Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Super Bowl Preview: Broncos vs. Seahawks

First of all, I picked the Seahawks in the preseason to win the Super Bowl so I'm not backing off that now. Of course I was way off with my preseason pick in the AFC. The Steelers were a decent team but never became a championship threat this year. The Broncos on the other hand have been steady all year. What a game this could turn out to be! We have a team known for outstanding defense and we have the most prolific offense in the history of the game. I'm may pee on myself I'm so excited for this game. Too much information. Awkward . ....Anyhoo,  I've got some thoughts on the game, the teams, and the players. Let's begin:

1. Richard Sherman is ubiquitous these days and that is both a good and bad thing for him and his team. If he plays well against Manning and the Seahawks go on to win, he will be well on his way to legendary defensive player status that can self perpetuate beyond the days when you are actually earning that status. Having legendary status is hard to shed. You really have to screw up and and become so terrible that it's impossible to not notice. And let me be clear, I don't think his skills will be diminishing anytime soon. He's achieved defensive superstardom that is incredibly hard to accomplish. That side of the ball just doesn't create as many stars as the other side does (mainly because defensive players don't produce as easily quantifiable and intuitive statistics--- and because quite frankly most of us don't really understand defense). He tends to play well with a chip on his shoulder and with the current backlash against him he will no doubt use that as fuel. Thus, the team also benefits from all things Richard Sherman right now. On the other hand, I've seen almost no coverage in the past couple of days of the actual game the Seahawks played get to the Super Bowl. The national discussion right now includes relatively little attention given to the rest of their defense (let alone the offense, good or bad) and you can't tell me that all the Seahawk players and coaches are pleased with the way Sherman made it all about him in the aftermath of the victory. To wake up the the day after the conference championship and see all the Seahawk coverage was about one man had to rub some of those guys wrong. For Sherman himself, his antics have led to a twisted look at the best corner in the game. He gets called a thug and classless. Being classy on and off the field to many Americans is about respecting (in your words and actions) both the people that deserve that respect and sometimes people that probably don't deserve it. I agree with Sherman that the term "thug" is in many ways racist in the way it is used and with whom it is used. You don't see a cocky, angry, and mouthy white guy get called a thug generally, ...just the angry egotistical black guys get that label... from mostly white folks by the way. But if Sherman thinks it's all about race he's dead wrong. Racist white people will always hate someone like him, but it's the colorblind people, of which there are a lot in all races, that he's also lost the respect of. Sherman is in fact an intelligent guy (on the field with his play and in many areas off the field) and he is most likely a complex and interesting personality. But here's where he's dumb. He doesn't understand that by creating an over the top trashing talking caricature of himself (a rather uninteresting one that's all mouth and no class) nobody gets to see the intelligent and "real" Richard Sherman. He's painting himself as the victim in that regard. But that's on him, not us. Richard, you are the best cornerback in the league. We see it. You don't need to tell us. We'll tell you. Believe us, it will come. We drooled over Darelle Revis and the compliments flowed towards him without hardly a peep out of his mouth. But it doesn't need to be silence either. It's the tone, it's what you say and when you say it. Control your anger and your ego. Add some class to the way you present yourself. It won't take away from your game as you claim it will. You won't lose your edge. That you somehow need to act like an ass to play better is the stupidest argument I've ever heard. 

 I want to like this guy. I wish he would let me. 


2.  Last night I took a detailed look at every playoff game Manning has played in his playoff career. He's won not quite 50% of his post-season games. It's a mixed bag for sure. He's had horrible one and done exit games (8 in fact). He's had team success while personally struggling (as he did in games leading up to the 2007 Super Bowl). He's had great games personally where bad defenses have doomed his team's chances. This year he's played very well and the defense has been up to snuff so far. I'm skeptical of those two things aligning again in the Super Bowl ......but I sure hope they do. I'm picking the Seahawks to win but a Bronco victory would be be pleasant surprise. Manning is the reverse Richard Sherman. He's hard not to like. I'll be rooting for him once again. 

3. I think Bobby Wagner may have a huge game. He's a smart and athletic linebacker for Seattle and those type of guys can give Manning trouble. Seattle has the ability to put pressure on the QB because they can leave their corners isolated without as much linebacker and safety help. When Manning struggles it's because he's pressured and his receivers are getting beat up and jammed. Seattle can do both of those things and do them well. 

4.  One note on the vanquished Patriot squad. They're good but something's missing. New England has been arrogant and spoiled for awhile now. Brady has been so good for so long that they have been seduced by regular season success. They play in a cake division year in and year out and their early SuperBowl wins with mediocre receivers have blinded them to the importance of great players catching Brady's passes and running behind him. They did get Randy Moss for a short time and look what they did with that! Brady had a couple of the best offensive years he's ever had. It took a miracle NY David Tyree helmet catch to beat them in the Super Bowl against the Giants. That New England team is still probably one of the best teams ever in NFL history. And they lost. ....And having given that compliment I'm going to excuse myself to purge my dinner right now (Patriot hate is hard to shake). I know the Pats have an all-world tight end. Gronkowski is awesome when he's running down the field. But he's one guy and as we see if one guy goes down you need awesome guy # 2 to step up. That would be crickets you're hearing right now because no one is there for the Pats. Outside guys with skills are something Brady has rarely had in his career and it's almost criminal to waste his talent the way Belichick has. Most of the receivers and running backs for the past decade in New England are utterly forgettable. I'm not complaining (Patriot hate reiterated), just noting the obvious.

5. Back to the folks that made it to the big game. I see a Seahawk victory with Russell Wilson playing very well. I have a feeling he'll be making headlines. He's been average for a month or more now but we've seen the talent and the skills. When he goes into his Fran Tarkenton mode it's mesmerizing to watch. It's like he has eyes in the back of his head.  Lynch is great too but I really think there will be a couple of plays in the passing game from Wilson that will seal things.

----Super Bowls used to be boring. Blowouts. Then we went on a run of great games. Let's hope we continue the trend. I'm like an ADHD middle school girl on the night before a shopping spree at the mall. I can't wait for this game. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

NFL Picks 2013: Week 3

Eagles over the Chiefs
-Got this one wrong. I know Vick is vulnerable physically when he runs but I actually thought he should have run more Thursday night. The strong armed QB can throw a beautiful ball but more often than not he just doesn't have an accurate touch. On the other side, Alex Smith is what everyone says he is: a game manager. You can win games that way and occasionally if your defense is great enough you can even win a Super Bowl (Trent Dilfer). I don't think that the Chiefs are heading that way but after having only one winning season in the last five years.  9-7, 10-6, or even 8-8 will probably feel pretty good.

Packers over the Bengals
This will be a tough one. The Bengals are a good team and I"m still not sure how good the Packer defense is.

Cowboys over the Rams
The Rams should find a way to get the ball to Tavon Austin. Watch his college Youtube highlights. Give him a little space and he's ridiculous. Unfortunately for the Rams, Dallas has their own freak in Dez Bryant.

Titans over the Chargers
If the Titans can put pressure on Rivers, he and the Chargers are toast. Rivers moves like his feet are in cement.

Vikings over the Browns
A tanking Browns team is just what the doctored ordered for Minnesota. The Vikings struggle to pass and this year they'll struggle to run it. That's relative of course, they're used to Peterson running wild but there's no way he's getting 2,000 yards this year. In fact he may not get to 1500 yards. He's still the best back in the game, but as teams continue to stack the box yards will be tough to come by unless Ponder can make plays in the passing game.

Patriots over the Bucs
I'm interested to see if Revis and the Bucs secondary can limit Brady's passing. His own receivers have been doing a pretty good job of that lately.

Saints over the Cardinals. 
Brees is at times a little too greedy down field but it's hard to argue with his decision making when he just keeps moving that Saints offense with precision.

Redskins over the Lions
The pass rush of Detroit will force Griffin outside of the pocket and he'll do some damage that way.

Giants over the Panthers
Inconsistency meets it's match.

Texans over the Ravens
I'm just not sure Flacco has enough weapons anymore.

Falcons over the Dolphins
Miami is tougher than I thought. That should keep the game interesting.

Bills over the Jets
Wouldn't it be cool if E.J. Manuel turns out to be good. We actually won't know that for a bit though. I mean remember when we thought Mark Sanchez was a good QB?

49ers over the Colts
The Richardson deal is the story of the season so far but the excitement in Indy will fade quickly if it turns out Cleveland let him go for a reason.

Seahawks over the Jags
Who would have thunk it? The Seahawks elite. It's early but they sure look like a top 3 team in the league.

Bears over the Steelers
I'm wanting my Pittsburgh Super Bowl pick back now. The Steelers look terrible and old.

Manning (I mean the Broncos) over the Raiders
Keeping Manning upright will be a challenge without Clady protecting his blindside. If I was Oakland I'd send the kitchen sink.


Friday, September 06, 2013

NFL 2013 Picks: Week 1


Broncos over the Ravens
I didn't see 7 touchdowns, but I did think Manning might come out strong. 

Patriots over the Bills
Please. It's over already.

Bengals over the Bears
Intriguing game. The Bears have talent, as do the Bengals. Can either offense be consistent against a good defense? This may be low scoring.

Browns over the Dolphins
When the only reason to tune in at all is because you have a fantasy player (Trent Richardson for me)-- you know you've been bad for awhile. Congrats Cleveland and Miami,  I'm nominating you for least interesting game of the week. 

Saints over the Falcons
Maybe the most interesting game here. Rivals, Old king of the hood against new king of the hood. 

Bucs over the Jets
Almost mirrors the Cleveland game in interest, except the Bucs have some players that might be fun to watch --or at least see if they will finally emerge (ehem..Josh Fremman).  Doug Martin and Revis are worth keeping an eye on in this one. 

Steelers over the Titans
It seems like the Steelers have hung around for a few years without really getting bad or great. It's time to make a decision here guys. I think they'll be good and challenge for the Super Bowl but a precipitous decline wouldn't surprise me either. 

Lions over the Vikings
I'm excited to see what Reggie Bush can do with the Lions. He won't rival number 28 on the purple side,... but then who can? Peterson wants not just 2,000 yards this year but 2,500 yards.  He's the best but I don't think another 2K is in the cards this season. 

Colts over the Raiders
Luck will be in a shorter passing scheme this year. How will that look?  Probably boring but maybe that will be better for him in terms of cutting down interceptions. His Stanford days were efficient in a similar system but I thought it was a snoozefest at times. If they want the power running game to fly can they do it with their two unknown and unproven running back?  I'm doubtful. 

Seahawks over the Panthers
I predict some read option here. Mind blowing the powers I can marshall at times --isn't it?

Chiefs over the Jags
Alex Smith will check down a few times but Andy Reid should be good for him. The guy was pretty damn good last year before he lost the job to Kapernick. Anything's better than what has been passing for QB in K.C. 

Rams over the Cardinals
Tavon Austin ....please breath life into Sam Bradford for the sake of an old Ram fan-- who often forgets he was a Ram fan.  It may be difficult but I've watched your highlights and I believe. Or at least I want to. 

49ers over the Packers
This game on paper looks awesome. 

Giants over the Cowboys
Traditional rivalries. I like this for an opening salvo. The Cowboys may surprise us and Jerry Jones will certainly continue to creep us out. Good times. 

Redskins over the Eagles
This game is in my top 3 most anticipated of the week. RGIII against a Chip Kelly offense led by Vick. Bring it on!


Texans over the Chargers
I'm most interested to see if J.J. Watt can continue to dominate. 

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

NFL 2013 Predictions

Attempting to forecast the NFL is a bit like trying to predict the behavior of Miley Crus. In short it can be ugly and crazy. By the way, I found it interesting that sports fans and Miley share a love for the iconic # 1 foam fingers. Different uses...but still.  Anyway, the NFL never fails to surprise as I'm sure there will be both teams that step up and those that disappoint this year. However, I do think that barring injury to their QBs there a few teams that are near locks to make the playoffs.
  •  Aaron Rodger's Packers have only failed to make the playoffs once with him at the helm (his first year starting). Maybe they're due for a down year, but I doubt it. 
  • The Pats with the golden boy are in again by a mile. Tom Brady is more responsible for the last decade of Patriot success than Bill Belichick. I'm not saying Belichick wouldn't have won in New England but I feel fairly confident in saying that he wouldn't still be there today without the Hall of Famer at QB.  He doesn't have the personality to weather the lean years. A couple of down years (a certainty with a mediocre QB) and the combination of surliness and non-cooperative attitude would have gotten him fired for sure. 

Here's who I'm picking for Division winners.

AFC East: Patriots...they play with the Bills, Dolphins, & Jets.(sigh). Next to the fact that the Patriots are a very well run organization (from owner to coach...to probably the janitors), you can't underestimate the significance of playing against cupcakes in your division for a decade. Think about that. How would it be to totally discount your entire division year in and year out when you evaluate potential obstacles for a Super Bowl run. It's probably the most overlooked aspect of Patriot success during the Belichick era. 

AFC North: Bengals. Maybe too trendy here. The Steelers and Ravens are sure to contend too. Andy Dalton has to progress this year for it to happen but he's got a receiver in A.J. Green that rivals Calvin Johnson in talent. And I really liked the Cincy defense last year. They more than anything carried the team down the stretch and into the playoffs. 

AFC South: Colts. I want to say the Texans but the potential of Andrew Luck is tantalizing.

AFC West: Broncos. Maning, if healthy is the difference between the Broncos making the playoffs or not. His 2012 season, especially after sitting a year, is in my opinion one of the most incredible QB seasons of all time. And that's saying something considering what we're seeing at the position now.

NFC East: Giants. What crap shoot. This division has the potential to be the best in the league. A Chip Kelly Eagle offense is something that is a must see for me early in the season. The Redskin's Griffin III could be both better and worse at the same time if he limits his running. Dallas is always hanging around (for better or worse). But overall NY seems to me like they may get back on top this year. 

NFC North: Packers. Detroit, Chicago & Minnesota have potential to win this thing but I see more question marks in terms of inconsistency with all of them compared to Green Bay.

NFC South: Saints. Rebound year. I may be crazy since the Falcons are on paper the better team (and by better team I mean they actually have a defense). But who knows, maybe Sean Payton really is that valuable. 

NFC West: 49ers. Should be a battle between the 49ers and Hawks. Too bad Harbough and Caroll can't engage in single combat for division supremacy ......(for you Game of Thrones nerds). 

Super Bowl: I would have never picked the Ravens last year so I figure my pick is as good or bad as anyone else's pick (please don't tell me you saw Joe Flacco's 2012 brillance in the playoff coming....I won't believe you if you do). I would love to see the Rams seriously compete (doubtful with the brutal division they are in) and I wouldn't mind seeing the Broncos, Colts, Saints or Packers win it all, but I'll say it will be a battle of wildcards, the Seahawks over the Steelers.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

NFL 2013 Anticipation

Which NFL player or players will give us a truly amazing season in 2013?  We've seen crazy numbers and historic seasons in recent years.  In this run of history there have been great defensive players emerge to be sure, but offensive players will continue to rule the league as the NFL gives us hurry up offenses, mobile QBs, and new rules emphasizing safety and less physicality by defensive backs. I'm salivating just thinking about the possibilities this season. We're seeing a large number of Hall of Famers in their prime! They'll be talking about these guys for decades to come. and some will be in the argument for "best of all time" at their position. Peterson, Manning, Brady, Brees, Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, etc.  ..I mean the list goes on. That doesn't even include the possible legends in the making such as cornerback Richard Sherman (as annoying as he is), D-lineman J.J. Watts, and quarterbacks Luck, Griffin, and Wilson.

 I just hope Chris Johnson of the Titans doesn't have a resurgent year. I hate that guy.

Lots of great storylines to watch. As Bart Scott says, "Can't Wait"!

Individually which guys are you most excited to see play this year?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lebron Hate Fading. Apocalypse Near.

What happened to the Lebron Hate? Is it not possible to admire his skill and still hate him?

It is. I'm proof.

 I saw an ESPN poll today that showed 48% of the country was rooting for the Heat to break the record of most consecutive victories.

What has this nation come to? We really are going to hell in a handbasket. Bunch of bandwagoners. Everybody's ready to crown Lebron the greatest ever before his career is half over. He may come to be what ESPN has decided he is now.  But that day is not here yet.

Admire the skill. Lebron is a freak.

He's also still a douche.

For me the hate is still alive. Amen.  


Monday, January 21, 2013

NFL Conference Championship Weekend

Fascinating weekend. Two Harbough brothers now will be coaching in the Super Bowl against each other. That story will be played to death by midweek. On the other hand, you have to admit it's pretty amazing. I think I like the elder brother a bit more. Baltimore's John H. seems a bit more in control. Jim's a spaz at times. Are we still using "spaz" in the lexicon of today's language? I'm a child of the 80's so it seems appropriate. Anyway, you have to be impressed by the way the 49ers and Ravens have been coached the past couple of years. They are fairly disciplined and tough and when their players are on, they are a tough to beat. Joe Flacco was certainly "on" this past weekend. Ray Rice was solid, Kaepernick continues to impress, and the defenses for both squads bent at times but didn't break. I wouldn't have put either team in the Super Bowl at mid-season (hell, I didn't have the Ravens there as of yesterday morning) but they are the last two standing.... and good for them. I really thought the Packers, the Seahawks, Patriots, or the Broncos may end up in the big game but all made critical errors that sank their chances.
     I'm shocked with the play of Joe Flacco most of all. He has the most road playoff wins by a QB...ever.  You would in no way say he's a better QB than Payton Manning, but it's absolutely legitimate to say he's been a better playoff QB than Manning. Even in Manning's Super Bowl year he wasn't at the top of his game. Flacco has a chance to further his reputation as a playoff warrior by taking down San Fran's secondary in a couple of weeks.
    I need to also say how shocked I am at the Patriots play yesterday. Brady looked, dare we say it, ...average. Does taking Gronkowski out of the lineup really make them attack that much less? The whole season they were relentless in their offensive approach, yet yesterday they were much less aggressive. Even Belichick who is normally a go for it kind of guy on 4th down, punted twice inside the Raven's 40 yard line. Belichick has taken heat for it when it hasn't worked in the past but in this case he should take some heat for not being more attacking. They punted at the Ravens 36 yard line! Either something was wrong with their kicker or something was wrong with Brady. Otherwise I can't explain why the Patriots were playing not to lose. That's not their "m.o" usually. Again, shocking to see what happened in Foxborro.

    I'm looking forward to the Super Bowl. I' don't have a dog in the fight so I'll just be rooting for a competitive offensive style game.