This is an article from the Dec. 6, 2010 issue
Offense and defense unite! Through Sunday, Pittsburgh (15-8-2) had the NHL's best penalty-kill percentage (90.2) and had won eight of nine behind Sidney Crosby's 12-game scoring streak. On Saturday, Crosby (right) had a hat trick, including career goal No. 200, in a win over Calgary.
QB Andrew Luck (right) set a Cardinal season record for TDs (28) as No. 5 Stanford (11--1, a school record for wins) rolled over Oregon State 38--0 last Saturday, likely earning a BCS bid. Declared LB Chase Thomas, "We're the best one-loss team in the country."
That division's 50--31 overall record through Sunday was by far the best in the league, and three of its teams—the Hornets, Spurs and Mavs—look ripe to knock off the Lakers out West. Pity Rudy Gay (right) and Memphis who, at 7--10, would thrive in another division.
Devils goalie Johan Hedberg went 3-1-0 in four games relieving an injured Martin Brodeur; the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist shut out Florida (his third) and stoned Nashville on three shootout attempts for another win; and golfer Robert Karlsson won the Dubai World Championship.
Oh, Pitt. The Panthers (6--5, 4--2) had a chance to coast to the Big East title (and a BCS bowl) before being clocked 35--10 by West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. Now, coach Dave Wannstedt (41--31) looks to be in line to join the ranks of Miami's Randy Shannon and Indiana's Bill Lynch, who were fired last weekend.
Unbearable. Cal's seven-year postseason run is over after the Bears dropped four of their final five. Saturday's loss may have been the worst, as lowly Washington won 16--13 on the last play of the game. Said coach Jeff Tedford, "This is a new thing for us. ... It doesn't feel good."
Through Sunday only the Celtics (12--4, thanks to its Big Three) were above .500, as the rest of the Atlantic Division combined for a woeful 25--44 record. Boston—perhaps the best team in the East—is the only Atlantic squad with a positive point differential (+7.3).
Eagles coach Andy Reid (left) put a damper on DeSean Jackson's day early last Sunday, publicly berating his WR for a lax pregame demeanor before a tilt with the Bears. Perhaps that was a mistake. A glum-looking Jackson caught just two balls for 26 yards as his team lost 31--26.
SI PLAYERS NFL POLL
WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO HAND OFF TO ON THIRD-AND-THREE?
Adrian Peterson, Vikings 32%
Chris Johnson, Titans 21%
Brandon Jacobs, Giants 10%
Steven Jackson, Rams 6%
Ray Rice, Ravens 4%
The Falcons' Michael Turner also received 4% of the vote... . The two players with the most first downs converted on third-down plays through Sunday, Arian Foster (19) and Peyton Hillis (12), had started a combined nine games entering 2010; neither received a vote... . Among active players, the Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson has the most career first downs (658) and the most on third-down plays (117); he was 12th in voting.
Based on 287 NFL players who responded to SI's survey