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NFL 2014-15 Season Week 14 Recap and Week 15 Picks

December 11, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • All the years that Jeff Fisher was with the Tennessee Titans I never recalled him twisting the knife the way he did this past Sunday against the Redskins. 2 years ago the Redskins mortgaged their present and future to trade up and take Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick. These trades very rarely, if ever, work out. I can remember when Mike Ditka traded 8 or 9 picks for Ricky Williams when he was coming out of Texas in the late 90’s. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…..and people still think 1 man is greater than 6? I can almost guarantee if someone was crazy enough to call Bill Belichick and offer him 7 draft picks for Tom Brady, that he would assuredly take that offer. If I had the number one pick, 10/10 times if someone wanted to trade with me to get it and they were as insane as the Raiders, Mike Ditka or Dan Snyder and offered a gold mine, I would never turn it down.

When the Rams took the field for the coin toss this past weekend and Fisher sent out all 6 draft picks the Rams made thanks to the RG3 trade to be captains for the game. I don’t know what provoked this action out of Fisher but man, ever hear about not kicking a man when he is down? The Redskins are one of the worst disasters in recent memory. When the Lions went 0-16 years ago, THEY had a brighter future than what the Skins do now. Regardless of your feelings about what Fisher did, it sure did fire up his team and they posted their second straight shutout. Although the playoffs seem like stretch for the 6-7 Rams they continue to impress.

  • Do you hear that? Listen closely….It is the sound of Johnny Manziel rallying the Cleveland Browns and sending them into the playoffs. Don’t confuse my optimism with thinking Manziel can be a future great or a Hall of Famer. I’m not worried about his size or “ability to take an NFL hit.” The Browns have been abysmal on offense for the last few games and it was amazing that they won any of them and didn’t lose them all. Manziel will guaranteed give them a spark they need and even if they don’t win, they sure will be more entertaining than they have been. The Browns should have made this move last week and not stuck with Hoyer. They wasted one of their season’s best defensive efforts and were poised to beat the Colts but Hoyer messed it up with his terrible inaccuracy and turnovers. I laugh when I think that just a few weeks ago the stories were rampant that Hoyer was going to sign a “big money” contract and rumors of what the Browns will get for Manziel in a trade were wild throughout the NFL. Regardless of how Manziel and the Browns finish the season, Hoyer is done and gone from Cleveland. Manziel is the future for this team (for at least next season).

Recap of picks from Week 14:

Bold Prediction from Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. –WRONG – C’mon Tampa! Geez, I didn’t ask you to upset the Patriots or Packers this week.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. –WRONG- I continue to talk myself into picking the Bengals for these big games and they repeatedly let down EVERYBODY. They are just not a “big time” team. They have no problems beating the lowly bottom feeders but with a real chance to put the division lead out there, they dropped the ball big time.

Week 15 picks:

Bold Prediction for Week 15: Bills over the Packers. I’m painted into a corner this week as either all the games are scrubs against scrubs or elite vs elite. To be honest I would not be stunned if the Bills can pull this off. It’s in Buffalo and Green Bay has proven that any other stadium is their kryptonite. Everybody stumbles and they almost did Monday Night against the Falcons. Let’s do it Buffalo!

Guaranteed Lock for Week 15: 49ers over the Seahawks. Does Colin Kaepernick’s apparent regression scare me? No. Does the fact that Jim Harbaugh is guaranteed to not be in San Francisco next year scare me? No. The game is in Seattle? Whatever. I still believe in the 49ers to make some noise down the stretch and they will not go out quietly.

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NFL 2014-15 Season Q3 Report and Week 14 Picks

December 03, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Bold Prediction from Week 13: Falcons over the Cardinals. – RIGHT – Too easy, too easy. The Cardinals are starting a very slow crumble since Carson Palmer was injured. They are in a much different mental state then they were when the season began. When they were winning to begin the season without Palmer there was always knowledge that he was coming back. “Hey we are this good now, wait until we get our franchise QB back” was the feeling around the locker-room. Now, that knowledge and safety net of Palmer is gone. Missing something that you know is not coming back is much harder than missing something that you know will eventually return.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 13: Eagles over the Cowboys. –RIGHT – The “Sanchize” lives to play another day! Nick Foles’ who?! Big win for the Eagles on Turkey day.

Counting my Week 13 predictions I am 7-4 in my bold and 7-4 in my guaranteed locks for the season. You can send me any financial gains you have made to my PO Box at seasons end.

3rd Quarter Award for Best team: Green Bay Packers (9-3). The potential preview of the Superbowl was a great game and the reason why I put Green Bay as the best team in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers is hands down the best QB right now in football and this team can win in any condition. I might be a little concerned with a neutral site matchup against the Broncos or Patriots but Green Bay already proved it once winning a Superbowl a few years ago in Dallas. (Runner up award: New England Patriots)

3rd Quarter Award for Worst Team: New York Jets (2-10). I have made no secret about how awful this team is from the top of the organization to the bottom. This team will guaranteed go through a complete overhaul in the offseason and will be off the playoff radar for the next 3-4 years. I weighed putting the Tennessee Titans into this slot but the emergence of Zach Mettenberger as a seemingly viable NFL Quarterback places them just behind the Jets in race for the worst team. (Runner up award: Tennessee Titans)

Surprise 3rd Quarter Award for a team: Cleveland Browns (7-5). I have waited long and patiently enough but the Browns have finally earned my recognition for one hell of a season. They are 1 win away from guaranteeing a non-losing season for the first time in years. I know they are in the midst of a mid-season QB controversy but they are very much alive and fighting for the AFC North crown. Ultimately if they do make the playoffs I have little faith in them making anything happen but it would still be a giant step in the right direction for this franchise. Even though the Bengals currently have the lead in the division, anyone of the teams involved could win. (Runner up award: All the teams in the NFC South who are about to win the Division with a sub .500 record)

3rd Quarter NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers AND Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots– At this point in the season I am looking at the first tie for MVP since Steve McNair and Peyton Manning tied back in 2003/2004 season. Top to bottom, Brady and Rodgers are near identical…..to include them both wearing #12 (I’m sure by now you have heard Bill Belichick’s GOLDEN comment for that one). The one category that Rodgers has on Brady is the interceptions but even then we are arguing 3 vs 6. Kudos to these guys for knocking DeMarco Murray off my MVP perch (who held the top spot for most of the year). Barring a statistical downfall from one of these two guys, I can easily see the award going to them both.

3rd Quarter Defensive MVP: JJ Watt, DE, Houston Texans – 5th in the League in Sacks (11.5), 2 defensive TD’s this season, 3 forced fumble, 5 fumble recoveries and 8 passes defensed. – Watt is guaranteed the Defensive MVP award even if he is unable to finish the season or the Texans miss the playoffs (hell Watt won it last year on the same 2 win team). I do like Justin Houston from the Chiefs (current league sack leader) but Watt literally makes every play happen for him. Houston is more of a system pass rusher (for a mental visual, compare his talents to Clay Matthews where I would compare Terrell Suggs to JJ Watt) where it doesn’t matter if you put Watt at the DT, Left or Right End or anywhere else, he is so freakishly talented that he can dominate.

What to expect for the Final Quarter of the season:

  • I mentioned above that one of the biggest storylines I have my eye on is the Cleveland Browns and their Quarterback situation. Early today it was confirmed that Brian Hoyer will get one more chance against Indianapolis on Sunday. I fully expect him to be on a short leash especially since Manziel did come in and was effective, but not effective enough to fully take the job away. Cleveland has to strike now that the iron is hot and literally anyone can win the AFC North. I personally would have went with Manziel as the Browns will go down early verse the Colts and Hoyer just doesn’t have the explosive play capability to surge the Browns back. If Cleveland loses on Sunday you can be assured that Manziel is in the following week.
  • I mentioned in my midseason report that I thought the Cowboys and Seahawks would choke the most coming down the stretch and I will stand by my statement. I know Seattle has turned it on as of late in back to back Division beat downs but I just expect them to falter towards the very end. They have a very tough road to finish the season against the Eagles, 49ers, Cardinals and Rams to round out this year’s campaign. For the Cowboys, the writing is becoming clearer on the wall. They are reforming back to the Cowboys of old and are not completing games from start to finish. They benefit from an easier schedule with 2 of their last 4 against inferior teams (Bears and Redskins) and have tougher games against the Colts and Eagles.

Bold Prediction for Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. Similar to my Cowboys and Browns theories, the Lions will always be the Lions until proven different. Just when you expect them to waltz to 9-4, Tampa Bay will have something to say in the upset win.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. Time to put the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers to bed. They looked dominant weeks ago and the sexy pick for an underdog Superbowl win but since the gears have fallen off. Now, there are strong rumors that Ben is injured (stop me if you haven’t heard this before) walking into a must win game for them. I like Cincinnati to derail the Steelers and send them to their 3rd straight off season without a playoff birth.

 

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NFL Week 6 2014-15 Recap and Week 7 Questions

October 15, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • Let’s be a little cautious with the Cleveland Brown hype train. Remember a few blogs ago I commented that due to a seemingly an easy early schedule the Houston Texans could have really set up their entire season for the rest of the year? The Texans have since faltered due to their own poor play and the fact that some of their opponents have been better than advertised. The Browns are now in a very similar situation that I showed the Texans to be in. After drubbing the Steelers on Sunday, Cleveland now faces the Jaguars, Raiders and Buccaneers in the next 3 games. I don’t expect them to win all of them but what if they did? These are by far the worst 3 teams in the NFL. That would put the Browns at 6-2. Then the Browns can be in a simple solution such as all they have to do for the rest of the year is win every other game and boom; 10-6 and potential playoffs. The Browns are not a pretty team. They currently rank 21st in the league in total offense and their passing stats are lower than all of that. There’s an old saying in the NFL that “winning is the best disguise for problems.” The world is in love with Brian Hoyer and this team and for many reasons they should be but the bottom line is that they are a mediocre offense, slightly above average defense and play in a division where none of the teams can make up their minds about how good they want to be.
  • As collective fans of the NFL we all need to take some deep breaths and slow down the hype trains that are all leaving the stations at once and will assuredly cause a pile up. Hype trains such as the above mentioned Browns, the Seahawks faltering and the Cowboys being the greatest team since the 85’ Bears. We just wrapped up Week 6 people. I know the Cowboys have looked better than they should and the last 4 games for the Seahawks are as pedestrian as they come but there is still so much out there to be answered. It’s fun and exciting to be caught up in the moment but that kind of excitement should be reserved for Weeks 14 or 15. We aren’t even halfway through the season yet and we have already crowned the Cowboys as Superbowl 49 champs.
  • Kudos to the NFL for an article I read this weekend from Sports Illustrated. The NFL plans on proposing potential loss of draft picks to teams whose players can’t seemingly stay out of trouble. For years, talent has always outweighed any off field issue in the league. Based off this I fully expect Ray Rice to be back in the league within the next year and barring any prolonged jail time, I expect Adrian Peterson back as well. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for second chances but not the second chances that take place in the same week or season. Take for example a player with issues such as Santonio Holmes. He had multiple arrests over his career with the Steelers and the final straw had been an alleged night club incident where Holmes had thrown a glass at a woman. The Steelers were able to trade Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick (which in a roundabout way later became Antonio Brown) and cleansed themselves of the issues. The problem to me here was that Holmes had a mountain of off the field issues and the Jets (and most likely any other team) swept him up without fear and he was ready for the following season. So the Steelers chose to lose one of the best offensive players for morality purposes just so another team could have him? In the world of the NFL, everything is now right. Issues like this never get brought up again. “Yeah, this guy…this guy needed a change of scenery” is the most often used quote surrounding off the field issues leading to transactions with other teams. Rumors swirled about Desean Jackson’s abrupt departure after leading the Eagles in receiving last year. Rumors were that Chip Kelly and company feared Jackson had “gang involvements”. ……..So this didn’t deter the Redskins? Later more reports would come out about general attitude and comments that Jackson was “just not a good locker-room guy” that lead to the dismissal. How weird was that whole situation when it happened? How about Adam “never call me Pacman again” Jones. He was the 6th overall pick for the Tennessee Titans in 2005 and played that way at times. His mountain of off the field issues would be that of Mount Everest from 2005 – 2008. Jones was suspended for the entire 2007 season and then the Titans traded him to the Dallas Cowboys the following season where the issues continued. So the Titans got a clear conscience and pass from media and fans but the Cowboys didn’t care about Jones’ never ending rap sheet? I remember almost little to no criticism to the Cowboys for that move. It was just met with the typical “Ha-Ha-Ha, well that’s the Cowboy’s for ya” remarks. After the failed experiment with Jones in Dallas (shocker!) he was then out of the league for 2 years and resurfaced with the Bengals in 2010. Finally holding NFL teams accountable for off the field issues where teams would be hit financially and/or with draft picks can finally send a message to the teams that multiple issues can no longer be ignored just because of overwhelming talent. Once again, I am all for second chances but a TRUE second chance is maybe after your first moronic DUI the team lets you back, not the 345 chances Adam Jones or many others have had. This would stop the idiotic process of forcing a team to get rid of a player that inevitably gets scooped up by another team in the same breath and will now make teams honestly think about their future with a player if it will do more harm than good.

Questions and Predictions for Week 7:

Cincinnati’s season is potentially on the line this week. The NFL is funny at times. The Bengals were once 3-0 and seemingly on top of the NFL. Now having lost 2 straight and rolling into Indianapolis to face the Colts (it appears without AJ Green), the odds don’t look good for the Bengals. The Bengals find themselves now falling with the Steelers and being passed by the Ravens and Browns in the AFC North.

My Guess: Colts go over on the Bengals.

Bold Prediction for Week 7: Chiefs over the Chargers. The Chiefs seemingly are putting things together this season on the field at last. This is a must win game for them. They are at the bottom staring up at the Broncos (4-1) and their Sunday opponents (5-1). Dropping to 2-4 is not an option in this division. I don’t think San Diego learns from the scare they got from the Raiders last week and officially falter this week against the Chiefs.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 7: Pittsburgh over Houston. You almost never bet against the Steelers in a home primetime game (defined as Thursday Night, Sunday Night and Monday night). Not counting playoffs the Steelers have had 36 primetime games since Mike Tomlin became head coach. The Steelers are 11-6 at home during these games (but just 10-9 on the road). Although Arian Foster will do damage to the defense, I fully expect the Steelers to win.

Recap from Questions and Predictions from last week:

Does Rex Ryan become the first mid-season termination in the NFL?

My Guess: Jets are destroyed and Rex Ryan is termed middle of the week. –RIGHT/UNDETERMINED –The Jets were more competitive than I thought they were going to be, even as close as being down by one score late. Then the wheels fell off, they became the Jets again and are now have lost 5 straight to be 1-5. The loss was probably not embarrassing enough to cost Ryan his job midweek (I was expecting Tampa Bay Buccaneers performances for that to happen).

Bold Prediction from Week 6: The Carolina Panthers take down the Cincinnati Bengals. –PUSH- Oh joy, the ever loving moment when a tie occurs in sports. I hate ties. I hated it in hockey, hate it in soccer, hate, hate—hate ties. This was your typical slugfest where each team exchanged the lead throughout the game. I was surprised how effective the Bengals were on offense without Mega Star Wide Receiver AJ Green. I can’t ignore that the Bengals did have a field goal chance late in overtime to win it but a team like Cincinnati shouldn’t take until 3 seconds left in overtime to decide on trying to beating a team.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 6: The Eagles defeat the Giants on Sunday Night Football. – RIGHT- I am surprised the Giants laid a huge goose egg in this game, specifically the offense. Eli was sacked 8 times and the Giants lost Victor Cruz to a season ending injury. It doesn’t get any easier for the Giants as they face the red hot Cowboys next week.

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*In my opinion these teams are officially done and need to start thinking about 2015 sooner rather than later. Probably the most surprising to me to be done this early would probably have to go to the Jets. I didn’t expect a Superbowl or even playoffs but to be 1-5 and just an utter complete mess of a team was a real let down for them this year. I fully expect Rex Ryan to be out in New York even before seasons end. Especially if the Jets have an eye on a top collegiate coach that they would need to move fast on.

New York Jets – (1-5)

Oakland Raiders – (0-5)

Washington Redskins – (1-5)

Jacksonville Jaguars – (0-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)

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Super Bowl XLVIII Predictions and Analysis

January 31, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It is finally here. The last game of the 2013/14 NFL Season, before the NFL moves into the off season, has finally arrived. Super Bowl XLVIII which will emanate from Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on February 2, 2014 will kick off at 6:30PM, EST. Viewers, and NFL fans, I am sure, have been bombarded with wall to wall coverage, and I am sure they are looking forward to the Super Bowl ads(I already saw one), and the Bruno Mars/Red Hot Chili Peppers Half time show (they couldn’t have gotten the three living members of Led Zeppelin?). I am sure people are looking forward to the game as well.

This year’s edition of the Super Bowl features two teams who couldn’t be any more opposite. Representing the AFC, are the Denver Broncos, led by QB Peyton Manning. Representing the NFC, are the Seattle Seahawks, led by QB Russell Wilson, but known more for their “Legion of Boom,” defense. The Broncos have the NFL’s #1 Offense, and the Seahawks have the NFL’s #1 Defense. This should be, on paper, a pretty interesting game, as to how the Seahawks defense will try to stop Manning’s prolific offense. On the other side, how will Peyton Manning try to outwit the defense of Seattle. Tons of strategy will be going into this game, for sure.

I hope that this will be a great game. I hope that the referees do not become a storyline concerning either team. That being said, I am going to analyze this game, and make my prediction.

The Seattle Seahawks:

The Seahawks got to the “big dance” by getting the #1 seed, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. That “12th man” certainly came into play all season, and even though the “Hawks” lost one game at home, it was not a question they played way better at home. In the playoffs, they defeated the New Orleans Saints in the Divisional Round. In the NFC Championship Game, they defeated their NFC West rivals, the San Fransisco 49ers.

The big question mark I have about this team is that they are not at home. Can they play in that atmosphere, where they won’t have their “12th man?” Can Russell Wilson step up to the challenge? Will CB Richard Sherman have a big day despite all the distractions concerning his speech? At the press conferences, the man was STILL apologizing. The media needs to chill, in my opinion. How will the oft-injured Percy Harvin play? Will Harvin be a factor? Can they get Marshawn Lynch going. I

If the Seahawks can put up some points, and keep it close, perhaps they can have a shot. Russell Wilson needs to step it up in this game. The defense needs to pay attention to what Manning is doing. They also have to be aware when they are jamming Manning’s receivers. Depending on how the game is called, they have be aware that the receivers, like Decker, and Welker, will beg for a flag, instead of trying to catch the ball. Can’t commit a dumb penalty.

The Denver Broncos:

The Broncos got to the Super Bowl, like the Seahawks did, by getting the #1 seed. QB Peyton Manning obliterated NFL records for passing, and the offense set new offensive records. Great. Peyton and the Broncos get plenty of carrots as a reward. In the playoffs, the Broncos defeated the San Diego Chargers (who had one of the stupidest game plans ever) in the Divisional Round, and beat the New England Patriots (whose defense let Peyton go up and down the field at will) in the AFC Championship Game.

The big question mark I have about this team is can they do what other “high scoring” teams in the past (1990 Bills, 1998 Vikings, 2007 Patriots) could not. Can they win on Sunday? Looking at their past two games, they scored 26, and 27 points. That is interesting. Of course, the media has been yammering about the weather, and how it will affect Peyton Manning. Well, I had no idea that Peyton Manning was the ONLY player on the field. It is true that he has a poor track record, when the temperature is under 40 degrees, but this is football.

If the Denver defense can continue to play like they did in the playoffs, and if Welker can hang on to a ball or two, the team definitely can win this game. Of course, when you have Peyton Manning, you always have a chance to win. I also expect the other receivers to have good games. Knowshown Moreno’s health is a concern, but I expect that there will be some sort of a running game. The Broncos should prepare for a physical game.

My Pick: Well, in my opinion, this is a game where I think it will get very physical. Can the Denver Broncos, a team that is basically a finesse team with a decent defense, defeat the Seattle Seahawks, a team that is a throwback to teams with a hard nose running game (and throw when needed), and play tough defense? Can Peyton Manning cap off a great year with a second Super Bowl ring? What will become of his legacy if he doesn’t?

Can Russell Wilson become the second QB of African American descent to start and win a Super Bowl since Doug Williams of the 1987 Washington D.C. Super Bowl winning team? Can Peyton Manning do what Kurt Warner failed to do (won with the St. Louis Rams in SB36, tried to win SB43 with the AZ Cardinals, but lost to the Steelers), and win two Super Bowls with two different teams (won SB41 with Indianapolis Colts and is trying to win with 2013 Broncos).

As you can see, there is a lot of history on the line. I think it all comes down to the experience. Broncos Head Coach John Fox, while not a Super Bowl winning head coach, has been to the Super Bowl as head coach of the Panthers, who lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl 38. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has never been to the Super Bowl. Yes, Carroll has several National Championship wins, but that was in College at USC. This is the big time. Peyton Manning, and Wes Welker (rather infamously) both have been to the Super Bowl, so they have an idea what to expect. Very few, if any of the Seahawk players or staff have Super Bowl experience, maybe one or two.

My pick to win the Super Bowl: I have picked against them all post season, and I have been wrong. Well, might as well go with the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join’em.” The Denver Broncos will be your Super Bowl XLVIII Champions.

Personal Note: I honestly don’t care who wins this game. I have no dog in this fight. If both teams could lose, I would be very happy. However, there has to be a winner. Of the two, it is the lesser of two evils, so I guess I’d like to see the Seahawks win. I am just not a Peyton Manning lover, and I never have been, and never will be. The deification of the guy by ESPN and NFLN makes it worse.

[ad 1Before I get the asinine, “that’s because you like Brady, or Big Ben,” comment, I am sorry to disappoint some, but there are a lot of “great” artists, athletes, etc., that I just never liked.Perhaps that subject will be for a future blog. Look, I recognize that Peyton is an awesome QB. I just am not a fan of his. He never appealed to me as a player, and I have seen him play in person.

Hope you enjoyed the blog, and the 2013-14 season.

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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Defending Richard Sherman

January 29, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It was the interview heard around the world. Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman intercepted a pass from San Fransisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick that was intended for receiver Michael Crabtree. Sherman’s heroics would seal the game and a trip to the Super Bowl  for the Seahawks. Right after the game, Richard Sherman would then go to the sidelines, and give Fox reporter, Erin Andrews one of the most memorable post-game interviews ever. The immediate reaction to the interview would also make it one of the most notorious interviews ever.The interview is right here as follows: http://youtu.be/5rWHDZDBk9w

Richard Sherman, as many know, in a CNN interview, did apologize for the distraction he caused. He said he did not mean to distract from his teammates, and said it was “immature” to attack Crabtree. He did say that he was very shocked by the reaction to the interview, particularly by those on Twitter who used racial slurs, and by those who called him a “Thug.” He also said that he felt that “Thug” is the new “N word.” He also explained about how he performed on the field (http://youtu.be/t1n3JrRhssQ)

In Richard Sherman’s defense, what really annoyed me was how the NFL media, the sports media, and sports fans acted as if they never heard of players trash talking before. I just was amazed at the reaction on Twitter, and on my Facebook timeline. I look in other NFL groups on Facebook, and I saw “Thug,” “Monkey,” and the like. What is up with that?  Why was it necessary to call Sherman a thug?  I have seen fans/media complain that too many NFL players use all the cliches, such as “We did it as a team.” “It is what it is.”  Now, when we see Sherman, who is brutally honest, he is a thug? Fans/media can’t have it both ways.

Richard Sherman, as many know, graduated from Stanford. Like fellow Stanford alumnus Colts QB Andrew Luck, Sherman is no dummy. Both men are highly intelligent. Both are very articulate. Both are very charitable. Both men also play in a gladiator sport. The sport is very physical, and very emotional.

Both men, even though Luck plays offense ( and is supposed to be the face of his franchise), and Sherman plays defense, leave it all out on the field.  The big difference is that both men handle things differently, as far as the “switch” from being a warrior on the field to being interviewed off the field.  Sherman, and many others, are just more animated. That does not make him a thug.

I could go all day giving examples, but I would like to know why athletes like NHL stars Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and former NHL stars like Tie Domi are not considered “thugs.” Not only do they trash talk, they get into fights. I realize that fighting is part of the sport of hockey, but I just don’t understand why someone, especially a notorious player like Domi, who was an enforcer, was never called a “thug.”

Hockey could be considered a “gladiator sport.” The players go all out, and are very emotional. Yet, if any of these guys runs their mouths like Sherman did, they are called “emotional.” To have guys who are “enforcers,” to me, definitely makes it a gladiator sport. Again, the enforcers are not “thugs” in the eyes of their fans, but Sherman is a thug because of a very animated interview.

Even NFL head coaches get into the act of trash talking. The Harbaugh brothers come to mind easily. What about the Ryan brothers? I could fill this entire paragraph with everything that NY Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan has said. I could also go on about what his brother, Rob has said over the years, and don’t get me started about their father, Buddy. Former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville is the king of trash talking. Barely any head coaches liked him, especially former Steelers Head Coach Chuck Noll.  Yet, none of these people are considered “Thugs.”

That all being said, the one thing that really gets under my skin is the hypocrisy of the reaction of the  media and fans is that during the October 14, 2014 game between the Patriots and the Seahawks, Tom Brady and Richard Sherman, and the other Seahawks were trash talking each other. During the TV timeouts, Brady gave Sherman a hard time, pointing to the scoreboard saying “We’ll see you after this win.” After the Seahawks’ win, Sherman made his infamous remark, “You mad bro’?” (Sorry.Tom. You deserved that one.) In a Fox Sports spot, Sherman explains what happened:  http://youtu.be/QdD5PlDAT6A

Well, all that week, The media and fans thought that was so funny, and so cute. I mean, Richard Sherman was turned into a media sensation. People LOVED his “trash talk” then. Even though I admit Brady probably deserved a little trash talk back from Sherman, and I admit his comment was, and is very funny, what I don’t get is that Sherman was trash talking. Sherman ALWAYS trash talks. What happened with Erin Andrews was trash talking.

Sherman was being funny and cute in the eyes of the fans and sports/NFL media, when he was trash talking Tom Brady, a first ballot Hall of Famer.  However, to this same crowd, he is a “thug,” when he is trash talking some WR after a very emotional game?  I am just having a terrible problem with this. Why was he called a “thug” in reaction to a very animated interview after a very emotional game, when he was NOT called a “thug,” when he had that trash talking incident with Tom Brady?  Fans and the media can not pick and choose in these situations, and call themselves fair minded. It is stupid, in my opinion, to consider Sherman a “thug,” regardless, but to cheer him on in one instance, and to call the man a “thug” in a similar instance is the height of hypocrisy.

As I have pointed out, talking trash is done by many athletes, even Peyton Manning. Trash talking even spreads into horse racing as well. What bothers me is that Richard Sherman seems to be the one that is being made the poster child for trash talking. Not only that, he is being made a target for racial slurs. It is very sad to see this behavior in 2014.

Richard Sherman is not the first to do trash talking and he is not going to be the last. I just have a hard time understanding, when Sherman did that trash talking in his interview with Erin Andrew, why people were acting like Captain Renault in “Casablanca” when he closes down “Rick’s Cafe,” when he says, “I’m shocked..shocked, there’s gambling allowed.”  My hope is that the word “thug” is used for actual criminals, which Richard Sherman is not.

To conclude this, I am NO Seattle Seahawks fan, not at all. I just felt I had to write this blog, because I feel that Sherman is getting a raw deal from the media, and from fans. I am not saying he is perfect, not at all. I am not even in love with trash talking. I don’t like it much, to be honest. I believe in “acting like you’ve been there before.” I am just writing this blog in Sherman’s defense because I think this young man is being treated unfairly, and wanted to stand up for what I think is right.

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 2012-13 Divisional Playoffs Review & Commentary

January 15, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Well, my readers, the NFL Divisional round games for the 2012-13 post season are in the books. The weekend’s games were much better than the previous weekend’s Wild Card games by a mile. There were a lot of great plays, and the games were pretty high scoring games. Of course, there as a little drama as well.

I watched the games on Saturday, January 12, between the Denver Broncos vs the Baltimore Ravens, and the San Fransisco 49ers vs the Green Bay Packers in their entirety. On Sunday, January 13, however, due to illness, I only was able to watch the first quarter of the game Atlanta Falcons vs the Seattle Seahawks, and the last 5 minutes of the New England Patriots vs the Houston Texans.

That being said, I saw enough of the highlights of both the Falcons and the Patriots games to make this particular blog a general commentary on the weekend’s games, instead of an in depth analysis. I hope that my readers will forgive me, and will enjoy this commentary instead.

Before I get started, I am going to admit that the NFL games in the post season are harder to pick than in the regular season. Last week, I was 2-2. This week, I really swung and missed. I went 1-3. I think the sports gods are telling me to stick with picking the horses.

Let’s start this commentary by going over the results. In the Saturday games, the Baltimore Ravens pulled a stunning upset of the favored Denver Broncos in double OT by a score of 38-35, and the San Fransisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 45-31.

On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons finally won their first playoff game in the Head Coach Mike Smith/ QB Matt Ryan era, when they just squeaked by the Seattle Seahawks by a 30-28 score, and the New England Patriots once again defeated the Houston Texans resoundingly by a score of 41-28.

As a result of these games, in the NFC Championship Game, the Atlanta Falcons will host the San Fransisco 49ers, and in the AFC Championship Game, the New England Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens. The Championship Games will be aired Sunday, January 20, 2013. The winners of each game will advance to the Super Bowl in New Orleans on February 3, 2013.

Let’s start with the Denver/Baltimore game. I am not a fan of either team, especially the Baltimore Ravens. However, I feel as a journalist, I have to give credit where credit is due, and praise Ravens QB Joe Flacco. Flacco played a wonderful game, especially with his deep ball. He and his receivers, Jacoby Jones, and Torrey Smith had amazing chemistry. Flacco really is coming into his own as an awesome QB. Ray Rice, RB out of my alma mater Rutgers University, had a solid game as well.

The Baltimore Defense and Special Teams gave up 35 points, but they did not give up. They did make plays when it counted the most. Retiring LB Ray Lewis had 17 tackles in the game. The pass rush was lacking a good part of the game, but they eventually did get to Broncos QB Peyton Manning, sacking him, and causing a fumble. They also got him to throw a game killer INT.

As for Denver, I have to just say congratulations on a good season. However, John Fox had me shaking my head. He must come from the Marty Schottenheimer school of “play not to lose.” There is also a reason why Jack Del Rio, the defensive coordinator, is not a head coach anymore either. I mean, that Broncos defense that was ranked 5th in the NFL, and was touted by the talking heads as being so tough never showed up.

I mean, what happened to the secondary? People say Ray Lewis is “old.” I am no fan of Ray Lewis, but why are people saying Champ Bailey (who is no spring chicken) just had a bad game? Do people watch the games? Bailey showed the whole world that he got blasted by those Ravens receivers. Bailey was showing his age. So far in the playoffs, Ray Lewis has 30 tackles. I can’t believe I am defending Ray Lewis, but people have to stop giving certain players passes.

What happened to the vaunted Von Miller, and Elvis Dumervil, while we are talking about the Denver defense? I hardly heard their names. That defense as a whole was awful in the game. Luckily for Denver, they got 14 points from the special teams unit, and 21 points from the offensive side, or this loss would have been horrid.

Back to Fox, what was up with the play calling? You had two time outs with 30 seconds on the clock at the end of regulation, and you don’t let Peyton Manning chuck it down field for at least a shot at a field goal? That was just crazy. The clock management was awful.

As for Peyton, two picks, and the second one that he threw across his body, that was awful. Peyton looked alright out there. However, on that second pick, he should know more than anyone not to throw that. However, he again is one and done. I don’t know if the cold affected his arm or what, but he is now 9-11 in playoffs.

The 49ers/Green Bay game was awesome. I think that Colin Kaepernick grew up, and became a star right in front of our eyes. I missed part of the game due to watching the Ravens/Broncos game, but I found out about Colin’s pick six. However, it didn’t faze him, and he led the team to a TD, and the rest was history.

Kaepernick has great chemistry with WR Michael Crabtree. The two work well together. No, I am NOT going to call them Montana-Rice just yet, but the tandem is one to watch. Kaepernick is very judicious with the ball. He doesn’t take off running, and seems to know when to run. He also doesn’t run where he risks getting hurt.

The Packers on the other hand, appeared to be out of sorts. The offensive line has to be dealt with. Aaron Rodgers, as good a QB as he is, can not keep taking these beatings. The Packer organization needs to draft offensive line.

The whole team seemed to be puzzled on how to stop the 49ers from scoring, and on how to score against them. Rodgers made some ill advised throws that he usually doesn’t make. The Packers defense, as much as several members are touted by the media, were just gashed by the 49ers’ offense.

I never would have thought that the Packers, two post seasons in a row, would be blown out. On the other hand, the 49ers were just beasts.

Well, if there is any consolation to Packers fans, the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. I saw the first quarter of this game before becoming ill, but I saw enough of the replays to make a comment.

Even though I am not a fan of either team, I am happy for Tony Gonzalez, who’s the main TE for the Falcons. He has been a great player for so long, and he has finally won a playoff game. Gonzalez is also considered a great person off the field as well.

That being said, even though the Falcons won their first play off game under Head Coach Mike Smith and under QB Matt Ryan, how it all happened made me still a little hesitant to totally buy in. In the first quarter, they started well against Seattle, building a 10-0 lead. Yes, Seattle’s CB Richard Sherman made some plays.

Now, even though the team won 30-28, some things bothered me on both sides. Going into the 4th quarter, the Falcons were up 28-7. I understand that there is a lot of pressure to win their first playoff game. I get that. However, what I question was the Falcon’s organization’s mental toughness. They started to get tight, and Seattle came back, and got a lead of 28-27 for about 15 seconds when Matt Ryan made some throws, and got the team into kicker Matt Bryant’s field goal range.

Here is where it gets crazy for the Seahawks, on the first FG attempt which Bryant wound up missing, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll called timeout to “ice” the kicker. Well, that wound up being a mistake because on the second try, Bryant made it, giving the Falcons a 30-28 lead.

The Falcons win after the Seahawks recover the on side kick, and QB Russell Wilson throws a Hail Mary, but Falcons WR Julio Jones catches it.

The Falcons survived a huge scare. How does a team allow another to come back on them like that. Always keep the pedal to the metal. Don’t worry about people saying it’s “running up the score.” The other team has a defense, it’s their job to stop you.

The last game between the New England and the Houston Texans was pretty much what I expected as far as the outcome. This was the only game that I picked correctly. Thank you Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and the gang. At least I got one right the whole weekend.

Congratulations to Tom Brady for passing Joe Montana for the most playoff wins. Brady now has 17, and Montana had 16.

We all know about Brady’s greatness, and that he had terrific stats in the game, so I don’t have to go over that. However, on the other side of the ball, I don’t know what to do with Matt Schaub of the Texans. He is a good, solid QB. I don’t know if I would label him “elite.” Right at the kickoff, Texans Daniel Manning ran a 94 yard return, only to be caught by FS Devon McCourty. Instead of punching it in for a TD, on the replay, I could see Schaub was skittish in the pocket, and threw the ball into the stands, and the Texans settle for 3 points.

The Patriots just dominated the Texans on both sides of the ball, despite the slow start. Unfortunately, Danny Woodhead injured his thumb, and Rob Gronkowski re-broke his arm. Woodhead is expected to play in the AFC Championship game, but Gronkowski is going to need surgery, and will miss the playoffs. However, the team seemed to be able to make the adjustments.

The Texans may have to look into getting more explosive players on offense, and defense. LB Brian Cushing’s injury hurt the team on defense. The team needs more offense besides Foster and Johnson.

As I said previously, the Patriots will face the Ravens for the AFC Championship Game. This will be the first time since Denver and Cleveland, when two teams have faced each other in the AFC Championship game back to back.

Well, that is my commentary. I hope you enjoyed it.

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 Divisional Playoffs Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

January 14, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

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

– I had my doubts about the Baltimore Ravens but it certainly appears that they are “peaking” just at the right time heading into the AFC Championship Game this week. Joe Flacco really stepped up for the offense when the defense needed his help against Denver and is flashing signs of him being a top NFL quarterback. There is still a lot of work to be done but for Flacco to carry the offense the way he did versus Denver will be a career highlight. Now he needs to finally get that AFC Championship Game victory.

- Disappointing “one and done” exit for the #1 seed Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round. I was skeptical about this team based off of their weak schedule at first but eventually hopped on the bandwagon when they were playing flawlessly to end the season. For a team that is supposed to have an amazing defense their secondary failed Denver all game long against Baltimore. It was a tough break for the Broncos and of course Peyton Manning as they had this victory within their grasps.

– In case you had forgotten, the San Francisco 49ers proved once again that they are one of the best all-around NFL teams in the game today. Offensively they have really improved with Colin Kaepernick under center and their defense is always “rock-solid” for them. From an NFC perspective I always felt like this was the team to beat in 2012, as they are a very hard to defeat simply because this team adapts very well to their opponent.

– Another season, another NFC Divisional round exit for the Green Bay Packers in consecutive years. They looked very strong in the 1st half but their defense was unable to make adjustments in the 2nd half to contain Colin Kaepernick and the explosive Niners offense. This team is always on the brink of being considered “Super Bowl contenders” but it appears that in consecutive year’s at-least that their defense just isn’t getting the job done. I’m interested to see how Ted Thompson and the Packers front-office continue to address their defensive issues (and running game issues) in the offseason.

– For a #1 seed the Atlanta Falcons needed this victory pretty badly. Throughout Matt Ryan’s career we have questioned whether or not Ryan can get it done or not. He finally did this past Sunday and got that playoff victory he has been looking for. Now with the playoff victory in his rearview we now will see whether or not the momentum can carry over versus San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game.

– Tremendous season for the Seattle Seahawks this year. They made a lot of people, including yours truly, into believers and have nothing to hang their head on. While they may have not achieved their ultimate goal of being Super Bowl Champions completed, I really like this team heading into next year. I look forward to seeing what Russell Wilson and the Seahawks can do in the 2013 season.

– New England continues to prove that they will be the “old dog” of the AFC until further notice. This team played great on both sides of the ball and they are looking like a more complete team then they were last year, when they made it to the Super Bowl. The Patriots didn’t make mistakes in this game and looked simply flawless against the Texans. They will once again have a chance to play in the Super Bowl next week.

– Another season of disappointment for the Houston Texans as the window of success maybe closing for this team right now. Many of us, including myself, have waited for this team to put it together and make the Super Bowl but they continue to fall short the last two seasons. I really believe a lot of that falls on the shoulders of quarterback Matt Schaub who simply does not look like a “big game” QB in these very important games.

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 2012-13 Divisional round picks & preview

January 11, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Well, last week’s playoffs games gave NFL fans a couple of things. One was a huge reason to NOT expand the playoffs to more teams. I mean, with the exception of that Green Bay/Vikings game, the quality of the other three ranked from horrid to barely passable.

The other thing NFL fans got was a lot of drama, from Ray Lewis’s drawn out retirement to the debate over whether Robert Griffin III should have stayed in the game due to his knee being in poor condition. I just hope that Griffin’s career is not compromised, and the upcoming games this weekend are a lot better.

That being said, let’s examine this weekend’s games. These are the Divisional Round Games. The winners advance to their respective conference’s Championship Game. On the NFC side, it is the Green Bay Packers taking on the San Fransisco 49er’s on Saturday, and the Seattle Seahawks taking on the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. For the AFC, on Saturday, the Baltimore Ravens try to take down the Denver Broncos, and on Sunday, it’s a re-match between the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots.

These games at a glance should be a lot better, as far as quality. Packers/49ers should be awesome, and the re-match between the Texans and the Patriots should be really intriguing.

Well, I went 2-2 last week. I hope to do better this time around, so here are my picks for the Divisional Round of the 2012-13 playoffs.

AFC Divisional Round Playoff Game
Saturday, January 12, 2013 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, CO
Time: 4:30pm
CBS

(4) The Baltimore Ravens at (1) The Denver Broncos

The Ravens are flying into Denver, and have to deal with that altitude, and that Denver defense. They also have to deal with a one Peyton Manning. I admit that Ray Lewis has lifted the Ravens up before, and the team has the mighty Ed Reed on defense. However, I just do not see Joe Flacco out-dueling Peyton Manning in this game.

I did a little research and discovered that Peyton Manning has a 9-2 win-loss record over the Ravens. Most of the time, he wins against the Ravens. I don’t see a different result here either, even with the bye week. Unless a miracle happens, I think it is safe to say that Ray Lewis’s 17 year career ends in Denver.
Bye Bye Birdies.

Prediction: Broncos 35 Ravens 10

NFC Divisional Round Playoffs
Saturday, January 12, 2013 at Candlestick Park in San Fransisco
Time: 8:00pm
FOX

(3) The Green Bay Packers at (2) The San Fransisco 49ers

This game should be awesome. The Packers are rounding into form when they won SB45, and they are facing a 49ers team with a very good QB in Colin Kaepernick. The 49ers beat the Packers earlier this year in Lambeau, so we will see what happens at Candlestick Park.

This game has been hard for me to call. The 49ers have been without the services of Justin Smith, one of their main defensive players. Smith suffered a triceps tear in the Patriots game. He will be in this game, but the team will pull him out if he is ineffective.

I think the Packers come in and beat the 49ers, because Rodgers is just outstanding, and Charles Woodson is back as DB. Clay Matthews seems to be over his hamstring issues. I just don’t think the 49ers can hold off the Packers in this game.

Prediction: Packers 30 49ers 20

NFC Divisional Round Playoffs
Sunday, January 13, 2013 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
Time: 1:00pm
FOX

(5) The Seattle Seahawks at (1) The Atlanta Falcons

Well, here is the game that I am having a hard time calling as well. Last week, I really thought the Redskins had a chance to knock off the Seahawks, as the Seahawks were not that good of a road team. However, the Seahawks won, and once again, the Seahawks have to fly back to the East Coast to face the #1 seeded Atlanta Falcons for a 1pm game.

Can the Seahawks do it again with their rookie QB Russell Wilson leading them? Can the Seahawks defense be as effective without the services of their best defensive player, DE Chris Clemons, who tore his ACL and meniscus in the Wild Card game against the Redskins? Can the team overcome the traveling to the East coast a second week in a row?

For the Falcons, QB Matt Ryan and his flock started the season red hot. However, they have been hot and cold later on in the season. The Seahawks are probably the worst team the Falcons could have drawn as far as match-ups.

Can the Falcons overcome that pass rush and secondary of the Seahawks? As the Falcons were the #1 seed in 2010, but got destroyed by the Green Bay Packers, can the team overcome the pressure of being the #1 seed, and finally win a playoff game to quiet their critics?

Prediction: Seahawks 28 Atlanta 21

AFC Division Round Playoffs
Sunday, January 13, 2013 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts
Time: 4:30pm
CBS

(3) The Houston Texans at (2) The New England Patriots

This is a rematch from earlier in the regular season when the Patriots just slapped the Texans silly by a score of 42-14. This was the game where Texans WR Andre Johnson said that it was the team’s “biggest game in their history,” and the team walked into Gillette wearing those Letterman jackets. Of course, the Patriots showed those Texans that the Patriots were there for business.

As most NFL fans have seen, the Texans have not been the same since. The team eventually lost their presumed hold on the #1 seed, and fell to the #3 seed. In the Wild Card round, they barely got by the Cincinnati Bengals. That earned the Texans a trip to the #2 seed, the New England Patriots.

When asked about the rematch, there was some interesting comments coming from two of the Texans most high profiled players. When asked about the blowout, RB Arian Foster said, “We owe them one.” Later, QB Matt Schaub said, “We will give them all they can handle.” Of course, from Foxborough, the Patriots gave their usual buttoned up comments about the playoffs, and were being overly complimentary of the Texans as usual.

I expect this game to be closer, as far as the score. Judging from the Wild Card game, the Texans, even though they were offensively moving the ball well, they were getting mostly field goals. Their defense kept that team in the game.

However, that game should have been a blowout. QB Matt Schaub better worry about his own playing, because he still has not shown me that he could go toe to to with the likes of Tom Brady.

On the Patriots side, that offensive line must protect Brady, and keep an eye out for that J.J. Watt. They have to neutralize him like last game. Of course, the Patriots have done very well against defenses run by Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator of the Texans. One other thing to note is that the key players that the Patriots did not have in the first game, they have now. They are Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.

Patriots Defense must not give up the big plays, especially that play action that the Texans offense likes to do. They have to contain Arian Foster, and look out for that Owen Daniels. Pretty much overall, the defense has to make sure the Texans do not get a good sized lead as the Texans are built to be frontrunners.

Prediction: Patriots 35 Texans 21

I hope you have enjoyed this article. I hope that I have done better this time.

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 Divisional round preview & predictions – Inside The Wheelhouse

January 10, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

The 2012 NFL season is now down to just 8 remaining teams, all whom are vying for a spot in their conference’s championship game. But for that to happen they must beat their opponent in the NFL Divisional Round this Saturday and Sunday. When the dust settles there will be just 4 teams that remain with a spot in Super Bowl 47 that much closer. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s NFL Divisional round games:

AFC:

(1) Denver Broncos vs. (4) Baltimore Ravens

If you enjoy “old school” NFL football than this game is for you. If you are looking for an “offensive explosion” of a game than don’t even bother to tune into this game because that’s not what you are going to get. The Broncos and Ravens have two of the most impressive defensive unit’s in all of Football and you are going to get these defenses to play on such a high level knowing that the AFC Championship Game is in their grasps.

Denver enters this game as the “hottest” team in the NFL that nobody is talking about. Call it disrespect, call it getting lost in the Western part of the United States, but for whatever reason the Denver Broncos aren’t being looked at as the serious Super Bowl contenders I believe they should be. Denver hasn’t lost a game since October 7th (against the New England Patriots) as they have won their last 11 games. They have the most momentum in the NFL currently and hopefully the first-round bye layoff won’t affect this team against Baltimore.

As for the Baltimore Ravens they are playing on pure emotion right now. This team loves Ray Lewis and they want him to exit the National Football League in-style with a Super Bowl ring. Their defense played the best I have seen it all season long against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round and I expect they will try to do that again versus Peyton Manning. If the Ravens offense can get to the same level as their defense was playing last week then we could potentially be looking at an upset in the AFC Divisional round.

The deciding factors in this game will come down to both team’s quarterbacks. Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterback’s to ever play the game so how he tries to manipulate this tough Ravens defense will be something I will closely be looking for in this game. As for Joe Flacco it’s all going to come down to consistency, for all things considered he was solid against the Indianapolis Colts in the Wild Card round but now he takes on a tough defense in the Broncos and is on the road, two things Flacco has a tough time dealing with. As for the final in this one I like the Broncos to get the victory and advancing to the AFC Championship Game.

Prediction: Broncos 24 Ravens 14

(2) New England Patriots vs. (3) Houston Texans

There is something to this game for both of these teams. It’s something more then the winner getting the opportunity to play in the AFC Championship Game. For both of these teams they can make a strong statement to rest of the NFL or avenge one of the worst losses in franchise history. This game has the chance of either being a compelling matchup or just a blowout at the hands of the “old dogs of the AFC.”

New England has been in this position before. This will be the 2nd time in 3 years that they will be playing a team they blew out in a primetime matchup in a playoff game. The last time that happened it was the New York Jets in the 2010 NFL Playoffs and the Patriots got shocked by a team that they dominated weeks prior to their playoff rematch. New England will look to prevent “lighting from striking twice” in this game and proving that they are as dominant now as they were we they destroyed Houston weeks prior.

For Houston on the other hand they are being looked at as a team that cannot compare to the New England Patriots. Many people were wondering if Houston would be able to finally hang out at the “big boys table” against the Patriots and the Texans walked on the field of Gillette Stadium only to get destroyed by New England. The Texans have a lot to prove in this one and need to show the league whether or not they deserve to be one of the best AFC teams in consecutive years.

This game is a tough call because part of me wants to pick the Houston Texans (they were my AFC Super Bowl pick) in avenging their horrible loss at the hands of New England nearly a month ago, but you cannot stop the Patriots right now. New England hasn’t looked consistent as of late but this is the New England Patriots we are talking about. They have been here many-a-times before and the 1st round bye layoff doesn’t affect them like it would other teams, in-fact it makes them better. Once again, New England heads to the AFC Championship Game.

Prediction: Patriots 42 Texans 14

NFC:

(1) Atlanta Falcons vs. (5) Seattle Seahawks

Here we go again, the Atlanta Falcons are a #1 seed in the NFC and they are playing one of the most dangerous, if not the dangerous team in Football. Its déjà vu all over again as the Falcons played the hottest team in 2010 (Green Bay) and in 2011 (New York Giants) in the playoffs. So I suppose if this trend can continue then it’s a foregone conclusion that Seattle wins the Super Bowl, right?

The focal point of the Atlanta Falcons will be, of course, Matt Ryan. In Matt Ryan’s playoff career (3 games) he is 0-3 and hasn’t thrown for more then 199 yards in those games. So the preverbal “monkey is on the back” of Matt Ryan in this one and he needs to get it done on Sunday or this will plague him for yet another season.

Seattle on the other hand is one of or the hottest team(s) in the NFL depending on how you look at it. The Seahawks are getting it done offensively and defensively as they have “peaked” at the right time in the season. Should history repeat itself then we all know those teams who “peak” at the right time typically hold up the Vince Lombardi trophy at season’s end.

Keeping in mind history is how I am going to make my predictions for this Sunday’s game. Seattle is red-hot and Atlanta has playoff history flaws. Until proven otherwise there can be no way I bet against the Seattle Seahawks right now and pick Atlanta in the playoffs with Matt Ryan as their quarterback. Sorry Atlanta.

Prediction: Seahawks 21 Falcons 13

(2) San Francisco 49ers vs. (3) Green Bay Packers

It’s a Week 1 matchup that has plagued the Green Bay Packers for most of the 2012 NFL season. It’s also a Week 1 matchup that solidified the San Francisco 49ers as being “for real” as a top team in the NFC and the NFL. Now these two teams will battle it out again, this time in San Francisco, for the right to play in the NFC Championship Game. Two historic franchises, one spot, talk about a compelling NFL Playoff matchup.

All season long I have praised the San Francisco 49ers as being one of the best teams in Football. At points in the season they were the best team in Football as they looked extremely strong on both sides of the Football. There was no bend and there was no break in how good this team was or is. If the San Francisco 49ers were a movie script many people believe that it will end with confetti and celebration in the Superdome but first they have to go through one of the best in the NFC.

For Green Bay this isn’t necessarily how they envisioned their 2012 season. They have battled adversity from injuries (Charles Woodson, Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews to name a few), tough losses (Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings) and even referees (the “Fail Mary vs. Seattle). But this is what Green Bay likes to do, battle through adversities. There are some correlations to the 2010 Super Bowl season right now but for that to continue Green Bay needs to beat San Francisco to keep the “quiet momentum” going.

The best thing about this playoff matchup is that they are two completely different teams then they were back in Week 1. At that time Green Bay was playing with problems while San Francisco was nearly flawless. Now Green Bay is playing flawless while San Francisco is playing with problems. It’s going to be a fun matchup but I like the Green Bay Packers avenging their Week 1 loss and advancing to the NFC Championship Game.

Prediction: Packers 24 49ers 21

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

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NFL Wildcard 2012-13 Weekend Review & Recap

January 08, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

The 2012-13 Playoffs have begun with four Wild Card Weekend games played this past weekend. NFL fans saw the Houston Texans get by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings. The Baltimore Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts, and the Seattle Seahawks beat the Washington Redskins.

That being said, the road toward Super Bowl 47 has begun. Statically, five of the last seven Super Bowl winners have come from this weekend. I admit each game had an element of drama. Some games had more drama than others. Overall, though, the games were just not all that great. I was bored for the most part, and honestly, I am not all that convinced that one of these winners will win it all based on their performances. The Packers are the only ones I can see even advancing to the Super Bowl based on what I saw this weekend.

As for my picks, I went 2-2 overall. I was right picking the Texans and the Packers. I was wrong picking the Colts and the Skins.

Let’s go ahead and examine the games themselves. However, what I will be doing in this blog is giving this review a little twist. In honor of retiring Ravens Ray Lewis’ fellow University of Miami alumnus The Rock’s return on Raw tonight, I am going to review this weekend like I would a WWE PPV (Thumbs up/down, star system, etc.).

For those not familiar with the star rating: DUD means game was unwatchable all the way up to fives stars ( *****) meaning the game was one of the best games ever.

I hope my reader’s will enjoy this, if you smell what I am cooking.

Wild Card Weekend Rating as a whole: Thumbs in the middle. Overall, as I said, the games were just boring. I nearly fell asleep during a couple of them. For me as a fan, these games showed why expanding the playoffs is not a great idea. The drama that surrounded three of the four games saved this weekend from being a total thumbs down.

(6) The Cincinnati Bengals at the (3) Houston Texans
Final Score: Texans win this game by a score of 19-13.
AFC Divisional Round Opponent for the Texans: (2) The New England Patriots
Star Rating: * (1 star)

This game was horrid. It was nearly unwatchable. Did Bengals QB Andy Dalton forget that A. J. Green, his favorite WR, was on the team? The Bengals were just atrocious on offense. Their defense kept them in the game. I mean, seriously. Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals TE, was having a horrid game. He kept dropping balls, but Dalton STILL threw to him?

Matt Schaub, quarterback of the Texans, was not that much better. His defense. especially the wonderful J.J. Watt, kept his offense in the game too. After the game, I hope he took RB Arian Foster and Foster’s family out to dinner, because if it were not for Foster, I am not sure the Texans would have even scored a TD. Owen Daniels deserves some props too for moving the chains. I mean, the Texans moved the offense pretty well, but only came up with FGs? They are not going to get away with that in New England.

Mike Mayock is a horrible announcer. He is very knowledgeable, but the guy can not be an NFL commentator to save his life.

(6) Minnesota Vikings at the (3) Green Bay Packers
Final Score: Packers win this game by a score of 24-10
NFC Divisional Round Opponent for the Packers: (2) San Fransisco 49ers
Star Rating: *** (3 Stars)

This game was about the best of the four games played. There was some last minute drama. During the Texans game, there was news breaking that Vikings QB Christian Ponder may not play due to some bruising in his triceps.

Sure enough, at the last moment, Ponder was scratched, and back up Joe Webb, who not thrown a pass all of the 2012 season was being thrown into the game. Well, it did not take a genius to figure out that the Packers were just going to have their way with the Vikings, and they sure did.

The game started out a bit dull. For most of the first half. the game seemed to drag. However, as it went along, I thought it was a pretty good game. Both defenses were pretty good, but the Packer defense, with both Sam Shields and Charles Woodson back, were just awesome.

Joe Webb was just lost out there. It was so pitiful. I felt sorry for him. He was just terrorized by Clay Matthews and the gang. Adrian Peterson was held to less than 100 yards, only got 99. I felt bad to see Peterson’s great year, and first playoff appearance end like this. However, those are the breaks.

Aaron Rodgers and the offense did a great job. Rodgers is really awesome when he gets time to throw. He did get sacked a few times. I just loved that DuJuan Harris, the running back. The commentators mentioned that he was selling cars recently. Well, I hope with that performance, Harris won’t be selling anymore cars.

Good solid game. I am looking forward to seeing the game between the Packers and the team that should have drafted him, the 49ers.

Al Michaels was his usual professional self, but Cris Collinsworth just has to go. He is the most annoying person ever. He also like to brown-nose certain players as well, which just gets on my nerves.

(5) Indianapolis Colts at the (4) Baltimore Ravens
Final Score: The Ravens win by a score of 24-9
AFC Divisional Round Opponent for the Ravens: (1) The Denver Broncos
Star Rating: ** (2 Stars)

This game was just alright. The Colts Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians took sick, and was taken to the hospital the morning of the game, so that was not good for the Colts. Thankfully, he turned out to be fine, but was kept overnight for observation.

There was a lot of drama surrounding this game. On the Colts side, Chuck Pagano, who used to be the Ravens defensive coach was returning to Baltimore as the Colts Head Coach. Most fans know that the Indianapolis Colts used to be the Baltimore Colts, until the Isray’s took the team in the middle of the night that fateful night in 1984 to Indianapolis.

On the Ravens side, there was the impending retirement of the team’s most high profile player, MLB Ray Lewis. Lewis, who was playing his final home game got to do his signature dance. The commentators, Jim Nantz, and Phil Simms just went overboard with their praise of Lewis. Every defensive play the Ravens made, every comment was about Lewis. The team even had to have Lewis take part in the final kneel down, and before the game, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hugged Ray Lewis like a long lost brother. It was nauseating, and it distracted from the game.

Look, I realize Lewis is one of the best linebackers ever, but the announcers don’t have to fawn over him during every play.

The game itself wasn’t all that much to talk about. The Colts rookie QB, Andrew Luck showed everyone why he was a rookie. He got smothered by that quick Ravens defense. Luck’s receivers did not help him out with their dropping the ball like hot potatoes either. I was watching them, and I was thinking, “This is not badminton.” “You know you are going to take the hit if you catch the ball.” “Take the hit, but catch the ball.”

As for the Ravens, QB Joe Flacco, who called himself, “the best QB in the NFL,” was surely not playing like it, at least not in the first half. In the second half, he was made to look good by Anquan Boldin who caught two huge lobs for TDs (one for Boldin, and one set up for another TD). Ray Rice also helped Flacco look good with that 47 yard run.

The Ravens defense was fast in getting to the ball carriers, and to the running backs. The defense got after Luck. Ray Lewis did make quite a number of tackles, and nearly had an interception while wearing this huge contraption on his injured arm.

Overall, I still thought the game was just not all that interesting. Of course, we will see if Lewis’ career continues as the Ravens fly over to Denver to face Peyton Manning and company.

(5) The Seattle Seahawks at (4) The Washington Redskins
Final Score:The Seahawks win by a score of 24-10.
NFC Divisional Opponents for the Seahawks: (1) The Atlanta Falcons
Star Rating: ** (Two Stars)

This is the most controversial of the four games as there is the predicted debate of whether Redskins Head Coach should have left QB Robert Griffin III in the game. What drama. Well, this is my opinion, and I realize that I am going against what the omnipotent ones (the talking heads at ESPN) say, but here is my take.

Shanahan should have not listened to his player or his “gut,” as he said after the game. Shanahan’s job, in my opinion, is to get the win.

The team was up 14-0, and then 14-13 almost to about the fourth quarter. RGIII, obviously injured, was still in the game. Why? Shanahan had a healthy backup who had bailed the team out before. There was no reason to jeopardize a chance to advance to the post season, and to possibly damage the health and maybe the career of the team’s star QB, when you have a healthy backup.

I don’t care what Mike Golic, Trent Dilfer, Mark Schlereth, or any of those guys who represent the old, “rub some dirt on it,” era of the NFL have to say. This loss is on Shanahan, who did not have the guts to shut the player down, and put the back up in. Shanahan evidently didn’t listen to Dr. James Andrews either when the injury first happened either. From the looks of things, he should have.

As for the game, it was a decent game. It looked like to me that the Seahawks were a bit slow on the draw both offensively and defensively in the first quarter. However, once they made some adjustments, they started to play better, even though they didn’t get control of the game till the fourth quarter.

The Redskins were actually pretty decent containing the Seahawks. Of course, they let Seahawks QB Russell Wilson have a few runs, and that hurt them. RGIII being injured in the first place, and then re-injuring the knee didn’t help matters. As I said previously, his staying in the game really did not give his team the best chance to win.

The Seahawks will go down to Atlanta to face the Falcons. We will see in that game which team is for real.

Well, that is my review of Wild Card Weekend. I hope you all enjoyed it.

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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