Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Game Ball and Penalty Flags- Week 15

As we get to the home stretch of the NFL season I'm not sure what is more surprising, no one wants to win the NFC East or that the Seattle Seahawks could actually make the playoffs.


Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: Do I really need to explain this one? Brees was 32 of 40 for 412 yards and five TDs in just a little over three quarters. We may need to start adding Brees to the MVP discussion.

Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta: Did the real Matty Ice really stand up? Ryan threw for 224 yards and three TDs while taking the 4th quarter off in a rout of Jacksonville.

Tony Romo, QB Dallas: Romo looks good in December so far with 3 TDs passes and another on the ground as the Cowboys took over first place in the NFC East.

Reggie Bush, RB Miami: Bush got the luxury of playing a rundown Bills defense, but still showed why he can be a successful back in the league with a career high 203 yards and score.

Red Bryant, DE Seattle: Anytime a 6-4, 323 lbs. dude gets an INT and rumbles back for a TD gets a game ball. Yes, it was only a 20 yard return, but DL running with the ball is fun to watch.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts got in the win column with an impressive victory over the Titans who are fighting for a playoff spot. QB Dan Orlovsky threw three TDs, Jacob Lacey returned an INT for a score and Donald Brown ran for 161 yards and a TD.

Romeo Crennel, Interim Head Coach Kansas City: This will be the signature win in his career. He was an awful head coach in Cleveland and will be awful when he get the Chiefs job full-time, but Sunday was his day as KC upset Green Bay and ruined their perfect season.

Matthew Stafford, QB Detroit: Stafford looked like a playoff caliber QB with a 57 yard and 98 yard drive in the final 10 minutes for a 28-27 come from behind win on the road over Oakland. He finished with 391 yards and four TDs.


Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee: Looks how is back to coasting on his fat contact. Johnson ran for a whopping 55 yards on on 15 carries for a 3.7 yard average.

Ravens Defense: What happened to this defense? Philip Rivers and company made them look like a bad FCS defense. Totally out of character.

Chicago Bears: A sure fire playoff team is going down the drain without a QB. Maybe they should have claimed Kyle Orton or signed Donovan McNabb.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 13


Marshawn Lynch, RB Seattle: The former Bill who couldn't seem to stay out of trouble is having a stellar, problem free season for the Seahawks. Lynch ran for a 148 yards and two scores, one which he basically ran through each Eagles defender as Seattle has all the sudden become respectable.

T.J. Yates, QB Houston: Yates was not expected to ever see the field this year, but after injuries to the top two Matt's, Yates not only kept the Texans in the game, but looked good leading the team to a win over a very good Falcons squad. Yates is now the only North Carolina Tar Heel to ever start at QB in the NFL.

Miami Dolphins: The 'fins are 4-1 in the last five games and have outscored opponents 139-54, with the lone loss a one-point defeat at Dallas on Thanksgiving. Reggie Bush ran for 100 yards and a score as Miami pounded the AFC West leading Raiders 34-14.

Tim Tebow, QB Denver: Talk all you want about how bad a QB Tebow is, but the numbers don't lie. He has passed for 10 TDs against only one INT leading the Broncos once again on a late rally, passing for a season-high 202 yards and two touchdowns to help Denver win their fifth consecutive game with a 35-32 victory over the Vikings. I think there are at least 10 teams that would like their QB to have a 10-1 TD-INT ratio and five straight wins.

Alex Smith, QB San Francisco: Smith threw two second-half touchdowns of 52 and 56 yards to Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams, respectively leading San Francisco right into the playoffs shutting out St. Louis 26-0. The niners clinched their first NFC West title and postseason berth since 2002. Head coach Jim Harbaugh joined George Seifert (1989) and Steve Mariucci (1997) as the only rookie coaches in 49ers history to win the division.

Justin Houston, LB Kansas City: Bears QB Caleb Hanie may still be having nightmare's of Houston who tallied three sacks, two QB hits, a forced fumble and a pass deflected.

Patrick Robinson, CB New Orleans: Robinson flew in from the corner to block a Jason Hanson field goal try as the clock expired at the end of the first half. It is rare to see a FG blocked in the NFL and even more rare when the guy who blocks it comes off the edge.


ESPN: The world-wide leader makes a cameo for the non-sense non-story they published yesterday about Brett Favre and the Chicago Bears. ESPN cited a "source familiar with Brett Favre." Really? We are all familiar with that glory hound and your network's need to talk about him any chance you get. Do us all a favor and get over #4.

Jason Garrett, Head Coach Dallas: His kicker booted what would have been the game-winning FG only to call a timeout right before it was snapped. And yes, after the time out, said kicker shanked it sending the game into OT which Dallas lost. Dear coaches, stop over thinking the room!

Chan Gailey, Head Coach Buffalo: Much criticized RB C.J. Spiller has 80 yards at halftime (not including another 41 on a TD that was called back on a lousy holding call) and is finally playing with confidence. So what do you do in the second half? Oh yes, you stop giving Spiller the ball even though he was the only offensive player having success for the Bills. Dear coaches, PLEASE stop over thinking the room!

Ndamukong Suh, DL Detroit: Two women say they were injured when Suh crashed his car into a tree in downtown Portland, Ore., over the weekend. CBSSports.com reported Monday that one of the women requested her name be removed from the report and all subsequent documents out of fear of retaliation from Suh or his family or friends. All of this coming after he was suspended by the NFL for his continued dirty play.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 12

As we head to December, 17 of 32 teams are still in the playoff race, just what the NFL was hoping for. Green Bay has an oh-fer in the loss column and Indy has an oh-fer in the win column. Both teams head to December looking like those 0's can remain.


Laurent Robinson, WR Dallas: The journeyman from Illinois State has been a great fill-in for Miles Austin as he hauled in seven passes for 79 yards and two scores as the Cowboys are the hottest team south of Wisconsin.

Ravens Defense: Baltimore sacked San Francisco QB Alex Smith a franchise record tying nine times despite playing without LB Ray Lewis, the team's leading tackler and vocal leader.

Matt Ryan, QB Atlanta: Ryan has struggled most of the year, but came out of his shell playing against a tough Vikings defensive line going 27 of 34 for 262 yards and three TDs as the Falcons try to keep pace with New Orleans.

A.J. Green, WR Cincinnati: The rookie made a leaping catch for a 51 yard gain in the final minute to set up a field goal that rallied the Bengals to a 23-20 victory over the Browns to keep Cincy in playoff contention.

A.J. Yates, QB Houston: He just gets a game ball for being the first Houston QB in two weeks to walk off the field not hurt. Next week may be another story. Good Luck Yates.

Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona: Peterson tied the NFL record with his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season as the Cardinals won their seventh in a row in St. Louis with a 23-20 victory.

Oakland Special Teams: K Sebastian Janikowski kicked a team-record six field goals, P Shane Lechler had an 80-yard punt and neutralized star returner Devin Hester as the Raiders took out the Bears 25-20.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: Brees passed for 363 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score as the Saints rolled to a 49-24 victory over the Giants.


Ndamukong Suh, DE Detroit: He was tossed for stomping on Packer's OL Evan Dietrich-Smith's right arm in the third quarter. Suh claimed he didn't intentionally step on the Dietrich-Smith with his foot, saying he was just trying to separate himself from the situation. Not good for a guy who already has a rep as a dirty player.

Browns Special Teams: For the second time in three games, a botched snap cost Cleveland a chance to take a late lead. Phil Dawson was short on a 55-yard try with just under two minutes left after the snap skipped along the ground, giving Cincinnati a chance to win the game, which they did.

Indianapolis Colts: The Colts probable lone chance to win this season against Carolina was all for not as they dropped to 0-11 for the first time since 1986 and have lost six home games in a season for the sixth time in the Indianapolis era.

Stevie Johnson, WR Buffalo: Not for the TD dance, but for dropping the game winning TD not once but twice. This was a game the Bills needed and their star wide out failed his team when they needed him most.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 11

As we are just two days away from Thanksgiving, lets be thankful just about every team seems to still have a shot at the playoffs, well except for Indianapolis.


Tim Tebow, QB Denver: Yes, I know he sucked for 57 minutes against the Jets, but somehow the dude keeps finding ways to win games. Tebow's 20 yard touchdown run with 58 seconds left capped a 95-yard drive as the chosen one is now 4-1 as a starter.

Torrey Smith, WR Baltimore: The rookie steps up again with 165 yards through the air including an impressive 38 yard grab where he dusted two defenders proving to be the game-winner.

Matthew Stafford, QB Detroit: After throwing two picks, he led the Lions comeback tossing five TDs and 335 yards en route to keep pace in the NFC playoff hunt.

Jordy Nelson, WR Green Bay: One of Aaron Rodgers many weapons hauled in six passes for 123 yards and two scores with his 2nd TD, a 40 yarder, putting the undefeated Pack ahead for good.

Matt Moore, QB Miami: The Bills defense made him look like Dan Marino as he carved up the imposters dressed as an NFL defense for three touchdowns.


Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee: Guess who had one good game, then decided to mail it in again. 12 carries on 13 yards. Seriously? Why had Bud Adams not had him arrested for theft?

Officiating Crew, Cleveland v. Baltimore game: Why was Jermaine Gresham's catch late in the 4th quarter not a TD? Didn't we figure this all out last year when Calvin Johnson was robbed of a TD? http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/2011112004/2011/REG11/bengals@ravens#menu=highlights&tab=recap

Buffalo Bills Defense: It would have been nice for them to let head coach Chan Gailey know before the game that they didn't intend to show up against Dolphins.

John Skelton, QB Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald is still playing for the Cardinals, right? How does Skelton not know that?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 10

The Lions and Bills have fallen off the "Darlings of the NFL" wagon, but the 49ers remain. San Francisco has the second best record in the league only behind the defending Super Bowl champion Packers and can clinch a playoff spot before December. For that, the whole team gets our first game ball.


Tony Romo, QB Dallas: Unfortunately for the Bills, "Good Romo" showed up this week. Romo was 23 of 26 for 270 yards and three scores setting the franchise record for single-game accuracy by hitting on 88.5 percent of his passes.

Michael Bush, RB Oakland: With Darren McFadden out with an injury, Bush racked up 157 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown to go with another 85 yards on three receptions as the Raiders upended the Chargers.

John Skelton, QB Arizona: Who? Yes, John Skelton, he really is in the NFL. The Fordham (yes, they play football) product threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Early Doucet with 1:53 left as the Arizona Cardinals rallied for a 21-17 victory over the Eagles. Skelton finished with 315 yards and three TDs filling in for the injured Kevin Kolb.

Arian Foster, RB Houston: Foster rushed for 85 yards and a score as well as four receptions for 102 yards and another TD.

Houston Defense: The NFL's top-ranked defense had four sacks, three interceptions and recovered a fumble while missing their best player DE Mario Williams.

Steven Hauschka, K Seattle: Hauschka matched a franchise record with five field goals to lead the Seahawks in a 22-17 upset of the Ravens. Hauschka kicked field goals of 22, 38, 39, 35 and 30 yards.

Devin Hester, WR Chicago: I'm not going to buy Hester a Christmas present because he will just return it. The Bears locked up their fourth straight win thanks to a another punt return for a touchdown by Hester, who ran one back 82 yards. That extended his NFL record for punt return TDs to 12 and combined kick-return touchdowns to 17.

Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay: Hands down, the MVP of the league went 23 of 30 for 250 yards and four TDs as the Packers are the only undefeated team in the league.


Philadelphia Eagles: The defending NFC East champion Eagles were expected to be Super Bowl contenders after a host of big-name signings in the offseason. They now have lost seven of their past eight home games and are out of the playoff hunt losing to a backup QB, blowing yet another 4th quarter lead against the lowly Cardinals.

Baltimore Ravens: David Reed fumbled twice on kickoff returns leading to six points for Seattle. Joe Flacco's lone interception was returned by David Hawthorne inside the Ravens 10 and eventually led to another field goal. To make matters worse, the normally reliable Billy Cundiff missed field-goal attempts of 52 and 50 yards in the first half.

Philip Rivers, QB San Diego: With the Chargers looking to tie the game, Rivers was intercepted in the end zone by Oakland's Matt Giordano with 3:22 left. It was Rivers' league high 15th INT. Rivers was sacked on consecutive plays near midfield to end the game. He fumbled on the final play, giving him a league high 19 turnovers.

Rex Ryan, Head Coach New York Jets: Ryan's yap gets him in trouble once again. The NFL is looking into an Internet video that shows Ryan using an obscenity while angrily responding to a fan at halftime of the Jets 37-16 loss to the Patriots. On the video, a fan yells, "Hey, Rex, Belichick is better than you," Ryan looks up and tells the fan to "shut up" while also using an obscenity.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

NFL Midseason Report

Midseason Offensive Rookie: QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati. Yes, I do realize Cam Newton is more exciting, but Dalton has had a greater impact on his team. The Bengals were expected to be awful without Carson Palmer, yet are sitting pretty at 6-2 tied for the lead in the AFC North. For the record, Dalton has more TD passes (12 to Newton’s 11), less interceptions (7 to Newton’s 9) and a better completion percentage (61.5 to Newton’s 60.6).

Honorable Mention: QB Cam Newton, Carolina, and WR Julio Jones, Atlanta.

Midseason Defensive Rookie: CB Patrick Peterson, Arizona. Peterson has been solid in the defensive backfield for the struggling Cardinals. He leads all rookies with two picks and 10 passes defended and is third among rookies with 35 tackles. Also, he has returned three punts for touchdowns already, two of which were the deciding scores in the two victories the Cardinals have.

Honorable Mention: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Washington and LB Von Miller, Denver.

Midseason Coach: Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco. New coach + no QB + no OTA’s = disaster in the Bay area. At least that is what we thought. All Harbaugh has done this year is erase the bust stigma from Alex Smith, rejuvenate at storied franchise that had been awful for a decade and have the second best record in the NFL despite his team learning his system on the go. Very impressive.

Honorable Mention: Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati and Chan Gailey, Buffalo.

Midseason Disappointing Team: Philadelphia Eagles. Taking a page out of Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s playbook, the Eagles won the off-season with many big name free agent signings including one to dub the Eagles the “Dream Team.” Philly has been more of a nightmare and are barely looking like a .500 team, much less a Super Bowl contender. At this point, the once Super Bowl favorite won’t even make the playoffs.

Dishonorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.

Midseason Surprise Team: San Francisco 49ers. See above on Jim Harbaugh. This team is not only legit, they could be a major player in the postseason.

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills.

Midseason Disappointing Player: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee. He should be arrested for stealing money from Bud Adams. After pouting all training camp, claiming he should get quarterback money which he eventually got, he has not at all lived up to the $55 million he is getting. Johnson currently sits 29th in the NFL in rushing with a pathetic 3.0 average per carry.

Dishonorable Mention: DE Albert Haynesworth, New England/Tampa Bay and WR Chad Ochocinco, New England.

Midseason Surprise Player: RB Fred Jackson, Buffalo. There were rumblings in the preseason he could lose his starting job to C.J. Spiller. Good thing they stuck with him. He is third in the league with 803 rushing yards, second among RBs in receiving yards and third overall in all-purpose yards.

Honorable Mention: TE Jimmy Graham, New Orleans and WR Steve Smith, Carolina.

Midseason Defensive MVP: DE Jared Allen, Minnesota. I don’t like giving an award to a guy on a crappy team, but Allen has just been ridiculous this year. He leads the NFL in sacks (12.5), forced fumbles (3), fumbles recovered (3) and leads all defensive linemen with four passes defended.

Honorable Mention: LB Patrick Willis, San Francisco and DB George Wilson, Buffalo.

Midseason Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay. If you need an explanation, you don’t watch football. But, just in case you do, Rodgers is leading the NFL in completion percentage (72.5), touchdowns (24), QB rating (129.1), and second in least interceptions (3). Oh, and the Packers are 8-0.

Honorable Mention: WR Wes Welker, New England and RB Matt Forte, Chicago.

1- Baltimore
2- New England
3- Houston
4- Oakland
5- Cincinnati
6- NY Jets

1- Green Bay
2- San Francisco
3- New Orleans
4- NY Giants
5- Detroit
6- Atlanta

Baltimore 24, Oakland 21 (I’m sure I am crazy, but I’m doing it for Al!)

NFC CHAMPIONSHIP (same as preseason prediction)
Green Bay 35, New Orleans 31

SUPER BOWL XLVI (same as preseason prediction)
Green Bay 24, Baltimore 20

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 9

Every team has now played half the season and only the Green Bay Packers have set themselves in front of the pack. We will talk more about this in the midseason report coming out on Thursday. For now, here are this week's game balls and penalty flags.


NY Jets Defense: I don't have proof, but I am pretty sure Rex Ryan sat in on the Buffalo Bills offensive meetings this week. It clearly looked like the Jets knew exactly what the Bills were running. WRs could not get open and Ryan Fitzpatrick was flustered all day.

Houston RBs: Arian Foster racked up 124 yards and a touchdown, while his backup Bet Tate added another 115 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Its the second time in three weeks two Texans rushers have each gained a 100 yards in a game.

Julio Jones, WR Atlanta: Seemed like Matt Ryan and Julio were playing down by the school yard as Jones returned for his first game since week 5 hauling in two touchdowns on 131 yards including an impressive diving 50 yard TD. He also added 33 yards on two end arounds as well.

Miami Dolphins: If you are 0-7 going into a game against a team on a hot streak and completely take them behind the woodshed, the whole team gets the game ball. The 'fins have moved out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and are now in the Matt Barkley sweepstakes.

Patrick Peterson, CB Arizona: Rookie Patrick Peterson returned a punt 99 yards for a touchdown in overtime to give the Arizona Cardinals a stunning 19-13 victory over the Rams to snap a six game losing streak. Peterson juked and bounced off tacklers for his third punt return TD of the season.

Eli Manning, QB NY Giants: Manning marched the Giants down 80 yards in eight plays and hit Jake Ballard for a one yard TD with 15 seconds left as the Giants a upended the New England Patriots basically repeating the comeback victory from the 2008 Super Bowl.

Joe Flacco, QB Baltimore: Flacco found rookie Torrey Smith for a 26 yard TD with eight seconds to go capping a 92 yard drive on the road against division rival Pittsburgh 23-20. Flacco finished with 298 yards passing and Baltimore swept the season series from the rival Steelers (6-3) for the first time since 2006.


Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles blew a fourth-quarter lead for the fourth time this season. The pre-season Super Bowl contender and alleged Dream Team is now 3-5 and probably already out of the playoff hunt.

Oakland Raiders: The silver and black blew a 10 point lead and were out scored 31-7 in the second half giving up big play after big play. Not a good start for the Carson Palmer era.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 8

Another interesting week in the NFL. A long time coach gets shutout for the first time in his career, a "star" running back continues to show his team they were chumps for paying him the big bucks, and the savior is proving his critics right.


Buffalo Bills defense: The Bills defense sacked Washington QB a whopping nine times, just two off a franchise record and held a Mike Shanahan team scoreless for the first time in 267 games as a head coach.

LeSean McCoy, RB Philadelphia: McCoy had a career-high 185 yards rushing and two touchdowns as the Philadelphia Eagles routed the Dallas Cowboys 34-7.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh: Big Ben passed for 365 yards and two touchdowns as the Steelers finally found a way to beat New England 25-17. Pittsburgh held the ball for more than 39 minutes.

Detroit Lions defense: The Lions sacked Denver QB Tim Tebow seven times and turned two Tebow turnovers into touchdowns in a 45-10 rout of the Broncos.CB Chris Houston had the fourth 100-yard interception return in team history and DE Cliff Avril got a strip sack, returning it 24 yards for the other defensive score.

Steven Jackson, RB St. Louis: Jackson scored two touchdowns and had his first 100-yard rushing game in three seasons as the Rams upset the New Orleans Saints 31-21 getting their first win of the season.


Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee: Until Johnson gets a 100-yard game, he will own Penalty Flags from this week forward. Another pathetic effort for the alleged best player in the NFL. What does $55 million get the Titans? 14 carries for 34 yards, an average of 2.4 yards per carry. Sadly, the highest paid RB was outrushed by teammate Javon Ringer who was able to muster 60 yards on 14 carries. Johnson is now tied for 34th in the NFL in rushing and is behind Delone Carter and Cam Newton among others.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 7

Week 7 has come and gone. With it, a lot of QB questions are starting to arise. Carson Palmer rushed into action way too early, Tim Tebow was awful for three quarters but somehow changed water to wine and Christian Ponder looks like he is ready to lead the ship in Vikingsland.


DeMarco Murray, RB Dallas: The rookie ran for a Cowboys franchise-record 253 yards, including a 91-yard touchdown that's the second-longest in team history. Murray's performance is the 9th best in NFL history.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: Redemption. A week after having one of the worst performances of his career, Brees completed 31 of 35 passes for 325 yards and five touchdowns as the Saints set a franchise record for points and victory margin in a 62-7 spanking of the Manning-less Colts.

Cam Newton, QB Carolina: Newton passed for 256 yards and rushed for another 59 yards. He ran for his 7th touchdown of the season on a 16-yard keeper tying a record for most rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback since the NFL merger.

Matt Forte, RB Chicago: Forte ran for 145 yards and one touchdown. Looks like Chicago needs to pony up some cash to get his contract extended.

Plaxico Burress, WR NY Jets: Burress only had four catches for 25 yards, but three went for scores leading the Jets to a come from behind win over San Diego.

Arian Foster, RB Houston: Foster ran for 115 yards and two touchdowns and added 119 more receiving with a 78-yard score.

Jacksonville Defense: Jacksonville didn't allow a first down until the 5:26 mark of the third quarter and held the Ravens offense to only 146 yards.


Chris Johnson, RB Tennessee: I gave Johnson the week off last week from this list, but he earned his way back with a pathetic 18 yards on 10 carries. He has only been able to muster 268 yards on 93 carries for an abysmal 2.9 yards per carry. Johnson is now the 32nd leading rusher in the league and just for giggles DeMarco Murray almost outrushed his season total on Sunday alone. How much is he being paid again?

Miami Dolphins: The Broncos scored two touchdowns in the final 2:44 of the fourth quarter to force overtime, and a Matt Prater 52-yard field goal allowed the 'fins to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And, to make matters worse, they have allowed the nation to drink the Tim Tebow kool-aid.

Baltimore Ravens offense: They made the Jags defense look like the '85 Bears. Simply awful.

Oakland Raiders QBs: Kyle Boller tossed three picks in the first half and Carson Palmer came in to match that with three interceptions himself. At least JaMarcus Russell didn't get picked off on Sunday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 6

There is only one undefeated team left in the NFL as Green Bay goes to 6-0. And, their head coach Mike McCarthy says they can be better. Scary thought!


Naaman Roosevelt, WR Buffalo: Experts said he was too slow to make it in the NFL and his battle has been uphill trying to earn a spot on the Bills. On Sunday, the local product catch a short pass and burned the Giants defense for a 60 yard touchdown, hopefully the first of many for Naaman.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB NY Giants: The workhorse for the G-Men ran for 104 yards and a career high three scores to lead the slumping Giants to a much needed win.

Michael Turner, RB Atlanta: Turner ran for 139 yards and two touchdowns, coming back to defeat the Panthers.

Devin Hester, WR/KR Chicago: The most interesting guy to watch in the NFL. Hester snagged a 48-yard touchdown catch then scored on a career-best 98-yard kickoff return. Hester is the best kick returner in NFL history. Period.

Josh Freeman, QB Tampa Bay: The much underrated Freeman threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns leading the Bucs to an impressive win over division rival New Orleans.

Oakland Raiders Special Teams: On the day they paid tribute to AL Davis, the Raiders and special teams coach John Fassel pulled a few rabbits out of their hats with a 101 yard kick return by Jacoby Ford and a fake field goal as punter/holder Shane Lechler threw to a wide-open Kevin Boss for another score.


Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Buffalo: Fitz who has been a major part of the Bills resurgence this year under threw Stevie Johnson twice on the same exact play and was picked off both times, the last when Buffalo could have gone in for the game winning score.

Minnesota Vikings WR: Yes, Donovan McNabb has struggled this season, but his wide outs are not helping by continually dropping passes that hit them in their hands. The Vikings WR have had the worst case of the drops all season. Maybe they will learn how to catch now that it looks like Christian Ponder will soon take over.

Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator Dallas: The Ryan brothers presentations have really become tiresome. Rex continues to boast about his under performing team, but he was outshadowed by his brother Rob boasting about how he has Tom Brady's number because his Browns defense held him in check last year. On Sunday, Ryan's D was shredded on the final drive basically letting Brady do whatever he wanted as the Pats left with a win. So much for having his number Rob.

Drew Brees, QB New Orleans: It pains me to do this because he is such a nice dude, but his three picks against the Bucs with the last in the end zone with the game on the line is just not like him.

Jim Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz, head coach San Francisco and Detroit: With all the great action from Sunday, we are seriously focused on the ridiculous hand shake flap? Both guys need to have thicker skin.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sports Shorts October 14

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to World B. Free?

* If the NBA cancels games and nobody cares what does either side need to do to make themselves relevant? The first two weeks of the season have already been bagged with more likely to come. Unlike the NFL work stoppage, it doesn't seem anyone is really concerned about not having the league around. If I was David Stern, that would be my biggest concern. Hopefully, both sides will learn that with the struggling economy, very few will feel bad that these guys are missing paychecks.

* Theo Epstein is now the GM of the Chicago Cubs. If he can do half of what he did in Boston, will he go down as the greatest baseball executive in history? Epstein, who became GM of the Red Sox at 28, built a team that brought Boston not one, but two World Series championships after 86 years of disappointment. The Cubs history is so much worse and a much harder fix. Many bright minds have failed to deliver at Wrigley so it will be interesting to see if lightning can strike twice for Epstein. It will be even more interesting to watch how patient Cubs fans will be for Epstein to work his magic.

* In the last two years, the Rochester Knighthawks have traded away their biggest stars with the final one, Shawn Williams, heading to Edmonton this week. This comes after shipping John Grant, Jr. to Colorado prior to last season, Scott Evans to Edmonton early last season, and Shawn Evans to Calgary last month. These four were the cornerstone of the Khawks franchise for a decade winning the 2007 NLL title, but GM Curt Styres is looking to get younger and faster. While the trades may not be popular with longtime fans, these moves are meant to build the foundation for the next decade. Styres, the reigning executive of the year, has brought in two-time Defensive Player of Year Ryan Cousins, young up and comer Alex Kedoh Hill and the guy many believe will be the next indoor superstar in Johnny Powless among others. Fans will miss their heroes of the past, but Jamieson, Powless, Vitarelli, Vinc, etc are ready for the next step.

* Yet another sign college football is out of control is both Boise State and Air Force are being sought by the Big East. Both teams play two time zones away. I don't recall my geography classes in college mentioning the Rockies being anywhere near the East Coast. While getting into a BCS conference is huge for Air Force, Boise State can do much better. The Big East with the loss of Syracuse, Pitt and the defection of TCU before they even got there, clearly makes the league a basketball conference instead of a football heavyweight. Boise State would be better off working to rehabilitate the Big XII rather than hope the Big East will get them what they need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 5

How 'bout them Lions? 5-0 for the first time since 1956! Add to that the Bills and 49ers are both 4-1, the little brothers are the darlings of the NFL midway through October. And, Tim Tebow is now a starting QB in the league, this is just a strange season.


Fred Jackson, RB Buffalo: Jackson had 196 all-purpose yards and a touchdown to lead the Bills past the alleged Dream Team.

George Wilson, DB Buffalo and Nick Barnett, LB Buffalo: The Senator gave Michael Vick fits all day finishing with 11 tackles, three pass defended and an interception. Barnett picked off Vick twice with one going for a touchdown and the other stalling what may have been a game tying drive by the Eagles.

Oakland Raiders: A day after the owner and face of their franchise, Al Davis, passed away, the silver and black's Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone to preserve the victory. In true Raider fashion, they "Just won, baby."

Matt Cassel, QB Kansas City: Cassel threw for 257 yards and four touchdowns, as Kansas City scored the final 21 points to pull out a 28-24 victory over the winless Colts.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings held a big lead! Adrian Peterson rushed 29 times for 122 yards with three first quarter touchdowns and Donovan McNabb ran in another score as the Vikings made it 28-0 in the first quarter. For the first time this season, Minny did not blow a huge lead and remembered they had the best RB in the NFL.

Brandon Browner, DB Seattle: The former CFLer returned an interception 94 yards when it looked like the Giants were going in for the game winning score with just over a minute to play as the Seahawks won 36-25.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB Pittsburgh: Big Ben tied a team record with five touchdown passes despite playing on an injured left foot. The five touchdown passes tied a single-game team record Roethlisberger already shares with Mark Malone and Terry Bradshaw.

Jahvid Best, RB Detroit: Best carried the ball 12 times for 163 yards including an 88 yard score, the second longest in Lions history beating division rival Chicago on Monday Night Football.


Chicago offensive line: The Bears line committed numerous false starts and nearly send Jay Cutler home on a stretcher. Cutler was sacked three times, but was running for his life all night.

Mark Sanchez, QB New York Jets: Playing against the worst rated defense in the NFL, Sanchez could only muster 166 yards and just 225 yards of total offense in a critical division matchup vs. New England.

Kyle Orton, QB Denver: Orton was awful in the first half. He completed just six of 13 passes for 34 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. With that performance, Orton has ushered in the Tebow era in Denver.

Michael Vick, QB Philadelphia: While Vick did pass for 315 yards and rushed for another 90, his career-high tying four interceptions sparked an opportunistic Bills defense as Philly falls to 1-4 overall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

NFL Quarter Report

The first quarter of the 2011 NFL season is in the books. The Bills and 49ers are off to a surprising starts while the Packers and Lions are the only 4-0 teams. We have also seen some crazy passing and receiving numbers. With that, lets hand out some first quarter awards. Some were easy picks, others were more difficult.

First Quarter Offensive Rookie: QB Cam Newton, Carolina. The #1 overall pick is completing almost 60% of his passes and averaging 346 yards passing per game with limited talent around him. He has basically rejuvenated the career of WR Steve Smith.

Honorable Mention: QB Andy Dalton, Cincinnati, and WR Julio Jones, Atlanta.

First Quarter Defensive Rookie: DE Ryan Kerrigan, Washington. Kerrigan has been impressive for a Washington team that is exceeding expectations. He has 2.5 sacks, four pass defenses, an interception returned for a score and two forced fumbles.

Honorable Mention: LB Von Miller, Denver and LB Mason Foster, Tampa Bay.

First Quarter Coach: Chan Gailey, Buffalo. After the preseason, many experts thought the Bills were all-in for the Andrew Luck-athon. Gailey is using a roster of undrafted free agents and low round picks to be the pleasant surprise of the early season. No one expected the Bills to be a confident 3-1 team at this point.

Honorable Mention: Jim Schwartz, Detroit and Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco.

First Quarter Disappointing Team: Philadelphia Eagles. Taking a page out of Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s playbook, the Eagles won the off-season with many big name free agent signings including one to dub the Eagles the “Dream Team.” Philly has been more of a nightmare and are barely looking like a .500 team, much less a Super Bowl contender.

Dishonorable Mention: Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers.

First Quarter Surprise Team: Buffalo Bills. Although they were upended by Cincinnati this week, Buffalo was thought to be the worst team in the NFL heading into the season, not the leaders of the tough AFC East after four weeks. The test for the Bills will be in these next four games as they play Philadelphia, New York Giants, Washington and the New York Jets.

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions, Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers.

First Quarter Disappointing Player: RB Chris Johnson, Tennessee. You would think with the Titans off to an impressive 3-1 start that the alleged best player in the NFL would be a major part of the success. After pouting all training camp, claiming he should get quarterback money which he eventually got, he has not at all lived up to the paycheck he now cashes. Johnson currently sits 24th in the NFL in rushing with only 199 yards in four games for a pathetic 2.9 average per carry.

Dishonorable Mention: QB Kerry Collins, Indianapolis and WR Chad Ochocinco, New England.

First Quarter Defensive MVP: CB Ed Reed, Baltimore. This was a tough one, but Reed has been impressive as the Ravens defense has looked like the vintage Ravens of the early 2000’s. Reed has six passes defended, two picks, a forced fumble, a sack to go along with 17 tackles and is consistently making offenses rethink their game plan.

Honorable Mention: LB Ray Lewis, Baltimore and DE Jared Allen, Minnesota.

First Quarter Offensive MVP: QB Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay. This may have been the easiest award to hand out. Rodgers is completing a ridiculous 73% of his passes while being 4th in yards, 2nd in touchdown passes leading the top offense in the NFL.

Honorable Mention: WR Wes Welker, New England and QB Drew Brees.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 4

The NFL is finished with their first quarter (Quarter Report coming later this week) and only the Packers and Lions remain undefeated. Lot of crazy things happened yesterday, both good and bad so lets hand out some game balls and penalty flags.


Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay: What he did yesterday was just ridiculous! Rodgers threw for a career high 408 yards to go with a career high tying four TD passes and ran for another 36 yards scoring two more TDs. Just downright impressive.

Mike Martz, Bears Offensive Coordinator: Martz has never liked his teams to run the ball and his pass happy philosophy has cost him many games so when he allowed his offense to actually run the ball leading to a win, we have to recognize that. Plus, Chicago averaged 7.2 yards per carry with Matt Forte taking the majority of the load with 205 yards on 25 carries.

Arian Foster, Houston: Battling injuries the first few weeks, Foster ran for 155 yards and the go-ahead TD. Looks like the defending rushing champ is fully healthy.

Ravens Defense: Baltimore's three touchdowns on defense were the most in franchise history. Jameel McClain took a fumble six yards for a score on New York's first offensive play when Ed Reed sacked Mark Sanchez forcing him to fumble, Jarret Johnson scored on a 26-yard fumble return and Lardarius Webb put the Ravens up 34-17 in the third quarter by taking an interception 73 yards into the end zone.

Jim Harbaugh, 49ers Head Coach: Harbaugh is working his magic in the NFL now. The team worked out all week in Youngstown, OH instead of going back to the West Coast prior to the Philly game. The Niners overcame a 20 point deficit to upend the self-proclaimed "Dream Team." Harbaugh's crew is 3-1.


Steelers Defense: The once proud Steel Curtain is showing its age and lack of quickness. They have only one takeaway this season. At 2-2 with many injuries, Pittsburgh is reeling.

Rob Ryan, Cowboys Defense Coordinator: He declared earlier this week that his defense did not need to double team Lions WR Calvin Johnson. Even on a play where the Cowboys defense had 12 men on the field, they chose single coverage on Johnson as he and QB Matt Stafford toasted them. It may be time to stop talking a good game and designing one for your defense.

Tony Romo, Cowboys QB: Being the new Brett Favre is not really something to be proud of. Romo sprayed the ball all over the field tossing three INTs with two being returned for scores while blowing a 14 point fourth quarter lead.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 3

So who had Buffalo and Detroit both undefeated after three weeks? Ok, put your hands down, liars! With that, lets hand out some game balls and throw some penalty flags.


Buffalo Bills: No one circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills! According to STATS LLC, since 1950, the Bills became the only team to overcome deficits of at least 18 points to win in consecutive weeks after falling behind New England 21-0 Sunday. (They were down 21-3 last week to Oakland). And, the Bills are leading the NFL in scoring. No one saw that coming!

Detroit Lions: The Lions are fourth in the NFL in scoring and third in points allowed. Two of the three wins are on the road including an impressive comeback Sunday after falling down 20-0 to Minnesota. Lions are 3-0 for the first time since 1980.

Cam Newton, QB Carolina: Newton did not pass for 400 yards, but more importantly, he led the Panthers to a comeback win. Newton hit Greg Olsen for a 16 yard touchdown with 4:20 left to seal the win and also found Olsen for the ensuing two-point conversion pass that helped Carolina win 16-10.

Colt McCoy, QB Cleveland: Colt McCoy threw a 14 yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Massaquoi with 43 seconds left going nine of 13 for 80 yards on the final drive to rally the Browns to a 17-16 win Sunday over Miami.

Wes Welker, WR New England: Welker was the one bright spot in the Pats loss to the Bills catching 16 passes for a franchise record 217 yards and two scores. No matter who the Bills put on him, he got open and made plays.

Eli Manning, QB New York Giants: Just a week after getting booed (for winning no less) Manning carved up the Philadelphia "Dream Team" defense for 254 yards and four touchdowns. The Giants snapped a six-game losing streak against their division rivals.

Torrey Smith, WR Baltimore: The rookie's first three career receptions went for touchdowns totaling 133 yards in the first quarter for the Ravens as he started in place of the injured Lee Evans. Smith grabbed touchdown catches of 74, 41 and 18 yards finishing with five receptions for 152 yards.


Chris Johnson, TE Tennessee: Johnson has solidified his position as worst rich guy in the NFL. For the second week in a row, the self-proclaimed best player in the league was a non-factor in a Titans win rushing for 21 yards on 13 carries, a 1.6 yard average. He now has 46 carries for 98 yards this season, which ties him for 36th best among rushers.

Leslie Frazier, Head Coach Minnesota: For the third week in a row, the Vikings came out of the gates fast leading Detroit 20-0 only to lose 26-23. The Vikings led San Diego 17-7 week one before losing 24-17 and led Tampa Bay 17-0 before losing 24-20 last week. How does Adrian Peterson only touch the ball five times in the second half? Not a good start to Frazier's career in the Twin Cities.

Tom Brady, QB New England: A rare appearance for Brady on this side of the column. Brady had a career high four interceptions and had other passes knocked down at the line by the Bills defense. Brady clearly looked flustered most of the second half, a rare time Brady didn't stay cool in the pocket. For the record, Brady had only four picks all of last season.

Chad Ochocinco, WR New England: Eight-five dropped a routine pass at the five yard line in the fourth quarter that would have been an easy score for the Pats. Brady stared down his wide out in sheer disappointment. Ochocinco is struggling this year and the drop may land him in Bill Belichick's doghouse.

Kerry Collins, QB Indianapolis: Collins came out of retirement to help out the Colts in lieu of the injury to Peyton Manning although Collins still looks to be retired. Collins could only muster a 13 of 29 for 93 yard performance despite having a talented receiving corp in a game that even an average performance by Collins would have given the Colts a win. The Curtis Painter bangwagon is getting bigger by the hour.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Sports Shorts, Sept. 23

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to He Hate Me...

* A lot of college realignment has been in the news this week. One was a surprising jump and the other was a surprising non-jump. When I heard on Sunday that Syracuse and Pittsburgh were fleeing the Big East for the ACC, I hated it. Now, I am thinking otherwise. I grew up a Syracuse fan so the thought of them not playing Georgetown and St. John's was upsetting. But, when I look at the big picture, this is a great move. For football, Doug Marrone's bunch will have much better competition with Virginia Tech, Florida State and 'da U. Also, it gives football more exposure in the state of Florida, which is a huge recruiting area. For basketball, starting new rivalries with Duke and North Carolina is a definite upgrade. My only hope is somehow the 'cuse at least finds a way to keep the hated Hoyas on the schedule.

* It seemed earlier this week, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech seemed prime to ditch the Big XII for the Pac-12 (or Pac whatever it is). But, apparently, the Pac-12 never offered to add those schools and said it was not expanding. At least for now. I don't buy for a second that these four won't at some point move to the Pac-12, but it sounds like some behind the scenes things need to be hashed out. Oklahoma wants Texas to be reeled in from the monster the Longhorn Network has created so a lot of negotiating will happen either for Oklahoma to stay in the Big XII or jump to the Pac-12. This will happen, just not now.

* I am never a fan people losing their jobs, but the Dolphins Tony Sparano looks like he is one more loss away from being the first NFL casualty of 2011. Sunday's game vs. Cleveland is a must win seen as San Diego looms the week after. If Sparano starts the season 0-4, he probably won't be around to see game 5.

* So Manny Ramirez says he is willing to sit out the 100 game suspension he owes Major League Baseball to return to the league after being rejected by the Dominican Republic winter league. I find it hard to believe any team at this point is willing to put up with his nonsense to take a chance that he may have something left in the tank. Manny may want to talk Randy Moss to see how hard it is to find a team after people feel your attitude is not worth the headache.

* One of my favorite lacrosse events is returning in the Bowhunter Cup. The Bowhunter Cup is an international friendly between the United States Indoor Lacrosse National Team and the Iroquois Nationals. This year's event will move to the Turning Stone Casino in Oneida on Oct. 16 at 6 p.m. Turning Stone had a successful debut as a lacrosse venue at the National Lacrosse League All-Star game earlier this year. The Iroquois are 3-1 all-time vs. the U.S. with the Americans only win coming in a thrilling 13-11 win in the first Bowhunter Cup in Syracuse last year. The two teams will feature a host of players with Upstate New York roots so local bragging rights for the next year are on the line. For more information, visit: http://www.bowhuntercup.com/.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 2

Week two is in the books and apparently we need to put an APB out for NFL defenses. Also, how about the Bills, Redskins and Lions each being 2-0. With that, lets hand out some game balls and penalty flags.


Tom Brady, New England: I have a feeling Brady will be a mainstay here this year. Going 31-40 for 423 yards and three touchdowns is just ridiculous. Can you say front runner for another MVP award?

Cam Newton, Carolina: Yes, Newton did toss three picks against the Packers defense, but he also threw for 432 yards against possibly the best defense in the NFL. For those that thought Newton was not ready for the NFL, he has proven us wrong. He and Brady this weekend became the sixth and seventh QBs in NFL history to have back-to-back 400 yard passing games.

Fred Jackson, Buffalo: Jackson ran for 117 yards and two scores leading the Bills to an impressive comeback win over Oakland. He is leading the NFL in rushing after two weeks with 229 yards.

Eric Decker, Denver: Even Decker's family had no idea he would play this well. He caught five passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns become Kyle Orton's favorite target while Denver's receivers struggle with injuries.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee: A castaway by Seattle, who could really use him right now, had a great day in the Titans upset of Baltimore passing for 358 yards and a touchdown.


Chris Johnson, Tennessee: The Titans had a surprising win over the Ravens and the self proclaimed best player in the league was a non-factor. Johnson rushed 24 times for a pathetic 53 yards, just a 2.2 yard average. So far, Johnson has only been able to muster 77 yards on 33 carries for a 2.3 yard average, but he has moved up from 48th to 34th place in terms of the league rushing leaders. To add further insult, the Titans plan to workout Clinton Portis on Tuesday.

Dunta Robinson, Atlanta: It is time to suspend Robinson for his lack of understanding of how to properly hit a receiver. Robinson got flagged, again, for an illegal hit on the Eagles Jeremy Maclin for leading with his head. He was fined $40,000 this time.

I could have a few more penalty flags, but I am going to leave them with just Johnson and Robinson. These two deserve the extra distinction this week.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sports Shorts Sept. 16

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to Randy Moss....

* Titans RB Chris Johnson acted like a whiny child all training camp demanding to be paid like the top offensive player in football let alone the top running back. And, how has he rewarded Tennessee? Nine carries for 24 yards against a weak Jacksonville defense in his first game after signing his record deal. Last week, 48 players ran for more yards than the alleged best player in football including QBs Josh Freeman, Donovan McNabb, and Chad Henne. Good to see he is proving to Titans fans he deserved $55.26 million over six years.

* Kudos to Rochester native Ryan Callahan as he was named captain of the New York Rangers on Monday. As NHL training camps get underway, four American born players are captains. With Callahan's new role, three of the four have ties to upstate New York. Callahan, Rochester native Brian Gionta of the Montreal Canadiens and Ithaca native Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings.

* Can anyone explain the ridiculous need for ESPN to over-hype just about everything? Why is week three of the college football season dubbed "Road Test" weekend? While there are a couple of interesting games this weekend, not many of the top 25 have "road tests" and actually the majority of them play at home. I'm guessing #4 Boise is not concerned with going to Toledo, nor is #7 Wisconsin at Northern Illinois, or #21 Auburn heading to Clemson. To add to the insult, one of the network big shots, Scott Van Pelt, has been poking fun at it all week on his radio show calling it "Roadhouse" weekend. Pretty sad when your own can't take the hype machine seriously.

* For a long time, I was not a big fan of Patriots coach Bill Belichick. I think just about all of Western New York agrees with me. But, after watching this great piece by NFL Films (http://www.nfl.com/videos/new-england-patriots/09000d5d8223ad1a/Films-Encore-Belichick-the-next-generation), you can finally see the human side to him. I started to warm up to Belichick a few years ago when I learned he played lacrosse at Wesleyan in the '70's and kept a stick in his office. Now, as I try to involve my son in my own coaching activities, I think I like the guy. For the record, Stephen Belichick just finished a four year career as a lacrosse player at Rutgers and is now a long snapped for the Scarlet Knights football team. Belichick's daughter Amanda is following in her dad's footsteps as she also played lacrosse at Wesleyan and is now an assistant women's lacrosse coach at Ohio State.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Game Balls and Penalty Flags- Week 1

Game balls and penalty flags is back for season three. Each Monday of the NFL season, we will honor those who performed well and will call out those that flopped each week.

Game Balls

- Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo: Raise your hand if you saw this lopsided win by the Bills. OK, liars, put your hands down. Not even the most optimistic Bills fan could have imagined how well the Bills played and Fitz set the tone early and finished with four touchdown passes.

- Randall Cobb, Green Bay: Best non-Newton rookie performance. Cobb debuted with a touchdown catch and also ran a kickoff back 108 yards for another score, tying an NFL record for the longest kickoff return in history.

- Cam Newton, Carolina: I guess Newton made a smooth transition to NFL starter. Playing on the same field where he led Auburn to the BCS championship in January, Newton went 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards and two touchdowns, the first rookie to throw for more than 400 yards in his NFL opener. He also ran for another score and had an impressive Pete Townsend-esque touchdown dance.

- Ted Ginn, Jr., San Francisco: Ginn returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in a minute's span late in the fourth quarter. Ginn ran a kickoff back 102 yards moments after Seattle had closed the gap to 19-17. The last player to have a kickoff- and punt-return touchdown in the same game was Eddie Royal of the Denver Broncos on Oct. 19, 2009, against the San Diego Chargers.

- Ravens Defense: I was trying to pick one, but why not all of them. The Ravens forced seven turnovers by the normally disciplined Steelers. Ed Reed had two interceptions, Ray Lewis had a pick and a forced fumble, Terrell Suggs had two forced fumbles and Haloti Ngata had a forced fumble and a tipped pass which was intercepted.

Penalty Flags

- Indianapolis Colts: Apparently, Peyton Manning means more to this team than we thought. Indy looked awful on both sides of the ball and Kerry Collins looked like he was ready for a vacation.

- Tony Romo, Dallas: Romo did his best Brett Favre impersonation on the final drive trying to lead the 'boys to a win tossing a perfect spiral to the Jets Darrelle Revis snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

- Giants offensive line: The O-line gave up four sacks to a Redskins defense that ranked 31st in the league last year. Eli Manning was running for his life all day.

- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were a trendy Super Bowl pick in the preseason, but they played like they taking a trip to the outhouse. They made a old and slow Bears defense look elite and the Falcons defense was erratic against a normally shaky Jay Cutler.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sports Shorts Sept. 9

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to Gary Hogeboom.

* Sunday is the 10-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks and if the NFL has anything planned like they did 10 years ago when they returned to play on September 23 that season, get the tissues ready. I will never forget being in Cowboys Stadium for the Dallas-San Diego game and the true feeling of patriotism in the crowd. It was breathing taking watching George Teague run out of the tunnel with the American flag. The crowd erupted with emotion and it left me with goosebumps.

* The Colts should be more than a little concerned that Peyton Manning has gone in for another operation on his neck. Colts fans should be concerned the Colts have not yet shut him down for the season. I am as big of a Manning fan as they come, but I would much rather see him take the whole year off and get his health right. I think Kerry Collins will be able to keep the ship afloat this season and I hope Manning's personality and competitive drive allows him to heal fully without rushing his return.

* After the first week of the college football season, it is clear Notre Dame was overhyped (again). I do think Brian Kelly will get things right, but not this year. ND looked awful last week and lost to a South Florida team that looked equally awful. If South Florida even played a average game, they would have blown ND out fo the stadium. It does not get better this week playing a much improved Michigan team. Brady Hoke is the right man to get Michigan back to national prominence, especially with his star QB Denard Robinson. He is worth watching.

* I hope my fellow media types start the Robert Griffin III hype for Heisman right away. The Baylor QB is the best player in college football that no one knows about. Baylor beat up heavily favored TCU last week thanks to Griffin's 359 yards and five TD passes. For those who have seen him in person, think he is the fastest QB in college football history and with 41 careers TD passes vs. only 11 INTs, he is one of the most efficient. Do yourself a favor and check him out.

* Thanks to all of those who read my NFL preview and sent me reactions to it. I love hearing how people justify their team will be better than the rest. So far, I have heard each of the following are better Super Bowl predictions than mine: San Francisco, Miami, Detroit, Houston and Cleveland. I love the optimism this time of year. Thankfully, no one predicted the Toronto Argonauts.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Fearless NFL Predictions

Last year, folks laughed at my prediction of a Colts v. Packers Super Bowl. I will concede my love of Peyton Manning is a bit overboard, but I hold firm that I did have the eventual Super Bowl winner in the game from early September. In 2011, for the first time since I got into the prediction business, this will be a pony free championship this year. Besides, Super Bowl XLVI is in Indianapolis and no team has ever played the Super Bowl on their home field. Sorry, Peyton. You’re still my boy though. Anyway, to help you along the way, here is how the National Football League should look in 2011.

New England 13-3
NY Jets 10-6
Buffalo 6-10
Miami 5-11

Analysis: As long as Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are in Foxboro, why predict anything else. I like the addition of Chad Ochocinco, look for him to have a huge year. The Jets will be right up there, but I am not so certain about their front seven on defense. Buffalo’s defense will not give up as many points as they did last year, now they just need the offense to score more. Miami will not go very far as long as Chad Henne is the QB. If someone is tossing the ball, they can be better.

Baltimore 12-4
Pittsburgh 10-6
Cleveland 6-10
Cincinnati 3-13

Analysis: This is generally the toughest division in the AFC. Baltimore got stronger at receiver with the addition of Lee Evans and I just have a feeling Ray Lewis is on a mission this year. Pittsburgh will fight for the division title, but Baltimore just looks all around better. Cleveland QB Colt McCoy is developing nicely but lacks receivers and Cincinnati is officially back to being the Bungles.

Indianapolis 11-5
Houston 10-6
Tennessee 7-9
Jacksonville 3-13

Analysis: With Peyton Manning’s health a question mark, Colts fans better hope Kerry Collins and his gray beard can keep the ship afloat. Houston is the fashionable pick every year to be on the rise, but they still never beat the Colts. The Titans have a new staff and new look, but will have some growing pains. Jacksonville took a huge step back releasing QB David Garrard.

San Diego 13-3
Kansas City 8-8
Oakland 6-10
Denver 5-11

Analysis: The Chargers look like they are finally ready to be a Super Bowl contender. I don’t think Norv Turner can jack it up this year. KC was a surprise playoff team last year. They will come back down to earth in 2011. As long as Al Davis continues to coach from his death bed, don’t expect much from the silver and black. Kyle Orton is the only bright spot for Denver and they don’t even want him. He may be gone by midseason.

Dallas 11-5
Philadelphia 10-6
NY Giants 9-7
Washington 8-8

Analysis: I am one of the few not drinking the kool-aid on Philadelphia. Michael Vick will be good, but not as good as last year. I like what Jason Garrett is doing in Dallas and with Tony Romo back under center, the East is there for the taking. The Giants will be fighting for a wildcard spot and even the Redskins may surprise some people.

Green Bay 14-2
Detroit 10-6
Minnesota 9-7
Chicago 6-10

Analysis: The Packers are clearly the best team in football. They got stronger simply by getting all of those injured guys from last year healthy. Yes, your eyes don’t deceive you, I have the Lions winning 10 games. They have a good roster of young talent. Minnesota will be right up there as well with Donovan McNabb looking to show fans, last season was abnormal. Chicago’s defense is not as good as it was and Jay Cutler doesn’t have much to work with.

New Orleans 12-4
Atlanta 11-5
Tampa Bay 11-5
Carolina 3-13

Analysis: This is by far the most exciting division in the league. The Saints will put up points like they are playing Techmo Super Bowl. Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is stacked with weapons. Tampa Bay is the best young team in football. They would be a division winner in just about any other division. Cam Newton will bring excitement to Carolina, but he doesn’t have any help.

St. Louis 8-8
Seattle 7-9
San Francisco 7-9
Arizona 6-10

Analysis: The West will be a pillow fight to see who is the least crappy. No one in this division should be allowed into the playoffs. I wish Tampa Bay or Detroit could join the West for a season.

1- San Diego
2- New England
3- Baltimore
4- Indianapolis
5- Pittsburgh
6- Houston

1- Green Bay
2- New Orleans
3- Dallas
4- St. Louis
5- Atlanta
6- Detroit

Baltimore 20, San Diego 17

Green Bay 35, New Orleans 31

Green Bay 24, Baltimore 20

Friday, September 02, 2011

Sports Shorts Sept. 1

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to Anna Kournikova…

* If the US Open tennis tournament is going on and no one knows about it, do the results still count? The only must see tennis for me is the US Open. It is very cool to see a match under the lights with an energetic crowd and intriguing story lines. They are already four days into the tournament and I just realized that this morning. The lack of star power and interesting story lines is hurting the biggest annual tennis event in the country. While Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are great players, they are not very interesting. Andy Roddick is still a big draw and has had good runs the last two years in Flushing, but he has struggled this year going only 24-11. He will need a past his prime Jimmy Connors type run to make this year’s draw watchable. On the women’s side, Serena Williams is not considered the top player, but if she too makes a run, this could get interesting.

* If last night’s Syracuse vs. Wake Forest college football opener is what we have to look forward to this season, every Saturday will be Christmas. Missed PAT’s, blocked game-winning field goals, a 15-point deficit overcome to force OT, a diving catch for touchdown to take the lead and the game ends on a 4th down offensive pass interference in the end zone. Lots of drama, I’m hooked!

* Reason #376 why I despise Twitter: Titans RB Chris Johnson slamming his own fans for calling him greedy. His tweet from the other day: “Can these fake Titan fans STFU on my timeline I don't have a regular job so don't compare me to you and I can care less if u think I'm greedy.” News flash: you held out and did not honor the contract YOU signed originally. Then you demanded QB money which is way more than he is worth. If Johnson wanted a new deal, he could have handled this much better and of course not diss is own fans. I don’t blame Titans fans for being upset. Johnson got overpaid and will surely not live up to this contract. If Johnson has any less than 2,000 yards this season or if he does and the Titans win less than eight games, he should give the Titans a rebate. Yes, he is a good player, but he is not a difference maker that makes a lousy team better. P.S. NFL players, listen to Herm Edwards, DON’T PRESS SEND!

* There was a big stink last week when Michael Vick revealed he wanted to sign in Buffalo or Cincinnati in a magazine article, but the league and namely Roger Goodell urged him to go to Philadelphia to play for a more stable organization and coach. Locally, this led to a lot of Bills fans revisionist history. I do remember last year, just about all Bills fans I talked to or heard on radio shows, did not want anything to do with the former dog fighter. But, after Vick had a Pro Bowl season in Philly, Bills fans were crying that the NFL pulled one over on their team and that the NFL compensate the Bills somehow. Typical Western New York reaction when things don't go their way after the fact (as a side note, can WNYers stop whining about Brett Hull already? It has been 12 years!) Personally, I have nothing against Vick and I did not want him as a Bill then and I still don’t want him as a Bill ever. For the record, may I be one of the few that predicts he comes back down to earth as an average QB in 2011.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Baseball Fan Free Agency

Full disclosure, I have never been a huge baseball fan. Growing up I fell in love with the Toronto Blue Jays because I lived in Syracuse and that was their Tripe-A farm team. The back-to-back World Series titles were the pinnacle of my baseball fandom. Once Major League Baseball canceled the World Series in 1994, I was done. In the years since, I have been a casual observer. I have always keep up with the Blue Jays, but this time of year usually turns me off because they are always out of the American League pennant race (damn you Red Sox and Yankees). For this year, I have decided to do something new. I have now exercised my right as a fan free agent and will declare my allegiance to a team I want to follow for the playoff run. I hereby announce that the Milwaukee Brewers are my team for the rest of the 2011 season (Toronto, I will see you next April). Here are my top 5 reasons:

5- The Brew Crew is on pace to win the National League Central (up 10 games as of today) looking for their first divisional title since 1992. This would ensure a playoff spot so I can hopefully go well into October still interested in baseball.

4- Ryan Braun. He is a legit MVP candidate. He may be the most underrated player as both a hitter and fielder in the bigs.

3- Prince Fielder. Anyone who was able to smash a dinger out of Tiger Stadium as a kid (true story) is worth watching. Plus, he too is a front runner for MVP and he can absolutely crush the ball.

2- Nyjer Morgan. This dude is just downright hilarious. He is a must see post-game not matter what he did during the game. Never heard of him? You Tube his name, sit back, grab a beer and enjoy the personality. It’s all about Plushdamentals, kids.

1- I can faithfully drink to a team named after beer!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sports Shorts-August 18, 2011

It's been a while, but we are back in style so let's get this new blog started.

Checking my (sports) shorts wondering whatever happened to Ozzie Canseco.

* This new, old scandal at "The U" will give us a good idea as to what the NCAA really is. Miami should get the death penalty. After all, what they have done in this current scandal along with everything over the last quarter century, clearly shows they have lacked any institutional or moral control for a long time. SMU was the only school ever to get the death penalty and what they did pales in comparison. If the NCAA only slaps them on the wrist, the NCAA will prove what we have all known for a long time, it is really not about student-athletes, it is all about the money.

* Can anyone explain why Jim Thome becoming the 8th player to hit 600 career home runs got almost no press, while the media drooled over Derek Jeter becoming the 28th player to get 3,000 hits? Oh yes, because Jeter is a Yankee and Thome is a Twin. I'm wonder how the stories would have played out if Thome was in the Bronx and Jeter was in the Midwest. If you take the 'roid boys out, Thome is in a much more elite class and should have got more recognition.

* In light of all the NBA players opting to sign overseas, I got a laugh when Delonte West tweeted he applied at The Home Depot. Don't for a second think West is being noble by taking a "joe" job. Take a look at his arrest record. I am sure he is not allowed out of the country (or within 25 miles of LeBron James family) so the Depot is probably his best option.

* I took my son and his friend to the Buffalo Bills training camp on Tuesday. It was odd to see the Bills in white helmets. I was always a big fan of the red helmets, but I am an even bigger fan of why they went to red helmets in the first place. If you don't know the story, check out this piece (http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-2/Untold-uniform-stories-Fergie-behind-helmet-color-change/363e8e60-8573-42ac-8f4a-2bb56169e127) from Chris Brown on www.buffalobills.com and the true story of how former QB Joe Ferguson was behind the switch.