1-1 New York Giants at 1-1 Carolina Panthers
Watch: 8:20 pm ET on NFL Network
Listen: Sirius XM Radio channel 93
Odds: Giants opened as 2½ point favorites; currently the Panthers are 2½ point favorites.
Over/Under: opened at 51½; now down to 49½


On a normal week teams have six days to recover and rehab from the previous game, review and analyze that game, prepare and practice for the next game, form a game plan, and for the visiting team travel to that game. Playing on Thursday condenses that in half. For the road team even more time is lost due to travel considerations. Yes, it is not a long flight from Newark to Charlotte, but anybody who has ever flown knows that a two hour hour flight is in actuality a full day experience from the time you pack your bags to when you get settled into your hotel room. With that in mind I think the traditional three points handicappers give to home teams should be increased to four or five points for visiting teams playing on Thursday nights. Until this year’s data shows I’m wrong with this theory, that’s the way I am going to lean with NFL Thursday night games.


Now add in injuries to WR Hakeem Nicks and RB Ahmad Bradshaw (both are out), and I’m even more in favor of Carolina; those two have accounted for 40% of the Giants’ yards from scrimmage this year, and totaled over 34% of those yards in 2011. On top of that WR Domenik Hixon and OT David Diehl are also out for the Giants. While the Carolina defense is still not very good – they have missed a league-high 29 tackles in two games – overall they’re actually on par with the Giants, at least statistically. Carolina has allowed only four more yards than the Giants have, and they have allowed 15 fewer points. Offensively the Giants rank 2nd in yards and 7th in points, but that’s due in large part to the Bucs inexplicably blitzing them in the 4th quarter last week, leaving defensive backs Ronde Barber and Aquib Talib all alone in coverage.


I liked this a lot more when Carolina was getting rather than giving 2½ points, but I still like the Panthers in this game. They have a good pass/rush balance that can neutralize the Giants biggest strength, its pass rush. Brandon Lafell could have a big game, up against Prince Amukamara and Jayron Hosley. Look for a high scoring game; even with the Giants banged up offensively I still would expect it to go over 49½.



Happy 78th Birthday to Sophia Loren



Looking ahead to Sunday afternoon’s games to get us warmed up for the Pats-Ravens tilt, most of the nation will get the Chiefs at the Saints early on CBS (Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf), Texans at Broncos late on CBS (Jim Nantz, Phil Simms), and Bucs at Cowboys early on FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman). The New England area and much of Florida will get the Jets at Dolphins (Marv Albert, Rich Gannon) rather than Kansas City at New Orleans for the early CBS game. For a full visual of what games are being broadcast where, please visit our friend JP over at the506.com.



There are a couple of NFL shows that I like to watch. No, not First Take, Pardon the Interruption, Around the Horn, Sports Nation or any other similar phony scripted yuk it up alleged sports show. One is NFL Matchup. Last week I looked for it on the cable guide and found two listings: one at 3:30 a.m. and another at 7:30 a.m on Sunday morning. Now I know that genuine X’s and O’s discussion does not appeal to the casual sports fan, but come on espn … you have three networks and seven days worth of programming to fill, and this is the best you can do?


To add insult to injury to any genuine NFL fan, consider what was broadcast in its place in the immediate hours preceding the kickoff of last week’s games: three hours of their standard pre-game show, five hours of women’s golf(!!!), and a two hour show devoted to fantasy football(!!!).


I realize fantasy football is big, and I play in a couple of leagues myself. But isn’t it redundant with the regular pre-game show? It’s bad enough that the world wide leader (a) only gives 30 minutes to NFL Matchup, and (b) banishes it to the worst possible time slot it could find, but giving a fantasy football program two hours right before kickoff? Would it really kill your ratings if you made the fantasy football program only one hour and given an hour to the NFL Matchup show? Or how about giving an hour to your second best NFL football show, NFL32 leading up to the game? maybe they figure that all the hard core football fans attend games in person and are at the stadium rather than watching television on Sunday morning.



A couple last thoughts on The World Wide Leader‘s football programming. Sarah Walsh was the host/moderator of the show during the summer, and she handled the duties perfectly; bring her back. Trey Wingo is a clown; he’s a wannabe comedian. His personality would be a perfect fit for a game show; I could see him reprising Richard Dawson‘s role, shouting out “the survey says” to the audience. Make the smart move and move him over to a game show on ABC. if that doesn’t work, make him the host of one of those fluff faux-debate shows the network is so enamored with for its daytime programming. If you don’t want to make Walsh the host of NFL Live, put Wendi Nix in there, she did a pretty good job filling in on a temporary basis too.


On the NFL32 show Suzy Kolber has done a great job as the host/moderator there. Gone is the over the top exuberance that espn seems to insist on from too many of its people, and in its place is a genuinely serious and analytical demeanor. It’s as if she decided that she no longer was going to be a caricature and decided to be herself, telling the suits they could accept that change or she was gone. That’s pure speculation on my part but if that was indeed the case, then job well done.



September 20, 1968:
The last incarnation of The Yardbirds recorded an album in Barnes, London, England. Before the album was released the current leader of the band (and only remaining member), Jimmy Page, changed the name of the band to Led Zeppelin – and the rest is history.





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