Your weekly installment of football stuff and gratuitous cheerleader photos after the jump ... has been replaced for this week.
Alright, so I hope no one minds that your weekly blog of cheerleader pictures has been replaced by Walter Payton.
The former Chicago Bears great died 10 years ago today. I'll never forget the day for as long as I live. I was a youngster in Chicago who had walked off the school bus, ready to tell my family about my day at school -- specifically -- the candy I acquired in class seeing it was the day after Halloween.
But the smile on my face quickly disappeared when I learned Sweetness had died. Payton looked sickly for a while, but didn't make his liver ailment public until after Chicago broadcaster Mark Giangreco said Payton looked like Ghandi. Payton made it public to save his family the ridicule of tasteless jokes like that.
It was typical Payton. he didn't want the public to pity him. He just wanted to live his life with his family as long as he could. more than the greatest running back of all time, Payton worked hard on and off the field. He did a lot for local charities and causes. He will go down as one of Chicago's greatest athletes, but really, he will go down as one of Chicago's greatest citizens.
His presence in Chicago is missed.
So, what's the bigger headline going into today's Bears-Browns game. Is it Tommie Harris' return after being a healthy scratch last week against the Bengals? Possibly. When healthy, Harris has been a Pro Bowl caliber defensive tackle. And even though he hasn't been good this year, his presence in the line-up still demands a double team. But unlike previous years, Harris has been unable to shed the double team. Still, the other 10 defenders (especially someone on the D-Line) should be able to get theirs since one of their own is being tag teamed.
Or is the bigger headline the health of Jay Cutler? OK, so JC6 is completely healthy, but this Bears offense isn't. In wins, Cutler has thrown 7 TDs against 1 INT. He only averages 208 yards per game and 6.7 yards per attempt in wins, but his passer rating is a solid 109.8 and his completion percentage is 71 percent. However, when the Bears lose, he has thrown 9 INTs opposed to only 4 TDs. His averages in yards per game (276) and yards per attempt (7.1) go up, but his passer rate (61.3) and completion percentage (60.3) plummet.
Chicago could use Matt Forte (c. 2008) and an offensive line that gets a push forward to help Cutler. There's lots of negativity flowing toward Greg Olsen, but it is clear opposing defenses are scheming against the Bears' biggest threat in the pass game. It's part of the reason Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are thriving with Cutler under center.
The official fantasy team of TBDS has a pretty good chance of winning today. We've got Jay Cutler going against Cleveland in a rebound game against one of the worst teams in the NFL. The receiving unit of Larry Fitzgerald (vs. Carolina), Donald Driver (at Minnesota) and Marques Colston (vs. Atlanta) should provide at least 30 fantasy points. I picked up Johnny Knox knowing he'd be going up against Cleveland's defense, but there's nowhere to put him.
My only concern is at the running back position, where Frank Gore (at Indianpolis) might not get a lot of carries seeing that the 49ers are playing against the Colts and will likely be playing from behind. Then there's Pierre Thomas (vs. Atlanta) who is awfully talented, but often is cockblocked by Mike Bell and Reggie Bush.
Thomas and Gore are projected to combine for 26 points, but I fear they won't be as productive as projected.
So much for Indiana State's winning streak. The SIU football team demolished the Sycamores, shutting them out 33-0.
The No.3 Salukis (7-1, 6-0) allowed less than 100 yards of offense en route to its 12th consecutive Missouri Valley Football conference victory. SIU has gone 16-2 in its last 18 conference games. The only losses have been on the road, at North Dakota State in 2008 and at Northern Iowa in 2007.
Paul McIntosh was as good as advertised, but it's really hard to gauge his play when he's up against a team so woefully bad as Indiana State. Mac was 15 of 22 in the air for 159 yards, gaining another 57 yards and scoring two touchdowns on the ground.
The real test comes next Saturday at No. 9 South Dakota State in a game that will likely decide the MVFC championship.