, they always make a play to preserve the win. When the defense plays like they did yesterday, I get nervous; but it's 27-1 in their last 28 games, so they must be doing something right.

The Patriots offense was very impressive. Tom Brady's QB rating was a gaudy 127.1, with 70% completions and 10 yards per attempt. He had zero turnovers (and no really close calls), with his two best passes being the long touchdown to Patten into the wind and a 15-yard completion to Patrick Pass while Brady was sitting on the ground -- something I've never seen before and don't expect to see again in an NFL game. With Daniel Graham out, Christian Fauria and Jed Weaver got into the game (five receptions for 47 yards between them); and with David Givens missing the game, the rest of the receivers pitched in for 13 catches and 213 yards. I think the running game missed Graham's superior blocking, accounting for only 94 yards on 29 carries. But Cincinnati came into the game second in the AFC in turnovers caused (second, of course, to the Patriots), and the Patriots zero turnovers were the key to the win.

So where does that leave us? Well, only the Jets are a real threat to beat us for the remainder of the regular season. The Dolphins and 49ers are both 2-11, and the Patriots get an extra day to plan for their Monday night game with Miami. The Jets are playing well and the Pats and Jets have oftentimes split the season series. So since the Pats beat them earlier in the year, you might expect the Jets to win the game two weeks from now. However, if Tyrone Poole is back and healthy *and* the game means something to the Patriots (e.g. home field throughout the playoffs is still up for grabs), expect the Patriots to win that game. They are superior to the Jets, and the Jets are unlikely to have any playoff positioning on the line -- so I'd expect the Patriots to win a close one if it means anything to them.

Also, heading into the playoffs, the Pats face their first real distraction in two years: offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has signed on to be the next head coach at Notre Dame. He promised to work mostly for the Patriots until their season is over, and I hope he holds to that promise. I'm sure if Bill Belichick senses that Charlie is distracted by Notre Dame stuff, he'll either get him back in line or let him leave, perhaps taking over the OC job himself for the duration of the playoffs. But for the moment, the Patriots are the second seed in the AFC, and one more win would make it practically impossible for them to lose that first-round bye -- the only other scenario would be San Diego running the table and the Patriots losing the rest of the games, which would include a home loss to San Francisco. And even then, it would come down to fourth tie-breaker and that might still go the Patriots way. In other words, looking good for a week of rest before the playoffs.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "This injury thing is getting ridiculous. Now, their starting tight end [Daniel Graham] and wide receiver [David Givens] missed the Bengals game. And their secondary took yet another hit when their starting safety [Dexter Reid] went down in the second half. The Pats might need that bye week just to get 45 players healthy for the playoffs."

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 12-1!

Monday, December 6, 2004

Patriots 42, Browns 15 (12/5/2004)

The Patriots steamrolled the Browns yesterday, with a 27-point win that helped them keep pace with Pittsburgh (both at 11-1) for one of those first-round bye weeks. You might ask, how do you play your sloppiest game of the year and win 42-15? Start by making sure your opponent has an interim head coach, add in two two veteran QBs sidelined with injuries, mix in a rookie starting quarterback, spice liberally with front-office turmoil, and decorate with a bunch of cheap-shot, self-glorifying, overpaid, underachieving hotshots who will stop trying in the third quarter. Unfortunately, the Patriots can't play the Browns every week, because they'd wax these guys 16-straight. Randy Cross (the CBS commentator) can talk all he wants about how NFL people should consider whether they want to be a part of "something special" that will be built in Cleveland, but there's nothing special about a team that's one tie-breaker away from missing the playoffs six straight years. In fact, the last two coaches to lead the Browns to the playoffs were Butch Davis and Bill Belichick -- Davis was fired last week, Belichick was fired in 1996, though he's done pretty well since then.

So on to the game. The Pats ended this one early. I remember when the score was 21-0 and I thought the Pats had played poorly to that point. That is the kind of game that drives the other team's fans crazy; when you know you had some opportunities but the other team was so good you still had no chance. It reminded me of a Patriots-Chiefs game in 1990. KC came in with a strong ground game and my brother and I talked all week about how we had to stop the run to have any chance to win. On their first play from scrimmage, they threw an 84-yard touchdown pass and the stadium fell deadly silent. The game was over and half the fans weren't even in their seats. I did get a nice tan, though.

Well, the Cleveland fans must have felt that way yesterday. Bethel Johnson quieted the crowd with an opening kickoff return for touchdown, and with a rookie quarterback, it was game, set, and match. The Pats defense was so strong that Cleveland's only scores came as follows: tipped ball fell into the hands of Antonio Bryant for a touchdown; Dexter Reid got burned twice for 40+ yards on back-to-back plays, the second of which was a touchdown to Bryant again. That was it folks. The Browns got inside the Patriots 20 yard line once the entire game. Their running game was stymied (17 rushes for 46 yards), 9 of their 14 drives went three plays or less, and they committed five turnovers.

The Patriots front seven played exemplary defense, shutting down the run while pressuring McCown and cutting off the underneath passes that rookie QBs love so much. Randall Gay continues to impress, knocking down several passes and returning a fumble for a touchdown. And since the Pats apparently trust Troy Brown more than Earthwind Mooreland at cornerback, it was Eugene Wilson starting at corner and Troy Brown the third CB in the nickel package. Rodney Harrison had an INT (and nearly had a second), and he laid down the law over the middle all game long. And of course, old reliable Troy Brown got his second pickoff of the season and even made a slamming tackle by the sideline. Not that he got to enjoy it; he was right back out there on the next offensive play. The Pats secondary might just be the second most impressive story of the season -- right behind the resurgence of the San Diego Chargers. I'm more convinced than ever that if Romeo Crennel leaves, Eric Mangini will be promoted to defensive coordinator. If not, he might end up D-coordinator for another team next year.

At the end of the first quarter, the Pats were up 14-0 (both 90+ yard scoring "drives") and had a 10:40 to 4:20 time of possession advantage. They pretty much kept that going, rushing Corey Dillon, Kevin Faulk, and Cedric Cobbs to a 39:08 to 20:52 time of possession edge and 225 to 46 advantage in rushing yards. Brady might have been able to take the day off, with Dillon and Cobbs alternately getting stuffed in the backfield and then gashing the defense for another first down. It seemed that when Cleveland tried, they could actually stop the run; but then the Pats would open Hummer sized holes on the next play and it would be first down again. It was a dominating performance by both lines; unfortunately for Cleveland, their performance only lasted until the half. After that, it was all Patriots all the time.

If this was a "audition for next year's roster" (as Randy Cross put it), then I wouldn't expect many Cleveland Browns to be on the team next year. Probably five dropped passes, stupid penalties, a dreadful cheapshot by the O-line, and a bunch of linebackers and defensive backs who just refused to run to the ball and/or tackle if they happened to be in the way. I can clearly recall three plays were Dillon or Cobbs ran to the outside after WR David Givens *wiped out* a Browns linebacker. That's a 5' 11" 200 pound receiver taking out a 6' 4" 240 pound linebacker. That can happen once, but after that, the linebacker simply has to start laying out some punishment. And their defensive backs avoided contact all day, with the best example being Daniel Graham running out of one tackle and then pasting the safety along the sideline. Just no heart left in that team. Wait 'til next year.

As for our beloved Patriots, please indulge me while I take a walk down memory lane, circa Spring of 2004. I thought the Patriots won the draft and the off-season maneuvering when they landed Corey Dillon for a second-round draft choice. But every week it's clearer that it's so much more than that. Vince Wilfork and Keith Traylor are improvements over Ted Washington. Ty Warren and Jarvis Green are improvements over Jarvis Green and Bobby Hamilton. Stephen Neal is better than Russ Hochstein -- as evidenced by the fact that Hochstein (last year's Super Bowl starter) now comes off the bench. Cedric Cobbs is better than Larry Centers, who never really fit in. The secondary is deeper than ever, with the three best corners injured and Randall Gay, Eugene Wilson, and Troy Brown shutting down team after team. Every one of those players (save Troy Brown) was added in the last two years.

So what happens when Ty Law and Tyrone Poole return, and Randall Gay and Asante Samuel are the nickel and dime backs? SUPER BOWL, BABY -- YEEEEE-HAAAAA!!!!!!!!!! Pardon me... we now return to our regularly scheduled program.

So where does that leave us? It's clear that when the Patriots run, they are unstoppable. And up next is a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, with the worst-rated running defense in the AFC (giving up 142 yards a game). Should be a cakewalk; right? Somehow, I don't think so. I think the Pats will win, because they always do at home. But the Bengals have a physical defense that man-handled us in the pre-season (I know, I know, pre-season means nothing -- but their first team whipped up on our first team), and head coach Marvin Lewis always has some special stuff on defense.

For now, the Pats are closing in on a division title. If they win on Sunday, the worst they could go is 12-4, and even though those pesky Jets could finish at 13-3, I just don't see them running the table and us losing the rest of the year. And of course, they are one step closer to getting a much coveted first round playoff bye. Pittsburgh almost lost yesterday, but they retain their number 1 seeding by virtue of their win over the Pats. But I'm not worried about that at all. We had to beat the Steelers on the road to win our first Super Bowl, so if we have to play the AFC Championship game there again, I'm all for it. It's better than being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.

Weekly Water-cooler Wisdom: "Don't look now, but Drew Bledsoe and the Buffalo Bills are one game out of the playoffs right now. They can't win the division, but they've won five of their last six and played themselves back into the post-season picture. If that happens, it would be the first time since re-alignment that three teams made the playoffs from the same division."

Keep the faith,

- Scott

PS. 11-1!