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.