February 20, 2014
With the 2014 NFL Combine happening February 22-25 in Indianapolis the NFL hits full throttle once again. The Combine signifies that the 2014 NFL Draft is right around the corner. This is the time that all 32 NFL GMs begin to sweat. Critical decisions are to be made.
While many may see the combine as players in shorts and t-shirts simply running around, it’s anything but. NFL dreams are on the line. GMs are watching. Make a lasting impact now and your name will be called in May.
To no one’s surprise the quarterback position will be under the microscope in Indy during the Combine. Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and others will fill the board come draft day. Although there may not be an elite quarterback in this draft this year’s class is certainly better than 2011’s class. As far as elite goes, that remains to be seen as only time will tell.
Some teams will get the QB fever and reach for what they hope is a winner. Keep in mind that many teams are hungry for their franchise signal caller but quarterback is not the only position. Which team will be bold and pass on a quarterback for something else?
The following teams, whether searching for their quarterback of the foreseeable future or a playmaker at another position have to make a splash in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft. Making the wrong moves may forever doom their respective franchises.
No. 5: Houston Texans
This is a no brainer, but it must be mentioned. The No. 1 pick in the NFL draft comes with pressure. The Houston Texans could do one of three things—draft Jadeveon Clowney, draft the quarterback which they deem the best, or trade the pick.
Once Clowney dismantles the competition at the Combine and topples the likes of Twitter by the end of February 25 the pick will be an easy one. Everyone will be talking about this kid from South Carolina. His combination of size, speed and strength is something unfathomable. At 6’6”, 275 lbs. he says he’ll run a 4.4 40-yard-dash at the Combine. If he does that there will be talks of “best ever” even before he sports an NFL jersey.
By this time next week the Texans will have made up their mind.
No. 4: San Francisco 49ers
The Seahawks appear to be going nowhere anytime soon and the 49ers have to keep up. It can be argued that these are the two most dangerous teams in the NFL but speculation and proof are two separate things.
The Niners are motivated to reach the summit—their Super Bowl window is now. Expect San Francisco to select a sturdy wide receiver in Round 1.
No. 3 Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans sit in a curious position in Round 1 of the 2014 NFL draft. With pick No. 11 the team could go in any direction.
New head coach Ken Whisenhunt is a quarterback kinda guy and he’s going to give Jake Locker a chance. With that being said, it may be in their best interest to draft a quarterback with their first pick. Locker hasn’t proven himself yet and the Titans could catch an acute case of the QB fever.
A guy like Derek Carr of Fresno State or Zach Mettenberger from LSU may intrigue them just enough to pull the trigger. Even if Locker doesn’t convince the Titans brass he’s their number one his younger predecessor would have time to learn. On the other hand, the demand is high on these kids and they would be valuable trade bait should Locker pan out. This would bring interest from other teams around this time next season. A healthy quarterback with a year of NFL experience is a coveted commodity. It seems like a win-win for the Titans.
Pay attention to the Titans—their decision could shake up the rest of the draft.
No. 2: St. Louis Rams
Conveniently enough the St. Louis Rams have the No. 2 overall pick, but that’s not why this draft is so important for them. They also have the No. 13 pick in the first round.
Thanks to the trade with the Washington Redskins for Robert Griffin III in 2012, the Rams own the No. 2 pick. They will draft wide receiver Sammy Watkins out of Clemson and all will be right in the world. Combined with Tavon Austin the Rams will have two explosive receivers.
The team still believes in quarterback Sam Bradford and will spend their No. 13 pick on protecting him. Expect the Rams to select the best offensive lineman available and with possibly five quarterbacks being selected before that pick, the lineman pool should be rich.
The Rams are a team on the brink of greatness, but must protect Bradford. Let’s hope their No. 13 pick is a Week 1 starter.
No. 1: Cleveland Browns
The Cleveland Browns are currently upside down. The front office is in disarray but better days are ahead.
The 2014 NFL draft is where it all starts. With two picks, No. 4 and No. 26 in the first round the team has to knock it out of the park.
They can’t repeat what they did in 2012. That year they also had two picks in Round 1. They took running back Trent Richardson at No. 3 and quarterback Brandon Weeden at No. 22. They acquired the No. 22 pick by trading their 2011 No. 6 pick to the Atlanta Falcons for who turned out to be Julio Jones.
Fittingly enough their second pick this year will be at No. 26—they acquired that by trading Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts early in the 2013.
The Browns need a quarterback and everything points to them selling the farm for Manziel. If a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have the No. 3 overall pick threaten to take Manziel the Browns may cough up the No. 26 pick. Manziel would light a fire in Cleveland the city hasn’t seen since some guy named LeBron roamed the court. He would sell tickets and more importantly reinstall the faith.
If Manziel doesn’t fall into Cleveland’s lap the Browns have to make hay with the best available. The future of the franchise is at stake. Regardless of what happens the Browns will be the most talked-about team in the league leading up to the draft.
February 4, 2014
One year ago today, I predicted that the Denver Broncos would be Super Bowl XLVIII champions. They almost proved me right. Congratulations to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks for becoming world champions in New York on Sunday. But enough about that. Now, by process of elimination, let’s figure out who is going to win the next one in Arizona.
Only the New England Patriots have been to back-to-back Super Bowls since 1999. It won’t happen next year either. Count out Denver and Seattle.
No team has reached the Super Bowl when it was played on its home field. That eliminates the Arizona Cardinals.
It is widely known that if you are on the cover of the new Madden football game, you are destined for a poor season. I’m predicting they go with another fan vote that leads to a player from Indianapolis on the cover. Now that’s just bad Luck. Goodbye Colts.
A new curse?
Emmitt Smith, Hines Ward and Donald Driver are the three NFL players who have won Dancing With The Stars. All three played for teams who have made a habit of playing in Super Bowls. However, the Steelers, Cowboys and Packers have all failed to reach a Super Bowl since their player won the ballroom dancing competition. Curse or coincidence? I say curse. Goodbye Pittsburgh, Dallas and Green Bay.
It’s nearly impossible to have a team that hasn’t experienced a few wins in the playoffs run the table and bring home the Lombardi trophy. Carolina (last playoff win was in 2005), Cincinnati (last playoff win was in 1990), Kansas City (last playoff win was in 1993), and the New York Jets (last playoff win was in 2010) are off the list.
So that leaves the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, San Diego Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. The Ravens are trending in the wrong direction since they won the Super Bowl last year and the Chargers got hot and lucky at the end of this year but do not look like a true contender (finishing third in their own division). So will it be New Orleans or San Francisco? The NFC is too strong and too balanced for one team (the 49ers) to reach the conference championship game four years in a row. So I’m going with New Orleans to win Super Bowl XLIX. Place your bets now.
January 29, 2014
Super Bowl XLVIII promises to be historic. Take your pick, offense or defense. If you’re an old-soul and firmly believe that defense wins championships then you’re in the neon green corner with the Seattle Seahawks. If you’re a fan of the explosive modern-day offense then you’re in the bright orange corner with the Denver Broncos.
When the Seahawks and Broncos square-off on February 2, 2014 the gloves will come off. Seeing that the game is taking place in the media capital of the world only adds fuel to the fire. In the end, the NFL and its fans will be the real winner.
There’s a ton of stats floating out there surrounding this game but here is the only one you should be concerned with right now. This is the first time since the 1990 season that the No. 1 offense has faced the No. 1 defense in the Super Bowl. Last time around the defense of the New York Giants edged out the offense of the Buffalo Bills, 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV. The Broncos scored 606 points in the regular season while the Seahawks only allowed 231. Something has got to give—we’re in for a gem.
Let’s Dig into our Super Bowl XLVIII Bold Predictions
The First Quarter will end with the Broncos Leading, 7-0
This game will start slow due to nerves which is no surprise. With only four players total from both sides with Super Bowl experience plenty of men will be wide-eyed and amped with the opening whistle blows. Both teams will go three-and-out in their opening drive. On their second possession Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will find wide receiver Demaryius Thomas for a 76-yard touchdown. Seahawks faithful everywhere will have sudden doubt about their highly-touted defense against the Broncos offense. Don’t fret—there’s plenty of ballgame left.
Seahawks Safety Earl Thomas Will Have a Game-Changing Sack in the Second Quarter
With the Broncos ahead 7-3 with 11:08 remaining in the second, Seahawks safety Earl Thomas will change the game. With fellow teammate Richard Sherman soaking up most of the attention, Thomas will have his time to shine. A strip-sack of Manning and recovery by Seattle will flip the script. After all, the Seahawks just kicked a field goal to get on the board. Forcing a turnover and recovering on their 32-yard line will give the Seahawks prime field position. Momentum will now in favor of the Seahawks.
Manning Will Throw for Less Than 250 Yards
Hey, Seattle’s secondary isn’t called the “Legion of Boom” for no reason, there’s a reason they’re feared. The have the No. 1 defense after all and look to make a statement shutting down one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in the Super Bowl. Besides Manning’s bomb to D. Thomas in the first quarter, he’ll be quite silent. The Seattle defense will steal the show.
Manning’s Final Line: 18-for-28, 243 passing yards, 2 TDs
Marshawn Lynch Will Be MVP
Marshawn Lynch is a different type of running back. He has throwback toughness, game-breaking speed and just doesn’t stop. His nickname is the best in the business and he lives up to it. “Beast Mode” is no joke. He simply punishes his opponents and when they tire in the fourth quarter, he’s just getting started.
Things will be no different in Super Bowl XLVIII—Beast Mode will be out in full force. He’ll carry his team to victory. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson gets plenty of credit, but the team’s success begins and ends with Lynch. He will set the tone for his team on offense.
Lynch’s Final Line: 26 carries, 143 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs, 2 receptions, 23 receiving yards, MVP
This will be one of the best Super Bowls we have ever witnessed. The Broncos will strike first, but the Seahawks will take a 10-7 lead into halftime. The second half will be a seesaw affair and one for the ages. This game will leave fans yearning for anything NFL and dreaming of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Seahawks 27, Broncos 21
January 22, 2014
330 NFL games are in the books. There’s just one game left (I’m not counting the Pro Bowl) and its the biggest of them all. In the two weeks we have to wait for the Super Bowl, we’ll learn more than we ever wanted to know about the teams, players, location and everything else. What we really care about is the game. Here’s 10 predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII.
1. The weather has been the story ever since the location of this game was announced years ago. Sure it will be cold and probably impact a lot of the festivities happening in the area, but it will be no big deal when it comes to the game itself.
2. One thing that we all look forward to during the Super Bowl is the commercials. There are always a couple of great ones but its getting harder and harder for them to live up to the hype. I expect this year’s batch of commercials to be a bit of a let down.
3. The halftime show will be the perfect time for a bathroom break. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers? No thank you. But I will appreciate the chance to leave my seat for the bathroom, more food or any other reason without the worry that I’m going to miss anything worth watching.
4. Anytime the game is close, the losing side will have a couple of calls (or non-calls) to complain about. This year will be no different. And if history is to be our judge, look for the Seahawks to be the one’s with something to complain about (anyone remember Super Bowl XL?)
5. Richard Sherman has gotten all the attention since the conference championship games ended, but he won’t get much during the game. Peyton Manning will be looking for the weak spot in the Seattle defense and won’t throw many passes in Sherman’s direction.
6. Champ Bailey will make a game-changing play.
7. So will Marshawn Lynch.
8. Percy Harvin will not.
9. Neither will Wes Welker.
10. The Broncos rarely score less than 30. The Seahawks rarely allow more than 20. Let’s set the magic number at 25. If Peyton Manning can put up 25 points or more, the Broncos will win Super Bowl XLVII. The last time the No. 1 defense played the No. 1 offense in the Super Bowl was in 1990 when the Giants beat the Bills on a last-second field goal miss. Look for this game to come down to a field goal attempt in the final minute. Final score: Broncos 27, Seahawks 24.
January 15, 2014
He’s taken an unjustified bashing through the media recently for not looking “professional.” Apparently more people want him to emulate the looks of his counterpart on Sunday, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks.
Why do we care what Kaepernick looks like? Why do we care that he has a pronounced personality?
Yes, he has tattoos, but that is hardly uncommon these days. With a tattoo parlor seemingly on every corner, everyone from Fortune 500 CEO’s to your child’s school teacher has ink.
He also likes to wear his hat backwards, but every kid who ever witnessed Ken Griffey Jr. of the Seattle Mariners in the locker room has worn their hat backwards.
Give him credit to have enough personality and the confidence to create his own finishing move, conveniently dubbed “Kaepernicking.” His naysayers may say he’s a showboat, but then again, who likes being bland?
As Americans don’t we pride ourselves on self-expression?
It’s 2014—let Kaepernick be Kaepernick and let his game do the talking.
Like tattoos and charisma, the 26-year-old quarterback from the University of Nevada, Reno, has plenty of game. Like Wilson, Kaepernick was also taken in the MLB draft. He has a 95-mph fastball to back it up. In the end he chose to pursue his love of football just like Wilson did.
The two young quarterbacks are remarkably similar on the field—their numbers mirror each other’s. They have an abundance of intelligence and athleticism. Other than appearance, especially to the media, there’s a striking resemblance.
Kaepernick started all 16 games this season for the 49ers and led his team to a 12-4 regular season record. In 23 career starts he’s 17-6. He takes care of the ball, 31 career touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions. The 49ers receiving corps was a M.A.S.H. unit this season until Michael Crabtree returned from injury in December.
Now, the Niners are clicking on all cylinders and have the most dynamic offense remaining in the playoffs. The trio of Crabtree, Vernon Davis and Anquan Boldin is a downright scary. Sprinkle in the fact they have running back Frank Gore and without a doubt San Francisco is prepared to return to the Super Bowl.
Don’t forget that the success of the Niners’ offense begins and ends with Kaepernick at the helm. Don’t try to pass the quarterback’s success off on the talent surrounding him. Kaepernick is the leader. He’s the man who makes smart decisions with the ball. He’s the guy who has only thrown two interceptions in the past eight weeks, all games in which his team has won.
Come Sunday, he’ll be the guy who leads his team to the Super Bowl for the second time in as many seasons.
Come Sunday, judge him for yourself. Make sure it’s beyond skin deep.