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.

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.

December 29, 2011

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The NFL Playoffs Remaining Spots

By: Junior

In the final week of the NFL season, there are still 3 playoff spots still unclaimed. The NFC East, AFC West and the final AFC Wild Card are up for grabs and will be decided this weekend. We take a look at which teams will earn, or back into, a berth in this year’s NFL playoffs.

NFC EAST Champion

The NFC East was given to the Philadelphia Eagles in the offseason after they went out and made some big free agent signings. Long considered one of the tougher conferences in the NFL, not many would be surprised if you told them the NFC East would come down to the final week before we had a winner. However, it would be surprising to hear the Eagles didn’t have a chance. The Dallas Cowboys will travel to New York to take on the Giants in what is essentially the NFC East Championship game.

The Cowboys have had multiple chances to put distance between themselves and the Giants, but failed to take advantage of the opportunities. Add to that the injured throwing hand of Tony Romo, and all of the momentum seems to lie with Eli Manning and the Giants. Look for the Giants to get after Romo and get out to an early lead to keep the home crowd in the game. I like the Giants to claim the NFC East championship this year.

The New York Giants will be after Tony Romo and his injured throwing hand as they look to claim the NFC East crown.

AFC WEST Champions

The AFC West seems to be the division nobody wants to win. The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos are both fighting to stay above .500 on the season and haven’t looked strong in the last couple weeks. Denver has dropped two in a row, while the Raiders have lost 3 of 4, needing OT to beat Kansas City last week.

Unlike the NFC East game, these two teams don’t get to play each other for the right to go to the playoffs. If both teams win this weekend Denver will win the AFC West and Oakland will have a chance to win the final remaining Wild Card spot, but we will get to that later. Denver has the better draw, having only need to beat the Chiefs while Oakland must beat San Diego. I like Tim Tebow to find a way to beat his predecessor Kyle Orton and return the Broncos back to the postseason.

AFC Wildcard (6th seed)

This is where it all gets interesting. Four teams can still claim this final AFC Wild Card spot: the Benals, Jets, Titans and Raiders. Try to stay with me here.  The Cincinnati Bengals have the easiest road to get to the playoffs: win and they are in.  They can also get in if the Jets and Raiders or Broncos lose.

If that doesn’t happen, the Raiders can get in if they win, the Bengals lose and either the Titans lose or the Jets win.

The Jets get in if they win and the Titans, Bengals, and either the Raiders or Broncos lose.

Finally, there is Tennessee. They need to win. They also need the Bengals to lose. Then, if the Jets win, they need the Raiders or Broncos to lose. If the Jets lose, they need both the Raiders AND the Broncos to win.

Head spinning yet? Mine too. After all of those scenarios, here is all you need to know. I think the New York Jets find a way to sneak in. If the Bengals can find a way to knock of a veteran Ravens team who doesn’t come out prepared to play, they could earn their spot. However, I just don’t think the Raiders, Titans, or Bengals will win this week, which makes me think even though the Jets have had a bad year, they just sneak into the playoffs.

But if the NFL has proven anything this season, it’s that no one has any idea.

December 22, 2011

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Looking Toward the NFL Playoffs

By: Rick Jarrell

With the large majority of fantasy football over, with only a lucky, select few still worrying about their lineups this weekend, I’ll divert my attention. Just make a note to set your lineups before Thursday night, and especially before Saturday, when the majority of games will be played.
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Only two weeks left means the playoff picture is becoming clearer. The fringe teams like the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs appear on their way out, although not mathematically eliminated. Meanwhile, perennial studs like New England and Pittsburgh have nearly solidified top seeds. But there’s still spots up for grabs and a few areas to be sorted out. I’ll point out the most interesting stories.

Tebow Brings the Broncos Back to the Playoffs

Despite that predictable hiccup against the Patriots Sunday – where Tom Brady put a muzzle on the Tebow fan club for a few days – the Broncos appear poised to take the division. Their final games are at a struggling Buffalo Bills team, who could not keep early momentum and have fallen to last place in their division, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who again are not technically out, but have a steep hill to climb. The biggest threat here is the Oakland Raiders – but Carson Palmer has played terribly for them, and unless Darren McFadden comes back strong, they’re likely to split their last two games.

San Diego is also looming. The team that tends to have a strong December may be too late, though, as the usually weak division has made forward strides this season.

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Tim Tebow and the Broncos are on the brink of the playoffs. Can they finish the job?

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NFC East Battle

At times considered one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, it appears, at least for this season, to be because no team can rise up and take control. The Cowboys had a string of strong wins and were seemingly ready to take the reigns as a solid playoff possibility. Yet, after a heart-breaking loss against the Giants in Week 14, Eli Manning and his squad kept them in the hunt. The Giants had a seemingly easy game against the Redskins in Week 15, but that proved not the case, and knocked them back down a peg.

Now the Giants face their city rivals this week, followed by a potentially division-deciding match up against the ‘Boys. The insanity doesn’t stop there, though. If events happen right (or wrong depending on some viewpoints), the Eagles could sneak into the playoffs.

Will Three AFC North Teams Make the Playoffs?

The division is dominated by the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers year in and year out, with this year being no different. Despite the lackluster performances this weekend, they’re both tied for the division lead at 10-4. But the new horse in the race is the Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals have gone from bottom dweller – widely perceived as one of the worst teams going into the season – to a team that has found a spark behind a strong defense, easy schedule, and rookies AJ Green and Andy Dalton. They don’t face weak teams by any means – the Ravens and the Cardinals, who have showed flashes as of late – but have a strong opportunity to overtake the Jets as the sixth seed. As a Browns fan, if all three make it, I’ll have an excuse to think they were better than they performed this year. It’s the little things.

December 14, 2011

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NFL Playoff Projections

By: Joe Williams

With three weeks left in the season there are still 21 teams in NFL playoff contention. Who’s going to make it and who will be left at home wondering why they didn’t get the breaks to fall their way? After looking at the remaining schedules, here is what I project the NFL playoff seeds to look like.

AFC

No. 1    Baltimore Ravens – (13-3)

Key game: Week 17 at Cincinnati

Whoever ends up as the top seed will have to win their last three games. If the Ravens win the first two, a trip to Cincinnati will be a challenge with the Bengals likely playing for a wild card spot.

No. 2    New England Patriots – (13-3)

Key game: Week 15 at Denver

The Patriots need to win out to secure a first-round bye. Tom Brady and company haven’t had a lot of success in Denver but don’t expect them to lie down in the final minutes against Tebow like the Bears just did.

No. 3    Houston Texans – (13-3)

Key game: Week 17 vs. Tennessee

This game should mean a lot to both teams who play tough defense and like to run the ball. I like the home team in that type of game.

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Andre Johnson and the Texans look to be heading to the NFL PLayoffs for the first time in franchise history.

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No. 4    Oakland Raiders – (10-6)

Key game: Week 15 vs. Detroit

Let’s hope the NFL sends its best conditioned officiating crew to Oakland on Sunday. With the way these teams can draw the flags and turn the ball over, this has the makings of a wild affair.

No. 5    Pittsburgh Steelers – (13-3)

Key game: Week 15 at San Francisco

The Steelers could steal the division title if the Ravens slip up. If not, they will be on the road in the first round against the winner of the AFC West.

No. 6    New York Jets – (11-5)

Key game: Week 16 vs. New York Giants

The battle for bragging rights in New York will impact multiple teams in both conferences. A win for the Jets will come close to locking down the final NFL playoff spot.

Outside looking in:

Cincinnati Bengals – (9-7)

Key game: Week 17 vs. Baltimore

If the Bengals can pull one out against Baltimore, they could sneak into the playoffs if the Jets lose a game.

Denver Broncos – (9-7)

Key game: Week 16 at Buffalo

They can still win the West if they lose against the Patriots. But if they lose at Buffalo they are in trouble. The streak of miracle finishes can’t last forever and I think their playoff hopes are dashed by the Bills.

Tennessee Titans – (9-7)

Key game: Week 17 at Houston

If the Titans can pull one out against the Texans, they could sneak into the playoffs if the Jets lose a game.

San Diego Chargers – (6-10)

Key game: Week 15 vs. Baltimore

The Chargers are still alive but must win out and get a ton of help.

NFC

No. 1    Green Bay Packers – (16-0)

Key game: Week 16 vs. Chicago

Green Bay should have the top seed locked up so this game will really only matter to them if they want to finish a perfect season. Unless they decide they would like to put the final nail in the Bears coffin.

No. 2    San Francisco 49ers – (12-4)

Key game: Week 15 vs. Pittsburgh

A win over the Steelers on Monday Night Football would silence a lot of doubters and put them in great shape to earn a first-round bye.

No. 3    New Orleans Saints – (12-4)

Key game: Week 16 vs. Atlanta

If the Saints can run the table they could end up with a first-round bye. If not, they will be the third seed.

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The Saints are trying to make another magical run to the Super Bowl, but will need help to get a first-round bye.

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No. 4    Dallas Cowboys – (9-7)

Key game: Week 17 at New York Giants

All signs point to this game being winner-take-all in the NFC East.

No. 5    Atlanta Falcons – (11-5)

Key game: Week 16 at New Orleans

The Falcons are just about locked into the fifth seed. But a win in New Orleans and another Saints loss could give the NFC South to Atlanta.

No. 6    Detroit Lions – (9-7)

Key game: Week 16 vs. San Diego

With road games at Oakland and Green Bay, the Lions must win this game at home. One more win could be all it takes to get the final wild card spot.

Outside looking in:

Chicago Bears (9-7)

Key game: Week 16 at Green Bay

The Bears have a chance to end the Packers perfect season and salvage theirs with a win on the road.

New York Giants (8-8)

Key Game: Week 17 vs. Dallas

With a win the Giants should be NFC East champs. A loss and they will be watching the playoffs on TV.

Arizona Cardinals (8-8)

Key game: Week 16 at Cincinnati

Don’t look now but the Cardinals are making a run. Three wins, including a tough game on the road in Cincinnati and Arizona could come out of nowhere to make the playoffs if they get a little help.

Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)

Key game: Week 15 vs. New York Jets

They were pronounced dead weeks ago but three wins and a lot of help would make the Eagles NFC East champions.

Seattle Seahawks (6-10)

Key game: Week 15 at Chicago

Wins over the Bears, 49ers and Cardinals give them a chance to sneak in.