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2012: The Year in Sports, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

January 01, 2013 By: Category: Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL | NCAA Football, NHL, Sports

Before I start, I hope that everyone at Camelclutchblog.com, especially my editor Eric Gargiulo, and their families had a great holiday. I hope that my readers also had a great holiday as well. I did as well as my beagle Ace Frehley. I thought I would get a blog done for you before we all celebrate the coming of the new year.

As 2012 comes to a close, it is time for me to write a blog about the high points, and the low points of the year in sports. As sports fans, we had quite a very interesting year. We have had great moments, shocking moments, sad moments, and great comebacks. Hopefully, in 2013, there will be many more.

As I said, a lot has happened in 2012, so it will be hard to sum it up, but I will do my best. I will be putting the ones that I thought were the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of 2012. I apologize in advance if I missed anyone’s personal favorite.

Here we go. The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly in Sports for 2012:

The GOOD:

Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera wins Major League Baseball’s Triple Crown.

This was awesome. All through the 2012 MLB season, commentators were keeping an eye on Cabrera to see if he would win the elusive Triple Crown (batting average, home runs, and RBI). He sure did, and became the first to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in1967.

SF Giants sweep the Detroit Tigers to win the 2012 World Series.

The Giants on their way to the final round, made things difficult for themselves, but once they faced the Tigers, they swept them away.

Super Bowl 46 was won by the NY Giants over the New England Patriots.

The Giants nearly showed why they were a 9-7 team by using two time outs late in the second half. However, thanks to an unlucky miscommunication between Tom Brady and Wes Welker, and a lucky catch by Mario Manningham (who normally would have dropped that ball), the Giants wound up with their fourth Lombardi.

The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup over the New Jersey Devils.

In six games, in a thrilling series, the Los Angeles Kings defeated the favored New Jersey Devils. This was the Kings franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Yes, my Devils got beat, and from the way they played, they deserved to get beat. However, it is nice to see a team who never won the coveted Cup finally win.

The amazing comebacks of both Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson.

Who would have thought that sports fans would see two of the greatest players at their respective positions suffer career threatening injuries in 2011, and return to have MVP-like seasons? This is amazing. One does not even have to be a fan of either to just admire these men, and their will to come back.

I remember seeing Peyton on the sidelines. I was wondering if he was going to return like before. I also remember seeing Peterson crumbling to the ground. I was so sad. Well, now, in 2012, these two are in the running for MVP. Pun intended.

2012 Haskell Winner Paynter’s Recovery and KISS bassist Gene Simmons getting involved with promotion at Santa Anita Racetrack.

Of course, I have blogged a few times about my beloved Paynter’s recovery from colitis, and laminitis, and his return to trainer Bob Baffert’s barn on Decemeber 29, 2012.

Santa Anita Racetrack has now associated itself with KISS bassist, and entrepreneur, Gene Simmons to help with promotion. He was at Santa Anita’s opening day, and presented the trophy to the winning connections of Jimmy Creed, who won the Malibu Stakes.

The BAD:

The Lance Armstrong Debacle.

Wow. What a fall from grace. I mean, to some, he will always be a hero due to his beating cancer, and to others, he will be a cheater. This is just sad because he was a hero to so many who had been cancer victims.

Terrell Owens being released from the Seahawks.

This is just sad. If you believe in the “karma” theory, I guess karma turned into the female dog for Owens. I mean, everyone knows his story by now. He got cut back in August by just about the only team that would give him a chance. Now, he is out of the NFL. I thought he was done anyway, but maybe he should not have burned so many bridges, perhaps?

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown Bid ends before he even got put in the gate.

I’ll Have Another, the winner of the 2012 Kentucky Derby, and Preakness was scratched the day before he was to run in the Belmont Stakes to attempt to be the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. He evidently suffered some sort of tendon injury, and was retired. He eventually was sold, and now lives in Japan.

I’ll Have Another’s Triple Crown attempt also highlighted his trainer, Doug O’Neill who had a drug violation that had to be adjudicated. The Triple Crown bid also put a spotlight on drug use in the sport.

NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., in his infinite wisdom, takes over NYRA, and has the Belmont Stakes horses in separate barns.

This was awful. After the news about O’Neil’s drug issue broke, NY Governor Mario Cuomo, Jr., after previously taking over NYRA, orders the horses for the Belmont Stakes , starting Wednesday before the race, to go into separate barns. Cuomo doesn’t quite get horses and racing. Horses are creatures of habit. They like routine, and don’t like it when their routine is disturbed. I don’t think it affected any of the horses who ran, but I thought it was a dumb idea.

The UGLY.

The New York Jets.

Oh Lord. Even when I lived in New Jersey, I did not remember the Jets being this horrid. I am no fan of theirs, and never have been, and never will, but I don’t think Rich Kotite had them this bad. Good Grief. The team is so disorganized. I know they lost Santonio Holmes, and Darrelle Revis to IR. However, that is no excuse.

The Jets have become the Keystone Cops of the NFL. Period. They trade for Tim Tebow, but to soothe the ego of their starter, Mark Sanchez, they give Sanchez more money. Now, that Sanchez has either regressed or the Jets discovered that Sanchez is not all that, the Jets are in cap room hell if they try to trade him. They only wanted Tebow to win the back pages against the newly crowned Super Bowl Champions, New York Giants. Why ESPN shoved this team down our throats, I don’t know.

This play sums up the 2012-13 Season of the New York Jets:

http://youtu.be/vEI03oOE6is

The Cottage Industry that is Tim Tebow.

As a lifelong sports fan, I have never seen a third string quarterback get so much attention in my entire life. He has been pushed as the face of goodness. He has been pushed as the greatest college player ever. He gets pushed to soothe the religious conservatives. ESPN shoves him down our throats via First Take. Skip Bayless, who was once a good author, has lowered his standards to be Tebow’s flagbearer.

On the other side, you have Merrill Hodge, and Mark Schlereth, who argue that the kid can’t play the position. Hodge is very adamant about it. There are other journalists that debate whether Tebow is going to make it as a QB as well, and now with this Wildcat-gate, the debating has escalated.

I honestly do not see what the big deal is over this guy.

Tragedies involving players of the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dallas Cowboy lineman Josh Brent was driving intoxicated on December 8, 2012, when he got into an accident, killing his best friend and teammate, Jerry Brown. Brent was charged with one count of intoxication manslaughter.

So sad, but what is uplifting is that Brown’s mother forgave Brent, and Brent sat with Brown’s family at the funeral.

Kansas City Chief Linebacker Javon Belcher shot and killed his girlfriend
Kasandra Perkins before going to Arrowhead Stadium, and killing himself in front of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, and Head Coach Romeo Crennel on December 1, 2012. The couple’s three month old daughter was left behind.

This made me sad, and then angry. If you are in an argument with someone, just walk away. Why on earth do you have to get so mad that you have to kill the other person? A three month old girl will never know her parents, because an argument escalated to the point where one of the participants didn’t have the sense to walk away and cool off. That person just had to kill the other one, and then took the coward’s way out, instead of facing the consequences of what he did.

ESPN First Take’s Rob Parker’s Comments about Redskins QB Robert Griffin III.

As most people are aware, ESPN suspended Rob Parker 30 days for his comments about Robert Griffin III on ESPN First Take. I also hope that action will be taken against the producers who let the controversial comments be re-aired on the replay, and on the “Best of First Take” later that afternoon. I don’t think Parker’s punishment was strong enough, but that’s my opinion.

For those who are not familiar with Parker’s comments, Parker (who is African American) was discussing a USA Today interview done with RGIII where RGIII said he wanted to be known as a QB, not a “black QB.” Well, Parker questioned whether RGIII was a “brother or a cornball brother.” Parker then questioned whether RGIII was a “brother” because he had a white fiancee, and was allegedly a Republican.

I am mixed race (white mother married to a father who is African American and Cherokee). I found Parker’s comments idiotic, and just wrong. I had thought we had gotten past all this. There was a time in the USA where interracial marriage was ILLEGAL. I mean, why is Parker hung up on that?

Parker also made fun of golf legend Tiger Woods for wanting to be seen as a person, and not a “black golfer.” The pigeon-holing is very shortsighted. I mean, if RGIII is a Republican, that means he is not black? Seriously, Mr. Parker?

I just think we should see people as people. I watch Griffin play, and I see a QB. I watch Tom Brady play, and I see a QB. I don’t say “RGIII is a great black QB.” I also don’t say, “Brady is a great white QB.” They are just QBs.

Well, that was my Good, Bad, and the Ugly in sports for 2012. I hope everyone enjoyed it and I hope everyone has a great New Year.

Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan

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NFL Week 17 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 31, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 17 in the National Football League!

- Tampa Bay closes out the 2012 regular season with a nice win against a not-so-competitive Atlanta Falcons team in Week 17. I’ve said it all season long and it’s only fitting that I say it again, Tampa is a good team and one that people should look out for in 2013. Really like what they accomplished this season, would’ve loved to seen them compete for a playoff spot in the final weeks.

- Not the way Atlanta wanted to end the regular season I’m sure but now they can look towards the playoffs and hope that the defensive injuries they suffered on Sunday aren’t that bad. Not sure what to think of this Falcons team heading into the playoffs but I’ll tell you this much, they don’t look like a #1 seed team.

- Buffalo has the right pieces as we saw in their win against the Jets in Week 17 but they need to fix some of their weaknesses (quarterback & head coach) before they can be competitive in the AFC East next season. Tough year for a team many people liked as a “sneaky pick” in the AFC.

- Perfect way to end the Jets regular season and if you thought their regular season was a circus act, wait till the offseason takes place. I believe it was Terrell Owens who once said: “get your popcorn ready.” I know I will.

- Sure Baltimore “mailed it in” during the Week 17 game but I really liked what I saw from the Bengals. Cincinnati kept their momentum going for the playoffs and I hope it helps them in postseason play this season. Amazing that a 6th seed could be the favorite over the 3rd seed in the playoffs but it may be possible for the Bengals.

- While I understand you want to rest your starters and save them for the playoffs, not sure if I agree with treating it like a preseason game in Week 17 especially for the Ravens. Baltimore has been so inconsistent lately that they needed to keep that good momentum going from their big win against the Giants in Week 16 and they didn’t, could hurt them versus Indianapolis next week.

- All season long I said the Bears were the best “smoke and mirrors” team in the NFL. Their record showed they were an “elite” team but when they played against “elite” teams they would be outclassed. Sure they got 10 wins and sure they won games when it counted at the end but they won’t be seeing any games past Week 17. I really wonder how this team will look in 2013.

- The Detroit Lions should’ve never been a 4 win team this season and a top 5 draft pick franchise going into the 2013 NFL Draft. Detroit is a better caliber team then they possessed all season long and if Jim Schwartz can’t get it done with this talent then it’s time to let him go. It will be a very interesting offseason for this franchise heading into 2013.

- Tennessee beat Jacksonville in Week 17 and there defense scored 4 times on Sunday. Good way to end this horrible season for the Titans and I wonder what there direction will be heading into 2013. Will CJ2K be back? I think he should.

- Congrats Jacksonville, prepare yourselves for “TebowMania!”

- The best story of the 2012 NFL season was Chuck Pagano beating cancer and the Indianapolis Colts making it into the playoffs. This team clearly got motivated by their cancer battling head coach and rallied behind his spirit to play another game past Week 17. Indianapolis can be that “very dangerous Football team” starting next week.

- This is not the way you should be entering the playoffs. Houston entered Week 17 with the #1 seed and walked out as the #3 seed. Instead of having home-field advantage and having a week off, they now will be stumbling against the Bengals in the Wild Card round (again). I wonder if this team will ever be able to put it together when it matters the most.

- Extremely strong way for the Panthers to finish their season as they won 5 of their last 6 games, including 4 straight games and finished the season 7-9. It appeared that Cam Newton was a “late bloomer” this season as it took him some time to get back to the way he played his rookie season. Carolina is once again a team to look out for in 2013.

- Overall this is a very disappointing season for the New Orleans Saints. They entered the year with a ton of controversy due in-part to “bountygate,” but were still considered by many as a NFC “elite” team. Instead New Orleans struggled all season long, finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. It was a very tough season for the NOLA.

- The most disappointing team in the 2012 NFL season may be the defending Super Bowl Champion, New York Football Giants. New York gets huge victories over San Francisco & Green Bay, was at one point 6-2 on the season and then finished the year 3-5 to miss the playoffs. The Giants looked like an “elite” team at multiple points in the season even to the extent that they were considered the best team in the NFL and now they will be watching the playoffs from home. They should be very thankful they share the same city with the New York Jets!

- What is there to say about the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles season that hasn’t already been said before? Tough year and it’s time to move on from this current era. How this franchise handles this offseason could be very telling for seasons to come in Philadelphia. Since the “dream team” moniker was self-given to them, the Eagles have gone 12-20 in both seasons, pretty sure that’s a nightmare Vince Young.

- Steelers get the win in Week 17 and mercifully end their 2012 regular season. This isn’t what Pittsburgh was hoping for and now there will be many offseason questions to deal with. Similar to their in-state rival Philadelphia Eagles, there will be a lot of changes this offseason that will dictate the future of this franchise for years to come.

- Cleveland has a lot to work on for sometime and I hope the next person to run this franchise can get them onto some winning ways. There is definitely talent to build on in Cleveland; it just comes down to what this franchise does to put around some potentially young franchise players.

- If you’ve read this blog throughout the season then you know I’ve been very leery of the Denver Broncos. Their lack of schedule strength bothered me when it comes to them playing in the playoffs but I’m starting to turn the corner on it not affecting them after all. The Broncos could very well be the AFC representation in Super Bowl 47 right now. A lot is “clicking” at the right time for Denver.

- Congrats to Kansas City on winning the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Now the real question is whether or not they draft Geno Smith to be their quarterback. Personally I think that could be a huge mistake but they have plenty of time to think that over now.

- At one point it looked like the Patriots would have to play in the Wild Card round as the three seed but now they can sit at home next week and rest up for the Divisional Round. A well rested Patriots team is of course, a very dangerous playoff team. It almost seems like it’s too good to be true that we could get Denver (Peyton) vs. New England (Brady) in the AFC Championship Game again.

- I’m sure this isn’t the way Miami wanted to end their season but I do think this team is headed into the right direction right now. A couple moves in the offseason could have them competing for Wild Card playoff spots next year.

- Thanks for the memories Norv Turner. I will miss writing about you and wondering if you will be fired…every…regular…season. I have been doing these blogs for Camel Clutch Blog now for (I believe to be) 4 seasons, so that tells you how I long I’ve speculated Norv would be let go.

- The Raiders have taken steps forward the last couple years and now they have taken, yet again, dramatic steps back. I don’t know when this franchise can be turned around because right now it really looks bleak.

- Congrats to the San Francisco 49ers on winning the NFC West and getting the #2 seed in the NFC. In my opinion this team is the #1 seed in the NFC and I really like their chances to make Super Bowl 47 this season. When you have a really good defense and an offense that keeps getting better, good things will happen.

- Dear Arizona Cardinals, you know what to do during the offseason. Go get yourself a quarterback, you know, a real quarterback or you will have a very upset franchise wide receiver named Larry Fitzgerald. Sincerely yours, common sense.

- The Seahawks get the victory but I’m not sure it’s the way they wanted to head into the playoffs. Seattle struggled for most of this game and didn’t look as dominant as they have been in recent weeks. The Seahawks will still be a tough team to beat come playoff time but I wonder if they are losing their “luster” a bit, it’s something to definitely keep an eye on next week versus Washington in the Wild Card round.

- The St. Louis Rams really ended this 2012 regular season very strong. They were competitive against really good teams in their division, San Francisco & Seattle (even getting a big win against the 49ers this year) and they are improving heading into 2013. The defense is young and very talented but their offense seems to be lacking at the moment. I really hope Sam Bradford can be “the guy” for this St. Louis team in 2013 because I really like what I am seeing from the Rams right now.

- What a miracle season for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. Nobody and I mean NOBODY saw this team as a playoff team, let alone a playoff contender this year. If you were like me you probably saw them as the last-place team in the NFC North. Well now they take on Green Bay in the Wild Card round and have nothing to lose because they weren’t “supposed to be there.” Oh and dear NFL, don’t forget to give Adrian Peterson the NFL MVP award this season!

- I’m sure this isn’t the way Green Bay wanted to end their season but not getting a first-round bye may be what this team needs. In 2010 they had no first-round bye and won the Super Bowl. In 2011 they had a first-round bye and got crushed in the divisional round. The Packers will be healthy against the Vikings, know what they need to do to stop Minnesota and will thankfully be home in a playoff game. I still like the Packers as a “quiet” pick right now in the NFC.

- Add Washington to the list of Indianapolis and Minnesota as surprise teams making the playoffs in 2012. Weeks ago this team was “left for dead” by their own head coach and now they are the 2012 NFC East division champions. No telling what this team can do come playoff time because like the Vikings, they “weren’t supposed to be here.” It’s the playoffs and as we have learned the last two seasons, anyone can win the Super Bowl.

- It almost seems fitting that Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys end their season like this. I really wonder how this team will look on Week 1 in 2013. A lot of major changes could be coming the way of this Dallas Cowboys franchise.

- Many thanks to you the reader and of course Eric Gargiulo for allowing me to blog after every week throughout the 2012 NFL regular season. It’s a job I have enjoyed here since 2009 and am glad to have another regular season under my belt. Stay tuned for my Wild Card predictions blog later this week and my Wild Card round thoughts blog a week from today!

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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NFL Week 16 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 24, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 16 in the National Football League!

- Congrats to the Falcons on clinching the #1 seed in the NFC and having home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Personally, I believe while it’s a tremendous feat, they may be the weakest #1 seed in the NFL playoffs in some time. Their passing offense is great but their run game and defense can be shaky depending on the week. Let’s see if the ATL can make me eat my words yet again this season.

- Congrats to Calvin Johnson on breaking Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving record! Can we now say that the “Madden Curse” is done?

- Quietly, the Green Bay Packers are continuing to emerge in the NFC. While it is the Titans, they kept the momentum going throughout this one. Things are getting interesting for the Pack…

- At least the Titans put 7 points on the board and weren’t shut out…right?

- New Orleans gets to play spoiler against Dallas and can at least have a .500 record should they win next week. Nice to see the Saints giving it a shot and being competitive with nothing left to play for.

- What are the Cowboys doing!? They need to win these games and they are going through the same problem they always have this time of the year. Next week will be very interesting as the Cowboys will play for the NFC East division crown in Week 17 for the 2nd straight season.

- Congrats to the Indianapolis Colts on clinching a playoff berth this week. Better yet, Chuck Pagano will be returning to this playoff team very soon. Great story this year in the National Football League, I love that Chuck Pagano and the Colts are proving anyone can beat the odds.

- One more loss and the Chiefs clinch the #1 overall pick!

- Well at least Miami has a chance at a .500 season next week; they could be a sneaky pick in the NFC East next season.

- Buffalo needs to fire Chan Gailey at the end of the season.

- San Diego beats the New York Jets in Week 16; this is monumental because it could be Norv Turner’s last win as the Chargers head coach.

- So Tim Tebow gets flack for telling the coaching staff to not put him in the “Wildcat formation” after he was passed over for the 3rd string quarterback and people are complaining? Tebow has been a good solider for this Jets team all season long and when we look back on his tenure with this team the Jets could’ve really affected his NFL playing career based off of the way they handled him. He gets brought along basically to sell seats and not play, yet people have a problem with him removing himself from the “wildcat!?” C’mon man.

- Big win for the Redskins and they keep on rolling. It’s all on the line in Week 17 for them as they take on Dallas for the NFC East crown. The playoffs begin (and could end) next week for the ‘Skins.

- Fitting way for Andy Reid’s potentially last home game as the head coach of the Eagles to end like that.

- How about the Cincinnati Bengals this season? They force Roethlisberger to make a crucial interception in the final minute of the game, make a huge offensive play to set up the field goal and win it. That was a franchise achieving moment for the Bengals and their fans to knock out their rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

- I wonder if we could see any changes in the offseason to this Steelers team. They are getting older, the window is getting smaller and the coaches may not be gelling. Interesting times for this Steelers franchise and it could’ve been prevented had they won today.

- St. Louis is quietly ending their season very strong right now. This is another team that could enter 2013 as a surprise team in the NFC West. With the exception of Sam Bradford (the jury is still out on him), I like what is going in St. Louis.

- Tough to see the Tampa Bay Buccaneers continue to end their season like this. Really had high hopes for them at the midway point of the season.

- Carolina beats Oakland and this Panthers team continues to play well at the wrong point in the season. At least someone is probably keeping their job in Carolina, for now.

- Want to know how bad the Raiders are? Matt Leinart was the backup after Carson Palmer got hurt. How come they just didn’t bring Terrelle Pryor in to see what they got?

- A win-is-a-win but New England cannot be playing like this with less then two weeks to go until the playoffs. They played shaky against San Francisco last week and lost. They played shaky this week and almost lost. Hopefully it’s just a bad stretch for the Patriots so they can get it out of their system now and not in the Playoffs.

- If Jacksonville beat New England with Chad Henne as the Quarterback in Week 16 would that have saved him from the (rumored) incoming “TebowMania” next season?

- Minnesota needed this win and they got it. The Vikings are stepping up at the right time and didn’t need Adrian Peterson to pile on the rushing yards to do it. They win next week and they are in, it’s that simple.

- Houston is playing extremely sloppy at the wrong point in the season. It amazes me that they still have a chance at a First-Round bye next week.

- Denver is the only consistent team in the AFC right now and it’s coming at the right time with the playoffs nearing. I just hope that the Broncos weak schedule doesn’t come back to haunt them like it did for New England last season.

- Who saw the Cleveland Browns having 5 wins this season? They have a chance at 6 next week and amongst Browns fans that would be overachieving.

- Well they may have been struggling lately but they got a crucial win in Week 16 against Arizona. Lovie’s job as head coach is safe for at least this week; if they fail to beat Detroit in Week 17 or make the playoffs then it could be franchise-changing times in Chicago.

- Arizona really needs a quarterback and I don’t think Alex Smith or Mark Sanchez is the answer.

- All of us left the Ravens for “dead” and got proven wrong in Week 16. This is the type of win a team needs at this point in the season when they have been struggling and the Ravens got it. I still am not a huge believer in their playoffs chances but the win was really encouraging.

- I cannot believe there is a large probability that the Giants don’t make the playoffs this season. At times they have played like the best team in the league and in recent weeks they have been extremely inconsistent. The defending Super Bowl Champions need A LOT of things to happen next week, including for them to defeat Philadelphia of course, for them to make the playoffs.

- The Seattle Seahawks are proving to the NFL that they may just be the team to beat come January. What a huge win for the Seahawks against one of the best teams in the league, the San Francisco 49ers. This team is gaining momentum at the right time and we all know what that means come playoff time…

- Injuries and inconsistency in the last 6 quarters could be coming to haunt the Niners at the wrong time in the season. The fact that they may not have a first-round bye in the playoffs is extremely surprising and it’s possible that this team could be underachieving. Hopefully that changes once January hits.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

You can follow Jeff on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JeffPeck979ESPN

“LIKE” 97.9 ESPN on Facebook: www.facebook.com/979espn

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NFL Week 15 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 18, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 15 in the National Football League!

- Very solid win for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final Thursday Night game of the season. No game is an “easy win” for any team and the Bengals needed to get the “W” at any cost. Now they are in the driver seat of playoff positioning with just two weeks to go, a win against Pittsburgh could all but close the door for them to play past Week 17.

- Was hoping to see some more from Philadelphia against Cincinnati on Thursday, but I didn’t. The Eagles needed something encouraging as this season slowly comes to a close for Eagles fans. Amazing to see how far this franchise has fallen since the “dream team” comment.

- Talk about a “statement win.” This is the win Atlanta has been looking for all season long and it has come at the right time with just two weeks to go until the regular season closes out. Watch out for the Falcons, this could finally be their year.

- New York needs to stop play inconsistently and needs to stop now. The Giants are self-imploding and finding a way to back out of the playoff competition. New York entered Week 15 the 4th seed in the NFC playoffs and they walk out Week 15 as they 9th seed in the NFC Playoffs currently; rough loss for the defending Super Bowl Champions.

- Enter this season there were a lot of people out there who doubted the Green Bay Packers. They believe this would be the Bears season to capture the NFC North and it looked that way for most of the season. Since their loss to New York a couple weeks back the Packers have really turned it around by capturing the NFC North division and they are quietly emerging as a scary team entering the playoffs.

- Since Week 10 the Bears have gone 1-5 in their last 6 games. If they can’t make the playoffs with Arizona and Detroit on their schedule to close out 2012 then we can all say “good-bye” to Lovie Smith in Chicago.

- No RG III, no problem! Washington is now your new NFC East division leaders with two weeks to go and they made the right move to sit RGIII against a poor opponent in Cleveland. I will be shocked if Washington is not playing past Week 17 this year, I have really enjoyed watching this team grow in recent weeks.

- Does Nick Saban really want to return to Cleveland? Not sure if a loss like this entices a big-time College Football coach to leave his very cushioned job.

- The NFL needs to give Adrian Peterson the NFL MVP award. He is single-handily putting this team in playoff position with just two games to go. While Minnesota does sit in the 6th spot currently I will be very surprised if they can hold onto it. But then again, nothing should surprise us about this Vikings team.

- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t think Sam Bradford is the answer in St. Louis.

- Miami beats Jacksonville in a meaningless game in December, nice to see who the best team in Florida is.

- Can this season end any quicker for Jaguar fans? This team looked so much fun to watch a couple weeks ago and then they reappeared to what they always were…

- Welcome back to the NFL, Drew Brees. Where was this type of play the last couple of weeks when they needed it?

- Very tough to see how poorly this Bucs team has collapsed in recent weeks. They were so much fun to watch and a very dangerous team if they continued to be in playoff contention. I just continue to hope they are building forward for next season.

- I’ve been very critical of the Denver Broncos not beating good teams this season. Technically the Broncos beat a playoff clinching team in the Baltimore Ravens but did they really come off like a team playing past Week 17? I’m still not completely sold on this Broncos squad, sorry Denver.

- How is it that the Baltimore Ravens are a playoff team this year? Amazing how quickly this team has fallen in the last month or so.

- Loved seeing the Houston Texans bounce back after that rough Monday Night showing against New England in Week 14. They are the AFC South division champions yet again and are in the driver seat for that 1st round bye in the AFC playoffs. Maybe that Monday Night loss to New England is what this young team needed to get them back to focus.

- Indianapolis could’ve made the AFC South very interesting with just two weeks to go but that won’t be the case now. If I’m the Colts I just focus on preparing myself for the playoffs in these last two games. Indy can be a very scary team if they play their cards right because they weren’t supposed to be a playoff team this season.

- Seattle is the most dangerous team entering the playoffs right now. I have no issues with them running up the score on their opponents because they should never back down from their competitive nature. That Week 16 game against San Francisco is going to be very fun to watch.

- Fire Chan Gailey and consider looking into another starting quarterback. Buffalo has potential; they just need the right people to tap into it before this current crop disbands.

- How did Arizona get the win against Detroit!? Are the Lions really that bad this season?

- Do you believe me now Detroit Lions fans? Fire Jim Schwartz.

- Where was this Panthers team at the start of this season? Another solid week for the Panthers and I’m sure they are hoping this is something they can build off of in 2013.

- Can’t you just fire Norv Turner and A.J. Smith now? I really wonder if the next person in-charge keeps Philip Rivers around in San Diego for much longer…

- Huge win for Dallas and this is exactly what they needed with two games to go. It’s a big victory that can carry this team for the final two games. While they may not be the “media darling” that the Washington Redskins are right now, do not sleep on the Cowboys.

- The Steelers have found a way to back out of the playoffs and now it doesn’t look so good for this team with 2 games to go. They need to beat Cincinnati in Week 16 or they can all but kiss their 2012 season goodbye, should be a very interesting game next week.

- Oakland wins 15-0, congrats on not being the worst team in the NFL this season.

- All Kansas City has to do the next two weeks is play worse then Jacksonville and the #1 overall pick is theirs! Been a while since I wrote something positive about Kansas City…then again, do you consider being the worst team in the league honors necessarily positive?

- So San Francisco beats New England in a matchup that many people believed (including me) put the best team in the NFC against the best team in the AFC. So does that mean the 49ers are the best team in the NFL? I think so.

- New England did not look like New England in the 1st half but bounced back pretty loudly in the 2nd half. It looked like it was the Patriots game to lose at one point in the 2nd half as they were dominating the 49ers throughout their comeback but it just wasn’t meant to be. This loss is something the Patriots needed to motivate them and keep them on their toes with just two games left in the season.

- Well at least Tennessee got to play spoiler at some point in their season…then again it was the New York Jets.

- As weird as it sounded that the Jets were in playoff contention going into the Monday Night game, it made a world of sense when they went out there and performed like that against Tennessee. The fact that this team had a shot at a playoff spot was a shame.
For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Most Devastating Fantasy Football Player 2012 Injuries

December 12, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

If you are one of millions of NFL fans who have ever been in a fantasy league, you know how devastating injuries can be to your dream team. You drafted the perfect team, got pumped for the season, and wound up watching your stud sit on the bench. Well, 2012 has seen its share of those. Let’s take a look at some of the most critical player injuries of the 2012 fantasy football season.

Nobody can predict an injury in fantasy football and those that squeak through a season injury-free are more lucky than good. Unfortunately most aren’t so lucky, especially if you drafted any of these wounded warriors.

2012 has been a really interesting fantasy football season in terms of injuries. None of the projected overall top draft picks missed significant time, yet there were a lot of players taken in the first three rounds that were unusable at different times in the season. Those are the kinds of injuries that can break a fantasy season of even the most studious player.

Personally, I was hurt worse more by guys that actually didn’t finish games than guys that missed games. I can prepare if I know my player isn’t going to suit up. I am screwed if that player plays and doesn’t finish the game, leaving me with a big fat doughnut in the scoring column. Unfortunately I had plenty of those weeks and missed the playoffs in several leagues because of those wounded warriors.

I thought the time is now to look back at the injured players that impacted fantasy teams the most throughout the season. Players that didn’t live up to the hype and couldn’t stay healthy to give you what you expected when you drafted them. I am looking specifically at the guys that went in the first couple of rounds because those are the injuries that hurt most. Disappointments, duds, $#&*, call them what you will as I present you the most devastating injuries of the 2012 fantasy football season.

Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles, QB
This is a tough one because Vick was never ranked in the top five, yet most fantasy experts practically begged you to take him before the season. Everyone predicted this great comeback season for Vick and it never happened. The myth is that Vick was a disappointment before the injury but that wasn’t entirely true. He had decent scores in all of but two games. Unfortunately a concussion sent him to the sidelines permanently. Vick owners took him as their first QB and unless you had the depth to make a trade or score on the waiver wire, you were completely screwed here…like I was in one 14-team league.

Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville Jaguars, RB
The warning signs were there for MJD before the season. History showed that holdout players either wind up underperforming or getting hurt. Yet suckers like me looked at MJD’s Superman-history regarding injuries and rolled the dice. That roll ended the fantasy season of many because to get MJD, you likely had to take him in the first or second round. Jones-Drew played only four games this season leaving you with a useless first or second round pick. Even worse was that we were teased throughout the season that he’d be back. He never came back and most of us never recovered.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants, WR
This freakishly talented wide receiver came into the season hurt yet it was still not enough for some to roll the dice on his potential. Unfortunately for Nicks owners it has been one injured foot after another this season for the Giants wide receiver. Right now Nicks is behind tight end Martellus Bennett in points. Who would have predicted that? Missing games would have probably been better because he has greatly underperformed in all but the second game of the season. Unfortunately you probably passed up some great players to get him and unless you picked up Danario Alexander on waivers, you are probably screwed.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders, RB
Another injury, another year for McFadden. Fool me once shame on you, fool me 10 times shame on me. We all knew what we were getting into Run DMC but it did it stop us? How could you pass up the player most experts were predicting to have a monster year if you had the chance to draft him? I took him in two leagues and boy do I regret it. Not only did his injured ankle keep him out of games, his play all year was miserable on top of it. Yet an underachieving McFadden is better than no McFadden in your lineup.

Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots, RB
Losing Gronk may have impacted fantasy owners more than anyone on this list. The only ways you were getting this tight end on your team were to either keep him or take him in the first or high second rounds of your drafts. You passed over stud running backs, wide receivers, and quarterbacks for a tight end…who isn’t even playing when you need him. Gronk was having the monster year you hoped for when he went down in week 11. Unfortunately you are probably royally screwed by blowing a top pick on a TE that isn’t even playing. In the best case scenario he will be back for week 16 or 17. That does nothing for you now and you’ll probably think twice next year about blowing such a high pick on a TE.

DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys, RB
DeMarco was a sexy name going into your draft this year. Personally I never bought the hype, yet you had fantasy analysts everywhere telling you what a big year he was going to have. Most of that big year was spent on injured reserve with an injured foot. To get Murray you had to take him high and what you wound up with is a guy who missed six critical games in the middle of the season. Yes he has been a beast since returning but it is probably for nothing if you didn’t have a decent backup when he went down.

So, there you have it. Just a small sampling of the carnage that has taken place in 2012. Hopefully, your fantasy team does not include one of these players.

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NFL Week 14 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 11, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 14 in the National Football League!

- Nice win for the Broncos on Thursday Night as they continue to play like the hottest team in the NFL. Only issue is their schedule is extremely weak, I wonder how much it will affect them come playoff time.

- Why don’t the Raiders just start Terrelle Pryor already? What do you have to lose at this point?

- I really have enjoyed how this St. Louis Rams team has played these last couple of weeks. If they can continue to finish this season strong they will become a nice threat in the NFC West next season. Only concern I continue to have with this team is whether or not Sam Bradford is the true answer at quarterback.

- Heartbreaking loss for the Bills in Week 14. I would assume the loss all but finishes any potential playoff hopes they had in 2012.

- Dallas has inserted themselves back into the NFC East with a big win against Cincinnati in Week 14. The Cowboys played a really good game against a really good team in the Bengals and they aren’t even the “media darlings” right now as Washington continues to get all the hype!

- Tough loss for the Bengals but they are thankfully still in the AFC Playoff race after the Steelers lose in Week 14. I really like this team’s chances when you have a decent QB with a big-time receiver. Cincy’s defense is also very underrated, don’t count this team out after a tough loss to Dallas.

- The Cleveland Browns have won three straight games and no it’s not the preseason.

- Where should this Chiefs team rebuild during the offseason? They nearly have a guaranteed top-3 pick in next year’s draft but I don’t think this is the QB class to draft someone in the 1st round.

- How about the Indianapolis Colts getting 9 wins this season!? Could they pull a 2009 New York Jets in the playoffs and do well while being led by a rookie QB? I’m starting to really like them as a sneaky playoff pick.

- If the Titans can give Jake Locker some solid weapons in the offseason this could be a surprising borderline playoff team in 2013. Despite some inconsistent troubles this team is definitely building in the right direction.

- Don’t count out the Minnesota Vikings just yet! Huge win for them against the Chicago Bears with their season on the line. The Bears were banged up but a-win-is-a-win and this will certainly help Minnesota’s confidence.

- The Chicago Bears are in trouble and making these final three games very interesting. Tough breaks like losing kicker Robbie Gould before the game begins is something you just cannot control. Lovie Smith could be looking for a job in the offseason should this continue.

- Nick Foles became a hero for the Eagles on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay and is doing what he can to end this season on a good note. I’m sure many Eagles fans weren’t happy with the win as the thought of Andy Reid staying another year could make their heads explode.

- A loss like this one for Tampa Bay could all but end any chance they have at making the playoffs this season. After being one of the hottest teams in the league a month ago they have had a rough stretch these last couple of weeks. Hopefully this young team uses it as a learning lesson.

- My sports fan intuition tells me that Washington will win the NFC East. Call me crazy but when you win games like the way Washington did versus Baltimore it becomes one of those “mean’t to be” situations.

- Baltimore cannot enter the AFC Playoffs playing the way they have in recent weeks. They have a huge game versus Denver in Week 15 and need a HUGE win to get back on track. If they can’t get the win then it could be leading to an early playoff exit this year.

- If Carolina needed a game to make it feel like their 2012 season wasn’t a complete “wash” then it was this game. Cam Newton looked like…well, let’s be honest…Cam Newton. It’ll be intriguing to see how they build off this big win for the rest of the season.

- Atlanta just cannot lose games like this if they want to avoid “can Atlanta finally get it done in the playoffs” discussions! Mind-boggling loss for a team that has looked really good in recent weeks. I wonder how much of Matt Ryan telling Carolina to “get off their field” in Week 4 helped motivate this loss.

- What’s more shocking: the Jets aren’t completely out of AFC Playoff discussions or that Mark Sanchez lasted the entire game as the QB?

- Jacksonville is a really bad team but I believe this would’ve been a completely different outcome had Cecil Shorts been healthy. Chad Henne did not have his deep threat available today on offense and the Jets secondary is pretty horrible.

- So is San Diego doing what they can to keep Norv Turner employed or are the Steelers just that bad? Talk about an outcome nobody saw coming.

- Pittsburgh does not deserve to be in the playoffs and at the end of the season I don’t think they will have that #6 spot. Shocking loss for a Steelers team that I thought was really starting to turn the corner after that big win versus Baltimore in Week 13. I believe the Bengals are a better team right now then the Pittsburgh Steelers when looking at potential #6 seed teams.

- San Francisco reestablishes itself as a top NFC team after a nice win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday. I still think they are the best all-around team in the NFC but they are starting to show signs of being human.

- Miami has had a decent season thus far but they still have a lot to work on. I believe head coach Joe Philbin can turn this team around once he starts to get the right kind of guys in his offensive system. Look for Miami to continue focusing on some more WR threats for Ryan Tannehill heading into 2013.

- Talk about momentum. These are the type of games you want to play with just three games to go and you fighting for a playoff spot. Seattle could surprise us all as a strong playoff team should they make it this year.

- If you are Larry Fitzgerald there is no way you want to play for this team until they get you a decent Quarterback, right?

- New York continues to hold onto their slim lead in the NFC East after a dominating win against New Orleans in Week 14. The Giants are a baffling team lately as they play extremely well every other week it seems. They have a Week 15 matchup against Atlanta in what can give us a playoff glimpse into what both these teams can possess come January.

- What an embarrassing loss for the New Orleans Saints. Weeks ago it appeared they were making a miracle run at the playoffs and then once they got to .500 it all crumbled to pieces. It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the NOLA.

- Big win for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night as they can now clinch the NFC North with a victory over Chicago in Week 15. This team is starting to really put it together since their loss to New York back in Week 12. The running game is improving, the offensive line is getting better and the Packers are starting to get healthy…watch out.

- Detroit hasn’t beaten the Packers in Lambeau since 1991 and this is the 3rd straight game where the Lions had a lead of 10 points or more & lost. I really think there needs to be a coaching change in Detroit at the end of the season; this team should be playing much better then this.

- I hope Patriots fans have booked a trip to New Orleans right now. The Pats are looking like the most complete team in the AFC, if not the entire NFL right now. I cannot wait to watch them play San Francisco in Week 15.

- What happened to Houston!? They had a chance to make a very bold statement in the AFC and let the opportunity slip through their fingers. Horrible performance and hopefully this is a wake-up call for the Texans.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 14

December 06, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Here it is owners. The time has come for the big locker room speeches. A time to reach out to your team, and deep within your emotions and be the very best you can be. Break out the lucky shirt, send the wife and kids to mall, get in your favorite seat and get ready for NFL war! Yes this week will decide plenty for us in fantasy football land. For some it is the playoffs and time to come on strong in a win or go home deal. For some of us it is the last week of the regular season and the difference between a win and a loss can determine if your season goes on.

For me I am in 4 leagues. So far I have secured 2 playoff spots and they begin this week. In 2 other leagues it is a win and I am in scenario. My record is good, my points are excellent, but still need to get past some competitors. Trust me, I am on edge, been playing with the line ups already and as the week comes to a close, I feel the stress of a huge weekend. Yes, the days of this meaning nothing are long gone. We now play for pride, money, trophies, shirts, and other great rewards. Nobody wants to go to the 2013 draft saying “yeah baby second place”. It is your time owners, get to it!

If you are reading this it is obvious you are serious, and are trusting me to help. Believe me there are no names in here or choices made that I wouldn’t do with my own team. I am here for you, to help you get ahead, and I pull for my readers. Also if you have some other ideas to help fellow readers, you can always leave them in our comments section at the bottom of this page. My Fantasy is playoffs, I am so close and need this. I can have the Megan Fox, Kim Kardashian “we have nowhere to sleep tonight and our clothes are all wet” fantasy anytime. For now it’s guys in pads. Yep, I said it. So here we go!

Quarterback

Start

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: The makers of Swiss cheese may have a law suit against the Eagles defense. Plenty of holes, plenty! Start any QB you can against the Eagles. Freeman showed some life last week vs. Denver so he should be good to go.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans: We may soon have to change the name to Andrew Skill, because it looks less and less like luck each week. 4 TDs last week as they pulled out a big comeback win against the Lions has Luck ready to try for a Wild Card spot, and they have a winnable game right here.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals: Just look at the last 4 weeks: 9 TDs, 0 INTs and over 1,100 total yards from scrimmage. 19 TDs for the season for a guy many thought would be benched. He also has found a thing called “clutch” If you have bad QB play, this kid is worth a shot, especially at home.

Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: Again a reach, but help if you need it. The Vikings are good at home, but this is crunch time and you can’t dislike a guy who throws to Brandon Marshall.

Matt Schaub, Houston Texans at New England Patriots: Of late, the Texans seem to be shying away from pounding out to Arian Foster and more air work has been involved. The Patriots love to make teams work, so Schaub should be real busy and can get a few here.

Sit

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Yes he does get the yards, but this could be a long night for him if Denver brings it’s A game on defense.

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are much better than the Chiefs.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers at Pittsburgh Steelers: Rivers shakes his head so many times when walking off the field he looks like a human bobblehead. 1 TD in the last 2 weeks, and now this match up in a real tough place to play. His face let’s you know the deal.

Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns: As I said some of you may have bad QB play, however it shouldn’t bring you to this. Don’t be fooled by last week’s numbers, the Browns would love to pound him into the ground.

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens at Washington Redskins: The Redskins secondary has stepped it up a bit as we saw last Monday night. Flacco however seems to be surviving with a good run game.

Running Back

Start

Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings vs. Minnesota Vikings: Don’t look at his 2 fumbles the last time they played look at the over 200 yards he got last week. He is back to being the best in the game, and at home he is even faster, which they will use all day against the Bears. How it works remains to be seen.

CJ Spiller, Buffalo Bills vs. St. Louis Rams: Coach Chan Gailey said “Due to the sloppy conditions I took it easy on Spiller last week”. He took it easy to the tone of 77 yards and a TD? I would love to see what he gets if they work him hard. Start him at all cost.

Mikel LeShoure, Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: The yardage has not been huge, but he has a TD in 3 straight, catches a few passes, and the Packers showed how bad they can be against the run last week. No Leshoure isn’t Peterson, but I don’t see why he can’t score again and grab about 80 yards. A nice flexer play.

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: If you don’t Knowshon then you just don’t Know! He has been playing well since getting thrown back into the starting role, and this should be a nice match up against a weak Oakland defense. He’s averaged 75 yards and 4 catches since being the starter. Go with him.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs. New Orleans Saints: I tried to bash him, but he showed he’s ready for a bigger load with Andre Brown out. He topped 100 yards last week, and now has this awful defense coming into his back yard. It should be a nice day for Bradshaw.

Sit

Beanie Wells, Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: 2 weeks ago, 2 TDs, last week 22 yards on 15 carries. Yep, Beanie Wells is back!

Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers: Reggie has been busier of late, but trying him against the 49ers may not be a great idea.

Green Bay RBs vs. Detroit Lions: There is way to much uncertainty to try any of these guys with so much on the line. And that now includes Ryan Grant.

Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What? Bench the hottest hand in Fantasy? Well by the numbers the Bucs are the top run defense in football, and the Eagles are not that scary at QB. The Bucs will most likely stack the line and dare the Eagles to beat them through the air. You don’t have to listen to this, but it may pay off for you.

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings: I would like to think you’re not this desperate. He has done very little over the last few weeks.

Wide Receiver

Start

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs: He has had 21 targets leading to 15 catches in the last 3 weeks, including a TD. This match up smells of “start him”.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets: Anyone can tell you to start Calvin Johnson, or Brandon Marshall, but how many will tell you to go big with Cecil Shorts? Well, I will! In the last 4 games: 20 catches, 368 yards and 4 TDs. He’s also had a whopping 38 targets. Yep, they like him.

Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys at Cincinnati Bengals: Continues to blow up. He’s had 6 TDs in the last 4 weeks accompanied by 29 catches on 37 targets and a big 475 yards. He makes his owners and those of Tony Romo quite happy. Roll with him.

Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Sure he has only 1 TD in the last 4 weeks with 19 catches, but no one on this defense looks like they will be able to slow him down. He should find the end zone here.

Danny Amendola, St. Louis Rams at Buffalo Bills: Not sure if he will play, but if he does this should be one of those games where he does plenty. The Bills defense isn’t very special, but Danny, when healthy, is.

Sit

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons at Carolina Panthers: Something strange has come up of late, White has lost his way to the end zone. Just 4 TDs for the season and none in the past 4 weeks, including a very unfriendly 20 yards last week.

Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks: Is this the end for Larry in Arizona? Without a good QB it will be. In his last 4 weeks of play he has had 11 catches, 1 TD and under 200 yards. That’s not Larry like, that’s not even a number 4 like.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons: Just not the guy to trust with your season on the line.

Stevie Johnson, Buffalo Bills vs. St. Louis Rams: After 3 straight games of 6 catches, he had just 2 last week, despite a TD. The Rams play well at the corners, so it could be a similar tough day for Johnson here.

Justin Blackmon, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Jets: After his awesome 13 catch performance he has had just 6 in his last 2 weeks, including just 1 catch for 9 yards last week. He should see lots of Cromartie here.

Defenses I like:

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Diego Chargers

San Francisco 49ers vs. Miami Dolphins

Defenses I don’t like:

Philadelphia Eagles at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New Orleans Saints at New York Giants

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Here is week 14, a critical and exciting time for Fantasy owners every where. Best of luck to all!

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NFL Week 13 Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

December 04, 2012 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Let’s take a look back at some of the things that stood out from Week 13 in the National Football League!

- Great win for the Atlanta Falcons in primetime as they improve to 11-1 on the season. I have been very critical of the Falcons ability against good teams all season and they proved in back-to-back weeks they can pull it off. Now they just need to show up come playoff time…

- Say what you will about the New Orleans Saints but they gave it a pretty valiant effort these last couple of weeks. It will take a miracle for them to be playoff bound in 2012 as they get their 7th loss of the season here in Week 13. I wonder if the “Sean Payton magic” will be able to get this team back where they typically are in 2013, obviously if Payton returns.

- I’m sure many Buffalo Bills fans wondered where this team has been all season long and the funny thing about this Bills team is that they can’t be counted out completely just yet. They are 5-7 on the year and just sit outside the 6th seed in the AFC. Certainly that tells you how weak the AFC truly is this season.

- After two weeks of “Jaguar-Mania” they finally came back to Earth. Sorry Jacksonville, Chad Henne is decent but not your savior. I’m sure Alex Smith will be looking for a job next season…or will he.

- Seattle has been a pretty nice surprise all season long in the NFC. They pick up their 7th win on the season and get another hard fought win against a pretty good team in Chicago. Not a bad year when you beat Green Bay (technically), New England and Chicago in one season.

- I’ve been preaching this belief off-and-on the last couple of weeks: the Chicago Bears aren’t as good as their record shows. Believe me when I say that because they have trouble against good NFL teams. They need to turn that belief around before playoff time gets here.

- Green Bay looked like they were still hung over from the knockout punch they received last week from the Giants in the 1st half and then had shades of the Packers we have been used to the last couple of seasons in the 2nd half. It could be a good sign for Aaron Rodgers and company.

- How is Adrian Peterson not the NFL MVP favorite right now? I know Tom Brady and Peyton Manning have had good seasons but would the Vikings be where they are right now without him? 21 carries for 210 yards, enough said.

- The Colts are having a miracle season right now and if you don’t believe me watch Andrew Luck’s game-winning pass in Detroit. Indianapolis has been the best story in the NFL all season long, amazing stuff.

- Hello, can anyone hear me yet? Fire Jim Schwartz at the end of the season! He literally coached the Detroit Lions out of a win…AGAIN!

- Sure Houston plays in an easy division but they still need to get the easy wins as well. The Texans did just that and got their 11th win of the season. Home-field advantage is getting closer to their grasps.

- I may be in the minority on this one but I really enjoy what I see out of Jake Locker on a weekly basis. I really hope Tennessee continues to believe in the kid, he is definitely poised to potentially surprise his critics with his pla.

- Tough weekend for the Kansas City Chiefs, my thoughts & prayers go out to them, the families involved and of course the 3-month old who was left behind in this selfish tragedy. I know a win won’t completely heal this situation but I hope it was able to take their minds off of it for a little bit.

- The more I watch this team play the more I realize that Ron Rivera just isn’t the right fit there. The Panthers need a coach who will know how to properly utilize Cam Newton, imagine Chip Kelly of Oregon coaching this team next year…

- Whatever the St. Louis Rams do the rest of the NFL needs to follow because they have the ingredient on how to beat the 49ers. Watch both of these games!

- San Francisco loses but that doesn’t change my belief in Colin Kaepernick as the starter for this team. The 49ers still have the best chance in winning when he is on the field.

- New England is the best team in the AFC but suffer from a tough schedule and it’s going to be tougher in the coming weeks as they take on Houston in Week 14 & San Francisco in Week 15. These next two games will be very telling in regards to the Patriots chances come playoff time.

- Seriously Dolphins? You have a chance to make things interesting in the AFC playoff standings and you lose yet again when it matters the most? Granted its New England but c’mon make the AFC interesting!

- The Jets get a win in a historical snoozer. Bench Mark Sanchez, start Tim Tebow (if he’s healthy) and just have Greg McElroy ready to go if Tebow isn’t cutting it. You brought Tebow in there for a reason now just start him at QB!

- How does Larry Fitzgerald wake up every Sunday morning knowing that he is playing for this team and that these Quarterback’s are throwing to him?

- Believe me when I tell you this, the AFC may be a weak conference but the Denver Broncos are going to make the playoff seeds very interesting amongst the division leaders. This could get very fun, very quickly.

- Sadly it’s starting to look like maybe that “glimmer” on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season is starting to wear off. Has been a fun year and I hope they can piece back together for the final weeks of the season.

- Back-to-back wins for the Cleveland Browns…it’s been a while since we could say that.

- Oakland is just plain awful. I’m starting to really wonder if the Raiders will just give Terrelle Pryor a shot to see what he’s got as a NFL QB. What do you have to lose at this point?

- Quietly the Cincinnati Bengals continue to make noise in the NFL as they have won their last 4 games. They sit just outside the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC playoff standings and are a dangerous team with just 4 games to go.

- 4-8 season = Fire Norv Turner. I wonder if San Diego would consider looking a potential replacement for Phillip Rivers cause I’m not sure if he is the right fit for the Chargers anymore either.

- Wow how lucky was the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13? Great win for them and their playoff chances stay alive. I wonder if we will see a “Big Ben” return next week with the season starting to dwindle down.

- Tough loss for Baltimore as their inconsistency once again rears its ugly head. This team would be so good if they could just get it together. The loss now puts Baltimore as the #3 seed in the AFC and no longer facing a first-round bye, in-fact if the season ended today they would play Pittsburgh again.

- Good win for Dallas on Sunday Night, they still looked inconsistent against a weak Philadelphia Eagles team but a win is a win and they stay alive in the NFC Playoff picture.

- Philadelphia didn’t look terrible in their loss to Dallas on Sunday Night. In fact they looked pretty encouraging as the Eagles were able to make plays offensively, something they needed to see badly with a rookie QB and RB starting for them against the Cowboys. It’s still too little, too late but at least they continue to try and play spoiler in the NFC East.

- Huge win for Washington and now things have gotten very interesting in the NFC East. I have this strange feeling that the Giants may not be the NFC East representative when it’s all said and done.

- The Giants had their chance to capitalize on wins in back-to-back weeks and separate themselves from the NFC East. They failed to do so and now have created yet another typical end of the season for the Eli Manning led New York Giants. This is going to get fun with 4 games to go.

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

For more NFL talk join Bower, Chris Johnson and myself Monday – Friday throughout the Football season on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, ESPN 1300 in New Haven and online at 979espn.com!

You can listen to Jeff on “The Bower Show” every Monday – Friday from 3pm – 7pm ET on 97.9 ESPN in Hartford, CT. You can listen online at www.979espn.com

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