Another week, another column on the most in-demand games. This week's article pretty much writes itself. The only problem? There were way more than five fantastic NFL and MLB games in the last seven days, but here goes.
#5. Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions
I know, I know. The Bengals were part of the bang-for-your-buck pick last week, they are again this week, and you're unhappy about it. I get it. What's so exciting about stupid Andy Dalton, his stupid spaghetti arm, and his stupid Horned Frogs college mascot? Well, for one, these are two great teams. Both teams were 4-2 heading into Sunday's matchup, and both played playoff-type desperate football. As unremarkable as Dalton might be by himself, he threw particularly well to A.J. Green on Sunday, and the Lions' Matthew Stafford didn't do a bad job throwing it to that Calvin Johnson guy either. Green and Johnson are clearly the games two best receivers, so that was a plus. And then there's the fact that both quarterbacks threw for three TDs and 300 yards apiece. Finally, the game ended on a last second field goal from long range - always exciting. All that, and you paid an average of $77.13 on SeatGeek to go. There's, um, nothing really exciting about the Horned Frogs mascot though, so touché.
#4. New England Patriots at New York Jets
So, these two teams don't really get along. There's bad blood. Coaches leaving for the other team, players doing the same. It's a whole history lesson I don't really want to delve into, but suffice it to say head coaches Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick don't get tattoos together. Fortunately, the rivalry brings out the best in both teams on the field, with the game ending on an overtime field goad by the Jets after a penalty on New England allowed them to kick again. As Tom Brady brilliantly and succinctly pontificated after the game, "Losing sucks, and especially to the Jets." Well said, Tom.
#3. NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals - Game 6
This game reminded me of that scene from the Matrix where Agent Smith knocks Neo onto the subway tracks, holding him in a headlock as the train approaches. The Dodgers were Neo, and the Cardinals were Agent Smith. Sure enough, one inning after another, the Cardinals asserted themselves, channeling Mr. Smith when he whispers in Neo's ear (for the benefit of the analogy, I've taken some liberties): "You hear that [Los Angeles Dodgers]?... That is the sound of inevitability... That is the sound of your [season ending]." See, it felt inevitable that the Dodgers were going to lose to the Cardinals. The Cardinals' pitching was just too good, and their hitting was good enough. Get it? Disclaimer: Yes, I realize that Neo then defeats Mr. Smith. Please ignore that flaw in the comparison. Let's let the analogy end with the quote, OK?
#2. Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts
All-time great versus excess neck growth. Giant offensive weapons versus giant killers. The house that Peyton built and the house that Luck borrowed. Last night's matchup was more than a little uncomfortable when it started, and not just because of Andrew Luck's neck beard. In pre-game warmups, Manning seemed anxious, Luck seemed annoyed, and the tribute to Peyton didn't help. Thankfully, the game was great, living up to its billing and even its average ticket price of $311.59, making it the most expensive ticket of the week. Manning attracts that type of ticket price wherever he plays, but after having more and more games like last night, so too does Luck. Let's hope we see these two play again in the near future.
#1. ALCS: Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox - Game 6
No movie analogy for this game: unlike the Dodgers-Cardinals game, this one seemed up in the air until the last pitch. Momentum had gone back and forth, the Tigers starting with it, the Sox then taking it for two games, the Tigers evening it up, and then the Sox wrestling it back in Game 5. Who would show up in Game 6? It turns out the game followed the pattern of the series, both teams fighting back and forth for the lead. The Sox went up 1-0 in the 5th, but the Tigers came right back in the 6th to go up 2-1. Already, the teams had combined to score more points than two of their previous games combined. Even a one run lead was precious. Well, until Shane Victorino stepped to the plate in the 7th and blasted a grand slam over the left-field wall, lifting the Sox to a 5-2 lead, and putting them out of reach of Detroit's struggling bats. With an average ticket price of $254.04, you paid a pretty penny to watch these two teams play, but it was worth it.