November 27, 2013
The 2013 NFL season is nearing a close but there are plenty of questions yet to be answered. This year more than ever it seems that every game is a coin flip. Right now there are literally 26 teams still in playoff contention. This is great—every game from here on out will be a nail-biter. Here’s a list of the most crucial games during the final quarter of the season. Remember, each week will contain three categories; the heavyweight bout, the divisional battle and the hidden gem.
The Heavyweight Bout: New Orleans Saints vs. Seattle Seahawks
Games don’t get bigger than this one. A potential NFC Championship Game in the making, both teams have a statement to make. Nothing like ending a holiday weekend with a cherry on top, Monday Night Football is not to be missed—Drew Brees and Russell Wilson will have their teams primed for a battle. Find time for this one.
The Divisional Battle: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
NFL fans can thank the Detroit Lions for this Thanksgiving tradition. The Lions provided football on Thursday before football was on Thursday. Hooray! Hey, there’s nothing like spending family time together watching the Lions and Green Bay Packers pummel one another. Here’s some added fuel to the fire—first place in the division is on the line. The Lions currently hold the top spot but the Packers want it badly. Another added bonus, we get to watch Calvin Johnson—who doesn’t like to watch greatness?
The Hidden Gem: Arizona Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Eagles
These teams are both surprises this year and playing their best ball of the season right now. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer just may be the hottest in the league. He’s thrown for 733 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions the last two games. The Cardinals have also won four straight games.
The Philadelphia Eagles, led by the NFL’s leading rusher through Week 12 LeSean McCoy are also sizzling. Winners of three straight and coming off their bye week, there’s no time to lose momentum now.
Neither team will give an inch. Expect plenty of offense. Give this one a go.
The Heavyweight Bout: Seattle Seahawks vs. San Francisco 49ers
Few words need to describe this matchup between bitter divisional rivals. Remember when the Seattle Seahawks dismantled the San Francisco 49ers at home in Week 2, 29-3?
The Niners do too, expect them to exact revenge.
The Divisional Battle: Carolina Panthers vs. New Orleans Saints
Winners of seven straight, the Carolina Panthers are the hottest team in the league right now. The NFL is far from easy and the Panthers will travel to the Big Easy in Week 14. This is to prove that they’re the best team in their division.
The New Orleans Saints don’t plan on relinquishing their A1 status anytime soon.
Cam Newton is living up to the hype—his counterpart Drew Brees is the standard. Jaw-dropping action will occur.
The Hidden Gem: Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals
One week they look like outright champs, the next it looks like they don’t belong.
Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton have to find a way. The winner of this one will gain the confidence it takes to go all the way. They’ll also do some convincing.
This is a true make-or-break game for both sides.
The Heavyweight Bout: Green Bay Packers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Two iconic franchises, two franchise quarterbacks, playoffs lives on the line—this game has all the elements to be a classic.
Aaron Rodgers will have returned from injury and Tony Romo will be psyched to make a run for the coveted Lombardi trophy. These two guys may just combine for 800 passing yards.
Fun, fun, fun—please pay attention to this one.
The Divisional Battle: San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos
Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning on Thursday Night Football is a great start to Week 15. The San Diego Chargers and Denver Broncos have something to fight for as the Chargers are only 5-6 heading into Thanksgiving, but have a real punchers chance. Rivers has never performed so well and the Chargers are electric on offense.
Manning and the Broncos need little introduction, they’re the real deal.
The Hidden Gem: New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers
Believe it or not, the New York Jets are currently in the playoff hunt. Yes, even at 4-7 they have a shot. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith has had his ups and downs, but the future is promising for him and the Jets.
The weak spot the Jets have this season is playing on the road. If they’re to make the postseason, they’ll have to head into Carolina and win. The Panthers defense, led by Luke Kuechley is one of the best in the league; don’t think they’ll let a rookie show them up.
Considering what’s at stake, this will be a good one.
The Heavyweight Bout: Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles
The Chicago Bears are currently in a dogfight for the NFC North with the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. The Eagles are in the same situation in the NFC East with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants.
Both teams are currently 6-5 and not in the playoffs. Considering their divisions will be on the line, neither team can afford to lose. This game has smash-mouth football written all over it. Last team with the ball wins.
The Divisional Battle: New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers
See Week 14—the loser of that game will want redemption. The winner will want to claim NFC South supremacy.
Scary thing is they may meet again in the playoffs. Awesome.
The Hidden Gem: New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens
Hey, the champs haven’t thrown in the towel quite yet. The Baltimore Ravens still have a pulse and are picking up steam down the stretch. Don’t cross-off Joe Flacco and Ray Rice because after all, they’re stars.
If they are to truly be playoff contenders, they’ll have to beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. For them, it’s business as usual. They have yet to be their best and are still 8-3. That fact is downright frightening.
The Ravens must let it be known that they will defend what is rightfully theirs. A win in Week 16 will do just that.
If you think Week 17 was forgotten, think again. Sit tight, for it’ll have its own article. 16 divisional games—Wow!
Then, we’ll talk about playoffs.
June 5, 2013
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?
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?
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?
January 14, 2013
NFL Conference Championships set: The NFL’s conference championship games are set. The San Francisco 49ers will face the Atlanta Falcons while the New England Patriots square off against the Baltimore Ravens. You could make plenty of good cases for each to win the Super Bowl at this point, but in picks sure to go wrong, my guess is that we’ll see the Niners take on the Patriots in the big game. San Francisco may have unlocked a hidden gem with the scrambling of Colin Kaepernick who set an NFL postseason record for a quarterback, rushing for more than 181 yards. You can bet that the Falcons will play more zone coverage in the hopes of limiting his scrambling, but Kaepernick has also proven to be a serviceable passer and should be able to make enough plays to lead the way. In the AFC, I give you two words: Tom Brady.
No. 1 Duke ‘upset’ by North Carolina State: Duke suffered their first loss of the season when they fell to North Carolina State over the weekend. Whenever the top team in the nation loses, it’s a big deal. But while it may technically be an upset, losing to a top 20 team on the road is hardly a once-in-a-lifetime thing. With so much parity in college sports these days, any side can come out on top on any given night – particularly when both teams are good. The bigger story in all of this isn’t that Duke lost – rather, it’s the emergence of the Wolfpack. North Carolina State had two losses entering the game to Michigan and Oklahoma State. The Wolverines are a top five squad and the Cowboys are a quality team as well. After the win against Duke, more people should be paying attention to NC State.
No players inducted into Baseball Hall of Fame: For only the second time in 40 years, no player was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame last week. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa were tainted by the steroid issue and based on past voting trends, it wasn’t a surprise they didn’t receive the necessary 75%. But for guys not generally linked to the steroid controversy such as Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza, the news had to be a bit disappointing. Biggio had more than 3,000 career hits and Piazza was perhaps the best offensive catcher of all time, slugging 427 home runs and batting over .300. I understand the statement that some voters want to make against alleged steroid users, but to punish other players in the same era isn’t right. But in the end, Biggio and Piazza should eventually get in, so there’s still time to right the wrong.
Brian Kelly returns to Notre Dame: After being manhandled by the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier last week in the BCS National Championship game, the Fighting Irish got some good news when head coach Brian Kelly spurned the NFL and decided to remain at Notre Dame. Kelly reportedly interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles, but chose to stay in the college ranks. Things couldn’t have worked out better for Notre Dame. They were soundly defeated by Alabama in the title game, but Kelly has the Irish on the right track. Notre Dame won eight games in 2010 and 2011 and this past year, had an undefeated regular season. There’s no reason to think the program will be slowing down anytime soon under Kelly.
Greg Oden hoping to come back to NBA: Sidelined by injuries, Greg Oden hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2010-11 season. He’s only played in 82 career games since he was drafted as the top overall pick in 2007. Heck, Oden hasn’t merely been bitten by the injury bug, he’s been eaten alive by it. But word is that he wants back in the league and teams are already lining up to give him a look. That may sound comical, but in reality, they should be. Signing the once-promising big man to a deal around the NBA minimum wouldn’t be the biggest risk in the world and it could even pay off handsomely. Why not take a flyer on a 24-year old seven footer with potential through the roof? And just as important is that while Oden hasn’t been a great player, he’s been serviceable when healthy, averaging nearly a double double with 9.4 points and 7.3 rebounds a game. If he stays on the court, there’s no reason to think he can’t significantly contribute.
April 25, 2012
The 2012 NFL draft is now just hours away, and a handful of teams are set to hit the jackpot this season.
Some of the teams that will have success in this year’s draft had a lackluster 2011 campaign but hit a home run in free agency to set themselves up nicely for the April 26 draft. Others had a phenomenal 2011 season and are afforded the luxury of a draft full of options and calculated risks.
Fans following these teams will have big smiles on their faces along with high expectations for the upcoming season.
The St. Louis Rams Have Already Had Success by Trading Down in the 2012 Draft
The St. Louis Rams have done nothing but cultivate a winning franchise this offseason.
Despite a 2-14 2011 season, the Rams made an intelligent decision by hiring new head coach Jeff Fisher. Fisher brings a proven track record, winning attitude and an automatic jump start to the stumbling franchise.
He also helped lure free-agent cornerback Cortland Finnegan to the team, who gives the Rams defense an identity.
Now the Rams turn to the draft, where they’ve already swapped the No. 2 pick with the Washington Redskins for the No. 6 pick. In doing so, the Rams also picked up another second-round pick this season.
That means the Rams will have three picks within the top 40—not bad for a franchise looking to turn things around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fans Should Be Ecstatic
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans should be more than happy right now thanks to the franchise making a splash in the offseason.
With the signings of offensive lineman Carl Nicks, wide receiver Vincent Jackson and cornerback Eric Wright, the Bucs drastically improved in free agency. This allows the team to draft players without depending on them to make an instant impact in 2012.
With the No. 5 overall selection and six picks in total, the Bucs have the opportunity to return to their winning ways of 2010, when they finished 10-6.
Certainly fans will expect the Bucs’ first-round pick to make a good first impression, but the pressure on that player is radically reduced by the teams’ free-agent signings.
Although 2011 was a season to forget, 2012 should be one to remember for the Buccaneers.
With a Strong Draft the Kansas City Chiefs Will Be a Playoff Team in 2012
The Kansas City Chiefs were decimated by injuries in 2011 but will be playoff contenders in 2012.
With the signings of Peyton Hillis and Eric Winston in free agency, the Chiefs set themselves up for a prominent draft. The team has eight picks in total and can afford to draft the best available player with its first three picks.
The Chiefs will look like a completely new squad in 2012, so fans should be pumped.
The Philadelphia Eagles Have Plenty to Look Forward to in the 2012 Draft
With nine picks in the 2012 Draft, the Philadelphia Eagles are bound to get better.
After a 2011 season where nothing short of a Super Bowl appearance was expected, success in 2012 is a must for the franchise and it all begins with the draft.
The Eagles have five picks in the first four rounds, including two second-round selections. With these picks the Eagles will likely look to improve with a big wide receiver and an offensive lineman.
Eagles’ fans should be excited for 2012 as they look to erase the disappointment of 2011.
The Cincinnati Bengals Will Continue to Make a Statement with the 2012 Draft
The Cincinnati Bengals are setting themselves up for success for years to come.
Not only did they make the playoffs in 2011, but they now have nine draft picks in 2012. These picks include No. 17 and No. 21 of the first round. And with these picks coming so close together, the Bengals can draft a combination of needs, like an offensive lineman and a running back.
The Bengals franchise will solidify itself as a contender with a dynamite draft in 2012.
The Green Bay Packers Will Do Nothing but Improve with 12 Draft Picks in 2012
Although the Green Bay Packers didn’t finish with the championship belt in 2011, they won 15 games in the regular season.
Just when NFC North opponents didn’t need the Packers to continuously improve, the Packers have 12 draft picks in 2012. Even better for the Packers, six of those picks are within the first four rounds of the draft.
This gives the Packers plenty of chances to make another run at the Super Bowl next season—watch out!
March 20, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.