January 31, 2013

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Super Bowl XLVII Predictions

By: Matt Bowen

Super Bowl XLVII is now just days away, which leaves fans to ponder how many pounds of nachos they’ll serve up to their friends and what exactly will transpire in the big game in the Big Easy.

Making predictions is half the fun when it comes to the Super Bowl. NFL fans know that most of the iconic Super Bowl moments have come unexpectedly, and there will no doubt be a few of those this year.

Let’s get to it:

Jacoby Jones Will Take the Opening Kickoff Back for a Touchdown

The Baltimore Ravens acquired Jacoby Jones in the offseason primarily to be an instant threat in the return game. Jones hasn’t disappointed this season as he returned two kicks and a punt for touchdowns.

He’s also a viable weapon as a No. 3 receiver behind Anquan Boldin and Terrey Smith. Just ask the Denver Broncos if Jones is a difference maker. They seemingly forgot about him in their Divisional Round playoff matchup as he marched into the end zone after a bomb from quarterback Joe Flacco that sent the game to overtime.

Here’s the kicker—Jones is a native of New Orleans, and he’ll be more than ready to steal the show. With his blood flowing early, he’ll start the game off with a bang.

Alex Smith Will Make an Appearance

The San Francisco 49ers made a bold move this season when they benched then starting quarterback Alex Smith for second-year man Colin Kaepernick.

Smith, a former No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft was finally beginning to look like a No. 1 pick. He was coming off arguably the best game of his career, going 18-for-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8.

Just when it was looking like Smith had solidified himself, a concussion knocked him out of Week 10 against the St. Louis Rams and inevitably changed the course of his career.

In came Kaepernick, who undoubtedly optimized the Niners offense and propelled them to the Super Bowl.

So, this is the end of Smith, right?

Wrong!

He’ll make an appearance in the Super Bowl and even throw an 18-yard touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh knows he has to pack a bag full of tricks if he’s to beat a veteran Ravens defense. Smith will be one of those tricks, and he’ll make the most of it. On the first possession of the second half, Smith will make his mark.
Justin Tucker Will Kick the Longest Field Goal in Super Bowl History

The Baltimore Ravens made some noise this preseason when they tapped rookie Justin Tucker from the University of Texas to be their place kicker this season.

Tucker proved he’s the man for the job, going 30-for-33 on the season and even notching four field goals longer than 50 yards.

The Super Bowl record for longest field goal is a 54-yarder from Steve Christie of the Buffalo Bills against the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl XXVIII.

Tucker will top that by booting a 56-yard field goal with 3:13 left in the third quarter. He’ll show the world just why the Ravens made a great choice when they chose him.

Randy Moss Will Walk the Walk

In case you haven’t heard, Randy Moss has named himself the “Greatest of All Time” during media day at the Super Bowl this season.

Considering he’s a member of the San Francisco 49ers, that’s a bold statement.

Although his career numbers don’t compare to Hall of Fame 49er Jerry Rice’s, Moss will make a big impact in the Super Bowl. Love him or hate him, he’s really good.

It’s long been known that Moss shows up when he wants to, and, considering it’s the Super Bowl, he’ll be open for business.

The Ravens will have their hands full trying to keep track of receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Moss will slip by the secondary for an early second quarter touchdown. Don’t be surprised when he is booed after reaching the end zone.

In the end, he’ll have four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Joe Flacco Will Stamp Himself as Elite

Why there’s still a debate to whether Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is elite or not beats me.  All the guy does is win.  Sure, it may not always be pretty, but a win is a win.

Flacco will be a free agent in the offseason, but don’t expect him to leave Baltimore—he’s there to stay.  Taking Super Bowl MVP honors will certainly boost his pocketbook during bargaining.

He may not be the flashiest quarterback, but he’ll have a Super Bowl ring to show off.

In his MVP performance he’ll go 22-for-30 with 301 passing yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning drive that will end in a Ray Rice 12-yard screen pass touchdown.

Final Score: Ravens 24, 49ers 20

January 30, 2013

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2013 Off To A Wild Start

By: Joe Williams

Is it just me or has this been one of the craziest months is sports, both on and off the field? At the top of the list of course is the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend and the hoax behind it. Every day there is a new unbelievable twist to this story. I’m not even going to try to comment. But it’s certainly not the only wacky thing we’ve seen recently…

More drama in New York

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan was spotted in the Bahamas with a tattoo on his right arm of his wife’s likeness wearing only a Mark Sanchez jersey. Does this explain why Ryan stuck with Sanchez as his quarterback for so long instead of putting in Tim Tebow?

The Jets were a major story throughout 2012. Now, it has continued into 2013.

Alabama wins BCS Title

The Crimson Tide winning another title is one of the few things that doesn’t seem out of the ordinary in 2013. But it’s not very often when the most talked about play of a title game comes with a team up by 35 points. It’s even more unusual for that play to be a shoving match between the game-winning quarterback and center (A.J. McCarron and Barrett Jones). One more oddity about this game….the biggest star to emerge was not even on the field. McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb has become the talk of the game after some comments we made by commentator Brent Musberger. She will now be in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and will be covering the Super Bowl for Inside Edition.

Carmelo Anthony tries to fight Kevin Garnett

An on the court exchange of trash talk went too far when Kevin Garnett allegedly told Carmelo Anthony that his wife tastes like Honey Nut Cheerios. Anthony then tried to confront KG after the game as the teams were leaving the arena.

Tiger tops tee shot, misses cut

It was not a good start to 2013 for Tiger Woods. In his first tournament in Abu Dhabi, he not only topped a tee shot with his driver, but he was also penalized two shots for taking an illegal drop and ended up missing the cut by one shot. (He has since redeemed himself by easily winning the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.)

Miracle in Atlanta

After blowing a 20-0 halftime lead, the Falcons moved down the field in just two plays to kick the game-winning field goal in their divisional playoff game against Seattle.

Stunning finish in Denver

The Broncos’ defense committed a cardinal sin by letting Jacoby Jones get behind everybody and Joe Flacco found him for a 70-yard game-tying touchdown with just 31 seconds left. The Ravens would eventually win the game 38-35 in the second overtime period.

John Fox confuses Peyton Manning for Tim Tebow

Denver had the ball on its own 20 with 36 seconds on the clock and three timeouts to use before halftime. Fox calls for a handoff to the fullback and a run to the locker room. Then, leading 35-28 with 2:23 left in the game and one first down away from a win, Fox decides to run the ball three times and punt. And after Baltimore tied the game, the Broncos had the ball on their 20-yard-line with 31 seconds left and two timeouts and Fox goes for the trifecta and calls for a kneel down and overtime. He probably is still in the habit of doing this after all the pathetic offensive possessions Tim Tebow gave him last season, but aren’t situations like these the reason you give $96 million to one of the top quarterbacks of all time?

Patriots lose; wife goes off

Following in the footsteps of Tom Brady’s wife Gisele after the Patriots Super Bowl loss in 2012, Wes Welker’s wife lashed out on Facebook against Ray Lewis after the Ravens AFC title game win over the Patriots. And as if that wasn’t enough, Hulk Hogan’s former wife Linda has got Lewis’ back and come out against Mrs. Welker.

Biggest interviews in sports go to Oprah and Katie Couric

Lance Armstrong finally came clean (maybe) on the Oprah show and admitted that he used PED’s. Couric scored the first interview with Manti Te’o where he explained the situation with his girlfriend to be a hoax.

Really NFL?

49ers running back Frank Gore was fined $10,500 for having his socks too low, which is completely ridiculous, but looks even worse when the NFL later fined Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for trying to kick Ed Reed while sliding to the ground. So there is a stiffer penalty for how you wear your socks than there is for something that could injure another player?

Referee scandal?

We are all accustomed to people complaining about officials for favoring one side or the other, but the NFL showing favoritism among the officials is a new one. Apparently, several NFL game officials are questioning the league’s grading system and the selection of Jerome Boger as referee for Super Bowl XLVII.

Super sabotage?

Former Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown claimed that former Raiders coach Bill Callahan sabotaged the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers. Brown said the coach changed the game plan in order to hurt Oakland’s chances of winning…a claim that was backed up by another former Raider, Jerry Rice. Callahan has denied the allegations.

Also:

Oregon scored a one-point safety in the Fiesta Bowl.

Houston Rockets center Greg Smith was called for a three-second violation after stopping in the lane to tie his shoe.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock was hurt doing the Ray Lewis dance after losing a bet to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

New Orleans announces name change from Hornets to Pelicans.

Northern Illinois sets NCAA shot-clock era record with four points in a first half.

January 16, 2013

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Why Tony Gonzalez is the Motivator for the Atlanta Falcons

By: Matt Bowen

The Atlanta Falcons finally won a playoff game, which has eluded them in the Matt Ryan era until their Divisional Round triumph over the Seattle Seahawks on January 13.

Can Matt Ryan take Tony Gonzalez to their first Super Bowl?

Now, they can focus on the task at hand.

The pressure of being the best regular season team since 2008, compiling a 56-22 record but going 0-3 in the playoffs is over. They have now shown they are a worthy No. 1 seed in the NFC.

All the Falcons need to do now is look at their future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez for motivation. Like Ryan, the win over the Seahawks was Gonzalez’s first playoff win. It’s hard to believe at 36 years old, with his credentials, he has never won until now, but it’s true.

You see, Gonzalez’s career lore is only growing—at this point he’s a living legend, his stature has almost reached mythical proportions. He’s almost like Superman—missing only two games out of the possible 256 regular season games in his lengthy 16-year career. Considering he plays the more physical position of tight end, that’s a rather jaw-dropping stat. He was the new-age hybrid tight end that is so popular across the NFL right now before there was such a thing.

His 1,242 career catches ranks second on the all-time list behind Jerry Rice’s 1,549. Gonzalez tallied an astounding 93 catches this season and has had 70-plus catches in 10 straight seasons. His 103 career touchdowns ranks No. 1 for tight ends and sixth overall. His 14,268 career receiving yards ranks seventh.

The Super Bowl is the ultimate goal for any NFL player/team and Gonzalez and the Falcons have unfinished business. Now that Ryan and the Falcons have hushed the critics, Gonzalez becomes the focal point. Sadly, this may be his last season in the league, as Father Time and the bumps and bruises of the NFL life eventually become too much for even superheroes like Gonzalez.

Even casual football fans will fall in love with Gonzalez in the coming days. He’s a class-act that every athlete should try to emulate.

Expect to hear stories of “Win one for the Gipper” style speeches coming from the Falcons organization soon. As the members of the Falcons sit in their locker room the rest of the season, the emotions that will be running through their souls as they peer at Gonzalez will be nearly overwhelming.

Not wanting to let him down, his teammates will reach never before seen heights in their upcoming NFC Championship Game.

When the Falcons host the San Francisco 49ers keep Gonzalez in mind. One can’t help but root for him.

May 10, 2012

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Does the NFL Undervalue Centers?

By: Jesse

Lost in all of the hype and debate about which NFL prospect is the next Joe Montana or Jerry Rice, is which prospects could become Pro-Bowlers on the interior of the offensive line (or at least Pro Bowl caliber, if there is no Pro Bowl).  This year’s Draft showed how lightly NFL teams value interior lineman, specifically centers.  Peter Konz, the #1 rated center according to many draft sites, fell all the way to the Atlanta Falcons at #55.  But when you look at teams that have been successful over the last decade, they all have had very good, if not elite, centers.

THE PATRIOTS – DAN KOPPEN

Dan Koppen started 119 games from 2003-2010 for the Patriots.  He was injured early in 2011.  During his tenure as the Patriots center, New England won two Super Bowls and started another season 19-0.  Koppen may not be as important to the team’s success as Tom Brady or Bill Belichick, but he has been an important cog on the offensive line for a long time.

THE COLTS – JEFF SATURDAY

Saturday started 188 games for the Colts from 1999-2011.  Anyone who thinks that the Colts’ offense is completely run by Peyton Manning has never seen Saturday argue with him on the sidelines.  Saturday was out there for all of those years calling protections and identifying linebackers for the Colts’ offensive line.  He is a major reason that Peyton Manning started every game for 13 years in a row.  It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Jeff Saturday can make in Green Bay now that he has signed with the Packers.

MORE EXAMPLES

Maurkice Pouncey, David Haas, and Scott Wells have all been on Super Bowl teams in the past two seasons.  The Steelers went against the grain and drafted Pouncey 16th overall in 2010.  He has more than lived up to the selection by earning a selection to the Pro Bowl in each of his first two seasons.  Scott Wells went from the Packers’ 7th round draft pick in the 2004 NFL Draft to the starting center in Super Bowl XLV and a Pro Bowler in 2011.  He recently signed a contract with the Rams.  Before the 2011 season, David Haas left the 49ers and signed with the Giants in free agency.  The Giants had not made the playoffs in two years, but won the Super Bowl last year with Haas manning the pivot.  The list does not end there.  The Bears’ Super Bowl run in 2006 featured team captain and perennial Pro Bowl Center Olin Kreutz.  The Giants’ 2007 Super Bowl team had Shaun O’Hara, who made three Pro Bowl teams and one All-Pro Team.

Does Fathead undervalue centers too? The only center on Fathead.com is Nick Mangold.

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Poor play at center can bring a team down as well.  Would the Cowboys have had better records in recent years if they had gotten more consistent play from center Andre Gurode?  Gurode, at times, struggled with shotgun snaps, and, on a few occasions, had multiple bad snaps in the same game.  The Cowboys chose not to resign him following the 2010 season, and, while he signed with Baltimore for the 2011 season, he started only five games for the Ravens.

Recent history has shown that the most successful teams in the league have to-of-the-line centers.  A poor center can bring down an otherwise talented football team.  So why do NFL teams seem to overlook this position in the draft?  It is one of the greatest mysteries in pro football.

October 6, 2008

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Creative Sports Logic

By: realbigfathead

By Apryl DeLancey

You know how sports fans sometimes have crazy logic for why we root for certain teams that aren’t from our hometown? Not everyone does this, but a vast majority of sports fans use creative sports logic to justify who they root for. For example, here are “my teams” that I root for and why I chose them:

Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Sparks, Los Angeles Galaxy, Los Angeles Kings: These are all the teams from my hometown. I was born and raised in Los Angeles so this makes sense, yeah? Not very hard to imagine why I’m interested in them. Now for the more “creative” followings:

I’ll follow what I call the “lesser” teams to root for SoCal against all other teams if one of my aforementioned teams are not playing, especially in a playoff position. For example, you’ll see me cheer on the Anaheim Angels, Los Angeles Clippers, Chivas USA, and the Anaheim Ducks. This is ONLY if they are not playing my real L.A. teams or even certain Florida teams in playoff situations but this is not set in stone.

USC and UCLA: Yes, it is blasphemy, but they are both in my hometown and I have many good friends that attended one or the other.

USF: I went to college at the University of Tampa and we did not have a football team. (Well, they did up until 1974 when John Matuszak graduated.) Instead, we were granted admission to USF Bulls games for free. This program has only been around for a short time and they manage to be ranked high in the BCS lately so it’s great to cheer them on. Go Bulls!

University of Miami: I was accepted to college here but decided to be in Tampa instead. I absolutely love the city of Miami and visit when I can. Of course, they cannot be playing one of the teams that were mentioned earlier in any NCAA games. This rooting system for college teams goes for all sports – not just football.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning: Again, I went to college in Tampa and had an absolute blast going to all of these games that I could. By default, I might also root for the Orlando Magic since I was able to catch some of their pre-season games in Tampa. On that note the Carolina Panthers can disappear from existence without any tears from me.

Oakland Raiders: The only team to bring a Super Bowl ring to my hometown of Los Angeles. Al Davis is making this a real challenge nowadays.

San Diego Chargers: They are very close and the city loves them!

San Francisco 49ers: Joe Montana, Steve Young, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh – need I say more?

Manchester United: The Glazers own them. They also own the Bucs. Get it?

When there is any conference final or championship game, I will root for the West Coast or Florida team depending on the circumstances. There is an entire silly grid in my head of the order.

Golf: Phil Mickelson gets my vote since he is a left-handed SoCal native like yours truly. Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa are cheered for because they are class acts. Of course, California native Tiger Woods is a favorite as well.

Bottom line – I love sports. Chill out and let’s watch a game! Was this a totally lame post? Maybe…give me a break…I can’t be full of wit and charm every day.

What is your odd sports logic for a team you follow?