November 27, 2013

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2013 NFL Q4 Must-See Games

By: Matt Bowen

The 2013 NFL season is nearing a close but there are plenty of questions yet to be answered. This year more than ever it seems that every game is a coin flip. Right now there are literally 26 teams still in playoff contention. This is great—every game from here on out will be a nail-biter. Here’s a list of the most crucial games during the final quarter of the season. Remember, each week will contain three categories; the heavyweight bout, the divisional battle and the hidden gem.

Week 13

The Heavyweight Bout: New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks

Games don’t get bigger than this one. A potential NFC Championship Game in the making, both teams have a statement to make. Nothing like ending a holiday weekend with a cherry on top, Monday Night Football is not to be missed—Drew Brees and Russell Wilson will have their teams primed for a battle. Find time for this one.

The Divisional Battle: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions

NFL fans can thank the Detroit Lions for this Thanksgiving tradition. The Lions provided football on Thursday before football was on Thursday. Hooray! Hey, there’s nothing like spending family time together watching the Lions and Green Bay Packers pummel one another. Here’s some added fuel to the fire—first place in the division is on the line. The Lions currently hold the top spot but the Packers want it badly. Another added bonus, we get to watch Calvin Johnson—who doesn’t like to watch greatness?

The Hidden Gem: Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles

These teams are both surprises this year and playing their best ball of the season right now. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer just may be the hottest in the league. He’s thrown for 733 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions the last two games. The Cardinals have also won four straight games.

The Philadelphia Eagles, led by the NFL’s leading rusher through Week 12 LeSean McCoy are also sizzling. Winners of three straight and coming off their bye week, there’s no time to lose momentum now.

Neither team will give an inch. Expect plenty of offense. Give this one a go.

Week 14

The Heavyweight Bout: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers

Few words need to describe this matchup between bitter divisional rivals. Remember when the Seattle Seahawks dismantled the San Francisco 49ers at home in Week 2, 29-3?

The Niners do too, expect them to exact revenge.

The Divisional Battle: Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints

Winners of seven straight, the Carolina Panthers are the hottest team in the league right now. The NFL is far from easy and the Panthers will travel to the Big Easy in Week 14. This is to prove that they’re the best team in their division.

The New Orleans Saints don’t plan on relinquishing their A1 status anytime soon.

Cam Newton is living up to the hype—his counterpart Drew Brees is the standard. Jaw-dropping action will occur.

The Hidden Gem: Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Out of all the true Super Bowl contenders in the league, the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals may have the most questions surrounding them.

One week they look like outright champs, the next it looks like they don’t belong.

Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton have to find a way. The winner of this one will gain the confidence it takes to go all the way. They’ll also do some convincing.

This is a true make-or-break game for both sides.

Week 15

The Heavyweight Bout: Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys

Two iconic franchises, two franchise quarterbacks, playoffs lives on the line—this game has all the elements to be a classic.

Aaron Rodgers will have returned from injury and Tony Romo will be psyched to make a run for the coveted Lombardi trophy. These two guys may just combine for 800 passing yards.

Fun, fun, fun—please pay attention to this one.

The Divisional Battle: San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos

Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning on Thursday Night Football is a great start to Week 15. The San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos have something to fight for as the Chargers are only 5-6 heading into Thanksgiving, but have a real punchers chance. Rivers has never performed so well and the Chargers are electric on offense.

Manning and the Broncos need little introduction, they’re the real deal.

The Hidden Gem: New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers

Believe it or not, the New York Jets are currently in the playoff hunt. Yes, even at 4-7 they have a shot. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has had his ups and downs, but the future is promising for him and the Jets.

The weak spot the Jets have this season is playing on the road. If they’re to make the postseason, they’ll have to head into Carolina and win. The Panthers defense, led by Luke Kuechley is one of the best in the league; don’t think they’ll let a rookie show them up.

Considering what’s at stake, this will be a good one.

Week 16

The Heavyweight Bout: Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Chicago Bears are currently in a dogfight for the NFC North with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The Eagles are in the same situation in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.

Both teams are currently 6-5 and not in the playoffs. Considering their divisions will be on the line, neither team can afford to lose. This game has smash-mouth football written all over it. Last team with the ball wins.

The Divisional Battle: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers

See Week 14—the loser of that game will want redemption. The winner will want to claim NFC South supremacy.

Scary thing is they may meet again in the playoffs. Awesome.

The Hidden Gem: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens

Hey, the champs haven’t thrown in the towel quite yet. The Baltimore Ravens still have a pulse and are picking up steam down the stretch. Don’t cross-off Joe Flacco and Ray Rice because after all, they’re stars.

If they are to truly be playoff contenders, they’ll have to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. For them, it’s business as usual. They have yet to be their best and are still 8-3. That fact is downright frightening.

The Ravens must let it be known that they will defend what is rightfully theirs. A win in Week 16 will do just that.

If you think Week 17 was forgotten, think again. Sit tight, for it’ll have its own article. 16 divisional games—Wow!

Then, we’ll talk about playoffs.

June 5, 2013

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NFL Talk

By: Matt Bowen

Face it—it’s never too soon to talk about the NFL. The thoughts of the upcoming 2013 NFL season are starting to invade NFL fanatics’ minds. Yes, we’re only a few days into June, but it’s been three months since Super Bowl XLVII. That means we have exactly three months to go until the 2013 season kicks off on September 5. Some may say that we’re in the doldrums of the offseason, but this is just the beginning. It only gets better from here.

With that being said, let’s talk football.

Here are the top five headlines weighing on everyone’s mind this offseason:

Will RG3 Be RG3?

After his injury last season, will RG3 be the same player this year?

Any true NFL fan is currently holding their breath hoping that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will return healthy. The knee injury he suffered in the playoffs was gruesome to watch. The nausea that ensued when reality and doubt set in still exist today.

He’s the future—a prototype never before seen on an NFL field—the complete package.

Will he be okay?

Something tells me that he’ll be just fine—RG3 is a remarkable athlete.

Let’s hope he’s “ready for some football” on September 9 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Can the Indianapolis Colts Return to the Playoffs?

The Indianapolis Colts took the league by storm last year when they defied the odds and made the playoffs. Then rookie quarterback Andrew Luck proved to be the truth, but can he avoid the sophomore slump?

Having tasted winning in 2012, the Colts grew leaps and bounds and impressed all as they won games they probably shouldn’t have. One adjustment this is season will be to new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Former OC Bruce Arians is now head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. All Luck did under the tutelage of Arians in 2012 is set a rookie record with 4,374 passing yards.

Luck has the intelligence to absorb a new system quickly. The only question that remains is will the Colts return to the playoffs?

Will Wes Welker be the “It” Factor for the Denver Broncos?

The Denver Broncos were seconds away from the AFC Championship game last season before a Baltimore Ravens bomb sent them packing.

After shaking off the rust, quarterback Peyton Manning looked like Peyton Manning by season’s end. All the Broncos needed heading into the offseason is some added offense and there was no better find than Wes Welker.

Will Welker be the difference? Are the Broncos now “locks” for a Super Bowl appearance? Along with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, can the Broncos have three 1000-plus yard receivers?

Something tells me Manning and Welker are out for revenge. Watch out!

How Good Will the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens Play?

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens look to avoid the Super Bowl hangover this season.

The Ravens took the league’s top prize last season and without a doubt will look different this season. Out are Anqaun Boldin (49ers), Ed Reed (Houston Texans) and Ray Lewis (retired)— and Ravens fans have to be wondering what their team will be like without three of their best. The Ravens still have a solid squad, but are they contenders?

The 49ers face the most pressure of any team this season. Having been so close the ultimate prize, can they get over the hump this season? Colin Kaepernick is now the man and expectations have never been higher. If there’s one team that’s built to win it all it’s the Niners, but will they do it?

Numerous Other Questions Scattered on Our Minds:

Can the Cincinnati Bengals win a playoff game?

Will Adrian Peterson eclipse 2,000-plus yards again?

Will Mike Wallace be the boost the Miami Dolphins need?

Can Calvin Johnson break his own single-season receiving record of 1,964 yards?

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?

Are the New England Patriots at the end of an era?

Is this the year for the Atlanta Falcons?

What will unfold for the New York Jets?

Are the Seattle Seahawks the NFL’s best team?

August 16, 2012

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

By: Junior

With NFL Fantasy Football drafts right around the corner, we will take a look at the top 5 players at each position. Depending on what type of league you are in, theses evaluations will vary, but the general ranking will be similar. Our last rankings focused on running backs. Today, we will look at wide receivers and which will be the best targets to rely on this season.

Calvin Johnson is the receiver everyone would like to have on their team, in fantasy and in the NFL.

1. Calvin Johnson

There is no doubt who the best receiver in the league is this season. Calvin Johnson is called Megatron for a reason. Johnson is an absolute freak on the field and with Matthew Stafford throwing to him his numbers should be simply amazing this year. That is, if you don’t believe in the Madden curse. This season, the Lions has a player in both our top quarterback and top receiver rankings.

2. Andre Johnson

Andre Johnson is battling some nagging injuries right now, but once healthy Johnson is still a dominant receiver. With Arian Foster drawing attention to the run game, Johnson should be freed up more often to make plays downfield. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy the whole season to get Andre the Johnson the ball, he will make you a very happy fantasy owner.

3. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald might be number 2 on this list if the Arizona Cardinals had more weapons around him. Unfortunately, the Cardinals have a QB battle going on in camp and lack the stud running back to draw away defenders. I expect Fitzgerald to see plenty of double teams this season. Luckily for you, he is still talented enough to make plays while being the defenses main target and should bring home plenty of fantasy points.

4. Roddy White

If you are looking for a consistent receiver, look no further. Roddy White has had over 1,000 yards receiving each of the past 5 seasons. With Matt Ryan throwing him the ball and weapons like Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez taking pressure off of him, White should easily make that mark again and be a great #1 receiver for your roster.

5. Greg Jennings

The Packers have been an amazing offense to watch as of late and Greg Jennings is a major part of that. Aaron Rodgers goes to Jennings often, and while Jennings only played in 13 games last season, he still was just shy of 1,000 yards receiving. Add his 9 touchdowns over that time, and for the 5th receiver of the board you are getting a lot of production. If Jennings can stay healthy for 16 games and the Packers offense is as lethal as it was last season, Jennings could make a case for being higher on this list.

November 23, 2011

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NFL Fantasy Football Predictions: Week 12

By: Rick Jarrell

I wholeheartedly regret predicting Ochocinco would break one off for a score in my last NFL fantasy football suggestions. Not only did he fail to reach the end zone, but did not record a single catch. The Patriots have Julien Edelman playing receiver, linebacker, and returning punts for TD’s, but Ocho can’t do a thing. I don’t get it.

Otherwise, my NFL  fantasy football predictions were not too bad. The Panthers offense had a solid game against the Lions, despite suffering another second half comeback by Detroit. The Cleveland defense held the Jaguars to just 10 points, despite MJD eclipsing the century mark and finding the end zone. Frank Gore was a surprising miss, but I won’t take the blame for Ryan Grant and James Starks. Their fullback, John Kuhn, and their DEFENSIVE TACKLE, BJ Raji, vultured their goal line touchdowns. Kind of cool, but not if you’re a fantasy football owner.

Week 12 NFL Fantasy Football Predictions

Shootout in Detroit

This is the first Thanksgiving game for Detroit that I can remember meaning something. Since Barry Sanders left, it’s always been the game my family ate dinner during. But the Lions’ high powered, comeback offense should prove for an exciting game this Thursday, especially because they’re facing the undefeated, high powered counterpart in Green Bay.

If you’re fantasy football team is looking for a receiver, grab whoever is available and highest on one of these teams depth charts. Green Bay is your best bet, since Aaron Rodgers tends to spread the ball around, and Matt Stafford tends to focus on Calvin Johnson. But if you’re desperate, Burleson and Pettigrew are good pickups. Kevin Smith, their old, injury prone, former first round pick back from the dead, is a good fantasy football grab, too. He won’t score 3 TD’s every week, but at this point in the season, there won’t be much else available on the waiver wire.

One note of caution – this could be one of those should-be-shootouts that stays around the 24-17 range. Both will be on short rest, and both exploded last weekend on the offensive end, especially Detroit.

Aaron Rodgers will look to have a big day in what could be a Thanksgiving shootout in Detroit.

Cam Newton

Newton had a decent game against the Lions, despite a few turnovers. He reminds me of a more talented Vince Young – ability to score in multiple ways, big body, wins games despite lack of fundamentals. Basically, with the good comes the bad, it depends on if you capitalize on the good.

Sunday, they face the Colts, who have basically given up. Sure, they’re coming out of a bye, but to start trying now when they’ve almost locked down the first pick to nab Andrew Luck wouldn’t make sense. Could be another 400 yard game for Newton.

Houston Defense

The Texans are coming off their bye and face a struggling Jacksonville team. Blaine Gabbert is a rookie without a go-to receiver and an inconsistent running back. The Jags will have trouble putting up points against the Texans defense, who ranks surprisingly high on defensive yards per game for both rushing and passing.

Beanie Wells

Arizona travels to St. Louis, who happens to posses the second worst rushing defense in the league. Wells isn’t the feature back the Cardinals had hoped when they drafted him a couple years ago, but he’s a big guy that should find the end zone in what will likely be a low scoring game (not because of defense, though).

December 18, 2009

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More Trade Talks

By: Alex

The big topic around Detroit sports this week is “Trading Calvin Johnson.”

After hearing many different angles, I have come to the conclusion that it would be absolutely ridiculous to trade him! Yes, the Lions are not very good, andI understand that you could possibly get 3 high draft picks for him. I am a Lion slappy to where I believe the new GM can scout quality NFL Players, so I’d love to see more draft picks.

But the fact of the matter is that Calvin Johnson is a physical freak of nature. He has the rare combination of size, speed, dedication, and ball skills. Coming out of the draft, where the Lions drafted him 2nd overall, Draft experts labeled him as a once in a lifetime talent. That to me is a player that you might want to hang on to. If the Lions continue to draft well (5 of their draft pics are playing on NFL rosters), there will be a bright future of the Lions where Calvin Johnson will be a perennial NFL All-Pro.