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Fall Ball – Oh my, what a blessed time of year for us all! Fall has befallen us and family and friends feel a bit closer than usual. The spirit of humanity seems to have an uptick at this time and we certainly welcome the sensation with open arms as well as with open hearts. This scribe could write a whole piece about his overwhelming feelings as the holiday season appreciatively descends upon us, but he shall stick to the script and dwell on some fall ball. Happy Thanksgiving all.

NFL– A little less than two-thirds of the way through the regular season finds some new blood atop the various divisions. Refreshingly the Eagles, Vikings, Jaguars, Saints and Rams are division leaders, and all seem foundationally solid. Eagle’s quarterback Carson Wentz is odds-on favorite for MVP honors, Viking’s 3rd-string QB Case Keenum runs their ship, the Jag’s D is carrying their team, the Saints are sporting two dynamic running backs in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, and the Rams seem to be jelling on both sides of the ball.

Old blue-bloods New England and Pittsburgh may still have a say however, as the Patriots and Steelers are playing their best ball of the year and are accustomed to the pressure which comes along with making championship runs. Must say that it would be delightful to see a couple of upstarts square off in the Super Bowl. Now there’s a nice X’mas wish!

NBA – Early on the biggest surprise is the way the Boston Celtics have scrapped their way to the top of the Eastern Conference without injured star Gordon Hayward. Newly-signed point guard Kyrie Irving has shouldered the load and led the Celts to an impressive 15-2 start.

Over in the Western Conference the (ho-hum) Golden State Warriors are once again holding court, nothing new here. Just about the time one thinks there might be a chink in their armor they do something like come back from a twenty-something halftime deficit against the Philadelphia 76ers and break opposition’s hearts.

College Football – Speaking of ho-hum, undefeated Alabama continues its perch atop the polls. The Crimson Tide lost a few key defensive players to injury but their superior depth renders the injuries null and void. It is cool to see that the Miami Hurricanes have rebounded under former long-time Georgia head coach Mark Richt and are undefeated, garnering the #2 slot in the rankings.

Number 4 Wisconsin and #12 Central Florida are the only other undefeated schools searching for a spot in the year-end four-team championship playoffs. A light strength-of-schedule dogs both but bites harder at Central Florida. Look for their head coach Scott Frost to be coaching at a much more prestigious football factory come 2018.

‘Dis-N-Dat – Does it seem to anybody else that Ohio State Buckeye quarterback J.T. Barrett has been in school for at least six years instead of four? Why is it that New England Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s name is pronounced Bell-a-check? I’m a firm believer that humans having eyes close together and large big toes (gotta have both) are more apt to be athletes.

Personally I felt that Oakland’s David Carr did not warrant the record-setting contract he signed prior to this season. He’s a good quarterback and an outstanding individual but he was not time-tested before the signing. He has a plethora of gifted receivers at his disposal (Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper, etc.) but a healthy Carr has disappointed to date. Oakland’s high expectations have been dashed and a playoff run seems very unlikely.

And Finally – And, I do mean finally! Seeing how his revered team is the best in the NFL as we speak, it was seemingly premature for loyal Philadelphia Eagles fan Jeffrey Riegal from Port Republic, New Jersey, who passed away on August 18th of this year, to relay this final wish just before ascending upwards to the great gridiron in the sky: Jeffrey requested to have eight Philadelphia Eagles as pallbearers so that they could let him down one last time!

By Michael Elliott

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