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NFL Wildcard Playoffs Thoughts & Recap – Inside The Wheelhouse

January 07, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

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

– Good bounce back win for the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round. It’s was a tough end to the Texans regular season and now they head to New England to avenge that horrible Monday Night loss that started the “domino effect” of the losing streak to end the year. Houston’s defense looked good in the Wild Card round but they need an improvement in their offense if they want to advance.

- I really liked Cincinnati going into this Wild Card game simply because they had a ton of momentum going for them. It seems that once they got off the “regular season field” and got onto the “playoff field” that they were a completely different team. I can only hope that young players like Andy Dalton and AJ Green are learning from these tough losses. I still believe this team, with Dalton & Green, will eventually get that “monkey” off their back.

– Good win for Green Bay as they need to prove that there is this “quiet momentum” building for this team. It appears that the Packers have been able to get a good run game going as of late with DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant so it’ll be interesting to see how they can play against a really good Niners run defense. When the Packers are able to get the run game going as well as they did against Minnesota then that allows Aaron Rodgers to be a much more lethal quarterback.

– Tough way to end the season for Minnesota as there were high hopes that this team could be a surprise team in the playoffs playing with “house money.” The change of Christian Ponder to Joe Webb appeared to be a crucial blow to this team as it allowed Green Bay to truly focus on Adrian Peterson throughout the game. Not sure what we will see out of Minnesota in 2013 but at least things are going in a positive direction for the Vikings.

– When it comes to defense the Baltimore Ravens looked flawless against the Colts. They were forcing Andrew Luck to make bad throws and were really dominating the Colts offensive line all day long. Offensively they struggled throughout the game and their offensive leader in my opinion, Ray Rice, did not show up at all in the Wild Card round. The crucial fumbles could cost them against a veteran team and these are mistakes you just can’t make in the playoffs.

– What a tremendous season for the Indianapolis Colts. They made their mistakes against Baltimore but that is what you expect from a young team going through their first playoff game. This won’t be the last time Andrew Luck and Co. play past Week 17 so I hope this is a learning process for what is looking to be a promising career. The 2012 season for the Indianapolis Colts was nothing short of inspiring, they should not be ashamed of themselves at all.

– Seattle is the most dangerous team of the 8 remaining NFL teams right now. Throughout the season I have compared them to the 2010 Green Bay Packers and 2011 New York Giants because they got hot at the right time. They now head to Atlanta and almost look like the favorite as a #5 seed. If they can stay focused and not allow this “momentum talk” get to their heads then they could be the NFC representation in Super Bowl 47.

– If the Redskins won with an injured RGIII he would look like a hero. But since they didn’t we now will question whether or not head coach Mike Shanahan did the right thing by keeping him in there for as long as he did. Obviously based off of what we saw RGIII became more of a hindrance then a help on Sunday Night. This is not the way Washington Redskins wanted to end their season as their fans now hold their breath with the injury report of RGIII.

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 Wild Card round predictions & preview

January 04, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

When the 32 NFL teams are working their tails off in those OTAs in the spring, and then in those steaming hot fields in training camps in the summer, and play those pre-season games, and then the regular season, they do it for one reason. The reason is to be playing in the playoffs in January.

Teams work their butts off to get to January for the ultimat goal. They want to be that one team on that first Sunday in February to have that confetti falling on their heads. They want to be holding up that Lombardi Trophy, with QUEEN’s “We Are the Champions” blaring in the background, and want to be known as the Super Bowl Champion.

Only 12 teams get that chance to get , “into the tournament,” as many coaches and players say. That is why every game in the 16 game regular season is important, from the first game, to the last. One win or lost could affect whether a team gets in or not, or could affect a team’s seeding.

The 2012 season was a bit unusual because their was a dispute between the NFL and the referees union, so the first few weeks were officiated by substitute refs. The substitute refs were awful, and several games were marred by their decisions.

One in particular that could have altered this year’s playoffs was the infamous “Fail Mary,” involving the Green Bay Packers who were playing at the Seattle Seahawks. It is so famous, and not in a good way, that I will let the video speak for itself.

http://youtu.be/n5DLwBCryyE

 

The NFL and the refs union made peace very soon after this debacle, and both teams made the playoffs, so fortunately for the NFL, this controversial game did not affect either team’s chances at going to the playoffs.

However, I do feel the Packers did get screwed on this game, and they should have one more win (may have had a shot at the #2 seed), and the Seahawks should have one more loss.

Anyway, we are in January, and we have our twelve team field for the playoffs. For the AFC, in order of their seedings, we have the Denver Broncos , the New England Patriots, the Houston Texans, the Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts, and the Cincinnati Bengals. For the NFC, we have the Atlanta Falcons, the San Fransisco 49ers, the Green Bay Packers, the Washington Redskins, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Minnesota Vikings.

I did not see a lot of the turnover that the talking heads on ESPN mention. In the AFC, the field included the usual suspects, and pretty much the same participants from last year. The Colts are in, and the Steelers are out this year.
No one thought the Patriots, or the Peyton Manning led Broncos were NOT going to be in the playoffs, and get the two byes, did they?

Over on the NFC side, there are a couple of newcomers. The Vikings, Redskins (who won their first NFCE Division title since 1999), and Seattle Seahawks are in. Gone from last year are the New Orleans Saints, the Detroit Lions, and surprisingly, the defending Super Bowl Champion, New York Giants.

Well, it is now time for me to get my picks in for the four games that will be played this Wild Card Weekend. I am not going to deal with odds or any of that. I am just going to comment briefly on the game, and predict the winner, and guess at a score, and that is all.

Here we go.

Saturday, January 5, 2013
Time: 4:30pm on NBC
Wild Card Game: The Cincinnati Bengals at the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium

Analysis: This is a rematch from last year’s playoff where the Texans, albeit with their backup QB, won 31-10. However, this time, starting QB Matt Schaub is leading the charge against second year QB Andy Dalton for the Bengals.

The Texans were the favorite of the talking heads, and backed them up with a strong start to their season, both on offense and defense. However, the loss of their star defender Brian Cushing really put a damper on what they could do on that side of the ball. The team’s being blown out by the New England Patriots later in the season didn’t help because the Texans have not looked quite the same since.

Honestly, I am not sold on Matt Schaub as an elite QB. I think his play makers such as RB Arian Foster, and WR Andre Johnson really carry the offense. JJ Watt really carries that defense too.

The Bengals come in on a tear, especially on defense. Their defense will give Schaub problems.

The coaches on both teams don’t excite me on play calling either, so this game could be interesting.

My Pick: Despite my misgivings about Schaub, I think the Houston Texans win despite him, not because of him.

Score: Texans 24 Bengals 16

Saturday, January 5, 2013
Time: 8:00pm on NBC
Wild Card Game: The Minnesota Vikings at The Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field

Analysis: The two teams split their series. Now, they are playing a third time, but this time, it is to advance to the divisional round. I think the tactics for both teams is pretty obvious.

For the Packers: Stop Adrian Peterson in anyway possible. For the Vikings: Give the ball to Adrian Peterson as many times as possible.

Of course, as the saying goes, that is better said than done. This game should be interesting. The Packers have DB Charles Woodson coming back after missing quite a number of games with that broken clavicle. His effectiveness will be key.

Can Vikings Christian Ponder get the job done if the Packers find some way to stop Adrian Peterson? That is the million dollar question.

My pick: It is the Packers, and they are much too hard to beat at home. I am going to have to go with the Packers. I so would like to see an upset, but I don’t see it here.

Score: Packers 35 Vikings 20

Sunday, January 6, 2013
1:00pm on CBS
Wild Card Game: The Indianapolis Colts vs The Baltimore Ravens at MT Bank Stadium

Analysis: Wow. What a story this has been for the Indianapolis Colts. I am sure every NFL fan knows their story by now, so I am not going to repeat all the details. It is amazing though that they are in the playoffs, especially since they were 2-14 last year.

Now, to the game. Before taking the job as Colts Head Coach, Chuck Pagano was working as a defensive coach for the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, in 2011, Pagano was the defensive coordinator for the Ravens, so he knows the Ravens pretty well. On the other hand, they know him too.

The Colts are led by the rookie QB Andrew Luck, who has had a very good year. He stands tall in the pocket, even when taking hits. He has an incredible will to win as well, for someone as young as he is. He has great chemistry with Reggie Wayne, and T.Y Hilton.

This Colts team is very motivated, and they are willing to play for their coach, who has been battling cancer. Their will to win even carried them to victory against the Texans in Indy (Texans never won in Indy), causing the Texans to fall to the 3rd seed (Patriots destroyed the Dolphins to earn 2nd seed.). Can this will to win beat the Ravens?

I had something very different written about the home team, the Baltimore Ravens. I had this blog almost all set to hand into my editor, Eric Gargiulo. I decided to save this, and go take a nap. I then was going to proofread it, and send it on its way, when I got the news on Twitter that the Ravens MLB for 17 years, Ray Lewis announced that he was going to retire after the playoffs.

This news puts a different spin on the game. Ray Lewis is the team’s defensive, and emotional leader. The team has been harmed by injuries on their defense, including Lewis who suffered a triceps injury in Week 6. Sunday will be his first game back if he plays. It is not known if he will play.

There will be emotional issues on both teams. As for the Ravens, the Lewis news puts a bit more pressure on the Ravens Offense, particularly QB Joe Flacco to come through with the win.

My Pick: Both teams will be playing with a lot of emotion. There is no doubt about it. The Ravens are at home. Ray Lewis is so beloved by the team, and by those fans. Could the emotion work against them? Could the emotion for Chuck Pagano work against the Colts as well? No doubt. I am still going to go with my original pick before the Lewis news broke, and say the Colts escape with a win.

Score: Colts 24 Ravens 21

Sunday, January 6, 2013
4:30pm on FOX
Wild Card Game: Seattle Seahawks vs the Washington Redskins

Analysis: This is the battle of the rookie QBs. Seattle Seahawks have Russell Wilson, and the Washington Redskins have Robert Griffin III. Both young men did a great job with their teams in leading them to the playoffs. I do give Griffin the nod because he led his team to a division title, and Russell’s team has a better defense.

This game should be pretty good. Seattle’s tougher defense vs the Redskins more dynamic offense. RGIII is still going to be a nightmare for Seattle’s defensive coordinator, even though Griffin is still not 100%. I am sure Jim Hazlett, Redskins defensive coordinator, will come up with something to try to stop Wilson, and his offense.

Pick: This game is a little hard for me, but I am going with the Washington Redskins. They are at home, and that crowd could get pretty loud. Seattle is a good team, and the talking heads love to push them, but Seattle is not a good road team. They are coming to D.C. from Seattle. I just think the Redskins will win a close game.

Score: Redskins 24 Seattle 21

Well, those are my picks. I will be back on Monday with a post Wild Card weekend analysis.

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 Wild Card round predictions & preview – Inside The Wheelhouse

January 03, 2013 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It’s amazing how quickly 17 weeks can go but here we are again getting ready for the 2012-2013 NFL Playoffs this upcoming weekend. 12 teams remain from the regular season in the National Football League and one team will be left standing with the right to call themselves Super Bowl Champions. We kick off the 2012-2013 NFL Playoffs by looking at this weekend’s Wild Card round games as the field of 12 will be down to 8 come Sunday Night. With that said lets preview and predict the Wild Card matchups:

AFC:

(3) Houston Texans vs. (6) Cincinnati Bengals

Weeks ago if you told me that the Houston Texans would be in the Wild Card round and would not have a first-round bye I’d think you were crazy. The Texans were looking like the best team in the AFC, all things were clicking offensively and defensively but they crumbled down the final stretch of the regular season. In their final 4 games of the season, all against playoff teams (New England, Indianapolis (twice) and Minnesota), they were outscored 110-65 and were 1-3 in those games. That is not the way to build momentum heading into the playoffs; it’s actually the complete opposite.

Then there is the Cincinnati Bengals who once again have quietly made into the playoffs with a record of 10-6. Cincinnati is the complete opposite of Houston right now as they have entered the playoffs winning 7 of their last 8 regular season games and getting into the playoffs in consecutive seasons. This is a Bengals team one-year removed from making it into the playoffs and getting eliminated by Houston so they will be looking to avenge last year’s exit.

It’s very rare that a #6 seed would be the favorite in a playoff matchup against a #3 seed but I believe that to be the case right now. Cincinnati is riding on good momentum entering the playoffs while the Texans are stumbling when it matters the most. I like the Bengals avenging last year’s playoff exit and eliminating the #3 seed Houston Texans on their home turf this weekend.

Prediction: Bengals 17 Texans 7

(4) Baltimore Ravens vs. (5) Indianapolis Colts

Anyone who read my NFL blogs last season for the Camel Clutch Blog knows that I was very high on the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC all season long. I actually had the Ravens as my Super Bowl 46 AFC team and they came up three points short from making my prediction become a reality. Now here we are again with this Ravens team and they look more inconsistent then ever to close out the regular season. Sure they got that big win against New York in Week 16 but then coasted against the Cincinnati Bengals (who were playing at full strength) in Week 17, not the way a team needs to prepare themselves for playoff action.

On the other side of the coin when you are discussing riding momentum at the right time in your season there is no other AFC team doing that more right now then the Indianapolis Colts. Let’s face it, nobody saw Indianapolis pulling off what they did this season and making it into the playoffs at all, except this team themselves. They are riding inspirational momentum from their cancer-defeating Head Coach Chuck Pagano and look to keep this amazing ride going against Baltimore in the Wild Card round.

As for this Wild Card matchup I really like what I am seeing from Indianapolis right now because they have put it together at the right time in the season. Baltimore on the other hand comes into this game struggling a bit, playing very inconsistent and a little banged up with some veteran players trying to give it a-go and play in this game. When it comes to the playoffs the team with the “hottest hand” usually keeps their dream alive longer and that’s why I’m picking the Colts to defeat their former address of Baltimore in this one.

Prediction: Colts 21 Ravens 17

NFC:

(3) Green Bay Packers vs. (6) Minnesota Vikings

The 2012 regular season for the Green Bay Packers was completely different then the 2011 regular season where they went 15-1 and had a first-round bye in the playoffs. This season brought the Packers “back down to Earth” as they dealt with some tough losses versus Seattle, Indianapolis & New York, while overcoming adversity to be written off in the NFC North and win the division yet again. It was a triumphant regular season for the Packers in 2012 and was very reminiscent to what they had to overcome in their Super Bowl season of 2010. Whether or not they can repeat that same magic in the playoffs this season is anybody’s guess.

Out of all the teams to make the playoffs this season the Minnesota Vikings were the most surprising. Entering 2012 you didn’t know what you would get out of Adrian Peterson coming off of a devastating injury, you didn’t know if Christian Ponder could be your franchise quarterback and you didn’t know if this defense could hold offenses from scoring. There were too many question marks for this team entering 2012 and they quickly squashed them as they were able to win 10 games to have the right to play past Week 17. Similar to Indianapolis, the Minnesota Vikings were one of the best stories to watch unfold in 2012.

Since both of these teams are division rivals we have seen them battle it out twice this season, splitting the season series at one game a piece, with the most recent coming in Week 17. Now they battle it out in a “win-or-go-home” format of the playoffs on Lambeau Field, a place where Green Bay has failed to win a playoff game at since January 12th, 2008 against the Seattle Seahawks. With that said I still like the Packers chances in winning this one in front of their home crowd and advancing to the Divisional Round to take on San Francisco.

Prediction: Packers 35 Vikings 21

(4) Washington Redskins vs. (5) Seattle Seahawks

Washington was another one of those NFL teams that had a magical season in 2012. At one point in the season Washington was 3-6 and left for dead by their head coach in a now monumental press conference. Since Mike Shanahan stated that Washington would be looking towards 2013 the Redskins won their final 7 games of the regular season and captured the very tough NFC East divisional crown. Years of frustration finally came to an end for one of the best fanbases in the National Football League as they will be able to see their team play once again past Week 17.

As for the Seattle Seahawks they made me into a believer as the season went on. I wasn’t on-board with the “Seahawks hype” at the early part of the regular season and as time went on they proved me wrong that they deserved all the hype they were receiving. Many people, including yours truly, have pointed out the comparisons to the last two Super Bowl Champions (Packers and Giants) when describing the Seattle Seahawks simply because they are the “hottest” team entering the playoffs right now.

The theme for the NFL Playoffs lately has been momentum. Well now you have two teams entering the playoffs with a ton of momentum as Washington has won their last 7 games and Seattle has won 7 of their last 8 games. So when it comes down to comparing these two teams I have to lean towards the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle has beaten some “elite” NFL teams this season (Green Bay, New England and San Francisco) and looks like they are clicking at the right time offensively & defensively.

Prediction: Seahawks 27 Redskins 17

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!

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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

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

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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

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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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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 Waiver Wire Week 13 Pickups

November 27, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Fantasy Football week 13 presents some interesting pickups on the waiver wire. Injuries and a hot hand heat up the wire this week with a handful of players that could actually make a big difference to your lineup if you need to fill some holes en route to the championship.

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll has quietly opened up the offense for Wilson who has put up great numbers four weeks in a row. Wilson doesn’t throw for a lot of yards but he throws for TDs. Wilson has a mixed bag of matchups down the stretch including an intriguing game against the Chicago Bears this week. He then has the Arizona Cardinals, the Buffalo Bills, a 49ers team that you’d want to avoid, and a fantastic matchup in the final week against the Rams. If you are struggling at QB, Wilson could be the answer to your problems.

Running Backs

Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos – Don’t say you weren’t warned. John Elway and John Fox dropped Moreno’s name several times leading up to Sunday’s return. Moreno went from being a healthy scratch to the starting running back thanks to his pass protection skills. I don’t expect him to lose the job as he works better than any of the other available backs with Peyton Manning. He had over 100 total yards on Sunday and in that offense there is no reason to believe he can’t put up those kinds of numbers weekly.

David Wilson, New York Giants – Wilson has been on and off this waiver wire list more than just about anyone this season. Once again Wilson is back not due to his own abilities but because one of the backs in front of him is injured. It is clear that the Giants don’t trust Wilson just yet so I wouldn’t expect him to break out this week. However, he is just one spot away from a starter who has been plagued by injuries all season long.

Bryce Brown, Philadelphia Eagles – Isn’t it amazing that the rookie had a better night behind the same garbage offensive line that top five running back LeSean McCoy has had troubles producing with all season? Temper your excitement with Brown. McCoy was out with a concussion and could be back this week. McCoy is not a guy that is going to lose his starting job to anyone. However, you could see a situation where Brown steals goal line carries and becomes a vulture. He is a gamble. He is all upside against the Cowboys if McCoy is out this week. If McCoy plays he may be worth nothing more than a stash play.

Wide Receivers

Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals – I was this close to pulling the trigger and adding Sanu on Sunday. So close that I had him highlighted but didn’t click the mouse. That was a big mistake. This kid is a stud and the Bengals have finally found that second option they have been searching for over the last year and a half. As long as AJ Green continues to get double teamed Sanu will have opportunities. I would call it a fluke if it was only against the Raiders but he has had 4 TDs in three weeks. He has tremendous matchups down the stretch and could become a big key to your championship if you can snag him this week.

Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams – Givens certainly took advantage of his new role as Sam Bradford’s go-to guy this week and will continue to do so with Danny Amendola on the shelf. Keep in mind that Givens is not a guy you’d start if Amendola is healthy. So it is important to keep tabs on Amendola’s health during the week. Remember that Amendola was not scratched even though he was hurt. If Amendola is active and still hurt, Givens could be a sneaky play this week.

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Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 11 Pickups

November 13, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Fantasy Football week 11 presents an unusually quality week on the waiver wire at this point in the season. A rash of concussions to quarterbacks has opened up multiple opportunities for players looking for a quick boost at arguably the most productive position in fantasy football.

This is certainly an odd week to say the least. Week 11 is generally a week you won’t find a lot of quality pickups on the waiver wire. If you are lucky you may find one starter due to injury but to find multiple starting quarterbacks at this late stage of the game is truly unique. Now keep in mind that concussions are a funny thing so there is a shot that none of these backup QBs see the field Sunday or Monday. Yet with the new emphasis on player safety I’d be shocked if any of the injured starters are cleared for action in a week.

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks – Wilson is your best bet of all available quarterbacks if you are looking for a QB you can ride the rest of the season. Pete Carroll is starting to open up the offense as Wilson has had multiple TDs now for three straight weeks. Unfortunately if you own Alex Smith, Michael Vick, or Jay Cutler you will have to look elsewhere as Wilson is on a bye week this week and those guys will likely be back in Week 12.

Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles – The good was that Foles threw a beautiful TD to Jeremy Maclin. The bad is that he turned over for a pick-six. As an Eagles fan I wasn’t impressed at all by Foles. He played like a backup behind a bad offensive line. However, the bright side is that he will be surrounded by some real weapons on offense. Additionally, he has a Washington Redskins defense that made Cam Newton look good two weeks ago. Of all backups he is probably your best bet on matchup alone.

Jason Campbell, Chicago Bears – Campbell is an intriguing QB. Before he suffered a season-ending injury last season he was playing pretty well in Oakland. He had a fairly average game Sunday night but he was playing an excellent defense. He’ll be playing another excellent defense on Sunday if he goes for Cutler. Like Foles he’ll still have some great weapons around him but the matchup should have you looking at Foles before Campbell.

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers – Of all of the QBs that came off of the bench on Sunday, Kaepernick had the best fantasy day. What you have to love about Kaepernick is that he’ll be a goal line option if they get into the red zone. What you don’t like about Kaepernick is that he’ll be playing the best defense in the NFL on Sunday. Of everyone available I think Kaepernick’s running ability makes him the highest reward vs. high risk matchup.

Wide Receivers

Danario Alexander, San Diego Chargers – Alexander could be in for some big weeks as the season progresses. Alexander has firmly taken the starting spot once held by overrated free agent Robert Meachem. I am not as sold on Alexander as some. His numbers came on one big play. Was it a freak breakdown in the defense or is Alexander the real deal? The Broncos don’t give up those kinds of TDs but with Champ Bailey on Malcom Floyd, Alexander may be a sneaky play this week.

Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars – I have a real hard time putting anyone in my lineup that is receiving balls from Blaine Gabbert. There is some talk that Maurice Jones-Drew could be back this week which will certainly open up some passing opportunities. Even with Gabbert, Shorts has been productive up this past week. Unfortunately Shorts will have a terrible matchup against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Pick him up now otherwise look elsewhere if you are looking for Week 11 help.

Running Backs

Andre Brown, New York Giants – It’s time for stubborn Brown owners like me to face facts and start putting this kid in the lineup every week. Lucky for most of you Brown is readily available on the waiver wire although I am guessing that ends this week. Brown has been the only bright spot in a futile offense the last few weeks. He has a bye week this week so you won’t be able to use him right away. If you have the spot grab him now and start playing him every week when he returns to play the Packers.

Chris Ivory, New Orleans Saints – Sometimes you just have to wonder when you see breakout games like Ivory had as to why the Saints waited so long to involve him in the offense. I know he was hurt and I know he is an injury-risk but it was only an injury to Darren Sproles that pushed him back into the game plan. Sproles is expected back but I have to believe that Ivory earned himself sufficient playing time with his last two weeks of play. He’s a risky play because there are just way too many running backs to feed in New Orleans, but you may just have to take a shot and see where it goes over the next few weeks.

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Fantasy Football Start Em Sit Em Week 9

November 01, 2012 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

A loud scream of fear came from out of nowhere! Do you hear the sounds of pure angst and fear, echoing through the air and piercing ears all around? It sounds as if the person was in pure terror and saw no end in sight. The shriek was heard all through the city, could it have been a monster? Could it be a damsel in distress? Children who were scared by something on a Halloween night? No, it was just me, crying about a rough Fantasy week after Frank Gore was kept quiet on Monday night. Yes a real bad week that watched me finish 1-3 in my 4 leagues. No Halloween needed for me that was as scary as it gets!

So to set the record straight and share a serious moment, I was just happy to survive with very little damage from Hurricane Sandy. While most of the East Coast was getting pounded with rain and wind and damage, Fantasy was on my mind, but on the back burner for sure. New York and New Jersey, and parts of my state Pennsylvania came out with bad results, electric lost, businesses closed, cars stranded etc. I want to hope and pray for all of you who have suffered and all of you who may have lost over the last few days. I found myself very blessed. Never lost power, no damage, and family and most friends safe and healthy! A sigh of relief for sure.

Now back to the games at hand. Sports are always a distraction from the every day world, and we need it to keep our minds busy. Well if you are an owner of a Fantasy team you know full well it is always about being busy, and your job never ends. So I am back with more advice to try and help you through week 9, which is the start of the second half of the NFL season.

Bye weeks are coming to an end soon, so this is the moment you can play your best possible line up. As far as pickups, well the wire is thin, so hopefully you can rely on the guys you have on your squad. With that it is time for another Start/Sit for week 9. Yep I heard the bash on Twitter how I said start Reggie Bush and not Doug Martin, but hey if anyone saw that coming from Martin, well then it is time for you to start writing articles, or maybe lottery number books? To help expand it this week, I will give more choices to Start or Sit and less of my chit chat as to why. Next week however, more chit chat. So for now enjoy this new format!

Quarterback

Start

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Oakland Raiders: He is a very hot hand right now. Over his last 4 starts, over 1,000 yards and 9 TDs. Good match up too.

Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals: Averaging 3 TDs per week over his last 4. He is perfectly back to normal and a must start each week.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys: Just too good all around, especially at home. The match up doesn’t matter right now.

Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Just a hunch, but it is the second half of the season, which is usually Charger time.

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles: If this defense gets shredded at home, what can Brees do to them in New Orleans? Plenty!

Sit

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks: Seattle at home is far different than the road team. Ponder looked awful last week against a real bad pass defense. He should struggle here.

Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins: This defense is stepping up big time, and Luck has been decent at best the last 2 weeks.

Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions at Jacksonville Jaguars: Still only 8 TDs this year, and not the same on the road, despite the good match up.

Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons: Prime time in Atlanta is usually QB disaster. They beat Peyton Manning, so Romo should be cake!

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans: As good as Fitz can be against bad defenses, he is even worse against good ones. Look everywhere else.

Running Back

Start

Matt Forte, Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans: The Titans defense is Swiss cheese against the run, and Forte looks pretty healthy again. They need him.

LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: This defense is so very bad, even Andy Reid can’t blow this one. Run McCoy early and often.

Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Heating up at the right time, and this defense can be had. DMC will get his share here.

Arian Foster, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills: Fresh after a bye week and this brutal defense comes to town. Even Trick or Treat isn’t this easy.

Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins vs. Carolina Panthers: Should bounce back after a rough one last week. The rookie is still a top yardage back, and should find the end zone here.

Sit

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers defense is a bit banged up, but improving, and Bradshaw is getting beat up lately. Plus Andre Brown may steal goal line touches.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens: He’s been hurting, but decent. However, Ravens need this game badly and should be aggressive.

Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: He is getting used less and less and Hillis is back to steal time. Chargers are decent against the run at home as well.

BenJarvis Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos: He is lost in this offense. The Broncos defense is improving every week, while Green-Ellis is averaging just 50 yards per week. Ouch!

Carolina Panthers RBs at Washington Redskins: As bad as a committee can be, this one is the worst. Use any of these guys out of 100% pure desperation.

Wide Receiver

Start

Victor Cruz, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: If you like Salsa dancing, then you must love Giants games. He is the top WR for this team now.

Roddy White, Atlanta Falcons vs. Dallas Cowboys: Roddy scores at home, Julio on the road. The Falcons are home. He’s had 4 TDs at Atlanta so far for White.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: While you were sleeping on him: 14 catches, 232 yards and 3 TDs the last 3 weeks. He is a nice flex or WR2 right now.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers vs, Arizona Cardinals: 7 more catches last week, but 0 TDs. Teams will work harder to stop Randall Cobb, which means he should see lots of Pat Peterson. Jones is still worth a play.

Sidney Rice, Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings: Call it a hunch, but I think Rice will try really hard to be active against his old team. He is the best WR they have right now, so expect something here. Again this is just a hunch.

Sit

Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants: Just not getting much done right now, and there are at least 3 or 4 TD options ahead of him in this offense.

Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: He has come around the last 2 weeks with catches and yards, but still 0 TDs this year. The decline of Smith has to be shocking after last year’s rebirth.

Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs at San Diego Chargers: This is just a bad offense right now, and the QB mess is no help either. I generally like Bowe, but not here.

Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns: Only 9 catches the last 3 weeks is part of the proof how bad this pass offense has gotten. Flacco has fallen asleep on Fantasy owners of late.

Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: As good as Cruz has been, Nicks is like the anti-Cruz. Zero TDs and only 12 catches since returning from injury. He is just a tough option right now.

Tight End

Start

Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Usually on national TV we get a lot from Gates. He is still plenty good when he gets hot.

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills: TDs in 3 of his last 4 and averaging 5 catches per week as well. Buffalo’s defense is usually generous.

Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Back from injury and right to the end zone last week. In the grand scheme of things he is their best option.

Sit

Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints: Just not doing anything special, even this bad match up makes me leery.

Marcedes Lewis, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions: He has clearly vanished from this offense and catching only about 2 per week.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins: Just another victim of this poor offense. Only 9 catches in his last 3 so no need to rush him out there.

Defenses I like this week:

Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans

Defenses I don’t like this week:

Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints

Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons

Houston Texans vs. Buffalo Bills

Here is my input for NFL Week 9. Read up and enjoy owners, and good luck with the second half of your season!

I have now joined Twitter, so if you would like to ask any questions or need any advice feel free to reach out to my personal account, @JPshark71.

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