The Vermont Cynic

FACE OFF [Where we agree to disagree about national sports]

ROUND ONE This year’s Thanksgiving Day football featured, once again, the god-awful Detroit Lions and the tiring Dallas Cowboys. Should the NFL do away with the tradition of featuring Detroit and Dallas every year on Turkey Day?[ZACH]No matter how terrible the Lions are every year, watching them struggle through yet another Thanksgiving game is an untouchable yearly tradition. There would be riots in the streets if someone turned on their TV on Thanksgiving afternoon and were forced to watch some sort of mess like the Browns against the Falcons. In the case of the Cowboys, they have returned to dominance as of late, and it is fully expected to see America’s team after feasting each Turkey Day. Sure, it would be nice to see them taking on a better opponent, but no one could have predicted the Seahawks would be this bad at the beginning of the season.[DIANA]Though on years like this it seems very strange to watch the Lions and the Cowboys on Thanksgiving – especially when there are so many better teams out there – it would be a terrible idea to mess with this tradition. If I were a fan of either of these teams, I would want to watch them on Thanksgiving, no matter what their records looked like that year. Giving the rest of the country better football games to watch is not worth the backlash of taking away this tradition from fans.[Alright, you convinced me – it is pretty fun to watch Detroit get shelled every year.]Zach 1, Diana 0ROUND TWO With the NFL season hitting the home stretch, the MVP race is heating up. If the season ended today, who is the front-runner for the coveted award?[ZACH]Call me crazy, but I see Kurt Warner as the best bet to win the MVP award coming out of the NFC. As this NFL season began, most people thought it was finally the year when Matt Leinart would take over the Cardinals offense for good, sending Warner back to his day job of bagging groceries. Instead, the 37-year-old Warner has again proved critics wrong with his 99.4 QB rating, 3,741 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and 68.4 completion percentage, covering up for the Cards’ non-existent running game and almost single-handedly leading them to a surprising 7-5 record. As for the AFC, I will take a flyer and put my money on Joey Porter. Although the linebacker may be a long shot to win the award, his NFL leading 14.5 sacks have given the Dolphins defense the spark they need in order to silence all the critics and go 6-5 thus far on the season.[DIANA]The AFC front-runner has to be Brett Favre. After hearing from so many people that he should have stayed in retirement, the future hall-of-famer has taken the previously 4-12 Jets to a miraculous 8-4 season and into first place in the AFC North. As for the NFC, Drew Brees is in the lead. Though the Saints are only 6-5, Brees is playing beautifully even without the aid of Reggie Bush. With 22 touchdowns and consistent, reliable play, Brees is carrying himself toward the MVP and his team to better places than where they are now.[After his dominating performance against the Packers on Monday Night Football, the MVP is Brees’s to lose.]Zach 1, Diana 1ROUND THREE President-elect Barack Obama has talked openly about sports-related issues just weeks after being elected. What do you think President Obama has a better chance of – creating an eight-team college football playoff or getting the 2016 Olympics in Chicago?[ZACH]Let’s be honest here – as much as every American with a brain wants to see an eight-team playoff system in college football, we have a better chance of hell freezing over or Dick Cheney doing something beneficial for this world. The powers that be love the current BCS system and the money it pays out far too much to change their ways anytime soon. It’s good to hear Obama has an interest in making the necessary changes to the flawed system, but he has a far better chance of landing the 2016 Olympics in Chicago – hell, even China got the Olympics and they have dirtier air than New Jersey and worse humanitarian policies than Bobby Knight.[DIANA]Even though it is possible that neither of these ideas will ever become a reality, Barack Obama has a much better chance of getting a college football playoff. This issue is one that already has a lot of support from fans and professionals and also has been considered before this year. Even more importantly, college football is also something that only concerns the United States. The Olympics will involve talking to other countries and though Barack Obama has already proven himself to be an effective public speaker, that may get a bit complicated.[Olympics in Chicago? Yes we can! College football playoff … eh ….]Zach 2, Diana 1Final Score: Zach wins, 2-1

FACE OFF: Where we agree to disagree about national sports]

ROUND ONEThe Tennessee Titans have shocked the NFL by going 9-0 to start this season. Do you think the Titans are legitimate contenders to go undefeated and possibly even win the Super Bowl?[MICHAEL]At 9-0 atop the AFC, with the rest of the conference three games back or further, the Titans are definitely for real.But to think that the Titans will go the whole way seems a little far-fetched. For one, only two teams since the AFL-NFL merger have gone undefeated in the regular season. The Patriots did last year, losing in the Super Bowl, and the 1972 Miami Dolphins went one step further and were crowned champions.Point being that this sort of thing doesn’t happen often in the NFL. The rarity of this feat, coupled with a few tough matchups along the way, will likely have the Titans finishing with at least three losses.Also, the Titans will have to play their best football of the year in the playoffs if they want to win the Super Bowl, for they will face some strong AFC teams along the way.[KYLE]The Titans have made an amazing run to 9-0 on the shoulders of aging QB Kerry Collins, a winning season that no expert would have predicted when the team was preoccupied with Vince Young’s antics. I think the team can easily make it to 14-0, while they face some struggling teams. However, when they reach weeks 15 and 16, they face the Steelers and Colts, two teams that will most likely be fighting for a playoff spot while the Titans will be running out the clock on the regular season and preparing for the postseason. Therefore, I think they lose one of those two games but still make a run in the playoffs.[Good luck to Titans fans if their team ends up like the Patriots.]Michael 1, Kyle 0ROUND TWOIn a 29-24 loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Monday night, San Francisco 49ers coaches Mike Singletary and Mike Martz called successive running plays on the goal line with time running out and no timeouts. Do you think the coaches made the right calls in the loss, or should they have trusted their unproven passing game?[MICHAEL]I am a Niners fan, and let me tell you, last Monday’s game was one tough loss to watch. That said, I will not question the play-calling at the end of the game.Toward the end of the game, Shaun Hill was unraveling. In the last 18 minutes of the game, Hill threw two interceptions that counted and another two that were called back via penalty. Clearly, at this juncture in the game, the passing game was not to be completely trusted.I am actually a huge fan of the plays that were called. Frank Gore is one of the league’s premiere running backs, and if he hadn’t stumbled a bit on the second-to-last play, he would have easily scored. New head coach Mike Singletary is an old-school kind of guy that favors hard-nosed football and those plays reflected just that. If they had scored, we would be discussing whether or not Singletary has what it takes to get the 49ers to the playoffs instead.[KYLE]I think that everyone needs to stop calling out Mike Singletary in his first few weeks as an NFL head coach for a team that can’t seem to win a game with any coach. Why would you put the ball in the hands of a struggling young quarterback who was 19 for 40 on the night when you have one of the top running backs in the league in Frank Gore? Not to mention that the Arizona Cardinals are one of the better teams in the NFC as they are currently running away with the West. Singletary made the right decision in calling running plays, because if Shaun Hill had gotten picked off on that play, Singletary would have heard about that too. He made the right play calls; the Cardinals just did what they’ve done all season and came up big in the clutch.[Looks like Singletary will have to start winning to catch a break.]Michael 1, Kyle 1ROUND THREEThe San Diego Padres are rumored to be in serious talks with the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs about trading ace Jake Peavy. Do you think one of these teams will pick up the dominating righty, or do you see Peavy landing somewhere in the AL?[MICHAEL]In Major League Baseball, starting pitching is one of the most sought after commodities. With this in mind, the Padres know that not only will Jake Peavy allow them to get a bunch of talent in return, but also that some of that talent will have to be quality starting pitching. The Braves look like the team that has a chance to provide the starting pitching that the Padres will be looking for. They have a wealth of pitching talent in their system, headed up by Charlie Morton and Jo-Jo Reyes.[KYLE]With the Braves’ disappointing pitching staff from last season, I could definitely see them making the pick-up of Peavy this offseason. Ever since the good old days with Maddux, Smoltz, and John Rocker, the Tomahawk pitching staff has not looked the same. Peavy is a highly coveted NL pitcher not only for his pitching, but also for his experience with hitting, although still badly, in the National League. If the Braves want to get back to being the NL East contenders they used to be, they will pick up Peavy because they definitely need a No. 1 starter to solidify their staff.[Who doesn’t want that kind of talent?]Michael 1, Kyle 2

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FACE OFF [Where we agree to disagree about national sports]