313 NFL Awards: Week 2, 2012.

What a week of football and we’re only 2 weeks into the season. Just the tip of the iceberg my friends. A roller coaster start like many NFL seasons before.

Preseason predictions are already proven wrong, ideas of what was supposed to happen are long gone and new ideas on what could happen are forming. However, don’t count on anything just yet. No need to put 1k on the Niners for a SB win. Geez. Calm down, climb down from the roof, take a deep breath and maybe put some pants back on because you’ve still got 15 more weeks of this grey-hair producing NFL season to go.

And with that, here are my prestigious Week 2 NFL Awards.

QB of the Week:

Eli Manning, New York Giants.

Wow. Way to rebound son. You ever think about playing basketball?

The younger Manning was awful in the first half of the game vs. the Bucs, throwing 3 picks and struggling to get anything going offensively. Here we go again Giants fans thought as week 1, Eli was also sub-par vs. the Cowboys in the season opener.

But something at halftime vs. the Buccaneers must have clicked. Maybe something was said, maybe he just likes to idle the machine for a while before he can finally put it into drive. Either way fans rejoiced as he produced numbers in one half of football that most would take 60 minutes to produce and helped pave the way for an outstanding comeback win to lead his team to a 1-1 record before their Thursday Night game in Charlotte vs. the Panthers.

For the record, he finished with 510 yards passing, 3 TDs (to go with his 3 picks) and a passer rating of 89.5, with a 60.8 completion rate. In the 2nd half alone, he threw for 295 yards, tying for the eighth most in NFL history and coming up 3 yards short of Phil Simms’ club record. An impressive 80-yards in 4 plays won the game for the Giants, which featured a 2pt conversion for backup RB Andre Brown. The duo of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz helped Eli, combining for 21 catches, 378 yards, 18.0 yards per catch & 2 TDs.

Offensive Player of the Week (Other than a QB.. and someone not named Manning):

Reggie Bush, RB, Miami Dolphins.

Wait.. did I just write that? Reggie Bush?!

Yep, Reggie Bush. The same Reggie Bush that we all thought was nothing more than a scat-back, change of pace back, pass-catching back, punt returning/kick returning special-play-making back. Not an every down back like he showed on Sunday. What is this crap? Is 2012 really coming to an end, because he can carry the ball more than 12 times a game in a starters role? Well.. we’ll have to wait and see about that but one thing is clear, he certainly proved for one game at least, that he has it in him to be what he believes he can be: A starting RB in the NFL who can rush for 1k yards.

He helped Miami to a pivotal win in an AFC home opener over the Raiders, finishing with 26 touches for 172 yards and 2 TDs, including a 60 yard TD run. With a 6.6 ypc average, if he can produce the kind of explosiveness like he showed on Sunday for 20+ carries, it will alleviate pressure from rookie QB Ryan Tannehill and help keep the opposing defence honest. Add in his ability in the screen game, and you have a RB like Matt Forte. How his knee holds up over the course of the season, depending if he carries it 300+ times, will be the real test as well.

Many running backs have tried and failed to hold down the starting role as a NFL RB.. but for week 2, he certainly looked like the player that was drafted 2nd overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. I for one, will jump on his bandwagon if he proves me and the rest of the NFL wrong.

Honourable Mentions: Marshawn Lynch, Danny Amendola,CJ. Spiller, Hakeem Nicks.  

Defensive Player of the Week:

Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers.

Those golden locks are flowin’.

The former Defensive Player of the Year had a monster night on Thursday Night Football vs. the Chicago Bears. What a start The Machine is off to in 2012. 2.5 sacks in week 1, 3.5 sacks against Jay Cutler to go with 7 tackles (4 solo) and constant pressure that rattled Cutler enough to force him into 4 interceptions and more excuses. Matthews is one of only 6 players in NFL history to record 6 sacks or more in the first two games of the season, and he is the only player to do it twice. With DJ Smith making his presence felt as the other OLB, the Packers may have the player they’ve been looking for to help Clay. If teams double Matthews they’ll have Smith to answer for, making the Packers D a scary force for teams to game plan against. At his current pace, Matthews has his sights on the single season sack record and most likely, another Defensive Player of the Year award.

Special Teams: Adam Jones, CB/PR, Cincinnati Bengals.

Pacman packs a punch against the Browns.

The former electrifying and controversial CB is still around, just for those who haven’t heard his name in a while. Blast from the past maybe, but the guy is still playing ball and provides solid depth for the Bengals secondary. After much turmoil, it’s clear he’s found a home and in week 2, he helped the Bengals to a W over the Browns by returning the first Cleveland punt 81 yards for a touchdown.

2 minutes into the game and the Browns were setting up to punt. Jones caught the ball at the 19 and as soon as he caught it, he evaded one Browns defender. Then he started up field and sidestepped about 4 Browns defenders before cutting to the sideline, all the while weaving around other Browns. By the time Jones was at the 50 yard line, he was home and the crowd was on their feet as Jones looked like the player the Titans drafted in the first round many years ago. As he crossed the goal line, he threw the ball into the stands, jumped onto the goalpost and hugged the padding like hugging an old friend he hadn’t seen in 10 years.

Say what you will about his past, but the guy knows how to make plays when the ball is in his hands and he has some room to move.

Coach of the Week: Ron Rivera

Carolina Love to Chico for his Week 2 W over the Saints.*

I know, I know. Of course, I could put any of the 16 winners from the weekend here. But I won’t. Not yet. The Panthers haven’t won a home opener since it seems forever and haven’t beaten the Saints* since 2009. Going into week 2, the Panthers were looking at an 0-2 start if they played the way they did in week 1 vs. the Buccaneers. Had they lost, they would’ve gone into week 3 with a short turnaround and potentially gone 0-3 and before you know it, season is pretty much over in September. Not many teams get to the Super Bowl or even playoffs after 0-2, let alone a 0-3 start.

But the Panthers took care of business, thanks largely to head coach Ron Rivera and his coordinators of Rob Chudzinski and Sean McDermott. The offense was able to get its mojo back, lead on the ground by Cam Newton with 71 yards rushing. Along with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both gaining 50+ yards on the ground, all 4 of the Panthers running threats of Newton, Williams, Stewart and FB Mike Tolbert, were able to score. On the day, the Panthers totalled 219 rushing yards and look to continue that on Thursday Night Football vs. the visiting Giants.

On defense, the Panthers were able to slowly strangle Drew Brees, pressuring him, disrupting him and forcing him into 2 interceptions; one of those a pick 6 to Panthers safety Charles Godfrey. The Panthers shut TE Jimmy Graham down in the 2nd half and held WR Marques Colston to 1 reception, late in the game. The only success Brees had was checking down to RB Darren Sproles, who finished with 10 receptions. The defence was able to help the offense take advantage of the field position and with the running game and read option working like a well oiled machine, the Panthers controlled the game at their tempo, keeping Brees on the sideline, worrying about where he was going to get hit from next. If the Panthers can consistent play solid D, the unit and team will go places.

Goat of the Week:

The NFL and their continuing effort to wreck the game’s integrity.

I could also put the replacement referee crew of week 2’s games here but I won’t because the referees themselves aren’t at fault. They’re doing the best they can, under extreme pressure and unbelievable circumstances where they just can’t keep up with the speed of a NFL game. Embarrassing for all to watch, if the NFL doesn’t feel red faced from MNF alone and the debacle that was the 3 & 1/2 hour game, then I don’t know what will force them to do something.

Honourable Mentions:

Jay Cutler. Stop pouting and take it like a leader and man should. Enough with the excuses.  

Josh Morgan: Seriously. You throw a football at a guys groin in front of the referee late in the game and exactly.. what were you thinking? How old are you again? And how are you not cut yet?!

Rookie of the Week:

Who needs Luck to get his first win?

Congrats rookie. Luck lead the rebuilding Colts to a 1-1 record with a win over the Vikings, throwing for 221 yards on 20/31 passes, 2 TDs and no picks for a passer rating of 107.5. It was Adam Vinateri that clinched the winner with a 53 yard FG, with 8 seconds left but it was the new face of the Indianapolis franchise that steered the new-look Colts to the W. After Minnesota had tied it up thanks to a 6 yard Kyle Rudolph score, Luck marched the Colts 45 yards in 23 seconds, with back to back 20-yard completions before drawing the defence off-side, and then spiking the ball. On a day when we wondered what RG3 would do, I was wondering what Luck would do and as luck would have it, the rookie certainly didn’t look like a player who had been drafted 1st overall in April. Most impressive was his ability to allude defenders and still be poised to make the play. Moving forward, it’ll be interesting to see which rookie QB fares better.

Quote of the Week:

Ray Lewis, on the passing of NFL Films legend Steve Sabol.

“I think young kids in this business … really need to understand the impact that Steve Sabol had. We lost a great pioneer a few days ago with Art Modell and now lose another one. These men had a vision to do something great. The beautiful thing about what they were doing is it wasn’t for them, they had a vision to expand our league to expand our game and to expand our brand.”

When Ray speaks, I listen. Kids of today, take note.

Upset of the Week:

Cardinals over Patriots, at Foxboro.

Quiz question for $200: When was the last time the Patriots lost a home opener? 2002. Bonus round. What year is it currently? 2012. Show them what they’ve won Doug.

That’s right, a fantastic upset in Boston. And what a bit of a snore-fest it was to begin with. New England QB Tom Brady struggled and the Cardinals did their usual thing of not scoring. Both defences were holding their own and looked to be a New England win after Cardinals RB Ryan Williams fumbled in the crucial stages of the 4th with the Pats recovering the fumble with 1 minute to play. However, TE Rob Gronkowski was called for holding on a Danny Woodhead 30 yard TD run. New England were able to gain 6 yards before Brady spiked it where the Pats would settle for the FG try. And that’s when kicker Stephen Gostkowski shanked the 42 yard attempt; his first missed FG of the day after going 4/4. The Cardinals had escaped victorious by 2 points and Ryan Williams breathed a sigh of relief. In all honesty, he could’ve gone in my GOAT column, and so could’ve Gostkowski.. but both teams made so many bad plays it’s hard to just pin it on the one mistake.

Disappointing Team of the Week:

Dallas Cowboys.

I expected better from you. Actually, not really. But I should’ve known better than to tip you. Kudos to the Hawks though, for taking care of business. Couldn’t be happier for Wilson and Lynch in Seattle, as well that fearsome defensive backfield.

Top Plays of the Week:

Eric Wright, Pick 6 vs. the Giants.

Bucs DB Eric Wright’s pick of Eli Manning’s pass with 20 seconds remaining in the first half was impressive enough as he caught the bullet from Manning from about 5 yards away. From there, it’s like watching a Div 1 player go against a Div III team as Wright makes some incredible moves to get down the sideline and score.

Tom Crabtree, Fake FG Reception vs. the Bears.

It was Thursday Night Football and both teams were struggling to get anything going offensively. Enter, Tom Crabtree. Backup TE. With punter Tim Masthay holding for kicker Mason Crosby, Masthay would take the snap and shovel pass to Crabtree who took it from the left guard to the right tackle, straight up and the gut of the Bears D for a 27 yard TD that would spark the Packers into a beating of Jay Cutler’s Bears.

Honorable Mentions: Eagles TE Brent Celek for his ‘white-men-CAN-jump’ leap over Ravens safety Ed Reed, Reggie Bush’s impressive 23 yard TD run & Bengals WR Andrew Hawkins’ 50 yard TD catch and evade vs. the Browns.  

(For more “Plays of the Week”, click here to go to NFL.com.)

Hardest Hit of the Week:

Golden Tate on Sean Lee, Seahawks vs. Cowboys.

Boom. Cowboys Sean Lee gets layed out by a WR. ..Wait, what?

WR takes out a LB. Golden Tate, take a bow. Hines Ward would be proud. That’s how I want my WR’s to block when or my Panthers RBs are running up-field. Way to help the team and fire up the crowd. Lights out.

Headline of the Week:

NFL Films President Steve Sabol Passes Away

Worst-Play-of-the-Week:

Phantom PI Call on Steelers DB Ike Taylor.

Seriously. How?

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap1000000062826/What-were-the-refs-calling

Ryan Clark comes in to lay Santonio Holmes out over the middle, like an safety should. The hit is clean, Taylor makes no contact and in fact loses Holmes before Holmes makes the catch and then proceeds to fall backwards, courtesy of Clark. It doesn’t take much for these replacement referees. Apparently asking for a penatly now results in the request being granted. Either way, you Mr. Ref get the Worst Play of the Week.

That’s it for Week 2 of the NFL Season already. Hard to believe but week 3 is just around the corner as we look towards Thursday night’s blockbuster NFC clash of the New York Giants visiting the Carolina Panthers.

Stay tuned for my preview of that game and more.

Remembering Steve Sabol: NFL Films Storyteller

Let me be clear. If there’s one thing that you read today, let it be this:

Steve Sabol is the reason why you watch the NFL.

Steve Sabol

Steve Sabol, co-founder of NFL Films passed away Tuesday, aged 69.

You may argue that it was your dad who introduced you to the game, maybe you fell in love with the game through playing it in school or heck it may have even been Madden 2003 with Marshall Faulk gracing the cover.

Ultimately though, it was Steve Sabol who reached out through that TV and pulled you into the game, where you stood for the first time with wide eyes, unable to take your eyes off the poetry in motion that was unfolding before you.

Steve Sabol wanted people to “See the reality, not as an instant replay but rather as a motion film.” It was this kind of vision and creative genius that along with his father, helped revolutionise sports broadcasting and the way that we saw the game.

Today we mourn the loss of Steve Sabol, who passed away at the age of 69; 2 weeks shy of his 70th birthday after an 18 month battle with brain cancer.

However, although we mourn the loss of the loss we should also celebrate the life of the long-time president and mastermind of NFL Films. And what a life it has been for the brilliant cinematic mind of Sabol, who was undoubtedly the heart beat of NFL Films.

In an interview (as seen in Peter King’s SI column on Sabol here) Sabol spoke of his life and legacy.

“So they talk about heaven, and I don’t know what is waiting for me up there. But I can tell you this: Nothing will happen up there that can duplicate my life down here. That life cannot be better than the one I’ve lived down here, the football life. It’s been perfect.”

Perfect indeed. Just like the product he produced on film. There wasn’t a detail Steve would miss. A lineman’s taped up hands covered in mud, blood dripping from a broken nose. The smallest detail, helped paint the picture for the story he wanted to tell and we’ll never see someone like Sabol again; that much is certain.

His genius, his artistry and vision with the camera, his talent with the sound, writing, directing, editing.. it all helped transform what we see before us on Sunday. For more than half a century, he put his heart, his soul into NFL Films and he created a legacy that will always be remembered.

To better paint the picture of the man, here is a perfect clip from the very network that wouldn’t be possible without Steve’s decades of countless work.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-videos/0ap2000000063280/Remembering-Steve-Sabol

Steve, as an art history major at Colorado College and an All-American running back, was able to entwine the 2 seamlessly, as if it was something that had always gone together. But up until NFL Films, America had not known such storytelling, especially in relation to sports.

It was the 1962 Championship Game, Packers vs. Giants at Yankee Stadium. Steve’s father Ed, who had founded Blair Motion Pictures, had won the rights to film the game, at a cost of $3,000.

Steve recalled the moment he received a call from his father, after winning the bid. “I see from your grades that you’ve been doing nothing but playing football and watching movies,” Sabol told his son. “But that makes you uniquely qualified for this new position I have in mind.”

Steve took the field on that blistery, cold day as a cameraman. The elements were so strong, team benches blew over during the game and cameramen from TV networks had to defrost their lenses with bonfires in the dugouts. One cameraman suffered frostbite. It was truly a horrid day, but a beautiful beginning as the birth of NFL Films. It was the game that impressed then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozell, who asked the owners of the NFL to purchase Ed Sabol’s company. It was then, that NFL Films was born, co-founded by Ed and Steve.

Jim Taylor

From there the Sabol’s brought in Sam Spence to compose the iconic NFL Films soundtracks that would play over the clips of legendary running backs charging towards the camera in slow motion or players standing on the sidelines, the cold air visible through their facemask. On top of Spence, the team added John Facenda – the man with the voice of silk. As Ed Sabol said, he could make reading a shopping list sound like the Declaration of Independence. To NFL fans, he is known as “The Voice of God.” Facenda’s soothing baritone voice was the perfect match for the dramatic nature of the footage he narrated.

And it was Facenda himself who famously read a poem written by Steve Sabol. Titled, “The Autumn Wind” which described the Autumn weather of the football season, it’s also known as the “Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation.”

http://www.nfl.com/videos/a-football-life/09000d5d8235036b/A-Football-Life-The-son-the-sound-the-symphony

(If watching those clips I’ve linked above doesn’t give you goose bumps, nothing in the NFL on Sunday will.)

The way in which Ed and Steve worked together as a team, was remarkable. But it was Steve, who helped innovate and orchestrate the footage. He would chronicle characters, deftly describe a play with slow motion, convey emotion with a composition as well as humour, just like a Hollywood film; just like a storyteller would.

“We see the game as art as much as sport,” Steve Sabol told The Associated Press when his father was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

People were only watching football. Then Steve came along with his eye for detail, his love of film, football, art and with a work ethic and passion that no one could match, he moulded a product that helped teach us about the game, more so than anyone else ever could.

He introduced slow motion and reverse angle replays, close up shots of players. There was the close up shot of the pigskin in the air (labelled “Tight as a Spiral” shot.) There were microphones on players, coaches, along the sidelines to pickup the sounds of the game as well as sideline chatter. NFL Films also featured the home team’s radio broadcast dubbed over the film, as the radio commentators tended to convey more passion.

With the dramatic orchestra soundtrack by Spence, the deep voice of Facenda (and later Harry Kalas) it was like combining ballet and football onto the small screen.

Sabol also helped us take the game less seriously and help show it for what it was.. a game. We were able to laugh at football (and at first, made coaches scorn as the footage made them “look like chumps”) with the Follies series, which debuted in the late 60s and was proven to be a popular staple of the NFL Films product.

No doubt, Sabol leaves behind a legacy.

Commissioner of the NFL Roger Goodell released this statement on the passing of Sabol:

“Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films. Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”

 A true icon, Steve wanted to be the best. Master his art. In his own words, he wanted to “bring an understanding, to something that has already been seen; to bring creative treatment, to reality.”

What started as a father’s dream, became a reality because of his son. I for one am thankful for Steve, Ed and the NFL Films team that pioneered the way we see football. Without their hard work, their talent, leadership and brilliance, I believe the NFL would not be as popular as it is in 2012.

Throughout his career, Steve has won over 40 Emmy awards himself for writing cinematography, editing, directing and producing. NFL Films as a company, has won over 100 Emmys since its 1962 establishment.

Steve and Ed both received the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003 & Ed Sabol, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year as a contributor to the game.

I  would love to see Steve in there posthumously, as he is above any other player in deserving such an honour and should be right there with his father. I believe the NFL would put him there in a heartbeat, but that will be up to the Pro Hall of Fame committee to decide what’s best for the man who embodied exactly what ‘A Football Life’ is.

Steve is survived by his wife Penny, his son Casey, his parents Audrey and Ed, and his sister Blair. Rest in Peace.

If you love reading up on Steve or NFL Films and want to read some other fantastic articles on those very subjects, here’s a few links worth checking out: 

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/peter_king/09/18/steve-sabol/index.html?sct=nfl_t12_a0

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1165530/1/index.htm

http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2012/03/26/Champions/Sabol.aspx

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap1000000063659/article/the-nfl-world-reacts-to-passing-of-steve-sabol?module=HP11_hot_topics

 Enjoy.

NFL Tips: Week 16 – Christmas Edition

Absolute crunch time is upon us with many teams able to sow up a playoff birth with a win this Christmas weekend. And with the Christmas holidays comes a change to the days. The majority of games this week shall be played on the unnatural Saturday, as Sunday’s taken up by some random holiday. Along with all that nonsense, the Suck for Luck Sweepstakes now have some more hopefuls, with the Colts winning last week against the Titans. Which now brings the Vikings and Rams into the race. The Colts would still prosper the most from the pick, as the other two have pretty good QB’s on their roster and are desperate for other pieces, mainly D on both teams. Anyway, enough of that crap. Last week wasn’t as solid as past ones, missing on Indianapolis, Kansas City (SAY WHAT?!), Philadelphia, San Diego, Carolina and Washington. Let’s get this shit going!

Houston at Indianapolis: Coming off a surprising loss, the Texans go to visit a red-hot Colts team who’s won 1 of their last 14 games. Nothing can stop them at this point, not even the injury of Peyt…Oh…Right. Yeah, sorry Indy, but 1 win doesn’t a good team make. Both teams go back to their previous ways.

Prediction: Houston 35, Indianapolis 6

Denver at Buffalo: Even though the Lions performance against the Broncos seems to be forgotten, they did create the first loss for Tebow and the Patriots created the 2nd on the weekend, with the Broncos eventually get blown out near the end. Buffalo are up the creek without a paddle at this point, and after such a promising start have stooped to quite a big low this season. Denver’s D is still relatively good and Buffalo have just been hopeless of late. Tebow goes to 8-2 methinks.

Prediction: Denver 24, Buffalo 14

Arizona at Cincinnati: I think this is a tough game to call. On face value, I guess you’d pick the Bengals, but the Cards have just been on a tear recently winning 6 or their last 7 games. With both of these teams winning last week, I find it even harder to confidently pick a winner. I will do so, of course. But be weary of this one.

Prediction: Cincinnati 28, Arizona 24

Jacksonville at Tennessee: I’m not entirely sure how you go from scoring 42 points one week to letting up 41 points the next, but that’s what the Jaguars achieved with their loss to the Falcons last Thursday. How any team can lose to the Colts is beyond me, but Tennessee did that. So both of these teams are known for being horrible right now. Who’s more horrible? I’ll say the Jaguars.

Prediction: Tennessee 31, Jacksonville 27

Oakland at Kansas City: It’s hard not to just start with the Chiefs unbelievable victory against the defending champion Packers. Their D has been pretty good through this season and have shut down other team like they did to the Packers (Raiders comes to mind). And if it wasn’t for their putrid offense, they’d definitely have won more games and would likely be leading the AFC West division. I probably was close to 3 or 4 heart attacks last week watching the Lions play the Raiders. Carson Palmer was on point all game, missing on only 8 passes and throwing no INT’s, a new record, I believe (I kid, I kid). The Chiefs win definitely gives them some hope, but if the Raiders can put up enough points, then the Chiefs won’t catch them.

Prediction: Oakland 27, Kansas City 16

Miami at New England: Miami got back to their resurgent ways against the Bills last week, but made it interesting by the end. The Patriots made the Broncos look like, well, the Broncos. Everyone scores against the Patriots, so Denver scoring a solid amount of points isn’t a shock, but the Patriots almost always score more, to compensate for their invisible pass D. Miami’s resurgence is nice and all, but the Patriots play is real and consistent, so they’ll be getting the win again.

Prediction: New England 31, Miami 28

New York at New York: The battle of New York goes down in…New Jersey this Saturday. This is a big game for both teams, with both still in playoff contention and the Giants are still hoping to hold off the Cowboys and Eagles to get the East division. The Jets somehow hold a wild card spot right now, but I think the Giants offense is too high-powered for the Jets to stop or keep up with in this grudge match.

Prediction: New York Giants 30, New York Jets 21

St. Louis at Pittsburgh: In between two black outs the Steelers did apparently play an NFL game, though a few people reported them to be missing in San Francisco. St. Louis put up another valiant effort against the Bengals, but couldn’t pull it off. Again. I think this one’s obvious. The Steelers will be pissed at their performance (or lack there of) and will be taking it out on the Rams and their revolving door of a QB.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 34, St. Louis 10

Minnesota at Washington: The Vikings do have a somewhat legitimate shot to win this game, as they’ve taken quite a few teams to the wire already this season. However, they are 2-10 for a reason and Washington’s coming off a big win for the team, so I think it’ll be 2-11 for Ponder and co.

Prediction: Washington 24, Minnesota 14

Tampa Bay at Carolina: Meeting for the 2nd time this year, both teams are more or less in the same position as last time. The Buccaneers can’t win and the Panthers are going steadily getting wins here and there. Boy the Buccaneers are horrible, getting lit up on Saturday Night Football by the Cowboys and having Raheem Morris a finger nails length away from a firing. And this could be the Coup De Grace for Morris as an in-division rivalry game always puts on the most pressure, outside of playoff related matters. I think the Panthers can get to 6 wins and end Morris’s job.

Prediction: Carolina 45, Tampa Bay 17

Cleveland at Baltimore: Like most others, I was pretty shocked to see the Ravens get blown out against a team like the Chargers on Sunday Night. The Browns followed their losing ways against the surging Cardinals. Cleveland put up a nice effort against the Steelers a couple weeks back and may do so again here, but it will again be a loss.

Prediction: Baltimore 27, Cleveland 10

San Diego at Detroit: For the first time since 1999, the Lions have a chance to make the playoffs. And this is the game that gives them a good chance to get it, even with the Chargers abolishment of the Ravens on Sunday Night Football. The Lions got up against the Raiders on a 1 minute 37 second drive from Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, winning the game by 1 point. Boy this is a hard game to pick and possibly hard to watch for Lions fans with so much at stake for the first time since hoping not to go 0-16 in ’08. I can’t tip the Chargers for any reason in this game. Bias coming strong here.

Prediction: Detroit 34, San Diego 28

Philadelphia at Dallas: There’s a lot of stake for both these teams, here. The Cowboys need a win to knock the Eagles out of contention. Both teams will also be aware of the situation with the Giants. And if the Giants do win, then the Eagles are knocked out before this one even kicks off, possibly deflating them enough that the Giants get an easy win here, but without knowing a Giants score right now, we just have to tip based on this game. The Eagles destroyed the Jets last week and the Cowboys destroyed are useless Tampa Bay team. I still think the Eagles can win this game, though.

Prediction: Philadelphia 37, Dallas 31

San Francisco at Seattle: Seattle’s base scheme is to the run the ball and the 49ers base scheme on D is to stop the run. This is bad for the Seahawks as the 49ers have done it all season, having allowed 0 rush TD’s, yes 0. I think the Seahawks will get shut out in this game, but will likely be low-scoring.

Prediction: San Francisco 13, Seattle 0

And then there were two…

Chicago at Green Bay: Despite a loss last week, I still think the Packers will win the Super Bowl this season. The only way they lose it is if they meet the 49ers along the way. Otherwise I don’t see them making a mistake. Speaking of losing, it seems to the Bears speciality right now. What a bad Christmas Day game, right? Bah.

Prediction: Green Bay 35, Chicago 20

Atlanta at New Orleans: Both of these teams are playing good football right now and this should be a cracking Monday Night Football encounter. The Saints are almost killing opponents right now and the Falcons are playing very good all-around football.The Saints just seem unstoppable right now and I don’t think a division rival will stop them. Their next stop will likely be in the playoffs. Maybe the Lions? Anyway, not changing topics, the Saints should get a good fought victory in this one.

Prediction: New Orleans 41, Atlanta 34

Have a great Christmas everyone, I’ll see you all next week for the New Years edition! :D

NFL Tips: Week 15

With 3 weeks left in the regular season, the playoffs are starting to shape up, but still aren’t solid. Hopefully week 15 can give us a clearer idea of who’s going where. I had another good week last week, getting 12 tips correct again (3rd straight week). The teams I missed on last week were: Philadelphia, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Arizona. Onto the tipping!

Jacksonville at Atlanta: Well, the horrible TNF match-ups continue and will do so with next week as well (Indianapolis at Houston or the other way round). At least we have two winners going into week, right? Right? Yeah, who am I fooling, the Jaguars still stink and Atlanta should give them a good hiding. Sans MJD.

Prediction: Atlanta 31, Jacksonville 17

Dallas at Tampa Bay: We’re very lucky this week to have two games before the Sunday games kick off. Even if both games will likely be one-sided blowouts. Raheem Morris could be fired if this game turns out the way it likely will, as the Bucs have lost 7 straight games and are likely to make it 8 here. Cowboys fans are desperate for a win, as they lost on a blocked FG last week against the Giants. I have absolutely no idea what’s happened to the Bucs, but I hope they enjoy their high draft pick this year. Plus if the Jaguars can put 41 points on them, imagine what the Cowboys are capable of!

Prediction: Dallas 40, Tampa Bay 21

Miami at Buffalo: It’s amazing how little it takes to change opinions on teams. Last week the Dolphins last by 16, which isn’t great. But it is better than 27 points which is what the Bills lost by. Yet somehow the Bills are the big favourites in this game. Just like the Panthers game against the Buccaneers recently, it dumbfounds me how this is the case. All teams have bad days, and that includes D’s which have dominated, look at San Francisco last week getting torn to shreds by Fitzgerald and co. Buffalo have been completely inept of performing on O recently. The Dolphins are better than the Chargers D and can hold them to 10, just like them. Dolphins get another deserved win, with a new coach.

Prediction: Miami 20, Buffalo 13

Seattle at Chicago: Regardless of the opposition last week, I think the Seahawks can run the table to end the season. Their run game is unstoppable right now and their D is absolutely ferocious getting picks and fumbles all over the field, as well as knocking the shit out of opposing receivers. Not really sure what to say about the unbelievable viewing at Mile High last week against the Tebows. The Bears almost literally handed Denver that game. Even though the Seahawks have done have an imaginary aura around them, they can definitely handle and beat the Bears, who are hopeless on offense.

Prediction: Seattle 27, Chicago 17

Indianapolis at Tennessee: Not going to bother with these until the Colts say otherwise. 0-14, baby!

Prediction: Tennessee 28, Indianapolis 14

Green Bay at Kansas City: Back to back blurbs with hardly any words. Packers are undefeated, and Kansas City are pretty hopeless. People are screaming trap game this and trap game that, but they also thought the Giants were gonna win…Um…Yeah.

Prediction: Green Bay 41, Kansas City 17

Cincinnati at St. Louis: Ah, how promising the Rams were, then they lost the majority of their players and couldn’t win at all. And then they lost their franchise QB for a few games and Steven Jackson hasn’t been himself, either. Everything’s gone wrong for the Rams this season. Which is the complete opposite for the Bengals, who are showing a much improved team and record. Well, improved over recent times, anyhow. The Bengals are only 1 game from being .500, but this match-up shouldn’t pose much of a thread and they should be able to create a non-losing season for the first time in a while.

Prediction: Cincinnati 34, St. Louis 13

New Orleans at Minnesota: The only way I see the Vikings winning this game is if the Saints D gives up in the 2nd half like the Lions did last week. Or if the Saints O takes 30 minutes before they get into gear, which is also what happened last week, when they took on the Titans. Minnesota does get pack Adrian Peterson which also gives them a chance, but unless they start Webb and he works his magic again, I’m not confident in their winning abilities.

Prediction: New Orleans 30, Minnesota 16

Washington at New York: I’m not entirely sure what you want to label the Giants win last week. “Lucky” is the first word that comes to my mind, but then again, they kept answering the Cowboys scores. I use “Lucky” because one hand decided that game. And blocks are never a guarantee or planned out to perfection every time. Jason Pierre-Paul had an amazing game, though. The Redskins held it with the Patriots for almost the whole game, but came up short by 7. The Giants play of late in the past two games definitely give them the advantage, but a rivalry is always an unknown.

Prediction: New York 21, Washington 17

Carolina at Houston: TJ Yates is a great story at the moment, not that he’s getting any coverage of course. But nonetheless, he’s kept the Texans on their course and won them the AFC South division title last weekend with the final play of the game against the Bengals. Carolina have been in almost all their games this season, but still seem to lack that final nail to put them away. They gave up a 24 point lead to the Falcons in the 2nd half last week to lose the game. I think this game will buck the trend for the Panthers, who’ll struggle to score enough points to keep up with the Texans. Their D is just too good for Cam Newton to do his thing.

Prediction: Houston 28, Carolina 10

Detroit at Oakland: I’m pretty use to seeing the Lions give up points after leading this season, but last week was pretty heart-stopping. A win last week just meant so much to their playoff cause. Keeping them up with the Falcons and taking the 2nd wildcard spot. I’m not really sure what the Raiders are doing at the moment, but if playing badly is their current gameplan, then I’m all for it! This game worries me, though. I can’t really put my finger on why, but teams that get drubbed the previous week always come out firing and wanting to getting early points. Hopefully the returns of key defensive players will ease those worries once the game kicks off. I’m still taking the Lions here, but I think it’ll be more of the heart-stopping variety.

Prediction: Detroit 34, Oakland 31

New England at Denver: Oh, goody, this game…Look I’m so sick of hearing about these two arsehole QB’s that I really don’t want to do this. I’ll just be quick and get it over with.

Prediction: New England 38, Denver 27

New York at Philadelphia: Both winners last week, this game should pretty enjoyable. Michael Vick has returned for the Eagles, which is always a boost. Sanchez probably had his best game of his regular season career, throwing for 2 TD’s and running for 2 others. This game’s hardish to call. The Eagles beat 1 team and I’m not sure why it makes them almost as good as the Jets. If Revis can shutdown D-Jax, then I think the Jets can definitely win. Especially with the way Shonne Green is running the ball right now. And the Eagles let up a lot of yards on the ground. Jets take it in a close one.

Prediction: New York 32, Philadelphia 31

Cleveland at Arizona: The Cardinals have won 3 straight games and are good odds to make it 4 against a Cleveland team that was only able to put up 3 points on the Pittsburgh Steelers. That might not be too surprising, but the Browns had a lot of chances to cash in on points and were only able to do it once.

Prediction: Arizona 26, Cleveland 14

And then there were two…

Baltimore at San Diego: It was good to finally see the Chargers dominating like their old ways. As well as that, Rivers has been interception-free for 3 straight games, though this game is a tough task. Obvious win was obvious for the Ravens last week, as they took on the winless (and useless) Colts with an easy win as Ray Rice rushed for 204 yards on the day. San Diego lets up yard on the ground too and Baltimore’s D is still as rock solid as ever. I can’t hold out much hope for the Chargers in this one, though.

Prediction: Baltimore 28, San Diego 14

Pittsburgh at San Francisco: Now this is the game of the week! Hard-nosed Football. Everything the NFL stands against. Every team has a bad day, and that’s what the 49ers endured last week against the Cardinals. They have clinched their division, though, so except for the #2 seed and a playoff bye, there’s not a lot they’re playing for. Pittsburgh’s day was a fair bit easier though against the Browns, only allowing 3 points and making a lot of good plays on D. The Steelers will be without their best D player James Harrison after a ridiculous suspension based on accumulative hits. Of course media never helps these bullshit outcomes, often inserting the idea in people’s heads to begin with. Saying all that, though, I think the 49ers can pull a bit of an upset and take the spoils in their hometown on Monday Night Football!

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Pittsburgh 17

Have a good week, everyone. :)

NFL Tips: Week 14

With only 4 weeks in the regular season, the playoff picture is both taking shape and getting worrying for some (myself included), exciting for others and very interesting all-round. I had a fairly good week last week tipping 11 correct and missing on Seattle, Tennessee, Kansas City, Arizona & Miami. Let’s get to it!

Cleveland at Pittsburgh: I said it last week, but I’ll say it again, the NFL and NFL Network chose some truly horrible primetime games this season. And this one is most definitely included. The Steelers head into this game after pummeling the Bengals last week by 28 and claiming their dominance yet again. The Browns, on the other hand, come into this game after being beaten comfortably by the Ravens. The Steelers seem to be back to their old selves, kicking arse and taking names. The Browns have very little firepower on the offense, and the Browns won’t be able to hold out Big Ben and co. for the whole game, nor keep them to a small point total for the offense to be able to exceed and win. Steelers should get a good win here.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 31, Cleveland 6

Houston at Cincinnati: This should be a good defensive match-up, as two of the better D’s go head to head in this match-up. Cincinnati got trounced last week, opposed to the Texans, who pulled out an impressive win against a tough Falcons teams. I think Houston’s D is superior to Cincinnati’s and so is their overall offense. Houston gets the victory.

Prediction: Houston 20, Cincinnati 13

Minnesota at Detroit: In the last meeting of these two teams, the Lions rallied from 20 points down in the 2nd half to beat the Vikings in overtime 26 to 23. I can’t say I see the Lions being down 20 points by half-time, but with the way the team’s been playing and imploding, I’m not ruling it out. The Vikings lost to the Tebows last week, where Tebow actually had a relatively good day throwing the ball. This says more about the Vikings than Tebow’s throwing skills, though. And if Tebow can, sort of, light up this Vikings secondary, imagine what Stafford can do after coming off a 400+ yard outing, as well as being 5th in the league in pass yardage. Lions get a nice win to get things back on track.

Prediction: Detroit 48, Minnesota 17

Tennessee at New Orleans: With the Titans winning two in a row, they  seem to be getting their season back on track, though it’s a bit late for that now. Chris Johnson is back to his usual self having rushed for a combined 343 yards in his past 2 games. The Saints have won 4 in a row and even though they did get tested last week, still prevailed in comfortable fashion. Even if CJ2K can continue his great form, they won’t get enough points through the air to outscore the Saints. Good competitive game, but ultimately, another Saints victory.

Prediction: New Orleans 40, Tennessee 28

Philadelphia at Miami: The Dolphins are one of the best teams in the NFL right now, and their D is sturdy as all hell. With the Eagles getting Vick back, it’s definitely a nice relief, as opposed to the woeful Vince Young. However, the Miami D is for real, and Vick probably won’t be 100%. Considering what the Eagles were like when Vick was playing, they weren’t winning much. Miami takes it, though not convincingly.

Prediction: Miami 21, Philadelphia 19

Kansas City at New York: The Chiefs pulled out one of the bigger surprises last week, dominating the Bears for 60 minutes and getting the victory. Meanwhile, the Jets got a bit of a scare, but ended up piling the points in towards the end. I can’t see Palko and Chiefs causing another upset, but crazier things have happened!

Prediction: New York 26, Kansas City 14

New England at Washington: New England were quite underwhelming last week, only putting up 31 points and only winning by 7. The ‘Skins, as just mentioned, got the score run up at the end of their game against the Jets. Washington’s D has fallen a bit this year, while the Patriots O looks fairly unstoppable. Patriots take it in a close one, because their D literally can’t stop anyone.

Prediction: New England 34, Washington 30

Atlanta at Carolina: My Panthers picked was pretty spot on last week (bows for applause) and surprisingly, so was my Falcons! Despite that nonsense, both of these teams are good despite the Panther’s record. The Falcons pulled out the victory in the first meeting, but I think the Panthers can tie it up with Newton putting up big numbers. High scoring shootout in Carolina.

Prediction: Carolina 38, Atlanta 31

Tampa Bay at Jacksonville: As hard as it is to tip the Jaguars at the moment, it might be even harder to tip the Bucs. Tampa Bay has lost 6 straight games and this is their best shot to win in the next 4 weeks. Worrying signs for a team that just missed the playoffs last season. Jacksonville fell to the Chargers who would have been ecstatic at winning a game of late. Tampa Bay is really bad, but Jacksonville only seem to show up against the big teams. Something the Bucs have fallen a long way from.

Prediction: Tampa Bay 27, Jacksonville 15

Indianapolis at Baltimore: No point writing long-winded blurbs for the Colts any more. They better start choosing who they want more, Manning or Luck?

Prediction: Ravens 30, Colts 3

Chicago at Denver: Tebow was actually half decent last week, although please put things into perspective (I know this is hard for Tebow fans, but trying would be nice). Tebow faced the worst pass defense in the league and possibly one of the worst D’s, period. And even though they take on the Bears, it’s the Bears offense which is bad, almost non-existent. If Bears fans thought things couldn’t get any worse, they were clearly deluded, as Forte busted his knee and is out until at least week 16. I don’t think the Bears can be the team to solve the new Denver D and Tebow and co make it 7-1 (Yay Lions!).

Prediction: Denver 20, Chicago 12

Arizona at San Francisco: San Francisco’s D is outstanding. I’m still in awe of how good they’ve done this season. And even though P-Willy is a big loss for them this week, he’s only 1 of the 11 players on an outstanding D. Rams were held to 0 last week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arizona was, too. Unless Patrick Peterson shows up again…

Prediction: San Francisco 24, Arizona 0

Oakland at Green Bay: As with the Colts blurbs, I feel similarly about the Packers. You saw the Raiders last week, right? Yes? OK, no point to continue, then. Green Bay to 13-0.

Prediction: Green Bay 35, Oakland 17

Buffalo at San Diego: Two teams who are desperate for wins to try to salvage something and maybe a division shot for the Chargers. If the Chargers were more consistent on a weekly basis just in terms of scoring, then it’s an easy pick, but the Chargers are always a coin flip away from the shit team turning up. Buffalo doesn’t seem to have a good team at the moment, though, so I have to pick the Chargers for no other reason than how bad Buffalo is.

Prediction: San Diego 21, Buffalo 9

And then there were two…

New York at Dallas: Maybe I’m just underestimating this rivalry, but the Cowboys should be favored or close to it in this game. Sure, the Giants have lost 5 straight, but they’ve still been pretty good. Apart from the final 90 seconds last week…Anyway, the Cowboys haven’t shown me anything to get me excited about against the Giants.

Prediction: New York 31, Dallas 24

St. Louis at Seattle: Marshawn Lynch sure turned into a beast Running Back this season, and I was one of those idiots who dropped some games in, cause he hadn’t done anything. Sure am kicking myself now. Regardless of that, the Seahawks D is a takeaway machine, while their O runs (no pun intended) through Lynch. One of the few teams whose running game is their winner. St. Louis also can’t stop the run, ominous sign right there. Seattle makes it 4 out of their last 5.

Prediction: Seattle 27, St. Louis 10

Good luck to everyone this week and have a great one!

Lions vs. Saints: Week 13 Preview

After the unspeakable horribleness of last week’s game against the Packers, the Lions now head to New Orleans for an even tougher task. Trying to beat the Saints. The Saints are in great form with 3 straight wins on the trot, since their week 9 loss to the Rams. The Lions will be getting their 2nd primetime game of the season, as this match-up was flexed in for the Patriots vs. Colts blockbuster, which previously held it.

The Saints are being led once again by their eventual Hall of Famer, Drew Brees. Brees is absolutely blitzing the league, leading the NFL in passing yards with 3689 and is only behind Aaron Rodgers with a 70.2% completion percentage. But Brees isn’t the only weapon on this team. Darren Sproles, who was acquired in the off-season, has been a king of all trades for the Saints throughout the season. He’s currently leading in yards per rush for anyone who’s had over 50 carries, at a 6.8 clip. But he’s been most dangerous in the passing game with 62 catches for 476 yards. It’s obvious that the Lions are going to have a very tough test trying to stop the Saints on Sunday night, and it’s tough to see where it’ll happen.

The Lions are coming in off probably their worst loss of the season. I can’t think of any real positives out of the game. Despite only losing by 12, the Lions couldn’t have played much worse than they did. Some good news, though, is that Matthew Stafford’s finally removed the glove and splint from his hand, and it looks like Kevin Smith will be able to play. Maybe not in a complete role, but any help they can get is appreciated right now. Two massive losses, though, are those of Louis Delmas and Chris Houston. Not much worse of a time to lose them, as they’re about to take on the 2nd best QB in the NFL right now. And of course, Ndamukong Suh, who stupidly stomped on one of the Green Bay linemen last week, but I’m sure you’ve heard all that ad nauseum. I’m excited to see what Fairley can do, though.

Look, the answer to a Lions win is as simple as can be. Stop Drew Brees. But unless they knock him out, ala Aaron Rodgers last year, this won’t be happening. The Saints O-Line is also one of the best in the league, making the task that much more difficult. The Lions should definitely be able to hang with them on offense, regardless of Kevin Smith’s playing time. But with 2 major injuries in the secondary, and the best linemen not playing, it’s going to be a struggle, I imagine.

I haven’t even mentioned the Saints WR corps yet, which is possibly their strongest weapon. They have a top 10 WR in Marques Colston as well as the top TE going round in Jimmy Graham. The Lions have done a pretty good job of stopping TE’s, but Graham’s not like most of them, he’s a bigger, stronger, not as fast WR. He posts up the opposition, akin to Basketball, and pulls down the ball. Simply put, he’s the next Antonio Gates. The key to the Saints passing attack is how much they spread the ball around. A lot like the Packers. The Saints other WR’s are all top class players in Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson. The Saints seem to just have too much for the Lions to handle.

If the Lions can miraculously stop Drew Brees, then they have every chance of winning, but I just think the Saints have too many weapons for the Lions to compensate for, and they’ll end up being out of position too often to stop Brees effectively. I think Brees will throw for 320+ yards with 4 TD’s, while Matthew Stafford with throw for 370+ yards and 3 TD’s. The big difference in numbers, is that I expect the Lions to be down early and the only way they’ll be able to get back into the game is to use the air. Not to mention that Eli Manning put up 400 yards in last week’s contest, and I think Stafford has better weapons, especially in Calvin.

In the end, though, I expect the Lions will fall to the Saints. Hopefully it’ll be a close match heading into the 3rd quarter, but I anticipate Brees will turn it on from there-on-out.

Prediction: Saints 38, Lions 30

NFL Tips: Week 13

Up to week 13; it seems like the season has just flown by, unfortunately. But, we still have 5 action-packed weeks of regular season football left. Last week was very solid getting 13 correct. The ones I got wrong were: Baltimore, Tennessee and Oakland (yet again). So without further adieu, let’s get on with the tipping!

Philadelphia at Seattle: Maybe it’s just me, but there’s been some truly horrible primetime games this season. Nonetheless, week 13 kicks off with a mildly interesting match-up on Thursday Night Football in Seattle as the Eagles go to take on the Seahawks. The only real reason it’s mildly interesting, is because the Eagles have been so porous that the Seahawks somehow have a legitimate shot at winning. And the ‘Hawks probably are sort of in line to get a big upset. Despite the shittiness of the HEagles and the upset capabilities of the Seahawks, I think the Eagles will triumph, maybe not convincingly, and take their record to a surprisingly bad 5-7.

Prediction: Philadelphia 31, Seattle 24

Tennessee at Buffalo: One of the tougher match-ups to call this week is the game between the Bills and Titans. The Titans are coming in off a close 6 point win over the Bucs, but Buffalo is coming in after a narrow loss of 4 to the Jets. Chris Johnson torched the Bucs for 190 yards last week, and the Bills aren’t much of a run-stopping team. If Johnson can continue his rushing ability, then they should win. Buffalo have lost 4 in a row and really have to right this ship. This is their best chance yet, as the Titans can’t stop the run, either. If Stevie Johnson can get his shit together and their offense clicks, then I definitely think they can win. I’m going to give the Bills the nod because of home-field, but I’m not confident.

Prediction: Buffalo 24, Tennessee 21

Kansas City at Chicago: With both teams coming in as loser’s, they’ll be desperate for wins. Chicago needs a win to stay atop the wild card spot in the NFC, though the the Chiefs just want to win for pride. OK, so the Bears is a bit more important. Even with an ineffective Caleb Hanie playing for Chicago, they have too good a RB in Forte, and too good a defense to let the Chiefs waltz on in and take the victory.

Prediction: Chicago 28, Kansas City 13

Oakland at Miami: Don’t count out Miami in this one. Even though they lost last week, they were the better team. The Dolphins defense has come out of nowhere to start beating up the opposition, and Oakland better lookout. The Raiders beat the Bears last week, but considering the opposing QB, it was disappointingly uninspiring. If the Raiders can keep the ball in their hands and force turnovers, they should be able to head to Miami and get it.

Prediction: Oakland 20, Miami 17

Denver at Minnesota: Denver is now 5-1 under Tebow, only losing to the Lions (I had to get that one in). But it’s not Tebow who’s winning these games, it’s the Denver D. Just like the Dolphins, their D has done a complete 180 after the Lions game, giving up 15 points or less in each game. Minnesota will be heading into this game without Adrian Peterson yet again. This is a gigantic blow to their hopes, as they really had a legitimate shot if he was going to play. Tebow still isn’t very good at anything but running, but it gets it done. Denver goes to 6-1 under Tesus.

Prediction: Denver 17, Minnesota 9

Indianapolis at New England: I’ll make this short and sweet. If the Colts can win, it will be, without a doubt, the biggest upset to ever occur in the NFL. Playoffs or otherwise.

Prediction: New England 70, Indianapolis 21 (Yes, that’s my real prediction)

Cincinnati at Pittsburgh: These two AFC North teams face off for the 2nd time this year, with the Steelers edging out the Bengals by 7 last time. Each team pulled out close victories last week, and I expect this score to be another close one. I really like what Cincy’s doing, but I think Pittsburgh will get the narrow win again. But I have a bit of doubt in their abilities.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 21, Cincinnati 16

Carolina at Tampa Bay: Carolina’s a pretty good 3-8 team, while the Buccaneers are a pretty bad 4-7 team. I don’t really understand why the Buccaneers are favoured in this game? It’s not like they’ve played well or beaten anyone convincingly enough to give them an edge. I think Carolina can easily win this game. Especially on the ground.

Prediction: Carolina 35, Tampa Bay 24

New York at Washington: It’s rare to say that these two teams won last week, but it’s true! The ‘Skins beat the inconsistent Seahawks, as the Jets barely beat the Bills. Even though Washington finally won a game, they’re still a horrible team. Not that the Jets are some kind of powerhouse or anything, but they’re definitely a better, more talented team than Washington.

Prediction: New York 24, Washington 10

Atlanta at Houston: Even though the Texans are down to their #3 QB, it’s not an end of the world situation for the AFC leaders. Even so, their next test is a good test to start him out. They host the Falcons, who took care of the Vikings last week. Houston’s D is playing real well this season, while Arian Foster is a force in both the run and pass. This will also mark Andre Johnson’s 2nd week back. Hopefully a more productive one. The Falcons are favoured in this game. And it’s not like they shouldn’t be with a 3rd string guy starting for the opposition. But I wouldn’t count the Texans out at all. If Houston can stop Matt Ryan, they can win this game.

Prediction: Houston 34, Atlanta 27

Baltimore at Cleveland: The Browns lost again last week, but only barely. They lost by 3 to the Bengals, which is a good effort for a disappointing team. The Ravens triumphed over the 9ers in their Thanksgiving match-up, where there was a total of 22 points scored (OLD SCHOOL FOOTBALL!!!). Cleveland are still floundering, while the Ravens seem to have gotten it together to play some good Football. Just be aware that the Ravens struggle on the road, though the Browns should be much of a test.

Prediction: Baltimore 26, Cleveland 3

Green Bay at New York: This is deemed the game of the week. And I can kind of see why. The Giants, despite losing 3 in a row, do have a shot at beating the undefeated Packers. But I believe people are giving them too much credit. The Giants D is horrible, as shown by the game last week against New Orleans, where Brees and co put up 49 points (eep). The Packers D is still vulnerable, but Giants D seems to be playing much worse. I’m going to go with the educated pick and stick with the Packers.

Prediction: Green Bay 30, New York 21

Dallas at Arizona: The Cowboys pulled it out of the fire on Thanksgiving against the Dolphins. The Cardinals also won a close one against the (yet again) hapless Rams. Arizona currently has, in my opinion, the most enjoyable player to watch right now, in Patrick Peterson. The kid’s just a freak on special teams, and seems to have gotten better in the passing game, as the season’s progressed. I think the Cowboys will have too much for the Cardinals to handle, both on the ground and through the air. Dallas should be getting a fairly easy win here.

Prediction: Dallas 31, Arizona 17

St. Lous at San Francisco: Again, I’ll be short and sweet. The 49ers can stop anyone. The Rams can’t really move the ball. Rams are shut out.

Prediction: San Francisco 20, St. Louis 0

And then there were two…

Detroit at New Orleans: The Lions get another rare primetime game, their 2nd this year. They head to New Orleans to take on the offensive juggernaut Saints. God I’m worried. The Lions will be without defensive starters Louis Delmas and Chris Houston. Two huge losses for the defense. And Kevin Smith will probably see a limited workload, with a bum ankle. This is all lining up for a Lions pounding. Drew Brees has the most passing yards of any QB so far this year, and although the Lions have held a lot of QB’s to lowish passing yard totals, Brees has all the tool to tear this defense apart. I want to see a miracle upset, but I don’t think I will.

Prediction: New Orleans 38, Detroit 30

San Diego at Jacksonville: I keep wanting to pick Jacksonville in this game. They have a new coach, a presumed new feel of vigour and pride, as well as their 2nd Monday Night Football game this year. This has all the makings of a big upset, and the end of Norv Turner’s tenure at the helm of the Chargers. I know a lot of Chargers fans who want nothing more than to see the back of Norv Turner, and with them well out of playoff contention, they may be rooting for the Jaguars. I just can’t bring myself to tip Jacksonville, though.

Prediction: San Diego 25, Jacksonville 17

I hope everyone has a good weekend, and good luck to your teams.

NFL Tips: Week 12

With a 16 game schedule every Sunday (and Monday) for the next 6 weeks, this is where it all gets very enjoyable and even more interesting. I was a poor tipper yet against last week, only getting 9 correct. The ones I missed on were, Cleveland, Miami, Baltimore, Seattle & Philadelphia. Legooo!

Green Bay at Detroit: Well, the Thanksgiving festivities and games are upon us. As always, we kick things off with the annual Lions game. This year against the best team in Football. Green Bay go into Detroit as a still undefeated team, looking to notch win #11 on the season (out of 11 games, for those playing along at home). The Lions will put up a very tough test, being a nationally televised game and all, but I believe the Packers will get that 11th victory, unfortunately. Only just.

Prediction: Green Bay 31, Detroit 28

Miami at Dallas: Just like the Lions, the Cowboys also have their annual Thanksgiving game against a resurgent Dolphins team. The ‘Fins have won 3 in a row, and are looking red-hot, being led by QB Matt Moore (colour me shocked). The Cowboys are also on a bit of a roll, but almost got tripped up last week by the Redskins, only being saved by Gano’s constant inaccuracy. Miami’s a nice story, but I think their streak ends on Thanksgiving.

Prediction: Dallas 29, Miami 21

San Francisco at Baltimore: To round out the Thanksgiving games, we have the Harbowl, as San Francisco (coached by Jim Harbaugh) go to Baltimore to take on the Ravens (coached by John Harbaugh). Despite the coaching match-up, this game should be an old-school defensive game. Two fantastic defenses trying to beat the shit out of the other team. That always makes for good watching, and is also good to know that Goodell will be having a cry, knowing how lacking in offense it will be. This really is a tough game to call, but I’m a believer in the 49ers and ya just never know what the Ravens will produce. I’ll take the consistency.

Prediction: San Francisco 14, Baltimore 10

Minnesota at Atlanta: Minnesota came up short against the Raiders last week, while the Falcons got a 6 point win over the Titans, after holding off a nice comeback. The Vikings are a pretty poor team, even with Adrian Peterson. Since the Vikings are going down so early, AP has been a bit of a non-factor of late, which is never a good sign. Atlanta’s been up and down most of the year, but this seems like a pretty easy match-up for them.

Prediction: Atlanta 28, Minnesota 13

Cleveland at Cincinnati: Cleveland pulled off a 4 point victory over Jacksonville last week, while the Bengals fell just short to the Ravens by 7. Cincinnati have been pretty consistent throughout this season, and Cleveland have been consistently bad. I think it’s a comfortable Bengals win.

Cincinnati 21, Cleveland 6

Tampa Bay at Tennessee: This is a tough match-up to call. Both teams have been so inconsistent this season, ya just don’t know who’s going to show up to play or not. The Titans fell short to the Falcons, after putting up a good comeback effort, while the Buccaneers really took it to the Packers in the 2nd half (This gives me hope for the Lions!) before the Packers eventually pulled away. I’m going with Tampa Bay simply off what I saw last week, but it’s another 51/49 type game.

Tampa Bay 28, Tennessee 27

Carolina at Indianapolis: The Colts have a very mild chance in this game, but they might actually be playing for Luck at this point. The Panthers played very well last week before a 2nd half collapse, but the Lions aren’t the Colts. Carolina shouldn’t have much trouble here.

Prediction: Carolina 35, Indianapolis 21

Arizona at St. Louis: The 2nd match-up in 3 weeks, this will be an underrated game. Last time out, the Cardinals won it off, what I believe was, the best play of the season so far. A 99 yard punt return TD from the Rookie, Patrick Peterson. It was marvellous TV to watch, especially live. Jaw on floor type stuff. St. Louis are up the proverbial creek without the paddle, though, having placed yet another CB on IR (that’s 10 CB’s on IR on the season). Arizona’s not a great team, but they’re still better than St. Louis, who’ve I’ve been over-valuing the whole season.

Prediction: Arizona 17, St. Louis 10

Buffalo at New York: Well, it was good while it lasted, but the Bills have been blasted the past two weeks, killing any hope of taking the AFC East away from the Patriots. They head to Metlife stadium after a 35-8 crushing at the hands of Miami. Yes, Miami. Surely the Bills will have to show their past form at one point again this season? If so, they’ve got an uphill battle, after they just lose their best player in Fred Jackson for the season. I was going to give them the tip before hearing that, but it’s an almost impossible task now. Jets should take this one. Maybe even in a shutout.

Prediction: New York 21, Buffalo 0

Houston at Jacksonville: Jacksonville were pretty valiant in this contest earlier this season, and with the Texans having lost their best QB for the season, it’ll be the much maligned Matt Leinart getting the start, after they missed out on Kyle Orton. Jacksonville really only have 1 plan, and that’s to let MJD run as much as possible, for as much damage as possible. If the Texans can contain him enough to make the Jaguars a primary passing team, then I think they’ll take the victory. But it won’t be as easy as it may seem.

Prediction: Houston 27, Jacksonville 20

Chicago at Oakland: Hmmm…This is an interesting game to weigh up. The Raiders have gotten back what they lost when Jason Campbell went down with a nice resurgent Carson Palmer (I still think they should’ve tried for Matt Flynn, but I digress). But the Bears have lost Jay Cutler indefinitely to a broken thumb, and have to weight their playoff hopes (good news for the Lions) on Caleb Hanie. I’ll be honest, I think Hanie’s a better QB than people give him credit for. Not some kind of freak who’ll rip the Raiders to shreds, but he can make nice throws, with an odd interceptions and maybe a couple TD’s. The reason this is so tough to weigh up, is because neither team has an offense which can rip apart the opponents D. The Bears are a stout run D, while the Raiders are tough to throw on. I think the Bears can win this, but I’ve stupidly doubted Oakland before. This could be another one of those.

Prediction: Chicago 34, Oakland 26

Washington at Seattle: The ‘Skins were unlucky last week, simply because of their woeful kicker. Seattle’s favoured in this game, which honestly baffles me. The Redskins D will be able to stop them, it’s the offense scoring which is the main worry. But still, the Seahawks are a bad team, regardless of their result last week.

Prediction: Washington 21, Seattle 10

New England at Philadelphia: Ah, one of those inter-division games (East vs other East). The Eagles have been the most inconsistent team this whole season, while the Patriots can’t really stop any offenses. I think this game will be pretty overrated like most of them and the Patriots will get a pretty comfortable win.

Prediction: New England 37, Philadelphia 21

Denver at San Diego: I don’t know about you, but this Denver team can definitely beat bad Run D teams. So it’s lucky they’re playing the Chargers, who allow 124.3 yards per game. I’m not entirely sure what to make of San Diego, they just haven’t done anything of note so far. Maybe they can turn on their usual late-season heroics, but those were when Rivers was playing as a top-5 QB, not a bottom-5 QB. So unless the Chargers have found some miracle cure for his interceptitis, I think the Broncos can notch another win.

Prediction: Denver 16, San Diego 9

And then there were two…

Pittsburgh at Kansas City: Will the Kyle Orton era (probably 6 games) start for the Chiefs when they host the Steelers? Only time will tell, but let’s be honest. It probably won’t make any difference to the final result. The Chiefs started floundering again, while the Steelers have been looking good, and are coming off a nice bye before heading into the final stretch. I don’t think the Chiefs have much shot in this game, Orton or otherwise.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Kansas City 10

New York at New Orleans: We wrap up this weekends festivities with a Monday night game in Louisiana. The Giants head to the Superdome to face the high-flying Saints, who are coming off the bye. The Giants do have a shot in this game, but that’s only if they stop Drew Brees. Giants rookie CB Prince Amukamara had a nice showing in his first game, making 5 total tackles and getting an interception for his troubles. The Giants D is pretty banged up, though, so they’ll probably have a bit of trouble with Brees. I reckon the Saints will take it, but it should be an interesting contest.

Prediction: New Orleans 33, New York 21

Well, another tips article down. Have a great Thanksgiving and weekend, everyone. Go Lions!

Lions vs. Packers: Thanksgiving Game

First, I’d like to apologise for being so slack lately. I’ve been EXTREMELY busy (like having a job type busy, without actually having a job), and just haven’t had the time, wherewithal or sanity to write any posts since my tips post last week. For those who care, I’m doing a 5-day a week Business course. Unfortunately the course is a solid distance from my house, so I leave early and get home late, because of going to the gym. I’ll definitely try to be more proactive and write more, but might not kick back into high gear until Mid December. Anyway, enough of that shit, let’s talk FOOTBAWLL!!!

Of my top 3 most anticipated games this year, this was #2. #1 was Monday Night Football & #3 was the Lions vs. Panthers game. They were both wins, for what it’s worth. Although I might have to change #3 to the week 13 Sunday Night Football game against the Saints. It’s pretty obvious why this game easily cracked the top 3. A good Lions team versus the defending Super Bowl champions is always an amazingly exciting and rare prospect. The good Lions team part, at least.

Not that I think of it often, but when I do; Thanksgiving represents one sole thing to me. Lions Football. Whether it be good or bad (we know the history), Thanksgiving is the Lions proverbial “Day to shine”. I know they haven’t done it for a long time, but that was then, and this is now. This team is a pretty impressive 7-3 with losses to quality oppositions. First the 49ers burst the Lions undefeated bubble, then the Falcons burst the back to back losses bubble and the Bears took care of whatever bubbles were left. Yet despite 3 losses and disregarding the Bears game, the team has performed admirably well. It’s not like they got blown out by the 49ers or Falcons, they just didn’t come up clutch when they had to. Back to regarding the Bears game, the simple answer to “What happened?” is an incredibly puzzled “I don’t know…”. Especially after seeing Matthew Stafford (eventually) slice up the Panthers secondary with the exact same finger and glove that he was wearing in the Bears game. Maybe it really WAS the wind? I don’t know, but something was obviously different. Perhaps it was just simply more rest and getting more used to the glove. Or, it was none of those and was just the constant skittishness of Stafford early on in some games, and the whole 60 minutes for other games. A problem I foresee for this Thursday’s game.

We all know the Packers are easily the best team in the NFL right now and Rodgers is serving as the best QB right now, also. But they do have a few weaknesses. First off, their secondary isn’t as good as it could be. They’re currently letting up 289.3 yards through the air, which is 2nd worst in the league. Very, very good news for a primary passing team like the Lions. However the Packers do make up for it on the ground, giving up only 102.5 yards per game. The other mild positive is the Packers lack of a running attack (more by choice, than design, I’d say). The reason I put that, is because the Lions have been horrible in the Run D game, giving up an average of 134.7 yards per game. But on the Pass D side, they’re much better equipped ranking 5th against the pass, only letting up an average of 192.8 yards through the air. I guess many could, and would say that these Pass D stats are meaningless as Aaron Rodgers just tears apart any team that crosses his path, as shown by the Packers 3rd ranked Pass offense, throwing for 304.9 yards per game. But we don’t have anything else to go off, statistics wise.

I think the deciding factor in this game will be turnovers. In the past two games, the Lions (Matthew Stafford) have thrown 6 interceptions and they’ve lost 3 fumbles. 9 turnovers is A LOT in just two games. The Packers D has been getting a lot of turnovers, too with 22 turnovers on the season. The Lions D is no slouch, though, having gotten 23 turnovers in the same 10 games. I know that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t turn the ball over often, but he’s facing a defense which has intercepted 15 passes. That’s tied for 2nd with Chicago and Buffalo. Unfortunately for the Lions, the Packers lead all teams in intercepted passes with 19. If the Lions D-Line can really lift for this game, get constant pressure and consistently force Rodgers to throw the ball, then they have a real shot to pull of the victory.

This game is set up for a shootout, with two extremely high-powered offenses going at one another. I personally hope there’s some good defense in this game. Not over the top defense like last year’s 2nd meeting between these two, but not a ridiculous 45 to 40 type scoreline, either. I believe the Lions will have a tough time of stopping the Packers offense, and Rodgers will continue to shine with a 3 TD day. Not to put the Lions offense aside, I think that Stafford will throw for 4 TD’s, but the Lions will come up just short, in a tightly contested, exciting match-up.

Prediction: Packers 31, Lions 28

NFL Tips: Week 11

Week 11 is the final week for byes, and after this week it’ll be 16 game goodness for the following 6 weeks. My tipping was horrible last week, only getting 9 right. The teams I missed on were. Oakland (Knew I should’ve tipped ’em!), Seattle, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, Denver, Arizona, Tennessee & Seattle. Onto the tips!

New York at Denver: After the excitement (or lack thereof) of Thursday Night Football last week, it’s back again to whet our appetites for the upcoming weekend of games. This is the worst game scheduling I’ve seen since 3 or 4 weeks back, when both Primetime games (for two consecutive weeks) were just awful. This week it pits the Jets and the Broncos. Or as they’re now called, the Rushcos (My jokes are consistently horrible). The Jets got their arse handed to them by the Patriots (thankfully), while the Broncos ran the ball a ridiculous 55 times in their new look spread-option type hybrid thing, which did actually get them the victory over the Chiefs. New York’s run D isn’t what it was a couple of years ago, and the Broncos really do have some quality rushers, including their QB. Seeing as the Jets offense is pretty stagnant and their Run D isn’t far behind, I’m going with a bit of an upset and taking the Broncos. I despise both these teams (Especially their bullshit over-hyped QB’s), so I just hope there’s a lot of pain.

Prediction: Denver 20, New York 14

Jacksonville at Cleveland: I honestly can’t fathom why the Browns are mildly favoured in this game. They’re at home, sure, but who cares? They’re close to the worst team in the league at the moment. Jacksonville pulled out the victory against the Colts last week (Suck for Luck is almost a guarantee now), but they’re still a weak team. This will be one of the worst games of the weekend (at least popularity wise), with a possibly shitty scoreline. I just have no hope for Cleveland at this point in the season, though.

Prediction: Jacksonville 19, Cleveland 6

Carolina at Detroit: I don’t think many would have thought that both these teams would get rolled last week, but that’s exactly what happened. The Panthers fell to the Titans (consistency, dammit!) 30 to 3, while the Lions got roughed up 37 to 13. I’m not sure what to make out of this game. The Lions are definitely better than the score shows, throwing two pick6’s isn’t going to help that cause, but I believe Carolina are better than their score shows, too. If the Lions can stop Steve Smith, then they should do a good job of bottling up Newton and making their offense struggle. Megatron has had success against every #1 CB this year, and I don’t expect Gamble to be the guy to beat the streak.

Prediction: Detroit 27, Carolina 20

Tampa Bay at Green Bay: I’m not sure what to put for these any more. The result is always as close to a forgone conclusion that I can remember. Chalk up another easy Packers win.

Prediction: Green Bay 35, Tampa Bay 17

Buffalo at Miami: I wish the Dolphins didn’t win last week, and I also wish the Bills didn’t lose so badly. If neither of these scenarios happened, I’d have a much better idea of who I should pick in this game. Miami really have played some great football the past two weeks, with Matt Moore putting up nice numbers, to go with their run game. The Bills seem to have stopped circling the wagon, and have put up back to back losses. I’m going to tentatively tip the Bills, but the Dolphins could easily take the victory.

Prediction: Buffalo 30, Miami 27

Oakland at Minnesota: The Raiders beat the absolutely atrocious Chargers last week, on Thursday Night Football. While the Vikings got a pounding at the hands of the Packers. Minnesota can’t seem to get much going for them, although the Raiders have been ridiculously inconsistent. With mild confidence, I’ll take the Raiders.

Prediction: Oakland 29, Minnesota 13

Dallas at Washington: Wow, the Redskins are just HORRIBLE! The Cowboys put a hiding on the Bills, and this week could be an exact recreation. I’m assuming it will.

Prediction: Dallas 41, Washington 18

Cincinnati at Baltimore: Baltimore are SO inconsistent. Beating good teams, and losing to bad ones. I don’t think the Bengals are bad, at all, and they stayed in it with Pittsburgh, but this is a real tough one to call. I’m definitely leaning towards Cincinnati. If B-More win, no surprise, but I’m going with the upset.

Prediction: Cincinnati 21, Baltimore 16

Seattle at St. Louis: Ah, the Seahawks. They show up when the game really counts, but are lost somewhere else when it doesn’t. St. Louis are just…well…lucky? Not against the Cardinals, but against the Browns they were. 13 to 12 doesn’t scream anything but lucky, to me. Still, Seattle doesn’t show up to the lowly game, would be surprised if they did for this one.

Prediction: St. Louis 16, Seattle 9

Arizona at San Francisco: The Cardinals pulled the wool over the eyes of the Eagles and their supporters, while the 49ers continued on their merry way to an 8-1 record on the season. San Fran really has been unstoppable, and John Skelton will have a real tough task against them this week. I’d be shocked if the upset occurred, but it’s pretty common lately.

Prediction: San Francisco 28, Arizona 15

Tennessee at Atlanta: The Titans aren’t getting much credit coming into this game. A 30 to 3 win shouldn’t be a laughing matter, and the Falcons have been really bad at some points of this season. I’d be surprised if the Titans win, but if Mike Smith goes for it again on 4th and 1 on their own 29, maybe they will.

Prediction: Atlanta 31, Tennessee 28

San Diego at Chicago: Where in the world is (Chargers) San Diego? I told you they were shitty. Regardless of the correct answer, they aren’t showing up to play football on Sundays, or Thursdays. Chicago sure are showing up of late, though. They’ve been on a tear and the Chargers are just another obstacle in their way. Perhaps they should move?

Prediction: Chicago 28, San Diego 10

And then there were two…

Philadelphia at New York: Stupid (H)Eagles! Why can’t you do anything right? Like make a “Dream Team” win Football games? Or at least seem like a good team each week? They should’ve stuck to the players they already had, because the new ones clearly aren’t helping. The Giants were hit by the illness know as 49eritis, copping a 7 point loss last week. The Giants seem to be the better team in this one, but they did lose to the Seahawks…

Prediction: New York 23, Philadelphia 12

Kansas City at New England: Welp, good luck Palko, you’re gonna need it! Not because the Patriots D is good, cause they’re not…at all…But because this horrible Kansas City D has to face Tom Brady. A match-up they’ve already lost. Patriots win it easily.

Prediction: New England 53, Kansas City 23

Have a good weekend, folks!

Steve is back to being Steve again.

Credit: Carolinahuddle.com

I love Steve Smith.

I have been one of his biggest fans ever since I started following football & the Carolina Panthers as a teenager. He is actually part of what drew me to the Panthers. And for that alone Steve, I thank you.

Smitty, as he is known to many, has intrigued me since day 1 & still, every Sunday he amazes and leaves myself & others, in disbelief. Every Sunday, he brings it. Every play, he gives his 110% with the same fierce, fire, intensity and determination that makes him one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the league today. On any given play, he can turn a defense inside out.

He is electrifying, mesmerizing, a freak in a league of athletic monsters. He is passionate, he has swagger and he wears his heart on his sleeve as we’ve come to learn and respect. He is often outspoken, always great for a quote or a sound bite. He yaps, but he backs up his talk with his on-field play. He is definitely not someone you’d want to cross the wrong way but also, one of those guys you’d want with you walking down a dark alley at night for protection.

At 32, he is on the downside of his career yet here he is, leading the NFC in receiving yards with 918 receiving yards, 2nd in the NFL only to Wes Welker after the bye week. He has 46 receptions for a 20 yard per catch average and 4 receiving TDs to go along with his average of 114.8 yards a game. He has been revitalized by rookie sensation Cam Newton, after having Jake Delhomme and numerous band-aid QBs throw to him over his career. Finally, after Delhomme he has a QB that can get him the ball and put in a position where he can make a defense hurt with one move. He can run any route, crossing over the middle daring the defense to lay a lick on him (only making him madder, which if you ask DeAngelo Hall, Fred Smoot or any CB in the league, never ends well) or a smoke screen pass that turns into a 20 yard gain, stiff-arming defenders along the way or, the deep ball which Smith has caught a lot of this season with 4 catches over 40 yards and 19 catches over 20 yards.

After a nightmare season in 2010 with another rookie QB throwing to him, as well as Matt Moore, the Panthers struggled and stalled, and so did Smith’s season. Many though Smith had lost a step, was done and on the verge of leaving town with him almost being traded. Smith ended up with 46 catches for 554 yards and 2 TD’s. This season to date, he has the same amount of receptions, almost double the yards and double the TDs. No doubt 2011 will be a big rebound season and will land him a nomination for Comeback Player of the Year – an award he’s already won once after breaking his leg in 2004-05, only to win the triple receiving crown the following season.

Many believe that had Steve Smith had Tom Brady throwing to him (or any elite QB), he’d be a Hall of Famer right now. Maybe, but I also believe that his career in Carolina has served him well and made him a better player. Had he been in New England or Indianapolis, he may never have seen the 2005-06 season that he did, becoming one of the many few WRs in NFL history to win the triple crown of receiving. (Most yards, most receptions and TDs in a season.) Smith is on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer, but he’ll need to hit a few marks and check off a few boxes before then.

Already, his season is getting praise, much due to the play of QB, one who can feed him the ball and put him a position to make a play and do his thing. And the media is taking notice of all that. Outlets and websites are talking about his possible Hall of Fame entrance one day, and SI’s Peter King has him on the Mid-season All Pro team at WR along with Wes Welker & Calvin Johnson. He’s probably not the only one. No doubt, he’s well on his way to another Pro Bowl and probably numerous other awards. But it’s not new to Smith and it won’t be the last time he grabs the spotlight for his work on field.

Smitty is currently ranked 37th in career receiving yards in NFL history with 9,802 yards.  There are currently 5 active players are ahead of him: Hines Ward, Derrick Mason, Reggie Wayne, Chad Ochocinco and Falcons TE and future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. None of those players except Gonzalez is a lock to make the Hall.

If Smith wins a Super Bowl ring, it’ll be heavily taken into consideration by the panel. Wayne and Ward both have rings, Mason has consistently put up steady numbers but has always been under the radar as a top WR and Ochocinco’s career was similar to Smith’s until the past few seasons where his career has appeared to stall and his career is all but on the downside. This group of players is in the category of “Almost.. but needs more work.” Give each of these players a few more seasons to check off criteria boxes and they may move up the future Hall of Famers list.

With Cam Newton at QB, Smitty has already said in numerous interviews that he wants to play another 3 or 4 years and with the way he takes care of himself, he definitely could. With Newton throwing to him, he could continue to post 1000+ yards for the next 4 or so years, potentially adding on 4,000-5,000 yards to his career numbers. Those kind of numbers will move him past 10,000 yards and up the list of already enshrined/future Hall of Fame players. Even if he moves to the slot, the connection that Smith and Newton have will continue to grow in the future seasons.

After QB Jake Delhomme, Smith struggled to connect with new QBs who came in to fill Jake’s shoes. Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen and a host of other 3rd string fill-ins who played QB while the injured and the just plain awful QBs who were supposed to be ‘the future’ instead made the Panthers decide to draft Newton 1st overall. The connection and relationship Smitty and Jake had on and off the field, was almost like man-love. A tough ask, it wasn’t until Newton came in this offseason that the old man and the new guy started to get along like a house on fire. So far, the bond that has been made has been special, reminiscent of the Jake-Steve connection that lead Carolina to a couple of playoff appearances including Super Bowl 38. The connection of fiery, angry, passionate, chip-on-the-shoulder Smith and Jake, the gunslingin’ country boy from Louisiana who made his way into the league in similar fashion to Kurt Warner, from NFL Europe and backup to starter in a Super Bowl.

Now it’s Cam and Steve and so far, the results speak for themselves. An uncanny duo, one would think before the season started that perhaps Newton’s favorite target would be a TE or a slot receiver. But the rookie made a connection with 89 often and early, with the 2 working out during the summer. One thing that impressed Smith of Cam was his work ethic and his up-bringing; the support from his father Cecil – something coach Ron Rivera has praised often too of the young QB. Both players are similar, yet so different. Smith is 5-9, Newton is 6-5 but is probably closer to 6-6 and they’re birthdays are 1 day apart in May; Smith is May 12, Newton is May 11. Both want to win and are the face of the franchise. Both have that hunger, that drive; the work ethic. They both have their haters, but they also have a very large following. If the rest of the team can improve and get it together in the next couple of seasons, look for Newton and Smith to be the next big duo in the NFL, leading the way and helping Smith become a legit Hall of Fame candidate.

Right now though, Smith is on track to break Jerry Rice’s single season receiving record of 1848 receiving yards. No doubt, he’ll have some stiff competition from Welker who is also having an outstanding season with New England. Smith has to get 930 yards in the back end of the season while Welker only needs 60 yards less. The Patriots offense has struggled at times this season & if they really get going, watch out. However, they’ll be playing in severe weather conditions later on in the season which could hurt Welker’s chances. The Panthers however will be mainly around in the south and in domes, helping Smith’s chances. Another factor could be that the Panthers defense isn’t the greatest, so if they get behind in games, it will make the offense have to air it out and games could turn into a shootout, which again helps both Newton & Smith’s yards. Good news for fantasy players this season if you have either Brady & Welker or Newton & Smith.

Smith could potentially, hit 2000 yards if he increases his current pace of 100 plus yards per game to at least 135.25 over the next 8 games. He already has 7 100 yard receiving games this year, but will need to turn those 100 yard games into 150, 180 yard games if he has any chance of hitting 2k yards. He’ll probably have to have a 200 yard game at some point, or at least a few 160-180 yard games to close the gap. Rice had a huge game when he had 14 catches for 289 yards vs. the Vikings in ’95, helping him hit the 1,848 yards he had for the record-making season. While it may sound out of reach & realistically it probably is, it does say something about the current trend in the NFL with so many QBs and WRs putting up big numbers & having 2 great receivers on track to come close or even maybe surpass the great Jerry Rice and his single-season record.

But this season should come as no surprise to you if you know the Steve Smith story. Fact is, there’s not much more I can tell you that will surprise you. Just in case you don’t know the full story, here’s a brief recap of one of the most underrated wide receivers in the NFL.

Drafted in the 3rd round out of Utah, the 5 foot 9 wide receiver came into the league as a returner, a specialist and his and the legend was born the first time he touched the ball in the NFL, as he took it back the other way for a 99 yard TD return in the Metrodome vs. the Vikings. That rookie season, he made the Pro Bowl as a returner.  As soon as Panthers GM Marty Hurney drafted him, they knew they had something special. It wasn’t until a few seasons later when he began to develop into a wide receiver, that the fruits of labor began to show. Soon, he was a #1 receiver. With Jake Delhomme at QB the Panthers would make a trip to the big dance in 2003-04, with Smith’s play at WR along with Panthers legend, Muhsin Muhammad and veteran wide receiver Ricky Proehl (now an offensive assistant with the Panthers). Smith helped his status as an elite WR when he caught a beautifully thrown TD pass from Delhomme in Super Bowl 38 vs. the Patriots and went on to have a monster game. His legend actually began in the Divisional Playoffs a couple of weeks earlier vs. the Rams, when Smith caught a 69 yard TD pass from Delhomme in double OT, the play famously dubbed “X-Clown” where Smith can be seen, arms outstretched as he ran into the endzone.

Following the huge 2003-04 season, Smith then went onto suffer a broken leg in week 1 action vs. the Green Bay Packers, ending his season for 2004-05. Muhsin Muhammad went onto having a fantastic year in Smith’s absence, however Smith more than made up for it in 2005-06 when he helped the Panthers reach the NFC Conference Championship, leading the NFL in all receiving categories and getting All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations as well as co-Comeback Player of the Year (with LB Tedy Bruschi.) From there his legend grew and grew. A top fantasy stud, he continued to have solid seasons in ’06, ’07 and then had another breakout season in 2008 as he helped steer the Panthers back to the playoffs. Following that he had solid seasons until 2010 as he had his worst statistical season and the Panthers went 2-14.

And then 2011 happened and we sit here, talking about Smitty as a possible Hall of Fame candidate & for Panthers fans like myself, it’s a great thing to see 89 dominating again. We know the story, we know the journey. We know his talent level and what he’s had to overcome. His incidents, his past. We felt sorry for him, having to go through last season as we all felt it. We don’t blame him asking for a trade. But then you see the kind of player he is, the kind of teammate he is to the rookie QB and even though the team only has 2 wins in 2011, Smith is back and having fun. He’s going out there, making plays as if he’s just a kid playing some ball in the park. The competitive fire still burns and like it’s been said before, Newton has been a fountain of youth for Smith who is still troubling defenses who now can’t commit 2 or 3 guys to Smith because of the threat of Newton who can hurt you with his arms or legs. Now it’s a different offense and it’s one that is tailor-made for Smith and if he keeps on doing what he’s doing and putting up astronomical numbers and helping Carolina win along the way, then we couldn’t be happier as fans of the Panthers and of Smith.

During the last game vs. the Vikings, Smith had a controversial and costly holding penalty against him as Newton scrambled to get the ball into the endzone. The Panthers were driving, down by 3 and needed a FG to tie it. Smith blocked a defender, before running to take out another as Newton dove, trying to break the plane of the endzone. He was called on the first block, a hold. The Panthers eventually settled for a FG, a 31-yard chip shot only to have Olindo Mare shank it wide. The Panthers lost and Smith gladly vented to the media afterwards about the call. In a few words he said, “..for a 70-year-old man gimping down the field, I guess that’s what the ref saw.”

Classic Steve. Classic 89. That’s the bottom line.

As far as I’m concerned, Smitty has given a lot to this team and will continue to do so. As a veteran and a leader, I for one applaud him for telling it like it is & frankly, he can say whatever he wants to say. We need guys like him, keeping us on our toes and being blatantly honest in a league full of political correctness and pussy-footing. If every guy had the fight, the tenacity the passion and love for this game that he does, the game would be in a better place. He only wants the right calls made and he knows the referees missed a call there that should’ve been put down to a football play. Just let them play, in those instances. But hey, that’s football in 2011 and we’ll agree to disagree. Removing my homer glasses for a second, we can’t really sit here and say that Smith should’ve made it a legal block. As a professional football player, he’ll tell you until the day he dies that that was a legal block & he’s probably right.

But like I said, that’s Steve Smith for you. As long as he is yapping and getting angry – doing what he does best with that swagger of his every Sunday, then all you can do is watch and enjoy the rollecoaster ride of emotions that he’ll take you along for.

Who knows how many fights Steve Smith has left in him. Who knows how many yards, how many seasons he has left. All we know is that he is a damn good football player who is underrated, under appreciated and has been since he was drafted into this league.

He’ll still carry the chip on his shoulder, even when he stands up there at Canton as his bust is unveiled. He’ll still carry the chip, because people love to hate on 89. But he’s used to it. He’s used to getting back up after a big hit from a LBer after he crosses over the middle, spinning the ball celebrating a first down. He’s used to owning DBs and LBs, literally knocking them on their rear as he continues to show that he has one of the nastiest stiff-arms in the NFL. He is used to it all, even after 11 NFL seasons.

That’s just Steve Smith in a nutshell. Chip on the shoulder with that swagger, used to showing the doubters wrong, used to putting on a show every Sunday.

And for that alone; for that entertainment that you provide us Steve, I once again thank you.

From every Panthers fan worldwide, we thank you for being you, for being special and for giving us your all, for giving us hope for the future.. for giving us greatness.

I for one can’t wait to see how the rest of 2011 turns out for Smitty. But watch closely because it may just be record-breaking.

Lions vs. Bears: Week 10 Preview – Round 2

With the bye behind the Lions, they head to Chicago to take on the Bears in a late game blockbuster (kaboom). This is the 2nd game of the season between these two and it will be a big decider on a wild card spot. As it stands, the Lions are 6-2 while the Bears are 5-3. The Lions currently hold the NFC’s 1st Wildcard spot and the Bears hold the 2nd Wildcard spot. While the Falcons are one game behind the Lions and tied with the Bears. This just shows how important going 7-2 would be for the Lions. They have next to no shot to overcome the Packers, unless they win out and the Packers only two losses are against the Lions. That would put both teams at 14-2 and tied atop the NFC North division. This scenario is next to impossible to occur, but most people would’ve laughed in your face if you predicted the Lions would be 6-2 by the end of week 9, so let’s not just call it impossible right now.

In their first meeting, the Lions took the victory 24-13 in front of a hyped up and very loud crowd at Ford Field on Monday Night Football back in week 5. This time, though, they’ll be on the receiving end of the crowd noise. And I expect a lot of it. Soldier Field definitely isn’t the loudest in the league, but they can definitely crank it up when they see fit and it’s needed. This game result may come down to the weather. We all know that Chicago is freezing when it cools down later in the year, and this is a big potential problem for the Lions, specifically Matthew Stafford. He admitted this week, that he’s never really played in a cold weathered game and was trying out gloves through the week in the practice. There’s four outcomes here. 1) He wears no gloves and plays very well. 2) He wears gloves and plays very well. 3) He wears no gloves and struggles throughout. 4) He wears gloves and struggles throughout. I’m desperately hoping it’s either #1 or #2, cause if Stafford has any type of big time struggles, the Lions are in big trouble. And it’s been evident through the year that a mediocre game won’t get the W for the Lions just yet.

Yet again, Jahvid Best will be out of this game with post-concussion symptoms. This’ll be the 3rd straight game that Best has missed and there’s a real possibility that he could end up being shut down for the year, even if it is unknown until week 16 or 17, just carrying a constant “Questionable” tag, and then being demoted to “Out” at some point in the week. The load will yet again be shared by Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams. Kevin Smith was signed earlier in the week; I’m assuming for passing downs. Despite Smith’s constant lackluster running game, he always excelled in the pass, much like Best. The Lions really need a RB who can catch and convert on 3rd downs and Kevin Smith might be that guy. Especially against a Bears team that held LeSean McCoy to just 71 rushing yards. Though they did let up 45 catching yards.

My main concerns about this game are related to the Defense. Not only do they have trouble stopping the run, but Cutler was able to make all types of miraculous throws against them in week 5, despite constantly running for his life. The Defensive Backs really need to clamp down on the receivers, otherwise it might be worse than week 5. Forte will be the Lions main focus, but I’m not sure that’s the best choice. Just cause a RB runs up and down the field all day, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to score enough points to single-handedly win it. You only need to stop a RB when it counts. On 4th down or the Goal-line. Otherwise, as long as they’re tackled without reaching the endzone on a long run, it’s not that bad. If the Lions put more focus on Forte than on the WR’s and Cutler, it could get ugly pretty quickly, because I don’t think they’re able to stop Forte, any way.

The key to a Lions victory, apart from a successful passing game is disrupting the Bears O-Line again. The Bears let up 0 sacks against the  Eagles. That’s only the 2nd time that’s occurred while Cutler was playing for the Bears. Now, the Lions D-Line is definitely better than the Eagles D-Line, but confidence can do wonderful things. The Bears O-Line won’t be any more confident than after last week. A real accomplishment is what they created. If the Lions aren’t able to generate the rush enough to halter Cutler on passing downs, then they don’t have much of a shot to win the game.

Let’s be honest here. The Bears are a very good, underrated team, who are playing at home and coming off a big underdog win against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Lions are also very good, but didn’t have a good lead-up. They’re coming off the bye, which immediately means they’re coming in on the back foot. You can say all you want about “preparation”, but without having hit some people in the mouth the previous week and likely getting a full week off in week 9, you can’t just go out there and play like you’ve had no break in the schedule.

I’m not confident in the Lions in this game, I just don’t think they’ll be prepared for what the Bears throw at them and they’re falter through most of the game, and lose it by 4.

Prediction: Chicago 24, Lions 20

NFL Tips: Week 10

Back to 16 games this week (Yay!), so a lot of games to watch. There’s also a lot of games that could go either way. So I expect to do pretty badly (again). From last week, these are the ones I got wrong. Jets, Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Cardinals & Giants. Let’s get it awn!

Oakland at San Diego: The Chargers and Raiders kick off this year’s Thursday Night Football games with a rather overrated and tough to call match-up. The Chargers rallied back against the Packers last week, but still came up quite short, with Phillip Rivers continuing to throw interceptions. The Raiders lost to the Broncos (stupid Raiders), because the Broncos had decided to completely change to a spread offense to help Tebow succeed. It worked for one week, but we’re yet to find out what happens when a team can plan for it. The Raiders are still without Darren McFadden, as well, so it makes this test all the more harder. I think San Diego can win this in a close one, but I’m 49% sure the Raiders will win in the end.

Prediction: San Diego 28, Raiders 24

New Orleans at Atlanta: I think a lot of people would’ve marked this game down as a possible early decider for the NFC South title. Alas, the Falcons have stunk all year (well, sporadically, anyway) and it’s tough to see them topping the Saints. Both of these teams won last week (Atlanta beat Indianapolis by 24 (Which is less than double of what the Saints put on them) & New Orleans split the series with the Buccaneers), and I do think this game could be tougher to call than people think. Atlanta’s offense is at full strength with Julio Jones coming back and taking a lot of pressure off White, while making good plays himself. I believe the Saints will win here, but, again, an upset wouldn’t shock me.

Prediction: New Orleans 27, Atlanta 14

Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: Pittsburgh lost to Baltimore the second time this season, although this game was a lot closer. The Bengals pulled off a victory over the Titans, even with a late push by Tennessee. I’m actually picking the Bengals in this game. I don’t think their 6-2 record is a joke, and I believe their D is for real.

Prediction: Cincinnati 21, Pittsburgh 13

St. Louis at Cleveland: The Rams probably lost in the worst way possible last week. They allowed a 99 yard punt return TD by Patrick Peterson in overtime. Cleveland on the other hand sucked again (what a shocker…) against the Texans. I think the Rams can win this game, but, yet again, I’m not that confident.

Prediction: St. Louis 34, Cleveland 24

Buffalo at Dallas: Why must the NFL have so many tough games to decide this weekend? The Bills floundered against the Jets, while the Cowboys got past the Seahawks, but not very convincingly. I’m tipping Dallas, but I honestly have no fucking idea!

Prediction: Dallas 24, Buffalo 17

Jacksonville at Indianapolis: This is the most crucial game in the Suck for Luck Sweepstakes. Indianapolis are the only winless team remaining and they could actually WIN, yes, WIN this weekend against Jacksonville. The Colts were quite non-existent against the Falcons last week, while the Jaguars sat back in their chairs and watched the games. I’m just gonna say the Colts win, who cares?

Prediction: Indianapolis 20, Jacksonville 14

Denver at Kansas City: Kansas City surrendered the Dolphins first win of the season last weekend, while the Broncos overpowered the up and down Raiders. The Chiefs have a shot in this game, but they have to stop the run effectively to pull out the victory. On the other hand, Tebow has to make sure the few throws he makes aren’t intercepted and taken back to the hizzy. I think KC will win, but that might just be my deep hatred for Tebow talking.

Prediction: Kansas City 16, Denver 7

Washington at Miami: The ‘Fins come in with their heads held high, while the Redskins come in after a 4th straight loss. Miami is favoured in this game, but you really have to wonder if last week was just a complete fluke or not. What isn’t a fluke is the Redskins shitty playing. They can’t get much going in the right direction at the moment. I’ll give a very slight nod to Miami.

Prediction: Miami 14, Washington 10

Arizona at Philadelphia: One of 3 (almost) sure bets of this weekend. The Eagles come in after a tough loss to the Bears. While Arizona come in after Patrick Peterson’s superb punt return TD in overtime to beat the Rams.

– Play of the year type stuff there.

Despite the Cardinals win, they’re still a poor team on both sides of the ball. The Eagles should be able to beat them handily, but that’s what people said Baltimore would do, too. Barely won.

Prediction: Philadelphia 30, Arizona 21

Houston at Tampa Bay: Houston are coming into this after having won the last 3 games. Tampa Bay are coming in after losing to the Saints last week. The last time the Buccaneers got beaten fairly badly they shocked the Saints the following week. I can’t see this happening with or without Andre Johnson playing for the Texans. Foster should be able to keep up his great form and put the Texans over the line.

Prediction: Houston 35, Tampa Bay 17

Tennessee at Carolina: If Chris Johnson has broken out of his slump this week, then it could go bad for Carolina. They’ve had trouble stopping the rush all year. I think Chris Johnson’s definitely getting to where he was, but a lot of his running depends on his O-Line’s performance. If the Panthers can take it to the Titans O-Line, then they should take the victory.

Prediction: Carolina 24, Tennessee 20

Baltimore at Seattle: Here’s game 2 of the (almost) sure bets of the weekend. Baltimore’s playing inconsistent football at the moment, but they’re playing more consistently than Seattle, who can’t get anything good going for them. I think Baltimore shut down whatever offense Seattle tries to produce and wins it easy.

Prediction: Baltimore 30, Seattle 3

Detroit at Chicago: I’m worried about this one. I just don’t see how the Lions can stop the Bears both offensively and defensively to win the game. The Lions are off the bye, but still won’t have Jahvid Best. They should have Nick Fairley, but I’d say more in a limited role again. The Bears beat the Eagles, but it wasn’t some impressive miracle. Just a hard-fought game. If the Lions can make Forte fumble the ball like he did on Sunday Night, then they’ve got a good chance. But, I honestly can’t see the Lions winning. I hope I’m wrong.

Prediction: Chicago 24, Detroit 21

New York at San Francisco: The Giants got a last second win over the Patriots last week, while the 49ers unconvincingly beat the Redskins. The Giants performances this year have been extremely inconsistent and this is a real tough test for them. I think the 49ers can shut down the Giants offense and run the ball effectively enough to win.

Prediction: San Francisco 19, New York 13

And then there were two…

New England at New York: This game is usually a pretty good one, as these two rivals face off in week 10. The Patriots lost by 4 on a last second TD by Eli Manning and the Giants, while the Jets rolled the Bills. The Patriots defense is absolutely horrible. They can’t rush the passer, nor can they stop the pass. I guess they’re lucky that the Jets can’t really throw the ball, then. While on the other hand, the Jets pass D is very good, with Revis patrolling the field and keeping a lock of the best WR. I’m tipping the Patriots, but not confident.

Prediction: New England 21, New York 18

Minnesota at Green Bay: We finish this week off with a bit of a stinker and the guaranteed win of the week. The Packers are undefeated and looking like a real possibility to go undefeated the whole way. The Vikings are coming off the bye, so their chances are probably less than 1%. I know they took it to the Packers in their first meeting, but the Packers have only improved since then. Packers win it easy.

Prediction: Green Bay 40, Minnesota 21

Thanks folks! Hopefully you have a better week than Joe Paterno and Penn State University!

NFL Week 8: The Big Guy’s Week to Shine

Football is a great game. It entertains us every Sunday, whether our team wins or loses (for the most part.)

There are some things during a game that just make you smile. A kickoff return for a TD, a big catch or a big hit – the electrifying & the mesmerizing. But sometimes it’s the small things that are just as great. One of those is the fat guy touchdown; or any football play that involves a big ugly rumbling down the field, following blocks and shedding tackles like Barry Sanders.

(See here for more of the great fat guy TDs in years past.)

Football, we thank you. We thank you for giving us this one, fantastic delight.

This 2011-12 NFL season has been good to those of us that love to see the big guys in action. They rarely get a chance to shine outside of their role as the warriors of the trenches. Most of the time if they end up anywhere past the 2nd level, we ask, “What are they doing there?!” But when they get a chance to dive on a loose ball or to show off their high school running back skills, it makes everyone in the stadium stand up and applaud the effort that these 300 pound monsters give. And you know they savor the moment of appreciation.

At the start of the year, New England’s Vince Wilfork gave us some 2 fantastic highlights full of big, round glory when he turned into a shutdown corner, picking off a Philip Rivers pass in week 2 before picking off another pass vs. the Raiders in week 4. Both times he returned it for a big gain. Head down, protecting the ball, trying to truck whoever got in the big man’s way. No TDs, but it was a beautiful sight; a big, beautiful sight that made the earth tremor.

Pick #1:

Pick # 2:

Then there was Wade Smith scoring the first touchdown by an offensive lineman in Texans history, which created a buzz on social networking sites like Twitter. Facing the Ravens D on the 6 yard line, Texans RB Ben Tate rushed to the 1 before Ravens DB Lardarius Webb knocked the ball from Tate. Tate tried to get to the ball, which had rolled into the endzone, but he was out of reach. An alert Smith, dived on the ball and recovered the fumble, allowing the Texans to score and for the fat guy touchdown spike to happen..

Then week 8 happened. Enter Joe Staley and Clint Session/the Jaguar’s defense.

Everyone loves a nose tackle in at the goal line as a FB, blocking or taking the handoff for a FB run. But nothing quite compares to San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley, hauling in a pass from QB Alex Smith and taking it upfield.

First off, outside of Kyle Turley, how often do you see a big guy/offensive tackle catch a football? (Or have a designated play for the eligible tackle?)

Everything about this play is epic. From the balls to call such a play, to the execution, the perfect route running from Staley, to the reception of the pass, to the turning and rumbling up field, to trying to stick the head down, take on contact and truck a few defenders for a couple of extra yards.

And then there’s the first down celebration! Have you ever seen a guy happier to make a play? Probably not. Staley is like a kid at Christmas time.

No doubt, look for coach Jim Harbaugh to look Staley’s way more often for a big play. 4th down, down by 3, ball on the 40 yard line, 30 seconds left.. Smith drops back, Staley wide open.. boom, plucks the ball out of the air; sprints it in for 6. (And by sprint, I mean drags all 11 defenders into the endzone while the clock hits 0:00.)

If that wasn’t enough excitement for the week, there was the Jags defense stepping up against the Texans.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/auto/09000d5d823991ba/Session-sack-fumble

Late in the 2nd quarter, with the Texans up by 7 and with the ball on their own 45 yard, Texans QB Matt Schaub dropped back to pass. Jaguar’s defender Clint Session sacked Schaub, popping the ball loose and in rumbled DE Matt Roth. Roth then proceeded to do what everyone in the stadium didn’t expect. Like a kid in a schoolyard just playing ball, he played hot potato with his team mates, lateralling the ball to defensive tackle Terrance Knighton who flipped it back to Session who gained another 10 yards before Texans RB Arian Foster got him down at the 10. No TD, but the glorious running of the mound was more than enough to satisfy even the Texans fans.

That one play brought back everything that is great about this game. Just a group of big kids, getting paid to play a game that only most of us would ever dream about. And they’re having fun doing it.

Bonus points to Roth for not having eyes only for the endzone and sharing the turnover with his team mates. Sure, Roth could’ve tried to hog the glory and churned those chubby legs for maybe at best, an extra few more yards but unselfishly, he flipped it back to his other fat friends to see if they could pick up a few extra yards, maybe even 6 on the play. Not quite a TD, which may have resulted in a group of big guys with an even more memorable TD dance, but hey.. it’s week 9 and the season is still young. And if that happens, I’ll add it to the collection and make it worthy of a blog post.

Rumble on you big, beautiful sons of bitches. America and the world salutes you.

Panthers Game Grades & Notes – Week 8

Carolina Panthers (2-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (1-7)

Bank of America Stadium, November 30th 2011.

Overall Offense: B

The Panthers had a solid game plan under offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and managed to score 21 points through the air, however several key penalties and a string of 3 & outs in the 2nd, allowed the Vikings back in the game, rather than keeping Adrian Peterson on the sidelines which would have helped out a shotty defense. The Panthers offense did a good job holding the ball for 28 minutes, had a nice 50% 3rd down efficiency rate and were able to make some big plays at key moments. However, they didn’t quite score enough and made too many mistakes for the grade to be any better than a B.  

Quarterbacks: B

Cam Newton had an outstanding game against a tough Vikings defense. He threw for 290 yards and 3 TDs with no interceptions for a QB rating of 117.6, including a nice pass to Brandon LaFell on 4th down, gaining 44 yards on the play as they drove to tie the game in the 4th quarter. He added 53 yards on 6 carries including a 24 yard scamper in the 3rd quarter. However amongst the good, Newton was sacked 3 times and lost the ball twice on fumbles.

Running Backs: C

Jonathan Stewart & DeAngelo Williams continue to be an efficient duo, capable of either having their own big day out or helping Newton move the chains. On this day, they were merely helping move the chains with Stew gaining 49 yards on 13 carries and DeAngelo rushing for 26 on 7 attempts. Combined, they only managed 3.8 ypc and although they look explosive at times, the offense needs more balance & Double Trouble need more carries. If they can do that, Cam will have less on his shoulders & the Panthers can control the clock and game more. Steve Smith also added a nice end around play for 12 yards, in which he owned Cedric Griffin via a nasty stiff arm.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: B

3 passing TDs from Newton: 2 to TE’s and 1 to Steve Smith. What a day to be a Panthers receiver. Shockey finally got his 1st TD as a Panther vs. the Vikes on a 1 yard pass – his only reception for the day.  Not wanting to have Greg Olsen feel left out, Newton hit Olsen on a streak, straight down the middle for a 39 yard TD catch, totaling 73 yards for the day on 4 receptions. Smith continues to be a threat every time he touches the ball, having another big day with big plays, catching 7 balls for 100 yards, including a nice catch and run 22 yard TD. However despite the good, Legedu Naanee and Smith had key holding calls that would’ve changed the game and apart from LaFell’s 44 yard 4th down catch, the supporting cast of receivers didn’t do much.

Offensive Linemen: D

The offensive line had a forgettable day out. While they kept Newton clean for most of the afternoon, they allowed 3 sacks including 2 key fumbles (that they were unable to recover both times) that allowed the Vikings back in the game. Tackle Jordan Gross, in All-Pro form, was beaten twice on one play by DE Jared Allen. First for the sack, then on the recovery of the ball. The Panthers line also failed to open up holes for the Panthers RB duo of Stewart and Williams, only averaging 3.8 ypc on the ground. Penalties also killed the Panthers, an area that the line and the team in general needs to clean up over the next few weeks.

Overall Defense: D

The Panthers scored a D, because they simply allowed the Vikings to run over them in the 2nd half. Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott had a good plan and in the 1st half, it was executed well, holding RB Adrian Peterson. But through the defenses and offenses fault, the D stayed on teh field too long as the game wore on and holes opened up for the Vikings offense, allowing Peterson and rookie QB Christian Ponder to control the game. Although the Panthers did a good job pressuring Ponder and forcing several mistakes, in the end they couldn’t stop the Vikes offense enough to keep the lead. Signs of improvement are little consolation for this D.

Defensive Linemen: B

The defensive line was one of the bright spots for the D, helping keep Ponder in check and helping to hold Peterson to only 86 yards on the ground, with a 15 yard TD run being the longest allowed. The combination of Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy again gave the Vikes offensive line fits, with Johnson racking up another sack & 2 more QB pressures, along with rookie Terrell McClain. Hardy didn’t have a sack, but knocked the ball down once, almost picking off one of those. The front 4 disrupted Ponder enough into mistakes, and played lights out at times, forcing the Vikings to go 3 & out 7/14 times. Honorable mention to DE Antwan Applewhite, played a solid game and has been playing well for a while.

Linebackers: D

The Vikings had the Panthers linebackers running around all day and although they kept the Vikings offense in check in the 1st half, they eventually grew tired and cracks appeared. LB Omar Gaither had a solid game and had to play more once LB Thomas Williams went down with a neck injury early in the game. Gaither finished with 7 solo tackles and a sack, James Anderson added 7 tackles with 4 solo stops, and Dan Connor only made 2 stops. The group was out of position at times, especially when they were sucked up in blocks on Adrian Peterson’s screen pass TD in the 2nd quarter. The LBs also couldn’t stop Peterson at the goal line, allowing him to rumble in for a 9 yard run, and couldn’t stop Percy Harvin from scoring up the middle in the 1st. Toby Gerhart was also popping off nice runs (26 on 5 carries) until he went out with an injury – a relief for the defense at that point. The LBs (and safeties) had trouble containing Ponder’s safety valves of TE’s Visanthe Shiancoe & Kyle Rudolph who picked up some nice gains that helped the Vikings keep the ball moving. Overall, this group is hurting and more injuries are just wearing on this group and the defense.

Secondary: C

The secondary didn’t have a bad day compared to the linebackers, especially Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn was everywhere, on special teams he was covering kicks like a demon and on D, he helped contain the Ponder passing attack. He had a key strip of Percy Harvin inside the 10, wrestling the ball from Harvin’s grip and showing the tenacity you know coach Ron Rivera loves. He also added a sack on a blitz, jumping Ponder from behind. Safety Sherrod Martin had a game to forget, all over the place and not in a good way. He couldn’t wrap Peterson up at the goal line, allowing him to spin out of the tackle and score. Charles Godfrey had 9 stops and several good ones on RB Peterson. Chris Gamble struggled against Percy Harvin at times, especially in the 4th when he missed a tackle on Harvin that kept the Vikes drive alive to get the game-winning FG.  Overall, the unit held the key guys in Ponder 18/28 for 236 and Harvin to 58 yard on 4 catches, however the Vikes were efficient enough to get enough points to win. The Panthers could’ve done with defensive back Darius Butler, who had to miss the game to be with his daughter, who had open heart surgery. (She’s expected to make a full recovery.)

Overall Special Teams: F

When the game starts out with a 78 yard kickoff return by the Vikings and ends with a missed 31-yard FG attempt by Olindo Mare, the unit is headed for a F – no matter what they do in between. Panthers kick returner Kealoha Pilares fumbled twice, recovering both and didn’t do much else in returning the ball. Armanti Edwards fielded the ball well and picked up minimal yards on punt returns. The kick coverage team forced the ball inside the 10 a couple of times, helping out the D with field position and punter Jason Baker had a solid day, not making any glaring mistakes.

Overall Coaching: C

Coach Ron Rivera has this group in the right direction, no doubt. They’ve been competitive in every game, taken it to some of the better teams in the leagues and for a young group with several key injuries, they’re doing better than a lot of people originally thought. This game was winnable, as were a few earlier in the season. But that’s the mark of a young team. Penalties, errors.. things that good teams eliminate so in that same situation, they win rather than come away with an ‘almost win.’ Against the Vikings, the Panthers had a good gameplan on both sides and were able to execute for the most part. After the 2nd half, the Vikings controlled the game on both sides and without that lull in the 3rd, the Panthers probably would’ve won the game. Small things, finishing drives rather than go 3 & out – are marks of a young team. The D was on the field way too long in the 2nd half (another mark of a young team & a patchwork D) and no doubt the Panthers need some help at LB and possibly another DB, whether late this season or next season. The Panthers are yet to play a complete game, with special teams being the main problem this time around. Overall, hard to criticize the coaches except when Rivera decided to end the 1st half and let the clock run out, rather than try a FG (which in the end, would’ve tied the game & changed the outcome.) Execution is the main problem with this group, and the Panthers have the bye week to work that and any other kinks out before Tennessee in week 10.

Game ball:

Cam Newton: Played an almost mistake free game, was poised in the pocket, used his legs and helped move the chains and put points on the board. Leads from the front, helps Smith get his 100 and drove the team down the field in the final seconds, doing all he could to help get a win.

Stats: 22/35 for 290 yards, 3 TDs, O interceptions, 117.6 QB rating & 6 carries for 53 yards and 2 fumbles.

Goat of the Week: Olindo Mare: It should never come down to one play where the blame is laid upon just one guy, but it’s kind of his job. From 31 yards out, usually it’s a money kick. A chip shot. Almost an extra point attempt. One play is all the Panthers needed him to execute, and he choked – handing the Vikings a win rather than a chance to win in overtime, and dropping the Panthers to 2-6, heading into their bye week.

Stats: 0/1on field goals, 3/3 on extra points, 3 touchbacks.

Next up for Carolina: Bye week.

Sound FX: Ron Rivera and the Panthers:

Rivera loves him some Cam Newton. And when I say love, I mean l-o-v-e. Here

NFL Tips: Week 9

I’m just gonna start this one. Last week I missed on (a lot) Tennessee, Saints, Eagles, Chiefs, Minnesota & Pittsburgh.

New York at Buffalo: The Bills are riding high after their 23 to 0 beating of the Washington Redskins. The Jets are coming off the bye, and this’ll be a very tough first test.

Prediction: Buffalo 17, New York 14

Seattle at Dallas: Both of these teams got pounded on the weekend. Seattle’s loss to Cincinnati didn’t seem too bad, but their offense made the score look worse, by throwing a pick 6 near the end. Dallas got their arse handed to them by the Eagles, after whipping the Rams the previous week. Dallas is clearly the better team in this game, though.

Prediction: Dallas 45, Seattle 14

Atlanta at Indianapolis: I’m not entirely sure why I picked the Colts last week, but God are they bad. I’m starting to think they’re sucking on purpose to win the race for Luck. Atlanta had the bye, but the Colts aren’t much of a threat. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts pull out a Ram-type victory this week, but it’d be just as shocking.

Prediction: Atlanta 31, Colts 10

Miami at Kansas City: OK, I’m a believer in Kansas City, which probably means they’ll lose this week. Miami came REAL close to beating the Giants, before Matt Moore through an interception to seal it on their final drive. Kansas City got lucky with a bad snap, but they capitalized and it won them the game. I’ll tentatively go for the Chiefs.

Prediction: Kansas City 28, Miami 17

Tampa Bay at New Orleans: Well, the upset of the year (so far) occurred last weekend with the Saints getting man-handled by the Rams. With that, I’d be quite shocked if the Saints lost another regular season game along the way. Sorry Bucs, bad timing.

Prediction: New Orleans 48, Tampa Bay 27

San Francisco at Washington: The amazing thing with the Redskins, is that almost everyone (except Redskins fans and myself for 1 game) saw this collapse coming. The Redskins are really screwed, as they have no alternative QB, apart from the already bad Rex Grossman. And definitely don’t have enough O-Linemen to fix that issues, either. San Francisco are, right now, the polar opposites of the Redskins. A very good team who look pretty unstoppable. The Redskins will try, but fail this Sunday.

Prediction: San Francisco 30, Washington 7

Cleveland at Houston: As I said last week, Houston’s the best 4-3 team going around and they have a real easy part of their schedule at the moment. They should be able to sure up their division lead in the next 3 weeks. Cleveland are a mess of a team, though.

Prediction: Houston 21, Cleveland 3

Cincinnati at Tennessee: OK, this game I’m not too sure about. I think Cincinnati’s for real. Their D is #1 in the league and the Dalton to Green connection is all powered up. Tennessee have somehow been winning games without a proper running game. This is pretty impressive. The issue the Titans will likely face, is that the Bengals will be able to stop CJNoGain and make them throw the ball, which won’t be in the Titans favour. I’m tipping Cincy, but I’m not that confident.

Cincinnati 21, Tennessee 17

Denver at Oakland: Denver stinks. The Raiders are coming off their bye, but Denver shouldn’t much of a worry.

Prediction: Oakland 31, Denver 10

New York at New England: Neither team had a good week last week. Sure, the Giants won, but it was barely. At least the Patriots faced a good, non has-been, team. Either way, the Giants crappy performance last week definitely doesn’t bode well for this game. The Patriots will look to rebound big time this week. I think they will.

Prediction: New England 21, New York 15

St. Louis at Arizona: Choices, choices! OK, so I’m going to pick Arizona, but I’m fully expecting the Rams to win. I’m just playing the odds, that’s all. I don’t see how the Rams can’t win after last week, plus getting their starting QB back and now facing a much worse QB in Skelton. Hmmm, actually, I’m gonna pick the Rams!

Prediction: St. Louis 27, Arizona 17

Green Bay at San Diego: San Diego weren’t so super last week, fumbling the game away to the Chiefs. The Packers were on the bye, but probably trained better than most teams played! Can’t go against an undefeated team.

Prediction: Green Bay 28, San Diego 19

And then there were two…Another good pair of matchups!

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: Baltimore were lucky to beat the Cardinals last week, while the Steelers just got past the Patriots. We both know the better win between those two, so I’m going to stick with that and go with the Steelers.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 17, Baltimore 6

Chicago at Philadelphia: I’m not sure why, but I get this feeling that the Eagles will flop this week. Although, as usual, my predictions can be pretty damn bad sometimes, so this wouldn’t surprise me if I was wrong…Again. The Bears are coming off the bye, which makes me feel a lot less confident in my prediction of a Bears win. Regardless, I’ll stick to my guns and go with my shitty prediction.

Prediction: Chicago 20, Philadelphia 14

Have a good week folks!

Lions vs. Broncos: Week 8 Review

*Takes a deep breath* Alright, I feel better now. The world isn’t ending, the Lions are a serious contender and Tim Tebow showed his true, god-awful, self. Winning! Literally…

After two losses of heart-breaking proportions, the Lions finally got their season back on track with a 45-10 victory over the Denver (Tebows) Broncos at Mile-High/Invesco Stadium/Field (I believe one of those is correct). The Lions played a near perfect game, sacking Tebow 7 times, forcing a fumble on 3 occasions and 1 pick 6 on another. Tebow looked awful, going 18 for 39 for 172 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. The only positive for Tebow was his rushing stats, carrying the ball 10 times for 63 yards. Although the Lions didn’t seem to care much about the run, allowing a crazy 195 yards to the Broncos on 30 carries.

The Lions were pegged to be a much better run stopping team this year, but this just hasn’t come to fruition. You know you’re a bad run D team when the opposing QB accounts for one-third of their rushing yards. I guess this hasn’t really bothered the Lions, as they tend to stop it when it matters. In the redzone and at the goal-line. However if the Lions want to truly get somewhere this season, they’ll have to sure it up. I’m not entirely sure how this going to happen, but it’s inevitable for success. Their pass D is going well, in comparison. They finally have CB’s and Safeties who can catch the ball, the first time in a long time. And are also able to tackle sufficiently (We all knew Delmas could tackle, though).

The defense was so good, that they even outscored the Broncos on their own 14-10. Not only did the Lions get a pick 6 from Chris Houston, but they also got a fumble returned for a TD by Cliff Avril, who completed the quad-fector (Sack, force fumble, fumble recovery, TD). The defense was just masterful against the Broncos, other than giving up 10 points (the TD came in garbage time with 2nd stringers out there), they were perfect.

Well, I guess I’ll talk and marvel at the offense now. They, like the defense, were also perfect. Putting up 31 points, including 3 TD passes from Matthew Stafford, 1 TD run from Maurice Morris (there was more jumping than running) and 1 FG, to go along with 6 PAT’s from Jason Hanson.

Firstly, I have to start out with Matt’s first TD pass. It was unbelievable. Words can’t fathom how bad the Broncos were on this play.

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/09000d5d8239b02c/Lions-exploit-blown-coverage

Titus Young would have been in a, minimum, 15 yard circumference of no defenders near him. They weren’t even close! I’ve seen some bad pass defense through the years, but that would definitely come close to the worst I’ve seen (Perhaps I need to see more?).

Stafford on the day, was pretty surgical (slash, slash) going 21 for 30 for 267 yards and the aforementioned 3 TD’s. He even had a nice run of 21 yards, too. Stafford really bounced back in this game after a pretty dismal effort against the Falcons, where he completed less than 50% of his passes. However, including the past two weeks and the Broncos game, Stafford hasn’t thrown an interception in 3 straight games. Which is a nice feat, as he was throwing an average of 1 interception in 4 out of 5 games before that. This would be a very nice streak for Stafford to continue until the end of the season. The Lions rarely turn the ball over, so if Stafford can cut down on the interceptions, their future looks a lot more promising.

Lastly, I want to talk about Special Teams. They finally played well against the Broncos, which was the 1st time in 3 weeks. The Lions did get much from the return units, but the kicking units definitely did their job well. Maybe I should put this into some better context, as the 49ers are 6-1 and the Falcons are 4-3, whereas the Broncos are 2-5, but playing well can only give you more confidence. Confidence seemed to be one of the major ingredients lacking for the Special Teams unit, constantly giving up long returns and never getting anything going for Stefan Logan in the Punt Return or Kick-off return area. But half of that changed, with some good coverage on kick-offs and punts. Hopefully this can be worked on during the bye-week and get both halves going for the week 10 clash against the Chicago Bears.

Just to finish up on the Broncos team. Coming into the game, I knew the Broncos weren’t the best of teams, but I did think they had a bit more talent than this. They’re headed for a top-10 draft pick unless something magical happens and they start winning games. Although a top-10 pick definitely wouldn’t be the worst thing for the Broncos.

The Lions have the bye this week, so they’ll be looking to get some injured guys back and rest up some others. After the bye they have very tough road test against the Chicago Bears. This game is quite worrisome as teams off the bye don’t usually do well, but the Bears are playing some good football at the moment and will be hard to overcome. But we’ll find out where both teams stand come Week 10.

2 Minute Drill: Week 7 in Review:

What a weird and ‘off’ week it was in the NFL in week 7 action. But that’s the NFL for you. Any given Sunday, shit can happen. Or maybe it was simply a case of a lot of players had their attentions elsewhere.. maybe say, on the release of Battlefield 3? I would say the probability of that is 94%. I would also say I’m not qualified to make probability assessments, as my math teacher will tell you.

Story of the week was no doubt the Kansas City D shutting out the Raiders & Tim Tebow coming back vs. Miami after 55 minutes of crappy, un-NFL play.

Time to huddle up, and get this game winning drive going before week 8.

1st and 10 at the 20: What does this Tebow thing mean for the Broncos? No doubt he played well in the final 5 minutes, but it also leaves more questions than answers. He and the offense sucked for 55 minutes before getting lucky thanks to a variety of factors – the Dolphins D, great playcalling, and of course, luck. Not taking anything away from him, but he was hardly the hero people are making him out to be; any person who watches football would recognize that. You play hard for 60 minutes and things go your way.

How about those Chiefs? Or should I say, how about Carson Palmer & Kyle Boller, showing how not to play QB. Sheeesh. What a fail. But give credit where credit is due. The Chiefs have turned their season around. Initially, they were headed for a top 5 draft pick next April. Now, if they win on Monday Night Football vs. the Chargers, they’ll be tied for the lead in the AFC West. Their D shut the Raiders out last week and they haven’t allowed a point since the second quarter against Indy in Week 5. Pretty good for a team with this guy as coach..

Catch along the sidelines, out of bounds, 20 yard gain. Arian Foster is carrying the Texans. The kid is insane. No doubt, fantasy players will be picking him #1 or #2 in fantasy league next season. 100 yards on the ground and 100 receiving yards? Wow. This isn’t college, that’s not supposed to happen. But it did vs. the Titans as they killed them 41-7. Meanwhile, on the opposite sideline last week, CJ only rushed 10 times for 18 yards. He’s at 2.9 ypc this season, looks bad and despite his Oline, just isn’t playing good right now. But at least he got paid, right?! Right now, CJ2K is a prime candidate for our “Check the Carton Award” for ’11.

2nd down, 1 minute left, ball at the 50 yard line. How ’bout those Lions? First Shake Gate, now Ankle Gate. What is going on? Surely a gate salesman must be making a killing off the Lions weekly headline-stealing ways. 2 home losses, maybe the road will provide some redemption this week as they travel to the gateless Colorado wilderness to take on Tebow.

Think the Bucs are the NFL’s favourite team to embarrass on an international stage? The whipping boy, if you will. The Bucs are 0-2 across the pond. There was 35-7 slapping that the Pats gave them back in 2009 and then in week 7, they got bent over and given a reach around by Cutler and Bears. Think Raheem Morris & QB Josh Freeman are looking forward to never seeing Big Ben and Wembley ever again? It would probably serve them well to either avoid the trip altogether or learn how to win consistently like the Packers do.

Speaking of the Packers, no doubt they’re the best team in the NFL. Undefeated since about week 16 of last season, they’re on a roll like a fat kid rollerblading down a hill in San Francisco. Aaron Rodgers is well on his way to Peyton status, putting up impressive numbers and even cornier commercials. Watch your back Peyton.. oh wait, you can’t turn around because of the neck thing.. that’s right. My bad.

1st down, ball on the 40, 50 seconds left. Vikings rookie QB Christian Ponder looked more like a seasoned vet in his first start vs. the Packers last week, and faces another test vs. the Panthers stingy pass defense & fellow rookie QB Cam Newton.  He was one of 6 different QBs starting last week, and was one of the more impressive ones of the pack. His numbers don’t tell the full story (13/32 for 219 yards, 2 TDs & 2 picks) but it’ll only be a matter of time before he has the city of Minnesota fully behind him, much like the rookie QB on the opposite sidelines this week in Newton.

So that was a painful showing on MNF, for the players, coaches and everyone watching. Lists were being created about “Better things to do than watch MNF” and in the end, it was Del Rio’s men who outlasted the Ravens. The Jags won on the back of Josh Scobee’s leg and some good D that forced Joe Flacco to struggle. Although, it wasn’t just him putting the ball on the ground. Maurice Jones-Drew dropped and fumbled the ball more times than he had yards and Flacco couldn’t get a 1st down until the 2nd half. If Flacco doesn’t turn it around, he’s a real candidate for the “313 Check the Carton Award for 2011.”

With the Pro Bowl voting underway, the game and selection process is as irrelevant to actual play of players during the season as ever. Years ago, you knew if a guy went to 7 Pro Bowls, he was good. Now, an overrated lineman and household name RB like Chris Johnson will get selected, even though they don’t deserve to, snubbing a more worthy & deserving candidate. Early candidates for the popularity contest include Steve Smith, Wes Welker, Drew Brees, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Calvin Johnson, Matt Forte, Arian Foster and that’s not even getting into the defensive players. But guessing who goes right now is as silly as the voting process itself where voting should be done at seasons end.

3rd down, ball on the 30, 30 seconds. Think Curtis Painter is making Bill Polian and Jim Isray’s job easier about firing Jim Caldwell. Or maybe Isray should fire Polian for such shitty GM work. Just goes to show that building around 1 player all these years, never quite works out well in the end. No doubt the Colts have good players, but without their QB to operate the machine, the machine and system have fallen apart. When the Saints can hang 63 points on a NFL-caliber team like the Colts, is it saying more about the Saints ability to score or is it saying more about the Colts problems?

The Chargers screwed a W against the Jets with Plaxiglass nabbing 3 TDs, the Panthers could get on a 3 game winning streak, the Bills head to Toronto this week for more fun, Big Ben is ballin’ with a worn down Steelers team and..

TOUCHDOWN. Now onto our weekly awards.

313 Week 7 Awards:

So another week is again done & dusted as we hit the halfway point of the 2011-12 season. Before we jump onto week 8, here’s a quick recap on week 7 NFL action. What we liked, and what we didn’t like so much. (This is a quickened version of what will hopefully come a weekly roundup, earlier during the week.)

Offensive Player of the Week:

DeMarco Murray, RB – Dallas Cowboys

Anytime a guy can just come off the bench, put his helmet on the right way and then proceed to scamper for a franchise-best 253 yards, breaking Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith’s team record.. it’s a pretty good day and definitely award-worthy. Murray did just that in week 7 vs. the Rams, with a 91 yard TD run on his first carry of the game. Blame the Rams, credit the Cowboys and Murray.. whatever way you look at it, spin it or dissect it; it’s an impressive outing. Congrats DeMarco.

Defensive Player of the Week:

Brandon Flowers/Kansas City Chiefs D

You could argue that it’s all about individual performances that should go here but I have the blog so nah nah eat my shorts. The Chiefs D shutout the Raiders, a divisional foe and intercepted the Raiders 6 times on the day, harassing the Raiders offense with new QB Carson Palmer AT the Black Hole. Hard to do at home, at all let alone on the road in a hostile environment. But they did, and Flowers ended up with 2 picks (1 for a pick 6) on the day, shutting down the Raiders vertical passing game and adding 3 tackles on the day. An honourable mention to Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson, for his 13 tackle effort in helping the Chiefs shutout the Raiders. A couple of huge plays lead by Johnson in the 2nd quarters, thwarted the Raiders only real chance to score. A fantastic group effort.

Special Teams Player of the Week:

Red Bryant, DE – Seattle Seahawks.

Big Red gets the award this week, after showing up big time on Sunday in a loss to Cleveland. Look like his big offseason finally paid off. Blocked field goals are a rarity in the NFL, so when it happens twice some recognition needs to be shown to the big guy who got it done for his team (as much as possible without playing RB.) Bryant blocked a 24 yard chip shot and a 48 yarder, as well as adding 4 tackles, a half sack on D as well as an ejection for getting into it with Browns TE Alex Smith. Quite the eventful outing for what Hawks fans have dubbed a recent draft “bust.”

Coach of the Week:

Gary Kubiak, Houston Texans.

You could put Ron Rivera here, you could put Todd Haley here or even Jack Del Rio for his team’s gritty win on Monday Night Football, whilst being on the hot seat and most likely, the chopping block. But it was Kubiak against the Titans who enjoyed a nice offensive outing on the back of Arian Foster. A 41-7 win over the division rival Titans and the Texans look set to enjoy a playoff berth and maybe some postseason success, with the Colts, Jaguars and Titans falling behind the times in the AFC South and the Texans reaping the benefits.

Rookie of the Week:

Cam Newton, QB – Carolina Panthers

Once again, I could put a few young guys here. There are a few rookies deserving, Von Miller in Denver, Murray in Dallas and Ponder in Minnesota making his debut. But this week, it was again Cam Newton who lead the Panthers to  their 2nd victory over the Redskins, earning himself this award and the Panthers game ball. While statistically he wasn’t eye-popping, he still managed to throw for 256 yards for a TD, completing 78.3% but also (and this is a big also) rushing for 59 yards and 1 TD. On one of those rushes, he managed to avoid the entire Redskins defense after being flushed out of the pocket, and turn it into a gain of 25 yards before stepping out of bounds. With his feet doing the talking, he managed to still ignite Steve Smith and help the Panthers put up 33 points on the day.

Headline of the Week:

‘Blame Sparano for Tebowmania.’

 Quote of the Week:

“Glad to report my genitalia are in stable condition and expected to make a full recovery!”

– Packers lineman TJ Lang, tweeting after the game. Lang was stomped in the groin area by Vikings defensive end Brian Robson during an altercation.

Not-So-Great-Play of the Week:

Curtis Painter, QB, Colts.

Painter will probably be blamed for a lot of things.. the firing of Caldwell, the extended period of time that Peyton is out for, World War 3, Tim Tebow, Jersey Shore, constant world hunger and Fergie. But one thing he does deserve, is a down right slap upside the head for this play:

http://www.nfl.com/videos/auto/09000d5d8236989f/Painter-fumbles-snap

HE TOOK A SNAP TO THE FACE. TO. THE. FACE.

At least if you’re going to fumble the ball, make it worth while. Do what David Carr used to do.. run around in your own endzone for a while before going into turtle mode or do what Romo does when he fumbles.. tries to run with it before blaming the rookie centre. Come on Curtis, you’re better than that. You’re making Peyton upset and when Peyton gets upset, he makes more commercials. Noooo!

Surprising Team of the Week:

Jaguars defeating Baltimore on Monday Night Football

Disappointing Team of the Week:

The Lions Losing to the Falcons. I really, really, really don’t like Atlanta.

Bust of the Week:

Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

And so that’s it for another week of awards and accolades. Now it’s onto week 8 of NFL action. Good luck to all your teams this week! Until next time, keep it crispy.

 

Lions vs. Broncos: Week 8 Preview

After dropping another game last weekend, the Lions head to Denver to take on Tim Tebow and 53 other unknown players. They’re unknown, because no one in Denver knows any words other than “Tim” and “Tebow”, and sometimes it’s only one of them. All joking aside, it is pretty ridiculous how much press a horrible thrower with no accuracy can receive, on a team that’s 2-4.

The Broncos are coming off a win over the 0-6 Miami Dolphins, by 3 points 18-15. Of course, to any NORMAL NFL fan they look, shrug and move onto something more interesting/less shocking, but not the US media, oh no. They have to cover this story for 12 hours of each day, every day, because beating a winless team is definitely deserving of the #1 story of every sports show.

If the Broncos have any real shot to win this game, it’ll probably come down to the crowd. Denver loves Tim Tebow, because they believe he’s their future, despite all his flaws in the passing game. They could definitely get the Lions off-guard, though playing with fake noise in the Metrodome in Minnesota definitely will help them if the Broncos’ crowd is as loud as I believe it will be.

The Lions biggest worry in this game is the health of Matthew Stafford. He’s practiced all week, but his ankle could still become a problem during the game. If this does happen, then the Lions will lose a lot of firepower with Shaun Hill taking over. And with Jahvid Best missing another week because of his concussion, it’ll be harder for the Lions to throw the ball, but not terribly hard overall.

The Broncos have been a horrible pass defending team this season, with Champ Bailey being their only good Defensive Back and I’d be surprised if the Lions run it more than a total of 15 times, with a committee of Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams splitting the carries. The Lions should be looking to throw early and often, as they’ve done for the vast majority of this season. A very interesting match-up to watch will be Calvin Johnson against Champ Bailey. Bailey’s a very good CB, still, but Calvin will definitely be his toughest test to date and will likely be targeted often to test Bailey out early.

The match-up I’m most excited about, is Tim Tebow against the Detroit Lions Defensive Backs. The Lions have picked off 10 passes so far this season and Tebow is a mouth-watering opponent, with his complete inaccuracy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he throws 3 interceptions in the game, 1 being taken back to the endzone.

If the Lions D-Line can be a disruptive force from the outset, then the Lions should hold the Broncos to under 14 points. Even though Tebow’s biggest threat is his running ability, the Lions D-Line are pretty damn quick and should be able to cut him down before he gets too far passed the line of scrimmage.

Once the final whistle blows, I think the Lions will have won the game comfortably, but I’m definitely not eliminating all doubt, based on the past two weeks.

Prediction: Lions 35, Broncos 10