October 1, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Peyton Manning still good at football: The Denver Broncos are scoring points at a record pace and veteran quarterback Peyton Manning is behind it all. The Broncos threw up a franchise-record 52 points on the scoreboard on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles and Manning had another four touchdown passes despite playing only three quarters. That gave the QB a whopping 16 on September and put him on pace for 64 on the season. The 16 touchdown passes are the most in an opening month in NFL history and Manning’s Broncos, by the way, are 4-0.

Peyton Manning has the Denver Broncos' offense putting up record numbers.

USC fires Lane Kiffin: USC head coach Lane Kiffin was dismissed after the team’s 62-41 blowout loss to Arizona State this weekend. Athletic director Pat Haden made the move after the team returned from their road game and Ed Orgeron is now the interim coach. Kiffin hasn’t been terrible, but at 3-2 this year and 28-15 during his tenure at USC, the school expected more.

Miami Marlins end dismal season in style – with a no-hitter: The Miami Marlins haven’t had much to cheer about this year, but in the season finale on Sunday, they went out in style with a no-hitter by pitcher Henderson Alvarez. It was only the fourth no-hitter on the final day of a regular season in baseball history. The Marlins nearly squandered the game despite the outstanding pitching performance. In the ninth inning, the score was 0-0 and Miami needed a wild pitch in the bottom of the inning to score a run and win the game

Pirates clinch playoff berth: Earlier this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates broke a two-decade losing streak with their 83rd win. After finishing second in the National League Central Division, Pittsburgh is officially in the postseason for the first time since 1992. The Pirates will take on the Cincinnati Reds tonight in the one-game Wild card matchup with the winner moving on to the next round. While Pittsburgh can be unceremoniously bounced with a loss to Cincinnati, Pirates fans at least have the benefit of watching the team play at home in their first playoff appearance in over 20 years as the game will be at PNC Park.

NBA to change Finals format: ESPN is reporting that the NBA is likely to change their finals format from 2-3-2 to 2-2-1-1-1. The 2-3-2 format, which gives the top overall seed the first two and last two games of the series at home, has been widely criticized because the lower-ranked team gets three home games in the middle and that is somewhat of a disadvantage to the top seed. The 2-2-1-1-1 format will mean more travel (and in an Eastern-Western format, those trips can be long ones) but ultimately is a bit more fair to the best team since they would receive the pivotal fifth game on their home court.

Horse on roof: A race horse got bored and did what any other bored race horse would do – climb on top of a roof.

L.C. Greenwood passes away: Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive lineman L.C. Greenwood passed away this week of natural causes at 67. Greenwood was a member of the famed Steel Curtain, which also included Joe Greene, Dwight White, and Ernie Holmes. His death leaves Greene is the only surviving member of the group. Over his career, Greenwood was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and he ranks as second on the Steelers’ all-time sacks list.

Heat to sign Erik Spoelstra to extension: The Miami Heat finalized a contract extension over the weekend for him to remain as the organization’s coach. Terms aren’t yet known, but Spoelstra should be getting a significant raise after helping the team to two straight championships. It’s difficult to place a true value on his presence and there remain a good deal of fans that believe the team would win without him. Regardless, though, Spoelstra has done what he’s needed to in order to win titles and has had to deal with finding ways to keep all of Miami’s Big Three happy.

October 31, 2012

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NFL Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

We are midway through the NFL season and closing in on the trade deadline. A few teams look Super Bowl worthy, while others are looking towards 2013 already. Where does your team stand?

Matt Ryan has the Atlanta Falcons at 7-0 so far this season.

1 Atlanta Falcons (7-0) – Their seven wins are still more than the rest of the NFC South has combined (6). Matt Ryan is making a case for MVP.

2 Houston Texans (6-1) – The Texans look like the best team in the AFC. Their powerful running game will make them tough to stop come playoff time.

3 San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – Alex Smith and the Niners were almost perfect and took control of the NFC West with a dominating win over Arizona on Monday Night Football.

4 Chicago Bears (6-1) – Chicago survived a scare from Carolina and are leading the best division in the league.

5 Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – The Ravens should have no trouble with the Browns and Raiders before heading into a huge divisional showdown with Pittsburgh.

6 New England Patriots (5-3) – The Patriots enjoyed themselves in London. Their three losses are by a combined four points.

7 New York Giants (6-2) – It’s amazing the difference a couple fingernails can make. The Giants could have been in an NFC East dogfight but now they are firmly in the driver’s seat.

8 Denver Broncos (4-3) – Now the schedule starts getting easier and Peyton Manning is playing like an MVP. Denver will be dangerous.

9 Green Bay Packers (5-3) – They are starting to look like the Packers team we expected to see. With reeling Arizona up next, they should head into their bye on a roll.

10 Minnesota Vikings (5-3) – The Vikings will be desperate for a bounce-back win after the poor showing against Tampa Bay. With five tough divisional games remaining, they better get wins now.

11 Dallas Cowboys (3-4) – Their season will be on the line in the next two weeks with road games coming against Atlanta and Philly. They must win at least one of those two.

12 Arizona Cardinals (4-4) – The won four straight and have now lost four straight. It could become six with the Packers and Falcons up next.

13 Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) – Pittsburgh shut down RGIII and got back on the right side of .500. It will be tough to stay there with a trip to the Giants this week.

14 Detroit Lions (3-4) – That was a season-saving win over Seattle. Another must win this week against Jacksonville because the schedule will get harder.

15 Seattle Seahawks (4-4) – The controversial win over Green Bay continues to loom large in the NFC playoff picture. They have got to improve their 1-4 road record.

16 San Diego Chargers (3-4) – Six points in the last six quarters. Big changes ahead in San Diego if they don’t get this turned around.

17 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) – Doug Martin had a break-out game and the Bucs are back in the race. Next three are very winnable.

18 Philadelphia Eagles (3-4) – How much longer will Vick be the starter? Losing to New Orleans this week could lead to a change.

19 New York Jets (3-5) – Miami embarrassed the Jets and had fans calling for Tebow. That is a recipe for disaster in New York.

20 New Orleans Saints (2-5) – The Saints will need to go 7-2 at worst to reach the playoffs. Highly unlikely with the Eagles, Falcons (twice), 49ers and Giants still to play.

21 Indianapolis Colts (4-3) – Andrew Luck was the right pick. There are some winnable games ahead that could keep the Colts in the playoff race.

22 Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) – The Bengals could fall out of the playoff picture if they lose to the red-hot Broncos and Giants in the next two weeks.

23 Washington Redskins (3-5) – The Redskins need to beat Carolina and use the bye to get ready for three straight NFC East games.

24 Oakland Raiders (3-4) – Two straight wins for the silver and black. If they make it three against Tampa Bay they will have a shot in the AFC West.

25 Miami Dolphins (4-3) – Don’t look now but if the playoffs started today, Miami would be in. Schedule isn’t that tough the rest of the way.

26 Tennessee Titans (3-5) – Overtime loss to Indy really hurts. Especially with a trip to Chicago coming up.

27 Jacksonville Jaguars (1-6) – Jags gave Green Bay all they wanted but at 1-6, that isn’t much consolation.

28 St. Louis Rams (3-5) – A 45-7 loss leaves a bad taste in their mouth and and extra week to think about it.

29 Buffalo Bills (3-4) – Road trips to Houston and New England coming up have the Bills on the brink.

30 Cleveland Browns (2-6) – Browns playing great defense and have won two of three. Reality check coming against Baltimore?

31 Carolina Panthers (1-6) – Cam Newton and company controlled the game against Chicago but couldn’t finish it off.

32 Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) – This is not how the Chiefs wanted to head into two straight prime-time games.

October 27, 2011

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Division Races Heating Up

By: Joe Williams

It’s seven weeks into the NFL season, and the division races are starting to take shape. NFL teams like Buffalo and Detroit have thrown their hats in the ring, and others like St. Louis and Indianapolis have played their way out of it. Here’s where we stand:


It was supposed to be a battle between the Jets and Patriots, but the Bills have made it a three team race. New England’s only loss came at the hands of the Bills and their New Year’s Day rematch ought to have playoff implications. Buffalo has a few games against NFL teams at the bottom of the standings and two meetings with the Jets, so the schedule sets up well for them to stay in the race. The next month will be critical for the Jets. They play the Bills twice and New England once. One of these teams is going to be watching at home in January.


Cleveland and Cincinnati are hanging around. This is the only division with no NFL teams below .500. Wins against New England and Baltimore in the next two weeks would put the Steelers in the driver’s seat in the AFC. Things are going to get much more difficult for the Bengals with two games left against both Pittsburgh and Baltimore. We’re about to find out what this team is made of. Nov. 6 at Pittsburgh is the game of the year for the Ravens. If they can beat the Steelers for a second time, the division should be in their controls. The Browns are in the conversation at 3-3 but they haven’t beaten anyone worth bragging about. Can they steal a couple against the big boys?


All it took was one injury for the Colts to go from AFC South dominance to one of the worst teams in the league. Someone is going to take advantage and after Sunday’s beat down of the Titans, it looks like it will be Houston. The schedule sets up nicely for them with most of their tough games already behind them. If Tennessee can get back on track, the New Year’s Day rematch could be huge.


As usual, the Chargers are the heavy favorite in the West. And as usual, they let the rest of the West hang around. They host the Chiefs on Halloween in a must-win for Kansas City. The Chiefs really have to win the next three to stay in the race because they have a brutal five-game-stretch coming up. If the Raiders can get their act together during the bye week and get Carson Palmer ready to go, the West title may be on the line when they meet in the last game of the season.


There will be lots of entertaining games between now and week 17, but it almost seems like we can just skip ahead to the last day of the season when Dallas is at the Giants and Philadelphia hosts Washington. That’s when this division will be sorted out.


The Packers have already got people talking about a 16-0 regular season. It’s probably not going to happen, but as long as Rodgers is healthy, they should win the North division. Detroit still has two shots at the defending champs though so they could make things interesting. Chicago is too far back to catch Green Bay but the Bears will be in the thick of the wild card race.


The Falcons, Saints, and Bucs won a total of 34 games last year. They are on a similar pace right now, and, just like last year, one of them is going to get left out of the playoff picture. New Orleans has a one game lead and the last two at home, so they should have an edge. It could come down to which team gets knocked off by Carolina in the last month of the season.


San Francisco has five wins. The rest of the division has three. It is the 49ers‘ division to give away. And if they keep playing well with a soft schedule coming up, they could even earn an opening round bye.

October 6, 2011

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Fathead’s NFL Power Rankings

By: Joe Williams

NFL Rankings:  As we approach Week 5 of the NFL season, here is how each of the NFL teams stacks up.

1.Green Bay Packers (4-0) — As the “Nature Boy” Ric Flair would say, “To be the man, you’ve gotta beat the man.” Until someone beats the Pack, they will be at the top of the rankings.

2. Baltimore Ravens (3-1) — After opening the season by dominating the defending AFC champion Steelers and blowing out the AFC runner-up Jets on Sunday, the Ravens are the class of the AFC.

3. New Orleans Saints (3-1) — Drew Brees and company gave the Packers all they wanted and followed that with three solid wins.

4. Buffalo Bills (3-1) — After pulling off the shocker of the year and beating New England, the Bills get beat by the Bengals.

5. New England Patriots (3-1) — Tom Brady’s offense hasn’t been held under 30 points yet.

6. Detroit Lions (4-0) — They won’t be undefeated much longer if they keep falling behind by 20 points.

7. Houston Texans (3-1) — Wade Phillips has got the defense playing much better.

8. New York Jets (2-2) — A two game losing streak makes this trip to New England huge for the Jets.

9. Atlanta Falcons (2-2) — Important stretch coming up for the Falcons with Green Bay and Detroit coming up in the next couple weeks.

10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1) — The Bucs need a win at San Francisco to carry momentum into tough stretch with Saints, Bears, Saints, Texans and Packers coming up.

11. San Diego Chargers (3-1) — Chargers should get healthy with the Broncos on Sunday and their bye week.

12. New York Giants (3-1) — G-men getting it done despite injuries. They may have gotten a break with the controversial play against the Cardinals.

13. Tennessee Titans (3-1) – Huge test for surprising Titans this week at Pittsburgh.

14. Washington Redskins (3-1) – The defense is giving up an NFC best 15.8 points per game. They have two weeks to get ready for a divisional showdown with the Eagles.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2) – Are the defending AFC champs suffering from a post-Super Bowl loss hangover? Or is it just that they cannot protect the quarterback?

16. Dallas Cowboys (2-2) – No team is more entertaining than “America’s Team”. Do the Cowboys ever play a game decided by more than one score?

17. Chicago Bears (2-2) – The Bears have a good chance to build a lead Sunday in Detroit. The question is will they be able to hold it?

18. San Francisco 49ers (3-1) – Their three wins is one more than the rest of the NFC West combined. The division is theirs to lose.

19. Oakland Raiders (2-2) – It looks like the Raiders are the team that will push San Diego in the AFC West.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (1-3) – It’s been a nightmare start for the “Dream Team”. They are probably glad to be hitting the road after the last two performances at home.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) – Got a shot to be 4-2 at the bye with two winnable games coming up. Not bad for a team who’s quarterback retired rather than play for them.

22. Cleveland Browns (2-2) – They have an extra week to recover from getting pounded by the Titans.

23. Carolina Panthers (1-3) – The good news is Cam Newton looks like he is their quarterback of the future. The bad news is New Orleans, Atlanta and Washington coming up.

24. Arizona Cardinals (1-3) – They should have beaten the Giants on Sunday. They head to Minnesota to face an angry Vikings team.

25. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3) – The offense is experiencing some major growing pains with rookie Blaine Gabbert now playing quarterback. They average less than 10 points per game.

26. Denver Broncos (1-3) – It’s not Kyle Orton’s fault the Packers put 49 points on the board Sunday. Try telling that to the fans in Denver though.

27. Indianapolis Colts (0-4) – It’s going to be a long season without Peyton Manning. This team won’t quit though.

28. St. Louis Rams (0-4) – Injuries and the schedule have made them look worse than they really are. Unfortunately, they have Green Bay, Dallas and New Orleans for their next three.

29. Seattle Seahawks (1-3) – Put up 21 points in the second half Sunday. Only score 37 in their other 3.5 games.

30. Kansas City Chiefs (1-3) – They have played much better in the last two weeks.

31. Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – They would be ranked much higher if the NFL cut games to 30 minutes.

32. Miami Dolphins (0-4) – With a bye and the Jets coming up they could be winless when the Broncos come to town.

September 27, 2011

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Chances For A Perfect NFL Season

By: Joe Williams

After three weeks of NFL football, there are just three teams left without a loss. Five teams have yet to post a win. Will anyone be able to follow the footsteps of the 2007 New England Patriots and finish 16-0 or the 2008 Detroit Lions and go 0-16? Let’s go to the schedule and see when these teams will take their first loss or pickup their first win of the 2011 NFL season.

Detroit Lions 3-0

Could they go from 0-16 to 16-0 in just three years? Not going to happen. The Lions have certainly come a long way since Dan Orlovsky stepped out of bounds in his own end zone for a safety, the difference in a 12-10 loss to Minnesota and the Lions finished the 2010 NFL season without a win. Detroit looks like a team that will be in the NFL playoffs but I think their undefeated streak ends on Sunday when they pay a visit to Dallas.

Green Bay Packers 3-0

Pop quiz: When was the last time the Packers lost a game that mattered? It was on Dec. 19 at New England for those of you who don’t want to look it up. When was the last time they lost with Aaron Rodgers on the field for four quarters? Try Nov. 28 at Atlanta. Rodgers has won 10 straight games with most of them coming against the cream of the NFL crop (49ers, Giants, Bears, Eagles, Falcons, Bears, Steelers, Saints, Panthers, and Bears). Sooner or later Green Bay has got to drop a game and I say it will be sooner. Oct. 9 at Atlanta to be exact…the last team to beat the Packers with Rodgers on the field.

Buffalo Bills 3-0

The high-flying Bills offense is putting up over 37 points a game. A win at Cincinnati this week and they will match their win total from last year. I don’t see the Bills making a run at 16-0 with a trip to New England and two meetings with the Jets on the slate. It will be interesting to see what they can do against the Jets defense but I don’t think an undefeated streak will be on the line. I think they will get beat in two weeks by the Eagles.

Minnesota Vikings 0-3

You have got to feel for Viking fans after they have had to watch their team blow a 10-point halftime lead at San Diego, then blow a 17-point halftime lead against Tampa Bay and follow that up by blowing a 20-point halftime lead against Detroit. At this rate, the fans probably wouldn’t mind if the team ends up moving to Los Angeles as has been rumored. The good news is with Kansas City and Arizona coming up in the next two weeks, the Vikings should get a win soon.

St. Louis Rams 0-3

Wow. The Rams must be wondering what they did to the NFL schedule-makers. What a brutal first start to the season they have. Eagles, Giants, Ravens, Redskins, Packers, Cowboys, and Saints. They could be 0-7 or 1-6 when we get to November. But if they can survive that stretch and stay within shouting distance in the NFC West, there are a lot of winnable games for the Rams in the last two months. I say they find a way to beat Washington on Sunday.

Miami Dolphins 0-3

If the Bills are for real, then the Dolphins are and the bottom of the toughest division in the NFL. Add the NFC East to their schedule and it looks like it will be a long season in Miami. At least fans in Miami have the Miami Heat run at a championship to look forward to. They will likely lose at San Diego and the New York Jets and get to 0-5 before the Broncos come to town. Denver ought to be 1-4 and it will be a big game in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. I think Miami wins.

Indianapolis Colts 0-3

It was a devastating blow to this team when Peyton Manning couldn’t make it back to start the season. It looks like there will be no reason for him to take the field by the time he is healthy enough to do so. But this is a team that is going to put up a fight as they did Sunday night against Pittsburgh. They might not win at Tampa Bay on Monday but if they lose, they have the Chiefs and Bengals up next and will win at least one of those.

Kansas City Chiefs 0-3

The Chiefs looked much better against the Chargers than they did in the first two games. They host a matchup of winless teams on Sunday against the Vikings and then head to Indy to face the Colts in another matchup of struggling teams. They need to beat Minnesota to restore some hope to the fans at Arrowhead. Otherwise they could be 0-5 at the bye with some difficult opponents to come. I predict the Chiefs pick up their first win on Halloween night against San Diego.