November 27, 2013
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
October 22, 2013
College football’s first BCS standings of 2013 are finally out. The teams that still have realistic BCS championship aspirations now have a much clearer path that must be followed. And we, as fans, now know what we should be rooting for. But there’s still a long way to go and a ton of football left to be played. Which games are going to have the biggest impact in the title chase? Here’s my list. (Excluding the major conference championship games)
South Carolina at Missouri
It’s no surprise that this game will help decide the SEC West champion. But everyone thought that it would possibly be South Carolina heading to Atlanta in December. Missouri is the surprise of 2013 and with a win here, would all but clinch a spot in the SEC title game.
Miami at Florida State
Miami should be 7-0. Florida State should 7-0. Both could be ranked in the top five. A win for Miami would launch it into the national title conversation. A win for Florida State would keep the Seminoles in one of those all-important top two spots in the BCS.
Oregon at Stanford
These teams have a way of ruining each other’s national title hopes. Will it happen again in 2013? With wins over ranked opponents this weekend, both teams would enter this game in the national title mix.
LSU at Alabama
This game looked a lot bigger a few days ago. Now that LSU has suffered a second loss, the Tigers will just be playing spoiler here. The Crimson Tide will be 8-0, No. 1 in the BCS and a couple of wins away from the SEC title game in Atlanta.
Texas Tech at Baylor
It’s a long shot but both of these teams could take the field undefeated and ranked in the top five in the BCS. Both will have to get past Oklahoma between now and then, but if that happens, circle this one on your calendar.
Ohio State at Michigan
The Buckeyes are 19-0 under coach Urban Meyer. They should be 23-0 and 11-0 in 2013 when they take on the Wolverines. The Buckeyes desperately need Michigan to be highly-ranked coming into this one.
Alabama at Auburn
Auburn is a surprise at No. 11 and has plenty of time to move up before the regular season finale. It’s looking like the winner here will be headed to Atlanta for the SEC title game. And the winner in Atlanta always plays for and wins the BCS title. So this is basically a BCS quarterfinal. And it gets no bigger than that in November.
Florida State at Florida
This in-state rivalry could be returning to its glory days with national championship implications in this one. Closing out the regular season with a win over Florida (who should be back in the top 25 by then) would put FSU one game away from the BCS title game.
August 8, 2013
August 31, Georgia at Clemson
Could there be a better way to start the season that with two teams ranked in the top eight who have serious national championship aspirations? It doesn’t get much better than that. Unfortunately, the hopes of either Georgia or Clemson will take a hit before we hit September.
September 7, South Carolina at Georgia
If Georgia survives the Clemson game, it will have to bounce back quickly to deal with another team in the top 10 in Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks. This game could determine who gets to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
September 14, Alabama at Texas A&M
Last year, Texas A&M shocked the Tide on its home field. This year it’s the defending national champions against the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Maybe. It’s college football’s top coach Nick Saban against college football’s biggest star Johnny Manziel. Maybe. Can the Aggies knock off the Crimson Tide again? That likely depends on what happens with the NCAA investigation into Manziel’s autograph signings. He could be suspended. Or maybe this breaking news will turn into much ado about nothing. The impact of this game changes if he doesn’t play. My guess is that if he misses any games it will be just two and he makes his season debut against Alabama.
October 25, Boise State at BYU
Both Boise State and BYU could come in to this game on a BCS party-crashing run. Only one of them can leave this game that way. And they’ll have the college football audience to themselves with this game being played on a Friday night.
November 7, Oregon at Stanford
In 2011 Oregon ended Stanford’s perfect season. In 2012 Stanford returned the favor. In 2013 they are ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches’ Preseason Poll. One of these teams could be playing for a national championship game spot.
November 30, Ohio State at Michigan
The Buckeyes are coming off of an undefeated season and are now eligible for the postseason. The schedule sets up for them to make a run at the national championship game. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have returned to national prominence after a couple of down years and could make their own run if they catch a couple breaks.
November 30, Florida State at Florida
The Florida vs. Florida State rivalry has been heating back up lately and with these two teams starting the season at No. 10 and No. 12 in the preseason poll, this is a potentially huge game for at least one of these teams.
December 5, Louisville at Cincinnati
The Cardinals have one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. They begin the year at No. 9 and they don’t really play anybody that tough. They could be unbeaten and playing for a national title spot when they meet Cincinnati.
December 7, SEC Championship Game
While we don’t know which teams will be on the field in this game, we do know that it’s pretty much an unofficial playoff game with the winner headed to the national title game. It seems to happen every year so why not again in 2013?
December 4, 2012
College football’s regular season games have been played, the bowl selections have been made and now all there is to do is wait…for 2014. In two years we will finally get the college football playoff we’ve been waiting for. Until then, we are stuck with the BCS system that, every year, is filled with controversy.
This year, the BCS has delivered the most disappointing and uninteresting lineup of games since the BCS system began. The Rose Bowl has a team that has already lost five times this year in Wisconsin. The Orange Bowl has a team that was never in the BCS discussion until there was one day left in the season and has the experts complaining that they don’t deserve to be in the game in Northern Illinios. In the Sugar Bowl we have a team that benefited by not having to play in its conference championship game in Florida taking on a team that has lost two of three and has not faced a ranked opponent all season in Louisville. And of course the BCS Championship Game will feature possibly the two most hated teams in college football (Notre Dame and Alabama) so many fans won’t even know who to root for. The only bright spot is the Fiesta Bowl. Oregon against Kansas State should be a good one.
Why is everyone getting so bent out of shape about Northern Illinois reaching the BCS anyway? So Oklahoma doesn’t get in this year. So what? The Sooners have played in the BCS eight times. I’d rather see some new blood get a chance. It’s not like the Sooners are left out of a national championship shot. Has everyone forgotten what happened when Boise State (2007 and 2010) and Utah (2005 and 2009) were in the BCS and people thought they shouldn’t be? I’m not saying Northern Illinois will beat Florida State. But they qualified for the game. If Oklahoma was so worried about playing in a BCS game it should have performed better against Notre Dame or Kansas State.
What happens if Alabama beats Notre Dame, leaving Ohio State as the only undefeated team? I don’t think it will happen and I don’t think it should happen (because the Buckeyes are not bowl eligible), but what are the chances that Ohio State could end up No. 1 in the AP and we have a split national championship? Talk about college football controversy.
If we have learned anything about college football and the people who run it over the years, it is that the most important thing is money. That is why I am surprised that we are still able to find out who will be playing in what bowl game before the actual BCS selection show is on TV. Why haven’t they come up with a selection show similar to the NFL draft where we have representatives from each bowl game coming up to the podium and announcing the team they have selected to play in each game. We would have teams all around the country gathered around the phone waiting for a call. I would have loved to see a split screen of the reactions from Oklahoma and Northern Illinois when the match-ups were made official. That would get higher ratings then having somebody from ESPN telling us what we have already known for days.
There are 35 games still to play. I’ve got no interest in most of them (East Carolina vs Louisana-Lafayette and Duke vs Cincinnati for example), and only one game means anything. Fortunately, we will go through this just one more time.
September 17, 2012
When the ACC added Notre Dame to their conference for all sports except football last week, fans were immediately wondering if it was the right move. Ordinarily, adding a university of Notre Dame’s prestige would be a slam dunk. However, since the school refused to include its historic football program, many wondered if the invitation should have been extended.
Rest assured ACC fans, your conference made the right move.
It’s relatively easy to create an argument about Notre Dame’s ability to remain an independent and still being able to compete in big time bowl games. But the fact is that the Irish still bring quite a bit to the table. One of the main goals of conferences is to bring in revenue for its members and this deal will surely do that.
For one thing, the partnership with Notre Dame includes five football games with ACC members each year. That’s practically half of a season and while the Irish aren’t officially a conference member for football, playing that many games with ACC teams will make it feel like that’s the case. More importantly, those games will mean a nice revenue boost for each team. Notre Dame travels incredibly well and they have fans in practically every pocket of the country. Ticket sales will increase for schools that don’t typically sell out their entire season in advance and programs will even be able to charge a bit more for tickets by having the Irish on the slate. And not only will concessions see a nice increase from having more fans in attendance, the communities will even benefit with additional revenue from fans staying in hotels and eating in restaurants.
Then there are the bowl tie-ins. While it’s true that Notre Dame will be able to take the place of ACC teams in some of the conference’s bowl games, simply by having the Irish as part of prospective deals will mean the conference should get better opportunities. Bowl games change conference allegiances fairly regularly and by tying in Notre Dame, many bowl games will jump at the chance to partner with the ACC. Along the same lines, the ACC will be able to negotiate better media deals in the future with Notre Dame on board. Having the Irish on board will mean bigger deals for broadcast rights for games and that means more money in the pockets of each university.
Further, adding Notre Dame’s other sports is a coup for the conference as well. Their men’s basketball program is a steady participant in the NCAA Tournament. The women’s basketball program is even better, regularly challenging for the National Championship. The fencing team and women’s soccer team have brought home recent NCAA titles and the hockey team and men’s soccer program have also been to Final Fours as well. Simply put, Notre Dame is more than just a football school when it comes to athletics.
Recruiting should also experience a slight bump as prospective collegiate athletes will jump at the chance to play against Notre Dame. Better recruiting means better teams and it’s not a stretch to think that programs won’t be able to benefit at least a little with recruits wanting to face the Irish.
And while Notre Dame will fight off joining a conference for football as long as they possibly can, chances are that someday the Irish will need to find a permanent home and leave the independent ranks. That’s particularly true if college football ever decides to install a mandate forcing independents to join a conference in order to be eligible for the new four-team playoff. While the ACC wouldn’t be guaranteed to secure the services of the Irish, they should have the leg up on most because of their past dealings with Notre Dame. This move is about positioning for the future just as it is for improving the present state.
Some fans are worried that by allowing Notre Dame to join the conference for other sports but remaining independent for football that they’re getting special treatment. That’s absolutely true. But the ACC will benefit tremendously from this deal and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.