October 3, 2013

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2013 NFL Q2 Must-See Games

By: Matt Bowen

The second quarter of the 2013 NFL season is now upon us and this is where the truth comes out. Which teams are true contenders? Which will continue to surprise? Which are massive disappointments? Let’s break into the second part of this four part series and get down to business. Remember, each week will contain three categories; the heavyweight bout, the divisional battle and the hidden gem.

Week 5

The Heavyweight Bout: Denver Broncos vs. Dallas Cowboys

Just in case you’ve forgotten, Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is really good at throwing a football. His counterpart, Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys is no slouch himself.

This game will get an abundance of attention for a reason and deservingly so. Expect a ton of offense. Receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant will make the most of the nationally televised event and put up video game-like numbers.

Right now, Manning is looking like he’s an easy MVP selection and is making his argument as the best ever. Check him out before it’s too late.

Can the Dallas Cowboys upset the Broncos in Week 5?

The Divisional Battle: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

A pivotal game for both squads, the Detroit Lions are coming off a Week 4 win against the Chicago Bears. The Green Bay Packers are fresh off their bye-week and looking to make a statement after a disappointing 1-2 start.

The Lions haven’t won in Cheese Land since the early 1990s. This would be a monumental win for the Lions and a monumental collapse for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers and Co. aren’t about to let that happen now.

Both sides must have this game, but who will it be?

The Hidden Gem: Seattle Seahawks vs. Indianapolis Colts

The Seattle Seahawks look like the early-season Super Bowl favorite while the Indianapolis Colts continue to make positive noise. Quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck are the future of the league and this game will be something special.

This one is a can’t-miss game and will be a chess match until the very end.

Week 6

The Heavyweight Bout: New Orleans Saints vs. New England Patriots

Like offense? This game between heavyweights may tally 80-combined points. The New England Patriots are riddled with injuries but always find a way to compete. The New Orleans Saints were almost forgotten about because of their 2012 miscues but Drew Brees has defensive coordinators everywhere shaking in their boots once again.

Expect Tom Brady and Brees to combine for 700-plus passing yards. A true barn burner, this one will be fun to watch.

The Divisional Battle: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Overall records never matter in this rivalry. The Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs hate one another.

With no love lost in this divisional battle, this type of game is why football is defined as tough.

Alex Smith has done enough to win over his new home crowd quickly in KC and Terrell Pryor is turning some heads The Black Hole. Although it may be ugly, that’s why this game will be great.

The Hidden Gem: New York Giants vs. Chicago Bears

This Thursday Night showdown may not look so great because the New York Giants have started the season off with a string of duds but this game promises to be entertaining.

The Giants are loaded with offensive talent and the Chicago Bears are somehow flying under the radar. Quarterback Jay Cutler may look like the grumpiest guy in sports, but his performance is making Bears fans everywhere smile right now. Eli Manning will look to reinstall faith within Giants fans by stealing a win on the road against a formidable opponent.

Stay up past your bedtime for this one.

Week 7

The Heavyweight Bout: Denver Broncos vs. Indianapolis Colts

This one doesn’t need much explanation.

Peyton Manning returns to Indianapolis.

Manning vs. Andrew Luck, the kid who the franchise he brought to greatness drafted to take his place.

Any questions?

The Divisional Battle: Buffalo Bills vs. Miami Dolphins

While Super Bowl aspirations may be a bit too high this year for these teams, there is definite promise. Both teams were razzed for drafting their current starting quarterbacks, but right now they are looking wise.

Ryan Tannehill has the Dolphins looking good and E.J. Manuel and the Bills are only a couple of seasons from contention.

This matchup against AFC East rivals will be like looking into the future. This game means something for both sides. Pretty soon it will be the difference between making the playoffs and taking an unwanted vacation.

The Hidden Gem: Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

This game means something because these guys despise each other.

The Pittsburgh Steelers behind Ben Roethlisberger won’t go down without a fight and the Baltimore Ravens are the most disrespected team in the NFL.

Why?

Joe Flacco has rallied the troops and they are now a trap game for every opponent this season. This game will be overlooked by most but be great from beginning to end.

Week 8

The Heavyweight Bout: Washington Redskins vs. Denver Broncos

Okay, the Washington Redskins may have a lackluster record at the moment, but never mind that. Week 8 is a soft spot in the NFL schedule.

The thought of Robert Griffin III heading to Mile High to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos is awfully enticing.

This will be a real measuring stick for RG3 in his progression as a NFL quarterback. He’s stuck between two worlds right now. He must become a better passer and only rely on his legs when he needs to escape. He’s got the smarts to still be great.

In case you were wondering, Manning may throw for 500 yards against the porous Redskins defense.

The Divisional Battle: Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

Week 7 has the Miami Dolphins pitted against the Buffalo Bills as a divisional battle to set the tone for the future. The ‘Phins Week 8 battle against the New England Patriots is to set the tone for now.

If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best and the Dolphins will have to prove that they belong in the conversation.

This one will be heated. Don’t expect for one second that the Patriots are ready to lose control of the AFC East.

The Hidden Gem: Atlanta Falcons vs. Arizona Cardinals

Believe it or not, the Arizona Cardinals will spoil many teams’ seasons this year.

Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons sure don’t want it to be them in Week 8. Carson Palmer has given life to the once stagnant Cardinals offense.

Also, the Cards have a dynamic duo in their secondary in LSU alums Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu. Falcons’ receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones have a tall task against the Cards.

Football enthusiast young to old will have a blast watching this tilt.

June 5, 2013

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NFL Talk

By: Matt Bowen

Face it—it’s never too soon to talk about the NFL. The thoughts of the upcoming 2013 NFL season are starting to invade NFL fanatics’ minds. Yes, we’re only a few days into June, but it’s been three months since Super Bowl XLVII. That means we have exactly three months to go until the 2013 season kicks off on September 5. Some may say that we’re in the doldrums of the offseason, but this is just the beginning. It only gets better from here.

With that being said, let’s talk football.

Here are the top five headlines weighing on everyone’s mind this offseason:

Will RG3 Be RG3?

After his injury last season, will RG3 be the same player this year?

Any true NFL fan is currently holding their breath hoping that Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III will return healthy. The knee injury he suffered in the playoffs was gruesome to watch. The nausea that ensued when reality and doubt set in still exist today.

He’s the future—a prototype never before seen on an NFL field—the complete package.

Will he be okay?

Something tells me that he’ll be just fine—RG3 is a remarkable athlete.

Let’s hope he’s “ready for some football” on September 9 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Can the Indianapolis Colts Return to the Playoffs?

The Indianapolis Colts took the league by storm last year when they defied the odds and made the playoffs. Then rookie quarterback Andrew Luck proved to be the truth, but can he avoid the sophomore slump?

Having tasted winning in 2012, the Colts grew leaps and bounds and impressed all as they won games they probably shouldn’t have. One adjustment this is season will be to new offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton. Former OC Bruce Arians is now head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. All Luck did under the tutelage of Arians in 2012 is set a rookie record with 4,374 passing yards.

Luck has the intelligence to absorb a new system quickly. The only question that remains is will the Colts return to the playoffs?

Will Wes Welker be the “It” Factor for the Denver Broncos?

The Denver Broncos were seconds away from the AFC Championship game last season before a Baltimore Ravens bomb sent them packing.

After shaking off the rust, quarterback Peyton Manning looked like Peyton Manning by season’s end. All the Broncos needed heading into the offseason is some added offense and there was no better find than Wes Welker.

Will Welker be the difference? Are the Broncos now “locks” for a Super Bowl appearance? Along with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas, can the Broncos have three 1000-plus yard receivers?

Something tells me Manning and Welker are out for revenge. Watch out!

How Good Will the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens Play?

The San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens look to avoid the Super Bowl hangover this season.

The Ravens took the league’s top prize last season and without a doubt will look different this season. Out are Anqaun Boldin (49ers), Ed Reed (Houston Texans) and Ray Lewis (retired)— and Ravens fans have to be wondering what their team will be like without three of their best. The Ravens still have a solid squad, but are they contenders?

The 49ers face the most pressure of any team this season. Having been so close the ultimate prize, can they get over the hump this season? Colin Kaepernick is now the man and expectations have never been higher. If there’s one team that’s built to win it all it’s the Niners, but will they do it?

Numerous Other Questions Scattered on Our Minds:

Can the Cincinnati Bengals win a playoff game?

Will Adrian Peterson eclipse 2,000-plus yards again?

Will Mike Wallace be the boost the Miami Dolphins need?

Can Calvin Johnson break his own single-season receiving record of 1,964 yards?

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers make the playoffs?

Are the New England Patriots at the end of an era?

Is this the year for the Atlanta Falcons?

What will unfold for the New York Jets?

Are the Seattle Seahawks the NFL’s best team?

March 27, 2013

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NFL Free Agency Winners

By: Joe Williams

There are just a couple weeks left until the NFL Draft so you know what that means…it’s time to judge who “won” and “lost” in free agency. And we’re going to do it only about nine months before we really know how good these teams are and what signings were actually good.

Tom Brady and the Patriots will be moving forward without Wes Welker in the 2013 season.

Tom Brady and the Patriots will be moving forward without Wes Welker in the 2013 season.

New England Patriots

Yeah they lost Wes Welker to Denver, but signing Danny Amendola is a nice replacement. But that’s not why the Patriots are on the list. It’s because Bernard (Patriot-killer) Pollard has joined the Tennessee Titans. You may remember that it was Pollard who sacked Tom Brady on the play where Brady tore his ACL in 2008. He was also involved in the play when Wes Welker got a torn ACL in 2009 and when Rob Gronkowski got hurt and missed the Super Bowl. And just a couple months ago it was a ferocious hit from Pollard that knocked Stevan Ridley out and forced a crucial fumble in the AFC Championship Game that Baltimore went on to win. But this year, the Patriots don’t have to worry about Pollard because they don’t play the Titans. (I reserve the right to change this opinion if the NFL schedules the Patriots and Titans to play in the preseason.)

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle started the offseason with a bang by trading for one of the most dangerous weapons in the league in Percy Harvin. Then they added Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to an already stellar defense.

Kyle Arrington

The New England defensive back (and new father) just scored a year’s worth of diapers from new Patriot Adrian Wilson for giving up the number 24 jersey, allowing Wilson to keep his number from his days in Arizona.

Elvis Dumervil

In one of the strangest free agent developments I can remember, Dumervil was cut from Denver because his agent didn’t get a signed agreement faxed to the team seven minutes earlier. Instead, Elvis was cut by the Broncos even though he wanted to stay and they wanted to keep him. It was an embarrassing situation for everyone involved, but signing a 5-year, $35 million contract with the defending Super Bowl champs is a nice recovery for Dumervil.

Denver Broncos

If not for the previously mention Dumervil debacle, the Broncos would have an almost perfect off season so far. Adding Wes Welker, Louis Vasquez, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Terrance Knighton fills just about every hole on the roster. If they can bring in Dwight Freeney or John Abraham to replace Dumervil, they will be in great shape heading into the draft.

Tim Tebow

Even though he isn’t a free agent, Tebow makes the list because there is finally a team that has come forward and said they actually want him on the roster. Yeah it is the Orlando Predators and yeah it is the Arena Football League. But at least he’d get a shot to play quarterback.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins landed the biggest fish in free agency when they signed WR Mike Wallace. They have also made a splash by signing WR Brandon Gibson, TE Dustin Keller, and linebackers Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe. If all goes well, they could challenge the Patriots in the AFC East. If not, at least they have given their fans some hope and shown that they are going for it.

June 8, 2012

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Where Will Ochocinco End Up?

By: Junior

With news coming out yesterday that Chad Ochocinco was released by the New England Patriots, speculation has started on where the wide receiver could end up next year. It has been a rough year for wide receivers in the NFL. Terrell Owens has been unable to land with a team, Hines Ward retired maybe a bit earlier than he wanted to, and now Chad Ochocinco needs to find a home. So which teams could be interested in the former Pro Bowl wide receiver?

Could Chad Ochocinco and Trent Richardson be teammates next season?

Houston Texans

If the Houston Texans have interest in Ochocinco, you would have to think they would be the favorites. The team on my list with the best chances of making it to the playoffs this season, Chad went to the Patriots in the hopes of winning a Super Bowl.  The Texans made the playoffs last year and might see Ochocinco as the WR they have been looking for to free Andre Johnson of constant double teams.

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills have some precedent with this type of signing, having picked up Terrell Owens in 2009. The Bills started off last season with a 5-2 record before eventually ending up 6-10. That fast start, with the free agency addition of Mario Williams and the drafting of Stephon Gilmore could be enough to entice Ochocinco. The Bills don’t have much in the WR department outside of Stevie Johnson, so Ochocinco could be a solid addition to their offense.

Cleveland Browns
This might be a long shot, but the Cleveland Browns desperately were looking for a WR going into the NFL Draft, and while they came out with a new QB and RB, they still are thin at wide receiver. The Browns aren’t considered likely candidates to make a big playoff run, but with a revamped offense, Ochocinco could be a missing piece to a rebound season.

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins lost their #1 receiver in Brandon Marshall during the off-season, when they traded him to the Chicago Bears. They may find Ochocinco to be too much of a distraction for their team to gamble on, but they could definitely use the help. Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill could use some help with targets to throw to and there aren’t many WR’s of Ochocino’s caliber available on the free agent market.

St. Louis Rams

Sam Bradford is a solid young QB on a pretty awful St. Louis Rams football team. With WR’s Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson as his wideouts, you have to think Bradford would welcome Chad Ochocinco to the offense. Jeff Fisher has taken a gamble on an older receiver before, having acquired Randy Moss while he was the head coach of the Tennessee Titans. I am not sure Ochocinco would go to a team that has struggled like the Rams have, but right now, his options are limited.

March 20, 2012

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Potential Landing Spots for Tebow

By: Joe Williams

Now that Peyton Manning has made his decision, one question remains….what happens to Tim Tebow? Indications are the Broncos will try to trade him, but will they be able to find someone to bring the circus to town for a guy that ranks 34th in completion percentage in a league with 32 starting quarterbacks? I believe a deal gets done before April’s draft. Here are 7 possible landing spots for Tebowmania.

With Peyton Manning now in Denver, which team will Tim Tebow go to?

Jacksonville

This is the obvious choice because Tebow is from Jacksonville. They could certainly use something to get the fans excited and this would do it. Shahid Khan has said that he would’ve drafted Tebow if he owned the team a year earlier so he could make it happen to try and fill the seats for a franchise that has had trouble doing so. The problem is the Jags used a 2011 first-round pick on Blaine Gabbert and just signed free agent Chad Henne.

Miami

How desperate are the Dolphins? Their attempts to make a splash by landing a big name have failed several times recently and they could really be feeling the heat after not only missing out on Manning, but getting passed over by Matt Flynn who went to Seattle. Maybe the Dolphins resort to bringing in someone who won’t have the choice to turn them down.

New England

Do the Patriots need a quarterback? No. But the offensive coordinator is the same man who moved up in the draft to pick Tebow, and Bill Belichick isn’t afraid to try something other coaches wouldn’t even think of. Maybe Tebow spends a couple years learning from Brady instead of Manning.

Denver

Sure the Broncos plan to trade Tebow but they are going to have to find someone to take him. Denver likely has a short window with Manning to try and win the Super Bowl so they would love to get some assets in return but there may not be another team willing to make the deal Denver wants. Then again, maybe all they want is for the circus to leave town.

Cleveland

The Browns tried to move up to draft a quarterback but were beaten out by Washington. Tebow would generate more buzz than Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace for a team that has been an after-thought in the AFC North during the last few years. And there is always a chance John Elway will feel sorry for Cleveland fans after what he did to the Browns as a player and give them the most popular player in the league.

Philadelphia

You never know. We all thought the Eagles were set to head into the future with Kevin Kolb and now he is in Arizona and Michael Vick and Vince Young are in Philly. Andy Reid must have a clause in his contract that requires him to bring in every controversial quarterback he can get his hands on. May as well have another lefty to come in when Vick gets hurt.

Oakland

What? You don’t think Tebow should be the face of Raider Nation? Maybe he is the guy who can get this franchise heading in the right direction. The Raiders have always been a team that likes to throw the ball deep. When Tebow throws, he likes to throw deep….even when the receiver has run a short or medium route. Dennis Allen, new head coach of the Raiders, was the Broncos’ defensive coordinator last year and could buy into Tebowmania.