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10 Fantasy Football Comeback Players For 2015

August 18, 2015 By: Category: Fantasy Football, lists, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Fantasy football is back and so are the dozens of players you drafted last season that disappointed you. Like you, several fantasy studs will be looking to bounce back in 2015 and it is time to put these guys on your draft day radar.

The wonderful thing about fantasy football is that like many NFL players, you get the chance to rebound and turn things around in under a year. So injuries and situations resulted in several bust picks in your draft. Some of those busts will be permanent while several others are poised to be undervalued in the 2015 draft.

Last year’s busts could be this year’s sleepers! It’s not just those first and second rounders that win you titles, it is having the knack with some luck to grab a good sleeper. Here are ten that have the potential to make some big comebacks next year.

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings – My number one comeback player of the season. I had a conversation with a friend recently and he asked me who would be the top player in fantasy this season. Without hesitation I said Adrian Peterson. I love him for a couple of reasons. One, he had an entire season off to rest his body. At his age with his wear and tear that is absolutely huge! Two, he hasn’t played with an offense like this in a long time. He has a couple of playmaking receivers, a playmaking QB, a playmaking TE, and a coach and coordinator that know how to get RBs involved in the offense. Look at what Matt Asiata did in this system last year. This guy is going to be a beast period!

Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings – Wallace is coming into Minnesota with a chip on his shoulder. Every interview I have read from Wallace indicates a guy who knows he is better than what he did in Miami. I agree. The biggest difference from the last few seasons is that teams can’t focus on Wallace. Wallace will be lined up with arguably the best running back in the NFL and teams will have to pick their poison. Wallace also has a QB who is a playmaker and can buy time allowing for Wallace to go deep. Throw in Norv Turner and you have a recipe for a huge bounce back season.

Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers – Keenan broke my heart last season. I drafted him high, he stunk up the first half of the season, I traded him, and then he had a few break out games. Reports from San Diego indicate that he is having a real great camp. Even better, he won’t have Eddie Royal (and Antonio Gates for a few weeks) to steal touchdowns away from him. I like him a lot in a bounce back season.

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers –
Davis has been a source of frustration for the last few seasons. After coming out of the gate red hot last season, David immediately quieted down and remained quiet the rest of the season. Reports out of camp are that tight ends coach Tony Sparano loves Davis and the feeling is mutual. New coach, new system, and a lot of trust from his QB leads me to believe that Davis will find his way back inside of the top 10 of TEs.

Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – I did not fall for the Doug Martin hype after a strong preseason showing last season and with good reason. This season is different. I am buying it. Lovie Smith has been talking up Martin all training camp and reports out of Tampa indicate he is lighting it up in training camp. Martin will benefit from being a part of one of the sneakiest offenses this season. With Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, and Jamies Winston on the field, teams won’t be able to stack the box against Martin. The offensive line is also much better and while the Bucs aren’t going to be the Saints, I do see teams sleeping on them, especially early in the season. I certainly wouldn’t gamble on Martin with your first RB pick, but as an RB 2 I think he will have a solid season.

Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles – Call it the homer in me but I am super pumped about Bradford coming to the Eagles. The Eagles have arguably the best QB in franchise history at the helms this season with an offensive mastermind pulling the strings. The biggest issue with Bradford is health. He’s got weapons, a great offensive line, an innovative offensive, and the best fantasy RB from 2015 surrounding him this year. I love him and so should you.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Here we go again. I have never been a Vincent Jackson so count me out of the list of the same fantasy bloggers who predict bounce back seasons for him. This year is different. He has what appears to be the best QB he has played with in Tampa Bay. One report that caught my eye was one from Pro Football Focus that reported only 56% of Jackson’s targets were catchable. Even Jerry Rice couldn’t produce under those circumstances. The Bucs are openly talking about getting Jackson more involved and history shows that O.C. Dirk Koetter knows how to get wide receivers involved. I don’t think he’s a top 10 receiver but I do see him falling back in the top 15 by the end of the season.

Shane Vereen, New York Giants – I don’t know if I’d call Vereen a comeback player since he wasn’t put in anyone’s top 10 but he only finished the season with 1 TD for the Patriots. I like him a lot in the Giants offense. With ODB and Victor Cruz at receiver, Vereen should be able to capitalize on one-on-one coverage. I think he will wind up as the #1 back in New York due to his pass catching abilities which makes him a real sneaky sleeper this season, especially for PPR leagues.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens – I have two words for you, Marc Tressman. Tressman is an offensive genius and a guy that is tailor-made to bring the best out of Flacco. The addition of Breshad Perriman gives Flacco one of the most underrated receiver corps in the league. Flacco finished with respectable numbers last season. He’ll put up more than respectable numbers this season, he will be top 10 and a guy you can count on as a late QB in your draft.

Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions – Calvin broke your heart again last year if you took him in the first round, which is where he went in many drafts. After a disappointing season, Johnson will likely fall to the third round where you need to grab him (or late second). He is being ranked by many experts out of the top five receivers which are a good thing if you want some value. The Lions could have a real threat at RB this year in rookie Ameer Abdullah. If Johnson can stay healthy for the season which is always the biggest gamble, he will be a beast.

Bonus: Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals – There are reports today that the Arizona Cardinals have signed the former fantasy stud to a one-year deal. This is big news and while many predicted a comeback year last season for Johnson, I wasn’t one of them. I feel different this year. This is the first season in Johnson’s career that he will be playing with an elite QB. That means that teams cannot stuff the box against Johnson like they have in most seasons. He is also playing behind one of the better lines in the league this year. I like Johnson a ton this year if he can remain healthy.

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A Final Word on NFL Deflategate

July 30, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

I have some great news for you NFL fans. NFL training camps are starting to get underway. The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings have already gotten started, as they’re playing against each other in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game on August 9, 2015. Many other teams are starting to open up camps in preparation for the upcoming 2015-16 season. I’m very excited about the upcoming season, as I am sure my readers are as well.

The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots have opened camp on July 23, 2015 for the rookies, and today, July 29, 2015, for the veterans. Well, unless you have been living under a rock, as you already know, the Patriots enter camp with a huge uncertainty at the QB position, thanks to a six month long saga called “Deflategate.” The Patriots were accused of tampering with footballs in the 2014-15 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots were fined $1,000,000 and lost 2 draft picks. QB Tom Brady was suspended 4 games for “being generally aware” that Equipment Manager James McNally and John Jamstremski were deflating the footballs and for not cooperating with Investigator Ted Wells. Yesterday, on July 28th, 35 days after hearing Brady’s appeal, Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the suspension.

As I am sure many of my readers are worn out from this story, I am as well. In this blog, I will discuss my opinion on Goodell’s decision, and the NFL’s investigation of the whole thing. I will comment on the reaction from Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Bob Kraft. Outside of a possible mention of the results of the court’s outcome, this will be my final word on this controversy.

The NFL’s Investigation and Goodell’s Decision

It has been my belief that this “investigation” was messed up from when the starting gates opened, so to speak. Instead of pulling a poor man’s sting operation, the NFL should have just announced that the Patriots were fined $25,000 for tampering with the footballs. The NFL also could have followed up with saying that they will be announcing new rules to make sure that violations don’t happen in the future. Instead of that, they chose to make a mountain of a molehill and tarnish the reputation of the greatest QB ever in the process. I have felt this way since day one, and the decision by Roger Goodell has not changed my mind.

This so-called “scandal” was created because the New England Patriots are an easy target. In the mind of the general public, thanks to the “experts” at the alphabet network, ESPN, the Patriots win too much and are unfairly seen as “cheaters.” Besides, Roger Goodell knew he screwed up, in the minds of the general public, the Ray Rice case, so this is a way to get himself back in the good graces of the general public. Does anyone really think that had the accusations been against the Denver Broncos, or the Pittsburgh Steelers, there would have been this huge investigation?

As for Goodell’s decision to uphold Brady’s suspension, I wasn’t expecting anything else. He wasn’t “open” or ” fair.” About Tom Brady “destroying” his phone, that’s a red herring. People need to remember that the NFL is driving the message home. The NFL is controlling the message. The NFL LEAKED the FALSE STORY that ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported back in January that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were 2 pounds under the legal limit. No one in the NFL corrected the story. Does ANYONE really think any of this is FAIR?

I read Goodell’s 20-page report, and outside of the phone non-story, he basically gave a summary of the Wells Report. Once again, in an attempt to dot every “i” and cross every “t” Goodell addressed every objection raised, such as the Chargers, Vikings and Carolina Panthers messing with the footballs. The problem with that was that the NFL didn’t care about those teams. In the notes, Goodell writes that Brady offered to help retrieve the lost texts, but Goodell declined, saying it would be too much work. ( Brady offered to help NFL gather missing text messages
http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/28/brady-offered-to-help-nfl-gather-missing-text-messages/) So, the NFL can’t get a bunch of law school students to look up numbers?

Goodell’s comparing Brady’s violation to PED use is absurd. It also didn’t explain how the Indianapolis Colts, playing with their own footballs only scored 7 points. It doesn’t explain why Brady’s stats increased in the second half of the AFC Championship game with properly inflated balls. Again, Goodell brushed aside all scientific objections, to the almighty Wells Report, including the AEI study. In speaking of the phone, which is a red herring to get headlines, I must remind readers that the NFL does NOT have subpoena powers. The NFL had no right to his phone, besides the NFL already HAD the information from the phones from the two locker room guys, James McNally, and John Jamstremski. As bad as it may look, Brady has a right to dispose of his phone.

As I previously mentioned, Brady offered to help retrieve the lost texts, but the NFL refused. Besides, there’s a logic gap. If this so-called “new information” was so outrageous and “troubling,” why didn’t Goodell increase the suspension? If what Brady allegedly did with his phone was so “detrimental to the League,” why wasn’t the punishment increased? Come now, Commissioner. I think Goodell was clutching at straws. This whole thing was about Goodell re-establishing his power over the players, so he picked Brady to show he could take down a star.

Patriots Owner Robert Kraft

As you know, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was reportedly, and understandably irate, when in early May, the NFL levied the largest fine in NFL history on his team for the Deflategate scandal. The Patriots also lost their 2016 first round draft pick and their 2017 fourth round draft pick. Jamstremski and McNally were let go by orders of the NFL. There were stories going around stating that the Patriots owner would challenge the ruling. As several owners, such as Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and Steelers owner Dan Rooney, sided with the NFL, and Kraft didn’t want to drag the controversy out any further, Robert Kraft took one for Team Owners, and accepted the penalties “with great reluctance” at the Owners’ Meeting in late May.

Many Patriots fans were not happy with Kraft’s decision, and it appears they may have had a reason not to be. Robert Kraft made a statement before the press on July 29, 2015, expressing his disappointment with Goodell’s upholding Brady’s suspension. (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/robert-kraft-tees-off-on/ ) He also stated that he regretted capitulating to the NFL, as far as the penalties. He thought that if he did, Tom Brady’s suspension would be reduced. Kraft said that he couldn’t understand why the league wants to target Brady and Brady’s reputation.

As an NFL observer, it was evident, back in May that Robert Kraft was trying to send some sort of message that if he took the penalties, Goodell would reduce or wipe out the Brady suspension. I was quite skeptical. It goes back to that Wells Report. Goodell hangs onto that report like the Peanuts character Linus hangs onto that blanket. I didn’t think Goodell was going to reduce that suspension, no matter what Kraft did. There’s the alleged influence of a “small minority of owners” that gave me pause.

Looking back on now, Robert Kraft definitely made the wrong move. The penalties the team received are really excessive. I know that some will point to the so-called ” noncooperation” part of the punishment. I think that the Patriots were being punished for Spygate (again), and also for not cooperating as much as the NFL WANTED the Patriots to cooperate. I should remind my readers that the Patriots organization was EXONERATED in the Wells Report, so that’s another reason why Kraft should have challenged the penalties, and why I feel they’re excessive. As for Kraft’s current comments, I have never seen an owner tell his/her commissioner to “stick it where the sun don’t shine” like Kraft did.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had the opening day of the training camp press conference right after owner Bob Kraft spoke. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/bill-belichick-on-brady-suspension-its-already-been-addressed/) In usual Belichickian fashion, he gave few answers. Trying to get information from Belichick is like trying to get blood from a stone. However, as you know, Belichick was also EXONERATED in the Wells Report. I will say that in his January press conferences, he did come across as believable. He had his statement and thoughts well prepared. Of course, he didn’t go into any of that, deferring the matter to Bob Kraft’s previous comments.

As for what lies ahead for Belichick, this will be a huge challenge. He has to split reps between Tom Brady and presumed Week One starter Jimmy Garoppolo. The team has to see whether or not Brady can get the injunction, so he can play while appealing. Belichick has to be prepared for the possibility of losing Brady in the middle of the season if the Courts don’t rule in Brady’s favor. They’re in the AFC East, and even though the division appears to have gotten better, and the detractors are giving away the AFC to other teams, I think Belichick will have this figured out.

Patriots QB Tom Brady

After months of silence, Tom Brady made a statement on his Facebook page. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/07/29/tom-brady-im-very-disappointed-i-did-nothing-wrong/ )He basically said that neither he nor the Patriots did anything wrong. He also defended how he disposed of his phone. Brady also said that no offer was made by the NFL. He also said that he was fighting for other players and for his right as a private citizen.

Here’s how I feel about Tom Brady concerning this whole scandal. Was he totally perfect? No. However, I certainly don’t think he’s the evil villain that the NFL and ESPN, the mouthpieces for the NFL, have portrayed Brady to be either. I go back to why he was a target in the first place. He not only wins too much, but people have this wrong perception that his team cheats. In their ridiculous logic, “if the Patriots are cheaters, then Tom Brady has to be one.” He’s also married to a Brazilian Super Model and is handsome. People get the wrong idea that he never worked for it. Success breeds contempt.

As for Brady and his role in this “scandal,” I think he should have handled that January press conference better. He should have done what Belichick did. He should have come out with a prepared statement. Many of those questions were the type to put the man on the defense. Did disposing of his phone on the day he was to be questioned by Ted Well look bad? Yes. However, as I said, the NFL had no right to his, or any other player’s phone, for that matter.

Do I think Brady’s legacy as one of the greatest of all time is tainted? No. Maybe it takes an initial hit by the holier-than-thou folks, but in the long run, he’s going to be fine. He will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. I do hope that this blip on his record won’t cost him First Ballot status.

This has been the most bizarre scandal since the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding saga. I have come to the conclusion that this was a case of sour grapes brought on by the Indianapolis Colts because they were tired of the Patriots kicking their butts the last few times the two teams met. The NFL saw a way to get Goodell, who was reeling over the backlash concerning the bungling of the Ray Rice case, back in the good graces of the general public.

Therefore, the NFL decides to start a nonsensical investigation, and for over 5 months, use ESPN to spread lies and innuendo about a team that people already hate and a QB of whom people are jealous. During this time, the NFL whips the general public into a frenzy and then drops a report that’s worth the toilet paper I use. The League gives out very harsh punishments based upon said Report, and in a Kangaroo court, upholds Brady’s suspension. The ruling portrays Brady as a slimeball, and leaves him with the same amount of games as Dallas Cowboys DE Greg Hardy, who committed domestic violence, four. The NFL had the gall to go to court first.

I am glad to see that the NFL has its priorities straight. They got the Big Bad Brady. Perhaps they will concentrate on the minor issues, like domestic violence, or child abuse, or HGH use among NFL players. What about that annoying little issue of CONCUSSIONS, Mr. Goodell? I forgot. You took down Tom Brady. That’s the most important thing in your whole career. Got it.

That’s my final piece on this saga. Brady and the NFLPA are in court, so I am done. I am ready for some actual football. I hope you enjoyed this blog. Feedback is welcome.

Baltimore Ravens Looking Solid in the 2015-16 Season

July 14, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

The Baltimore Ravens were good last year, but not good enough. Despite a big playoff win on the road in Pittsburgh, the Ravens season ended at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. This year, though, the Ravens look a little better than the Pats do. In fact, the Ravens may have the best squad in the AFC.

That’s thanks in a large part to a core group of players that aren’t going anywhere, including quarterback Joe Flacco (who is still enjoying his Super Bowl XLVII payday). The recently re-signed Justin Forsett leads a solid corps of running backs, and the defense remains a top-ten squad – which could be enough to get the job done.

Losses in the offseason

The Ravens traded DT Haloti Ngata to Detroit and OL Gino Gradkowski to Denver, both for picks. They lost WR Torrey Smith, OLB Pernell McPhee, TE Owen Daniels, S Darian Stewart, LS Kevin McDermott, and QB Tyrod Taylor to free agency. They also cut RB Bernard Pierce, WR/KR Jacoby Jones, LB Ryan Jones, and NT Terrence Cody.

Despite all the losses, the team remains in pretty good shape. The Ravens saw Justin Forsett emerge as a legitimate starter last year, so they won’t regret cutting ties with Pierce. Plus, the Ravens already proved that they could live without Ngata when Timmy Jernigan stepped up during Ngata’s PED suspension last year.

One spot to watch is tight end. With Daniels gone, the Ravens have a bit of a gap there. The wide receiver situation isn’t ideal, either, but the Ravens’ strong draft will help them overcome the issues. All in all, the Ravens are a remarkably complete team considering the number of players they’ve lost this offseason.

Rookies

The Ravens did extremely well in this year’s draft, snagging three great players (Florida WR Breshad Perriman, Minnesota TE Maxx Williams, and Iowa DT Carl Davis) with their first three picks. All three of these players could make an impact right out of the gate. Williams and Perriman, in particular, will be players to watch. If they perform as expected, they’ll fill two of the biggest holes in the Ravens offense.

The Ravens also drafted Kentucky DE Za’Darius Smith, USC RB Javorius Allen, Texas Southern CB Tray Walker, Delaware TE Nick Boyle, Tennessee State OG Robert Myers, and Georgia Tech WR Darren Waller.

The Ravens un-drafted free agent signings were:

OLB Darius Allen (Colorado State – Pueblo)

OL Darryl Baldwin (Ohio State)

DE/OLB Brennen Beyer (Michigan)

WR DeAndre Carter (Sacramento State)

T Blaine Clausell (Mississippi State)

LB Trey DePriest (Alabama)

C Nick Easton (Harvard)

OL Kaleb Johnson (Rutgers)

QB Jerry Lovelock (Prairie View A&M)

RB Terrence Magee (LSU)

P/K Justin Manton (Louisiana-Monroe)

OLB Cory Morrissey (Iowa State)

S Nick Perry (Alabama)

OL De’Ondre Wesley (BYU)

CB Julian Wilson (Oklahoma)

WR Cam Worthy (East Carolina)

Free agents

The Ravens didn’t poach any superstars from other teams this year, but they did make some free agent signings. They inked QB Matt Schaub, CB Kyle Arrington and S Kendrick Lewis. Arrington should be a solid addition to the Ravens’ secondary.

The players the Ravens managed to keep were more important than those they gained. They’ve managed to re-sign RB Justin Forsett, which was key. They also re-signed K Justin Tucker, OG Jah Reid, DE Lawrence Guy, DT Chris Canty, DE Christo Bilukidi, S Will Hill, S Anthony Levine, and LS Morgan Cox.

Season outlook

The Ravens look to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Unfortunately, a couple of other contenders are sitting right in the same division. The Ravens remain the favorite to win the AFC North, but don’t be surprised if the Steelers or even the Bengals manage to steal it away (you’re allowed to be surprised if the Browns do).

Once out of the division, though, the Ravens have to feel good about their Super Bowl hopes. The Patriots and Broncos just aren’t the same teams that made their respective Super appearances, and the Steelers and Colts, while good, don’t quite have the roster that Baltimore does. Nothing guarantees a Super Bowl appearance (or even a playoff spot), but the Ravens have to like their chances at least as much as any team in the AFC right now.

Tom Brady Should Be Exonerated By The NFL

June 23, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

On Tuesday, June 23rd, at 9:30AM, and if necessary, continuing on Thursday, June 25th, New England Patriots 4 time winning Super Bowl Champion QB Tom Brady meets with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for an appeal hearing of Brady 4 game suspension for his alleged involvement in the scandal known as “Deflategate.”  Tom Brady will be represented by his agent, Don Yee. NFLPA President  DeMaurice Smith will be aiding Brady, as will attorney Jeffrey Kessler.  Hearing the appeal will be Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has refused the Player’s Union’s request to step aside from hearing the case. Goodell  will be joined by Troy Vincent, Executive VP of Football Operations, and other NFL officials. The appeal will be heard at the Park Avenue office in New York City.

As many of you already know, the polarizing and emotionally charged scandal called “Deflategate” happened  when prior to the January, 2015 AFC Championship Game between the Indianapolis Colts and the New England Patriots, the Colts complained to the league that the Patriots were allegedly using under inflated footballs.  An intercepted football by one of the Colts players set this whole thing in motion, even though Colts GM Ryan was complaining before, during, and after the game. The Colts were checking the intercepted ball on the sidelines, which is against the rules, and all heck broke loose.  The scandal hit the morning papers and the Internet, and everyone knows the rest of  story.

According to the controversial Wells report, named for Ted Wells, who was hired by the NFL to investigate “Deflategate,” Patriots employees were found to be responsible for purposely tampering with the footballs. The Wells Report said that Jim McNally and John Jamstremski purposely under inflated footballs below the allowable minimal limit of 12.5 psi ( pounds per square inch.) . The Wells report also claimed that Patriots QB Tom Brady was “generally aware,” of the two men’s activities, and it was “more likely than not” that the footballs were tampered with, and Brady was in on it.  The Wells Report exonerated the Patriots Organization and Coach Bill Belichick.

The punishments were the following :  the Patriots were fined $1,000,000, and lost a 2016 1st round pick and a 2017 4th round pick.  Jim McNally and John Jamstremski were suspended indefinitely, per League orders.  QB Tom Brady was suspended for 4 games for his alleged involvement, and for allegedly not “cooperating.”  To put these harsh punishments in perspective, in 2012, the San Diego Chargers were penalized $25,000 for wiping their footballs with a sticky substance on the towels. The fine was rescinded. No suspension for Chargers QB Philip Rivers.

In 2014, Minnesota  Vikings and Carolina Panthers got warnings from the NFL for warming up the balls on the sidelines. Neither QB was suspended either. Why the NFL didn’t just fine the Patriots the minimum fine for “football tampering,” which is  $25,000, and announce that football handling procedures will be improved, I don’t know.  This was a simple equipment violation. It wasn’t made into a big deal for the other teams mentioned.  The Patriots were targeted because the NFL wanted to reassert their authorized after the Ray Rice, and the Bountygate debacles.

Tom Brady is obviously appealing his suspension.  In his appeal letter, in part, he said that he wants to be exonerated, and the suspension should be wiped out. I agree with him. Tom Brady got railroaded. In this blog, I will be making my case for Tom Brady’s exoneration.  I  will be analyzing the arguments that I have heard in support of his suspension, and give my counter-argument.

Pro Suspension Argument #1:

Brady should take the suspension like the Patriots did, and no one is above the rules.

Counter-argument:  According to the NFL Owners By-Laws, no NFL Owner is allowed to sue the NFL. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft would have been blackballed, if he tried to pull off a lawsuit. Fans also have to realize that business is business. As for why Brady doesn’t take his punishment, he is in a UNION, and Mr. Kraft is not. Player Union members are allowed to appeal their cases, and there are no unions for Owners or head coaches. As a union member, Tom Brady has a right to appeal a suspension. There’s a perception from the Tom Brady haters that Brady has no rights.  Former Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice  (Domestic Violence) , Adrian Peterson ( Child Abuse ) , and Greg Hardy (Domestic Violence )had rights to appeal their suspensions.

No one said that Brady or any player is above the rules.  I think that all players, from the undrafted free agents to the elite players, should be punished if they are in violation of the rules. I just don’t see where the NFL proved that Tom Brady violated the rules. The Wells report claimed that the texts and emails received from Jamstremski and McNally are proof. McNally’s calling himself “the deflater,” and  Tom Brady signing stuff for them. From looking at the texts and emails in the Wells report, they sounded like a lot of joking and sarcasm. Brady,  like many other QBs, has signed stuff for employees and others, in the past. There’s nothing sinister going on here.

Pro Suspension Argument #2:

Brady won’t give up his phone.

Counter-argument: This argument is one of the main sticking points for those who support the suspension. In a rather vigorous defense of his report, Ted Wells said that he and his investigators didn’t want Brady’s entire phone, just the pertinent information concerning the alleged tampering.  The Brady camp, led by Agent Don Yee said that Wells and company wanted the entire phone.  I’m more inclined to believe that Wells wanted the entire phone.

It goes back to those emails, which those who support the suspension also say are “damning.” Are they?  It depends on how you take them. I would have taken them as a bunch of people who were joking around. The thing is that  Ted Wells is the type of investigator that once he has his mind made up, he is going to keep digging until he gets what he wants, no matter if the evidence says otherwise.  No wonder he wanted to interview McNally a fifth time. Perhaps Wells wanted to interview him a sixth, seventh.  I  just don’t think Wells was all about the truth here.

Back to the issue with Brady’s phone.  Who’s to say that Wells would have wanted to see more than what he claimed , even if Don Yee was supervising? How will Wells guarantee that no leaks will happen?  After all, the NFL itself leaked the false story to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were 2 pounds under the legal limit.  Why would Brady and his team expect Wells to keep things under wraps?  Besides, we are talking about a PERSONAL phone. We are not talking about a COMPANY phone.

What is disturbing is that in the Brett Farve case, where Farve would not hand over his phone, all he got was a $50,000. I know this is a different case, but the concept is  similar. Besides, according to the CBA , the rules say that the play must cooperate “reasonably” with the investigation. On March 5, 2015, Tom Brady sat down with Ted Wells and his investigation team, and answered questions all day. Brady cooperated plenty, in my view.

Pro Suspension Argument #3:

The integrity of the game must be protected from cheaters like Tom Brady.

Counter-argument: One of my favorite Bible verses is “He who has no sin, cast the first stone.”  The other is “Do not judge lest ye be judged.”  The one thing that drives me crazy is trying to add morality into sports, and the hypocrisy of the entire thing.  Is integrity of the game important? I absolutely think so.  I  feel that there should be a level playing field.  People who cheat SHOULD be punished .  That is, if there is proof of cheating.

As my readers have heard, the NFL football has to be between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.  Every QB likes a football a certain way. There are some like Tom Brady, who like the footballs at the lower range,  and  there are some like Packers QB Aaron Rodgers who like it at the higher end of the range. I want to emphasize that it IS legal to have a football at the lower end of the allowable range, and even at 12.5. Tom Brady likes the football at 12.5, which, despite popular opinion, is legal. Again, the minimum PSI is 12.5.

We have to go to the science behind all this. The Wells Team tested eleven  Patriots balls at half time, and only four  Colts footballs because of time running out. After all, the same footballs were needed for the game.  Something struck me weird about this. It doesn’t sound like a fair sample size comparison.  How can anyone make a fair conclusion comparing eleven footballs to four?

Another thing that bothered me was that Referee Walt Anderson’s faulty memory of which guage was used to measure the footballs was praised so heavily by Ted Wells.  The referee and his crew were so incompetent to let the bag of footballs disappear (also against NFL rules) , and couldn’t remember what guage he used in such an important investigation, that Ted Wells relies on him to try to prove that Tom Brady is the mastermind of this conspiracy to destroy the “integrity of the game,” by deflating footballs. If this were so important, why didn’t the referees write down the PSI of the balls, and allow them into the game, after the balls were missing for all that time?

Besides, once those balls were rubbed up, and set up the way the QB likes them, they’re not supposed to leave the referees’ sight. How was McNally able to take the bags of balls from that room. Those referees should have been punished for allowing that to happen.  I  find this interesting that no punishment was handed down to the referees.

Many point to the science part in the Wella Report where the Patriots balls lose more air than the Colts balls, thus the Patriots were cheating and Brady was in on it.  Well, not so fast. Just recently, the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, released an independent scientific study that sharply criticizes the Wells Report and the science behind it.  The A.E.I Report argues that the Patriots balls may not have declined as much as Ted Wells said they did. The AEI also said that Ted Wells totally ignored the Ideal Gas Law. The A.E.I. said that when the footballs were taken from the cold weather and place in the warm room, the Patriots footballs deflated to an expected amount, whereas the Colts footballs deflated too little.

The reason, which Ted Wells ignored, is because the Patriots balls were tested first, and that gave time for the Colts balls to warm up and expand. Therefore, that’s one of the main reasons why the American Enterprise Institute is of the opinion that the Wells Report is unreliable, and Commissioner Roger Goodell should take it under advisement when he hears Tom Brady’s appeal. (On the Wells report – AEI http://www.aei.org/publication/on-wells-report/ )

I am also of the opinion that Tom Brady is not a cheater. I don’t think, despite the NFL’s threshold of “more probable than not,” that the NFL has proven their case. I also don’t feel that his wanting the ball at 12.5 is cheating, especially since that is the lowest that the football is allowed to be. I don’t think he had any kind of advantage. His stats improved in the second half of that AFC Championship game, and everyone saw what he did against the vaunted “Legion of Boom” in Super Bowl 49 with a properly inflated football.

As for why I believe that Brady got such a harsh punishment , and the Patriots for that matter, I believe the answer is very simple. In the grand scheme of things, a deflated football is not the biggest thing in the world. This is not something to get all bent out of shape over. However,  since the story broke in January, I have been seeing the general public getting all up in arms over, in essence,  an equipment violation.  People have been  overreacting because this case, that the NFL itself turned into a big deal, involves not only the greatest QB ever in Tom Brady,  but a QB who’s married to super model, Gisele Bundchen.

The general public, who already has this wrong perception that everything was handed to Brady,  were just ready to tear him apart with their jealousy fueled lies and media driven hysteria. I mean, so-called “journalists” like Mike Wilbon and Stephen A . Smith were calling for the Colts to be inserted into the Super Bowl if the Deflategate allegations were true. Anything that ESPN said about Brady, people took as the Gospel.  Anyone who defended Brady was insulted, and was treated as if they were defending a murderer.  I have been told that I was a “cheater,” “Immoral,” and was told that I “should be ashamed.”  I  mean people were, and still are SO angry about this issue.

The weird thing is that some of these SAME people will compromise their so-called personal integrity and cheer for athletes on their teams who are not so perfect either.  Some of these same people give passes to some of the folks who I mentioned earlier, Ray Rice,  Greg Hardy,  and Adrian Peterson. Even dog butcher, Michael Vick has his supporters, but I should be “ashamed” to defend Tom Brady?  Anyway, what I am getting at is that it is hard to deal with an angry mob. After the debacles with the Bounty and Ray Rice cases, and afraid of another public relations hit, I think Brady got railroaded into a suspension to quiet the angry mob. Someone had to be the sacrificial lamb for this nonsense.  Luke 23:21 “The crowd said, ” Crucify Him. Crucify Him.”  Roger Goodell, who has integrity issues of his own, did exactly that.

Now, that I have made my case for a complete exoneration of Thomas E. Brady, all I can do is see what happens. Roger Goodell claimed after the

Owners Meeting in May that he was “open minded” and depending on whatever “new information Mr. Brady had,”  Goodell was “not necessarily wedded” to the Wells Report. Goodell says lots of things. What he actually does, is a totally different matter. If he wasn’t necessarily wedded to Wells’ report, why did Brady get suspended?  Why did the Patriots get hit with such a huge penalty, and  penalized for Spygate again, if Goodell wasn’t necessarily wedded to the Wells report?

Besides,  there’s something else at stake, Brady’s reputation and his legacy.  As far as his NFL legacy, I think it’s intact. Trust me.  You would have to to remove a lot of people from just about every Hall of Fame, if you are of the Polly Purebred mind. Brady is a first ballot Hall of Famer.  As for his reputation, obviously,  he wants his name cleared.  Sadly, because this issue has become so polarizing, thanks to the NFL and the media, I’m afraid people are entrenched in their views. In the camp of the  Brady supporters, his reputation is great. In the Brady haters camp, he is a villain.

As for the Patriots, he is a vital part of the team, and they want him for week one. The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins wrote in her column, “Goodell painted himself into a corner of his own making.”  (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/as-brady-appeal-nears-roger-goodell-is-stuck-in-a-corner-of-his-own-creation/2015/06/17/a5fcbaa6-1456-11e5-89f3-61410da94eb1_story.html ) We will see how or whether Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to paint himself out of that corner. After all,  there’s that angry mob called public opinion that Roger Goodell has to worry about.

Five Takeaways From Deflategate

May 13, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

On January 18, 2015, the New England Patriots hosted the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game for the right to go to Super Bowl 49. The Patriots demolished the Colts by a score of 45-7. As we all know, the Patriots went on to defeat the then defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, and become Super Bowl 49 Champions. QB Tom Brady became SB MVP for the third time in his career. The Patriots also had broken a ten year drought.

Leading into this particular Super Bowl, the Patriots were dealing with a very bizarre controversy. The day after the AFC Championship Game, news broke that the Patriots were being investigated for allegedly playing with under inflated footballs in the AFC Championship. This accusation was made by the Indianapolis Colts. It had to have been the strangest thing I’ve ever heard.

To explain this, the rule is that a properly inflated football has to be between 12.5 and 13. 5 psi (pounds per square inch). The Patriots were accused of purposely deflating the footballs, so QB Tom Brady could have a better grip on the ball. The outrage by columnists, fans, and the American public was incredible. It was way more than the outrage over Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. Anyway, both Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and QB Tom Brady gave separate conferences. All this followed the team to the aforementioned Super Bowl, which the team won.

Now, we fast forward to May 6th of this year. It was over 100 days since Ted Wells, an attorney who was assigned to investigate this rather crazy case. After all the hype and energy and money that has been put into this case, the Wells Report found that “it was more probable than not” that the Patriots purposely deflated the footballs. Wells also concluded that QB Tom Brady was “generally aware” that Equipment Manager James McNally and John Jamstremski were deflating the footballs with his (Brady’s) knowledge.

After more hysteria from the media, and the American Public, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell dropped the hammer, and suspended QB Tom Brady for four games. The Patriots were hit with a $1 Million dollar fine, the highest in NFL history. The Patriots were docked their 2016 first round draft pick and their 2017 fourth round draft pick. Many pundits and fans have had their say about the whole event. I’m going to give my five thoughts on this entire debacle.

1. THE VIOLATION ITSELF OVERBLOWN
Much has been made about the violation itself. People are going crazy. Some are comparing deflating a football to using a PED, or to what the Saints did. People need to slow down. Acting like Tonya Harding’s hoodlums and, putting a pin in a football are not related at all. To me, it’s like a baseball player using a bat with pine tar, a la MLB Hall of Famer George Brett. ESPN’s Mark Schlereth was fined $5,000 for putting Vaseline on his arms. It was rescinded, but you get my point. While I am NOT advocating rule breaking, people are making this way more than it is.

2. THE WELLS REPORT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE.

I have read the Wells Report, and I just don’t get the impression that it’s a slam dunk. The issue of different guages being used bother me. Referee Walt Anderson’s not being sure which guage he used is bothersome. Ted Wells now says that It doesn’t matter what guage was used. Well, if Wells and the NFL want to nail the greatest QB in the NFL, they should not be so cavalier with details. If this was such a huge deal to the NFL, Well should not have included sketchy details. His information needed to be way more accurate.

Walt Anderson also said that the balls were gone for a time. Well, when the balls showed up, why weren’t they retested? When the Colts first made the complaints, why did the NFL allow the game to go on? Why didn’t the NFL tell the Patriots that they (the Patriots)were busted before and that the NFL had heard some complaints, and if the Patriots didn’t stop, they’d be busted again? Why was Ron Grigson, the Colts’ GM, allowed to make a complaint based on rumors and gossip? Is this how the NFL is going to be run?

Do those texts and emails look damning to Tom Brady? Yes. I am not saying they don’t. However, they sound more like they’re sarcastic jokes. As for Brady and his phone, if this investigation were not the witch hunt that it was, maybe he should have done it. However, I think he did the right thing. I don’t think I would turn in my phone, especially to the NFL.

3. GOODELL WENT TOO FAR

Even though there was little evidence of wrongdoing, as I said, Tom Brady and the Patriots got hammered. Some people are saying “too hard,” “not enough,” and many fans are thinking about boycotting the NFL. I think Commissioner Roger Goodell went way too far. The Patriots were treated as repeat offenders because of Spygate, hence the highest fine in NFL history of $1,000,000, and the aforementioned draft picks. Brady’s suspension was done because the NFL wanted to send a message that no one was above the rules. I also think that the League Office was mad that Brady would not cooperate with the witch hunt.

The fine for this kind of violation is $25,000. The San Diego Chargers were penalized the same amount in 2012. They used a sticky substance to the towels used for the game footballs, which is against NFL rules. There was no uproar by the NFL or by the public. (http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/8604254/san-diego-chargers-fined-20000-failing-comply-game-official) Both the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers got WARNINGS for heating the game balls this past season. (http://espn.go.com/blog/minnesota-vikings/post/_/id/11218/nfl-aware-of-game-ball-incident-during-panthers-vikings ) In these cases, there were no outrage by the NFL or the public. Even when the Colts emailed the NFL about their suspicions, the NFL didn’t get the public in a fuss. Now, they start this investigation and all of a sudden, this violation has turned into the equivalent of the Titanic disaster? I’m not buying it.

Goodell wanted to make an example of Brady and the Patriots, and that’s what he did. I mean, why on earth did Spygate have to be considered into Brady’s punishment? He wasn’t part of it. That was on Belichick. The fact that the team is being punished for something they’ve been punished for already, I think is ridiculous. The fact that Brady is being treated as if he took PEDs is asinine, especially considering the usual punishment for this type of thing. Shame on Goodell for pandering to public pressure, and not according to the actual violation.

4. IMPACT ON THE NFL FIELD

How will this four games affect the NFL on the field product? As we know, Tom Brady is appealing his suspension, as expected. Trust me, this is not over by a long shot. I wouldn’t be surprised if Patriots owner Bob Kraft has a few tricks up his sleeve. I’m guessing that the next time Roger Goodell messes up, Kraft won’t be there. The team is standing by their QB as well.

The AFC East will be even more interesting. Assuming that Brady loses his appeal, he returns Week 6, against the Colts. Backup QB Jimmy Garropolo will be the starter. Garropolo will be facing the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Dallas Cowboys. Despite the prognosticators of Doom, I think the Patriots can go 2-2, at worst. The Patriots went 11-5 without Brady in 2008, when Brady went down week one. That QB was Matt Cassel. From what I’ve seen of Garropolo, I think he’s better than Cassel. If the rest of the AFC East teams, with their improved defenses, stumble out of the gate, that’s on them. I still think that the Patriots will wind up winning the Division.

5. TOM BRADY’S LEGACY INTACT

After all this moralizing and hand-wringing, and such, in this blogger’s opinion, Tom Brady’s NFL legacy is intact. He’s a First Ballot Hall of Famer. His NFL achievements are many. Do the findings in the Wells Report erase them? In the minds of the shrill few, and the haters, yes. For those who look at Brady’s career as a whole, and for those who will be voting on his candidacy five years after his retirement, I seriously doubt it.

In conclusion, I am going to wait and see what happens with Brady’s appeal. He has just hired attorney Jeffery Kessler to help with the appeal. This should be a very interesting next few months. Thanks for reading. Feedback is welcome.

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A Crazy NFL Free Agent Offseason

March 14, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Well, my readers, after a two month absence to take care of some personal and health issues, I am back writing for Camelclutchblog. I apologize for my absence, and I appreciate your patience. Sometimes things in life need to be handled, and I needed to take care of myself. Anyway, I am back, and ready to go, so let’s get started.

In this blog, I will be giving my takes on this rather crazy NFL off season. I will touch on topics such as the aftermath of the Super Bowl, the NFL investigations, Free Agency, and more. I can’t stress enough how happy I am to bee back. I hope you enjoy this blog.

First off, I want to congratulate the New England Patriots for winning their fourth Lombardi Trophy, and QB Tom Brady on his third SB MVP Award. Congratulations to the Seattle Seahawks for a great season, and their valiant effort to defend their title. As soon as the clock ran down to 0:00, the 2015 NFL off season started. Much of the off season discussion started with “the Call.”

Everyone knows by now that the Seahawks called for QB Russell Wilson to throw on 2nd and goal, instead of handing the ball off to RB Marshawn Lynch. What happened? Patriots CB Malcolm Butler, an undrafted rookie, intercepted the ball, and that’s all she wrote. There was so much debate over this. The experts, fans, and celebrities were going crazy. I mean, when the Patriots were backed up in their own endzone with 20 seconds to go, did it occur to these keyboard warriors that the Seahawks still had a shot? The Seahawks could have induced a fumble, or a fumbled snap could have occurred. Of course, Michael Bennett commits a huge penalty, which totally blew any last shot the team might have had. That is my take on that.

The next item on the agenda is the laundry list of NFL investigations of several teams concerning different issues. The Atlanta Falcons are being looked at for pumping in crowd noise. The Cleveland Browns are being investigated over text messages allegedly being sent by GM Ray Farmer to the sidelines. The New England Patriots are being investigated for allegedly tampering with footballs. The Miami Dolphins are about to be investigated for violating the rules of the “legal tampering ” period of Free Agency. Now, the New York Jets, along with their fellow AFC East rivals, are also being investigated for allegedly tampering with then Patriots CB Darrelle Revis.

Let’s start with the Browns and the Falcons . GM Ray Farmer pretty much fell on the sword. He confessed at the Scouting Combine that he “did it,” and ” it was all his fault.” The question is how will they’ll be punished. ( http://www.cleveland.com/browns/index.ssf/2015/02/cleveland_browns_gm_ray_farmer_22.html) The Atlanta Falcons are being looked at for supposedly pumping in fake crowd noise. Now, this is rich. Where have we football fans heard these allegations before, but they concern ANOTHER team that exists in America’s Heartland? Sounds like the Falcons ,not that I am condoning it, might be paying for the alleged sins of another team.

The Patriots are being investigated for a crime that is worse than murder, at least that’s how it’s being portrayed by ESPN, some folks on NFL Network, and many Patriot/Tom Brady haters on their keyboards. The crime is allegedly tampering with their footballs. The KEY word for these keyboard warriors to understand is “tampering.” That is what Ted Wells and his crack investigators must PROVE. Once this particular case is over, I will have a lot more to say.

As for the latest investigation into the Miami Dolphins, you have got to be kidding me. Why have legal tampering in the first place? I mean, many of the teams announced that they had deals in place, and if you went to the NFL’s own Instagram, the NFL posted the logo of the new team on the player’s image. Am I missing something? It’s like allowing 32 puppies to play on your favorite carpet, and then get mad when one of them does his/her business on it.

The NFL, after the deal between Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets was finished, are going to investigate the Jets for tampering with Revis while he was a member of the Patriots . On December 29, 2014, while Revis was a member of the Patriots, Jets Owner Woody Johnson, made a statement during a news conference, in answer to a question, that he would “love to have Revis back here [with the New York Jets]. He made the statement, despite being warned by his own advisors that Revis was on another team. He told them that “he was going to do it anyway.” (http://m.nydailynews.com/sports/football/jets/woody-johnson-tampered-darrelle-revis-article-1.2060256#bmb=1) My take on this is that it should be an open and shut case. I don’t care which two teams are involved. If this were Giants/Cowboys, Vikings/Bears, or whomever, it’s tampering. However, since the NFL is so hell-bent on finding out how footballs got tampered with, I seriously doubt that they’re going to put that much effort into this case, considering the two teams involved.

Now, let’s discuss this crazy Free Agency, since a lot of teams are wheeling and dealing. Let me start with Darelle Revis going back to the Jets. Can everyone CALM DOWN? Here’s my take. Revis is being Revis. He’s a great player. I am not disputing that. However, he has always bet on himself. He knows he’s a great player, and wants to be paid like one. He wanted to return to the Jets. His heart was there.

As for the Patriots, are they hurt by this? I’d be lying if I said they aren’t, at least on paper. However, I am not buying all this gloom and doom from the so-called experts, prognosticators of doom, and keyboard warriors. The Patriots are NOT going to overpay for a CB that is 30 years old. They’re just not. Did the team get a ring with him? Yes. Did Revis get a ring with them? Yes. Both sides got what they wanted.

Besides, for panicking Patriots fans, during the Divisional Round game against the Ravens, the defense and Revis didn’t have a great game. It was Brady, Julian Edelman, and Gronkowski who had to bail the team out. If not for them, Patriots fans would complain about another failed season. Besides, it appears that folks have forgotten how Coach Belichick built the team last year. He picked up key available players like Akeem Ayers, Brandon Browner, and the like. Yes, those players, along with Revis are gone. Don’t worry. Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft know what they’re doing.

In speaking of the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, they ARE making moves. They restructured WR Danny Amendola’s contract. Amendola was awesome last season, especially down the stretch and in the Super Bowl. They signed former Buffalo Bills TE Scott Chandler. Chandler will add depth to the team’s Tight End core, and would be a good physical target for Brady. They signed FA DE Jabaal Sheard from the Browns to shore up their pass rush. The team still will make moves from now through the draft, through the regular season. Coach Belichick knows what to do. The Patriots still have Tom Brady. The Patriots will be OK.

As for the Jets, they got their man back. I see that they got Antonio Cromartie back. The Jets already excellent defense will be that much better. I’m sure new Head Coach Todd Bowles will like that. Of course, like the 1970’s glam rock band, KISS, the Jets are trying to put the defensive band back together. We saw how great it was, at least personel-wise, for KISS.

The offense is still a concern. The addition of WR Brandon Marshall and QB Patrick Fitzgerald are a help, of sorts. The question is, to what extent? Marshall is a very good wide receiver, but he’s a ticking time bomb. I’d be wary of him in the locker room. The QBs in the Jets locker room, even with the addition of Fitzpatrick, wouldn’t put me in the New York Groove. Fitzpatrick starts the season well, but fades late in the season.

Staying in the AFCE, the Buffalo Bills and the Miami Dolphins are also loading up. Like the Jets, it appears that they’re looking to try to knock off New England, but they tend to forget about the rest of the teams on the rest of their respective schedules. I think they have closed some of the gap, by looking at the Free Agency pick ups, but from looking at their track records, their methods are just maddening. I mean, Dolphins owner, Stephen Ross just rolled up the Brinks truck to Ndamukong Suh, and is paying him like an elite QB. Can Suh play offense? Yes, he and Cameron Wake will be a force, but I’ll be interested in seeing if it will be worth putting all that money into one players. They just traded for WR Kenny Stills, but do they really trust their QB? Ever since Dan Marino retired, the Dolphins are STILL trying to replace him.

The Buffalo Bills are building up their defense. However, they do have a new head coach. He’s a familiar face to the AFC East, former Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Everyone knows that he’s obsessed with beating the New England Patriots. What else is new? The big splash he made this Free Agency was acquiring former Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy.

The AFC East has been interesting this Free Agency period. However, there are other teams that are doing some crazy things that need some attention, starting with the Eagles. What is Head Coach/GM Chip Kelly doing? Is he trying to turn the team into the Philadelphia Ducks? Many of the new players he’s acquired have played for the Oregon Ducks? Many players who have been there for awhile, such as McCoy, and Jeremy Maclin are gone. Now, the Eagles have an expensive backfield with DeMarco Murray, and Ryan Matthews, both with injury histories. Coach Kelly even traded QB Nick Foles for then Rams QB Sam Bradford, who can’t stay healthy. I just don’t see Chip Kelly’s logic.

Evidently, San Francisco 49ers Free Agent RB Frank Gore had cold feet about signing with the Eagles, as he joined Houston Texans Free Agent WR Andre Johnson in signing contracts with the Indianapolis Colts. It looks like the Colts are getting more weapons for QB Andrew Luck. As the team waived RB Trent Richardson, who was just horrible, and a waste of a 1st round draft pick, Frank Gore is a pretty decent pick up. Andre Johnson is also a good pick up as well. I wouldn’t say that both are at their prime, but they have the seniority in the locker room. They have injury histories. Both could help in getting the tough yards, but can either play defense or offensive line? Newly acquired by Todd Hermanns can use some help on the offensive line.

The San Francisco 49ers and the New Orleans Saints have me scratching my head. I know the Saints want to depend less on the aging QB Drew Brees, and become more of a running team. The team just acquired former Buffalo Bills RB C.J Spiller. I totally understand that. I didn’t expect a fire sale. They are trading away players like it’s going out of style. The Saints also are dealing with the owners and their court battle. This team is a mess.

For the San Francisco 49ers, will they even have a competitive team? Team officials parted ways with former head coach Jim Harbaugh. They have a new coach. They lost Frank Gore in Free Agency. Star LB Patrick Willis retired after 8 years. What kind of QB will Colin Kaepernick be next year? Many questions surround the team at this point. I’m looking to see what they do in the draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers finally decided to join in on the off season festivities. They did lose Jason Worilds to retirement. They don’t have plans for SS Troy Polamalu in 2015, and they’re letting him take as much time as he needs to make a decision on his future. He’s done so much, that he does deserve that. The Steelers signed Panthers FA RB DeAngelo Williams to a 2 year contract. They also signed their star QB Ben Roethlisberger to a 5 year extension.

I think both are great moves. Williams will provide some depth, even though he does have an injury history. However, with Le’Veon Bell facing a possible 4 game suspension, I think that Williamsis work it. I like the Roethlisberger extension, even with his injury history, but the team has it’s QB. Now the team can work on getting weapons in place. They can start with a solid offensive line, in my opinion.

In conclusion, I think this off season has been quite interesting. I don’t think that Free Agency is the be-all and end-all that many fans and media think it is. After all, we are all making predictions based on paper. There’s also the draft, and I am sure folks will be changing their predictions again.

We don’t know what is going to happen when these teams with newly hired guns start practicing, never mind playing actual games. I mean, does LeCharles Bentley, a highly rated FA, and his torn patella in his first Cleveland Browns 11 on 11 practice sound familiar? I am NOT wishing injuries on anyone. I want to make that clear. I am using the Bentley example only to show that there’s no guarantee that these big moves guarantee wins.

I am just saying that the Super Bowl is not won in March, or in the off season. If it were, Washington owner Dan Snyder would have a ton of Lombardi Trophies in his office. I’m not trying to single him out, but I hope you get my point. I mean, does anyone remember the disastrous Albert Haynesworth signing? I hope you enjoyed my blog and feedback is welcome.

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NFL Super Bowl XLIX Pick and Preview

January 30, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Everything in the 2014-15 NFL Season all comes down to this, my readers. The regular season is over. The playoffs are over, and two teams are left to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in the last game of the 2014-15 NFL Season, Super Bowl 49, which will air on NBC, February 1st. The two teams in this year’s edition are the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, for the NFC, and the New England Patriots, for the AFC.

Both the Seahawks and the Patriots are very exciting and tough teams. The Seahawks are famous for their quick and relentless defense. The team is lead by the unflappable QB Russell Wilson. Their defense includes the excellent CB Richard Sherman and SS Kam Chancellor. Even though Wilson is awesome at QB, the offense goes through RB Marshawn Lynch. The Patriots are lead by QB Tom Brady, along with his arsenal of weapons, such as TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LeFell, and others. The Patriots defense is excellent, and includes NT Vince Wilfork, DE Chandler Jones, and star DB Darrelle Revis.

In this blog, I will be discussing these two teams, and will be making my prediction for Super Bowl Sunday. Even though both of these teams are polarizing, I will not be discussing any of the distractions that have been dominating the discussion surrounding both teams in the Super Bowl . If you want to hear about that rubbish, you can watch ESPN. I’m all about the game and these two teams who worked their rear ends off to get here.

So, without further ado, here’s my prediction for Super Bowl 49. I hope my readers will enjoy this blog. As both teams hail from cities that have produced great musical artists, I may sneak in a few musical references. I plan to examine each team, their respective conference championship game, game plan, and end the blog with my final prediction.

SUPER BOWL 49: The Seattle Seahawks vs The New England Patriots

Date: February 1, 2015
Network : NBC
Kickoff : 6:30PM, EST
Stadium : University of Arizona

The Seattle Seahawks

Analysis: The Seahawks are the defending champions for a reason. One being resiliency. They were left for dead in the regular season due to injuries and the Percy Harvin trade. Somehow, they kept going. They lost at home to the Dallas Cowboys. They lost to the San Diego Chargers. People were losing their minds. However, late in the regular season, guys, like Bobby Wagner, came back from injury , and the team gelled. The Seahawks had the number one defense by the time the season ended. Where are the Cowboys and Chargers?

The Seahawks NFC Conference Championship Game:

This resilience showed in the Seahawks’ win over the Green Bay Packers. I will say that I am still not sure if this was a case of the Packers losing the game, or the Seahawks winning it. I mean, Packers Coach Mike McCarthy made some strange calls. The Packers should have been more aggressive offensively. I know about Brandon
Bostick, and his mistake on the hands team, but it shouldn’t have come to that.

Anyway, in that game, QB Russell Wilson, had a very bad game. He threw several interceptions. Did he and the team give up? They didn’t, and got Marshawn Lynch going. Wilson made some key plays, and ran in for a touchdown himself. The Seahawks took advantage of the mistakes that the Packers made, and walked away with the victory. Also, CB Richard Sherman badly injured his elbow, and valiantly kept playing. This team is tough physically and mentally.

The New England Patriots

Analysis: In a very similar storyline as the defending champions, after a devastating 41-14 loss in Week 4 to the Kansas City Chiefs, the New England Patriots were also written off by such illuminaries such as ESPN’s crack reporter, Trent Dilfer, who said, “The New England Patriots can’t win.” (Dilfer has since apologized. )The Boston area media, along with the talking heads on the NFL Network and ESPN were saying that QB Tom Brady’s no longer a great QB. Calls for backup QB Jimmy Garropolo came as well. After the loss though, led by head coach Bill Belichick’s mantra, “On to Cincinnati,” the Patriots demolished the Bengals, pretty much never looked back. This is an excellent team that has a lot of resiliency. This team is as physically and as mentally tough as they come.

The AFC Conference Championship Game.

The Patriots pretty much destroyed the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium. The score was 45-7. The reason that the Colts got 7 was because of the interception by DeQuell Jackson in the first half. The Patriots led 17-7 at half time. They scored 28 more after halftime. They used LeGarrette Blount as their main RB. The man ran in for 3 TDs. The Colts defense was just beaten and battered. That Colts team was not ready for prime time.

Keys to the Game:

Seahawks:

On Offense: I would have Russell Wilson use his legs more, when he throws. He appears to be much more accurate when throwing on the run. If he’s to throw from the pocket, make sure that WR Doug Baldwin, or whomever the target, is, where the Patriots are a bit vulnerable, and that’s in the middle of their defense. I also would have Marshawn Lynch do a lot of the work. The Seahawks run a similar run scheme like the Ravens do, which has given the Patriots defense trouble.

On Defense and Special Teams : I would try to get pressure up the middle to test how good injured Patriots C Bryon Stork is. Like all QBs, Brady doesn’t respond well with pressure in his face. I also would get people on Rob Gronkowski. Of course, that’s better said than done. The defense line has to do better with stopping the run. In the team’s four losses, the defense has given up over 100 yards. On Special Teams, I would try to just keep the Patriots deep, so they have poor field position. I’d hope for a score on a kick return as well.

Patriots:

On Offense: I would try to spread the defense out. I would try to have Brady make sure he has the right matchups, so he can get the ball to his targets. The Patriots needs a balanced offense, in order to sustain drives. I definitely would run the ball. As I have said, the Seahawks gave up over 100 yards in their four losses. Brady must be smart concerning Richard Sherman. He can’t totally avoid him, but Brady must pick his spots. As much as Gronkowski is his main target, Brady needs to rely on his other receivers like LaFell, Julian Edelman, etc.

On Defense and Special Teams: Defenders need to watch for both Wilson and Lynch. Defenders must be very disciplined, and tackle well. I am talking about bringing the runner to the ground. DE Chandler Jones and Vince Wilfork need to make sure that if they have Wilson sacked, make sure they do so, because he is very elusive. The Patriots secondary needs to step up in this game. It will be interesting to see where Revis will be on the field. On Special Teams, they need to make sure that they tackle well. I have seen some run backs where the runner got the opposing team in better field position due to poor tackling.

My Prediction for Super Bowl 49:

We are looking at two teams who are pretty evenly matched. Some may say it is strength against strength, but I don’t see it that way. These are two tough minded teams coached by two of the best coaches in the NFL in Pete Carroll (Seahawks) and Bill Belichick (Patriots). You have two awesome QBs, Russell Wilson, who’s on the ascension, and Tom Brady who’s already a legend. Whether you like either team or not, that’s how I see it.

I think we are going to see a very physical game. The game will be a bit of a chessmatch between the two coaches. I don’t expect a high scoring game. While the Seahawks did win its NFC Conference Championship Game, and I respect them as the defending champions, that was also a game they could have lost. The Seahawks are facing a team in the Patriots that I don’t think are a pushover like some may think .

I expect the Seahawks to play well. After all, they play the Arizona Cardinals in this Stadium once a year, as they’re in the same division. I suspect that the crowd will be very pro-Seahawks as well. Therefore, the Seahawks will be used to the noise. As Russell Wilson is so calm, I expect he will have a great game.

As for the Patriots, I’m expecting a very well prepared team to come out on all cylinders. I expect the team to have a great game plan for the Seahawks defense. I am expecting Tom Brady, who’s playing in his sixth Super Bowl, who also said he has been watching tons of Seahawks tape, to have a great game. I expect whichever RB, be it Blount or Jonas Gray, to have a great game. On the defense, I expect Darrell Revis to have an amazing game.

My Super Bowl Pick:

As everyone knows, the National Anthem is performed. I honestly wish they would just put up a video of the Star Spangled Banner performed by Seattle’s own Jimi Hendrix ( Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner [ American Anthem ] ( Live at Wo…: http://youtu.be/sjzZh6-h9fM ), and use that. Fans watch the first half of the game and the commercials. Fans either put up with Or take a bathroom break during this year’s halftime show which is Katie Perry ( Katy Perry – Firework: http://youtu.be/QGJuMBdaqIw ) . The game is done. and, as I picked this to win it all in my 2014-15 Pre-season blog, I am sticking with my pick. I stuck with this team despite the doubters. I was very confident that this will be their year. This will will give their city some “peace of mind,” to quote Brad Delp of Boston ( Boston-Peace of Mind: http://youtu.be/WGRrOEbY3pI) Winner: The New England Patriots by a score of 24- 17.

Of course, as the confetti falls, whether or not my prediction is correct, this song plays:

Queen – We Are The Champions (Official Video): http://youtu.be/04854XqcfCY

Well, that’s all. Enjoy the game, even if you just like the commercials.

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NFL 2014-15 Championship Playoffs Predictions and Preview

January 16, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Greetings, my readers. We are nearly at the end of the NFL 2014-15 season. When the Super Bowl arrives on February 1st, it will be a long off season. There will be 31 teams trying to figure out how to win the Super Bowl, while one team is happy. Of course, they’ll have off-season work to stay on top. That being said, as Sunday, January 18, 2015 is Championship Sunday, we will find out which two teams will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy in Arizona.

Let’s discuss the four teams, and how they got to this point. I will start first with the NFC Teams, the Green Bay Packers and the Seattle Seahawks, as they’re playing first. Both of these teams got byes. The Packers were the 2 seed, and the defending champion Seahawks were the 1 seed.

In the Packers’ divisional round game against the Dallas Cowboys, despite being hobbled by a severe calf injury, QB Aaron Rodgers was phenomenal. RB Eddie Lacey did a great job gashing holes through that Cowboys defense. The Packers defense did a good job in slowing down the Cowboys and their run game.

As for the Cowboys, they had their chances to win this game. RB Demarco Murray fumbled. QB Tony Romo had a couple of bad snaps. There was some strange play calling. I didn’t understand why they threw on the 3 and 1. The kicker missed some 3 pointers. Again, about the Dez Bryant non-catch, according to the rule, it was NOT a catch.

The Seahawks ran roughshod over the Carolina Panthers. I realize that the Panthers were not all that great to begin with, due to their regular season record (wait until the NFL expands the playoffs field to 14) , they were awesome. Kam Chancellor was a man amongst boys. He was all over the place. What an amazing job he did. DB Richard Sherman did a great job. QB Russell Wilson is awesome. I was marveled at how he manipulated the pocket.

The Panthers did put up some sort of a fight. I just think they were over matched. QB Cam Newton needs to develop more patience in the pocket. The Panthers need playmakers for whom Newton to have a rapport. It was very obvious in the game that WR Kelvin Benjamin was not going to cut it.

Now, let’s discuss how the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts got to this point. The New England Patriots earned the 1 seed, therefore skipped the Wild Card round. The Indianapolis Colts earned the 4 seed, and had to play the Bengals at home. In my “2015 Divisional Playoff Prediction” blog for this site, I had already shared my thoughts on that game, so I won’t be redundant.

In the Patriots divisional round against the #6 seed Baltimore Ravens, the Patriots stumbled out of the gate, so to speak, both on offense and defense. In fact, due to the Ravens and their defensive line, the Patriots only ran the ball 14 times. Anyway, down two touchdowns at two points in the game, QB legend Tom Brady brought the team back both times, and threw the winning TD to Brandon LeFell.

The Patriots defense didn’t have its act together in the first part of the game. The second half of the game, the defense was a lot better, with DB Devin McCourty intercepting Ravens QB Joe Flacco. With the Ravens down 35-31, Flacco threw a killer endzone pick. At the end, with 14 seconds to go, the Ravens had one last shot to win, but it fell short when Flacco’s Hail Mary attempt was knocked out of the endzone by Devin McCourty.

The Ravens had their shot to win this game. They were touted as New England’s biggest threat. All week, the Ravens, and their staff were acting like big bullies. In press conferences, DT Terrell Suggs wouldn’t even say Tom Brady’s name. I mean, John Harbaugh was crying about how the Patriots didn’t know what tough was.

Well, in the beginning, the big bad Ravens had their way with Brady and the Ravens. The Patriots could not run the ball. The Patriots gave up running the ball. The Ravens QB Joe Flacco and the offense were in full command of the game. The second half of the game started, and the Patriots shook off their bye week rust, and fought back. Yes, about that 4 man offensive line play, Coach John Harbaugh does need to read the playbook. Besides, your team gave up not one, but two two touchdown leads. Sounds like the case of the backyard bully getting what he deserves.
The Indianapolis Colts came into Denver, and played a great game, and defeated the Denver Broncos. They slowed down the running game, and rendered RB C.J Anderson mostly ineffective. They stopped him on a crucial 4th down play late in the game. I was very impressed with Vontae Davis and the Colts’ secondary. They did a great job going against Denver’s Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas. Even though he threw 2 Ints, QB Andrew Luck played a great game. He and T.Y. Hilton have a great chemistry. I also think the offensive line protected Luck well, so he could get the ball to his other targets.

As for Denver, it was hard to se the great Peyton Manning playing like that. He had to have been in a lot of pain . However, if you have paid any attention, he’s been playing like that for awhile, even before the December 14th Chargers game (where the quad injury reportedly occurred). Since that Week 10 Rams game, Peyton hasn’t looked right. I hope he makes the best decision for him and his family. Anyway, as for the rest of the team, they surely didn’t help Manning out. Pass rusher DeMarcus Ware did not show up. Has Ware EVER shown up in big games? Aqib Talib got burnt all day long. Some of the Denver play calling was odd.

Now that I’ve discussed how the final four teams got to this point, here are my predictions for Championship Sunday.

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Green Bay Packers at the Seattle Seahawks
Network : FOX
Kickoff : 3:30PM, EST
Stadium : CenturyLink Field
Winner represents the NFC in Super Bowl 49.

Analysis:

What Seattle must do:

In order to win against Green Bay is to prevent the Packers from running the ball. The Seahawks’ losses this season have been to teams who have been successful at running the ball. I noticed that in the Chargers game (Seahawks allowed 101 yards rushing.). I also saw that in the Dallas Cowboys loss (allowed 126 yards ). The run defense will need to keep Eddie Lacey in check. Seahawks will have to commit to the run, and the offensive line will need to protect QB Russell Wilson.

What Green Bay must do:

Due to the crowd noise, Aaron Rodgers will be using a silent count, and will be limited physically, but he’s very smart. I’m sure he will try to get the ball out quickly. I also think that RB Eddie Lacey will be running between the guards. Rodgers and Coach McCarthy must come up with a better game plan against that brilliant Seattle secondary (Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor , Bobby Wagner ) than the last time the two teams met on the opening day of the 2014-15 NFL Season.

Prediction : This game is going to be a tough one. It is going to be interesting to see if Aaron Rodgers can go into Seattle and advance to his second Super Bowl of his awesome career. Can the Seahawks win, and go back to the Super Bowl with a chance to repeat? We can only watch and see.

Winner : In my “2014-15 NFL Season Preview ” blog, I had picked the Green Bay Packers to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 49. Well, I am sorry, but I believe in my integrity, so I am sticking with Green Bay. Winner : Green Bay 34-30.

AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Indianapolis Colts at the New England Patriots
Network: CBS
Kickoff : 6:40PM, EST
Stadium: Gillette Stadium
Winner represents the AFC in Super Bowl 49.

Analysis:

What New England must do:

The New England Patriots have beaten these Andrew Luck-led Colts in 3 previous meetings by double digits. The Patriots can not be overconfident, and take the Colts lightly. I still remember the 2011 Divisional Round game against the New York Jets, where Jets QB Mark Sanchez (after just beating Manning and the Colts the week prior) lead a 28-21 upset over the Patriots in Foxborough. The Patriots had defeated that same Jets team 45-3 earlier that season. Trust me, the Patriots don’t want to see that again (Joe Flacco also pulled the defeating P.Manning-Brady double in 2012.). This rematch is for a trip to the Super Bowl. This Patriot team needs to be focused.

The injury to watch is center Brian Stork. The offensive line has been up and down all year. The offensive line must have a great day, and protect Brady. If the offensive line does its job, Brady will have a great day. TE Rob Gronkowski, WR Brandon LeFell, WR Julian Edelman, and others should be able to get open. As the Colts have a porous run defense, I would think that the Patriots will run the ball, as they need to have a balanced attack.

The Patriots defense needs to play better than last week, especially on the running plays. The Patriots secondary needs to do better with guys like Fleener, etc. The Patriots special teams have been awesome. They need to step up their game. Special teams play could very well decide the outcome.

What Indianapolis must do:

Andrew Luck must play a nearly perfect game. What I mean is that he can’t throw picks He can’t fumble the ball. He also has to do better in figuring out Belichick’s defensive schemes. Luck is going to be great. Like Brady, the Colts’ offensive line has to protect their QB. The playmakers for the Colts must try to outsmart Patriots DBs Brandon Browner and Darrell Revis, and make plays.

On defense, the Colts defense have to try to get a pass rush on Brady. Their secondary have to figure out how to stop TE Rob Gronkowski. If the Patriots offense decide to run the ball, the Colts porous run defense better figure out how to stop it. The highlight for the Colts, other than the offense, is their special teams. I would suspect that they would try a trick play as well.

Prediction : As much as certain people in the sports media want to take shots at the Patriots, and especially at Tom Brady, I think this team is going to be a tough team for the Colts to beat. Coach Bill Belichick will have this team ready. The team is tough, not only physically, but mentally. I am sure that Coach Chuck Pagano will have something up his sleeve, but the Patriots will be ready. The game won’t be an easy one, but I think that the Patriots will prevail.

Winner : Patriots 30-20

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NFL 2014-15 Divisional Playoffs Predictions and Preview

January 09, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Last weekend’s Wildcard games are in the books. I hope my readers enjoyed a couple of them. I didn’t do all that great in my Wildcard Weekend Prediction blog. I went 2-2. I thought that the Indianapolis Colts vs the Cincinnati Bengals game and the Baltimore Ravens vs the Pittsburgh Steelers game were the best of the four. The lack of offense (especially from Arizona) in the Arizona Cardinals vs the Carolina Panthers game had me bored to death. The Dallas Cowboys vs the Detroit Lions game was decent, but the refereeing controversy hurt the game.

Let’s briefly discuss each game in further detail. In the Arizona vs Carolina game, the game was pretty lopsided. How does a team put up just 78 yards, or so? I thought that Arizona was better than that. The Panthers made a ton of mistakes as well (botched a punt, interceptions, and was giving Arizona chances, but Arizona just had tough times capitalizing. My advice to Coach Bruce “We can win the Super Bowl with Drew Stanton” Arians is to not be so cocky about your backup QB situation.

In the Baltimore vs Pittsburgh game, I don’t know where to start. The Steelers did not have Le’Veon Bell. Well, it looked like to me that the coaches, from Head Coach Mike Tomlin on down, had no answer for that Baltimore pass rush. No one on the Steelers coaching staff could figure out adjustments?

Of course, I had forgotten about the “bad Steelers” that can pop up, and that is what happened. This is the same Steelers team who lost to the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and New York Jets. The Steelers played scared. Now, Let’s not shortchange the Ravens. They played a great game. QB Joe Flacco was relaxed in the pocket, and made some excellent plays. RB Justin Forsett gashed the Steelers defense like a knife through butter.

As for the Bengals vs Colts game, I thought it was a really good game. Even though they were at home, the Colts defense did a great job. They put a lot of pressure on Bengals QB Andy Dalton, and even stopped the Bengals running game. Colts QB Andrew Luck had a good game . I loved that TD he threw when he was being tackled. He demonstrated terrific arm strength.

I know that folks are making hay over QB Andy Dalton and Coach Marvin Lewis, as the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game since 1991. Dalton didn’t play that badly in the game. He also didn’t have a couple of his main targets either.Even so, I don’t know if Dalton freezes at playoff time, or gets too intimidated by the big moment. The Bengals need to deal with this. My problem with Lewis is that in many cases, he’s too conservative in his play calling.

Now, to the Lions vs the Cowboys game. Before I discuss it, let’s get to the refereeing controversy. I’m not going to rehash it, because it’s been replayed to death. However, the NFL has an image problem concerning the refereeing, in my opinion. The NFL will fine players, coaches, and even owners for criticism of the game officials. Why then, when referees make obvious mistakes, does the NFL just make apology statements after the fact? They don’t punish the refs. Oh, sure, low scoring refs during the regular season don’t get to work the playoffs. Well, look what happened last weekend. That’s the best the NFL can do?

I am not saying that the Detroit Lions lost because of the bad call. I am saying that the NFL has to do better concerning their referees. The NFL can’t give incompetent referees a huge amount of rules to memorize and enforce, and then when said referees screw up on a national stage, act as if the officiating is above criticism. The NFL can not issue apology notes after the horse has run out of the barn, so to speak.

As for the game, it was a good game. If folks paid attention, the Cowboys almost gave the game away. The Lions, especially Ndamukong Suh, just pounded on that Dallas offensive line. Dallas QB Tony Romo was getting sacked and hit. Lions QB Matthew Stafford was having a great day. After halftime, the Cowboys came out of their stupor, and took control.

The Lions secondary were making a ton of penalties. Tony Romo had a great second half, with a pair of TDs. What really hurt the Lions was not that screwed up referee call , but their head coach and his failure to go for it on 4th and 1. He didn’t trust his own team to get a first down? Anyway, it was a good game. The lesson that the Lions and other teams can learn is that teams need to make sure they play THEIR game, and don’t make dumb penalties so you don’t have to worry about a referee making a “wrong call.”

Now that I’ve reviewed last weekend’s Wildcard games, I am going to discuss my predictions for this weekend’s divisional round games. On Saturday, January 10th, the New England Patriots (1) will host the Baltimore Ravens (6), and the Seattle Seahawks (1) will host the Carolina Panthers (4). On Sunday , January 11th, the Green Bay Packers (2) host the Dallas Cowboys (3) , and the Denver Broncos (2) host the Indianapolis Colts (4). The respective winners advance to their respective conference championship.

All four of these games are very exciting. There’s a ton of drama involved in all four of these games, both on and off the field. There are injuries and grudges involved. Who needs a soap opera, when you have the NFL? Anyway, as I said, I was 2-2 in my prediction column last week. I hope that I can do better. So without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2015 NFL Divisional Playoff games.

AFC Playoff Divisional Game
#1 New England Patriots vs #6 Baltimore Ravens
Network : NBC
Kickoff : 4:35PM EST

Analysis: Is everyone ready for the actual game to start? I certainly am. To paraphrase Led Zeppelin, “Hey. Baby, have you heard the news?” “The Baltimore Ravens are back in town?.” ( Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker: http://youtu.be/qJi3DSROkJs). I mean, the world is out. “Here come the big bad Ravens.” “The Flacco has Brady’s number.” “Tom Brady can’t play anymore.” Well, let’s see. how many teams with a winning record did Baltimore beat this season? One? Now, counting the Steelers,two? The Patriots have an 8-3 record overall vs Baltimore. The media would have you believe that the Patriots are the #6 seed.

As for the game, the Patriots offensive line is going to have to have a stellar day against that Ravens pass rush to protect Tom Brady . Fortunately, the team earned the bye week, and it sounds like the Patriots will have Sebastian Vollmer and Dan Connelly back. The Patriots need to spread the Ravens out, something the Steelers failed to do. The Patriots have to use some uptempo offense to keep Baltimore honest . One difference for the Patriots offense is the presence of TE Rob Gronkowski. The weak Ravens is going to have to account for him. The Patriots needs to be patient with their running game also.

The Ravens are going to depend on their defense to try to limit the Patriots from scoring. QB Joe Flacco is very effective with the deep ball. His main target, Torry Smith, has drawn 17 DPI calls, so the Patriots secondary needs to be careful. Flacco is also great at drawing DPI calls with his other receivers. RB Justin Forsett will be a factor, so DT Vince Wilfork and the Patriots defensive line have their work cut out.

Prediction : This should be a great game. I am expecting a fairly physical game. Even though many folks in the media have treated Baltimore as if THEY were the #1 seed, I think their playoff run ends here. Winner : Patriots 27-17

NFC Playoff Game
#1 Seattle Seahawks vs #4 Carolina Panthers
Network : Fox
Kickoff : 8:15PM EST

Analysis : This game is going to be a defensive struggle. I don’t expect to see a lot of scoring in this game. I expect the audience to be loud, being that they are the 12th Man. I wish all fan bases were that enthusiastic. Anyway, these two teams have met three times, with the Seahawks winning all three. What’s interesting is that the Panthers had lead all three into the fourth quarter.

The Carolina Panthers are on a hot streak. QB Cam Newton and the offense have been doing well in the past few weeks. So has the Carolina defense. The defense suffered a huge blow when one of their top defensive players, DT Star Lotulelei broke his foot this week in practice. That won’t help in trying to contain either Seattle QB Russell Wilson or RB Marshawn Lynch.

As for the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks, they’re getting players back from injury. That will only help them. This is a dangerous team, especially at home. The Seahawks have the #1 ranked offense. Wilson and Lynch will be lethal weapons by themselves.

Prediction: I do expect the Panthers to put up a fight in the early part of the game. The two teams are very familiar with one another. However, I think this game is a very easy call. I think the Seahawks will win this game rather easily. Winner: Seahawks 24-10.

NFC Divisional Playoff Game
#2 Green Bay Packers vs #3 Dallas Cowboys
Network : FOX
Kickoff : 1:05PM EST

Analysis : This is a battle of two teams where something has to give. The Green Bay Packers are 8-0 at home. Their opponents, the Dallas Cowboys, are 8-0 on the road. There is one thing that could be the deciding factor. No, I am not talking about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) and that ugly sweater either. I am talking about the calf injury to Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Green Bay Packers have been lights out at home. They are undefeated at home this season. To be fair, the team nearly lost to the hapless New York Jets, and the mediocre Minnesota Vikings, and the eventual #1 seed in the AFC New England Patriots. However, they hung on and won. One of the main reasons is Aaron Rodgers. No one can underestimate his value. That’s why his calf injury is troublesome. He can play from the pocket, but what makes Rodgers awesome is his mobility. Sure, LB Clay Matthews, RB Eddie Lacey will have an impact on this game, but not like Rodgers.

As for the Cowboys, Tony Romo doesn’t have great performances when the weather is under 40 degrees. As the Packers run defense is not all that great, I suspect that RB Demarco Murray will be used quite a bit. The Cowboys may be down several defenders as well, as a couple of them are in the concussion protocol.

Prediction : I would pick the Packers outright if Rodgers were 100 percent. I am not sure how this game will go. I’m on the fence, to be honest. Winner : I am going with the Packers, because Rodgers is just that good. Packers 30-27

AFC Divisional Playoff Game
#2 Denver Broncos vs #4 Indianapolis Colts
Network : CBS
Kickoff : 4:25PM EST

Analysis: This should be a good game. The two QBs , Peyton Manning (Broncos) and Andrew Luck (Colts) will be forever linked. Peyton Manning was drafted by the Colts in 1998, and then released by the Colts in 2012 over injury/contract concerns. In the 2012 NFL Draft, the Colts drafted QB Andrew Luck. Now, the two face each other in the playoffs. The two are 1-1.

Denver has looked just alright going into the playoffs. It sounds like the bye week helped lots of banged up players, including Manning (thigh) recover. I’m expecting this team to come out looking a lot better. They’re the #3 defense. DB Aqib Talib has been doing well as of late. It will be interesting to see if pass rusher DeMarcus Ware will show up in the playoffs . I think the Denver offense will be much better, especially with a more balanced offense.

The Indianapolis Colts need to protect Andrew Luck if they want any chance of winning the game. They played well against the Bengals, but this time, they’re not at home, and this Broncos team is way better than the Bengals. The Colts defense must challenge the Denver receivers. They must do what the Patriots, the Rams, and other teams have done. Don’t be so afraid of the Broncos.

Prediction : I think that the Colts are over matched in this game. Playing at Denver is also difficult with that crowd noise. The Broncos are significantly better than the Colts, and I am thinking that the Broncos will win this comfortably. Winner : Denver 35-17.

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NFL 2015 Wildcard Predictions and Preview

January 02, 2015 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Happy New Year. Now that the 2014-15 NFL regular season is over, the second season starts. By “second season,” I mean the playoffs, or the tournament. However you want to say it, twelve teams have qualified. This is the most exciting part of the season for me. I love the post-season. The drama gets more intense. The games get much more bigger, and each play is huge. I love writing about the post-season.

The twelve teams that made it to the post-season are, starting with the AFC (listed by seeding, the New England Patriots (1), the Denver Broncos (2), the Pittsburgh Steelers (3), the Indianapolis Colts (4), the Cincinnati Bengals (5), and the Baltimore Ravens (6). On the NFC side, the following qualifying teams are the Seattle Seahawks (1), the Green Bay Packers (2), the Dallas Cowboys (3), the Carolina Panthers (4), the Arizona Cardinals (5), and the Detroit Lions (6). Congratulations to all of these teams for earning their way into the playoffs. One of these teams will be your Super Bowl Champion. They all have interesting story lines. Can the Seahawks repeat? Can the Patriots break through their ten year drought? Can the Steelers win one in memory of the legendary Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll, who died before the 2014-15 NFL season began?

In this blog, I will be discussing these storylines and more, as I will be analyzing this weekend’s playoff games. NFL fans all know this weekend as Wildcard Weekend. The games for this weekend are Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh on Saturday. On Sunday, Cincinnati takes on Indianapolis and Detroit goes to Dallas. This weekend’s games look very interesting, so without further ado, here are my predictions for the 2014-15 post-season Wild Card games.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#5 Arizona Cardinals at #4 Carolina Panthers
Stadium: Bank of America Stadium
Network : ESPN
Kickoff: 4:35PM EST

This game is going to be a defensive struggle. At first, it looked like Arizona was going to waltz through their schedule and land the #1 seed. After all, Coach Bruce Arians had that team rolling, despite some injuries, especially on the defensive side Problems came when starting QB Carson Palmer went down with an ACL tear. Yes, Palmer had a nerve issue earlier in the season, but backup Drew Stanton was able to hold the fort. The ACL tear to Palmer meant that Stanton was the starter. Well, on a Thursday Night Football game, Stanton went down. Now they are down to Ryan Linley. The team still has a very good defense, and they still have WR Larry Fitzgerald, but I don’t know what they’re going to do with their QB in this game against the Carolina defense.

In speaking of the home team, the Carolina Panthers, is this the best the NFC South could do? I know the entire division stunk up the joint, but to have a 7-8-1 team in the playoffs? Of course, a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks team won their division and won a playoff game. If you think this is bad, wait until the NFL expand the playoffs. It will be even worse.

Despite not winning their last 6 previous games, the Panthers were able to string together two wins at the end of the regular season, and wound up with the division. I am not sure how QB Cam Newton will handle a very good defense like Arizona. I am expecting Arizona’s Patrick Peterson to intercept Newton. I don’t expect RB Jonathan Stewart to have a great day against that Arizona defense. Newton will have to be Superman to win this game.

Prediction : Even though Arizona will be hamstrung by the QB, I think they’re the better team. I think they have the better coach in Bruce Arians as well. WINNER : Cardinals 24-10

#6 Baltimore Ravens at #3 Pittsburgh Steelers
Stadium: Heinz Field
Network: NBC
Kickoff: 8:25PM, EST

One of the greatest rivalries in the NFL starts up again in the playoffs on Saturday, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. These teams just hate each other. It shows in the press and on the field. This is personal. As a football fan, I love it. I love the intensity of these two teams. The fan bases hate each other too (not really, but you get the idea).

Let’s discuss this matchup. Many pundits have called Baltimore “the most dangerous team in the playoffs.” Let’s see. They have an excellent defensive front. With the recently suspended Haloti Ngata returning, that part of the defense will get better. Their secondary is not their strong suit. Remember, the team no longer has Ed Reed or Ray Lewis. On offense, the Ravens. Despite all this, the Ravens ended the regular season 8th in total defense. ( http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total/position/defense) I still wonder how that Baltimore defense let Philip Rivers and the Chargers march down the field and score that last minute game winning touchdown on their home field.

Let’s look at the Ravens offensively. Their quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense ranked #12 in Total Offense. ( http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total) From my observation, the Baltimore Ravens offense was feast or famine. One week, Joe Flacco was kicking butt and taking names, like he did against the Tampa Bay Bucaneers (the same Bucs that beat the Steelers at Heinz Field). Another week, he looks like Joe Who, as he did against the Houston Texans.

Are the Ravens a formidable opponent? Yes. I take them very seriously. I respect all teams here. I’m not sure that they’re all that “dangerous.” As for the game, they’ll give the Steelers fits. I’m expecting a lot of bull rushing from that defensive line, especially from DE Terrell Suggs. I’m expecting the Ravens to turn the Steelers into a one dimensional team in a hurry. I expect Flacco to launch his bombs and hope that either Torry Smith or Owen Daniels catch it.

As for the AFC North Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, they have the #18 ranked defense. ( http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total/position/defense) What has helped the team on that side of the ball was the brief return of DE Brett Keisel (put on IR due to injury) and the return of LB James Harrison (much to the dismay of Commissioner Roger Goodell). The defense is much more energetic. Harrison is playing at a high level. The secondary is a bit worrisome. Sometimes DB William Gay comes through, and sometimes he makes bone headed mistakes. Who knows when Ike Taylor and/or Troy Polamalu will be back.

On the offensiveside of the ball, the Steelers are #2 in total offense. ( http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/total) Yes. I can’t believe it myself. Ben Roethlisberger has had a banner year. Ben threw for 4952 yards. He had 32 TDs and 9 picks. Antonio Brown stamped himself as one of the top WRs in the NFL with 1698 receiving yards and 13 TDs. Le’Veon Bell had a great season as well. Bell ran for 1361 yards and 8 TDs. I don’t know why it took so long for Roethlisberger to buy into offensive coordinator Tod Haley’s system, but I am glad to see awesome results.

As for the game, the Steelers defense needs to attack that Ravens offensive line as LT Eugene Monroe may or may not be able to play. Joe Flacco must be made uncomfortable. RB Justin Forsett must not get going either. Steelers special teams must play well in this game. They can’t let the Baltimore Ravens offense have great field position.

On offense, as the Steelers will likely not have Bell, The team better hope Dri Archer can get some sort of running game going. Ben Tate will likelybe used in pass protection, it appears. I’m going to guess that Ben will be using a lot of short passes and play action to neutralize the pass rush.

My Prediction: This could be a fairly low scoring game. I expect a defensive struggle. This will be nasty. The referees will be involved. I promise you that. Regardless, some folks are making a fuss about the possibility of rain. I’m of the mind that the best team overcomes any condition. The two teams split their regular season Even WITH Bell, they had a hard time running the ball against the Ravens in both matchups. Overall, the Steelers are the better team. WINNER : Pittsburgh 27-23

January 4, 2015

#5 Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts
Stadium : Lucas Oil Stadium
Network : CBS
Kickoff : 1:05 PM, EST

At the beginning of the season, the season, the Cincinnati Bengals were the hottest team around. They were kicking butt and taking names. QB Andy Dalton got a huge contact. Pundits claimed the team to be a Super Bowl team. The first four games certainly proved that to be true. After all, the Bengals were 4-0, and the big bad Patriots were done, finished, kaput, at least according to the talking heads.

That was until Week Five, on Sunday Night Football, when the two teams flipped the script. The Bengals became the Bungles, and the Patriots turned back into the holy terror they usually were. Ever since then, the Bengals became a fairly uneven team. They got blown out against the Indianapolis Colts, 27-0. They managed to sweep Baltimore. They got manhandled on Thursday Night Football by the Cleveland Browns. They were leading the Steelers at home until Big Ben got his offense moving. Even though the Bengals upset the Denver Broncos, on a Monday Night Football game, they went back to not doing well in the big game as they lost the AFC North Title to the Steelers.

The Indianapolis Colts are a great offensive juggernaut. That is not a surprise, given the fact that Andrew Luck is their QB. Luck has great chemistry with WR T. Y. Hilton, WR Reggie Wayne and his other weapons . Luck is a strong, smart QB, and has very good mobility. That being said, the Colts are not all that great on defense. Their best pass rusher, Robert Mathis, is out for the season. He was to come back after a suspension, but tore his Achilles while training privately. A team with a good running game can gash that defense line (Patriots RB Jonas Gray ran 201 yards on them.). The Colts secondary is decent.

As for the game, I am expecting a fairly high scoring game. Since it is in Indianapolis, I’m thinking that the Colts will play better. Andrew Luck and his receivers will have a field day with that fast track of a field. The Colts defense appears to be built to win with a lead. Andrew Luck will provide it. Yes, they did come back against the Chiefs last year, but again, it was at the Lucas Oil Stadium, and Chiefs Coach Andy Reid can be out-coached at times.

The Bengals have a very good defense. I am not sure they can stop Andrew Luck. In the regular season meeting, they gave up 27 points. The offense was not helping either that day. I am not all that confident that the defense can stop Luck on Sunday. No one, as of this writing, is sure if star WR A.J. Green is going to be able to play in this game, so that puts even more pressure on QB Andy Dalton to win the team’s first playoff game in 23 years.

My Prediction : The big question is whether the Cincinnati Bengals can go into a hostile environment and win a playoff game. Twenty three years is a very long drought. I’m not all that optimistic. The Bengals defense somehow have to get to Andrew Luck. They have to hit him constantly. The one weakness of the Colts appears to be that offensive line, as Luck gets hit a great deal. Luck throws a few picks, so guys like Reggie Nelson could have a good day if the defensive front can do something.

Andy Dalton can not make stupid throws. He must take care of the ball. I know he may be playing with or without a couple of targets, but if he has to rely on Gio Bernard, then he has to do that. WINNER : Indianapolis 35-28

#6 Detroit Lions at #3 Dallas Cowboys
Stadium :
Network : Fox
Kickoff : 4:40PM, EST

This game should be a great game. The Dallas Cowboys finally got a couple of monkeys off their collective backs. They did not go 8-8. They also didn’t collapse in December, and qualified for the post-season for the first time since 2009. The Cowboys won the NFC East as well. Now that they are in the playoffs, let’s see how far they will go.

Their opponents, the Detroit Lions were in the running for the NFC North title. They even were in the running for the #1 defense. However, they stubbed their collective toes, as the Seattle Seahawks are the #1 defense, and the Green Bay Packers are at home, getting ready for their divisional round opponent. The Lions also dealt with injuries to key players, such as RB Reggie Bush and DE Nick Fairley. However, the team qualified, despite all that.

As NFL fans know, DT Ndamukong Suh was initially suspended for this Sunday’s game because he walked backwards onto the injured calf of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. NFL Appeals officer Ted Cottrell reduced the punishment to $70,000. What saved Suh was that he had not been disciplined in 32 weeks. I think he was punished because of his past. His excuse was ridiculous. He said that his feet were freezing, and he could not feel Rodgers’ leg. He didn’t realize that his body was going up?

That being said, the fact that Suh will be in the game will change the dynamics of the game. Suh, whether you like him or not, is a game changer. That Dallas Cowboys offensive line is now going to have to account for Suh. I’m guessing that a TE will be used for max protection. With QB Tony Romo’s back condition, the last thing Cowboy fans want to see is Suh sacking Romo. Suh will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. I also expect to see quite a bit of play-action to slow down the Lions defensive front. I expect WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten to have a good day. I think the Dallas defense will be put to the test, but I think Rod Marinelli will have them prepared.

As for the Lions, QB Matthew Stafford needs to step up. He has to do better against teams with winning records. I know Calvin Johnson has been his main target, but Stafford needs to learn more about spreading the ball around. Golden Tate is another good target. The running game needs to step up. The cornerstone of the Lions going into the game is the defense. They have a very scary defensive front. They need to get to Tony Romo. The Lions need to interfere with his timing with Witten or Bryant.

Prediction : When Ndamukong Suh was initially suspended, I thought this was going to be a blowout by Dallas. I thought it was going to be easy sledding. Well, now that Suh is IN the game, I’m forced to rethink this. I’m still thinking that the Cowboys are the overall better team, as they’re the most balanced of the two. The fact that Suh is playing makes me think that this will be a closer game. Could an upset happen? It’s possible, but not likely. WINNER : Dallas 37-27

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