Posted: Monday July 24, 2006 10:00AM; Updated: Wednesday July 26, 2006 2:46PM
Daunte Culpepper is coming off knee surgery, but he threw the ball well in Dolphins minicamp.
I still think the Patriots are the class of the AFC East, but I also think Miami will split with New England and have a big schedule advantage down the stretch -- Patriots at home, at Buffalo, Jets at home and at Indy. Keep in mind, the Colts may not be playing for anything other than to get Jim Sorgi some snaps in the final pre-playoff tuneup. Either way, you have to love what Nick Saban is doing with the Dolphins. I always thought he was one of the five best football coaches on the planet, and in the past 18 months he's reinforced that belief.
Detroit. A stretch, I know. But this is a combo-platter pick. I really like Jon Kitna to steady a rotten offense. I like Mike Martz to shake up said rotten offense and make those spoiled-brat receivers straighten up and fly right. I like Rod Marinelli battening down the disciplinary hatches. And I really, really like the schedule. After opening with Chicago and Seattle, Detroit faces two '05 playoff teams in the final 14 games. The Lions' opponents in Games 3 through 10 had these win totals in 2005: 4, 6, 9, 5, 4, 8, 4 and 5. Teams change from year to year, obviously, but playing the 49ers and the Cardinals back-to-back is still a luxury.
You can hang me out to dry on those picks around Thanksgiving, when the Lions and the Dolphins play in Detroit and both are 3-7 and we're all marveling at the Jets, led by cinch offensive rookie of the year Kellen Clemens, cruising along at 9-1. For now, though, it's the dreaming time of year. The NFL created this paradigm of parity, and 32 fandoms couldn't be happier right now.
Quote of the Week
"My daughters like to be accessorized. Isabella doesn't like to leave the house without a purse.'' -- Jean Strahan, who became the ex-wife of Giants defensive end Michael Strahan last week at a family court in Newark, N.J., commenting on why she needed to spend $27,000 on clothing for her twin daughters, who are not yet two.
Stat of the Week
As of 11:26 Sunday evening on Amazon.com, despite being discounted $9.25 (to $15.75), TerrellOwens' new book, T.O., was not on the Top 100 list of best sellers, and it was only 15th on the list of best-selling sports books. It was seven slots behind Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible: Master the Finesse Swing and Lower Your Score, and 12 slots behind Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em.
But T.O. currently is edging Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting, by RobertMcGivern.
Aggravating/Enjoyable Travel Note of the Week
Last week, wrapping up vacation, I drove to Boston to see the Red Sox play Kansas City. Weekday game, 1 p.m. Traffic from Jersey killed me and I pulled up to the Fenway neighborhood as Boston batted in the first inning. If you know the area at all, parking is scarce under any circumstances. When you get to the game after it starts, it's nearly impossible.
Most lots and street parking were full, but I found a gas station two blocks behind the right-field wall. Pulling in, I rolled down my window, ready to pay the attendant.
"Ninety,'' he said.
"Ninety?!'' I said.
"Yeah,'' he said. "Sorry.''
"Bye,'' I said, pulling back onto the street.
So I parked in an invented spot bordering a yellow curb on Beacon Street. Got a parking ticket for $25.
If I ever pay $90 to park anywhere, for anything, I want you to find me and slap some sense into me.
Factoid That May Interest Only Me
This should interest all of us.
In my town, Montclair, N.J., we had a once-in-a-generation wind, hail and rain storm last week, uprooting 120-year-old oaks all over our neighborhood. One of those monsters crushed the car of the pitcher on the summer softball team I coach. A neighbor told me it was the worst weather event he's seen in 52 years in the town.
Wherever you are, have you noticed the weird weather patterns in the last few months? Unending, intense rain. High winds. It was in the midst of a 12th day of measurable rain in a 14-day period that I saw An Inconvenient Truth, the Al Gore movie about global warming.
This is the most apolitical piece of advice I could ever give you, because I realize Al Gore is not popular with all of you. And I really don't care very much about Gore weaving details of his personal life into the global-warming lecture. But you should see this movie and judge the facts for yourself. What's happening out here is no isolated occurrence. It's going to keep happening and it's going to get worse. Facts are facts. And we all need to do something about this phenomenon of the Earth heating up and the polar ice caps melting. This is not exactly the venue to warn the world about global warming, but all you football junkies readying for your fantasy drafts should do one real-world thing in the next couple of weeks: take two hours to see this movie. I'm not saying you'll be glad you did, because it's going to slap you around mentally a bit. But it's something you need to see. You don't want to wake up in 15 years with the Earth permanently damaged and huge portions of the Earth's surface under water, forever.