Who will T. O. play for?
That was the big question on Wednesday, as word began to circulate that the Philadelphia Eagles’ suspension of Owens was likely to be cut from four games to only one or two. There's no question that T. O. has played his last game for Philly, and that the Eagles certainly don't want Owens around their practice or training facilities for the rest of the season, even if Philly has no chance to make the playoffs any longer. So the guess here is that the Eagles release Owens, take the big cap hit that entails, and let the rest of the NFL deal with this idiot.
But man, you talk about midseason acquisitions. If Owens really does get waived, he's going to be the mother of all injections for some lucky (or not-so-lucky) NFL team. He'll probably sign for short money, with a contender, trying to enhance his image as a “team player" (yeah, right), in order to get a multi-year deal next summer. And really, I don't hate the idea of signing him. In 2004, Owens proved he was capable of shutting up for a single year, when circumstances are fresh and people don't hate him yet. He could very well be a good soldier for the rest of ‘05, wherever he lands. (But teams should not sign him to a multi-year deal!) Anyway, let's take a look at my leading contenders to get T. O. 's services:
5. Seattle Seahawks. The ‘Hawks have suffered a number of wideout injuries this year, the most notable being Darrell Jackson, who still isn't expected back for a couple more weeks. As a result, Shaun Alexander is having an incredible year, but defenses are starting to put 16 in the box to stop him. Would Mike Holmgren swallow hard to get a legitimate deep threat to keep Alexander a bit cleaner?
4. Washington Redskins. This is the Dan Snyder Factor, which is mitigated by the Joe Gibbs Factor. Acquiring Owens is just the kind of ludicrous, high-profile thing toward which Snyder gravitates. But Gibbs is a smart guy who doesn't suffer fools, and insiders say Snyder worships Gibbs and wouldn't do anything this big to piss him off. He's a decent fit, though.
3. Atlanta Falcons. Owens has a history with Jim Mora, has a house in the Atlanta area (which is reportedly for sale), and gets along with Mike Vick. The problem here is that he also has a history with former 49er offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, the o-coordinator here in Atlanta, too. Knapp is the guy Owens humiliated by yelling at him for about ten minutes during a game in his last San Francisco season.
2. Denver Broncos. Mike Shanahan already believes he's a genius, and what better way to prove he deserves say over personnel than sign Owens, plug him next to Rod Smith, and watch Jake Plummer go crazy. Then again, if it means Plummer starts throwing 35 times a game again, Denver might want to re-think this.
1. Dallas Cowboys. It's a natural fit. Dallas just hasn't been punky enough lately. Owens strides out onto the Texas Stadium turf in a few weeks, and genuflects on the center star. His career thus comes full circle.
Will the Indianapolis Colts go 16-0?
Rob Gillespie, BoDog.com: I don't think so. They have some tough games ahead, and they could clinch the AFC so early that their last couple of games will be meaningless. I also think they are focused on winning the Super Bowl and not a perfect season. The only team that can beat them though is themselves.
Do you want to reconsider your answer about Reggie Bush for the Heisman Trophy yet again after his incredible performance against Fresno State last week?
RG, BoDog.com: Wow. I was certainly second-guessing my comments Saturday night for sure. Impressive on the stat sheet and even more impressive to watch! Two things will diminish the impact of that game though. First, it wastoo late for many east coast voters to see and secondly, there is no way that game should have been that close. The gap between Texas and USC in the polls has closed over the season significantly and I think that will impact voters a little as well. The Texas game against Texas A&M on Friday could be the key game for the Heisman race.
What's the most confusing thing about the NFL this year? That the Minnesota Vikings are at .500? That the San Diego Chargers might not make the playoffs? That the Philadelphia Eagles are below .500? That the AFC East is so pathetic? Or something else entirely?
RG, BoDog.com: Seems like an off year for parity. You have the Texans stinking it up on Sunday night (again) and the Colts going 10-0 with relative ease (no wins by less than a TD). My take is the salary cap created parity for awhile and had squashed dynasties, but now some teams have figured how to out how to work with the cap and others haven't. This is resulting in some smaller dynasties like the Pats have had and a return to an unbalanced league where the level of talent in your division and on yourschedule will largely dictate who makes the playoffs. If the Eagles or Chargers were in the NFC West instead of Seattle, or NFC Central instead of Chicago, they would be 8-2 as well probably.
Other than Texas-USC, can you give us the one BCS matchup you'd like to see this January, and tell us why?
RG, BoDog.com: I think a Notre Dame/Ohio State Fiesta Bowl would be a great game. Ohio State has only two losses, the great game against Texas and the grinder in Happy Valley. The Penn State game perhaps looked a little weak at the time, but we see now that the Nittany Lions are for real. That makes OSU a very good team in my mind and would be a great test for a Notre Dame team that I can't really figure out. Two programs with huge and deeply passionate fan bases will make the energy level in the stadium very high and get the best out of both teams.
Christopher Harris is a featured writer for the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com