December 8, 2011

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NFL Fantasy Football Predictions

By: Rick Jarrell

Man, did Ray Rice deliver. More than 200 yards and a touchdown, sealing the Ravens victory over the Browns quickly. Another touchdown would have been nice, but Ricky Williams vultured that one, and considering I forgot he was even on the team, he could use a moral win.

Dez Bryant followed with a solid game, notching a touchdown. But again, he could and should have done more. The Cowboys should have slaughtered Arizona. Call this a trap game, as they face the Giants this week on Sunday Night Football. They may have overlooked the Cards while simultaneously giving the Giants a shot at the division crown.

My other predictions were not so hot. Frank Gore couldn’t hit the century mark despite playing the Rams, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis didn’t get much action against the Colts, who surprisingly held their own against the Patriots.

NFL Fantasy Football Predictions

Rashard Mendenhall

It pains me to keep predicting offensive explotions against my Browns, but as a fan, you know your team. Instead of creating false hope for the last four weeks of the season, I prefer to be realistic with their capabilities and focus on what can happen in the offseason.

While I do that, I’ll say Rashard Mendenhall could duplicate Ray Rice’s performance last week. The Browns had one of the easier schedules to start the season – not facing their superior division rivals until the last five weeks of the season. But these weeks will be brutal, and as the Steelers continue to fight for AFC supremacy, they’re all hands on deck while the Browns are still in their cabins (apologies if that’s a terrible metaphor, but let’s go with it). Cleveland’s bottom five rush defense will prove itself worthy of the description again as Mendenhall has his way.

The Pittsburgh Steelers will look to get Mendenhall going against the Browns who have struggled to stop the run this season.

Ray Rice

Yup, I’m going with it again. Ray Rice and anti-Colts is a solid bet. I said it last week, so I’ll be brief. First of all, the Colts have nothing to play for. It’s difficult for players to get hyped for a game that has no meaning, so their quality of play will naturally suffer as the season dwindles down. Also, ownership would LOVE to go winless and “Lock up Luck” with the first pick. Rice and the Ravens are trending the opposite directions. Expect him (and  Ricky) to do some work against Indy.

Reggie Bush

Staying with the running back theme, Reggie Bush has turned into somewhat of a feature back the last few games. Something I NEVER would have predicted, and actually campaigned the exact opposite sentiment his entire career. But he’s shown flashes of finally being worthy of the number two overall pick, and he’s facing an injured, beleaguered Eagles defense, who’s had trouble stopping the run most of the season. This is another example of teams trending opposite directions, impressive for Miami who didn’t win a game until November. Look for Reggie to continue to surprise – he’s a good flex position start the rest of the season.

Jets Defense

Now to the other side of the ball, I like the Jets to smash the Chiefs this week on the shoulders of their defense. Whoever the Chiefs throw out there – Palko or Orton – will likely throw a few picks. Revis Island is always a factor, and the rest of the defense benefits. The Chiefs rushing attack is a three headed horse that doesn’t intimidate, so the New York front seven should play strong, too. As long as Sanchez doesn’t reciprocate turnovers and leave his defense tired, I like the Jets D to perform.

February 7, 2011

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Super Bowl Recap

By: Anson Whaley

Christina Aguilera may have gotten the night off to a rough start after botching some of the lyrics of the National Anthem, but after that it was smooth sailing.

Fans were treated to another competitive Super Bowl on Sunday, and for the third time in the past four seasons, the final score was within a touchdown. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, and this highly anticipated game definitely lived up to the hype.

The difference-maker was clearly the play of the two quarterbacks. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers was crisp, and his passes were on the mark all game long. The final stats show that he completed 24 of 39 passes, but the quarterback suffered several drops by receivers, and in reality, his numbers should have been better. He also played much of the game without one of the team’s top receivers (Donald Driver, who left with an injury), and was constantly under pressure (a television stat shown during the fourth quarter indicated that Rodgers was hit a total of 16 times up to that point). His 304-yard, three-touchdown performance is even more impressive when you consider those factors.  Rodgers was the obvious choice for the game’s Most Valuable Player award.

Conversely, Ben Roethlisberger was sloppy and didn’t have his best game. While he made a few big scrambles and finished with a respectable 25-40 for 263 yards and two touchdowns, his two first half interceptions were a major reason the team had an 11-point halftime deficit. And with a chance to put together a potential game-winning drive as he had done two years ago in the Super Bowl against the Arizona Cardinals, he was unable to effectively move the ball down the field.

Heading into the game, it was expected that Green Bay would struggle to run the ball. The team has been without starting All-Pro back Ryan Grant most of the season, and the Packers’ rushing attack has been up and down ever since. But the Steelers didn’t have a sustained running attack, either, as Rashard Mendenhall, Issac Redman, and Mewelde Moore combined for only 19 rushes for a total of 95 yards. 5.0 yards per carry is above average, so Steelers’ coach Mike Tomlin may look back on this game and wish he had run the ball a bit more. Mendenhall, though, also made a key fourth-quarter fumble tat was recovered by Green Bay as the Steelers were driving and down by only four points. That killed Pittsburgh’s drive and may have been the key play in Sunday’s game.

Despite holding a fairly comfortable halftime lead, things started unraveling for the Packers early in the second half. The defense gave up a late touchdown in the second quarter, but perhaps more importantly, the Packers had just sustained the potentially devastating injuries to Driver, cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Sam Shields, and safety Nick Collins. The Steelers immediately took advantage, scoring an early touchdown in the third quarter to bring the game to within four. But after the Mendenhall fumble, the two teams traded touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and the Steelers couldn’t get anything else going.

When fans look back at this Super Bowl, however, Rodgers will be the guy everyone remembers. After a great regular season, he has clearly cemented his status as a bonafide star, leading his team to its fourth Super Bowl victory in the franchise’s storied history. He had an outstanding game, and as frustrated as the Steelers are about this game, there’s another team that should be equally disappointed – the San Francisco 49ers.

The Niners held the #1 pick in the 2005 NFL Draft and desperately needed a quarterback. Despite the fact that Rodgers held the franchise in high regard and had a successful college career, the team instead selected Alex Smith out of Utah. Granted, the 49ers weren’t the only team to pass on Rodgers, but they had the first chance to draft him. And we all know how the story goes from here – Smith has struggled in the pros, while Rodgers, at 27, is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and has an extremely bright future. In Rodgers, Grant, and wide receiver Greg Jennings, the Packers have a young nucleus on which to build and should be competitive for years to come.