December 5, 2012

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Things to Watch Down the Stretch of the 2012 NFL Season

By: Matt Bowen

With less than a handful of weeks left in the 2012 NFL season, the playoff picture begins to become clear and individual records start to become threatened. This season is no different as fans everywhere will be glued to their televisions until the waning seconds of the season as history will be made.

Could RG3 become the first rookie to ever lead the league in quarterback rating?

The current climate in the playoff picture is far from clear, meaning that every snap counts, ensuring fans excitement until zeros read across the clock in the final game of Week 17. Right now, there are 22 teams still in contention for the playoffs and even the teams who are out of the picture thrive on playing the spoiler for the fortunate ones.

The AFC has more separation than the NFC in terms of sure bets for playoff locks, but anything goes with only four games remaining for most teams. The teams that execute well, avoid mistakes and strike it lucky by winning the war of attrition will be rewarded. Right now the Cincinnati Bengals are 7-5 and  have the best shot of getting invited to the party, but the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets still have a shot at 5-7. Things may not be too bright for those teams, but crazier things have happened.

The NFC is where things are the most interesting. 12 teams still have hopes of making the playoffs and right now only one team, the Atlanta Falcons, are a sure bet. Three teams that are also in at the moment, the Green Bay Packers, New York Giants and Chicago Bears all have four losses. The Seattle Seahawks are currently the caboose at 7-5 while the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings are nipping at their heels at 6-6.  The St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints still cling to the dream with five wins a piece. The battle in the NFC will go down to the wire and be a delight for all football fans.

On an individual level, there are a few guys that are must-see TV the rest of the way.

First of all, watch rookie quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III whenever you can, it’s simply a must. Luck is going to break the rookie record for passing yards and already has five comeback wins while RG3 is as efficient as they come. Both kids are phenoms—Luck is more of a gunslinger at the moment and RG3 just doesn’t make many mistakes. Right now the Redskins rookie has a quarterback rating of 104.6, which ties him with the Denver Broncos‘ Peyton Manning and is only .4 away from the league leader, Aaron Rodgers. A rookie has never earned the highest rating and that is something a rookie may never do again. The maturity of both RG3 and Luck is something this league has never seen.

Can you believe that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson leads the league in rushing with only four weeks remaining?

Me neither, but Peterson’s 1,446 yards thus far are 308 more than Marshawn Lynch, who is currently second in the NFL. Face it, Peterson won’t be caught and believe it or not, he’s going to flirt with 2,000 yards. Right now he’s on pace for 1,928 rushing yards, but he’s had six, yes six straight games with 100-plus yards. He may not surpass Eric Dickerson’s all-time record of 2,105 yards in 1984, but the 2,000-yard plateau has only been eclipsed six times in history. Considering Peterson had major knee surgery in January, one can’t help but root for him. He has to average 138.5 in the final four games but considering that he’s averaged 157 yards/game over his last six, the landmark isn’t out of reach yet.

There’s a pair of teammates in Detroit that may both make history by season’s end. While the Lions season has been a disappointment, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson are something special. Stafford’s 3,742 passing yards currently lead the league and he’s on pace for 4,989. That’s dangerously close to 5,000 yards, which he accomplished last season. Stafford is one of only four quarterbacks to ever reach that number and if he has a second-straight season reaching that golden mark, he would become the first quarterback ever to do it in back-to-back season.

Stafford’s teammate and go-to-guy, Johnson is on track to break some ridiculous records. Currently he’s had five consecutive games with at least 125 receiving yards. A sixth-straight game would put him in a class all by himself. Something else that could set Megatron apart from the field is the fact that he’s on track to have the most single-season receiving yards in NFL history. He currently has 1,428 yards and is on pace for 1,904, which would put him past NFL legend Jerry Rice, who set the record in 1995 with 1,848. Once a record thought never to be broken, Johnson is ready to smash it. This is something that can’t be ignored. Although the Lions may not be in the hunt, Johnson sure is.

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.

June 7, 2012

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By: Junior

My wires must have been crossed last week. I said I needed my UFC 146 picks to be 4-1 last week to get to .500 in my predictions. However, I went 1-4 and am now a lowly 12-18. Maybe I was getting too cocky with the previous winning streak I went on.  have had a bad record before, though, and my UFC predictions will continue with Friday’s UFC on FX.

Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall

This is the kind of main event I love to write about. Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson would seem to be a lock for me to pick with such a great nickname. Unfortunately for him, he has run into Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall. There may not be a better nickname in sports. Add on top of that the handlebar mustache McCall is sporting and I think I have my new favorite UFC fighter. Without looking at any fighting style information, I am taking McCall. Uncle Creepy can’t lose!

Erick Silva vs. Charlie Brenneman

There is a big drop off with my excitement from the main event to this fight. Neither fighter sticks out to me in their descriptions, with Silva having no nickname and Brenneman using “The Spaniard”, which is a little dated. Silva is a pure striker, with dangerous kicking ability. Brenneman will look to bring this fight to the ground and wear out Silva with his wrestling. I am looking for Silva to catch Brenneman with a solid kick and take care of business.

Mike Pyle vs. Josh Neer

This fight has regained my interest. Mike “Quicksand” Pyle and Josh “The Dentist” Neer have brought some creativity with their nicknames, although I am confused a little by Neer’s. They are very similar fighters in the ring, with Pyle being a slightly more well-rounded. Neither fighter is afraid to take the fight to the mat, so this fight has equal chances of ending via knockout or submission. Either way, I think The Dentist will be the one celebrating when the fight is over.

Eddie Wineland vs. Scott Jorgensen

Wineland doesn’t have a nickname, but does has a 3 inch size advantage over Jorgensen. Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a well-rounded fighter who can beat you in a myriad of ways. Jorgensen can be aggressive, which could get him in trouble with a dangerous striker like Wineland. Jorgensen could have a hard time getting inside the reach of Wineland, but I like his fighting style and I am taking Young Guns in this fight.

Mike Pierce vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha

These two guys look like they were born to fight. Pierce is 13-5 and the more experienced fighter. Rocha, while not experienced, is 9-1 in his fights and also 2 inches taller than Pierce. Combine those stats with his “Ta Danado” nickname and he is leading in my book. Pierce is a takedown, ground and pound style of fighter, while Rocha is looking for submissions. I like the brute force Pierce fights with, but I am taking Rocha in this fight.

May 25, 2012

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UFC 146 Predictions

By: Junior

My confidence grows and grows making UFC predictions after another winning card (3-2) brings my overall record to 11-14. I have to keep the momentum going with UFC 146 this Saturday. A 4-1 card could finally get me to .500, but I’m shooting for my first perfect card. With that in mind, here are my UFC 146 card predictions:

Cain Velasquez and Antonio Silva should provide a great fight at UFC 146.

Junior Dos Santos vs. Frank Mir

This is the first fight in a while where I have actually heard of both fighters. Santos has an impressive 14-1 record, but Mir’s 16-5 is respectable as well. These two fighters have very different styles, with Mir looking for submissions, while Santos relies heavily on striking. I normally side with the strikers, but Mir has worked on his striking and could pose a problem with Santos, who I don’t think will be able to prevent the takedowns. I like Mir to take the main event.

Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva

This breakdown was over before it even started. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is far too good of a nickname not to get my selection in this fight. Silva is also the more experienced fighter, bringing a 16-3 record to the octagon. Velasquez has been very successful so far, however, and at 9-1, Bigfoot is no lock. Both of these fighters are well rounded and do a lot of things well. As I said in the beginning of the analysis, I am taking Bigfoot in this one.

Roy Nelson vs. Dave Herman

The nicknames keep on coming. “Big Country” couldn’t be a more fitting nickname for Roy Nelson, who looks like he came in from the farm. Nelson is a misfit compared to most UFC fighters, who are incredibly fit guys, like his opponent Herman. Nelson sports his gut with pride and with a 17-7 record, he clearly is doing well for himself. Herman is 21-3 and a great striker, but he never stood a chance against Big Country in my book.

Stipe Miocic vs. Shane Del Rosario

The battle of the unbeatens! Miocic (8-0) and Del Reosario (11-0) will put their perfect records on the line Saturday in what should be an amazing fight. The only downside? No nicknames. If you can get past that aspect, they are two very different fighters. Del Rosario is a well rounded submission fighter, where Miocic is a striker. I am going with the experience and taking Del Rosario for the win.

Stefan Struve vs. Lavar Johnson

Another great undercard fight, these guys also bring the nicknames. Stefan “Skyscarper” Struve is 6’11”, which to me seems like a huge disadvantage if you are taking on a takedowns fighter. Luckily for him, he isn’t. Lavar “Big” Johnson is a pure striker with very quick feet and knees. Interestingly enough, it is Struve who is the submissions fighter, and I just can’t wrap my head around how he fights. Big got me a win last card, so I will go with him again this time.