December 17, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Mack Brown Resigns – Crazy week in Texas with football coach Mack Brown stepping down from his post with the Longhorns. Brown’s resignation has been the subject of speculation for a few years now as many fans haven’t been pleased with the team’s record lately. After nine consecutive seasons with at least ten wins, Texas hasn’t achieved that mark in the past four years. Brown hasn’t been terrible, mind you, guiding the Longhorns to three winning seasons in those four years. But the team hasn’t competed for a national championship in some time and the program hasn’t been as good as it was last decade under him. Alabama’s Nick Saban seemed to be a potential replacement for Brown, but he recently announced he’s staying put with the Crimson Tide.

Kobe Bryant Struggles in Return – The Los Angeles Lakers got their star back this week as Kobe Bryant returned from his Achilles injury sustained last season – but things haven’t gone quite as they hoped. The team got off to a 1-3 start since Bryant’s return with their only win a three-point victory over the Charlotte Bobcats under their belts. The Mamba isn’t helping things, either. In the four games he’s played, Bryant is scoring only 13.5 points a game. Helping to fill the point guard role in Steve Nash’s absence, the good news is that he is averaging a career-high seven assists per contest. But Bryant is also averaging a career-worst 6.3 turnovers and is clearly still dealing with a high amount of rust.

Jamaal Charles has Record Day … as a Receiver – Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamaal Charles had some kind of day in the team’s 56-31 win over the rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Charles is one of the league’s best rushers, but he did his damage on Sunday through the air, racking up 195 receiving yards on eight catches. He added five big touchdowns and had 220 total yards on the day. According to ESPN, he had the third biggest receiving day for a running back since the 1970 merger and his five scores tied a franchise record. Needless to say, Charles surely won leagues for many of his fantasy football owners that reached their league’s championship games.

Roy Halladay Retires – Former All-Star pitcher Roy Halladay retired last week at the age of 36. Halladay, as recently as two seasons ago, was still one of baseball’s best pitchers. In his second season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2011, the pitcher had perhaps his best season ever with a 19-6 record and career-bests with 220 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.35. The past two seasons for Halladay, though, have been forgettable and last year, he suffered one of his worst professional seasons going 4-5 with a whopping 6.82 ERA. The next question will inevitably be if he will get into the Hall of Fame. His credentials are reasonable with a career 3.38 ERA and more than 2,100 strikeouts, but his relatively low total of 203 wins will hurt him. That’s unfortunate because playing for some pretty bad Toronto Blue Jays teams for the bulk of his career, Halladay would certainly have had more wins with a better franchise. Still, that number will be difficult to overcome since most of the other starters currently in the Hall have more victories.

Snowball Fight Ends with Oregon Player Suspended – The Oregon Ducks’ football team apparently organized a snowball fight with fans and, well, things got out of control. A player was even suspended for the team’s upcoming bowl game. Well, then.

RGIII Benched … Redskins Lose Anyway – The Washington Redskins benched their star quarterback Robert Griffin III after he’s been inconsistent all year long following his recovery from his ACL injury. Kirk Cousins got the start for Washington on Sunday, but the team still lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 27-26. The team was competitive and Cousins did some good things in throwing for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but he also struggled a little with two interceptions and failed to convert a potential game-winning two-point conversion near the end of the contest. Cousins is an interesting quarterback who has a future in this league, but the team is still better off with Griffin if he can return to the form he showed in 2012. Benching him was the right move and if the Skins are wise, they’ll do the same for the rest of the season and allow him to get healthy for next year.

Jameis Winston wins Heisman – In the long and storied history of the Heisman trophy, a freshman didn’t win the award until last season when Johnny Manziel took home the prize. That opened the door for others and for the second consecutive season, a first-year player has won the honor. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston has been nothing short of spectacular for the Seminoles and he clearly deserved to win it, leading Florida State to an undefeated season as they head into the national championship game next month.

Skiing … Not Just for the MountainsSkiers are taking over Detroit’s abandoned buildings. No, really.

December 6, 2011

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The Luckiest Team in the NFL

By: Joe Williams

It takes a combination of things to win in the NFL. Certainly you need talented players, but you also need great coaching, timing, and a little luck doesn’t hurt either.

When the Denver Broncos inserted Tim Tebow as their starting quarterback over Kyle Orton, they were 1-4. With Tebow at the helm they have gone 6-1. Is Tebow that good? Is Orton that bad? I say no to both. Instead, I say the Denver Broncos are the luckiest team in the NFL.

Tim Tebow’s “magic” is getting all the credit for the wins Denver has pulled out in the fourth quarter. While Tebow does deserve credit for helping the team win, nobody in their right mind can believe he has made one of the worst teams in the league into one of the best by himself.

The Broncos have been extremely lucky in every win since Tebow took over. Let’s look at each win.

Denver 18, Miami 15 in overtime

The Broncos didn’t score until there was just under three minutes left in the game. Then they recovered an onside kick and scored again and then converted a two-point try. It takes some luck for all those plays to go their way. Of course it helps when you are facing a winless team. Then the defense wins the game for them in overtime when D.J. Williams forced and recovered a Matt Moore fumble. The Broncos had so little faith in Tebow they didn’t even try to pick up a first down and settled for a 52-yard field goal try, which was good.

Denver 38, Oakland 24

You never know what you are going to get from the Raiders. But I know that when you bring in a quarterback to a new team after not playing football for a year and he throws three interceptions, that’s not good. Take away their best offensive weapon in Darren McFadden and add 15 penalties for 130 yards to that and the Raiders aren’t beating anyone.

Denver 17, Kansas City 10

Tebow completes two passes in this game. Two. But the Broncos win because Kansas City is embarrassingly inept on offense. The Chiefs have scored 35 points total in their last five games. Of course, part of the Chiefs problem is losing their best offensive player, Jamaal Charles, for the season.

Denver 17, New York Jets 13

Just when you think the Broncos schedule couldn’t get any better, they get to host the Jets (one of their toughest opponents) on a short week. I’m not sure why, but teams that have to fly all the way across the country on a short week almost never win. Did I mention the Jets played without their top two running backs?

Denver 16, San Diego 13 in overtime

This is not the Chargers team we are used to seeing. They came into this game on a five-game skid and found a way to lose another one. Missing a field goal in the fourth quarter and another one in overtime is a good way to blow a game.

Denver 35, Minnesota 32

It’s another win against a team playing without its best offensive weapon. The Vikings didn’t have Adrian Peterson but still managed to score 32 points. And on the one week when Tebow actually needs to throw the ball, he is playing a team with five players from its secondary on IR. Tebow had receivers that were so wide open there wasn’t a defender in the picture when they caught the ball. It doesn’t hurt to have a rookie quarterback throw a terrible interception to give Denver a cheap field goal to win the game either.

Denver vs. Chicago

The Broncos get lucky again this week with one of the best teams in the NFC coming to town. At least they were great until a couple weeks ago. Now they don’t have Jay Cutler or Matt Forte.

So to recap, the Broncos have beaten a winless team, a team with a rusty quarterback still learning the offense and teammates, a team that cannot score, a team traveling cross-country on a short week, a team on a five-game losing streak, and a team with no secondary. And they didn’t have to face McFadden, Charles, Shonn Greene or Peterson. If that’s not good luck, then I don’t know what is.

September 21, 2011

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Predicting the NFL Week 3 Fantasy Studs

By: Rick Jarrell

Like many media personalities, I’m going to take a stab at predicting which NFL players will have spectacular statistical performances this upcoming weekend. But unlike many media personalities, I’m going to predict the top five players in the league – Tom Brady, Adrian Peterson, Andre Johnson, etc – will have a great week. That’s a cop out. Anyone can do that. The following are my somewhat bold predictions for NFL Week 3 fantasy studs.

Rex Grossman

I’m still surprised the Washington Redskins didn’t decide to go with Jon Beck as their starting quarterback, but I digress. Grossman has shown flashes of the good and bad we saw during his Chicago Bears days. Mike Shanahan may be reeling in the gun slinger, creating a reliable starter, and the suspect Dallas Cowboys’ secondary provides a solid match up. Where Dallas’s secondary lacks, it’s run defense makes up for it, with playmakers on the defensive line, which leads me to believe the Skins will be even more inclined to take it to the air as much as possible. But I caution you, as always, Grossman will throw a pick or two on his way to a 400 yard game.

Rob Gronkowski & Chad Ochocinco

Gronkowski has already been tearing it up this year, with three touchdowns in two games, even while splitting time with fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez (often in two tight end formations). But now that Hernandez will be out the next 2-4 weeks, Gronkowski should benefit even more by being additionally targeted by Tom Brady.

But one man can only do so much. There has to be another benefactor, someone who hasn’t tallied as many receptions as normal on the team. Someone who’s very vocal, but strangely not the last two weeks. That man, of course, is Ochocinco. He’s crowded behind the aforementioned athletic tight ends and very Patriot-minded players Deion Branch, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman. Even with Brady throwing for 500 yards a game, that’s a lot of love to spread around. Expect Ocho to benefit from Hernandez’s absence, possibly more than Gronkowski will.

The Entire San Diego Chargers Team

The Kansas City Chiefs surprised everyone last year by winning the division handily but have stumbled out of the gate this year. They lost their Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in Week 1, and Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles in Week 2. Both to ACL injuries. Both are out for the year. Couple that with the wide perception the team would take a step back this NFL season, it will likely be a very long year for the team and their fans.

The beneficiary of the Chief’s misfortunes this week will be the division rival Chargers. Moving the opposite direction of the Chiefs, as they are widely perceived to have underperformed last year, stud quarterback Phillip Rivers should have a huge game against the depleted secondary. Who catches the ball the most – Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates – is irrelevant, as it’s probable all three will have very favorable games for their fantasy owners.

Mike Kafka

That’s right, I said it – Mike Kafka. League rules state Michael Vick has to sit out at least one game after his concussion (at least I think those are still the rules). So unless they change the rules specifically for him, Kafka is the man for Philadelphia this Sunday. The former Northwestern quarterback is highly unknown, but I can tell you this – it seems no matter who the Eagles put in at quarterback, they still win. Donovan McNabb, AJ Feely, Kevin Kolb, Vick, and now Kafka, who went 7-9 after Vick’s departure this past weekend.

Don’t expect Kafka to turn into Drew Brees. Not even close. They’ll probably try to establish the run, with LeSean McCoy having a breakout season so far. But the Giants have a strong defensive line. They’re weak in the secondary. So in a situation where you’d think Andy Reid would limit pass attempts to below 20, it may actually eclipse 30.

I hope none of you drafted Peyton Manning and David Garrard and are already hounding the waiver wire. But for the few that exist, Kafka is a decent option. Assuming Grossman is unavailable, that is.

September 20, 2011

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NFL Early Season Surprises

By: Joe Williams

We are just two weeks into the NFL season and the landscape of the league has already changed. Some NFL teams have dug themselves a big hole to try and climb out of. Others have played better than expected. Here are some teams that have me reconsidering my NFL season predictions.

Buffalo Bills

It’s no surprise that the Patriots and Jets are 2-0 but did anyone expect to see the Bills destroy the Chiefs and win a shootout with Oakland? I don’t think so. It’s not that the Bills won two games; it’s the way they’ve done it. Ryan Fitzpatrick has led the now high-flying Bills to a league leading 79 points. Buffalo didn’t score its 79th point last year until the fifth game of the season and started out 0-8. How much has Buffalo really improved? We are about to find out. Tom Brady and the Patriots come to town this week.

Indianapolis Colts

When Peyton Manning was ruled out for most of the NFL season with a neck injury, it was pretty clear the Colts would relinquish their strangle-hold they have had on the AFC South. The Colts have proved in the last two weeks just how great Manning is. The offense is near the bottom of the league and hasn’t scored a touchdown in either game until the outcome was already decided. If they continue playing like this, there will be no reason for Manning to take the field when he gets healthy.

Kansas City Chiefs

Just when it looked like the Chiefs were going to be the team to challenge San Diego in the AFC West in the next few years, they are off to a horrendous start this NFL season. They are just a game back in the AFC West but after being outscored 89-10 in two games, confidence of a turnaround cannot be high. It’s been so bad that I’m not even rubbing it in to my friend who is a Chiefs fan. Matt Cassel has not been good but the worst part is the loss of Jamaal Charles for the season. Not to mention losing Eric Berry and Tony Moeaki as well. It could be a long season at Arrowhead.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins weren’t even supposed to contend for a spot in the NFL playoffs, let alone win the NFC East, but here they are at 2-0 and in first place. The Giants and Cardinals may not be NFL heavyweights right now but a win is a win and teams that stay in the race need to win at home. Things get a bit tougher for Mike Shanahan’s team this week though with a trip to Dallas. A road win over a division rival would be huge.

Carolina Panthers

When I say “Carolina Panthers”, what I mean is “Cam Newton”. When I picked Newton up for my fantasy team I never imagined he would throw for 854 yards in two games. He looks like he is going to be the real deal and even though the Panthers are 0-2, they have looked much better than the team who earned the first pick in the NFL draft last season.

April 7, 2011

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A Bunch of Unrelated Questions Answered by Jamaal Charles

By: Lionel

Jamaal Charles has seen a lot.  A standout running back, he was part of the 2005 national championship team with the University of Texas, where he currently ranks fourth in career rushing yards, despite forgoing his senior year to enter the NFL draft.  Now three years into his professional career with the Kansas City Chiefs, he has become one of the best rushers in the NFL.

We figured that a guy who’s seen so much would have a lot of information to share, so we worked for weeks – brainstorming, researching, and surveying fans – to come up with the most interesting interview questions possible for Mr. Charles.  Unfortunately, we left those questions in the bar at the airport, so we hastily assembled a bunch of unrelated questions just to make sure we had something to ask him when we saw him.  Here are his answers to that second batch of questions:

1.       How did your NCAA bracket work out?  Good.  Had UConn winning it all.

2.       Name 3 things you’ll do more of if there isn’t an NFL season.  Lift weights, run track, more community involvement.

3.       If there was a movie about your life, who would be the star?  Me.

4.       Better barbecue: Texas or Kansas City?  Texas.

5.       Who, in your opinion, is the most intimidating defensive player in the NFLNo one.

6.       What are you surprisingly bad at?  Singing.

7.       If there’s no NFL season, and you can let your self go a little, what will you eat a lot of?  Nuts.  All kinds of nuts.

8.       What’s on your DVR right now?  I don’t have one.

9.       What movie do you like that you don’t normally admit to people?  Avatar.

10.   If you were going to put up anyone else’s Fathead in your house, whose would it be?  Adrian Peterson’s.