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TGI Friday’s NFL Weekend Preview: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

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Why Should I Watch?

Monday night’s game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots is arguably the best regular season game we’ve had this year.  Rex Ryan has already made it clear his job is to “kick Bill Belichick’s ass” and thinks his Jets are the best team in the NFL, despite what many analysts are saying.  The Jets got the best of the Pats in round one at the New Meadowlands, but New England is now without Randy Moss.  One would think the subtraction of a player like Moss would hurt the team, but that hasn’t been the case.  The Patriots are one of the NFL’s hottest teams since the swap, but the Jets could secure their place as the team to beat in the AFC with a win in Foxboro.

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Ben Roethlisberger Has a Broken Foot, Will Continue to Play

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been limited in practice this week with what was originally thought to be a sprained right foot.  It turns out the injury is a tad more serious than that.  Sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday that the foot is actually broken.  Roethlisberger suffered the injury during the first quarter of Sunday’s win over the Bills.

Despite the injury, Big Ben said he “fully expects” to play against the Ravens on Sunday.  I can already hear Jon Gruden talking about how tough he is during the Monday night game if the Steelers win.  Yes, I know the Monday night game is Jets-Patriots.  It doesn’t matter.

Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said the injury should not limit Roethlisberger in any way on the field, but I don’t see how that’s possible.  The reason Roethlisberger is so effective is that he can get outside the pocket and make plays on the run despite his massive stature.  Unless team doctors pump him full of drugs — or alcohol since that seems to be his thing — before the game, the injury has to limit his mobility in some way.  Pittsburgh’s offense has been less-than-stellar to begin with, so I’d probably be pretty concerned if I were a Steelers fan.

Nate Burleson Guarantees Victory for Detroit Lions over Bears

I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get tired of players guaranteeing victory, especially when they don’t deliver. That goes for Neftali Feliz, Brandon Marshall, and some unknown player for Pittsburgh. We can add Detroit Lions wide receiver Nate Burleson to the list.

Apparently Burleson added a guarantee to the end of his radio show and was asked to categorize his statement on Thursday. “Did I or did I not guarantee a win? How should I answer this? This is what I said – ‘We will win on Sunday.’ That’s what I said at the end of my (radio) show. You can take it as a guarantee, Chicago can take it as a guarantee, they can take it however they want. At the end of the day, they know what our intentions are when they come in to Detroit. I’m not trying to stir up anything, but we play to win the game, we want to try to win on Sunday and we think we’ve got a chance to win.”

Well, there’s a big difference between having a chance to win and trying to win, and actually winning. Now we’re just starting to confuse intending to win with actually guaranteeing victory. That’s no foreign issue for Burleson who “guaranteed” a win over the Arizona Cardinals last year while he was with the Seahawks. The Cardinals went 10-6 and swept Seattle. With Drew Stanton starting at quarterback, I’ll firmly disagree with Burleson’s guarantee once again.

Andre Johnson Mic’d Up During Cortland Finnegan Brawl (Video)

Is this mic’d up stuff fun or what?  If you enjoy listening to what goes on inside the trenches on a normal day in the NFL, you’ll love getting a glimpse into the action that leads up to the best brawl we’ve seen all year.  Read and React tracked down the Sound FX video of Andre Johnson mic’d up on Sunday leading up to his throw down with Cortland Finnegan.  It’s definitely entertaining stuff and gives us the feeling that Finnegan is even more of a douche than we originally thought.  Check it out:

Both guys were obviously taking a fair amount of shots, but you can tell Johnson is a patient guy who just lost it.  Finnegan has a reputation for doing this type of thing, as evidenced by his trying to pump up the Texans’ crowd when he was heading to the locker room after being thrown out.  I’m glad he got up and clapped after Andre banged him out.  Johnson deserved the applause.

Michael Strahan Calls Chad Ochocinco’s Engagement a Publicity Stunt

Call him a cynic, but Michael Strahan says he doesn’t have much faith in Chad Ochocinco’s romance with Basketball Wives star Evelyn Lozada.

I caught up with Strahan at the March of Dimes Annual Sports Lunch and asked if he thought a new joint reality show would be a good idea for Chad and Evelyn. 

“Well I think it’s all about that anyway,” said Strahan, who’s currently engaged to Eddie Murphy’s ex wife, Nicole. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re not. If [they’re not together] for the fame, then for the opportunities it presents.

Oh c’mon Mike, next you’re going to tell me you don’t believe in Santa.

Adrian Awasom Finds a Loophole in the UFL’s New Transfer Fee Policy

Adrian Awasom hopes to play in the NFL again in the near future. The 6-foot-5, 280-pound defensive lineman was signed by the New York Giants in 2005 as an undrafted free agent and played in only 17 NFL games.  According to National Football Post, Awasom is drawing interest from a few NFL teams after recording 20 tackles and three sacks during a championship season with the Las Vegas Locomotives.  But who wants to pay $150,000 just to leave the UFL for the NFL?

Awasom certainly doesn’t, which is why he and his agent have found a brilliant loophole in the UFL’s new policy.  Rather than pay the $150,000 transfer fee to go directly from the UFL to the NFL, Awasom has signed with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League.  From there, he can void his contract and seek NFL employment without having to pay a fee.

Genius.  It remains to be seen whether or not more players will take this route and the AFL will get sick of being used, but for now it seems like a great way to tell the UFL to take their $150,000 fee and stuff it.  Bravo, Awason, and best of luck on phase two of your NFL career.

LBS NFL Power Rankings Week 13

1. New England Patriots (9-2, –)

The Patriots avoided a letdown in Detroit with a monster second half. Rookie Devin McCourty looks like he could turn into one of the best cover corners in the league. The NFL couldn’t have asked for better circumstances surrounding New England’s Monday night game against the Jets.

2. Atlanta Falcons (9-2, +1)

Time to put the Falcons in the discussion of best team in the NFL. The Packers helped Atlanta with mistakes — like Aaron Rodgers’ fumble on the goal line — but the win cements them as the best team in the NFC. They’re particularly tough to beat at home, which could make for a deep playoff run.

3. New York Jets (9-2, –)

The Jets have not defeated an above .500 opponent since their win over the Patriots Week 2. For that reason, we have them at No. 3 in our rankings. If they’re able to win in New England on Monday night, they’ll shoot up to No. 1. Monday’s game is as big as it gets for the regular season.

4. Baltimore Ravens (8-3, +3)

Like the Jets, it’s been a while since Baltimore has beaten a top-tier team. They’ll get their shot at home against Pittsburgh this weekend. The Ravens could sweep the Steelers with a win and put themselves in prime position to win the AFC North.

5. New Orleans Saints (8-3, +3)

Why is it that everyone seems to have forgotten about the Super Bowl champs? The Saints have won five out of their last six and scored 30+ points five times over that span. They’re a team that’s finding it’s stride at the right time and knows how to win in the playoffs.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3, -1)

A win is a win in the NFL, but the Steelers’ most recent one was as lucky as it gets. If Steve Johnson catches the ball in overtime, Pittsburgh loses. They have looked a bit lost at times since getting slapped around by the Patriots a few weeks ago. Finding consistency on offense will be crucial.

7. Green Bay Packers (7-4, -1)

Although the Packers lost to the Falcons, it was a road game against the NFC’s best and they hung around until the end. Had Rodgers not committed his first fumble of the season, we’d probably be talking about Green Bay as the best team in the NFC. Their next two are against the 49ers and Lions.

8. Chicago Bears (8-3, +4)

Okay, the Bears might be for real. They made Michael Vick look like a human being in a convincing win over the Eagles at home. Jay Cutler looked like he understood the offense, and that’s a scary thing for the rest of the NFC. Their defense keeps them in games and consistently gives them a chance to win.

9. San Diego Chargers (6-5, +4)

Forget the five losses. The Chargers are a very, very good football team. Philip Rivers would be the MVP if the season ended today. Despite countless injuries in the passing game, Rivers has led his team to four straight wins — including a shellacking of the Colts.

10. New York Giants (7-4, –)

The Giants had to overcome a bunch of injuries on offense against Jacksonville to come away with a win. They came from behind and were able to get a win, whether their fans appreciated it or not.  More importantly, they avoided the “Giants are chokers” talk for at least another week.

11. Philadelphia Eagles (7-4, -7)

The loss to the Bears showed us how average the Eagles can be if Michael Vick doesn’t have a tremendous game. Vick is still the most dangerous quarterback in the league, but he’s bound to start making some mistakes. The question is can Philadelphia overcome them.

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