As a Giants fan, I was obviously elated when my G-Men went into Foxboro and took down the mighty Patriots. Eli Manning outplayed Tom Brady and justified his pre-season elite quarterback status claims as he led the offense on an 8 play 80 yard game winning drive with only 1:30 left on the clock. The drive culminated in a Jake Ballard touchdown, and the Giants won 24-20. Read more…
Tampa Bay Bucs
Raheem Morris’ club showed a tremendous amount of fortitude and resolve in their big win over the Saints. The Bucs responded admirably after a 45-point drubbing last week against the 49ers. Josh Freeman showed a ton of leadership and stepped up a put the offense on his shoulders in the absence of Legarratte Blount, while Earnest Graham more than filled the void in the backfield. Even the defense stepped up, as they held the Saints to 20 points without run-clogger Gerald McCoy. Read more…
In light of the recent 8-year, $120 million dollar contract ($50 million of which is guaranteed) given to Larry Fitzgerald, I thought it would be an optimal time to take a look at the league’s highest paid players this year and determine whether or not those players are deserving of their enormous contracts. I’ll highlight the NFL’s top 9 players (excluding Fitz) in terms of their 2011 earnings and then deem whether or not that player deserves to bathe in all that green. Again, this list shows how much money these nine players will earn in 2011, it’s not a list of their average annual salaries according to each player’s contract as a whole. So, now that I’ve clarified, hopefully, let’s get started. Here’s the list according to Forbes: Read more…
It’s always fun to rank the top players in sports. In this edition, I will be ranking the top quarterbacks in the NFL. There are 32 teams in the NFL so I will only rank 32 quarterbacks. Moreover, I am only going to be ranking the presumed starting quarterbacks for each team. So, for example, Vince Young will not be on this list because he will be backing up Michael Vick in Philadelphia while John Beck will be on the list because he is the presumed starter for the Redskins. I feel like this is the only fair way to rank the quarterbacks. I will rank these quarterbacks based on how good they are right now, taking into account each players pure skills such as arm strength, accuracy, poise, leadership, etc. With all that being said, let’s get started. Read more…
Jets @ Steelers
The Jets have changed their tone in the week leading up to the AFC Championship Game, swapping their hate for Brady and the Patriots with love for Big Ben and the Steelers. But don’t let their lack of trash talk fool you, the Jets still have a tremendous amount of confidence going into hostile Pittsburgh as they have already defeated the Steelers in Heinz Field during the regular season, albeit without arguably the most valuable player to their specific team in Troy Polamalu. Sanchez and the Jets have become road warriors throughout their last two playoff appearances, but I just have a feeling that it’s all going to catch up with them in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger is 4-1 against Rex Ryan coached defenses in his career and all signs point to a healthy Troy Polamalu playing in this week’s game. The Jets rushed for 89 yards against the Steelers in their regular season matchup, but the Steelers only allow 63 yards per game to opposing running backs. The Jets HAVE TO run the ball effectively in order to win games and I don’t see them having success against the best run stoppers in the game, especially without Damien Woody. I think Big Ben will out play Sanchez and the Steelers will be making yet another Super Bowl appearance.
Steelers win 23 – 16
#5 Ravens @ #2 Steelers
One word can sum up this game: WAR. This is an old-fashioned brawl between two hated rivals. I think both teams will try to establish the run and both Reshard Mendenhall and Ray Rice will find that it’s going to be easier said then done as the Steelers and Ravens are very strong up front. This game is going to be decided by the quarterbacks, Roethlisberger and Flacco. So, with that in mind, I have to go with Roethlisberger as he’s undefeated in the AFC Divisional Round when the Steelers have a bye, plus he’s at home. I think this will be a low scoring, dirty, hard-fought, bitter battle between not only two of the best defensive units in football but two of the best teams in the NFL. Can’t wait for this game, like I said previously: it’s going to be an all out WAR.
Steelers win 16 – 13
#6 Jets @ #1 Patriots
If you thought Rex Ryan’s comments on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots straddled the line separating confidence and utter stupidity then Antonio Cromartie’s latest choice words on the “Golden Boy” definitely pushed over into the stupidity category. All this talk is just more unnecessary fuel for the fire for Belichick and the Pats. Ryan, Cromartie, and the rest of the Jets have dug their own grave and come this Sunday their coffin will be nailed and the dirt thrown on top. I think Brady and Belichick will put yet another beat down on the cocky Jets and win by double-digits in their business-as-usual demeanor. I look for the game to be close at first, but Brady will torch the Jets secondary for 3 tds en route to another AFC Championship Game.
Patriots win 31 – 16
Coming into the season the Patriots and Steelers were seen as hands down legitimate Super Bowl contenders, but after week 13 they are both in a battle just to get into the playoffs. Have the Steelers’ and Patriots’ dynasties ended? Can we no longer call them “elite?”
At 7-5 overall and 1-5 on the road this season, the Patriots do not look to have their usual swagger and aura surrounding them as in years past. Tom Brady and the offense look to have things looking pretty much normal, but the defense is what has let them down time and time again this season. The once bend but don’t break, get the stops when you need them defense of old has lost some key veterans like Teddy Bruschi, Richard Seymour, Asante Samuel, Rodney Harrison, Mike Vrabel, and others that had a nack for key plays in big moments. The Patriots defense is ranked 11th in total yards per game allowing 322 yards. They also rank 14th in pass defense allowing 214 yards per game and 15th in rush defense allowing 108 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. The most surprising stat is that the usually opportunistic Patriot defense is only towards the middle of the pack in the NFL in terms of takeaways with 22. If the Patriots can’t find a way to develop their young defense and have them playing in true form on a consistent basis then we might be witnessing the end of Bill Belichick’s and the Patriots’ dynasty and thus their “elite” stature.
The defending Super Bowl champion Steelers have dropped 4 straight, the latest loss coming courtesy of the now 4-8 Raiders and a touchdown pass from Bruce Gradkowski to Louis Murphy with 9 seconds remaining in the game. The Steelers seemed to have lost their killer instinct and have had a huge amount of trouble putting teams away and holding onto the lead, especially in the 4th quarter. The 6-6 Steelers are in danger of missing the playoffs after winning 2 Super Bowls in the last 4 seasons. The Steelers have struggled within their own division, compiling a 1-4 record against division foes with their only win coming against the horrendous Browns. The Steelers offense hasn’t been the problem as they rank in the top half in every major offensive statistical category, rather it has been the struggles in the defensive secondary. The Steelers pass defense ranks 17th in the NFL allowing 220 passing yards per game. They have also allowed 15 passing touchdowns already this season and have only 8 interceptions. This comes in contrary to last years Super Bowl winning team that was ranked 1st in passing defense, gave up only 12 touchdowns through the air the entire season, and had 20 interceptions. The Steelers have to win their last 4 games in order to potentially put themselves in the playoff picture, but the first thing they have to attend to is finding a way to get that nasty, confident attitude back. If they can find their swagger then they have a chance, but for now they look to be just another average team, and their “intimidation factor” is rapidly dwindling week after week.
1) Colts (9-0) – LW 2
Although they are still undefeated they have to work out their running problems in order to go deep into the playoffs.
2) Saints (9-0) – LW 1
Drew Brees has come down to earth in his past four games and so have the Saints.
3) Vikings (8-1) – LW 4
Favre and Sidney Rice look to be in sync on the deep ball.
4) Bengals (7-2) – LW 5
The good, they swept the Steelers. The bad, they lost Cedric Benson to injury for at least a week. The ugly, they signed Larry Johnson.
5) Steelers (6-3) – LW 3
They can get right back on track after a loss to the Bengals with a win next week against the struggling Chiefs.
6) Patriots (6-3) – LW 6
What was Belichick thinking?
7) Cardinals (6-3) – LW 8
The Cardinals are quietly putting together another potential playoff season, and they play the Rams next week for a chance to go 7-3.
8) Chargers (6-3) – LW 11
A win at Denver next week will put them in prime position to win the division.
9) Broncos (6-3) – LW 7
If Orton can’t play next week the Broncos are in big trouble.
10) Cowboys (6-3) – LW 9
The Cowboys looked like they were for real, but a bad performance against the Packers last week showed that they are just a middle of the pack team.
11) Eagles (5-4) – LW 12
With Brian Westbrook expected to be out for at least a couple of weeks, rookie LeSean McCoy has to fill in for the crucial playoff run.
12) Ravens (5-4) – LW 14
The offense isn’t playing up to their potential and the defense doesn’t look like the top 3 defense we are used to seeing.
13) Texans (5-4) – LW 13
They get a chance to show the world that they are much improved as they play on MNF next week against the Titans.
14) Packers (5-4) – LW 16
A much-needed win against the Cowboys after a disaster in Tampa last week.
15) Falcons (5-4) – LW 10
The defense is young and inexperienced and Matt Ryan and Michael Turner don’t look to be the same all-stars we saw last season.
16) Giants (5-4) – LW 15
They got lucky with the both the Eagles and Cowboys losing last week.
17) Jaguars (5-4) – LW 21
MJD ran all over the Bills. Watch out for the dangerous Jags.
18) Dolphins (4-5) – LW 17
They escaped with a win against the Bucs, but it came at a cost as Ronnie Brown was placed on the IR, ending his season.
19) Panthers (4-5) – LW 22
Is this the same team we saw in the beginning of the season?
20) 49ers (4-5) – LW 20
Their trying to build on a solid defensive performance and a win last week against the Bears.
21) Titans (3-6) – LW 23
Vince Young has played well, but Chris Johnson looks like a favorite for MVP this season.
22) Jets (4-5) – LW 18
A rematch against the Patriots next week in the Meadowlands, but I don’t expect the same result as earlier in the season.
23) Bears (4-5) – LW 19
They have lost four of their last five games, largely in part by turnovers by Cutler, especially in the red-zone.
24) Seahawks (3-6) – LW 24
Under-achieving on offense and their defense can’t rush the passer.
25) Redskins (3-6) – LW 26
They finally scored over 20 points and got an impressive win against a good Broncos team.
26) Bills (3-6) – LW 25
Head Coach Dick Jauron was fired and T.O. will certainly voice his opinions for the rest of the season.
27) Chiefs (2-7) – LW 27
Cutting Larry Johnson was the first step in their attempt to regain some respect.
28) Bucs (1-8) – LW 29
Josh Freeman has played extremely well in his first two games as a starter. He has the Bucs somewhat interesting again.
29) Raiders (2-7) – LW 28
They have no weapons on offense and they seemingly get worse and worse every week.
30) Lions (1-8) – LW 30
One positive piece of news for the Lions, they play the Browns next week.
31) Rams (1-8) – LW 31
The Rams have one of the best running backs in the league and a great defensive mind as their head coach so there is plenty of upside ahead.
32) Browns (1-8) – LW 32
I thought scoring zero points and not coming any where near field goal range against the Ravens was pretty bad, but Brady Quinn throwing two Hail Mary passes out of bounds is just pathetic.
Arguably the best sports rivalry this decade was on center stage last night as two of the NFL’s best teams squared off. The undefeated Colts took on the surging Patriots for what was yet another instant classic. After the first quarter the score was knotted at 7, but the Patriots pulled away in the second quarter and took a 24-14 lead into halftime. After a scoreless third quarter the Pats opened up the fourth quarter with a 5 yard touchdown pass from Brady to Moss and it seemed that the Patriots had a strangle hold on the game. Peyton Manning responded with a touchdown pass two minutes later to Pierre Garcon, but after a Gostkowski field goal with 4 minutes remaining and the Patriots on the winning side of a 34-21 score it looked like it was too little too late for Manning and the Colts. But Peyton Manning never lost his composure as he led another scoring drive capped of by Joseph Addai’s second touchdown of the game with 2:23 left in the game. The Colts were now down 34-28 opted to kick it deep to the Patriots rather than try the onside kick because they still had three time-outs and the two-minute warning to stop the clock and potentially get the ball back with enough time to win the game. The Patriots ran the ball on first down and threw a short pass to Welker on second down. After the Colts stopped the clock on two time-outs the Patriots threw the ball on third and short in order to get the first down and basically seal the game. Brady took a quick three-step drop and threw to the right side in an attempt to hit Welker but rookie Jerraud Powers stepped in front of the pass and almost intercepted it. It was fourth down and 2 with 2:08 remaining in the game and with the Patriots backed up on their own 28 yard-line it was a no brainer to punt the ball away, but the mad-man behind the patented hoodie felt otherwise. After the Patriots burned their last timeout to think it over, Brady and the offense stepped onto the field and it was clear that the Pats were going for the fourth down conversion and the win. The Colts blitzed heavily on the play and forced Brady into a quick throw to the right side where he completed the pass to Kevin Faulk for what appeared to be a first down, but the referee motioned that Faulk was juggling the ball and therefore he doesn’t get the forward progress because he didnt have possession of the ball when he was initially hit. The play could not be reviewed by the booth because it came before the two-minute warning and the Patriots could not challenge the spot of the ball because they had just used their third and final timeout just before the fourth down play. Thus, the ball was spotted about a foot before the first down marker and the Colts took over on downs at their own 29 yard-line with 1 timeout remaining and 2 min left in the game, an absolute eternity for Peyton Manning. After a pass to Reggie Wayne and a Joseph Addai run the Colts were at the 1 yard-line with 4 chances at scoring the winning touchdown, but they only needed two chances as on second and goal from the 1 Peyton Manning threw a bullet on a slant route to Reggie Wayne who made a finger tip grab and the Colts took an unthinkable 35-34 lead. After a desperate lateral attempt by Wes Welker failed and the clock read all zeros the Colts emerged with an amazing fourth quarter comeback win, and the Patriots were left wondering and hoping that what had just happened was nothing but a dream.
1) Saints (8-0) – LW 1
They have to avoid a letdown against the dismal Rams next week, but I think they’ll jump on the Rams early.
2) Colts (8-0) – LW 2
Colts vs Pats next week, I can’t wait.
3) Steelers (6-2) – LW 7
They’re looking to even up the season series against the hated Bengals.
4) Vikings (7-1) – LW 3
I suspect no rust coming off their bye week.
5) Bengals (6-2) – LW 5
The Bengals are looking to sweep the Steelers next week.
6) Patriots (6-2) – LW 6
They’re back in first place in the AFC East and playing better every week.
7) Broncos (6-2) – LW 4
Their defense has been consistently solid, but their offense has less than stellar at times.
8) Cardinals (5-3) – LW 14
The Cardinals are 1-3 at home this year, but 4-0 at home.
9) Cowboys (6-2) – LW 9
Same talented Cowboys except this time it looks like they are more focused and have less distractions.
10) Falcons (5-3) – LW 11
Despite not beating their big-time opponents the Falcons are still in a great position to win the wild-card.
11) Chargers (5-3) – LW 16
Philip Rivers led a late fourth quarter game winning drive against the Giants. Lets see if this momentum can help the Chargers finally play up to their potential and sustain it.
12) Eagles (5-3) – LW 8
Tough loss against the Cowboys last week. They need a healthy Westbrook to overtake first place in the NFC East.
13) Texans (5-4) – LW 13
Mistakes at crucial times have killed them, exhibit A was last week folly against Indy.
14) Ravens (4-4) – LW 10
Cedric Benson ran for 100+ yards in both games against the Raven’s defense. What happened to their heralded run-stopping defense?
15) Giants (5-4) – LW 15
They have to start showing some sense of urgency if they want to stay in the race for the NFC East.
16) Packers (4-4) – LW 12
Absolutely horrendous loss in Tampa Bay. There’s nothing more to say.
17) Dolphins (3-5) – LW 18
Their schedule is rough, and they are a better team than their record insists.
18) Jets (4-4) – LW 19
Their defense needs to get “nasty” again.
19) Bears (4-4) – LW 17
The Cardinals had their way with a porous Bears defense, scoring on every possession in the first half.
20) 49ers (3-5) – LW 20
They lost 4 in a row but I wouldn’t panic yet, mainly because of their weak division.
21) Jaguars (4-4) – LW 22
If their defense limits the damage, they can be dangerous because of their playmakers on offense.
22) Panthers (3-5) – LW 23
If (this is a huge if) Delhomme can avoid turnovers then the Panthers can turn it around and contend for a playoff spot.
23) Titans (2-6) – LW 26
Vince Young is playing well, but they’re winning because Chris Johnson is running out of his mind and the defense is playing much better.
24) Seahawks (3-5) – LW 24
Must win against the Cardinals next week.
25) Bills (3-5) – LW 21
Fitzpatrick has filled in admirably. Is there a qb controversy?
26) Redskins (2-6) – LW 25
Once again the Redskins talent doesn’t live up to their potential.
27) Chiefs (1-7) – LW 28
A poor offensive line and a quarterback that holds on to the ball until the last possible second aren’t a good combination.
28) Raiders (2-6) – LW 27
Let’s see if the bye week gave them time to regroup, I doubt it.
29) Bucs (1-7) – LW 32
Josh Freeman looked GREAT in his debut.
30) Lions (1-7) – LW 29
Calvin Johnson comes back next week, that’s positive, I guess.
31) Rams (1-7) – LW 30
They play the Saints next week, it keeps getting worse.
32) Browns (1-7) – LW 31
Uh, really, I’m speechless.
Finally, a team who talked a lot of smack before a game and backed up the talk with a hard fought victory. Too many times teams of all sports talk smack in the days leading up to a big game and then eventually get absolutely destroyed and embarassed at the hands of the usually better opponent (most recent case of this was the Tennessee vs. Florida game, although Tennessee surprisingly held their own). The revamped and passionate Jets defense under Rex Ryan played like one of Rex’s former defenses, the 2005 Ravens. The Jets defense baffled Brady and the Patriots offense with their unorthodox formations and unpredictable blitz packages, making the 3 time Super Bowl Champ and 2 time Super Bowl MVP look like a rookie quarterback playing in his first NFL game. Rex Ryan has done a remarkable job so far, turning a middle of the pack at best Jets defense last year into a formidable top 3 defense in the league this year. Oh, and lets not forget Mark Sanchez’s big time touchdown pass to Dustin Keller two minutes into the 3rd quarter which gave the Jets the lead for good. Sanchez reminded me a lot of last year’s Joe Flacco, managing the game and letting his above average running game and top notch defense do most of the work. All in all, I think it was a great win for the Jets and a big stepping stone for the future. As always, your thoughts and comments are encouraged and welcome.