News item: : The Ravens can take a big step back into solid playoff contention with a victory over the banged-up Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night at M&T; Bank Stadium.

My take: : I know I said the same thing about the Colts game and the second Bengals game, but this time I really mean it.

News item: : Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is expected to play Sunday night, despite another scary head shot in last weekend's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

My take: : Big Ben is a gamer - no doubt about that - but he needs to take Sunday night off for his own long-term good health. We'll miss him, of course, but this is about doing what's in his best interests. Really. You believe me, don't you?

News item: : Orioles catcher Matt Wieters was left off the Topps All-Rookie Team in favor of New York Mets catcher - and former Oriole - Omir Santos, even though Wieters' numbers and league rankings were superior across the board.

My take: : I'm not saying there is a New York bias, but the only way this makes sense is if Jeffrey Maier was on the selection committee and he snatched Wieters' name out of consideration right before he made the team.

News item: : The Chicago White Sox signed outfielder Andruw Jones to a one-year contract worth just $500,000 plus incentives.

My take:: Seems like a bargain, since Jones hit 17 homers and had 43 RBIs in just 82 games last year, and it could be the first sign of some real economic restraint by baseball management this winter.

Bonus take: : Well, the owners will call it economic restraint. The players union might call it something else.

News item: : Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis all but admitted this week that he deserves to be fired after his team's late-season collapse.

My take: : I make it a policy never to argue with a man when he's right.

News item: : Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, whose job security also is very much in question, claims the Terps have a lot to look forward to next season.

My take: : There are a lot of Terps fans who are looking forward to a new head coach, but this is a tough time to justify paying Fridge $4 million to do nothing the next couple of years. Just ask Gov. Martin O'Malley, who cautioned this week against using public funds to buy him out.

News item: : There are conflicting reports about the future of NBA superstar Allen Iverson. Columnist and commentator Stephen A. Smith reported this week that Iverson has decided to retire. Former Georgetown coach John Thompson, however, says he has talked to Iverson, and he is not going to hang up his high tops.

My take: : Brett Favre was not available for comment.

News item: : The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked the University of Georgia to use an animatronic bulldog instead of a live one for the school's next-generation mascot.

My take: : This isn't going to sit well with the People for the Ethical Treatment of Robot Animals.

Bonus take: : If PETA is so interested in college football, I wish it would do something useful like convince the NCAA to install a playoff system that doesn't include live mascots.

News item: : The Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders wore throwback uniforms for their Thanksgiving Day game as part of the AFL Legacy Program.

My take: : Tell me I'm not the only one who has grown pretty tired of the whole throwback thing. If those uniforms were so great, they'd still be wearing them instead of trying to pawn them off in the stadium souvenir shops as some kind of nostalgic fashion statement.

News item: : The Buffalo Bills have contacted Bill Cowher and Mike Shanahan during their search for a new head coach and an organizational makeover.

My take: : The word on the street is that they could end up with 66-year-old Marty Schottenheimer. They could do a lot worse.

News item: : Northeastern University announced this week that it is dropping its 74-year-old football program because of an inability to be competitive.

My take: : I'm sure there's an Orioles joke in there somewhere, but I'm going to take the high ground for once in my life.

Listen to Peter Schmuck when he hosts "Sportsline" on WBAL (1090 AM) and check out "The Schmuck Stops Here" at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.

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