For the Giants and the Bears, Sudden Changes for the Worse — Leading Off

In the N.F.L., fortunes can change in a minute. One minute, you’re the Giants team that just beat the Patriots and are leading your division and boasting the only Manning healthy enough to play quarterback, and the next minute you’ve hacked up two straight games, including one to an Eagles team given up for toast. And one minute, you’re the resurgent Bears, puffing out your chests and telling everyone about the magic of Jay Cutler, and the next you’re staring down a future field-generaled by Caleb Hanie. Yikes!

And just when the Packers were riding high as the N.F.L.’s dominant team, Aaron Rodgers leaves a game moping and muttering at himself for how poorly he played and, oh wait, the Packers won 35-26 to go 10-0. But the Rodgers pout-fest actually happened, . Go figure.

Yes, the real whiplash moments are being experienced in places like New York and Chicago, whose feel-good season just took one in the solar plexus after Cutler’s season is threatened by a what is reported to be a broken thumb. This is widely regarded as the end of the Bears’ hopes,, unless, as , they find an entirely new way to win after offensive coordinator Mike Martz gets his head out of that bottle of Maalox. The kicker to this is that the universallymaligned Cutler was finally putting together a season free of his usual calamitous moments, , and the Bears were finally warming to his entirely unhuggable personality.

There was no hugging on the Giants sideline after failing to take advantage of Vince Young’s generous three interceptions and and generally looking nothing like the team that beat the Patriots two weeks ago, . Young, it turns, out did just enough to win, , which is quite the opposite of the Michael Vick trend of doing just enough to lose.

Another case of happy whiplash is happening in Detroit, where the Lions’ sinking season got a nice lift by Kevin Smith, whose unlikely comeback story saved the Lions from a severe running back drought, . This sets up a Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers that might not be as sleep-inducing as your turkey.

Or you can choose to spend your Thanksgiving figuring out this year’s edition of Bowl Championship Series nonsense, thrown into chaos by the weekend’s upsets. that the mayhem is fun but that it also means another unsatisfying end to the season, while that the B.C.S. is actually keeping things interesting. Meanwhile, watched the games and found himself wishing broadcasters (yes, you ESPN) would stop making stars of the most obnoxious fans. On a far more serious note, has found himself calling for Penn State to question whether it should have a football program at all, with every indication so far that the university plans a business-as-usual future despite its horrifying child sexual abuse scandal.

There way too many serious things to think about this weekend, from the to the unending sadness at Oklahoma State. As fatal plane crashes aren’t supposed to happen to a school once, much less twice. At Georgia, they are mourning the death of the voice of the Bulldogs, Larry Munson, . In Seattle, they are trying to make sense of the report that Mariners outfielder in the Netherlands.

There were two sporting triumphs over the weekend that might have distracted from all that. The Los Angeles Galaxy made their bid as the best Major League Soccer team ever, , after their M.L.S. Cup victory. David Beckham insisted afterward he with the team. On the other side of the country, Nascar celebrated the after his amazing victory in a twice rain-delayed Ford 400 Sunday, which showcased all of Stewart’s magic. To , it was born entirely of Stewart’s unparalleled confidence.

In the N.F.L., confidence is a fleeting thing. Sometimes it disappears in the second it takes for a quarterback to say ouch.

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