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200 Miles From the Citi


September 27, 2009 4:01 AM

SUNDAY PAPER

I'll admit, I was less than pleased all last week when the Jets talked and talked leading up to their game with the Patriots.

The truth is, when they do things like that, it makes them look even worse when they get beat.

But the fact that they were able to back up all that talk and win the game makes me kind of happy they did it.

I think I like a team with some swagger.

And I think I like that it starts with the coach.

This is certainly not the type of thing that would have happened under Eric Mangini. A player who said anything under Mangini would face a fine, I'm sure...or worse.

I suppose it could have happened when Herm Edwards was at the helm, but it didn't really seem to. That was the kind of team that let Herm do the talking and they just went out and played. And while it was fun to listen to Edwards most of the time, the team was never really what you'd call dominant. More of a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth team.

Enter Rex Ryan. He started the talking in the middle of the off-season, first targeting Bill Belichick (which is tremendously overblown, incidentally - tell me something he said that has been wrong. Of course he's not going to worship Belichick - he's out to beat him. He just said what others keep to themselves.), but don't forget that when the Jets play the Dolphins, Channing Crowder says he has a score to settle with the Jets coach dating back to an off-season war of words.

The team picked up on the chatter in Week 2, and I think I'm a little disappointed that it hasn't continued into Week 3.

Well it has, kind of. Bart Scott took to the airwaves this week to call out Randy Moss, who belittled some of the Jets' defensive performance. And the target wasn't Scott specifically - he was backing up his teammates.

Listen, I know the Jets are just 2-0. I know it's not like they are a threat to win the Super Bowl...yet. (I was talking to a Patriots friend of mine this week after the Jets-Pats game and he said, "I wouldn't get too excited about your team yet." I had to respond, "I'm a Jets fan. You don't have to tell me that.") But you have to get a little excited at the atmosphere around the team Rex Ryan has created.

They believe they can win. They'll talk about it and they'll back it up. Most importantly, they'll back each other up on and off the field.

There's a lot to like - and believe in - about that.

**All of the talk around Boston is who the Red Sox are going to start in Game 1 of the ALDS...not an 'if' but a 'when'. I know they're very close to clinching...but after what I've seen with the Mets the past couple of years it gives me pause to hear people talking about the playoffs as a sure thing when it's not locked up yet. It's like when the Mets were in the playoffs commercials MLB was airing last year through the summer. That turned embarrassing come late September. And then you watch Jon Lester take a line drive off the knee and you think, 'Maybe everyone should keep their mouth shut.' Or at least stop talking about the ALCS versus the Yankees and only focus on an ALDS.

**You may remember two weeks ago I (slightly accidentally) gave you the Bills getting big points against the Patriots. I forgot to pick an underdog last Sunday, but if I had I like to think I would have gone with the Cardinals to outright win getting points in Jacksonville (I had them and felt great about them in my picks pool). But I won't let another "would have" situation go by. This week, I notice there are quite a few home underdogs, which are always hard to pick against. I do not like the Lions or Rams, both getting points, nor do I like the Bengals or the Seahawks. I think all of those teams lose and fail to cover at home. I do like the Bucs to at least cover against the Giants and the Bills to at least cover against the Saints. I'm not sure either team wins, though. And then finally, I can't believe the Broncos are underdogs in Oakland. Is there any way they lose to the Raiders? I don't think either team is very good, and I have a hard time seeing Denver getting to 3-0, but I think they win again on Sunday.

**That reminds me - I think it's time to start figuring out who's for real and who's not some time this week I'll write about the legit teams with winning records (like the Falcons) and the frauds (Denver). Also, the hard-luck losing teams (like the Titans) and the flat-out bad teams (like the Rams).

**I know you're dying to know a little more about the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, opponent of Hall of Famer Gary Carter's Long Island Ducks in the Atlantic League playoffs. In Game 1 of their series, the Ducks were beaten 1-0 by former major league pitchers John Halama and Mac Suzuki (the closer). The manager is Butch Hobson, which I'm sure resonates with the many Red Sox fans who read this blog.

**I was able to listen to the last couple of innings of Game 3 of the series on WNYG streaming over the internet and it was pretty excellent quality, all things considered. Surprised to hear that Gary Carter also coaches third base, but I guess it makes sense at that level. I guess I always assumed Buddy Harrelson would man third for Carter like he did for the 1980's Mets teams. Anyway, the Ducks pulled out an 8th inning rally to win Game 3 and stave off elimination in the best-of-five series. They trail the series 2 games to 1.

**Update: Forgot to make a Jets pick in my original posting...The Jets and Titans always play each other tight (in today's case, incidentally, it'll be Titans-Oilers - one of the AFL anniversary games, with the Jets as the Titans). I say Jets 23, Titans 20.

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