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December 19, 1:00 PM ET
Chat with Michael Wilbon

Rob (San Antonio)

The Pack lose, the Colts win, and Tebow is human. Add to that all the upsets and it mad for some interesting football. Now that the dust has settled what was the biggest eye raiser for you and who do you like tonight?

mike wilbon
  (1:10 PM)

Very, very nice question to set the table today!!! First, let me wish everybody in advance a Happy Holiday season, whatever it is you celebrate. For me, it'll be Christmas in Chicago, kind of, because it will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday...(I'm disappointed that it's not even cold, temps in the 40s! What the hell is THAT?) and then onto Los Angeles for the opening of the NBA season...in the studio on Christmas Day for about 20 hours, but having tons of fun with Magic, Jon Barry, Chris Broussard...plan to sneak out of the new ESPN studios and across the street to Staples Center to watch some Bulls-Lakers from courtside...If I'm going to miss Christmas with my family then I want to see something that matters to me, personally, like the Bulls or Bears...and since the Bears and done/finished, then what better than to watch Rose and the Bulls start a new season...So, that's TMI I'm sure on my Holiday plans...So we'll get back to that question to start...

mike wilbon
  (1:13 PM)

Yesterday was a stunner in the NFL. Not the Patriots-Tebow/Broncos result; that was pretty predictable. But the Packers losing wasn't, not to me; I thought they'd run the table in the regular season. The Chargers seem to be coming out of nap time, but the bet here is it's too late. Thing for me is, I don't like ANYBODY. Packers/Saints/Patriots don't play ANY defense for the most part. Ravens are simply limited, mostly because of their lack of a championship-level passing game. I kinda like the Eagles again, but how do you back them? Maybe they're a team for the short-run, for a sprint if they get in. Is it so far-fetched that Seattle, Arizona or Philly could reach the NFC Championship game? The Giants are a huge disappointment. I'm scared to believe in ATL...It's just so much fun, so mysterious, so unknowable...This coming week's games are outrageously good, many of them...

Brian (New Orleans)

Are we going to get your NBA predictions today before the season starts Christmas day?

mike wilbon
  (1:15 PM)

Okay, the Eastern Conference is easy, presuming good health...Bulls and Heat in Eastern Conference finals. In the West...wait for it, wait for it...Dallas v Oklahoma City...If Dwight Howard winds up on the Lakers, then I reserve the right to change my mind...I keep spying the Spurs to see if they have one more gasp left in them; I don't think so but in a very weak western conference I hesitate to count them out. I'm not going any further than conference finals....

Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)

Have watched a couple of preseason NBA games and was surprised that the quality of play was as good as it was. What's up with that?

mike wilbon
  (1:18 PM)

Great question: sense of urgency is my answer. Although, there were a couple of dog preseason efforts, too. Pacers-Bulls was top-drawer. I like the Pacers to finish 4th or 5th in the East...Somebody's going to sink, probably Orlando...I like Heat, Bulls, Celtics, Pacers, Knicks as my top 5 in the East. I guess that means I've got the Hawks and Magic slipping....The West is almost entirely dependent on what happens with Dwight Howard...he and Kobe together for 60 games could really be dynamic...

Danny Manning's Knee (Kansas)

Doesn't Chris Paul know the history of knee injuries in Clipper-land?! If his knees aren't shot by now, they will be in 4-5 weeks!

mike wilbon
  (1:19 PM)

C'mon....don't say that! Since the NBA shows will now be comming out of Los Angeles and the ESPN studios there I'll be spending a ton of time there and can't wait to see the Clippers...I can't even believe I'm saying that. I just hope CP3, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chaucey B. can stay healthy and together long enough this season for the Clips to matter. People who haven't spent any time in Los Angeles recently, where there is no professional football, have no idea how huge the basketball scene is.

Sean (Chicago)

I realize Rogers, Brees, and Brady lead the way for MVP candidates but I will argue Cutler should get some consideration. Cutler gets no love based on his personality and at times "bad choices" but yet this guy won with a offense that is just terrible without him. Thoughts?

mike wilbon
  (1:24 PM)

Look, nobody is more aware than I am the importance of Jay Cutler to the Chicago Bears. When he went down I told Waddle and Silvy on ESPN 1000 I feared the Bears would go 0-6 without him. And they're about to. STILL, that's the Peyton Mannning argument, which I don't buy, even though it is unarguable their teams are disfunctional without them. Aaron Rodgers is the MVP, period. He led the Super Bowl champs to the best start a defending champ has ever had, 14-0, and the Packers remain the favorites, even though Brees is having a phenomenal year...I must say, I don't care about these passing yardage totals as much as most people do because that's all teams do now, throw the ball. The pass it 70 percent of the time, in some cases, which wasn't the case when Marino put up his 5,000 yard season. Brees isn't great because of the yardage; he's great because of his impact on the game...The yardage is like driving distances in golf...I'm just not awed. I'm awed by his performance ingeneral, Rodgers even moreso.

Dr. H. Doofenshmirtz (Tri-State Area)

Can you believe that the Bulls had some interest in Dwight Howard, but he had no interest in the Bulls? Tells you something about Howard, and it isn't good.

mike wilbon
  (1:27 PM)

I don't really have all that much interest in seeing the Bulls go after Dwight Howard. I really don't. I know he's a great player, but the Bulls are already built around a great player, Derrick Rose, and I'll take my chances with this team healthy against anybody, even Miami. I want to see the team that finished last season with a reliable offensive threat, a guy who can hit a 15-foot shot in his sleep. That's Rip Hamilton. I don't want to give up Noah and Asik or Noah and Deng or Noah and Taj Gibson, who I think is going to have a 6th-man-of-the-year kind of season. If Lots of star players in the NBA, current stars, make the same point you do about D12, that he's concerned with too many things besides winnning. I don't know if that's true, but I'm good with the Bulls as currently constructed.

Nathan (DC)

Doesn't this finally have to be the end for Jerry Angelo, time for him to go back on his word (he's good at that), and "retire"? I always thought Martz was kind of a wingnut, but it turns out he was right about Hanie, meaning Angelo hasn't fixed the quarterback depth two years in a row. And, oh yeah, he signed a guy under investigation for drug trafficking and money laundering. The McCaskey's can't possibly justify keeping him around, can they?

mike wilbon
  (1:31 PM)

I'm with you on all counts. Angelo has done some good work with the Bears; let's not discount that. They had a couple of terrific teams on his watch and only one really bad season that I can recall...You could make the argument the Bears were a tease because they didn't completely cash in; I get that. But this season the Bears WASTED great efforts by Brian Urlacher, Briggs, Julius Peppers and Devin Hester, years in their primes. There are perhaps three Hall of Fame players in there (Urlacher, Peppers, Hester) and the Angelo, by coming up with the worst professional QB I've ever seen, wasted their seasons, wasted years in the primes of their careers. It's a shame, and for that if he loses his job I'm fine with it. And Lovie Smith, who I think does a tremendous and underappreciated job as head coach, gets blame to for sticking with this kid who ruinied the team's season. They were so dejected yesterday, having to play with an incompetent QB. It was like most of the Bears teams I grew up watching. It was awful. And the GM ALWAYS has to accept responsibility for failure at that position when it has to do with personnel.

Alex (Bethesda, MD)

Should we make anything of the Orlando Magic's poor showing against the HEAT? I know it was just a preseason game, but yikes...

mike wilbon
  (1:33 PM)

They were total dogs, weren't they? I don't want to make too much of it. But I know and admire George Karl and think he's one helluva coach. I've talked with him at length about the effect the Carmelo craziness had on that team's season, and I know this: it killed the Nuggets...worked them over. That they recovered to win 50 games (I think) with a re-vamped lineup was a miracle. But I know what it did to George and that team in the meantime...Stan Van Gundy wonn't be able to shout it down or make it go away because he wants to. this stuff is a team-killer and I'm interested to see how Orlando responds....

Adam (Toronto)

Big fan Michael. Love the work. Just wanted to comment, one great thing about being a Cowboys fan this year...the other teams in our division seemingly want to win less than we do. How do the Giants lay an egg at home against Washington?

mike wilbon
  (1:35 PM)

I'm sorry, are you suggesting the Cowboys haven't laid an egg or two or three this season, because they have...I don't trust the Cowboys at all to win either of the last two games. If the Giants stink--and they often have this season--then why did you guys lose to them at home last week? I mean, the whole division is wacky. I think the Eagles would be the best representative of the division...don't hate me for saying that, please! But the Cowboys, for 14 years now, have done some really loopy things, particularly late in the season.

Adam (Toronto)

After the whole, Chris Paul fiasco, how does Stern still have a job? He must know he's a joke at this point, right?

mike wilbon
  (1:37 PM)

Not even. Not at all. He told Rachel Nichols the other night, with indignation, that he wasn't guilty of being involved in a conflict of interest. Seriously. It's not enough any more for David Stern to be the smartest guy in the room (and he's damn brilliant, and has been a great commissioner for a long, long time) but you have to be the stupidest guy and believe whatever garbage he's handing you? At least admit to the conflict of interest. Like only a New York lawyer who runs a league could recognize one. What he did, as Hornets GM while sitting as the Commissioner of the NBA is THE DEFINITION of conflict of interest. And it insults everybody else's intelligence to insist otherwise. But that's what he'll do...and glare you down all the while.

Kendall (Peoria)

Was that Caleb pick-six to Red Bryant the single worst play of the NFL season?

mike wilbon
  (1:39 PM)

I don't know, Hanie's got that category covered...How about the pick on the screen pass he threw in Oakland that lost the first game and started the downward spiral...I don't want to hate this kid; I know he's trying his hardest...I'm trying to remember I blame jerry Angelo for him even being under center.

Otto (CA)

What do you think of Alex Smith? Can the 49ers win a Super Bowl with Alex Smith at quarterback?

mike wilbon
  (1:40 PM)

Looking at the NFC right now, yes, they can. Seriously, when did a team last win a Super Bowl playing defense as poorly as Green Bay and New Orleans? maybe this will be a first, but I think SF can win...I want to see how they deal with the Steelers tonight. I think Pittsburgh, actually, has become my favorite to win it all.

Jason J (NYC)

Bismack is coming to America! Bobcats to win the ring?

mike wilbon
  (1:40 PM)

okay now.

Dan (NY)

What shows are you watching Wilbon?

mike wilbon
  (1:47 PM)

It's a lame time for TV, isn't it? I'm a Mad Man fan, so I can't wait until that comes back in February, March or whenever. I love Damages w Glen Close and that's on hiatus, too. I like one-hour dramas: I'm totally into Law & Order SVU and this final season. Andre Braugher and I went to the same high school (St. Ignatius in Chicago) and I love this story line developing where Olivia Benson hated his guts at first when he was defending some monster and now she seems to be falling for him...Anyway, I don't have that many shows now, which I hate. It's TiVo land for me, mostly. I want to start on Person of Intrest but haven't yet...I'm into the last season of Desperate Housewives because I watched at the very beginning...I like the USA stuff, though it's light fare, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs...but it's a pretty barren time for TV, in my opinion...

perice (SoCal)

does anybody else feel the arizona cardinals are going unwatched and underappricated?

mike wilbon
  (1:48 PM)

Ha! Glad you brought up the Cardinals! I watched that entire game yesterday and was glad to see them win. I picked the Cardinals to win the NFC West, which didn't work out so well. They blew, flat-out blew, a couple of games early (Redskins was one, Ravens another) that would have them 9-5 instead of 7-7...Anyway, they can still make that second wild-card spot, even with issues at QB...The defense has come around and Larry Fitzgerald, even without a consistent and healthy QB, once again may be the best WR in the game...But nobody notices, you're right.

GBK (Lincoln Park)

Mike, I'm wondering how you think players will handle the lack of days off this year in the NBA. Last year Wade and LeBron were complaining about the number of minutes they played, and it's probably going to be the same this year. Then you have a number of players with injury issues. Are we in for a year of ugly basketball?

mike wilbon
  (1:49 PM)

I think so. I don't really see any way around it, with the lack of practices and lack of rest. There's going to be a premium on depth, so the teams that play 9, 10 guys are going to fare better. I'm curious, but not expecting a "pretty" season.

Mike (Arlington, VA)

Hmm, great defensive players wasting the prime of their careers with an incompetent QB, sounds like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in Baltimore (even though Flacco could still prove us wrong).

mike wilbon
  (1:50 PM)

Yeah, goog point. Baltimore's QB woes have gone on way too long.

Fred (Memphis,TN)

More often then not Wilbon teams who get hyped by pre season pundits do not win the title. (this year's Philly Eagles, Miami Heat last year, USC Trojans football team in 2005) Vegas gave my Grizzlies 30/1 odds as NBA champions. Are you buying stock with the Memphis Grizz?

mike wilbon
  (1:51 PM)

I am. I like the Grizz, especially with Rudy Gay back in the lineup. Yes, I didn't mention them and should have. Hell, I should have Memphis in the top 4...I'm glad they weren't able to trade O.J. Mayo because I think he fits with that group. And Marc may be the best Gasol...He was last season in the playoffs! Grizz could be a top-4 team in the west..okay top 5.

JeremyB666 (Kewadin, MI)

In your opinion is Calvin Johnson the best WR in the game of football?

mike wilbon
  (1:53 PM)

Fitz and Calvin Johnson, Calvin Johnson and Fitz...And don't we have to count that BEAST of a TE for New England, even though he's not a WR. All I know is when Bronk catches the ball it's trouble for the D...

Jason J (NYC)

What do you think the Knick's chances are of advancing to the conference finals? The backcourt is pretty weak even with Baron, but that front court is huge, athletic, and can eat up defenses at both forward spots. I actually can't imagine them beating the Heat in 7 games, but everyone else in the East... Maybe?

mike wilbon
  (1:55 PM)

I don't see the Knicks, with that backcourt, beating Miami or Boston or Chicago in the playoffs, no. They're all just better. The Bulls are a lot better than the Knicks. They're strong defensively where the Knicks are strong (you think Noah, Taj Gibson, Asik and Deng can't bother Carmelo and Amare?) And they're REALLY strong where the Knicks are weak (D-Rose and Rip Hamilton)...I notice Knicks fans have taken to talking only about Miami...I can't wait for the Bulls-Knicks games...Can't wait. I think Indy has a chance to finish higher in the East than the Knicks. Indy DOES have a back-court, and Indy plays defense...The Knicks can get to the second round if they finish 4th or 5th...but conferencce finals? I don't see it this year.

mike wilbon
  (1:58 PM)

Okay, I've got to run guys...Must prepare for PTI and for getting out of town to start some Holiday fun...thanks so much for chatting...We'll be off next Monday the 26th because I'll be going from Los Angeles up to Golden State to see the Bulls and Warriors, and watch my friend Mark Jackson in action in his second game of the NBA season...In the meantime, I hope everybody has a great holiday week and holiday season and we'll chat again in the New Year. Cheers and Happy Holidays!! MW