Friday, January 29, 2010
1. The NBA- Discipline problems have hit the NBA hard as has other sports leagues. But pro basketball had a fight take place with fans involved, in probably one of the saddest moments in sports. Then they get the task of punishing Gilbert Arenas for carrying guns into locker rooms. Luckily, the NBA stood up and had him suspended him for the entire season, along with teammate Javaris Crittenton. Then they fined super star LeBron James 25k for kicking a water bottle. Now is the time to knock off the stupid behavior and focus on the game.
2. Los Angeles Kings- The NHL has another young surprising team this year and they call LA home. Sure, they have season ticket holder Elisha Cuthbert, but what other reason do you have to go to a Kings game other than this year? Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick has lifted this young team to a possible Cup contending team (assuming the Sharks and Blackhawks choke, again) and one of the NHL's bottom feeders may have turned the corner. It is hard not to root for this team right now.
3. Northwestern Basketball- You're going to make the tournament this year! You're Welcome NCAA! Northwestern is right next to Chicago, has a wonderful campus and is an excellent school but is the only "BCS" team not to make the tournament since its inception before the second world war. This year, the Wildcats have had a couple of good wins, but all they have to do is hit 19 wins overall and that will get them a ticket to March. As a Big Ten guy, I would love to see this record get shattered this year.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
MSU played a physical road Big Ten game and won by one point. Raymar Morgan had another stellar performance, and Kalin is emerging as one of the best players in the nation. Michigan played well, but if you shoot as many 3 pointers as 2 pointers (29), you wont win all that much.
Kentucky lost to South Carolina. Nice upset, but don't look too much into it, the Wildcats are still a top five team.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I haven't heard of the Jets quarterback and don't have anything against him. The Colts have the Manning boy, his family seems really nice like ours. When I was a kid, I went to see National Velvet with Elizabeth Taylor at a drive in and liked horses always. I don't really enjoy flying because it takes all day. I'd feel safer if the pilot flying any plane I was on was Captain Sully. But I like horses better than airplanes.
Colts 28-Jets 14.
While Drew Brees has been very good for your Dad's fantasy team, I heard the Kardashian girl say Reggie Bush would marry her if they won. I don't like the Kardashian show because it is one more reality show that has people being nosy, yelling, and the girls dress like ladies of rentable affections. And they do plenty of dumb things. Now I'm no fan of Favre. I think if you say your going to do something, do it. Retire, play, retire, play. Maybe he should have thought it through before retiring, the first time. But since my family have been traced back to the vikings, I have to pick Vikings to win. Even though I don't like either team.
Vikings 41-Saints 38
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
1. Rex Ryan- You got your team in the playoffs (by playing B-teams for two weeks) said you were the team to beat and have proved it not once, but twice on the road. Sure, Cinncy looked horrible and have gone through a lot and the Chargers are choke artists, but winning playoff games on the road is tough to come by. With a brutal defense and great running game, a rookie QB like Mark Sanchez can just not lose games for you. It looks like the Jets are building a great team to do this year in and year out, but will their magic run out Sunday?
2. Brett Favre- Didn't choke in the playoffs and played very well. Amazing for 40 years old. Now its time to do what you came back for. The Vikings had a lot of questions after losing into the playoffs the last four weeks, but now they could be going to Miami with a QB's and franchise's legacy on the line. The Saints will be tough in a hostile environment, but Favre is ready to go.
3. Evan Turner- Coming back from a scary back injury isn't easy, but Mr. Turner is playing great right now. OSU is the second best team in the Big Ten this basketball season (yeah they are Purdue) and Turner is leading the way. Keeping with the aggressive style that got him hurt, Evan is the Big Ten's best draft prospect and possible best player outside of East Lansing. If Ohio State is going to make another deep tourney run, Turner needs to get back to 100% and start taking over games.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Dallas Cowboys vs Minnesota Vikings
Romo tries to keep the momentum going against Favre and his last stand. Both teams know they have to travel to New Orleans next weekend. Both teams are very healthy and the Vikings are also well rested. Romo is playing as good as he ever has right now and has the running game to stand up to the physical Viking defense. Dallas has the pass rush to get Favre to throw up the ball for grabs. Minnesota has the experience in the right places and the running game to wear out the Cowboys defense. I see AD having a great game, but the Cowboys trade punches with them and Dallas punches a ticket to the Big Easy.
New York Jets vs San Diego Chargers
The Jets are the "team to beat" according their coach (I admire his swagger) but I still don't believe in them. I just don't think they can go into San Diego and beat the Chargers. Sanchez has been playing great, the defense is getting better and they have great players at many key positions. But the Chargers could have been the most talented team in the decade. I see the Chargers going in and destroying the young Jets. It will be close for a portion of the game before the Chargers shake off rust and unleash their talent.
San Diego, 34-13
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Arizona Cardinals vs New Orleans Saints
Aging vet Kurt Warner tries to lead his troops in New Orleans against my Father's Fantasy Football MVP Drew Brees. This will be the NFL's sweetheart game. New Orleans, a city which has withstood so much in the past few years against Warner, trying to recreate last year's Cinderella magic. This game will be a shootout like last weekend's "Gunfight at Glendale Corral" and will feature some of the games best offensive talent. Like last weekend, the first team to make a play on defense will win this game.
Baltimore Ravens vs Indianapolis Colts
In old Colts vs new Colts I see both teams coming out slow even with the Ravens beat down they handed out last weekend. This game will be more defensive than people expect with Manning coming out rusty (I warned you Jimmy) and could down to a field goal, where I trust Colt's Mr. Clutch. Flacco will have to do something he never has in the playoffs. Make plays. The Luke will be rocking as the Colts move on.
Friday, January 15, 2010
We should target Cornerbacks, Running Backs, and Defensive Ends in free agency this year. Honestly, we could still go best available this year. Any depth or starter we could get would actually be helpful. We need to keep in mind the cap and we need to build with youth to make this project long term and that most of these free agents won't produce for more than a year or two. We need running backs (Reggie Bush wouldn't be too bad, as he could help our return game as well we would need to overpay a bust though) and corners and sometimes you can get a quick fix through free agency until we can draft somebody. We need pass rush bad as well you can find defensive ends on the market as well. We will probably have to sign a backup QB as well, and I don't want to to draft one at this point. Just sign a veteran or two and hope Stafford can stay healthy.
Last year the Lions went with more of a best available approach and this year they will go more into a biggest needs style of drafting. Suh is the obvious best player in the draft but St Louis might take him. It is a very long time until April and injuries, arrests, failed drug tests, awesome combines and Senior Bowls have to take place. Suh can bust as well, as can anybody. Remember when Robert Gallery was the best tackle prospect in a decade? Now he is a guard for the Raiders. You have to pick well here, as this draft is the most important for Mayhew and Schwartz.
First Round: With the second pick overall Detroit needs to take one of three players. Ideally I want Suh. He is a can't miss prospect and an absolute beast. He can get into the backfield and cause havoc all game. If St Louis takes him, we can go one of two directions. 1) Draft Gerald McCoy, a very talented DT from Oklahoma or 2) Russel Okung the monster left tackle out of Oklahoma State. I would be ok with either. Our defense is worse than our offense, but we need to protect Stafford. Both players will probably be very good pros. I would personally take McCoy.
Second Round: This pick is more flexible for the Lions. If Okung is taken, you almost have to go DT. There are a lot of very good players at DT this year and even if McCoy is taken, it could be smart to take another DT to help make an dominant defensive line. Other options are offensive line, wide receiver (Golden Tate or Arrelious Benn would be nice) or even running back. If you really like a corner here, take him. Any other pick wouldn't really make sense.
Third Round: This is where if you really like someone, regardless of what they play, you take them. Almost any pick makes sense here. Hopefully Detroit sticks with the OL/DL/CB trend.
Fourth-Seventh Round: You try and find hidden gems or depth players here. You can still find starting talent at this level, but its tougher. Special teamers can be found here too.
If you take Okung, then Backus will probably be moved to LG, not cut. The cap hit wouldn't be worth it because he may be a solid LG and we sure don't have one right now. Cherilus may be moved inside too if a suitable RT can be found. Having good offensive and defensive lines can cover up a lot of other problems and help your best players flourish.
That should make the Lions a 5-8 win team. They would need a little luck and have Stafford take a big jump for them to be good. If Schwartz sticks to his philosophy and drafts well again along with Mayhew, this could turn around quicker than we thought.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
1. Early Doucet- I remember you in your LSU days and you have a great deal of hype around you. It all came together on Sunday's pass happy slug fest of two heavy weight offenses as Mr. Doucet had two big touchdown catches. Filling in for Steve Breaston (who was filling in for Anquan Boldin) Doucet came up big when his team needed him.
2. Garrett Gilbert- Freshman QB coming in for a living legend in the National Championship game where you are already playing a team picked by many to be far superior. Their defense had dominated Tim Tebow and yet you put it together to give the Longhorns a chance to win. Texas fans have a lot to look forward to with Mr. Gilbert. Honorable mention to Colt McCoy for being a total class act in the post game conference.
3. Pete Carroll- You turned a mediocre NFL career into a world class college football one to another shot at the NFL. After a down year and losing more talent and possible scandal coming to USC, Carroll got out and turned it into a 5 year 35 million dollar deal with team control. Not bad at all. USC is as close to a NFL job as anyone can get in college, and Carroll will try to turn that into winning in Seattle.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
There was a large amount of roster turnover (as there should be) after a 0-16 season. Exactly 66% of the roster was new this season and the Lions have less draft picks this year so the turnover shouldn't be as large. I won't waste time saying we should keep Stafford, Delmas etc but will look at players on the fringe.
Bryant Johnson-Showed flashes of producing, especially when Megatron was on the field. Worth keeping around.
Jerome Felton-Solid blocker, solid receiver and can be a short yardage back. Has a lot of upside still.
Maurice Morris-Came on late and showed solid running and receiving skills when filling in for Smith late in the year. With Smith likely out early next year he would be a good piece to have.
Will Heller-Big solid blocker and red zone target. Good receiver and nice complement to Pettigrew.
Manny Ramirez- Showed flashes of being a starter, very large guard. At worst I think he can be a backup.
Daniel Loper-Showed why he was only a backup in Tennessee. Not worth keeping around when we can find a better younger players.
Derrick Williams- I want to give him another year, but I just don't see much promise. Not a bad idea to keep around another year but I don't think he will contribute.
Daunte Culpepper-Hes awful and needs to go. He lost a lot of his velocity and accuracy. He was not a good teammate and will not be missed too much.
Drew Stanton- Got a start and more playing time than he ever has and showed why he is on the bench. He could maybe be a backup. That is a huge maybe. I hope Lions fans stop talking like this guy is any good.
Dennis Northcutt- Wasn't good at WR or PR. So he is gone.
Marvin White-Was a hard hitter and made some really nice plays. His pass coverage improved with more game time. I think he can be the starter opposite Delmas.
Julian Peterson-We gotta hold out hope and see if he can produce any pass rush next year. Could be a salary cap casualty.
Jason Hunter-Showed nice pass rushing skills and played well until injuries got him.
Turk McBride-Needs some work but could be a good DE in the rotation. Gunther likes this guy so let him see what he can turn into.
Landon Cohen-Made some nice plays and we need his bulk in the middle.
Kalvin Pearson-Hard hitting special teams player. Good reserve as well.
Will James-Made enough good plays to stick around.
Grady Jackson-Large run stopper who can mentor the young DTs we will have in the next few years.
Larry Foote-Did a very good job and is a good player. A little too old and with DeAndre Levy coming along nicely he doesn't fit anymore. He came here to help his hometown and show he can be a four down linebacker. If we resign him, it will slow the development of Levy.
Jordan Dizon-Was unimpressive in year 2. The Schwartz teaching didn't make him any better than last year.
Philip Buchanon- Didn't stand out at all and was a big disappointment. Was benched due to discipline/not starting material.
Dewayne White-Hasn't done anything in Detroit yet and isn't getting any younger. Is a Marinelli guy.
Anthony Henry-Unless he can turn into a Safety, he is too slow to play corner.
As you can see, I think we have some nice pieces on defense but I don't think they are starters. They will come in the draft. I don't like cutting guys for the sake of cutting guys (Leigh Bodden, Andre Goodman). We found some good waiver wire guys and that is big for a team where its biggest hole is talent.
Stan Kwan is the only coach who should have been fired. Its not his fault Hanson had a down year but our return game and coverage teams were so awful. I hope Hanson stays next year but we sign somebody (Brett Swenson?) to do kickoffs and phase him in as a starter.
In Part III I will look at who and what the Lions should target in free agency and the draft.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I came into this season expecting the Lions to be pretty bad but win 4-6 wins. I came up short on that prediction but at least they didn't set any huge losing records. I am happy to have won football games but luckily I have not been satisfied, and neither has this coaching staff.
I am most pleased with the play of our rookies and Schwartz as our head coach. Stafford, Pettigrew, Delmas and Levy have all shown that they can be very good players and a foundation to build upon for this franchise. Sammie Hill has the potential to be very good and played far better than the project we all thought he would be this season. Stafford has a powerful arm and showed he is a tough leader that this city and team can appreciate. He made some mistakes but improved as the season went on until he was hampered by knee and shoulder problems. Pettigrew also came on late but a knee injury ended his season. He looked like the big physical touchdown machine we all hoped for. Delmas looked like a missile and the hard hitter Detroit has lacked for years. I love his physical play and he looks like a pro bowler in the making. I wish he had softer hands since he missed three or four interceptions this year but had his share of turnovers. Levy looks like an eventual starter at middle linebacker and tackling machine we have missed since Stephen Boyd. Hill needs to continue to work hard and improve and could be a good starter in the NFL. Our other rookies have been hit and miss. Follett looks like a special teams beast and occasional backup linebacker. He could be a captain someday. Lydon Murtha was released, picked up by Miami then got injured. He could still be a nice project. Aaron Brown looks like a shifty third down back and good kick returner. He could be a solid piece in rebuilding. Derrick Williams has been disappointing. He had a solid preseason receiving and did all right kick returning but has hardly played all season and could be cut. Looks like if he doesn't turn it around, he will be a bust. Dan Gronkowski played in one game, got cut and resigned to the practice squad. He may just be a guy who floats around a few years then gets cut for good.
Coach Schwartz has been awesome. Yeah, it hasn't turned into wins but his passion is contagious. He is laying a foundation of winning he believes in. He plays the best players and doesn't have favorites. He is a rookie too and still learning and hopefully he can learn from failures. Linehan has been a solid OC but has made some dumb play calls. He looks to be mentoring Stafford well. No real complaints here. Cunningham has been solid and aggressive as a defensive coordinator but has such awful players and depth it doesn't really matter how good he is. Luckily, Stan Kwan has been fired.
Outside of personnel improvements, I enjoyed watching a real offensive and defensive strategies being used. The Lions made in game adjustments and only gave up once (at Baltimore). Sure they were blown out a few times but that was to be expected. The roster turnover injected life into this team. Four games even sold out this year. Not bad considering how awful the economy is. Things are definitely moving in the right direction.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
This was the toughest game to pick all weekend. On one hand, you have a still talented New England team at home in the first week of the playoffs. But they are so beat up and without Wes Welker and they are vulnerable as ever. The Ravens run the ball well and play great defense, which makes them perfect for cold weather football in Foxboro. The Ravens are experienced too, but I think they are on the losing side of this contest. Tom Brady has to will the team to win, and Randy Moss better show up.
Green Bay vs Arizona
Zona isn't good at home. Green Bay is good on the road. Green Bay blew out the Cardinals last weekend, and if yesterday was any indicator the team who won last week can win this week. Green Bay is a very young team with a lot to prove to the league, but is led by some great vets, especially on defense. If they sit back and play coverage, they can stop the Cardinals and let their amazing offense take over the game. It is huge to take the crowd out of a game early and get the Cardinals off their game. We all saw what they can do last year. Arizona has to play great offense and force Green Bay to pass first, which has killed them this year. I still think the Packers will pull it out in a close one.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
New York Jets at Cincinnati Bengals
I see the Bengals coming out more resilient with a chip on their shoulder. All you need is one big punch to the mouth to knock the swagger out of the Jets. The Jets have a good defense but you can score on them. The Bengals need to pound the ball and get into a rhythm early, and let their talented defense shut them down. Get the crowd behind you and beat the Jets and their rookie QB.
Bengals win, 27-13
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys have the hot hand and that can go far coming into the playoffs. Jerry's World will be rocking and the Cowboys have to come out fast to get rid of the playoff curse that haunts them. Reid and McNabb are almost a sure bet to win the first weekend of the playoffs. But I see the talented Dallas defense with a chip on their shoulder come out and physically dominate this game. It will be close but I think Romo will find redemption by using his talented play makers to win the game. I don't feel confident if the game comes down to a field goal for Dallas. I just think the Cowboys are too hot coming in to lose. It is easier to beat a team three times in a year than people think.
Cowboys Win, 31-24
Friday, January 8, 2010
When was the last time a Big East team played for a National Title? They get their BCS bid and usually lose to a team that is far superior SEC team (like this year). I can make a case that the WAC has had more success than the Big East in prime time bowls. Usually the Big East rolls out West Virginia or the likes and never has a chance at a National Title.
Ohio State usually loses big games. They blow it in National Title games with the whole world watching. But they do get there almost every year. That is more impressive than one may think. Florida has been great for four years. Ohio State has been doing it for a decade. Bob Stoops has lost more Bowl game and big games (in a row) that Jim Tressel has had a chance to reach. But Stoops has consistently been called a great coach with no one calling for his job in the football crazy state of Oklahoma.
The Pac-10 was “the deepest” in years this year. What that actually means is that USC wasn’t dominant and everybody had a chance. Oregon (Pac-10 champs) lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. Arizona (a team with a shot to make the Rose Bowl) lost to Nebraska 33-0 in their bowl. Stanford lost to an injury decimated Oklahoma team and Oregon State got crushed by a Mountain West school.
Let’s take a look at the Big Ten this year. Minnesota lost by one point to Iowa State. Northwestern lost a wild game against Auburn. Michigan State played well but faded against a Texas Tech team that was united in its bowl. Wisconsin beat Miami, Iowa exposed Georgia Tech (don’t the Yellow Jacket’s jerseys look eerily similar to Navy’s since a certain coach came to school?) and Ohio State beat an Oregon team in a game not as close as its score showed. Penn State came back in a swamp to beat LSU. Three teams finished in the final top ten polls. Overall a pretty good year for the Big Ten. This was also without usual bowl invite Michigan, who missed their second bowl in as many years. Now, the Big Ten must do this consistently and win a National Title in the next three years. OSU, Penn State and Iowa are the most likely candidates. Besides beating up on each other, there is no reason the Big Ten shouldn’t have a team playing for the National Title every four years.
It is true I am a Big Ten fan. I also know the tough times the Big Ten has gone through in the last few years. With Michigan struggling and more teams missing bowl eligibility, its hurts our national picture. Every year, with the cupcake schedules some of these teams play, eight teams should be bowl eligible in the Big Ten. Eight out of 11 (or 12 soon enough) is very reasonable.
The Big Ten belongs with other schools and conferences and the perception that they are inferior is completely false. Most of the Big Ten will be much improved next season so it could get even better. Unlike the top heavy SEC or the one team Pac-10, the Big Ten has depth and actually staying power with passionate fan bases and talented players. With a twelfth team and a championship game with increased revenue and exposure, the Big Ten will become even stronger in the coming decade and show the nation how real college football is played.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Texas has maybe the most versatile Quarterback in the nation with McCoy (a better passer than Tebow, who is a better rusher) and the dynamic defensive end/outside linebacker in Sergio Kindle. Kindle is a first rounder and McCoy is no lower than a third rounder. Jordan Shipley is a solid wide receiver who can slip through any coverage to get a big gain. The Big 12 was down this year and it showed when Texas was in crunch time against Nebraska and almost blew it and set up a domino effect that would have sent either Boise State or Cincinnati or TCU in the National Title game. Still 13-0 is tough to do in major college football and they are one of the top two teams in the nation. Anybody who doesn’t believe this is too much into smaller schools to see how talented Texas is. Who did Boise State play this year? Oregon and 12 nobodies. TCU is a very good team but it’s not the same as playing Big 12 talent (even in a down year) week after week.
Texas needs to spread out and use their speed against Alabama’s defense. The Tide sees a spread every week in the SEC and even Florida couldn’t solve their defense.
Texas just needs to use medium passes like Florida did to set up bigger gains. They can try and run the ball but must do it outside to avoid Mount Cody. McCoy is faster than Tebow and can use a spread option to pick up yards. Shipley is a nice target and can be used as a deep threat. Alabama isn’t a great blitzing team and the Texas offensive line needs to give McCoy time to throw to have a chance. I feel confident that Texas’s defense can hold Alabama’s offense down enough to give them a chance to win. Julio Jones has great speed on the outside and needs to have two players (safety help over the top) to make sure he doesn’t kill you. Ingram can be contained but not stopped. He is healthy and rested and ready to keep proving himself. Kindle needs to have a huge game and cause havoc for McElroy (who hasn’t lost a game since Middle School) and force him to make mistakes. McElroy is safe with the ball and needs to be pressured to make bad throws.
Alabama needs to play their game and shut down Shipley to make McCoy to throw to less talented targets. The Tide can use their power running game and overall size to physically dominate the Longhorns. Alabama had a playoff game to get here and are more tested. They are the favorites for a reason. Even if Texas took care of Nebraska easily, they would still be underdogs. I see the Crimson Tide beating Texas like they beat Florida. It will be close for a while but Alabama will pull away and chew up clock.
Final Score: Alabama 27 Texas 17
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
1.Boston Bruins-You became the first host team to win the Winter Classic since it started three years ago. In one of the NHL’s best moves in years, the Winter Classic has become a very popular event and this year was no different than the Wrigley Field Edition last year. You came back from a one goal deficit in the third period to win in an Overtime thriller. Boston should go deep into the playoffs this year and if they can get past Pittsburgh and Washington their path to the cup should be all but locked up.
2.Terrell Pryor-You learned how to pass while practicing for the Rose Bowl. When you defeated the Ducks on New Year’s you got the Ohio State can’t win a big bowl game monkey off your back. Pryor passed 37 times against a fast Duck Defense. If Pryor can become a passing threat too, he can be a candidate for the Heisman. I know Michigan fans say they don’t miss him (they’re lying) but he would have fit the RichRod Spread Option better than Tressel’s I won’t budge a bit on my system pro set offense. He has all the physical tools you could ask for, and in his third year he could take off and be outstanding.
3. Florida State- You beat a superior team (basically at home) to send off your Hall Of Fame coach out right. He is behind JoePa quite a bit now (even more if the Seminoles lose more games in a cheating scandal) but he went out what he was his entire career, a winner. He is a dinosaur now, with the 24/7 ESPN network we live in, but a lot of his coaching principles are timeless. FSU’s future looks to be bright with a smooth coaching transition to Jimbo Fisher, but things won’t be the same with Bobby Bowden on the sidelines.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The Vikings look like they are falling under the diva spell of Favre. He is an awesome teammate when things are going well but when the first sign of losing takes place, the team goes into panic mode. Adrian Peterson and that defensive line can flat out take over games but the team still has more holes than people think. The do play much better at home.
The Cowboys are hot and look unstoppable right now, right when a team wants to be. Romo is making plays and playing the best, smartest football of his career. The defense is fierce and is getting better every week. Now they just need to shake themselves of their losing ways in the playoffs.
The Cardinals rested people this week and got demolished by the Packers at home. Luckily they get a chance at a rematch at home against Green Bay. Boldin looks to play banged up and the Cards look to recapture last year’s magic. It’s hard to count out these guys but they just don’t seem to stack up to the other teams.
The Packers are also playing their best football of the year and they are firing on all cylinders. The defense is creating turnovers and sacks and shutting down teams. The offense has the best mix of balance and home run hitting in the league. Rodgers is ready for the playoffs and the line has been playing much better as of late.
Despite being crushed in the last game of the season, the Eagles are still dangerous. Their offense is still very explosive and they have very good experience in the playoffs. It will be hard to win on the road but they get to play Dallas a third time. If Dallas goes back to their old ways in the playoffs, things could turn around quickly for them.
The NFC is very loaded and every one of these teams could go to the Super Bowl. With a field this deep, the playoffs are bound to be amazing this year.
Monday, January 4, 2010
The Chargers were my Super Bowl pick for the AFC back in August. Right now that looks very solid as the Chargers are the second seed in this year’s playoffs and the only team ahead of them pose little threat to the Bolts. The Chargers are the Colts kryptonite, and everybody knows it. They can beat the Colts anywhere and perhaps the NFL’s most talented team can finally come through and win something important.
The Patriots are very vulnerable now only being the third seed in the playoffs and without one of their most valuable players in Wes Welker. He will be the new poster boy when it comes to resting players with nothing on the line. His underneath routes will be missed and the Patriots will have a tougher time with the Ravens making up for his loss. Julian Edelman, a college QB, will be called upon to fill the void. Tom Brady has been playing with broken ribs and a broken finger on his throwing hand. As he turns 33, his body is starting to show the wear and tear of a ten year NFL career. I can see the Patriots losing this weekend, and even more likely the next weekend against the top seeds. The dynasty is over.
The Colts have to be rusty after taking three weeks off between meaningful playing time. They may be healthier but they should have played their starters so they don’t get off to a slow start in their first playoff game. Plus passing up a chance at perfection isn’t fair, to the fans, to the players and to the coaches who have worked so hard. After the troubles they have had in the playoffs, I thought they would have learned better by now.
The Bengals have gone through too much. The loss of a teammate and a family member and the losses on the field are starting to pile up. Unless their offense can really put it together, they may lose to the Jets the first week.
I don’t think the Jets or Ravens are very good and stumbled their way into the playoffs. The Raven’s defense and running game always makes them dangerous and they have the experience. The Jets have a rookie QB but an excellent defense and could make some early noise. The AFC isn’t as deep as the NFC this season but the top three teams are just as good in each league. But that is why they play the games.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Minnesota and New Orleans have more weaknesses right now than the Cowboys. Minnesota struggles on the road and in prime time. Favre and Childress could have a disagreement at any time and disrupt the chemistry of the team. They can give up yards in bunches and have a vulnerable secondary. New Orleans has lost its swagger right now and although they will be well rested, they are also losers of three straight and needed a few breaks to get this far. They should have lost to Washington and have had some close calls. There defense isn't invincible and they may not get all the turnovers and defensive touchdowns they had in the regular season.
The Cowboys have a brutal pass rush and decent secondary. They are a hungry veteran team and have played inspired football since Thanksgiving. They have beaten the teams they should and have destroyed NFC East rivals. They are the most focus I have ever seen a Cowboys team play. They get at least one playoff game in Dallas. They have a dominating offense that is balanced and physical. What more could you want from a playoff team?
Their confidence is high but they wont let it get to them. Most of the same players remember losing to the Giants 2 years ago and Romo's fumbled snap 3 years ago. I guarantee Romo won't be going to Cabo this week and the Cowboys will work harder and I sure wouldn't want to play them right now.
Colts over Bills
Browns over Jaguars
Bears over Lions
49ers over Rams
Steelers over Dolphins
Falcons over Buccaneers
Panthers over Saints
Patriots over Texans
Cowboys over Eagles
Broncos over Chiefs
Ravens over Raiders
Packers over Cardinals
Chargers over Redskins
Titans over Seahawks
*Upset Special* Giants over Vikings
Sunday Night Football: Jets over Bengals
Saturday, January 2, 2010
All Michigan Team
QB: Dan Lefevour Sr, Central Michigan University- Maybe the best player in MAC history. This dual threat QB is a powerful runner and good passer. He has taken CMU to a new level and have won 3 MAC Championships in his time at Mount Pleasant. He looks to be a project in the NFL and could see success on Sundays. Honorable Mention: Kirk Cousins, Michigan State
RB: Brandon West Sr, Western Michigan University- Turned in another 1,000 yard campaign and broke the record for most all purpose yards in NCAA history. He is a dynamic kick returner and overcame the death of his step brother this season. He is a touchdown machine and spark plug for a struggling Bronco offense this season. He will be miss in Waldo Stadium. He could be picked later in the draft.
RB: Larry Caper Fr, Michigan State University- Distanced himself in the MSU running back by committee and took the job for himself after most of the competition transfers or is in prison. Has a nice tandem with Edwin Baker. He came out as the undisputed starter in Overtime having the winning touchdown against rival Michigan. He could be really good for the next three years.
Honorable Mention: Carlos Brown, Michigan
WR: Blair White Sr, Michigan State University- Probably the only guy who can catch besides Keshawn Martin in East Lansing. He is a tough possession receiver who doesn't bring in a whole bunch of YAC but is very solid. He is a former walk on who doesn't have the physical tools that other wide receivers have. A good story and a good person. He may not be able to play at the next level but a lot of people thought he couldn't play at MSU.
WR: Antonio Brown Jr, Central Michigan University- Great on special teams too, Brown is fast and has all the moves you see on NCAA Football 2010. He can run reverses and is a good receiver anywhere on the field. Easily Lefevour's favorite target and with a good senior campaign could play in the NFL.
Honorable Mention: BJ Cunningham, MSU Juan Nunez, WMU
TE: Charlie Gantt Jr, Michigan State University- This one was easier to pick since only WMU and MSU use "true" tight ends anymore in the state. Gantt was a physical blocker needed for MSU's run first attack, but was also a solid receiver. Every good QB needs a good TE and Cousins has found one in Gantt.
Honorable Mention: Matt Stevens WMU
OT: Anthony Parker, WMU
OT: Rocco Cironi, MSU
OG: Stephen Schilling, Michigan
OG: Andy Fretz, EMU
C: Colin Miller, CMU
Honorable Mention: Joel Foreman, MSU Rocky Weaver, CMU
DE: Brandon Graham Sr, Michigan- A powerful pass rusher and probably the best player on the team this year. A first round talent that should fit in very nicely in a 3-4 system. He uses great moves and speed to cause trouble in the opposition's backfield. A little undersized but makes up for it easily.
DE: Trevor Anderson Sr, MSU- The best pass rusher on the team. Followed Dantonio to MSU from Cincinnati and has been very good for MSU. Could be drafted in the middle rounds and see time on Sundays. He has his best games in big moments.
Honorable Mention: Justin Braska, WMU Brandon Downs, EMU
DT: Jerel Worthy Fr, MSU- Athletic and quick and gets into the backfield often. A run stopper for the Spartans. A little small but has time to grow. Gets into the backfield often and collects a good amount of sacks for a DT. Very bright future.
DT: Cody Cielenski Sr, WMU- A run stopping defensive tackle that causes havoc in the backfield. Good size for the MAC. A team leader and two year starter for a defense that struggled at times in his senior year.
LB: Greg Jones Jr, MSU- An All American and tackle machine. A little undersized but doesn't play like it at all. He goes all over the field and can make plays anywhere with his speed. A good student and person and is a natural leader. Is projected as a second round pick now but will probably return for his senior year. Not the best cover linebacker but doesn't have to be.
LB: Obi Ezeh Jr, Michigan- Played very well and did a lot of things right for a bad defense last season. Good size and speed and is a good pass rusher as well. He can cover well for a LB. Should return for his senior season to help his stock and become a leader on this team.
LB: Austin Prichard Sr, WMU- Very tough physical LB. Can make a tackle anywhere. Quick and versatile and is a team leader at WMU. A two year starter and played all three LB positions in Kalamazoo. Solid player.
Honorable Mention: Eric Gordon, MSU
DB: Donovan Warren Jr, Michigan- Good size and speed at Michigan. Played very well despite being left on an island by a bad defense. He can cover and tackle very well. Is going to leave a year early for the NFL and should be a middle round pick.
DB: Josh Gordy Sr, CMU-Made a poor pass defense much better. Only 5'11'' but is a great cover corner and broke up or intercepted a lot of passes. Had to cover a lot of talented MAC WR in the spread but still excelled. An excellent tackler too. May get drafted.
DB: Doug Wiggins Jr, WMU- A hard hitting safety in the mold of Louis Delmas. Transferred to WMU from Miami. Had some discipline problems early in the season but seemed to straighten out as the season went on. Good as a run stopper and blitzer off the edge.
DB: Chris L. Rucker Jr, MSU- Started poorly but turned it on near the end. Struggled when the whole defense did, but may be because of poor schemes. Can play tight in coverage and help stop the run. Needs to improve next year.
KR: Brandon West Sr, WMU
PR: Keshawn Martin So, MSU
Kicker: Brett Swenson Sr, MSU-A booming leg and incredible accuracy. Will kick on Sundays someday. He has bailed out the Spartans with multiple clutch kicks. His kickoffs usually end up in touchbacks.
Punter: Zoltan Mesko Sr, Michigan- Could play on Sundays soon with his long booming punts. Doesn't out kick coverage and is smart. Can pin opponents deep and make any punt. Very solid player.
Friday, January 1, 2010
This Alamo Bowl (Saturday January 2nd ESPN at 9 pm) puts the MSU Spartans against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. MSU lost many players (a lot of wide receivers) for this bowl because of on campus fight (Dorm Brawl I) and even had to work out Keith Nichol at wide out. Texas Tech's Head Coach Mike Leach was fired a day before he was set to get a $800,000 bonus. I don't think that will be enough for State to get a win.
For State to win: They need to churn out yardage on the ground and keep the Tech's offense on the sidelines. State needs to score touchdowns, not field goals. Turnovers would be key for MSU and to win that battle would go a long way. Captain Kirk needs to lead the offense efficiently. And Narduzzi has to play in the nickel defense the whole game. Don't blitz one bit. They work out of the shotgun and nothing will even bother the QB.
For Texas Tech to win: Throw the ball, throw the ball, and when you see MSU play in the base 4-3 (which is usually from the 1st to 4th quarter) throw some more. Tech's defense doesn't need to do much besides stack the box and dare MSU to beat them throwing. It can be done, but without the wide receiver talent, MSU probably will struggle. Use your "home field" advantage and win a game your supposed to.
Outcome: Texas Tech will win. I think MSU will make a game of it for a while but will lose in the end when they can't keep up offensively.
Final score: 42-27
Now I will take a look at Michigan's Bowl.
Take Velveeta cheese and heat until melted. Add Ro-tel chili peppers and mix. Heat until mixed and melted together and put into a bowl. Eat with nacho chips or crackers or even pita bread. Then sit down and watch a real football team play. You have many options this weekend. You can even watch the Big Ten teams you lost to!
Happy New Year!