This week we have the time-honored tradition of shaking up the rookies. Three newcomers will enter the ring, and Staff Writer Duncan Slobodzian will send only one home a winner. Correspondents Michael Zanfardino and Brandon Gould, as well as Sports Assistant Hilarey Wojtowicz will be picking sides in the Giants/Jets debate, arguing the merits of a New Jersey Nets buyout and deciding whether the Trojans can salvage their season.
1. Which 2-0 New York football team would win if they played each other this Sunday? Justify your answer thoroughly.
MZ: If they matched up this Sunday, the Giants would edge out the Jets in a closely contested defensive battle. Thomas Jones and the Jets would enjoy success running the ball against the Giants’ weak linebacking core. However, the Giants veteran defensive line, led by Osi Umenyiora, would apply serious pressure against Mark Sanchez and the Jets’ passing attack, leading the inexperienced Sanchez to throw a few crucial interceptions. The Giants offense, which has protected the ball this season, would be able to convert these turnovers into the game’s deciding points. The Giants would be able to utilize their own running game, eating up the remaining game clock in the process.
BG: The Jets and Giants have looked impressive defensively in their first two contests. This matchup would be a slugfest between the new school 3-4 scheme of the Jets and the old school 4-3 scheme of the G-men. However, if you compare the statistics in the first two games, the Jets have been more successful. The Giants have allowed 48 points to the Redskins and the Cowboys. Meanwhile, the Jets have only surrendered 16 points against the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots. Coming into the season, experts would have claimed these offenses were “explosive,” but not even Tom Brady was able to put the ball over the goal line against Rex Ryan’s revamped defense. The main difference between the two defenses can be summed up in two words — Darrelle Revis. I think everyone in football, besides Randy Moss, would agree that the three-year veteran has quickly become a shutdown corner. The Jets would take it 17-9.
HW: In a game between the NFC’s number one team and the leader of the AFC, the Giants would pull through for the win. The Jets may have Mark Sanchez, but he can’t lead the team to every win. Eli Manning is looking comfortable with the ball, and is working well with his receivers, especially after not having Plaxico Burress on the field anymore. Also, Lawrence Tynes is making field goal after field goal to support Manning’s arm in the games against Washington and Dallas. The Jets wouldn’t be far behind, and it would definitely be a challenging game. Nevertheless, the Giants would take over the field and show strength and skill by using time wisely when in possesion of the ball. Sorry Sanchez, but you should probably just stay on the sidelines with your knee tendonitis rather than waste your time in this game.
DS: I like Brandon for the 3 here. While both defenses have playmakers, Revis is a shutdown in ways that the players in the Giants secondary just aren’t. Mike gets 2 for considering just about all angles on both sides of the matchup. Hilarey gets the 1, primarily for the low blow on Sanchez. Uncalled for.
2. Mikhail Prokhorov, the richest man in Russia, wants to take control of the New Jersey Nets. Would having a non-North American owner be beneficial for the NBA?
MZ: How is there even a debate as to whether this is beneficial for basketball? Prokhorov would undoubtedly do wonders for the Nets. Prokhorov has nearly $10-billion in net worth. Obviously, he would be able to appropriately finance the team, and through lucrative contract offers, attract tremendous NBA talent toward the franchise. He would provide a portal for unknown European talents to enter the NBA and enhance the quality of the game. Whereas previously these talents would go unnoticed, Prokhorov would identify them and transport them to the league. Finally, Russia’s wealthiest businessman would provide the financial backing for a new stadium in Brooklyn. The Nets desperately need to leave the Meadowlands, and migrate to Brooklyn, where the team would enjoy an enthusiastic, dedicated fan base.
BG: A lot of people would suggest that selling the New Jersey Nets to a foreigner would be unpatriotic. However, it would be a strategic move for the Nets and the NBA. Prokhorov would bring financial stability to a Nets organization that has been struggling in the recent recession. Prokhorov’s presence would also allow the Nets to make the move to their new arena in Brooklyn. The other aspect that Prokhorov brings is a new frontier for professional basketball. Basketball in Russia is on the rise, and Prokhorov might be able to bring that talent pool to the Nets and the rest of the NBA. All it takes is one successful player to attract the rest. The MLB experienced this after the success of Ichiro Suzuki. Japanese players have flocked to the U.S. ever since. The same opportunity could be open to Russia if Prokhorov is allowed to purchase the Nets.
HW: If Russian millionaire Mikhail Prokhov buys the New Jersey Nets, the team and the NBA would definitely benefit from the change. With an international owner, the NBA would be expanding its worldwide identity. Also, with the money the Nets would finally be able to move out of the crappy Izod Center, and into a new state of the art stadium. The NBA is looking for other international investors anyway, so why not start with a team like the Nets and then see how it goes from there? It can’t hurt and the money will definitely make up for it.
DS: Mike collects the 3 here because his argument was divided into a list, which made it exponentially easier to follow. Brandon gets 2 . He was making a lot of the same arguments. And 1 for Hilarey, for slighting Prokhov’s fortune by calling him a “millioinaire.”
3. USC got toppled by 2008’s only winless college team, Washington University. Two-part question: Is the Trojans’ campaign for a BCS National Championship over? Is this fair?
MZ: Even after losing to Jake Locker and Washington, USC is far from being out of the national championship picture. The Trojans lost on the road to a revamped Huskies team, who in the offseason fired the dismal Tyrone Willingham, and replaced him with USC’s own stellar offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian. If anything, Washington was underrated going into this game, as their new ranking No. 24 in the AP poll represents. While Pete Carroll and company do not have control of their own destiny, they should feel comfortable knowing that there is a good chance Texas, Alabama and Florida will falter at least once with their difficult schedules. However, if these teams were to stay undefeated, then USC is straight out of luck. It blew its shot by losing to Washington, and wouldn’t deserve a bid over one of those unblemished schools.
BG: I want to say that USC still has a chance at the national championship, but recent history suggests it does not, Just look at the 2008 USC Trojans, who arguably were the best college defense ever as the team let up only nine points a game. Yet, the polls ignored this fact after Pete Carroll’s boys lost early in the year to Oregon State. Playing in a weak Pac-10 conference, the Trojans are expected to be perfect every year and if they’re not, then it’s seen as a failed season. Other teams that play in tougher conferences can usually afford to lose a game and still have a favorable shot at the national championship. The 2007 LSU Tigers even it made it to the big game with two losses, but that is because they play in the well-respected SEC. The fact of the matter is the USC standard is unfair, but that is what makes college football great — every game matters.
HW: After losing to one of the worst teams in college football, there is no way that the USC Trojans could make it to the national championship this year. Washington just broke its 15-game losing streak against USC. That’s really sad. You’d think that USC would be better than to let itself fall apart during a game like that. The only difference on the field was Taylor Mays not being in the game. Whether it was lack of confidence because of Locker being in, or whether it was because the team just didn’t finish, the Trojans still lost the game. The only way a team can make it to the national championship is by going undefeated all season or by keeping it to a one- loss season. USC already lost one game, so either it wins every game the rest of the season, or kiss the championship game goodbye.
DS: Brandon spit the most real talk this round, so he gets the 3. Hilarey gets the 2 for getting after USC, hard. And 1 point goes to Mike for suggesting that Washington was “underrated.” USC has absolutely no excuse for losing that game, and as Brandon points out, its loss looks infinitely worse than any conference loss potentially incurred by the SEC, Big 10, or Big 12 powerhouses.
Brandon wins the rookie rumble, 8 – 6 – 4