T.G.I. Friday’s NFL Weekend Preview – Week 11

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The Scores Report has teamed up with T.G.I Friday’s to promote the action in Week 11 of the NFL. Here’s a look at Sunday’s top games.

The Top-5 Games of Week 11:

1. Giants (6-3) @ Eagles (6-3), 8:20PM ET
It’s time to find out whether or not Michael Vick is for real or if his video game-like stats are the by-product of the defenses he’s faced. Of the four teams that he’s started and finished against (the Lions, Jaguars, Colts and Redskins), none of the four has a defense ranked in the top 15. That doesn’t mean Vick hasn’t been as good as advertised (on the contrary – he’s been phenomenal), but he’ll get his first true test this Sunday against an angry, aggressive Giants’ defense that was embarrassed by the Cowboys on their home turf last Sunday. This has all the makings of a true NFC East showdown and with it being shown on primetime, one that shouldn’t disappoint.

2. Colts (6-3) @ Patriots (7-2), 4:15PM ET
One of the best rivalries of the past decade gets renewed this Sunday in Foxboro. The Colts are incredibly banged up and are coming off a rare victory in which Peyton Manning didn’t throw a single touchdown pass. The Patriots, on the other hand, blew out the Steelers in Pittsburgh and are looking to make a statement that they’re the team to beat now in the AFC. Last year, the Patriots led by 13 with 2:30 remaining but the Colts came back to win 35-34 amidst Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th and 2 from his own 28-yard line. The call backfired and for roughly 97 days following that play, the media discussed whether or not it was a good decision. How will this year’s chapter of Manning vs. Brady end?

3. Packers (6-3) @ Vikings (3-6), 1:00PM ET
This game has lost some luster this season thanks to the Vikings’ poor play, which includes Brett Favre’s penchant for turnovers. The only thing interesting about Minnesota these days is watching the circus act that is Brad Childress and his decision-making. That said, this could be Brett’s last chance to stick it to his former team and you know Lord Favre will make the most of the opportunity. With the Bears’ win over the Dolphins’ practice squad on Thursday night, the Packers need a win in order to keep pace with Chicago in the NFC North. Battling an assortment of injuries, Green Bay has managed to win three in a row and is fresh coming off its bye. Can the Pack get one more and hand their former quarterback another loss? Or will it be Favre’s last moment to shine?

4. Raiders (5-4) @ Steelers (6-3), 1:00PM ET
Who would have thought that this would be a top-5 game of any week, nevertheless Week 11? Even though they’re tied for first in the AFC West, the Raiders still have a lot to prove. For starters, only one of their five wins this year came on the road and only two of their wins (Chiefs and Seahawks) came against winning teams. That said, they’re finding ways to win and in the NFL, that’s the only thing that matters. They’re also 3-0 against the AFC West this year, which includes wins over the Chargers and Chiefs – two teams they’ll be competing with down the stretch. For the Steelers, they were soundly beaten by the Patriots last week and now have to play a team that has given them all kinds of trouble over the years. Oakland marched into Pittsburgh last year and beat the Steelers, so you know the Raiders won’t have any fears playing at Heinz Field. This game will be interesting to watch unfold. Even if the Raiders lose, as long as they can hang with the Steelers they’ll have confidence heading down the stretch.

5. Seahawks (5-4) @ Saints (6-3), 4:05PM ET
There were a couple of games that could have been used for this spot, most notably the Falcons-Rams contest in St. Louis. But this is a matchup between a) two teams with winning records and b) two teams that are still in a state of flux. The Saints are getting healthy again, which should make NFC teams queasy, while the Seahawks own sole possession of the NFC West but nobody quite knows what to make of Pete Carroll’s squad yet. This game may not tell us a whole lot because New Orleans could roll. But if Seattle hangs tough or – gasp! – actually beats the Saints, then the NFC playoff picture will get more muddled than it already is.

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Decade Debate: 6 Greatest Sports Rivalries

The word rivalry is defined as “competition for the same objective or superiority in the same field.” Rivalries exist in all facets of life, but they are no more apparent than in the world of sport. With the end of the decade looming, here are the six most intense rivalries of the last ten years.

6. Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson

Competition between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson may not produce the mystique that Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus once did, but their rivalry has been exciting nonetheless. Without Tiger Woods, professional golf’s popularity would be a mere morsel of what it is today. The man has won 14 majors, holds his own tournament (the AT&T National), designed two beautiful courses, is the only golfer with his own video game, and garners public intrigue on the same level as world leaders. Still, his status as figurehead of professional golf wouldn’t have any merit without some stiff competition. Enter Phil Mickelson, Tiger’s only adversary with any staying power. When Mickelson won the 2000 Buick Invitational, he also officially ended Tiger’s streak of consecutive tournament wins at six. Over the years, Mickelson would hire Butch Harmon, Tiger’s former coach, and joke about Tiger’s use of “inferior equipment.” Still, their rivalry always remained amicable, even as Phil won his first major in ’04 (The Masters), the PGA Championship in ’05 another Green Jacket in ’06. During this year’s Masters, Tiger and Mickelson were finally paired together in a major event. Trudging down the final back nine at Augusta, the two golfers put on a show that thankfully lived up to the hype. –- Christopher Glotfelty

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Bill Simmons on Bill Belichick’s ill-fated decision

In his latest column, Simmons rails on those that defend Bill Belichick’s decision to go for it on 4th-and-2 against the Patriots Sunday night. First, he skewers the idea that it was statistically the right move. Then he questions the assumption that the Colts would have scored had the Pats punted. After that, he questions a few other justifications for Belichick’s decision. The whole thing is a good read, but here’s the meat of his conclusion…

Did it feel like the end of an era? Yeah, a little. The truth is, Belichick is 57 years old. I doubt he’s banking those famous 19-hour work days anymore. I doubt he possesses the same hunger that fueled him when he was trying to escape Bill Parcells’ shadow and make a name for himself. Everything is gravy for him at this point. His place in history is secure.

Career security can be damaging in one of two ways: either you stop taking chances, or you feel emboldened and start taking too many of them. Belichick’s recent history shows that he would rather roll the dice than do something conventionally. He made so many trades in the draft this past April that I can’t even remember where we ended up picking. Right before the season, with the Patriots picked by many as the clear Super Bowl favorite, he dealt one of his defensive pillars (Richard Seymour) to Oakland for a future first-round pick. On Sunday night, he went for the jugular in Indianapolis when the situation demanded prudence.

There is a time for statistics and a time for common sense. And on the road, up six, facing a 4th-and-2 on your own 28 yard-line? That’s a time for common sense.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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