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:

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 (, 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.