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The Top 10 Best NFL Super Bowls

February 02, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Super Bowl XXXIV Kevin DysonIt seems hard to believe that this will be the 46th time that the NFL will be bringing us a Super Bowl. 45 other games have been played and through the years we’ve seen a lot of stuff to make us salivate and wonder, “What can possibly top that?”

In the spirit of the big game coming up this Sunday between the AFC’s New England Patriots and the NFC’s New York Giants, I have decided to take us all down memory lane and look back at my top 10 best Super Bowls and look back at some other stuff that makes Super Sunday great.

Yes friends step right up and bring your Doritos, your buffalo wings, subs, and all the other great foods we like to feast on during the big game to the table. Don’t forget to bring lots of beer, and other beverages. Yes so much makes this event great, and most of America will all have some kind of favorite story. From Aerosmith and Britney Spears rocking to “Walk This Way” to Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson’s breast in the infamous “Wardrobe Malfunction” scandal.

Don’t forget about the best of commercials, with birds forming an army to try and splatter a freshly cleaned car with “bird poo”, all the great beer commercials, and who could forget the gorgeous “Go-Daddy” girl, and the beautiful Ally Landry doing acrobatic stunts while eating puffed Doritos, forcing every man in America to laundro-mats near and far. Not to mention great half-time shows away from the game, like Howard Sterns’ half-time raunchy fest, MTV’s Celebrity Death Match, and the first ever Lingerie Bowl, which has now led to the Lingerie Football League.

Okay enough about all that, it’s time for the best of the best that led us up to here. For all of you who follow me regularly, you will remember my top Thanksgiving day games, which got rave reviews, and for that I thank you. I’m pretty sure this list will spark debates, but hey its “my” personal top 10. This is why we offer a comment section, so you can feel free to express your views. Okay so here we are starting at my number 10:

Super Bowl XIII, January 21, 1979, The Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

Two of the very best teams of the 70’s met in a rematch of the Steelers victory a few years before. The Steelers came into the game having won back to back bowls a few years ago and boasted that amazing “Steel Curtain” defense. Terry Bradshaw was the games MVP throwing for 318 yards and a record 4 touchdowns. Bradshaw’s effort spoiled a good outing by Cowboy QB Roger Staubach who tallied 3 TDs. The Steelers big 2 receivers, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth each went over 100 yards receiving, with Stallworth collecting 2 TDs, and 1 for Swann. After the Steelers scored twice in a 22 second span to start the 4th quarter, Dallas had closed out with 2 scores in the final 2 minutes. However an onside kick attempt failed, locking up the win for the Steelers. It had been the highest scoring game of its time, as Super Bowls past were mostly lower scoring affairs, or lop-sided blow outs. It marked Pittsburgh’s fourth victory in the last 6 Super Bowls.

Super Bowl XXXII, January 25th, 1998, Qualcomm Stadium San Diego, California – Denver Broncos 31, Green Bay Packers 24

Two of the games most heroic, and reckless sharp shooting QB’s, Brett Favre and John Elway met on center stage in a battle of 2 very different teams. The Packers were Super Bowl winners the previous year and boasted a high flying passing attack with a stellar defense, while the Broncos were a smash-mouth, ground game offense with a decent defense. The Broncos were able to control the pace of the game led by game MVP, running back Terrel Davis, who rushed for 157 yards and 3 TDs, which is a record for running backs. They were able to out-do Favres good day of 256 yards and 2TDs. Davis’ final TD was a 2 yard walk with 1:46 left in the game after the Broncos were able to consume most of the clock in the 2nd half. Elway only contributed 125 passing yards and rushed for 1 TD, but it was enough on this day, as he managed a perfect offensive attack.

Super Bowl XXXIX, February 6th, 2005, Alltel Stadium Jacksonville, Florida – New England Patriots 24, Philadelphia Eagles 21

After three straight spoiled attempts in NFC Championship games, Andy Reid finally got his team to the big game where they would face the defending champs from New England. Despite striking first the Eagles could not contain Tom Brady and game MVP Deion Branch enough to pull a win out. The Pats defense collected 4 Eagles turnovers, and spoiled the return of Terrell Owens, who came back from an ankle injury to collect 9 catches for 122 yards. Donovan McNabb did manage 357 yards and 3 TDs for the Eagles, but will more be remembered for an alleged “vomiting” incident during the 4th quarter. Brady finished with 236 yards and 2 TDs, and Branch had 11 catches for 133 yards. The Eagles managed to score with 3 minutes left, then stopped the Pats on the next series, but could only muster 3 plays after that from their own 4 yard line.

Super Bowl III, January 12th, 1969, The Orange Bowl Miami, Florida – New York Jets 16, Baltimore Colts 7

We all know by now that a cocky young QB named Joe Namath came out on the Thursday before the game and boldly predicted that the Jets would upset the Colts. What we did not expect was how well the Jets would control the game. Star QB Johnny Unitas did not start for the Colts do to an injury and the Jets defense was able to intercept QB Earl Morrel 3 times. The Jets also did big things in the running game and controlled the pace throughout. Namath was the MVP, throwing for 208 yards. The Colts coming in had dominated all year losing just once in 16 games. The win was the first for the AFL, now known as the AFC, and a win that put Namath on the map. Meanwhile a weakend Unitas played the 4th quarter and managed a TD pass.

Super Bowl XXXVI, February 3rd, 2002, The Superdome New Orleans, Louisiana – New England Patriots 20, St. Louis Rams 17

The Patriots came into this game riding high behind the arm of a young unproven kid named Tom Brady, who took over earlier in the season for the much famed QB Drew Bledsoe, who was lost to an injury. The Rams brought in their “greatest show on turf” offense,led by Kurt Warner, who came from nowhere to lead them to victory just 2 years earlier. It was the first time we would see the masterful defensive mind of Bill Belichick truly befuddle a high scoring offense. The Rams could muster just 267 total yards and turned the ball over 3 times, while MVP Brady worked his magic and the Pats collected 427 yards of offense while committing no turnovers. The game was capped with Brady leading the Pats down field and placing Adam Vinatieri in position for a 48 yard field goal as time expired,marking the first time in history a Super Bowl was decided on the last play. The win began the great legacy of Brady, who was the MVP, Vinatieri who became known as “Mr Clutch” and Belichick, and ended the reign of the mighty Rams. The vision of a stunned Brady, hands on head and shaking his head as if to say “I can’t believe it” is still an iconic piece shown in many Super Bowl history videos.

Super Bowl XXXVIII, February 1st, 2004, Reliant Stadium Houston, Texas – New England Patriots 32, Carolina Panthers 29

Seen by many as a potential mismatch, Panthers head coach John Fox brought in his unlikely cast of winners led by Jake Delhomme, a former Saints back up and Louisiana guy. Delhomme was very Brady-like in his outing recording 322 yards and 3 TD’s, while game MVP Brady threw for 354 yards and 3 TD’s. The Panthers fought it tooth and nail and gave the now mighty Patriots more then they could handle. Delhomme connected on bombs of 55 and 85 yards to keep his team in the game. However the downfall came after the Panthers last score. Delhomme had thrown a 14 yard TD pass to receiver Ricky Proehl to tie the game up, but kicker John Kasay sent the following kick off out of bounds, giving it to New England at the 40 yard line. Brady just needed 3 plays to set up Adam Vinatieri for his 2nd consecutive Super Bowl winning kick with just 4 seconds left. It would be the 2nd of 3 Super Bowls for the Patriots.

Super Bowl XXV, January 22nd, 1991, Joe Robbie Stadium Miami, Florida – New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

A fully loaded Bills team with loads of talent came in to face a banged up Giants team who was playing without star QB Phil Simms. What happened was back up Jeff Hostetler playing an excellent game of management and game MVP Ottis Anderson working his battering ram running style into a Super Bowl record 41 minutes of time possession and controlled the game through out. Anderson ended with 102 yards and a TD, and Hostetler also had a TD. Thurman Thomas was the main guy for the Bills as he collected 190 yards of total offense. The Bills did get a last chance to win this game however, despite only seeing the ball for 7 minutes in the second half. After Giants kicker Matt Bahr gave the Giants a 20-19 lead, the Bills marched the ball downfield and got kicker Scott Norwood into position for a game winning 47 yard field goal. The rest, well quite simple, a historic miss known as “wide right” that haunts the fans of Buffalo and Norwood to this day. It was the Giants 2nd Super Bowl win in 5 years, and the beginning of a run that would see the Bills make 4 straight Super Bowls only to lose them all.

Super Bowl XLIII, February 1st, 2009, Raymond James Stadium Tampa, Florida – Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Arizona Cardinals 23

Last years game became an instant classic. Many had felt that the Cardinals, seen as much the lesser team, would be blown out of the building by the mighty Steelers led by coach Mike Tomlin and a very ferocious defense. What they got instead was a great game filled with great plays and lots of offensive fireworks. It marked the coming out party of Cardinals superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who collected 9 catches for 131 yards and 2 TDs. One of those being a long gain in which Fitzgerald was seen infamously watching the jumbo-tron to see the location of Steelers defenders behind him. The second was thought by many as the game winner with a minute remaining. Of course we all remember QB Ben Roethlisberger leading that final drive and game MVP Santonio Holmes becoming a miracle worker as well. Another big highlight was linebacker James Harrison scoring the longest TD in history taking a Cardinals turnover 99 yards right as the first half ended. The game however will always be remembered for Holmes and his skin of his toes 10 yard TD catch in the very back corner of the end zone with just 35 seconds left to play. It was the 2nd straight year a Super Bowl had been decided by a corner end zone catch with 35 seconds left and gave the Steelers the franchises 6th Super Bowl win, most in the league today.

Super Bowl XXIII, January 22, 1989, Joe Robbie Stadium Miami, Florida – San Francisco 49ers 20, Cincinnati Bengals 16

In a rematch of a game played some 7 Super Bowls before, the Bengals were out to stop the legendary Joe Montana and take revenge for a loss years back. The 49ers escaped the previous meeting with a 26-21 win, and many of the experts saw this as a better Niners team. The Bengals managed to stay tight through the whole game and at the half it was just 3-3, the lowest half-time score in Super Bowl history. The Bengals started the 3rd quarter with a 93 yard kick return TD by Stanley Pritchard, only to see Montana strike back and connect with the games MVP Jerry Rice to tie it up. Rice had ended the day with 11 catches for a Super Bowl record 215 yards and a TD. The Bengals were able to get the next 2 scores on field goals and held a 16-13 lead with just under 3 minutes left. 3 minutes? Perhaps they never heard of Mr. Montana. The 49ers got the football back on their own 4 yard line, then Montana went to work. He gently dissected the Bengals secondary, picking it apart and doing brilliant time management as well as a perfect display of field leadership. In what is my rendition of “the drive”, Montana completed the comeback with a 10 yard TD pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds remaining and sealing another Super Bowl for the 49ers, making them the first NFC team to win 3 Super Bowls.

Super Bowl XXXIV, January 30th, 2000, Georgia Dome Atlanta, Georgia – St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

A new century was upon us and a new era of football had come forth. In the pre-season the Rams had lost starting QB Trent Green, and with tears in his eyes at a press conference soon after, head coach Dick Vermeil had announced that an untested and unknown QB by the name of Kurt Warner would try and get them through this season. Warner had been an Arena football player, cut from several NFL teams and was working at a grocery store before the season. Through some miracle, the Rams had discovered the legendary “Greatest Show On Turf” led by Warner and loaded with talents like Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Marshall Faulk. “The Show’ jumped out early and held a 16-0 halftime lead over the Titans, led by QB Steve McNair. The Titans were out gained 280 to 98 in the first half but managed to keep it close. Over the next quarter the Titans managed to climb back in it, and became the first team in Super Bowl history to overcome a 16-0 deficit. McNair’s passing was near flawless as he completed 22 out of 26 passes for 214 yards, and RB Eddie George got the score tied at 16 with a 1 yard TD rush. Warner, not to be denied led the Rams down field on the next series and managed to drive them to a TD and got them on top 23-16. McNair and his team then took their turn on the field. McNair, playing with a fearless demeanor connected on passes of 23 and 16 yards, working his team down the field. After getting inside the 10 yard line, McNair failed on his next 2 attempts. His last effort seemed to be a Super Bowl miracle, as he danced around pass rushers and found receiver Kevin Dyson opened on a slant. Dyson caught the ball at the 7 yard line and broke for pay dirt, only to be met by Rams linebacker Mike Jones. After being hit Dyson stretched with all his might and reached for the goal line, only to have the ball stop 1 yard short and they watched time expire. Clearly the best finish in Super Bowl history, the Rams won their first and only of that era and the Titans can only wonder what may have been, ending just 1 yard short.

So what do we expect this year? Well 2 great QBs with 2 great offenses and good ball hawking defenses. It’s tough to know if we will have a top 10 game on our hands, but one can always dream. Hey if not, can we please have a replay of Ally Landry at the laundro-mat? “Hey, pass the Doritos”

If you’d like to hear anything else from me on topics or ideas I can be reached at [email protected].

100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History

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Madden 12 video game

NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD

Donovan McNabb Thinks The Chicago Bears Would’ve Won With him

January 23, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Donovan McNabb in a recent interview claims that not only should the Chicago Bears have signed him, but they would have won with him. A pretty bold statement coming from a guy that has been exiled by three teams in two years coming off of a 1-5 record as a starter.

As a Philadelphia Eagles fan I welcome the continued delusional ranting of Donovan McNabb. For years, Philadelphia fans were told how unappreciative we were to have such a great team player lead our football team. In the last two years McNabb has done a fantastic job of exposing himself to the national media and audience as one of the biggest frauds in recent memory.

What always bugged me is how the national media always had his back. No matter how bad of a game he played or how dumb of a thing he said in Philadelphia, Donovan was always the good guy. It was always about how lucky the Eagles were to have Donovan, rather than calling McNabb on his failures as a team leader. Luckily for us Philly fans all too familiar with the real #5, he has gone to two different teams, thrown numerous players and coaches under the bus, and has done a tremendous job of giving disgruntled Eagles fans a little bit of vindication.

McNabb’s latest moment of brilliance came last week in a radio interview. McNabb told ESPN 1000 in Chicago, “I thought the Bears would call, so many people continuously talked about the Mike Martz offense and things of that nature. I personally didn’t care about that. If you want to win and win now, you go out and get a better quarterback and you cater your offense to his strengths, and obviously the strengths of your team. Obviously it didn’t work out well for them. It’s unfortunate. I wish things would have worked out, but it didn’t. We will see what happens from now on.

Wow! I don’t think it gets any more classless than an NFL quarterback coming out in the media and throwing another starting NFL QB (& an entire team) under the bus. Have you ever noticed that when former NFL head coaches are asked about potential jobs that they never comment on a job that isn’t open? That is because the classy thing to do is not to throw anyone under the bus (although Jimmy Johnson’s sneaky pandering for the Miami Dolphins job when Don Shula was still there may be the exception) who is already in place in coach. It is classless, it is tasteless, and it says a lot about your character. For Donovan McNabb, none of that matters.

The irony here is that this is coming from a guy that has been shipped out of three teams in two years! This is coming from a guy that is 6-13 in his two seasons, 1-5 this season. This is a guy that is having a hard time living outside of the protective Philadelphia Eagles bubble. Donovan McNabb is a man that can’t take criticism and has made every excuse in the book for his last two seasons except taking any personal responsibility for his failures. Only a self-absorbed egomaniac would have the gall to tell someone in the media that he after a 1-5 record could have taken another NFL team into the postseason.

Newsflash! You had your shot the last two seasons and you didn’t even finish the season as a starter. And now you think you can come in with a handful of games to go and play better than the team’s current starting QB? Talk about a man that is living in another world.

I said it once and I said it again. This is a man that quit on his football team this season. He was demoted after six games to being a backup in Minnesota. Rumor has it that when the team wanted to demote him to third behind Joe Webb, he asked for his release. Now why would a team suddenly wish to promote Joe Webb ahead of McNabb? That is easy to figure out and instead of looking into the mirror, McNabb quit on the team. There is your team player.

I feel like a broken record when it comes to McNabb but people need to be reminded about what a cancer this guy has become in the last few years to his teams. In Philadelphia he blamed the youth of the team after getting blown out in Dallas. He blamed the defense for losing the NFL championship game in Arizona. In Washington he and his agent waged a public relations war with the coaching staff in mid-season. In Minnesota he quit on his team. The night after he was released from the Vikings he went on ESPN radio and told the host that in order to turn his play around that he needed better players, throwing his entire Minnesota offense under the bus. So according to McNabb, he would have been played better handing the ball off to Marion Barber and throwing to Roy Williams than playing in an offense with arguably the best running back in the NFL and one of the most explosive weapons at wide receiver currently in the game. For God’s sakes he was playing Adrian freaking Peterson! Does that make any sense to you?

Well it didn’t make any sense to the Chicago Bears or 30 other teams that had the opportunity to pick McNabb up after he was released. It was both funny and sad that you had McNabb telling Kurt Warner on the NFL Network that he expected 31 teams to call and in the end, he stayed at home. This is a man that is living in another universe! Shockingly not one NFL team felt that the great team leader would be an asset to their team. Shocking!

Thanks to my blogging I have gotten to know some NFL insiders over the last couple of years. The buzz is that McNabb has been lazy and uninspired in the last three years. According to many sources he was out of shape and did his best to stay that way. Remember when Mike Shanahan pulled him in overtime last year because Mike Shanahan said McNabb was not in good enough shape to run a two-minute drill? This is nothing new, yet Shanahan was the first coach that McNabb had to call him out on it. Remember when word broke from Washington that McNabb still had not learned the team’s playbook?

The reason why Donovan McNabb is not in Washington right now is because he was lazy,” reported a former NFL player. “He didn’t spend the time. Mike Shanahan likes guys who will work really hard. I narrow it down to two things. He’s either lazy, or he’s not very bright to pick up the offense. One or the other. I think he’s bright enough, I just think he was lazy.”

There were similar reports in Minnesota that he didn’t know the playbook and was late for practices (which he disputes of course). The man was spotted after all hanging out a Lingerie Football League game prior to his last start with the Vikings. Is that how you prep for a start when you are struggling to learn the offense? Do you see a trend here? This is not just some random story that popped up online from an unnamed blogger. This is a man with a history of being lazy and selfish.

Keep talking Donovan. You have lost the respect of a lot of fans, media, and former teammates in recent years (Anyone read what DeSean Jackson has had to say about his former QB? He only called him out on national television). Now he may have gone a step too far and lost the respect of your NFL peers. Good luck to any NFL team willing to take a shot on this guy next season. My hunch is that he will be doing more with his Communications degree than his NFL acumen from here on out.

But hey, at least Kurt Warner still has your back.

100 Yards of Glory: The Greatest Moments in NFL History

NFL Jerseys on Amazon.com

Madden 12 video game

NFL America’s Game Super Bowl I-XL on DVD

Repost – Ben Roethlisberger is the best QB in the NFL

February 01, 2011 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Not everyone under appreciates Ben Roethlisberger.After watching Ben Roethlisberger take the Steelers back from a 14 point deficit and a disastrous first half of play at home to beat the Ravens 31-24 it got me thinking about Big Ben. Is Ben Roethlisberger the most clutch QB in the NFL? If so, is he the most under appreciated QB in the NFL?

Without doing any scientific research the game got me thinking of all of the Ben Roethlisberger 4th quarter comebacks I have watched over the last six years. I am not a Pittsburgh Steelers fan at all, but it just seems as if I am watching Roethlisberger pull off clutch plays every season in dramatic fashion. Well after going back and actually doing some research not only was I right, but Ben Roethlisberger is the most clutch quarterback over seven seasons in the NFL.

The irony here is that you would never know it. The NFL media for obvious reasons have not given Big Ben his due for a long time. I say obvious because most of us know about Ben’s offseason charades which include accusations of sexual assaults (yes plural) and driving carelessly on a motorcycle. Type in “Ben Roethlisberger rape” into Google and you get over 82,000 results as opposed to “Ben Roethlisberger fourth quarter comebacks” which returns slightly over 30,000. On top of that, numerous reports came out after Ben’s incident last offseason in the bathroom as to Ben’s contentious relationship with the media and Steelers fans. The guy was quite frankly reported to be a big jerk and that just isn’t going to fly against the power of the pen or the keyboard.

But has it gotten to the point where the NFL media are just being petty? Troy Aikman said during the Packers vs. Falcons divisional playoff game, “If I were starting a franchise tomorrow, Aaron Rodgers would be my first choice as quarterback.” John Clayton from ESPN (ranked Ben fourth Brady, Manning, and Brees) when taking a look at his top ten. Whether it is Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, hell even Donovan McNabb when media and analysts talk about elite NFL quarterbacks rarely do you ever hear Ben Roethlisberger included in the conversation and that is quite frankly a disgrace.

If being a great NFL quarterback means being a great leader then Ben Roethlisberger is arguably the best in the NFL with Brady up for debate. Is there no better leader than putting your team on your back and not only bringing taking them out of a deficit but put them in position to win on top of that? Talk about the ultimate sports pressure. The Steelers are always given credit for their defense, but if there defense was so great than Big Ben wouldn’t need a comeback altogether. The clutch play of Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter is not only magical, but it is the type of quarteback play that makes legends and believe me when I tell you that decades after he is retired, Big Ben will be a legend.

On a list compiled by the NFL stats website pro-football-reference.com, Roethlisberger ranked 10th all time for NFL fourth-quarter comebacks. Their math differs with other stat sites in that they go back and use different metrics to rank their comebacks. The list was compiled in August 2009. Wikipedia.org and PFR.com lists Roethlisberger with 26 “Comebacks/game-winning drives in the fourth quarter/overtime,” after his win in the divisional playoffs this season. Keep in mind the difference between a fourth quarter comeback and and game-winning drive and that is even more impressive. That is 26 times Ben Roethlisberger led his team to a  4th quarter TD that won the game and that my friends is clutch.

Official Ben Roethlisberger NFL Jerseys

Big Ben comes out on top of Pro-Football-Reference.com‘s list of fourth quarter comeback wins over the first seven seasons of a career. That’s right on top! His go-ahead TD drive against the Ravens officially gives him 19 which is one more than Peyton Manning to lead the list. Behind Manning are John Elway with 17 and Tom Brady with 16. Only Tom Brady has more Super Bowl wins with three on his list. The only other starting QB in the top 15 is Eli Manning. When is the last time you heard anyone refer to Ben Roethlisberger with the same kind of reverence that is used when speaking of Tom Brady, John Elway, and Peyton Manning? Heck, if you didn’t watch football or read the list you would probably have no idea of just how good Roethlisberger is.

This is nothing new for a guy that wasn’t even drafted in the top ten. Big Ben set a NFL rookie record in 2004 with five comeback wins in the fourth quarter, and six game-winning drives in the fourth quarter/overtime (including one playoff game). Like the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time, Roethlisberger has been doing this since his rookie year. Look how long it took Peyton Manning, or John Elway to win a big game and you can see that this guy has been terrific since his first snap. If you look at his stats since his rookie year and didn’t know his name, you would think I was talking about Brady or Peyton Manning but nope, Big Ben is never in that same kind of conversation.

At the end of the day I think in 2011 it boils down to Big Ben and Tom Brady. While Brady gets weekly accolades about his postseason play, it is actually Roethlisberger that has been far superior over the last five seasons in the playoffs. Since 2005, Tom Brady is 5-5 in the postseason, 0-3 in his last three including losing a Super Bowl in which his team were heavily favored. Ben Roethlisberger is 8-1 with two Super Bowl wins including one of the greatest fourth-quarter comebacks against the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl history to win Super Bowl XLIII . If that isn’t the definition of clutch I don’t know what is.

If you don’t think there is any kind of media bias against Roethlisberger, just check out the NFL Network’s Top 100 players list they did earlier this  year.  The list is comprised on players voted on by a committee of former and current players along with the media. So where does someone with Roethlisberger’s impressive record of postseason wins and fourth quarter comeback victories rank on the list? How about nowhere? Roethlisberger isn’t even on the list! If winning games in the postseason including two Super Bowls and pulling off clutch wins in the fourth quarter on a consistent basis can’t get you ranked ahead of Kurt Warner than something is wrong with that list.

Whether Roethlisberger wins the Super Bowl this year or not, he needs to start being recognized as the great NFL quarterback that he is. Is it fair to rank him ahead of Tom Brady? Well Brady has one more Super Bowl win and was one of the best clutch QBs of all time, but what has he done in the last five years? Big Ben has only gone 8-1 in the postseason and won two Super Bowls, in addition to bringing his team back on a consistent basis. Ironically a Super Bowl XLV win or even appearance this year would probably get some instant respect but by the time September rolls around it will be all Brady and Manning with a sprinkle of Brees and Rodgers once again. A Super Bowl win should not only put him right at the top of the list of current QBs, but put him near the top of the all-time list.

So allow me to disagree with Troy Aikman and tell you that if I was starting a franchise tomorrow and could take any quarterback in the NFL I’d take the guy who is calm under pressure, clutch in the highest pressure situations, and gives me the best chance to win my games no matter what the deficit is. That quarterback isn’t Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Drew Brees…that guy is Ben Roethlisberger, the best quarterback in the NFL today.

Update: Big Ben is going back to the Super Bowl. Yes, he is that good.

Update #2: The Wall Street Journal breaks down Ben’s most recent postseason stats.

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EA Pulls A Fast One With Kurt Warner

February 07, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports, Videos

Kurt Warner Madden 10 Madden gamers woke up to an unexpected new EA Madden roster update this weekend. EA has been more diligent than ever this year in providing updated rosters and player attributes on a regular basis. While none of these Madden 10 updates are ever perfect, never in the history of Madden has this update sparked more controversy. The controversy revolves around the removal of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner.

After being eliminated in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, Kurt Warner announced his retirement. 12-year, three Super Bowl appearances, one Super Bowl win, and one Super Bowl MVP were enough. Over the last two years in particular, Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals have turned into one of the most teams to play in Madden. Madden does a great job of transitioning high-powered offensive teams like the Cards and Saints into the game with relevant plays and player attributes. The Cards and Warner in particular have been one of the most popular teams to play online against opponents or just at home against the CPU. Well without warning, the party is over!

EA Sports released their final Madden update over the year this weekend. The final roster update is more or less a report card for the players in the game. For example, Ray Lewis’ overall play decreased from a 94 to a 94. L.T. decreased from an 89 to an 86, while DeSean Jackson and Sidney Rice saw increases. The idea of this is to represent the game and its players as real as possible to the NFL 2009-2010 season. Well EA may have gone a bit overboard this time because they have completely removed Kurt Warner from the game. Warner is now listed as retired and he is unusable with the new update. The move is shocking to longtime Madden gamers and came without Kurt Warning (couldn’t help it.)

I didn’t notice this until today. I try to stay on top of the updates, but I haven’t played Madden all week. I signed online this morning to play and was told of the new roster update. I downloaded it and was shocked when I didn’t see Warner. I started to do a little investigating online and thus I discovered he is completely removed. The roster move has the entire EA community and Madden fan base outraged and rightfully so. The move goes against anything that Madden has done in previous years and hurts the integrity of the game. The entire idea of behind these roster updates is to give Madden gamers rosters and a game that is as real to the 2009-2010 NFL season as possible. Kurt Warner not only played a full season, but also played in the post season. This is isn’t like taking a third-string offensive lineman who announces his retirement out of the game. The fact that one of the elite starting NFL quarterbacks was removed from the game in which a season he participated and without warning for loyal gamers is beyond preposterous!

The removal of Warner also discredits EA’s DLC they sold earlier in the year to Madden gamers. There are several DLC components you can purchase for Madden. These DLC add-ons give Madden gamers a little more flexibility with the game. Two of the DLC options sold allowed gamers to un-retire two players who retire during a franchise season. The idea behind this was to give gamers a chance to keep Brett Favre (who auto retires after every season) or someone like Warner who sometimes does or doesn’t. A lot of DLC were sold specifically for this feature. Now, if gamers were to start a new franchise mode with the new update than they won’t even have a shot at using this with Warner since he has been removed entirely from the game.

The move is stunning considering how liberal EA has been over the years when it comes to unavailable players. Even with Michael Vick’s troubles, he was still available in the out-of-box Madden 07 game (removed in roster updates since he didn’t play the season), Plaxico Burress was left in last year as a free agent even after he was suspended and likely wouldn’t play this year because the game was supposed to represent the 2008-09 season which saw him play and then cut. Even the year after Brett Favre retired with the Packers, Favre was featured on the cover of the game! Pulling Warner out of the season he just played after he retires for next season is one of the most unusual and unnecessary moves I have ever seen in a Madden roster update since EA began doing roster updates years ago.

Do you have to grab the roster update? No. But the problem is that this came all without warning. With warning, would could just go play online, use the Warner-less update, and continue their games with Warner. The downside there is that you get none of the other hundreds of roster updates included in the newest update which, once again include increases and decreases to hundreds to NFL players. Not too mention, gamers grab the roster update and save it to their hard drive without thinking twice about it. Now those games are wondering where the heck Kurt Warner went? Not only was removing Warner from a 2009-10 roster ridiculous, what is even more ridiculous is the lack of warning that came with the update. It’s not like we are talking about the removal of a third-string defensive back. We are talking about the removal of one of the most popular players of the game!

My gut tells me that with all of the outrage that EA will correct this. I will give them credit and they have done a fairly good job of satisfying their communities and fan base within reason. Obviously they aren’t going to go back in and make changes based on every fan who wants their favorite player to go from a 90-91 rating. However, something like this transcends fans of one particular team or player. I would think that a change like this would be something that can be simply done as EA was able to include Michael Vick and Brett Favre in their rosters just a few days after they came back this season. So the issue isn’t whether this is something that can be done, but it is something that should be done. If not that, offer the previous update with Warner which again hurts the other hundred players that were updated, but it is a quick fix. The bottom line here is that EA really pulled a fast one on their most loyal customers this weekend and should do the right thing and fix it as soon as possible.

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Inside The Wheelhouse: So long Kurt Who

February 04, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Kurt WarnerKurt Warner, age 38, is calling it quits. In addition to being a lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, he was also the rarest of rare things in this age of all encompassing media: Kurt was a guy who TRULY took a professional sports league by storm. Kurt didn’t play his high school ball on ESPN; he didn’t come to the league with a 100 million dollar endorsement deal in tow. Not only was Kurt not drafted but he wasn’t even invited to the combine!

Kurt Warner played his college ball at Northern Iowa where he was able to parlay his on field success into a prolific career as a grocery bagger. There were stints in arena football and NFL Europe but it was mostly “paper or plastic” until the St. Louis Rams took a flier on him in 1998 and made him a backup to a couple of Big Guns named Tony Banks and Steve Bono. In 1999 the Rams signed Trent Green to be their starting QB only to lose him for the year to injury during the third pre season game. Coach Dick Vermeil actually wept at the press conference. (To be fair Vermeil wept at everything, he was the NFL equivalent of Glenn Beck, but sincere… I can’t imagine watching the Notebook with those two?)

Kurt Warner stepped in the NFL, undrafted, uninvited, UNKNOWN. All he does his rookie year is throw 41 touchdown passes and lead a Rams team that managed 4 wins the previous season to their first Super Bowl Championship. Oh yeah, something about an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP as well. He would go on to win another MVP, make 4 Pro-Bowls, and become only the second QB to lead two different teams to the Super Bowl. In three Super Bowl appearances Kurt averaged 385 yards a game! If Tom Brady was the draft day steal of the century, then Kurt has got to be the undrafted equivalent.

I doubt if this will ever happen again because nowadays the “scouting services” are ranking every kid that moves so the odds of eluding their prying eyes are infinitesimal. Forget college. Forget high school. Draft experts are now eyeing pre-teens. I can just see it now “When we come back Mel Kiper will join us to take a look at the top 10 sonograms to watch in 2010!” Farewell to Captain Kurt, the closest thing to an overnight sensation we may ever have again. He played in 3 Super Bowls or, one more than some guy name “Fav-ruh.” Perhaps if Kurt un-retires and then retires and then un-retires and then retires and then throws a season ending interception three straight years he will get his due.

– How bad did Scott Boras piss off Brian Cashman by the way??? I’m sure by now you’ve heard that Boras’ client, Johnny “26 homer, great 2 hitter, single handed stealer of game 4 of the world series” Damon, who is also one of the best clubhouse guys EVER, got let go because the Yanks can’t afford him. The Yankees have a budget? Something tells me “budget” is Cashman for “Hey Boras, you douche, your lucky Hank Steinbrenner caved to you on the A-Rod extension or the two of you would be in Toronto for 18 million a year, demanding a trade right now.”

– I’m not sure how much longer I’m going to be writing this column because I’m almost certain I’m going to be the fifth starter for the METS this year. Who else do they have?

- So we’re getting another season out of Jersey Shore….I thought Obama said we were a country that doesn’t torture? By the way I love those people from Jersey that take pains to point out that most of the cast isn’t from Jersey, as if that’s their states ONLY problem. That other shore where the senior citizens get bussed in toting oxygen tanks and social security checks isn’t a blemish at all…Shoot, Lady Gaga canceled on Atlantic City and something tells me that little troll whore would play the Staten Island Ferry if the dough was right

– I had Chris Carlin from SNY and previously WFAN in my cab the other day, talked a little NFL, most notably about my Oakland Raiders, we came to the conclusion that the only way for them to be good again is for Al Davis to die…I’m just putting it out there for you guys before I post the ad on Craig’s List…Carlin, by the way, was one of those people who pointed out the Jersey Shore cast wasn’t from there!!!! Cool dude, though, one of those people whose voice could make him sound like a dick but is definitely a softie…He’d probably play Santa at the holiday party…

– Also saw Mike Huckabee outside Fox News on 6th avenue and he is eating like he’s going to the chair-and not the host’s chair either…

– I’m still stuck on the Kurt Warner thing for some reason. The way I see it, the only thing that could keep him out of the Hall on the first ballot is his wife’s hair. But just to be safe Warner fans let’s destroy every copy of the game tapes from the Giant years…

– One week until Colts/Saints and I’m yet to find ANYONE who thinks the Saints can do this…that alone is reason for me to think they can but stay tuned as the pick will be out on Friday. I have to remind everyone I went 2-0 (Colts -7′ / +Vikings 3’) last week because my man Bower made a point to tell all of North America that I ate it on the Cowboys the week before. I didn’t even eat it, I drank it, the Cowboys got put in a juicer, and I was never in it…

– So Tim Tebow looked bad running a pro-style offense for a day and that’s supposed to be the end of the guy? How did Peyton Manning and Troy Aikman, to name a few, look after a FULL SEASON of running a pro offense? Just asking….

– I saw Miss Virginia win Miss USA last night with Rush Limbaugh sitting in as a judge. She was the only black finalist. I’m sure under any other President she would’ve lost but under the “socialist, Marxist, wealth redistributing administration” we have right now it only makes sense that she won. Can’t wait for his show Monday when he proclaims that he hopes she fails!!! Listening to Rush, Levin, Hannity, Savage, BECK, ya start to wonder if they really hate this Obama fellow or if maybe, just maybe, juuuuuussssssttttt maaaaayyyyyybbeeeeeee….they have to oppose every word he says because it’s good business. Juuuuuuuuussssssssstttttttt maybe, these ENTERTAINERS, are doing what’s best for their show and it’s, I mean their, bottom lines…

– The other day I heard Rush bitch that Obama is handling 911 like it was a crime…last I checked killing a few thousand people WAS AGAINST THE LAW in just about every state I know of, and while I didn’t find any laws that said it was illegal to steal a plane and fly it into a building, I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon in most circles…

Jimmy Failla can be reached at [email protected] or the Ann Service Taxi Dispatch on w’ 21st street because he’s making something of his life. Honest.

Jimmy Failla is a guest contributor “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

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Inside The Wheelhouse: Is Kurt Warner a Hall of Famer?

January 29, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Kurt WarnerAfter 12 NFL seasons Kurt Warner retired today from playing Football. Kurt Warner the last 12 years has given us one of the best real life stories that we may ever see in the NFL. He came from the bottom of the gutter working in grocery store, to holding up the Vince Lombardi trophy. He’s been from hell and back multiple times leaving a lasting impression on the game of Football.

Kurt is riding off into the sunset with the question that most people are asking themselves today. Is Kurt Warner a Hall of Famer? This may be the last time we see Kurt Warner in the spotlight until his day in Canton, Ohio…if that day ever comes.

We all know the heartfelt story of Kurt Warner where he bounced around working in a grocery store, playing in the Arena Football league and playing over in the NFL Europe league. With him lining up at center he took two franchises that were in the same gutter that he himself once lay in and brought them to being part of the NFL elite. Despite the Super Bowl trophy, despite the two NFL MVP awards, I still feel like Kurt Warner maybe an underrated player.

Underrated in the sense that his play was always overshadowed by the flashier, more mainstream quarterbacks like a Brett Favre, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning; he wasn’t the draw the America media wanted to grab a hold of. For the most part Kurt Warner seemed fine with his role in the social ladder of the NFL as he was more in tune on what was taking part on the field and not off it. He was one of the “good guys” in the NFL and truly embarked that moniker.

Warner led one of the best offensive units in the last decade in football when he was the quarterback for the early 2000s version of the St. Louis Rams aka “The Greatest Show on turf.” In his first season as a starting quarterback thanks to an injury from Trent Green that put him out for the year, he took a team that was 4-12 in its previous season, led them to a 13-3 record and helped guide them to winning the Super Bowl. In his first season as starting quarterback in the NFL (1999), he was named NFL MVP.

Kurt Warner had continued success in St. Louis guiding them back to the Super Bowl in 2001 where they lost to the eventual champion New England Patriots. Poor play and injuries his final two years in St. Louis led him to being released. His release led critics start wondering if this was it for the former 2-time NFL MVP and if it was time to write the final chapter in this good heartwarming story.

Warner would get picked up by the New York Giants to serve as a mentor to new first round quarterback Eli Manning. The Kurt Warner mentorship in New York lasted only nine games before they handed the keys to the city to Eli Manning for good. Once again people were wondering if this was the curtain call for Kurt Warner.

Enter the Arizona Cardinals, a team very much similar to that of the St. Louis Rams where embarrassment and bottom feeder went hand in hand with the team. Warner in his time in Arizona continued to fight for a starting job with the younger highly touted left hander from USC, Matt Leinart. Warner displayed the same fight he showed his entire NFL career when he joined the Arizona Cardinals.

While the final chapter many felt was being written in the book of Warner, Kurt Warner continued to fight for more pages in that book. Getting opportunity after opportunity in Arizona to continue to show his craft as a quarterback to the world and finally in 2008 he would reach the top of the NFL pedestal again by leading the upstart Arizona Cardinals ballclub back to the Super Bowl where they would fall short to the Pittsburgh Steelers in a great game.

For everything Kurt Warner has been through to where he is today, he is one of the most respected players in the game by fellow players and their fans. The truly feel good story ended today Friday January 29th, 2010 opening up the question whether or not we will see #13 be displayed in Canton. Is Kurt a Hall of Famer?

My answer is yes. Will it be a first ballot? Probably not, but he is without a doubt a Hall of Famer. Putting numbers and credentials aside, he displays the mental & physical toughness that it takes to be a top player in the NFL. He is a description of what it means to be motivated. When people tell you can’t do it, he was the type of person that would question it and say “watch this.”

He is the embodiment of a hall of fame football player and person. One of the few real “good guys” that whether you wearing a Raiders jersey or Patriots jersey you can applaud for everything he has given to the game. He rose from the bottom to the top, was written off and rose from the ashes yet again to prove us all wrong. He is a true fighter.

Someday Kurt Warner will don the coat of the NFL Hall of Fame. It may not be in 5 years, in may not be in 10. But someday when I take my family and my children through the NFL Football Hall of Fame Kurt Warner’s name will be etched in stone, his jersey enshrined and his legacy on display.

Top 10 Kurt Warner Moments

Jeff Peck is the producer for the “Wheelhouse Radio” program that airs every Sunday – Thursday @ 8pm ET/5pm PT at www.blogtalkradio.com/thewheelhouse and at www.errorfm.com @ 2am ET/11pm PT

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NFL Divisional Playoffs Recap and Thoughts

January 18, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Reggie BushWe are two rounds and eight games down in the NFL playoffs. Once again the NFL saved a weekend of lackluster games with a fantastic Sunday finale. Who would have thought that the San Diego Chargers and the New York Jets would provide the most intrigue on a weekend that featured the New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Indianapolis Colts?

Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints - As an NFL fan, this game was a bit of a disappointment. Like many, I was fooled last week into believing that the Cardinals may be a team of destiny. After shredding arguably the best defense in the NFC, the Cardinals marched into New Orleans and were less competitive with the Saints than either the Detroit Lions or the Washington Redskins during the regular season.

The headline of this game was the coming out party for Reggie Bush. After a disappointing NFL career, Reggie Bush finally did what anyone that watched him at USC expected him to do in the NFL. Bush was a game-changer this weekend and became the nuclear weapon on a team full of weapons. Bush made life a lot easier for the Saints by returning an 83-yard punt for a touchdown as the Cardinals just watched him flash by them en route to the end zone.

Many skeptics were concerned about the way the Saints finished the season. After winning 13 games in a row, the Saints were losers of their last three. Taking a page out of the New England Patriots book, the Saints couldn’t have opened the game any worse. Tim Hightower broke off a 70-yard touchdown run on the Cardinals first offensive play. Unlike the Patriots, the Saints were able to rebound and counter the touchdown with 21 points of their own in the first quarter.

The game just kept getting uglier for the Cardinals. Kurt Warner was nailed and was taken out for a few series. Cardinals’ defensive players Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Antrel Rolle each left the game due to injuries. The Cardinals were inept on both sides of the ball. It was pure and total domination by the New Orleans Saints.

Drew Brees said something interesting after the game. When asked about coming into the game with three losses, he said it was part of their plan that nobody would understand who didn’t play on the team. That was a very interesting statement to me, which has been surprisingly ignored by most of the media. If that was truly the plan, that may be one of the biggest high risk-high reward plans in NFL history. Regardless, the Saints will host the Vikings next week and look better than ever returning to the NFC title game for the first time in several years.

Ironically most of the talk following this game centered on Kurt Warner. Warner will play the role of Brett Favre this season as the quarterback who may or may not retire. Warner has said that it will be a fast decision. Warner has one year left on his contract. I think this guy is the ultimate competitor. Remember, unlike a lot of NFL star quarterbacks Warner started his career late. So as wealthy as Warner is, one more year would mean a lot more to him financially than most quarterbacks. Warner also had years where he made backup QB money. I think between the finances and the way he went out in New Orleans, he comes back to finish out his contract with less drama than Favre.

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts - Very rarely do all number one NFL seeds make it out of the divisional round with wins. I picked the Baltimore Ravens to be that team to pull off the upset. Boy was I wrong!

There isn’t a whole lot to say about this game. The Colts looked better than they have in months. The Colts were on fire and unstoppable on both sides of the ball. It is funny to me that every year around this time that the critics always say how terrible the Colts rushing defense is coming into the playoffs, yet most of the time they do just fine. The Colts held a team to three points that just scored 33 the week before. The Colts held one of the best rushing teams in the league to 87 rushing yards total. This is not the same turnstile rushing defense that Indy has taken with them into the postseason in past years.

The Ravens just had nothing on offense. I like the Ravens a lot. However, this is a team that is old on all sides of the ball. Some of these guys may play great during the regular season, but I don’t think they can sustain that level of play in weeks 18 and 19 in January. I hate to say it but I see a couple of transition years for the Ravens before they get back here. As great as Ray Rice is and will be, he can’t do it alone. Even the great Barry Sanders couldn’t do it himself.

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings - If there was a main-event going into this weekend’s games, this was it. The Dallas Cowboys were the hottest team in the NFC and looked unstoppable. The Vikings have struggled off and on in recent weeks and looked like a team that would be taken apart by Romo and the Dallas offense. I wrote in my blog last week that as great as the Cowboys looked recently, most of their wins came against teams that were nowhere near as good as the Vikings. Well, I was right about something this week.

As much as I hate blowouts, I love seeing the Cowboys get blown out. If there is anything better than seeing the Cowboys get blown out, it is hearing them whine about it like a bunch of babies. Keith Brookings and Wade Phillips look like the biggest babies in football today after complaining about the Vikings running up the score. I guess they had no problems with the Cowboys scoring a touchdown last week in the third quarter when they were up 27-7 on the Philadelphia Eagles right?

All of the talk when Brett Favre signed with the Minnesota Vikings was whether he could last a full season. Not only has he lasted, he has gotten better as the season progressed. Favre threw four touchdowns yesterday. How big is that? Brett Favre had never thrown four touchdowns in a playoff game in his entire career. Favre is also the oldest NFL quarterback to win a playoff game. Keep in mind that unlike Drew Brees or Peyton Manning, Favre never sat in his final regular season game. Like him or not, what the guy has done this season is just simply remarkable.

Lost in all of the Favre talk was the terrible job by the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys actually had some shots in the first half of the game. However, the Vikings rushed and confused Tony Romo throughout the game thus containing the offense. Romo was never able to get comfortable and looked skiddish as the game moved on. The old postseason mistake-prone Tony Romo came to Minnesota as Romo coughed up the ball several times for a total for four turnovers between fumbles and an interception. I don’t think I have ever seen a defense get into the head of a quarterback like what the Vikings did to Romo.

Like the other NFC game, the story here is more about the losers than the winners. Once again head coach Wade Phillips will find himself on the hot seat. Better coaches have gotten fired for worse in the NFL. Phillips has a team option for next year that is in limbo right now. Jerry Jones has said all season that he would wait until the season was over to evaluate the coach. It will be very interesting to see if their rout at home last week will save his job.

Tony Romo will also enter the 2010-2011 NFL season with more criticism than ever. As much as people like to say he has gotten rid of the December-January jinx, he really hasn’t. Winning one post season game in five years against the Philadelphia Eagles at home while nice, is nothing that will get him into the Hall of Fame. I don’t think that the Cowboys make any kind of change next year. However, I think anything less than an appearance in the NFC title game next season will be enough to get Jerry thinking about the following season. Now that is a lot of pressure for a quarterback!

New York Jets vs. San Diego Chargers – I apologize to New York Jets fans. I called the Jets a fraudulent team a few weeks ago. In looking back, if it wasn’t for the Colts sitting their starters, the Jets would not have made the playoffs. At the same time, it doesn’t matter how you get there, it matters what you do when you get there. In retrospect, a team like that can sometimes be the most dangerous team in the playoffs.

I like Marvin Lewis a lot, but how do you not give Rex Ryan Coach of the Year? The guy has turned this team into a defensive juggernaut andshut down some of the most explosive offenses in the NFL this season. On top of that, as a rookie head coach he took a team with a rookie quarterback to the playoffs. This isn’t a team that had Bubby Brister quarterbacking last season. He took a team that had Brett Favre at quarterback further with a suspect rookie quarterback. On top of even that, he lost his x-factor Leon Washington and didn’t miss a beat. I loved his father and I have become a huge fan of Rex Ryan.

Oh to be a San Diego Chargers fan today. If the Cowboys were the hottest team in the NFC, the Chargers were the hottest team in all of football. The Chargers rolled into the playoffs winning eleven straight. Not only that, but the Chargers beat some good teams and came back from losing situations to do so. Philip Rivers looked to be playing the best ball of his career. Even the coaching brilliance of Norv Turner couldn’t stop this team…until yesterday.

It was as if I closed my eyes and woke up to see Andy Reid coaching the Chargers. The overall ranked fifth best offense in the NFL was shut down for most of the game yesterday. The Chargers had no answer for Darrelle Revis or the crazy blitzing scheme of the Jets. At one point Philip Rivers threw back to back interceptions in the game. The Jets kept it close all game long and wound up sealing the deal with a Shonn Greene 53-yard touchdown run.

I can’t talk about this game without mentioning the kicker. In one of the biggest shockers of the weekend, Mr. Automatic Nate Kaeding missed three field goals yesterday. While I wouldn’t get too crazy about missing a 57-yard attempt , he missed two easy chip shots. Obviously by looking at the final score, even just making one of those field goals would have made this a different game. However, in the end it is up to the team and the coach to pick things back up and compensate for his inability to make these shots. A team as explosive as the Chargers who were shut down to just 14 points can only put so much blame on their kicker.

There hasn’t been a team as hot for three straight weeks as the New York Jets. The book on beating the Jets is simple. Teams need to score and score big all game long. Rex Ryan loves to keep games close and wear teams down with the rushing attack. That is exactly what happened here. The Chargers had a hot second-quarter but only managed to put seven points on the board. That isn’t enough separation when you are playing the Jets. Blame the missed field goals all day long, but the running back and quarterback were just awful yesterday for the Chargers.

Like the Cowboys, Norv Turner entered the season on the hot seat. Reportedly, Turner had been assured a few weeks ago that he would get an extension. If you are a Chargers fan, you have to put this loss on the coach. Turner had no answers for Ryan’s defense and looked more confused as the game played out. Marty Schottenheimer was fired by the Chargers for losing to the Jets in almost the same scenario a few years back. Even more like Turner, Schottenheimer was first told he’d be back but wound up leaving the organization. San Diego has a very good team here, but their coach just hasn’t gotten it done.

There will also be talk about the future of LaDainian Tomlinson. L.T. is due a healthy roster bonus coming up. L.T. was held to just 24 yards on the ground yesterday. L.T. has gotten his touchdowns this season, but most of them have been short runs. L.T. is not going to be breaking off big runs anymore. I do think he will get a shot with another team, but I would be very surprised to see him back with the Chargers.

I couldn’t think of a worst scenario for the Colts. I will talk more about this game later in the week, but this is the kind of a game that can beat a team mentally. It is real simple. If the Colts wouldn’t have sat their starters, they would be playing someone else next week. Hey, if they beat the Jets than none of that matters. If they don’t, they will be second-guessing themselves for their rest of their lives. The NFL Gods will be rooting for the Jets next Sunday.

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Inside The Wheelhouse: NFL Divisional Round Picks & Prediction

January 15, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Brett Favre and Brad ChildressAfter a thoroughly embarrassing Wild Card Weekend, its time for some redemption. (Or a chance at epic futility…either way you have to be on the edge of your seat, right?)

Arizona Cardinals at New Orleans Saints

I picked the Saints at the beginning of the season and I’m sticking with them. Yes, they played like crap the last 3 games of the season. Yes, the Cowboys whooped them in their own house on a national stage while they were going for perfection. But this team is too talented, has too many playmakers, and played too well the whole year to fall apart now. This game is much more about how the Saints play than the Cardinals and Kurt Warner. Sit back, get a frosty beverage and watch the points pile up. Pick: Saints

Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

Doesn’t it just feel like the Colts season ended with Curtis Painter fumbling versus the Jets? The look on Peyton Manning’s face, the overall mood of the team, and the total outrage and disappointment by the entire fan base really makes it seem like the Colts season was over. They’re the number one seed, have the current no-doubt MVP, and have several playmakers. So why am I picking the Ravens? Because I watched what they did to the Patriots last week. And I don’t think the Colts can simply turn it back on again. Could I be sitting in this seat on Sunday night saying, “Oh yeah. I picked against Peyton on a Saturday night game and that made me 0-6 for the playoffs?” Sure I could. The Ravens won’t surprise the Colts with their physical play, and if they do, then that’s the first sign that Jim Caldwell is Barry Switzer to Tony Dungy’s Jimmy Johnson. Manning will spend a lot of time on his back and Colts fans will have to hope their season doesn’t really end with another Curtis Painter fumble. Pick: Ravens

Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings

When an embattled head coach gets a gift season from an aging veteran, its usually a movie. When that veteran thinks the head coach is an idiot and openly squabbles with him in the press, its Brett Farve. Who believes everything is hunky-dorie in the Land of 1,000 Lakes? Based on the way this team played down the stretch, they are relying on the 40-year-old Farve to keep the magic happening. Isn’t that a bit much to ask? (Apparently not for the Cardinals, but I digress…)Especially when the Vikings have one of the top 3 running backs in football. The Cowboys are playing their best football all year and have loads of talent everywhere on the field. (But I can’t help shake the thought of a gut-wrenching, epic failure play being the story of the weekend for Tony Romo…again.) This is a close one that will go back and forth and be decided on the final possession. Pick: Cowboys

New York Jets at San Diego Chargers

The Chargers have radios. They have the internet. (At least Shawne Merriman has Twitter. I know that.) They know that people are talking about the Jets coming in there and beating them. That the J-E-T-S have this lauded defense. That head coach Rex Ryan said they should be the favorites not to just win last week, but for the entire tournament. The Jets got a nice win over the weakest of the 12 teams in the playoffs. Congrats! But the Chargers are quite different. The Chargers are on a 11-game winning streak. The Chargers scored the most points in the AFC this year. And the Chargers play in one of he most beautiful places on Earth! How could they not be confident? Answer: they are coached by Norv Turner. But other than that, the Chargers are the better team. And the better team wins here. By a lot. Pick: Chargers

- “The Sweet Nasty” Chris Cause

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NFL Divisional Playoffs Preview and Picks

January 15, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Drew Brees & Peyton Manninng The NFL playoffs move on to the divisional round this weekend. After a weekend of upsets and heartbreak, the pretenders move over for the contenders. The number one seeds return from a week off with renewed energy, maximum intensity, and a ton of pressure. How much of an advantage does the number one seed have in the NFL playoffs? Only one top seed has won the Super Bowl in the last ten years.

The number two seed in the AFC, the San Diego Chargers kick off the weekend hosting the New York Jets. The Jets will get a break from two weeks of chilly conditions by heading to the beautiful sun of San Diego. The Chargers come off of a week of rest and hope to have their future Hall of Fame running back start and finish a playoff game for the first time since the 2007 Wild Card round.

The Jets have proven me and just about everyone else wrong with their win last week. The Jets would not have made the playoffs if not for that charade in Indianapolis by the Colts. Yet the Jets came up huge two weeks straight against the Cincinnati Bengals, who are no pushovers. The Jets were able to hold off the relentless rushing attack of the Bengals last week and shutdown any hopes that the Bengals had at getting it done in the air. The New York Jets haven’t looked this great since they rolled off three wins in a row to start the season.

The San Diego Chargers are the hands down hottest team entering the playoffs. The Chargers have rolled off 11 straight wins against some of the best teams in the NFL. The Chargers have been the upset kings of past playoff rounds, but this year come in as perennial favorites to play in the AFC title game. There is probably more pressure on Philip Rivers, Norv Turner, and L.T. than any other year in this particular unit’s history. A one and out loss would be absolutely devastating to this team.

The Jets are playing with house money. The Jets weren’t supposed to be here. Nobody expected the Jets to make the playoffs this year without Leon Washington, Laverneus Coles, and Brett Favre to get to the divisional round with Shonn Greene, Braylon Edwards, and Mark Sanchez. As great as Rex Ryan’s defenses have been in Baltimore, even the biggest Jet fans expected a transition period. By all accounts, this is a team that should have been an 8-8 team in transition. Heck, the coach didn’t even know the team was still eligible for the playoffs three weeks ago and was begging Peyton Manning to sit! This is a pretty special team playing way over their heads at the right time of the year.

This is a fairly simple game to break down. Can the Jets rushing attack hang with the aerial attack of the Chargers? The last two weeks of Jets football have been practically flawless, so I say yes. As a matter of a fact, this is probably the worst matchup that the Chargers can get through the AFC playoffs. The only glaring weakness that I believe the Chargers have is against a power running team. A power running team like the Jets is exactly the kind of team that can beat the Chargers.

Darrelle Revis has also become an X, Y, and Z factor all season. At this point, you may as well count on nothing from Vincent Jackson. The Jets will also blitz Philip Rivers all day and he hasn’t seen anything like the Jets defense this season. The gamble here for the Jets is that they get to Rivers. If they don’t, he will make them pay dearly with short passes to L.T. and Darren Sproles who will turn those short catches into big gains. In my mind, that is the best game plan the Chargers have going into Saturday afternoon’s game.

I am going to lean towards San Diego here. For one thing, number two seeds have had great success in the NFL playoffs. Another thing here that makes me lean towards the Chargers is their quarterback. As unlikeable as Rivers can be at times, he has looked brilliant this year. Not only has he played well, has taken the Chargers back from deficits, and stayed cool under pressure. Eventually the Jets are going to have to cover the flats, leaving someone open wide for Rivers. I like the Chargers to win here and move on to the AFC title game.

The New Orleans Saints host the Arizona Cardinals this weekend in what looks to be the most entertaining game of the post season. These are two teams that can put up 21 points each without even blinking. Kurt Warner and the Cardinals’ offense looked unbeatable last week. As great as his performance was last week, Warner has been money in the playoffs for most of his career. Kurt Warner is 9-3 in the post season with three Super Bowl appearances. The pressure of going into a hostile situation is nothing new for this future Hall of Fame quarterback.

For thirteen weeks it looked as if the Super Bowl was all but a formality for the New Orleans Saints. Whether it was the first quarter or down by 21 to the Dolphins, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense looked unstoppable. The breaks always seemed to go the Saints way such as the win in Washington with the kicker missing a field goal that would have ended the Saints undefeated season. As impressive as their offense was, their defense came up huge several times throughout the season. Overall, this team looked like the total package until the Dallas Cowboys came in and rocked their world.

The Saints have not been the same football team since losing to the Cowboys. The Saints finished the season 0-3 losing to the Cowboys, Bucs and Panthers. Even though many starters sat for the Panthers game, there were no excuses for the Bucs and Cowboys games. Tony Romo and the Cowboys seemed to expose some glaring holes in both the New Orleans Saints offense and defense. This is a team that hasn’t won a football game in over a month!

The Cardinals are just an unbelievable offensive team to watch. They are a very similar team to last year’s team. Remember the NFC title game when they just went back and forth with the Eagles? The Cards may get Anquan Boldin back this week which would only improve their passing attack. On defense, they are very suspect and could be in for a long day against the Saints. The Cards finished the season overall 23rd against the pass on defense. That is not going to get it done against the Saints who had the best passing attack in the NFL.

The biggest problem the Saints may have on Saturday is named Darnell Dockett. Dockett is a heck of an athlete and has wrecked havoc on offenses all season. The problem the Saints had with the Cowboys was pressure. Dockett presents a similar problem and could make it a very long day for Drew Brees. The Arizona linebackers can also turn Drew Brees into an average quarterback with the way they swarm around. With Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie expected to play, Brees may have a lot of trouble finding open receivers against the Cards.

In the end, I tend to lean a little more towards the Saints. I almost think that Arizona blew their load last week. Yes, the Cardinals pulled out one of the great overtime wins in NFL postseason history. However, the Cards also let up on a healthy lead and couldn’t stop Aaron Rodgers once he got into his zone. Drew Brees will make them pay dearly for sleeping on him for five minutes, more or less a whole second-half of a game. I look for the Saints to win this one, and win it by a healthy margin.

The most intriguing game takes place on Sunday afternoon when the Baltimore Ravens travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts. Like the Saints, the Colts will be stumbling into the playoffs after losing a couple of games. It will be exactly one month since the last time the Colts won, when they host the Ravens on Sunday. On the flip side, the Ravens are red hot coming off of a lopsided smack down of the New England Patriots on the road.

Like the Saints, a few weeks ago the Super Bowl seemed like just a formality for the Colts. The Colts were rolling along on their way to making NFL history by potentially finishing an entire season undefeated. Instead, head coach Jim Caldwell pulled his starters in the second half, the team collapsed, lost the game, and will be the topic of one of the biggest controversies in NFL history. The Colts continued to play this game for the finale and come into the playoffs losers of their last two games.

Like the Jets, the Ravens have the edge in this game due to their rushing attack. The three-headed monster presents runners of different shapes, sizes, and attributes which makes them an almost impossible team to game plan against. If there is any weakness on the Colts, it is their rushing defense. Ray Rice is arguably the most dangerous running back in the NFL with the way he can turn a 0-yard screen into a 60-yard touchdown. This is a team that is not to be taken lightly and a team that I feel is not a one-week fluke.

Obviously the Indianapolis Colts are all about Peyton Manning. As Peyton goes, the Colts go. The Ravens are a lot like the Dolphins. A team built around a great rushing attack with a weak secondary. Peyton Manning dismantled the Dolphins earlier this season. The best way to beat the Ravens is to get up on them early. An early lead takes away the Ravens’ running game and makes them rely on Joe Flacco. This is something that the Colts were able to do to run-heavy teams all season.

There is a better chance than not, that there will be a huge upset this weekend. Number one seeds have been jinxed over the last decade in the playoffs. This reminds me a lot of the story from two years ago. The Colts roll through the regular season, rest players towards the end of the season, have a week off, and get shocked by the San Diego Chargers at home. The Ravens are also a lot like that 2006-07 Chargers team as well and the matchup is very similar. I am picking the Ravens in an upset special this week to shock the world, the Colts, and make San Diego Chargers fans very happy.

Finally, the most competitive game is saved for last. The Dallas Cowboys will travel to Minnesota to take on the second seeded Minnesota Vikings. Tony Romo vs. Brett Favre will be the storyline of the day. This was a matchup that most of us expected in the NFC title game two years ago. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans’, the New York Giants had other plans in mind and wound up upsetting the Cowboys that year and taking the trip to Lambeau Field, thus stealing hopes of a marquee Romo vs. Favre postseason showdown. Two years later, we finally get the matchup and it couldn’t be better.

As hot as the Chargers are in the AFC, the Dallas Cowboys enter this game as the hottest team in the NFC. No longer can Cowboy haters like me call Tony Romo a choke artist in December and January. The Cowboys did something last week that they haven’t been able to do in over ten years, which is win a playoff game. All of the stats about Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys futility in the playoffs are moot at this stage of the game.

The Vikings looked like the most complete team in the NFC for most of the season. Their defense was vicious, their offense looked unstoppable, and even their special teams play was second to none in the NFC. Then came the Sunday night game and the loss in Arizona. The Vikings were dominated for the first time all season. Brett Favre seemed to revert back to Brett Favre-New York Jet. Brad Childress forgot how to coach, and the offensive line looked like they were on bye week. Finally, the Vikings looked human.

If there is one thing consistent about the Vikings this season it was home play. The Vikings are undefeated at home this season. That fact and the fact that they play in a dome gives them a huge advantage over the Cowboys. I don’t think you win eight games by accident by home. All of the critics who said Brett Favre would not be able to make it through a full season were proven wrong. Favre has a week off and looked reborn in the second half of the Monday Night Football season finale against Chicago. Favre closed out the season looking better than ever against the Giants. This is a very dangerous team.

The Cowboys are coming off two back-to-back romps over the Philadelphia Eagles. The Cowboys defense has been simply lights out over the last two weeks. The Cowboys have only allowed 14 points in twelve quarters of play against two division rivals. It doesn’t get much better than that in the NFL. On offense, Romo has looked just as sharp as the elite crowd of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees. The Cowboys rushing attack has seen new life with Marion Barber running over Eagles’ linebackers the last two weeks like they were made of cardboard. As complete as the Vikings were all season, the Cowboys have been the most complete team over the last several weeks.

There is one thing different about the Vikings as opposed to anyone else they have played in eight weeks. The Vikings can and will stop the run. The Vikings boast the number two defense in the entire NFL against the run. The Cowboys haven’t played a team this good against the run since Week 10 when they played the Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys were held to just 61 yards on the ground. Romo was held to just one touchdown, and made one turnover. The lack of a run game frustrated the Cowboys all game and they wound up losing in a miserable 7-17 effort.

The Vikings are also the most two-dimensional offense that the Cowboys will have seen arguably all season. Personally, I think one of the reasons that the Cowboys dominated the birds so easily was the one-dimensional attack of the Eagles offense. The Cowboys concentrated on a heavy pass rush which frustrated Donovan McNabb all day. The Eagles barely have a rushing attack, so the threat just wasn’t there. Brett Favre and the Vikings will make the Cowboys pay all night long if they play that same kind of a game. Adrian Peterson is no joke and the Cowboys linebackers may be too undersized to stop him.

I think this will be a tight game and maybe the most exciting of the weekend in terms of close finishes. I just love the Vikings in this spot. I won’t say the Cowboys are all smoke and mirrors, but other than the New Orleans win, their wins come against the Giants, Raiders, Eagles, and Redskins. These aren’t exactly impressive wins. Looking at the Dallas Cowboys schedule, their toughest opponents all season were the Packers, Saints, and Chargers and they managed to go 1-2 against those teams. The Vikings have played and beaten better teams than the Cowboys. Jared Allen has the potential to turn Flozell Adams’ postseason dreams into a long nightmare. I love the Vikings and Brett Favre to move on to New Orleans in the championship round.

NFL Divisional Playoff Round Picks!

I had my worst week of the season going 0-4 with my NFL playoff picks. I am turning into the Tony Romo of NFL playoff picks. Let’s see if I can turn this around and play more like Tony Romo 2010 than Romo 2006-2009. Now for the NFL Divisional Playoff Picks (Picks in BOLD) –

New York at San Diego

Arizona at New Orleans

Dallas at Minnesota

Baltimore at Indianapolis

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NFL Wild Card Preview and Picks

January 08, 2010 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles After 17 of some of the most exciting weeks in NFL regular season history, the playoffs have officially arrived. The 2009-10 NFL Wild Card weekend looks more like an NFL Network Replay marathon of the Week 17 regular season schedule. This weekend will feature all season rematches, three of which are rematches from a week ago.

Before jumping into each game there is something that I wanted to point out about all of the games this weekend. Obviously with three immediate rematches, we have three teams that lost last week, four in all if you through the Pats in. Fans and teams can make excuses for their teams and in some games where starters sat, some of those excuses could be legitimate. Regardless of the reason, no team that made it to the final four in last season’s playoffs lost its final regular season game. That is great news for Packers, Jets, Ravens, and Cowboys fans.

Let’s start out with the game that hits closest to my heart between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. After being declared the hottest team in the NFC, the Eagles reminded fans like me why we can’t trust them in certain situations. Rivalry game, on the road, second seed on the line, and the Eagles decided to take their Bye Week early. The Dallas Cowboys spanked the birds at home and locked up the NFC East, and a home game this weekend with last week’s drubbing.

This is about the only situation that the Eagles do not want to be in on Wild Card weekend. The Cowboys looked to have figured the Eagles out on both the offense and defense last week. The Eagles are a lot like the Philadelphia Phillies. The Eagles are a home-run or bust team. If McNabb can connect on those long bombs to Jeremy Maclin or DeSean Jackson, he and the birds will cruise easily to a win. Take those bombs away from McNabb and this team is in big trouble. God forbid Andy Reid actually has to coach and game plan for one week right?

While the Eagles didn’t get blown out earlier this season in their first meeting against the Cowboys, they were still shut down. I think the biggest issue here facing the birds is the Cowboys 3-4 defense. The defense takes away the screen, which the Eagles also love to play to death. The pressure from speedy linebackers and DeMarcus Ware on McNabb doesn’t allow him to sit back and wait for his receivers to get down field. It is truly a nightmare scenario for the Eagles. The only chance that the birds have at scoring points is to get a run game going early and open up the pass. Otherwise, the Cowboys will tee off on McNabb all day and we will see a replay of last week.

Defensively, the birds have had problems all year. While everyone remembers all of those points the birds put up against the New York Giants, Eagles fans don’t like to talk about the points given up in the same game. This team has serious issues at linebacker, specifically middle linebacker. If the birds put in Omar Gaither, the Cowboys will run all over him. If the birds put in Jeremiah Trotter, the Cowboys will pass to Jason Witten or Felix Jones all night long. The Eagles need to put pressure on Tony Romo and with Trent Cole double teamed, I have no idea where that is going to come from. The Eagles did a fairly good job of holding this offense down during their first meeting. However, that was many weeks ago and the Cowboys just seem much hotter while the birds defense looks more confused than ever going into the post season.

Finally, I have to bring up some intangibles here. There were several off-field incidents this week that hurt the Eagles badly. One, Donovan McNabb and DeSean Jackson have had words over what McNabb said in the post game last week. Two, Jackson has been tweeting some trash talk which is the same kind of stuff that worked against Freddie Mitchell when he talked trash on Rodney Harrison before the Super Bowl. Finally and maybe the most egregious act of all, Eagles employee and media man Dave Spadaro has a video on You Tube of himself spitting on the Dallas star at the new stadium. Not only should Spadaro be fired, as an Eagles fan I am irate beyond words that a little mole who doesn’t even play the game may be the intangible that fires up the Cowboys to go a little extra this week in practice, and destroy the birds on Saturday.

Before I anoint the Cowboys, I do want to bring up a few things. This is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have looked unstoppable every year that they have made the playoffs with Tony Romo, and have choked in every game. Between Romo’s fumble against the Seahawks and the inept offense against the Giants, there is something about this team that can’t get over the playoff hump. As a matter of a fact, the Cowboys haven’t won a playoff game since 1996. While the Eagles have choked in many NFC title games, their playoff record under Andy Reid is fantastic. The Eagles under Reid have never lost a first-round playoff game. Keeping all of this in mind, I am predicting a big upset in Big D and an Eagles’ win Saturday night.

Sticking with the NFC, the sexy Super Bowl pick going into the season were the Green Bay Packers. The Packers will travel to Arizona and play the Cardinals in the second NFC Wild Card game. Like the Eagles, these are two teams that you never know what you will get from week to week. As much praise as the Packers get from the media, they are also the same team that gave up over 500 passing yards to Ben Roethlisberger a few weeks ago. The Arizona Cardinals have also been red hot, yet were demolished by the San Francisco 49ers just a few weeks ago on Monday Night Football. Which team shows up is anyone’s guess.

I think it is almost comical that when people talk about this game they immediately rave about the Packers defense, while ignoring the Cardinals defense. This is almost an identical defense to the team that went to the Super Bowl last season. Remember last season when the Carolina Panthers rushing attack looked unstoppable? Not only did the Cards stop them, they crushed them in the post season. This season the team has very average stats, yet their rushing defense has been rather stellar throughout most of the season. It is not inconceivable to think that the Cards will bottle up the Packers rushing attack and turn this into an air-show.

The Packers are one of those teams that just when you think they are the hottest team in the NFL, they give you a Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay performance. Their passing attack is right up there with the best teams in the NFL, ranked number seven overall. Greg Jennings came on late, but has been a beast to contend with as the season came to an end. Jermichael Finley has been one of the most productive tight ends in the NFL since coming back from injury. Donald Driver has found the fountain of youth and has been a game killer to the oppisition. Aaron Rodgers always keeps this team in games even when it looks like the floor is falling out from under them like the Vikings game in Lambeau Field. This team definitely has all of the tools to make a serious Super Bowl run.

Even strength, I think the Cardinals beat the Packers. However, while the Packers are close to full strength, the Cards are not. The key to their defense, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will either sit out or play at less than 100%. Losing one of the best corners in the NFL against a team throwing Donald Driver and Greg Jennings at you is a recipe for disaster. On the offense, Anquan Boldin is hurt as usual and could miss the game. I don’t expect a team without two critical players like these guys to hang with such a dangerous team as the Packers. The only chance that the Cardinals have here is to get pressure on Rodgers and secure some turnovers. I don’t know if they can do that with receivers who are wide open and I don’t expect them too.

Oh yeah and then there is that Super Bowl loser jinx. Not since the Buffalo Bills in 1994 has a losing team repeated in the Super Bowl. That is not to say that the Cardinals can’t make it back to the title game, but the odds just aren’t in their favor. Between that and the Madden Curse, I don’t see them getting far. The Cards are great at home which plays in their favor and these are two long trips back-to-back for the Packers. However at the end of the day I think the Cards are too hurt at the wrong time to make this a game. I am going with the Packers.

The New England Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens this weekend in the AFC Wild Card round. This is the only rematch this weekend of a game that wasn’t played last week. These two teams met in a thriller earlier in the season which saw the Patriots squeak out a win against the Ravens.

When the story this week for the Patriots is about a guy named Edleman, you know you have problems. The big storyline of the game is the loss of Wes Welker for the Patriots. Welker was injured last week in a routine play and will miss the playoffs, and possibly the beginning of next season. The loss of Welker makes the Patriots a very different team on offense. With Welker, the Pats gave defensive coordinators nightmares. Without him, the Ravens will concentrate on Randy Moss and pressure Tom Brady. This is going to be a much tougher game for the Pats than their first meeting and if not for a Mark Clayton dropped pass in the end zone, they probably would have lost the game.

The Ravens always play the Patriots tough. Even in their destructive 2007 season, the Ravens were seconds away from beating the Patriots. Joe Flacco has been in the playoffs before so this is nothing new to him. Flacco and the Ravens established one of the most dynamic running games in the NFL throughout the season. Ray Rice has turned into the new Brian Westbrook/Marshall Faulk dual receiving/running threat. Willis McGahee turned it on at the end of the season and the two became arguably the best one-two running punch in the NFL. The Ravens are not a team to take lightly at all.

Everyone always says never to bet against Bill Belichick in the playoffs. They are right. He is 15-4 in the postseason with a .789 winning percentage. He missed the playoffs for the first time in years last season, so you know he is hungry for a big run here. If there is any Wild Card team that I would put money on, it would be the Patriots. I know that Welker is done, but the Eagles lost Terrell Owens in 2004 and made a successful playoff run without him. As much as I admire what the Ravens defense has done this year, there are a lot of older guys that aren’t as fast and give up big plays in the secondary. I look for Brady to exploit that with or without Welker and advance to the second round with a win.

Finally, the least appealing game to me takes place first as the Cincinnati Bengals host the New York Jets in a rematch of last Sunday’s marquee game. The Jets spanked the Bengals hard on offense and defense last week. In back-to-back weeks, the Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts and the Cincinnati Bengals. Favorable situations or not, that is quite impressive. However before New York fans are ready to crown the Jets, they are forgetting about one incredibly key factor to last week’s game. The Bengals played without Cedric Benson and Benson is back and with a week of rest this weekend.

I think the storyline that amazed me most this week was the idea that the Bengals are falling apart. Yes, it is definitely not a good thing to be sliced and diced like they were by a team you have to play the following week. Carson Palmer and the Bengals offense were stopped on all facets of the game by Rex Ryan and the Jets. However, I find it amazing that the same people ready to call it a night for the Bengals barely mention the loss of Benson. This would have been like the Jets playing without Thomas Jones against a full Bengals squad. The Bengals are a running team and set the pass up with the run. I don’t take a thing away from last week’s game knowing that Benson was on the bench.

I have always liked the Jets and I like Rex Ryan. Yet I think the Jets are the biggest frauds entering the playoffs. The Jets were handed gifts with the Colts pulling their starters two weeks ago and Benson sitting last week. I know Darrelle Revis shut down Ochocinco, but Ocho was the only thing that the Jets had to worry about. Thomas Jones was a beast, but it will be much different for the Jets who won’t be getting the ball in the great positions they found themselves in last Sunday night. I may be dead wrong, but I think the Jets are in way over their heads this weekend.

I look for a big rebound by the Bengals. I do believe that a great running game and a great defense win championships. The Bengals have both. I am very curious to see how Mark Sanchez handles his first turnover, as I do expect a few. I think this game will be a lower scoring affair (can’t score any less if you are the Bengals). There is always at least one blowout game on Wild Card weekend. I think it is this one. I look for a big day out of Cedric Benson, some Sanchez turnovers, and a very exciting game next weekend when the Bengals travel to Indy to play the Colts.

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NFL Wild Card Picks!

I had my worst week of the season going 7-9 with my picks. Keep in mind you had a lot of strange things going on like Cedric Benson, Philip Rivers, and Kurt Warner sitting. Overall I was 162-96 on the season which I think is a very respectable record. Now for the NFL Wild Card Picks (Picks in BOLD) –

New York at Cincinnati

Philadelphia at Dallas

Green Bay at Arizona

Baltimore at New England

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Fantasy Football Week 9 Studs and Duds

November 10, 2009 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

This week was full of redemption from the previous week and continued dominance in the fantasy game. Also I believe that it will show the emergence of new fantasy studs for many weeks to come.

STUDS:
DeAngelo Williams:
Where was this in the first couple of games of the season? The Panthers are a running team and have a stud running back in Williams. He was 1 yard away from his third 150 yard game in the past 4 weeks. Add that to 5 TDs over that span and it looks like the first round pick many spent on DeAngelo is finally panning out. John Fox is trying not to lose his job so he will just keep giving Williams more and more carries so he can repeat this effort every week.

Chris Johnson: Whenever continued dominance is mentioned, Chris Johnson can’t be far behind. Looks like the Titans are following my advice and giving the ball to Johnson more than 25 times a game. This will usually equal in a great week for fantasy owner of Johnson because against the 49ers he rushed for 135 yards and 2 TDs and busted out another 40 yard run. The man is an absolute beast right now and don’t look for him to slow down anytime soon.

Michael Turner: As I said last week, Turner is running like a completely different back. He is back to his human bowling ball act like he was last year. His stats were 16 attempts for 166 yards and 2 TDs. I think the Falcons have noticed that he is back to his old form and are going to give him the ball much more than putting the game on Matt Ryan’s shoulders. I predict he should have similar numbers next week against the Panthers as well.

Kurt Warner: Well that was a quick turnaround. He goes from throwing 5 INTs to throwing 5 TDs the following week. It is true that the Bears Defense looked awful when Warner was in, but he looked like a true stud against them. The fact that they pulled him because they were up by so much, then put him back in, only to have him score another TD shows that he was truly dominant against the Bears.

Notables: Randy Moss, Steelers D, Greg Olsen, and Larry Fitzgerald

DUDS:
Joe Flacco:
The Bengals D yet again had Joe Flacco’s number. Flacco was missing throws all day and only completed 8 passes to his wide receivers. Put this on top of his less than 200 yards and 2 INTs and he looked like a rookie again. You have to give credit to the Bengals D as well, but Flacco looked like a deer in the headlights against the finally impressive Bengals D.

Eagles Passing Attack: Against the Cowboys, D-Nabb looked very average after playing against the Giants D and their go to wide receiver, DeSean Jackson, had only two receptions for 29 yards. When a team usually has more passing attempts than rushing attempts, like the Eagles do, they either live or die by the passing game and they died big time. As a person who stared McNabb and Jackson in my fantasy league and have them put up a combined 11 points I am completely disappointed. I don’t think that this will be a trend that will continue, but the Eagles passing game has been so good and so bad in certain games, it’s hard to tell which one will show up for the following week.

Kyle Orton: I was so happy to see Captain Neckbeard fail against the Steelers. I am a huge Bears fan and have never thought Orton was any good. Well look what happens when he plays a good defense in the Steelers; he completely falls apart. I understand that he isn’t supposed to be the stud quarterback of a team, but people were talking about him being a must start fantasy QB. But recently when he plays good defenses in the Ravens and Steelers, he has a combined 373 yards, 3 INTs, and 0 TDs in those two weeks. Have fun with the real Kyle Orton Denver.

Packers D: You just gave up 38 points to one of the worst teams in the league who had a rookie quarterback making his first start. This is after giving up 38 points to your most hated rival, the Vikings, at home. Packers D looked good for two weeks but they are going nowhere fast and something needs to be fixed.

Notables:
Reggie Wayne, Marques Colston, Giants D, Steve Slaton

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