Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

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The Baltimore Ravens don’t get enough respect around the league.  This team went 12-4 this season, and were it not for a close loss at home to division rival Pittsburgh in Week 13, they would be sitting home with a bye.  They lost four games this season by a combined 16 points, and the only bad loss was in Week 2 in Cincinnati, who, at that time, looked like a playoff contender and not the trainwreck they later became.  Baltimore’s other losses?  By 3 points in overtime in New England, by 5 points in Atlanta, and by 3 points against the Steelers.  Baltimore in eminently capable of beating any of those teams on the road and winning the Superbowl, when all is said and done.

The Kansas City Chiefs, on the other hand, have been in first place in the AFC West from Week 1.  They held off another late-season push from San Diego to reach a surprising 10 wins and a division title.  KC has the best rushing attack in the league, and they play much better at home (7-1) than on the road (3-5).  Quarterback Matt Cassell has been up and down all year, but mostly up lately.  Defensively, they have been solid, but it always helps a defense look better than it really is when your offense can run the ball and control the clock as well as they have.

So, do the Chiefs have a chance of doing what Seattle did yesterday and upsetting a genuine contender or will the Raven roll into Pittsburgh next week? (more…)

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Wow.  Very interesting and exciting first day of the playoffs.  Both of last season’s Superbowl teams go down on the first day.  But that’s actually kind of fitting.  Last season, the Colts and the Saints dominated the league right from the beginning, both of them getting deep into the season still undefeated, and both riding that all the way to the Superbowl.  This year, both teams had their struggles at times, and neither one looked quite like the same team as last year.

Seattle scored 41 points!  I thought Matt Hasselbeck might have a big game, and that they could run the ball surprisingly well.  And I knew Reggie Bush would be useless, and Brees would throw for a ton of yards.  The only way I thought Seattle could even stay in the game was if Brees turned it over.  I knew that if they didn’t, the Saints would score 35  points or more.  Seattle couldn’t score enough to keep up with that, or so I thought.

New Orleans only had one turnover, scored 36 points and lost.  I thought Arizona played some truly awful defense in the playoffs last year, but this might be worse. (more…)

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This season was a struggle from start to finish for the Indianapolis Colts.  They started out 2-2, losing games to division rivals Houston and Jacksonville.  Then they had a three game losing streak later in the season to fall to 6-6 by Week 13.  They needed a four game winning streak to end the year to even get into the playoffs, and that wasn’t easy, winning three of the four games by a combined 10 points.  At 10-6, however, they did run their streak of 10+ victory seasons to nine.

The New York Jets also had a turbulent year.  After last year’s surprise run to the AFC Championship Game followed by an off-season that saw big-name additions like cornerback Antonio Cromartie, running back LaDanian Tomlinson and wide receiver Santonio Holmes, New York was many people’s preseason Superbowl pick.  They lost a Week 1 slugfest to Baltimore 10-9, then won nine of their next ten, looking very much the part of a Superbowl team.  Then things went cockeyed.  They scored nine points combined in back-to-back losses to New England and Miami before winning handily in Pittsburgh.   They closed the year by giving up 38 points in a loss to Chicago then scoring 38 points in a win over Buffalo.  At 11-5, and after so much hype, the Jets enter the playoffs as the number six seed, the exact position as last year.

When these teams meet in Indianapolis tonight, will the Colts have enough left in the tank to pull out a win and will they be playing the bad Jets or the Superbowl-caliber Jets? (more…)

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The NFL Playoffs are set to kick off in a few hours.  For football fans, this is the biggest moment of the year.  All the hard work, all the dedication, ups and downs from the long regular season culminate in one game.  Win and advance or lose and go home.  This is Wild Card Weekend, and there are four games being played that will determine each conference’s final four.  The Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears get to be like the rest of us and sit in their comfy recliners and watch all the action, waiting for who they will suit up against next week.

The first game on the schedule is the 7-9 NFC West Champion (should I still call them that when they have a losing record?) hosting the 11-5 Wild Card New Orleans Saints.  The Saints are the defending champions and got the best possible match-up of all the Wild Card teams getting to play what is possibly the worst team in post-season history.  So is this game a blow-out waiting to happen or an upset of monumental proportions? (more…)

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A week ago, we first heard rumblings that Stanford quarterback and certain number one pick Andrew Luck was leaning toward going back to school.  I immediately assumed it was a bargaining ploy aimed at the Carolina Panthers, who own that top pick.  Well, now Luck has officially announced that he is, indeed, staying in school, so I need to rethink my position.  Of course, there are still 10 days left before the deadline to declare for the NFL Draft, so Luck may yet change his mind.  But the way the decision was handled, with Luck issuing a short statement through the school and not being available for comment, seems to indicate that this is his final answer and there’s no discussion.

Fair enough.  But that won’t stop a little speculation.  It’s a free country, after all, and everyone is free to make their own mistakes.  And, boy, is this a whopper.  Not only is Luck risking the loss of potentially tens of millions of dollars to injury, he’s risking his draft position as well.  He’s a sure-fire number one pick.  Maybe he can maintain that until this time next year, but there literally is nowhere for him to go but down.  Given the fact that his coach, Jim Harbaugh, is as good as gone to the NFL himself, that makes this decision particularly puzzling.  Harbaugh runs the pro-style offense that Luck thrived in, making him into the top overall pick material he has become.  Will Luck find the same success with Harbaugh’s eventual replacement?  Again, there’s nowhere for Luck to go but down.

According to Luck’s prepared statement, this choice was made because, “I am committed to earning my degree in architectural design.”  Let’s see, stacks and stacks of money to play football or a degree in architectural design?  This is even a choice?  And for those who say that this is the right choice, that an education is the most important thing and the money will be there later, there’s a reason the phrase “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” exists.  You don’t throw away a fat check today thinking it will still be there tomorrow because sometimes tomorrow never comes, or at least not the tomorrow you were expecting.

It may yet turn out to be there for Luck, but it may not, as well.  Why even take the chance?  (more…)

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Oh, pity the poor Carolina Panthers.  This season has been simply a nightmare.  Admittedly, it’s been a self-inflicted one, but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow for their fans.  With one final whipping coming up at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina is heading toward a 2-14 season.  There are some possible bight sides.  One, the John Fox era is mercifully about to come to a close.  And, two, they did a little clinching of their own last week, locking down the number one overall pick in the draft.

The most obvious glaring hole on the team is a quarterback, namely, they don’t have one.  I know, be patient with Jimmy Clausen and all that, but realistically, no Notre Dame QB has translated to big NFL success since Joe Montana, and I’ve seen nothing in Clausen so far that makes him look like anything other than a career backup if he’s lucky.  So, with a new coaching regime coming in and the top pick in the draft, a new franchise QB must not be far behind, right?  Not so fast.

Stanford QB Andrew Luck is everyone’s favorite to be the top pick, and he has all the earmarks of a possible go-to guy for the next decade or so.  The only problem?  He’s making noise about staying in school for another year.  (more…)

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As the season wore on, it has looked more and more like the New England Patriots really are the one dominant team in the NFL this season.  They worked out the early season jitters of a very young defense, they disposed of a giant headache by dealing Randy Moss and replacing him with a familiar old friend, Deion Branch, who’s found the fountain of youth now that he’s been reunited with Bill Belichick.  All that and Tom Brady hasn’t thrown an interception in what seems like five years.  They’ve won seven in a row, including the Steelers, Colts, Jets, Bears and Packers in that stretch.  The offense is rolling with seven straight games with at least 31 points, they’re undefeated at home, and just blowing people out right now.  They are as sure a bet for a Superbowl title as anyone going.  But all that glitters.

Belichick has done an amazing job this season transforming this team into a championship favorite, and he would get my vote for coach of the year.  But let’s not crown them just yet.  (more…)