November 14, 2012

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Why Andrew Luck Will Be the Greatest NFL QB of All Time

By: Matt Bowen

The Indianapolis Colts turned their organization upside down when they decided to part ways with franchise quarterback Peyton Manning in order to draft Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck No. 1.

Drafting Andrew Luck sent the Indianapolis Colts franchise in a new direction.

While many fans had mixed emotions about the ordeal, there should be a calm feeling across Colts Nation right now—Luck is as good as advertised, and he’s only going to get better.

Coming into the NFL, Luck was said to be the best quarterback out of college since fellow Stanford alum John Elway. Fittingly enough, it was Elway who signed Manning to take over the Denver Broncos huddle after the team decided to trade Tim Tebow to the New York Jets in the off-season.

Another wrench thrown into the Colts’ “life after Manning plan” was the emergence of quarterback Robert Griffin III last season. Heading into the 2011 college football season, Luck was slated to win the Heisman Trophy and be the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

Well, Griffin III won the Heisman (deservingly so) and almost the top honors in the draft. The Colts teetered on which quarterback to choose, but stuck with Luck. Their decision looks to be a wise one right now. Griffin III went No. 2 to the Washington Redskins and the rest will be played out in history.

The Colts currently hold a Wild Card spot at 6-3 and Luck is on pace to set the rookie record for total passing yards.  His 2,631 yards right now put him on pace for 4,677, which would demolish the Carolina Panthers Cam Newton’s 2011 record of 4,051. Luck also surpassed Newton’s single game record by a rookie with 433 passing yards in Week 9. Thanks to veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne, who is currently second in the NFL with 931 receiving yards, Luck has a reliable target. His touchdown to interception rate in only 10/9, but he’s a rookie. Those numbers will fix themselves with experience.

So, what makes him so special?

His intelligence is that of a wily veteran rather than a rookie. He is already the go-to, hands down leader of his team. Out of the Colts’ six wins this season, five have been by six points or less, which tells one that his game management skills are superb.  To think of what he’ll be able to do in the future leaves one with a waterfall of drool cascading from his open jaw. He’s the total package.

He’s smart, has deadly arm strength and accuracy and is underrated as an all-around athlete. His ability to tuck the ball and run when necessary will help him thrive in the NFL. His goal heading into his rookie season was to improve every game.  Two turnovers in the red zone in Week 10 prove that he has plenty of work to do, but that’s what motivates him.

Here’s something to watch for from Luck the rest of the season—he’s going to flirt with 5,000 passing yards. This would be a monumental feat as only four men have done it a total of five times in NFL history. Never has a rookie achieved this.

If you think this is impossible, don’t be a hater. Luck only needs 2,369 passing yards, or 338 yards/game the rest of the way. Considering his competition the rest of the season, this is more than possible. The Colts play the suspect defenses of the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs. Not to say these teams don’t have a chance against Luck, but numbers don’t lie. Only the Houston Texans, who the Colts play twice, may be able to contain Luck down the stretch. But even they were torched by Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers to the tune of 338 passing yards*(what Luck needs to average to reach 5,000) and six touchdowns in their only loss this season.

NFL fans do yourself a favor—watch history unfold, watch Luck become the greatest of all time.

April 23, 2012

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NFL’s Must See Matchups Of 2012

By: Anson Whaley

The NFL schedule release has become a national event with more hype growing for it every year. The schedule always features some big time games and this year was no exception. Here are ten matchups you won’t want to miss.

Indianapolis at Washington (August 25): August? That’s right, this is a preseason game. But it could be a pretty significant one. If everything plays out as expected in the NFL Draft, this would be a matchup of the top two quarterbacks – Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. It’s early, so the two might not end up starting. But assuming they’ve signed, there’s a good chance they’ll both be playing.

Dallas at New York Giants (September 5): Face it, this could be a matchup of the league’s two worst teams and nobody would care. This Wednesday night game will kick off the season and it not only features the defending champions, but is a rivalry game between two big market franchises. In other words: ratings through the roof.

Romo will be feeling pressure from the defending Super Bowl champion's pass rushers.

San Francisco at Green Bay (September 9): This was the game many expected to see for the NFC Championship this past year. Instead, the Giants upset the Packers and went on to defeat the 49ers. These are two favorites to challenge the Giants this year for the NFC crown and should be one of the conference’s best games of the season.

Indianapolis at Chicago (September 9): We’ll get our first look at Andrew Luck in the preseason, but this could be his first regular season game. It’s the Colts’ first game of the year and there’s a chance he begins the season as the starter. If he does, it might not be all that pretty facing the Bears on the road. But it could be the first look at a Hall of Fame career if Luck’s as good as advertised.

Denver at New England (October 7): With Peyton Manning now in Denver, the Broncos are a trendy team to watch. When Manning was in Indianapolis, the Colts-Patriots game was always a key one. He’ll square off against future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, making this a game not to miss.

New York Giants at San Francisco (October 14): The 49ers appeared to have the NFC Championship wrapped up last year until some key special teams gaffes. The game last season was a close one throughout and this one should be no different.

Carolina at Washington (November 4): When these two teams line up in November, it will be a game featuring two of the league’s dynamic young quarterbacks. Cam Newton set the league ablaze with his play in 2011 and Robert Griffin III will be looking to make a similar impact for the Redskins.

Houston at Detroit (November 22): The scoreboard operator will be plenty busy in this Thanksgiving Day game as two of the top passing offenses in the league square off. But quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Matt Schaub won’t be the only ones to watch. At the other end of their passes will be perhaps the two best wideouts in the league – Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson.

Oakland at Cincinnati (November 25): This one’s kind of under the radar, but Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer will be making his return to Cincinnati since forcing his way out a year ago. Needless to say, Bengals fans probably won’t be all that forgiving.

New York Jets at Jacksonville (December 9): Speaking of returns, backup quarterback Tim Tebow returns to his home state of Florida to face the Jaguars. The kicker is that he could very well be starting by this point in the season if Mark Sanchez struggles. If Tebow starts this game in Jacksonville, the internet just might explode.

November 18, 2011

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Could the Indianapolis Colts go 0-16?

By: Junior

Could the Indianapolis Colts go 0-16?

Going into their bye week this Sunday, the Indianapolis Colts are a brutal 0-10. Before the Detroit Lions in 2008, losing every game on your schedule in a 16 game season was thought to be impossible. Could it possibly happen again just three years later? I thought I would take a look at the Colts remaining 6 games and see just how real the possibility may be.

Carolina

This could be their best chance at finally getting a win. The Colts have been at home for their previous two games and will be yet again when Carolina comes to Lucas Oil Field. Add to that the extra time they have to rest from their bye, and Indianapolis should be well prepared for this game.

Unfortunately for them the 2-7 Panthers are no pushover. Cam Newton is getting better and better as he continues to get more comfortable in the NFL. If the Colts can’t find a way to shore up their run defense (31st in the league), they could lose yet another decision.

New England

The Colts are going to have a hard time leaving Foxborough with a win. Even if New England has the 32nd worst pass defense, I don’t see the Colts winning a shootout with New England. The Colt’s defense will simply be outmatched with the firepower Tom Brady and the Patriots have on offense. Besides, New England might take pleasure in beating a recent rival who is down.

Baltimore

Double what I just said above. Ravens fans have a deep-seeded hatred for the Indianapolis Colts, who were once the Baltimore Colts. Expect M&T Back Stadium in Baltimore to be rabid as they hope to help their old team to a winless record. The Ravens are better in all phases and should have an easy time getting a win at home.

Don't expect the Colts to get a friendly welcome from the Ravens or their fans.

 

Tennessee

This game starts the stretch of divisional games that will run through the end of the season for the Colts. If the Colts don’t have a win by this point in the season, their spirits won’t be very high. Having already lost at Tennessee this year, chances are slim home field advantage will be able to make up the difference in this match up. The Titans at this point in the season still have a shot at the playoffs. If that is still the case in Week 15, you can bet they will be poised not to let this game get away.

Houston

The Colts may have caught a break in this game (no pun intended) as Matt Schaub may be done for the season with a foot injury. However, Texans fans would probably still like their chances with Arian Foster against the Colts run defense. If the Colts can avoid Schaub and stop the run, this could be a game they could sneak away with.

Jacksonville

Could you imagine the pressure if the Colts are 0-15 going into this game? The Colts fans would be in attendance for what could be a historically bad ending to their season, something Lions fans were spared in 2008. The good news would be, Jacksonville is not a world beater, and if the Colts haven’t packed it in already, they could save themselves in the 11th hour.

So many twists and turns could happen between each week of this outline. Regardless, the tension (and fear from Colts fans) is palpable as Indianapolis travels towards a mark that no one wants to be associated with. If they do achieve this unfortunate record, at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel. They will be getting Peyton Manning back next year, and they will have his successor, Andrew Luck, ready to learn.

October 27, 2011

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Division Races Heating Up

By: Joe Williams

It’s seven weeks into the NFL season, and the division races are starting to take shape. NFL teams like Buffalo and Detroit have thrown their hats in the ring, and others like St. Louis and Indianapolis have played their way out of it. Here’s where we stand:

AFC EAST

It was supposed to be a battle between the Jets and Patriots, but the Bills have made it a three team race. New England’s only loss came at the hands of the Bills and their New Year’s Day rematch ought to have playoff implications. Buffalo has a few games against NFL teams at the bottom of the standings and two meetings with the Jets, so the schedule sets up well for them to stay in the race. The next month will be critical for the Jets. They play the Bills twice and New England once. One of these teams is going to be watching at home in January.

AFC NORTH

Cleveland and Cincinnati are hanging around. This is the only division with no NFL teams below .500. Wins against New England and Baltimore in the next two weeks would put the Steelers in the driver’s seat in the AFC. Things are going to get much more difficult for the Bengals with two games left against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We’re about to find out what this team is made of. Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh is the game of the year for the Ravens. If they can beat the Steelers for a second time, the division should be in their controls. The Browns are in the conversation at 3-3 but they haven’t beaten anyone worth bragging about. Can they steal a couple against the big boys?

AFC SOUTH

All it took was one injury for the Colts to go from AFC South dominance to one of the worst teams in the league. Someone is going to take advantage and after Sunday’s beat down of the Titans, it looks like it will be Houston. The schedule sets up nicely for them with most of their tough games already behind them. If Tennessee can get back on track, the New Year’s Day rematch could be huge.

AFC WEST

As usual, the Chargers are the heavy favorite in the West. And as usual, they let the rest of the West hang around. They host the Chiefs on Halloween in a must-win for Kansas City. The Chiefs really have to win the next three to stay in the race because they have a brutal five-game-stretch coming up. If the Raiders can get their act together during the bye week and get Carson Palmer ready to go, the West title may be on the line when they meet in the last game of the season.

NFC EAST

There will be lots of entertaining games between now and week 17, but it almost seems like we can just skip ahead to the last day of the season when Dallas is at the Giants and Philadelphia hosts Washington. That’s when this division will be sorted out.

NFC NORTH

The Packers have already got people talking about a 16-0 regular season. It’s probably not going to happen, but as long as Rodgers is healthy, they should win the North division. Detroit still has two shots at the defending champs though so they could make things interesting. Chicago is too far back to catch Green Bay but the Bears will be in the thick of the wild card race.

NFC SOUTH

The Falcons, Saints, and Bucs won a total of 34 games last year. They are on a similar pace right now, and, just like last year, one of them is going to get left out of the playoff picture. New Orleans has a one game lead and the last two at home, so they should have an edge. It could come down to which team gets knocked off by Carolina in the last month of the season.

NFC WEST

San Francisco has five wins. The rest of the division has three. It is the 49ers‘ division to give away. And if they keep playing well with a soft schedule coming up, they could even earn an opening round bye.

October 17, 2011

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Five NFL Trades That Should Happen

By: Anson Whaley

Sure, NFL trades aren’t all that frequent. While we as fans pay strict attention to the MLB, NBA, and NHL trade deadlines, the NFL cutoff date generally comes and goes without much fanfare. Seriously, before this week, did you have any idea that the trade deadline is Tuesday? If you did, the chances are good that you’re probably an agent, a GM, or a player.

That said, there are some moves that should happen – moves that could make teams better in the short or long run. Here are five players that should be moved in exchange for a draft pick.

5. WR Eddie RoyalDenver Broncos to Carolina Panthers: Eddie Royal’s name is one of the most widely heard when the trade deadline comes up. Royal had an extremely productive rookie year in 2008 catching 91 passes for just under 1,000 yards, but since then, has dropped off a bit – particularly with the emergence of other receivers over the years such as Brandon Lloyd and the departed Jabar Gaffney. At 25, though, Royal still should have plenty of productivity left and would make a nice target for rookie Cam Newton in Carolina who could use another wideout.

4. CB Asante SamuelPhiladelphia Eagles to St. Louis Rams: The Rams’ secondary is in need of a major boost. Arguably their top three cornerbacks, Ron Bartell, Jerome Murphy, and Bradley Fletcher, are injured and the team needs to shore up that position. Sure, the Rams aren’t likely to contend this year, but Samuel is only 30 and is still capable of being a contributor for several more seasons. The Eagles’ defense has struggled this season, but mediocre linebacker play has been a big factor in that. And with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominic Rodgers-Cromartie, the team can afford to move one of their cornerbacks. Trading Samuel to a team such as the New York Giants might make more sense, but I couldn’t see the Eagles allowing him to go to a division rival.

3. RB Joseph AddaiIndianapolis Colts to Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Addai’s had injury issues the past few years, but when healthy, he’s more than capable of being an adequate running back. Tampa Bay may not win the NFC South, but they could have a shot at a Wild Card. Leading rusher LeGarrette Blount is injured, but more than that, the Bucs could use some help in the backfield. Addai is injured himself, so he may not be immediately available himself. But a second back would provide some insurance for the team should one of them go down later in the season. Indianapolis has young running backs Delone Carter and Donald Brown on the roster and can afford to part with Addai at this point as he’s been solid, but unspectacular.

2. WR Brandon Lloyd – Denver Broncos to San Francisco 49ers: Raise your hand if you expected the 49ers to not only get off to a good start this season, but look like one of the league’s better teams at 5-1. Even San Francisco fans were probably hard pressed to expect the team’s hot start. But now that the 49ers appear to be for real, it’s time they add another receiver to the mix. Enter Brandon Lloyd, who had more than 1,400 receiving yards last season with the Broncos. Lloyd is also familiar with the area having played with San Francisco in his first three seasons. He’s a veteran and can provide immediate help to rejuvenated quarterback Alex Smith. Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn have been serviceable at wide receiver, but adding a steady veteran to the team in Lloyd would go a long way to helping the team not only reach the playoffs, but make some noise once they get there.

1. QB Carson PalmerCincinnati Bengals to Seattle Seahawks: The Carson Palmer/Cincinnati saga hasn’t gone as expected for Palmer, who probably believed he would eventually have his trade request fulfilled. Six games into the season and Palmer is still sitting out while rookie Andy Dalton has taken the reins for the Bengals’ offense. Seriously, though, this is helping no one. Palmer would be better served by being able to play elsewhere and Cincinnati could get something in return for him. A move to Seattle might be ideal for Palmer who could help the Seahawks contend in the mediocre NFC West. He would also be reunited with former USC coach Pete Carroll and is an upgrade over Tarvaris Jackson.