Week 2: Aftermath of Week 1

kaephit

RIP Kaep … Ouch-town Population you, Bro! (Pepper Brooks)

What did we look like after Week 1 you ask? Taking a look at the money line Sports Gone HAM went a solid 11-5, but against the spread we were a truly disappointing 4-10-2 (pushes). We will get better on the spreads, but it is the first time we are trying and Week 1 saw some head-scratchers. Let’s get into week one and reflect on some injuries and Week 1 games during each match-up:

THURSDAY

Jets @ Patriots (-12.0) – Money Line: Patriots —- Spread: Jets (+12.0)

The Pats are hurting on offense and it showed last weekend. Stevan Ridley has struggled to hold onto the ball ever since the playoffs last season and now Shane Vereen, his talented backup, is out until at least Week 10. Danny Amendola is not expected to play and they are still missing Gronk. It looks like Thompkins and Edelman will be the one-two punch. The Jets pulled a win out of nowhere last Sunday as Geno Smith scrambled out of bounds and was inexplicably pushed out of bounds by Lavonte David. The Jets defense looked solid as usual last weekend, but the offense looked somewhat anemic in Smith’s first start. He did show some maturity throughout the game taking some sacks and not making horrible throws. I like their defense to keep this game somewhat close.

SUNDAY

Chargers @ Eagles (7.5) – Money Line: Eagles —- Spread: Eagles (-7.5)

The Chargers had an epic collapse with only twenty minutes to go in their Monday Night Football game against the Houston Texans. From what I saw in the first half, Philip Rivers looked pretty good and crisp after an off-season where his possible regression was called into question. The second half happened and it looked like the critics could be right, but only time will tell. The Eagles fumbled the ball on a questionable call their first drive, but dominated after that. They ran 53 plays in the first half with their new Oregon offense and looked sharp. They play fast because that’s what their top three guys have, speed and lots of it (Vick, Jackson and McCoy). Look for the Eagles to tire out the Chargers and coast in the second half.

Browns @ Ravens (-6.5)  – Money Line: Ravens —- Spread: Ravens (-6.5)

The Browns looked lost at home against the Dolphins. Besides Jordan Cameron, Trent Richardson is the best receiving option and he lines up in the backfield. The Ravens defense will be angry after being embarrassed, man-handled, torched and simply run off the field by the Broncos and Peyton’s seven touchdowns on Opening Night. The Ravens offense was average with a lack of talent in their receiving corps as well. Marlon Brown seems like he might make a nice addition in the slot, but Torrey Smith can’t man the outside by himself. This will be interesting and even though I think 6.5 is a lot of points, I still go Ravens at home.

Titans @ Texans (-9.0) – Money Line: Texans —- Spread: Texans (-9)

The Titans looked good, but that was against a really bad offense that calls its home Pittsburgh. That line is horrific and made the Titans defense look like … well the Steelers’ defense. Chris Johnson found some lanes against a stout run defense, but his sledding won’t get easier against the tough Texans defense. The Texans looked disastrous in the first half against the Chargers, but turned into the AFC South champs in the second half. Andre Johnson did his Andre Johnson thing and broke 100 yards as Matt Schaub abused him in the target area. Arian Foster looked a little rusty and Ben Tate looked poised to take over when he could. Gary Kubiak said they might need to split the carries more evenly if this keeps up. I still like Texans giving the 9.

Dolphins @ Colts (-3.0) – Money Line: Colts —- Spread: Colts (-3.0)

The Dolphins beat a bad looking Browns team while leaving their most talented player on offense out of the equation, which left him pretty upset with the coaching staff. Mike Wallace needs to be given the ball because he’s a play-maker, and if their run game can’t get going he has the talent to make something out of nothing. The Colts looked flat for some reason against a bad Oakland defense. The Colts line still isn’t the best and their run game is at the bottom of the pack. If Ahmad Bradshaw can’t overtake Vic Ballard, it could mean more passes for Andrew Luck each game. At home I like the Colts

Panthers (-3.0) @ Bills – Money Line: Bills —- Spread: Bills (+3.0)

The Panthers front seven looked great against a great run team in the Seahawks. However, that team had traveled from the other corner of the country and played at 1 P.M. and I don’t care who you are, that’s never easy. The Panthers offense looked horrendous against a great defense, so try and get a read on that one. The Bills looked pretty good against the Patriots and took them to the wire, but couldn’t finish the job. E.J. Manuel had a couple of nice throws, but his defense couldn’t hold up against Tom and the Pats beat-up offense. I like the Bills at home.

Rams @ Falcons (-7.0) – Money Line: Falcons —- Spread: Rams (+7.0)

The Rams came roaring back against the Cardinals and used “Legatron” to cap off the come from behind victory. Bradford looked better than the past few years behind a revamped offensive line featuring newly acquired Jake Long. He has explosive weapons all over the field, Richardson, Austin, Givens, and Cook and he seems to be hitting it off with all. The defense is underrated and can get in the backfield as well as force turnovers. The Falcons are coming off a heart-breaker against their arch-rival Saints. Their defense played better than anyone expected with Asante Samuel, but their offense looked nothing like last years with Roddy White being banged up. I want to pick the Falcons, but their defense and the speed around Bradford worry me.

Redskins @ Packers (-7.0) – Money Line: Packers —- Spread: Redskins (+7.0)

RGIII looked rusty, but then he settled in against the Eagles defense. Alfred Morris did not look like himself on a very costly fumble, and the defense was tired after the Eagles ran their up-tempo offense. The defense will need to shore up against Rodgers and the Pack to have a shot. The P ackers put up a good fight against the reigning NFC Champions, but simply couldn’t put a cap on the Kaep. Their secondary was lit up by the likes of Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, which makes RGIII feel confident. The Pack tried to establish the run game while airing it out with Rodgers. They have a good fit in Lacy and he likes what he saw from McCoy’s performance on Monday night I’m Sure.

Cowboys @ Chiefs (-2.5) – Money Line: Cowboys —- Spread: Cowboys (+2.5)

The Cowboys defense looked great forcing 6 turnovers against the Giants, but the offense was unable to capitalize on each turnover as the Giants were on the verge of a comeback until the final turnover did them in. Tony Romo suffered bruise ribs after getting finally hit by the Giants defensive linemen. The Cowboys still looked like the better team on Sunday and could be a force with all their talent if they can get the offense really flowing. The Chiefs looked well-rounded, but that was against the lowly Jaguars. The defense forced turnovers and got into the backfield, which could help against the Cowboys O-Line. Their defense will need to perform up to better standards to stop the Cowboys offensive weapons. I like the ‘Boys here even with Dez Bryant injured.

Vikings @ Bears (-6.0) – Money Line: Bears —- Spread: Bears (-6.0)

The Vikings pass game is going to be a problem for a while unless someone can teach Christian Ponder how to be an NFL quarterback. As was the case last year, Adrian Peterson will face a lot of “full box” situations because most teams want leave the game in Ponder’s hands. The Vikings corners looked good last week shutting down Calvin Johnson, but the whole defense was embarassed by probably the most dangerous open field player in the NFL in Reggie Bush. The Bears withstood a tough test from the Bengals last week and somehow Jay Cutler did not take a sack. Brandon Marshall and Cutler are on a whole other level right now. Their defense isn’t the same without Urlacher and Tillman was abused by AJ Green, but the Vikes don’t have that type of outside weapon so Bears here.

Saints (-3.5) @ Buccaneers – Money Line: Saints —- Spread: Saints (-3.5)

The Saints defense stopped the Falcons. Say what? The Saints offense looked pretty good with Sean Payton back, but they can definitely do more. Just wait till they hit their stride, but their defense will leak and won’t hold teams to 17 very often to be honest. The Bucs lost in shocking fashion. Their defense looked good with the addition of Revis, but the offense looked lost. Josh Freeman is in a make or break year, his contract year, and he has weapons that most quarterbacks would thrive with. They need to fix his focus otherwise it’ll be another long season to the team with pewter helmets. Saints here.

Lions (-1.0) @ Cardinals – Money Line: Cardinals —- Spread: Cardinals (1.0)

The Lions newest offensive toy looked fantastic against the Vikings; however, they can’t rely on Reggie Bush to beat better teams like the Arizona Cardinals. Calvin Johnson will needed to produce more than 4 catches for the Lions to keep winning games. Suh made another stupid mistake that cost him a ton of money. The Cardinals looked good throughout the game against a good Rams defense and Carson Palmer seems to fit Bruce Arians’ offensive scheme. Their defense looked solid as well and they have talent that’ll surprise most. I think at home the Cardinals will take this one.

Jaguars @ Raiders (-6.0) – Money Line: Raiders —- Spread: Jaguars (+6.0)

The Jaguars looked historically bad. Gabbert is out (apparently with an injury) and Henne is in. Henne produced decent numbers last year while filling in for Gabbert. I like Maurice Jones-Drew this week against a bad Raiders defense, but it’s hard to expect much from the Jags’ offense. The Raiders looked surprisingly decent against the Colts in Indy on Sunday. Until the final drive where they turned the ball over, the Raiders looked serviceable. I like the Raiders here because of the elusiveness of Terrelle Pryor, but with Henne under center I don’t like them by more than 6, but I might change my take on this game.

Broncos (-5.0) @ Giants – Money Line: Giants —- Money Line: Giants (+5.0)

The Broncos looked scary on Opening Night as Peyton tossed seven touchdowns at Mile High. Their defense, even without Von Miller and Champ Bailey looked pretty solid against the defending champs. I am worried about what the Broncos are capable of this year in a division with zero defense. The Patriots record of points scored and Tom Brady’s touchdown record have been warned. The G-Men. Where to start? Six turnovers doomed the Giants on Sunday night and no team could recover from that. Except, the Giants almost had the game won before the last turnover. The defense looked good and held Dez Bryant to two catches. If David Wilson can fix himself and the line can protect Eli, the Giants could surprise people here with a win against Big Brother. These are the games the Giants always step up and win.

49ers @ Seahawks (-3.0) – Money Line: Seahawks —- Money Line: Seahawks (-3.0)

Could be one of the games of the year. The 49ers took down the Packers using Anquan Boldin last week at Candlestick. Kaepernick proved yet again he can toss the ball around with the best of them. The Niners defense, even giving up 28 points still looked like a bunch of studs. The Seahawks looked jet-lagged in Carolina and eeked out a 12-7 win. These are probably the two best teams in the NFL and they play in the same division. I can’t wait to sit down and watch this outright brawl as this rivalry has become grounded in their hatred and their physical play. I like the Seahawks at home. Remember last year’s game?

MONDAY

Steelers @ Bengals (-7.0) – Money Line: Bengals —- Money Line: Bengals (-7.0)

The Steelers’ offense looked as bad as the Jaguars’ did. Big Ben can’t stand in the pocket for more than four seconds and his receivers, maybe excluding Antonio Brown, are a bunch of B-listers and below. He will continue to struggle without his safety blanket in Heath Miller. The defense looked more fresh against the bad Titans’ offense, but they will truly be tested against a young Bengals offense. The Bengals lost a heart-breaker to the Bears last weekend in Soldier Field. The defense wasn’t able to get to Jay Cutler which is puzzling considering the front seven this team has. The defense and the offense are both solid units making this Bengals team my favorite to still take home the AFC North. This will be a physical game, but I like the Bengals even with the big spread.

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UPSET SPECIAL

My Upset Alerts for this week fall on the BroncosLions , Chiefs, Falcons and Panthers. All of these teams are favorites, three of which are on the road. Keep an eye on these games ladies and ‘gents.

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SURVIVOR POOL

So last week I actually took the Colts and survived by the hairs on my chin (there are none right now). For this week the teams I like, depending on who you have chosen are:

  • PATRIOTS
  • RAVENS
  • COLTS
  • TEXANS
  • EAGLES

Good luck this week to all!

Week 1: Here We Go … Football!!! And It’s on Your Phone!

We are back … with a little bit of a change this year. This year I will be picking money line wins as well as picking with the spreads according to ESPN.com and see how good we really are here at Sports Gone HAM. The NFL off-season was torturous and filled with headlines, many for the wrong reasons, I’m looking at you Aaron Hernandez. We enjoyed a great season last season so let’s all hope for a continuation of last year’s success.

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THURSDAY

Broncos @ Ravens –  Money Line: Broncos  Spread: Ravens (+7.5)

Look for the revenge factor to kick in. Both defenses have huge changes with no Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey for the Broncos; while the Ravens have lost Danell Ellerbe, Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Peyton Manning has a new play toy in Wes Welker and it’ll only help.

SUNDAY

Patriots @ Bills – Money Line: Patriots — Spread: Patriots (-11.0)

EJ Manuel gets his first NFL start against a defense that would let up a ton of points to a veteran quarterback, but he’s banged up and will have to try and keep up with Tom Brady. Brady’s offense is completely revamped and even the parts that aren’t (Gronk) are banged up. Look for Brady to put up pre-Moss and Welker numbers this year at least until Gronk is 100%. The Bills could make a playoff run in a weak AFC East if Manuel plays like last year’s rookies and Spiller emerges as a top 5 running back. Pats easy here.

Bengals @ Bears – Money Line: Bears —- Spread: Bengals (-3.0)

Toss-Up! I will be picking the Bengals to win the AFC North. There is a lot of talent on this team, but it will all rest on Andy Dalton’s shoulders (see Joe Flacco). The defense is star-studded and have added a true leader and enforce in James Harrison. The Bears lost their true leader on defense in Brian Urlacher, but gained something on offense in Martellus Bennett. The Bears also have a new head coach, whom is offensive minded in Marc Trestman and their fate will rely on whichever Jay Cutler appears every game.

Dolphins @ Browns – Money Line: Browns —- Spread: Browns (-1.0)

I think the Browns are going to be competitive this year and one reason is their defense. Their defense has become much improved and they also have a new head coach. Their most talented receiver is suspended for the first two games, but Jordan Cameron is coming on like a freight train right now and if Weeden can put it where these two guys can catch it, they could surprise some people. Let’s not forget Trent Richardson who runs harder than most. The Dolphins could also be sneaky good with the acquisition of Mike Wallace as long as he runs his routes and builds a rapport with Tannehill. If Tannehill comes along as many say he appears to be the Dolphins could finish second in the AFC East.

Raiders @ Colts – Money Line: Colts —- Spread: Colts (-10.5)

Andrew Luck is going to have a big year and now he has a real running back in Ahmad Bradshaw, assuming he stays healthy. On the other side we have the Raiders, yikes. Most people can’t name anyone besides Darren McFadden on the Raiders and that never spells well for a team. Terrelle Pryor will the start over weak-armed Matt Flynn, but he has almost no weapons in this offense. The Raiders seam to be on board the “Clowney Train”.

Vikings @ Lions – Money Line: Lions —- Spread: Vikings (+5.0)

Overachievers of 2013 vs. Underachievers of 2013. The Vikings will go as “All-Day Peterson” goes. If he can reach anywhere near his production level last year, Christian Ponder and his revamped receiving corps (looks good too) will have an easier time keeping up with teams. The Lions were the biggest disappointment of last season with the talent on their team. One of the most fierce front four will hound quarterbacks again this season, but the secondary is questionable. If Stafford can stay healthy he has a new toy in Reggie Bush who is still as dangerous as anyone in the open field.

Falcons @ Saints – Money Line: Saints—- Spread: Falcons (+3.0)

Sean Payton is back and I think he should have gotten a few votes for Coach of the Year last year. This offense will be running on all cylinders with him back and a healthy Jimmy Graham. However they still look awful on defense and that doesn’t bode well against a team that has added Steven Jackson to it now. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and now Steven Jackson, good luck Rob Ryan. No Asante Samuel and a banged up Roddy … that spells trouble trying to keep up with the Saints offense.

Buccaneers @ Jets – Money Line: Buccaneers —- Spread: Buccaneers (-3.5)

The Bucs didn’t add much on offense and their tight end position is ugly, but they have talent with Freeman, Jackson, Williams and Dougie. Their defense just snagged the Jets best defensive player through trade and are easily the best in their division and will be a solid squad. The Jets are a mess and Geno Smith will draw the start with little talent around him behind the same offensive line, probably worst, than Mark Sanchez was ducking behind last year. Rex Ryan’s last year how will they do. Everyone says they’re aboard the “Clowney Train”.

Titans @ Steelers – Money Line: Steelers —- Spread: Titans (+7.5)

To me the only thing that can save the Steelers this year is their defense, which has only gotten older. They drafted Le’veon Bell to keep their running game moving and keep that run first mentality going, but he is injured and that will rest on the backup Isaac Redman for now. Big Ben lost his favorite receiver in Mike Wallace and Heath Miller is also injured. The Titans are another team possibly boarding that “Clowney Train”. Chris Johnson has an improved line to run behind now, that could be dangerous for the rest of the league, but Jake Locker needs to take a step forward this year.

Seahawks @ Panthers – Money Line: Seahawks —- Spread: Seahawks (-3.5)

The Seahawks have talent all around on both sides even after Percy Harvin went down with a serious hip injury. Lots of experts are expecting big things from Russell Wilson this year after he shocked the world with his performance last season. Cam Newton took a step back last season with a ton of mistakes, but it appears they are trying to line him up under center much more this season, meaning we will get to see how much of a pure passer he really is. Jonathan Stewart is on the PUP list, which only hurts the offense, but the young linebacker core hopes to carry this defense.

Chiefs @ Jaguars – Money Line: Chiefs —- Spread: Jaguars (+4.0)

Andy Reid has a new job in Kansas City and so does Alex Smith. The only talent around him is Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe, but if you look at Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy careers, Jamaal Charles could be in for a big year under Andy Reid. The defense might be at the middle of the pack at best. The Jaguars have some talent, just not at the most important position, quarterback. Gabbert is hurt even though he was named the starter and now Chad Henne will be put into action. The defense won’t look much better than the offense, but MJD has carried the load before.

Cardinals @ Rams – Money Line: Rams —- Spread: Cardinals (+4.5)

Both of the teams are sleepers for the NFC Playoffs, the only problem is the division they play in. Bruce Arians has taken over in the desert and has a quarterback who can throw it around the yard in Carson Palmer who had over 4,000 yards last year with the Raiders. Rashard Mendenhall has been added, but they pray he can stay healthy to put a little balance in Arians’ typically unbalanced offense. The Rams have talent everywhere and are sneaky good as long as Sam Bradford can stay healthy and Daryl Richardson can replace Steven Jackson to a certain extent.

Packers @ 49ers – Money Line: 49ers —- Spread: 49ers (-4.5)

Rematch of last season’s eye opener and then the playoff eye opener. The Packers defense didn’t get any better and their offensive line got worse because of injuries. Aaron Rodgers lost Greg Jennings, but gained Eddie Lacy, but sans the Giants the run game never worked against the 49ers last season. The Niners lost Michael Crabtree, but with a full offseason under his belt Colin Kaepernick could be improved. The Niners acquired an aging Anquan Boldin, but the rapport with Vernon Davis is apparently getting better.

Giants @ Cowboys – Money Line: Giants —- Spread: Giants (+3.0)

The Giants are 4-0 in Cowboy Stadium and I hate picking against Big Blue. The line is banged up and as usual so is the defense. David Wilson is receiving a lot of pressure without Andre Brown and Eli will have it all on his shoulders again. Tony Romo has the same talent around him on offense but maybe a healthy DeMarco Murray. It will ride on Tony Romo’s mistakes and how he lives up to his new big contract. He always seems to make the mistakes when most important and the Giants have the ‘Boys number right now.

MONDAY

Eagles @ Redskins – Money Line: Redskins —- Spread: Eagles (+3.0)

Vick vs RGIII. This will be exciting as hell with two meddling defenses and the implementation of a new system in Philly. Chip Kelly is here with his Oregon system, but without the Eagles best receiver it’ll be a tough go this year. RGIII is coming off an ACL Tear and Ron Jaworski has said he doesn’t look the same when stepping up and throwing. This is the biggest tough up of the week.

Texans @ Chargers – Money Line: Texans —- Spread: Texans (+3.5)

The Texans keep looking like the best team in the regular season and then getting kicked out of the playoffs while looking like a team that doesn’t belong. Arian Foster is healthy and Ben Tate seems appear to have a breakout season. The defense might be improved with the addition of Ed Reed if he can get healthy along with Brian Cushing. The Chargers are a mess. Rivers looks like his arm is depleted and their run game is confusing. Their defense might be able to keep them in some games, but their weapons on offense don’t instill any fear.

siren

UPSET ALERT 

I am putting the Broncos on Upset Alert … Deja Vu?? The Cowboys, the Bears and the Saints have also been warned.

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SURVIVOR POOL PICK

This weeks top 3 picks are: Patriots, Colts and Texans.

Check back for this week’s recap!

Thursday Night Football Preview

The NFL regular season kicks off Thursday, September 6 at 8:30 with the Ravens heading to Denver to take on the Broncos in a rematch between two AFC heavyweights.

WOOO HOOO for Fantasy football being back!!!! That’s all I really care about anymore as a Jets fan. Now, what is going to make this game interesting is the star studded talent on the offensive side of the ball for Denver. The Broncos with Peyton Manning and his 12 disciples (Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demaryius Thomas, Knowshown Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Jacob Tamme, Julius Thomas, Ryan Clady, Adam Gase, John Elway, Jesus Christ, and Manny Ramirez (not that Manny Ramirez) are going to give the Raven’s defense a headache. Peyton will and has picked apart every defense in this league and Baltimore is no exception especially after the off-season where they saw two veteran and emotional leaders in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed depart from the team.  To go along with losing Lewis and Reed the Ravens lost key linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger to free agency, but they brought in Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty to bolster up an already Pro Bowl studded line with Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata.  It’s going to be interesting to see how the Broncos offensive line deals with the Ravens defensive front seven specifically in the run game. Back to the Denver offense.

Wes Welker and Peyton Manning are going to take over this game.  I can’t imagine the Ravens putting LaDarius Webb on Wes Welker all game, Webb is going to have to take care of Demaryius Thomas on the outside.  That leaves Jimmy Smith covering Welker in the slot and that is going to be bad for the Ravens D.  Jimmy Smith doesn’t have a chance covering Welker in the slot and with Manning throwing the ball Smith really doesn’t have any chance at slowing him down.  Smith’s head will be spinning by the end of this game.

What I will be paying attention on the Broncos offense is the running back situation.  Adam Gase who is Denver’s offensive coordinator has said that the Broncos will use a running back by committee approach in their offense.  Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and Knowshown Moreno are the three backs that will make up Peyton Manning’s backfield and the playing time that they will get will be based on their production start the regular season.  I’m looking at this running back committee approach extra close to figure out which back will have the most productive play behind Manning in this first game.  The cream will rise to the top.  By the end of the Broncos first game I think the back that will stay at the bottom is Montee Ball.  Ball is a rookie and was a great runner in college and showed that he is a dynamic back out of the back field but it’s going to take a some time for him to warm up to NFL defenses.  Knowshown Moreno won’t rise all the way to the top but he will definitely be hovering around it.  Moreno reminds me of Joseph Addai when he played in Indianapolis with Manning.  Moreno is the best pass protector of the three backs but he’s not great by any means.  He can run between the tackles and catch a ball out out the backfield.  Moreno will be in for a lot of pass protection and that also takes time away from Ball.  The Denver back that will be the cream going into week two is Ronnie Hillman.  I believe in Ronnie Hillman.

I think that Hillman is the back that Peyton trusts the most.  Hillman learned a lot in his rookie season and with that Hillman has been able practice the hiccups in his game with an even better team this year.  I may be completely wrong but in my defense I’ve never claimed to have read the future.  Just a gut feeling.

Now onto what we’ll be seeing on the Baltimore offense. A couple of changes here, wide receiver Anquan Boldin went over to the 49ers, tight end Dennis Pitta is done for much of the year with a hip injury and the only other significant loss on offense was center Matt Birk.  Joe Flacco will have speedster Torrey Smith on the outside to work with and from there, progress together over the past two seasons, things are looking up for this connection.  Flacco can launch the deep ball and isn’t afraid to.  Smith is deceptively fast and his quickness compliments his size and speed. Let’s add in the fact that these guys have a great trust in each other and we get a thunderous combination.  I’m real high on Torrey Smith to have a breakout year this season.  Ray Rice will still be vacating the backfield for the Ravens and will share some time but not much with Bernard Pierce.  I’ve heard that Rice may be flanked out to the slot at some point this season to see what havoc he could cause there.  Rice’s size has always amazed me.  Rice is about 5 foot 7 inches and has always played bigger no matter the level.  I had friends on the defensive line in high school that were twice as big as me tell me that trying to tackle Rice is like tackling a chain chomp.  Rough.

Flacco will have to deal with the Denver pass rush that will be without Von Miller but is still a pretty damn good pass rush.  Second year defensive end Derek Wolfe and veteran Robert Ayers will be gunning for Flacco’s head all night.  I’d expect them to get at least three sacks between the two of them for the night.  Champ won’t be able to take care of Torrey Smith on the outside because of his injury but they have Dominque Rodgers Cromartie to put on Smith expect for some fire works as Rodgers-Cromartie has been known to get burned by quick receivers in his past.

Should be a great game to start the 2013 regular season.  All that matters is that football is back!!!!!!!!

AP Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 2

6) Texas A&M

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There is so much stuff going on with this team at that the moment that I do not now know where to begin. First, the signal caller needs to stop being Johnny “So College Bro” Manziel. This discussion is meant for another post, but for now I will say, “No Manziel equals no chance at the West title or even at a major bowl game.” Texas A&M has 6 starters both on offense and defense returning but this could change with a possible Manziel suspension. Their rushing game must pick it up in order for Manziel to have the heat taken off him (even if he plays). They have a strong schedule, but they will be “Roll-Tided” early on and knocked out of BCS chances if Manziel is not playing (Possible game of the year here). Whoever plays quarterback will have good protection again thanks to the depth of the line which is what the SEC is notorious for. Their secondary and defense looks good with some starters returning, but there is just so much in the air right now. You need Manziel, and if I were the coaching staff, I would sit this kid down and tell him he better shape up or the team has to take losses or even wins without him.

7) South Carolina

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I dont…I dont even know where to begin, but i will start in an obvious spot. I started following Clowney around the time I really got into college football and football in general. I remember him being the top prospect and wondering why he would go to South Carolina and not Alabama who had just won their first BCS National Championship or Florida who had Urban Meyer and were equally good. Ever since, this kid has been nothing but a menace. He is frightful and I have always thought of him as one of the best defensive ends even when he entered as a freshman. Now, South Carolina shares a similar schedule with Georgia in regards to having to play three top contending teams. The good thing is that South Carolina’s offense has matured, which means they can hopefully do a lot better this year. The defense has carried South Carolina for the past couple of years (as shown by Clowney’s murderous hit). If South Carolina’s offense puts up 30 points a game, then I would recant my comment about Georgia reaching the SEC Championship from before. The hard thing about this is which quarterback will take the snaps and the hopes of Davis filling in for Lattimore, who is a ‘Niner now, may be a long shot. I want Clowney to win this year so he can leave and start his NFL career, but that’s just me and the other SEC quarterbacks’ hopes.

8) Clemson

Discover Orange Bowl - West Virginia v Clemson

Sorry, no glove … No love!

I will tell you why this team is going to be much better than the Florida State “powerhouses” we have seen in the past couple of years. Firstly, this team is going up against two SEC teams that are ranked in the top ten in two of their four out of conference games. That alone proves this team is willing to take on the best. Second, they quietly finished at 11-2 last year and they hit bad tides a couple years back when they got embarrassed by 70-35 in their bowl game. However, they can score and not many teams are going to be able to shut down their scoring efforts very well. They have defensive problems much like Georgia, and they look like the Mud Dogs defense without Bobby Bouche. There are 7 returning starters on each side, but the offense is more ready to go this year with Tajh Boyd and and Sammy Watkins. The hardest part is going to be the opener against Georgia (offensive powerhouse SEC) and the closer against South Carolina (defensive powerhouse SEC). If, however, this team rises up and beats both of them (even one of them), I can see them going to a major bowl game. Their schedule may be too weak to warrant a BCS national championship game, unless they are unbeaten and win the conference championship. However, I like this team and they can make a good run if the defense can find a rhythm.

9) Louisville

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Around a year ago in October to November, I text my brother telling him that Lousiville was third in the nation when it comes to the defense giving up points and I said their quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was a good player. I humbly stand corrected about this and say he is now an excellent player. Louisville is the underdog of this top 10 and I can see them climbing these polls as all these teams destroy their own seasons. The only way at this point for Louisville to make the Big Dance is to be the only team or one of the last two teams standing undefeated. With their schedule, they could be poised to go undefeated and should with all the talent returning. They have 17 returning starters and most of which are on that stingy defense. Their problem is running the ball and their offensive line. If those two big issues are fixed somehow, then Louisville’s fate is sealed and they can move “forward”. However, they showed they can play with the big boys when the thrashed Florida in the Sugar Bowl. That 33-23 win was not as close as many think. Louisville proved that day they can play with the big boys and teams better recognize. Teddy may end up being the Heisman trophy winner unless Clowney decides to start intercepting the ball and sacking the quarterbacks on every other play. Overall, this team can make a run and I am excited to watch them play. It is clear and simple Louisville and I will make it simple: “Win…Win…Win…Win.” You do this, and you will be in the dance or at least a major bowl game.

10) Florida

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Florida comes back with a lot of questions raised. The team did not perform well in their performance against Louisville, but that team was tough in respect to them. Florida’s secondary is somehow still good even though they have 3 returning starters. The team has to reload and begin figuring out how to pass the ball this year. In addition, the front seven must be addressed before they can step forward but this SEC team (like many) has good depth and they may only need to find the right chemistry to be okay. For the offense, Driskel must begin passing the ball more, means relying on his receivers to get open. For Florida, correcting the pass rush and getting a pass offense is what they lack from moving up further in the ranks, clearly the pattern is in the word pass. They must play Georgia, LSU, and South Carolina . They could also make a run for the title, but it will be a little more difficult as they are the last team in the top ten and would need to be all teams on their schedule.

BCS National Championship - Alabama v Texas

My choice for the championship realistically/idealistically:

Well, this is the breakdown from the top 10. This group seems to be heavily strong towards offensive prowess which is a nice change. Overall, Alabama is the more realistic choice here and it makes sense really. Three championships in the past four years. However, ideally I would pin them against the Lousville Cardinals. I love this team and everything they have achieved in the past year. They came from nowhere in the Big East and were probably underestimated by many teams and were expected to lose to Florida. Instead, Louisville came in and decided to K.O. Florida within three quarters and prove who the real team was. I hope it happens again and I hope the best for Bridgewater. This young man does not have the best line nor the best run game and he was able to produce an astounding 3,400 passing yards along with 25 touchdowns to 7 interceptions. Louisville v. Alabama, you heard it here first.

Top 10 Preseason … ALL HAIL THE SEC! Part 1

The season opens tonight with #24 USC at Hawaii, but let’s delve into the top 10 as a preview for the college football fans. As expected, the SEC is the dominant force in the opening polls with half the top ten consisting of their powerhouses. Let’s breakdown each team and why they are ranked accordingly starting with the two time defending champions.

1) Alabama:

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To honestly say that the Rolltide would not be number 1 in the rankings I would have to smack you and say you know nothing about College Football. This is a dynasty in the making which is extremely rare to discover in the college world. Saban did lose a couple of studs last year like Dee Milliner on defense (possibly next Darrelle Revis) and offensive role players like Eddie Lacy, and D.J. FLuker. However, Saban made sure that plenty of players had experience last year and there are going to be a good amount of players for defense. 11 players have good enough experience for Saban and his defense wrecking which only gave up a stingy 10.9 points (1st in the country). A.J. Mccaron will be fine too. He has the explosive and powerful Amare cooper still along with T.J. Yeldon who has not yet tapped into his true potential. The only thing stopping Alabama from winning again is themselves. They have 18 freshmen, 28 sophomores, 30 juniors, and 18 seniors. Of the seniors, 12 are linemen and receivers which means almost nothing except that Saban will look for more of those two positions in the upcoming prospects. This team is young and experienced enough to win again. The only problem may be players on offense stepping up. Both Amare and T.J. had their parties last year and so the conference is ready for these studs. It is up to the senior unit to keep defenses guessing. They do this, they repeat. Expect ‘Bama to win again this year, or to have a 12-2 season, with that second loss coming in the last game of the college football season.

2) Ohio St.

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My friend told me about Braxton Miller, but I did not really look into him until the end of the season and oh boy I missed a lot. This guy put the team on his back and I am saying that he is indeed a Heisman candidate. Overall, Ohio State has a strong team and they also dictate whether they make the dance. Their secondary looks impenetrable as all the starters are returning, but they mostly reload in the front seven. If the team can put play-makers there, then they will have no hiccup and go meet ‘Bama in the national championship. They have 9 returning starters for offense which is going to take a load off Braxton. Urban Meyer returns in his second dream job season and quite frankly this should be a good year for Buckeyes fans. Good Buckeyes.

3) Oregon

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This is an excellent surprise to see another conference stepping up to battle the SEC cause quite frankly they are tired of shutouts (Or at least I know ‘Bama is). The Ducks come back with 9 offensive returners and 7 defensive returners as well. Marcus Mariota comes back with basically the same guys at his disposal which means their scoring capability will remain the same. The big question, however, is not how much the Ducks are able to score, but how much they can put up with the presence of their fearless leader going to the Eagles. This is going to be interesting to see how the Ducks are going to fair without their most successful head coach in school history. Now, the Ducks also have injuries in the secondary which may or may not hurt them in the long run. At the moment, Oregon is poised to be the PAC-12 champions unless Stanford or another team (USC and UCLA) picks up their game. The team has a very tough schedule and you could see them playing a very talented Washington team and of course Stanford to boot. If they survive, Oregon could be heading to the BCS National Championship if Ohio State and/or Bama have a misstep.

4) Stanford

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Now we come to the next team on the list and I am shocked at how they are fourth. It makes sense to have ‘Bama at first but I find it difficult to place third only because they had a good season. This team has battled through losing Andrew Luck last year and many more starters. They ended 12-2 under coach David Shaw who also won them a bowl game. In addition, they have the toughest schedule with a strong and upcoming Pac-12 conference that could potentially rival the SEC in a couple of years. The key for Stanford is for Hogan (their new QB) to step and have an excellent year. They also need a lot of production out of Taylor in order for their team to go far and make a run for the title. The have 7 returning offenses and 10 returning defensive players. David Shaw has caught wind of what the SEC is doing and is manipulating it. He has recruited good linemen both defensively and offensively in the past couple of years. He is also recruiting good defensive players and this is why they could make a run soon.

5) Georgia

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This is a school I have grown to admire and really take notice of in the past couple of years. Georga comes off a bowl win and one play from beating Alabama in the SEC championship so I think I can say they will take things more personally this year if they play ‘Bama. Aaron Murray can go to work again since all but one of his wide receivers and linemen have graduated or gone to the draft. 10 returning starters on offense not only gives Georgia a strong unit, but also better chemistry and more maturity. Their schedule includes Clemson, South Carolina, and Florida . They have one of the toughest schedules out there thanks to the three teams above.  So, the question is how the teams will take Georgia down? Well, Georgia lost about 7 starters last year on defense which means reload time (including Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree)!!! They have to play with the pieces and see what will work for them. The nice thing is Georgia’s depth and if they beat Alabama in SEC championship (because I have both those teams returning to the ‘real’ Big Dance), then watch out for the BCS national championship no matter who is there. They are favorites for the SEC East, but I think this will be a tough year for them given their schedule..

To be continued shortly….

Go Play Outside Johnny!

Do I like Johnny Manziel? Yes. Do I think he deserved to be suspended and that he clearly needs to start thinking before he acts? Absolutely. Did I know that he would play in every game or merely miss one? Duh. There was no way in hell the NCAA would allow its most marketable asset to miss more than one game and not be on the field against the most anticipated face-off of the 2013 season, Texas A&M vs. Alabama. For those of you who aren’t aware, Johnny Manziel has been suspended for the first half for this Saturday’s game against Rice University. How did it come to this you ask? Let me explain.

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Reports surfaced, along with informants, that Johnny Manziel had signed memorabilia in hotel rooms and had received over $7,500 from brokers. Apparently there was sufficient information and backing to this, but this half game suspension might disprove that theory. On the other hand, it could prove how consistently inconsistent the NCAA is in their rulings and how ridiculous they will continue to look. The NCAA is that kid in the corner of the room with a dunce cap on his head. The half-game suspension was handed down because the NCAA claims Manziel did not take the proper steps to prevent this from happening. Texas A&M’s lawyers claim they accepted the penalty because they wanted to get Johnny back on the field.

UNCLE NATE!!!!

UNCLE NATE!!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong College Football is arguably my favorite sport, but its governing body needs a few slaps to the head. Let’s touch on some past head-scratchers:

  1. USC – Gets a three year bowl ban and loss of a ton of scholarships because Reggie Bush’s parents accepted some free stuff, Reggie was already in the NFL at this point for a couple of years, so let’s punish a school and the players that now have 0 to do with Reggie Bush?
  2. Penn State – Loss of  10 scholarships per year, a large amount of money ($60 million), loss of all victories from 1998-2011, basically attempting to destroy a program because of something that one man did an the reluctance of a few others to take extra steps, but let’s penalize the incoming athletes and the people replacing these other individuals, instead of the individuals.
  3. Miami – Reportedly a booster, Devin Shapiro, paid former and current Miami players, but the NCAA had to stop its investigation, to investigate its own employees and whether or not unethical practices had taken place. Miami is still waiting on a ruling regarding their case after nearly three months, Miami could reach the ACC Championship game and have it stripped away from it the day before. Ridiculous.

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College athletes have been accepting forms of payments since god knows when. In the late 80s with the SMU “Death Penalty” there were funds being provided under the table (BTW watch the “30 for 30” on this scandal). It has been over 25 years since that and athletes are still accepting payments, compensation and gifts. This will always be an issue, even if the NCAA allows players to be paid, other versions of this issue will arise. There are reports coming out now that these autograph brokers have “client lists” dating back to 2004 (YIKES!).  Johnny Manziel was trying to cash in on “Johnny Football” just like the the NCAA has. Yes, he is held to a higher standard and should hold himself in such as well now that he is a Heisman winner, but only time will tell if he makes smarter decisions.

-Anthony

Aaron Hernandez: Former NFL tight end, PCP addict, Murderer, and the boy who cried wolf.

In the recent Rolling Stone article, Bill Solotariff points out that Aaron Hernandez was a heavy angel dust user over the past year.  Hernandez may have been the best ‘fantasy’ tight end but at the end of all this lies a bigger issue, college football coaches protecting their most talented players from crime while leaving them uneducated and uncontrolled.  All superior athletes growing up in current day America get their ego’s “pumped up” on the regular, whether it’s 8 year old Johnnie kicking a field goal or 17 year old Darrell clobbering the freshmen quarterback; athletes are being taught that if they perform on the field that everything off the field will be taken care of and that’s not reality.  The athlete of the next generations needs to learn how to grow up in reality because I believe that right now there are too many coaches and institutions that worry too much about the dollar signs and fame that they receive from guarding the egos of their star players.

The boy who cried wolf is a simple lesson that I believe  youth football coaches need to take into account when they are dealing with their star players specifically regarding education.  You cannot just go through the education system and completely ignore the education you are being provided. This means you have someone ignoring the educational institution that provides a guideline for a successful life and that pays your coaches’ salaries.  These players who are crying wolf need to see that when they are face to face with the wolf they could yell and scream until they took their last gasp of air but no one will come save them.

Dilson Herrea to the Mets, Harvey to the DL

Herrea (left) a smaller second basemen could mean the Mets moving Daniel Murphy in a future trade.

Dilson Herrea to the Mets

Dilson Herrea (left) was traded to the Mets today for John Buck and Marlon Byrd.

For a Buck and a Byrd the Mets acquired Dilson Herrea and a player later to be named from the Pittsburgh Pirates minutes ago.  Does this mean that Sandy Alderson has a plan to use Daniel Murphy as future trade bait possibly this off season? The Mets need help all over the diamond and if trading Murph will get us two players that can start immediately I’m okay with sending him on his way.  I love Murph and I love the Mets but I think its time he goes to a team that will respect him.

And Matt Harvey was officially placed on the DL today.  Lets hope Wheeler can pick up where Harvey left off.

Roy Hibbert is filling out

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I’ll be honest I know that the NBA is months away but this is worthy of being looked at. Roy Hibbert looks to be putting on some serious size and at 7’ft. 2″in. he could be nearing 300 pounds in the future. There have been a couple of NBA players who’ve weighed more than 300 pounds. I think that Hibbert could get to the 300 pound club to make him the 14th player since 1990 to eclipse that mark.

What If the Yanks kept Soriano?

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Again, hear me out.

162 game averages :

Player Hits 2B HR RBI SB BB SO GDP
                 
A-Rod 177 29 39 125 18 85 135 16
                 
Soriano 171 40 35 99 19 47 148 11

Another interesting number when comparing the production of these two players is the location in the batting order that they produced these numbers in. In A-Rod’s career (throughout the whole span) he has hit in the 3-4 spot 71.85% compared to Soriano who has hit there 21.17%, but has batted in the lead-off spot 41.21% of his career. Think about the numbers Soriano put up for the Rangers, Nationals and Cubs when they were all last place teams and hitting lead-off almost half the time along with being moved around the line-up. Now think about what he could have produced if he was hitting anywhere in the Yankees lineup from 2004-2012. Soriano came up and was a speed demon with power in the lead-off spot and his speed went underutilized after 2008 with the Cubs, which is head-scratching. A-Rod’s speed was also an asset of his but he was more known for his pure power and great contact. What’s shocking is how close the home run numbers are over the past 9 years since they were traded. Let’s also not forget to factor in the proven notion that Yankee Stadium is a launching pad, and who knows what Soriano could have done here.

Now listen I’m not saying we would have or would have won the 2009 World Series without A-Rod and the actually clutch performance he put on throughout that postseason. But the headaches, the drama and the disappointment that has followed ever since trading for A-Rod in the 2004 season. We reached two world series when we had Soriano and only one since we’ve acquired A-Rod.  Let’s take a look at this financially speaking too now. Since being traded to Texas, Alfonso Soriano has averaged a $13.322 million salary per year, with most of that money coming after 2008 in a bad contract offered by the once “spend-happy” Chicago Cubs. Now in the other pocket, we have the worst contract in baseball history. A-Rod’s contract since 2004 has averaged over $27.555 million, helping the Yankees break the luxury tax threshold by milestones. Consider the fact that there would have been more money for the Yankees to spend on other superstars and stay around that total salary number they hovered around for years during the early 2000s, but adding another player rather than spending it on one guy. Hindsight is always 20/20, and call me crazy but I would have kept Soriano and built from there if I were the Yankees going back. There are some things that would have been changed guaranteed: less headaches, less insults, less boos and less scrutiny. We can’t go back, but now the Yanks seem to be in somewhat of a rebuilding mode after mistakes made in years past. Tell me what your thoughts are on this!

-Anthony