WHO'S Hot WHO'S Not

November 15, 2004

WHO'S Hot

Willis McGahee

Buffalo's first-round draft pick in 2003 sure doesn't look like a guy who missed last season recovering from knee surgery. He's taken the starting job from Travis Henry and pushed the Bills (3--5) back toward respectability. He's gained 100 yards in three straight starts, a run accompanied by another, self-imposed, streak: He hasn't changed his (increasingly tattered) game jersey since mid-October.

Chargers

They have the NFL's best record versus spread (7--1), they've scored 85 points in two games, and they have two more wins (six) than they had all last year. This team's so hot its backup QB's a TV star: Doug Flutie cameoed on Jason Alexander's Listen Up on Monday night.

Lovie Smith

Ebony just named the Bears' rookie coach one of the "50 Most Intriguing Blacks of 2004." After a 1--5 start Chicago has won two straight and Smith has team believing it can get into playoff race. Next up is beatable Tennessee. Hmmmm ... intriguing.

Tampa Bay

After 0--4 start, Bucs have won three of four. (Keep an eye on their hair: Coach Jon Gruden has been inspiring team with clips of Idiot Red Sox coming from 0--3 down to beat Yanks.) Meanwhile, locked-out Lightning star Vincent Lecavalier is about to get back on the ice--for star-studded team in Russia.

Arizona State QBs

The Sun Devils' Andrew Walter threw Hail Mary TD as first half expired, then last-minute game-winner in 34--31 win over Stanford. Ex-ASU stud, and top Bronco, Jake Plummer had second-straight four TD game in Denver win. Oh, yes, Arizona's state NFL team won as well--on a final-possession TD pass by Josh McCown.

WHO'S Not

Lions Ground Game

After gaining 64 yards in loss to Skins, Detroit is last in the NFL in rushing, like last year. Runners are going nowhere behind what is a truly offensive line, and things are so desperate, coach Steve Mariucci talks as if he might go in himself: "I've got to find a way, me personally and my coaches, to be productive in the running game."

Pectorals

Last week, Miami's 12-time Pro Bowl LB Junior Seau tore his right pec, ending his season and prompting a tearful farewell to teammates. This week, Giants six-time Pro Bowl DE Michael Strahan tore his right pec, ending his season and a run of 137 straight games played.

Mike Martz

Coach was beaten at home (Pats 40, Rams 22), and also beaten at his own game. Offensive wizard managed just two TD plays while Pats' Bill Belichick used a kicker (Adam Vinatieri) to throw one TD and a linebacker (Mike Vrabel) to catch another.

North Carolina

Tough loss for Carolinan John Edwards, and for Panthers, now 1--7. Edwards, at least, was gracious in defeat. Not so Carolina DT Brentson Buckner: "I'm not worried somebody is going to say this is the worst team in football. I don't care. Most of them are guys that wish they could do what I'm doing. Most of them are guys that in high school couldn't play football; they were nerds."

Corporate Sponsorship

Niners renamed Candlestick "Monster Park" after selling naming rights to cable product company. But last week angry taxpayers voted to restore name when $6 million deal ends in '08. By any name venue's not sweet for 1--7 49ers--trounced at home by Seahawks on Sunday.

COLOR PHOTOROBERT SKEOCH/WIREIMAGE.COM (MCGAHEE) COLOR PHOTOJAMES R. MORTON/WIREIMAGE.COM (LIONS) COLOR PHOTOORLIN WAGNER/AP (MARTZ) COLOR PHOTORICH PILLING/MLB PHOTOS VIA GETTY IMAGES (CANDLESTICK) COLOR PHOTOELIOT J. SCHECHTER/EPA/SIPA (LECAVALIER) COLOR PHOTODAVID DUROCHIK/SPORTPICKS (SMITH)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)