The Big Five: Week 16

Week 16 is a major week for teams around the league. If they couldn’t last week, it’s time to make a statement now. There’s no such thing as a lax game in the NFL, but if ever there was a lax game to be found, it wouldn’t be this week.


I’ll be honest here, the things I tell y’all to look out for are based on my own intuitions, not any expert analysis or stolen words from a pundit. They’re simply what I think will be the biggest factors in deciphering what the week brings and potentially provide an insight to the future.

So if you’re looking at these points and thinking to yourself, “Wow, this guy is a wack job with nothing to do during his Summer break, which is weird because I’m sitting here freezing my ass off in the snow. And he’s really not that funny,” then sit back and enjoy, while I respect your “intelligence”.

The Big Five

1) There might not be a bigger game than the San Francisco vs. Seattle game at CenturyLink Field.

If there’s one thing we’ve finally discovered nationwide, it’s this: Russell Wilson is already making his place amongst the best quarterbacks in the league. It’s not an opinion anymore, it’s a fact. Wilson leads the NFL in this stat ESPN keeps pushing to make a household number called “Total QBR”. It kind of works, but for our purposes, let’s just take it in stride and agree that, yes, Seattle’s rookie gun has steadily forced his way into the minds of people all around the league. This plays well into Seattle chances in this game against a 49er defense that held the great Tom Brady to a single touchdown pass and picked him off twice.

San Fran is coming off of a huge win in Foxborough against the declared-best team in the league. Right now, there isn’t a team that’s more dangerous than these guys, and they have a motor-run offense to match. Second-year QB Colin Kaepernick is rising the same way as Wilson, but at a quicker pace. He took the Patriots’ defense for a ride last week, throwing for four TD’s and surrendering only one sack. The team is looking as complete as the Houston Texans, maybe even better, which makes this match up worthy of prime time.

The last time these teams met, it was a defensive stalemate with the 49ers taking it 13-6. Seattle wasn’t able to muster up a single touchdown, but the team has become far more fearsome since then. They’ve won five of their last six games and steamrolled their last two opponents.

If the 49ers win, they’ll have locked up the NFC West with just the lowly Arizona Cardinals left to beat in Week 17, the second seed in the conference up for grabs, and the wild card race shaken up with Seattle falling to 9-6 in the division. If the opposite happens, Seattle will only be half a game behind the red and gold in the standings, essentially confirm their place as the fifth seed, and hope to God that San Fran lose to Arizona and have a chance to take the NFC West crown in the process.

This is why the NFL is ALWAYS interesting.

2) Oakland vs. Carolina is a more interesting game than you might think. 

With Cam Newton having led the Panthers to wins in three of their last four, the team is ending strong and can potentially match or surpass by one game their 6-10 record from last season. It’s a not a huge accomplishment, considering Newton’s spectacular play last year and his Negative Ned face on the sidelines this season, but it’s better to end on high notes than 5-11. This game is going to be a nightmare for Oakland’s “defense”.

With the Raiders basically having given up on the season, Cam will have a huge day. That’s something coach Dennis Allen, if he is still employed on the Bay, will have to address with full attention in the off-season. For a defensive coordinator who supplied the backing punch in 2011 with the Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos, having a unit like this year’s is appalling. Yes, Oakland needs to upgrade at the quarterback position (if you still think that Carson Palmer is the answer, then please, start following Major League Baseball to see all 35 year-olds still making it big because late-30’s QB’s in the NFL are NOT the answer in this league unless you’re Peyton Manning), but it will make more sense to perfect the unit that your coach, who would lean to that side of the ball, is an expert in and produce at least one half-decent year to start building on.

I watched the movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt, the other day, and I can see how hard it is to be a GM in any sport. But Reggie McKenzie and Allen need to come together and seriously plan how they’re going to fix this team. If they can’t win out this season and try to create some positive vibes, there may not be a rebuild to talk about this season.

As for the Panthers, Newton is still one of the brightest young players in the league, and has the potential to win against the best. He simply needs the pieces around him to make it all work. Ownership axed Marty Hurney as GM, so the new guy will have a player to build around. There’s hope.

3) My birdie senses are tingling…I feel a Cardinals upset over the Bears coming this week in Glendale. No, this isn’t an un-thought out reaction.

How did Chicago go from potential Super Bowl contender at 7-1, to possibly out of the playoffs at 8-6??? It’s crazy that, even with Jay Cutler, their record is Back to the Future, 2011 style. The team is dropping like a rock with injuries across the board and an offense that’s being exposed as too reliant on their defense for too long. Their defense is hurting with key players missing from the lineup such as LB Brian Urlacher and CB Tim Jennings; they haven’t been the same, ball-hawking defense that they were to start out the season. And their offense is run through Brandon Marshall, that is not a well-kept secret, and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson is going to be all over him. No, that doesn’t mean that they’re as bad as losing to Arizona. Just wait a sec.

The Cardinals suck. I mean, it’s as simple as that. There’s nothing really good about them. When you are blown out by your division rival in one of the most lopsided results in NFL history, there’s not much else to speculate on. This team has no real quarterback, a legendary receiver not adding to his legend any more in Larry Fitzgerald, and a defense that doesn’t get the respect it deserves because the offense isn’t really helping by keeping them on the field, with 3-and-out after 3-and-out. 

Two teams that are lacking in effectiveness and success recently. But here’s the thing: Arizona has the run game with RB Beanie Wells, who has been a bulldozer since he came back from injury, to be the first dimension offensive option and keep the pressure off of Ryan Lindley (or whoever might start against the Bears, and don’t be surprised if the Equipment Manager suits up). And I know Ken Wisenhunt is smart enough that he would have addressed how crucial it is to get Fitzgerald the ball. This is a time in the team’s season when there’s nothing holding them back from doing something crazy and ACTUALLY GIVING THEIR BEST PLAYER THE FREAKING BALL. I mean, I still remember Fitz’s 62-yard TD catch in Super Bowl XLIII; that was all him. Even the Bears will never stop the best receiver in the game. This is a team with nothing to lose against one rocking on their back heels.

Keep an eye out for some anger and face-saving.

4) Washington may or may not have the most dangerous quarterback tandem in the league.

Ever heard the word “tandem” used for quarterbacks? One thing I’ve always wanted to see and happen, but probably won’t, is for a team to create offensive quarterback packages, wherein a team with two capable quarterbacks interchange under center the way running backs do in the backfield. That opens up huge opportunities for coaches to get plays to their signal-callers without wait, keep defenses on their heels, and keep fresh eyes on the field. Plus, quarterbacks with different skill sets could make the offense more versatile and expand on the ability of their skill position players. But I digress.

This is something the Redskins have: two capable quarterbacks who can lead this Redskins team to wins. With Rookie of the Year-candidate QB Robert Griffin III out with an MCL sprain last week, other rookie Kirk Cousins came into the game in relief against a rejuvenated Browns team and won with 2 TD’s, 300+ yards, and only one INT to boot.

I’m not saying the Redskins are going to do what I say (no one does anything I say, and the world might be a better place without the implementation of a few of my theories), but they know they either have a legitimate, growing back-up for RG3 in Cousins, or a potential poker chip to trade for draft picks or personnel. It creates some Matt Flynn-like mystery surrounding Cousins and his potential as a starting quarterback in the league. Yeah, after one game, who know what the hell is going on? But if RG3 can’t recover quickly enough and get back to dazzling his opponents right away, Cousins will get his number called over and over again and potentially pad his value. 

5) Watching this week’s match-up between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh may be hazardous to your health. 

I mean, we’re talking about two teams with, as of late, the hardest hitting defenses in the league. Cincinnati may be riding its high octane, Andy Dalton-A.J. Green led offense to success, but the only reason they have a chance every week is the D. Mike Zimmer, despite a slow start to this season, has always found a way to make the pieces on this unit work. And in Pittsburgh, the Dick LeBeau is…well, come on…he’s f*** Dick LeBeau. The mastermind of the zone-blitz has the Steelers at the number one spot on the defense. It’s not hard to see that this game will be a black-and-blue game reflecting the likes of Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh. Potentially a low-scoring affair, this is a crucial game to the wild card health of these teams.

The win, they’re in. Plain and simple. And also, there’s an opportunity to overtake the Baltimore Ravens for the division lead if the latter can’t win out. The Big Purple Army has been laying down lately, losing three of their last four, and one at home against the Steelers themselves. They’re hemorrhaging at the worst time for a team that had Super Bowl aspirations to begin the season and for eleven weeks after that.

If the either the Steelers or Bengals win, with a Baltimore loss, the victor could potentially wind up at home for the first game in the playoffs. This will be a major shakeup in the AFC lower-seed rankings at the tail end of the season.

Let’s hope Week 16 is everything we’re hoping for, and more! 

Hunters, Clinchers, and the Playoffs: Week 15

Hey everyone! It’s Will here, back in action. With the playoffs getting closer and closer, LFTP (Let’s Forget The Politics) is going to analyze and route the postseason picture as it clears up through to Week 17. Let’s see what we’ve got now:


Coming out of Week 15, we’ve got a clear playoff idea. Two weeks to go, and we know for sure we’re going to see the Broncos, the Patriots, the Texans, the Falcons, the 49ers and the Packers. Apologies to the Ravens you guys made it, superbly done. Then we have those who are next in line to clinch a playoff berth which are the usual suspects with a few surprises.
Clinchers: 
Falcons: (12-2)
Well…didn’t they show their worth again this week. Keeping the Giants to zero. I take everything I said back. That’s becoming quite a feature with downing the Falcons: they disappoint you one week and then blow you away the next. Ultimately they have to take the NFC title game to OT and win, then the Superbowl will be a blowout. Right? Superbowl? 70% 
Houston Texans: (12-2) 
Playing a passionate Indianapolis Colts team and winning isn’t easy but I give props to the Texans for doing it. They really showed their own this week and showed that they can carry a win for 60 mins. Exactly what they need as we inch closer to these coming playoffs. 50%.
Patriots: (10-4) 
We all agree that the AFC  is weaker than the NFC this year. We all agree that Tom Brady is but one man and can’t win every game. There, that explains the loss to the 49ers. New England experienced this week the odds that were stacked against them, and they couldn’t over come them. That does not however leave them in any worse spot than last week. They’re still a top Superbowl contender in my book. 80%.
Broncos: (11-3)   
Denver have to go up in my ranking this week. This team is mind blowing as Peyton Manning comes back a year after his neck injury and is looking serious for absolute glory this year. Here I am, thinking Eli is the greater QB. Peyton is the guy. I’ve never seen a sportsman like him. They also beat Baltimore this week which is no surprise. They’re like my ankle, Broken. 60%.
49ers: (10-3-1)
This team is, as expected, excelling at being a threat to every team they play and, as expected, have clinched their deserved playoff berth. Now we just move on to next week as they will and as I will predict they will claim that victim on their playoff warpath. Beating the Patriots as well was the confidence boost they needed to become invincible. Maybe. 60%.
Packers: (10-4) 
Packers clinch a playoff berth. I really don’t need to explain this. No one is scratching their head and screaming at their TV, HOW THE HELL! The Packers made the playoffs. They are one of the elite teams and recently they’ve truly shown it. They’re not one of the best this year but they’re up there. They also did just claim a victory over the recently lackluster Bears.   50%.
Hunters: (The teams I think, out of all the possibles, can make the cut) 
AFC:
Colts: (9-5) 
Lost to a vicious Texans team this week, but after the hiding they received from the Patriots last week the Colts were dealt the worst hand in the deck. However, there were some shining moments and none of us truly thought that Luck would take these guys all the way, but he’s taking them somewhere and that’s just fine. 40%.
Bengals: (8-6)
Coming from a 1 point loss to a 21 point hiding over Philadelphia is really no surprise to any of us. Philadelphia is awful and Cincinnati is decent. It was written in stone when the announcers welcomed the fans to the television broadcast. In regards to the playoffs, I think these guys only need another win and they’ll have clinched their berth. Good Luck, Bengals. I’m rooting for you. 20%.
NFC: 

Bears: (8-6) 
C’mon Bears. We all want to see this defense in the Playoffs someone to challenge the opposing offenses not this crap you guys are playing. They got beaten by Green Bay and they bloody well deserved it. At this rate I’m becoming worried about my support for this team’s playoffs hopes.70%.
Seahawks: (9-5)
50-17. What more can I say. This team guys, this team. They beat teams to their knees and keep them there permanently. They are so fearsome that I can imagine shaking knees in the opponents dressing room before that starting whistle. Two weeks in a row they have embarrassed their opponents by just scoring and preventing the opposition absolutely from scoring. Much like Arizona last week the Bills suffered this horrible fate. 60%.
Redskins: (8-6) 
Well without RG3 they still won. If my calculations are correct, then this team has the chance to really rocket through the playoffs if they can play without RG3… with him on the team if you understand what I’m saying.  If they can do that they can beat almost anyone. Almost. 60%
Knocked Out: 
Jets. 

The Big Five: Week 15

Week 15, with the most games in a single week between team with winning records (6), will be one of the most crucial weeks of the season in figuring out who the contenders and fakers are in the playoff hunt. We already know that the Bears are falling fast, the Steelers are no better than the Falcons, who do not appear to be a threat to any team in the league with playoff hopes despite their 11-2 record. 


But at the same time, New England is steamrolling people into the parking lot outside of Gillette Stadium and, unless my eyes are deceiving me, Peyton Manning is 80 years old and playing like a college player vying for the Heisman Trophy (props to John Manziel on becoming the first freshman in the award’s history to win it). Let’s take a look at what we should be paying attention to this week:


The Big Five Things to Look Out For

1) The Pats-Texans game last week was no thriller. The Pats-Niners game, though, now looks like the match up of the year. 

With Tom Brady flexing his 35 year old muscles in another MVP campaign this season, the San Francisco has their work cut out for them. The best offense in the league against the second-rated defense in the league will be huge and could give us a prime view at what an unstoppable force can do against an immovable object. Brady and the Patriots played a Seattle team in Week 6 that, at the time, was the first-ranked defense in the league, and they lost a heartbreaker by one point. If that’s in any way telling, then San Francisco might have a shot at overthrowing the reign of terror New England has started.

Colin Kaepernick should fair well against a defense better known for producing turnovers than consistently holding opponents to three-and-outs. His deep ball might suffer, but with Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore, and Vernon Davis having the ability to effectively run the underneath and short routes, Kaepernick has the ability to be efficient. This is a game that will not only show us Kaepernick’s ability to keep pace with the best quarterback in the league, but also gives Jim Harbaugh a chance to either bask in the glory of his choice to start him over Alex Smith, or hide away in regret over it.

For the 49ers to be successful, DE Aldon Smith has to apply pressure on the offensive line to open up holes for Justin Smith and the other linemen. He doesn’t need to look for sacks, but do enough to push Brady out of the pocket. Sacks would be nice, but they’re not as vital as breaking Tommy Gun’s rhythm. Their cornerbacks may need to resort to jamming Wes Welker and the other receivers at the line of scrimmage to additionally disrupt Brady’s timing with the offense.

The 49ers are in a must-win situation with the Seattle Seahawks keeping pace with San Francisco in the NFC West. The division rivals play each other in Seattle in Week 16, and CenturyLink Field is already one of the worst places for visitors to play a game, let alone a division game. That crowd is also a reason why Seattle was able to come back and win against New England 24-23. The Niners need to be in top form on Sunday.

2) With the Bears still very much alive in the NFC North race, Green Bay is in a must-win position in Chicago. 

The Packer machine is in high gear right now, hitting all eight cylinders. Aaron Rodgers is back in action since their 2-3 start, looking like the MVP he was last year, and it only helps the Packers’ cause for the division crown.

On the other hand, the Chicago has lost three of their last four, including a division loss to the Vikings in Minnesota that might hurt them in the standings going forward. Jay Cutler and the offense need to generate some points early and often to keep up with the Packers. It doesn’t help that they have 11 players ruled out of Sunday’s game, and that Green Bay has some key players such as Clay Matthews returning from injury for the first time this season.

With LB Brian Urlacher out, the Bears’ defense has to reignite the fire that made them a fearsome defense in the middle of the season. Turnovers are going to be crucial in this game (that’s always true in every game, but I’ll go with a mainstream factor here, oppa Hipster Style). If the Bears can force a couple of takeaways from Green Bay’s offense, and capitalize on them quickly, then Chicago may have a chance to get back on track in the playoff race.

Right now, the NFC North is the most competitive division in football. It’s the only division besides the NFC East with three teams in the group still in the playoff hunt (the NFC East records are not as good as the former’s), including the Vikings. This game could either result in two NFC North teams being in the playoffs, or just one, with Chicago coach Lovie Smith possibly losing traction in vying for an extension at the end of his contract in 2013.

3) With Cam Cameron out as offensive coordinator in Baltimore, look to see how replacement Jim Caldwell, who coached the quarterbacks on both teams, runs the O. 

What is crazy, and should work in his favor, is that Caldwell worked with Peyton Manning in their Colts days. He should be able to give a heads up to the Baltimore defense on Manning’s mannerisms, audible tendencies, and weaknesses (not that he has any, because he’s like Chuck Norris for football).

The one huge criticism of Cam Cameron’s offensive play-calling was the fact the Ray Rice wasn’t being involved as much as he should. As of right now, Rice is at a career low in attempts at 107. In their loss at home to Pittsburgh, Rice rushed the ball only 12 times for 78 yards. Last week, however, Rice took the ball 20 times for 121 yards in a much more competitive game in Washington against the Redskins.

For Caldwell to get an as-of-late sputtering offense to start the engine, Ray Rice needs to get at least 25 touches to not only wear down a stalwart Denver defense, but keep them true to alleviate the pressure on Joe Flacco. Flacco has struggled in Baltimore’s last four games and needs to get back to tossing the deep ball with more success, the way he was doing it at the start of the season.

For Caldwell, this not a great match up on paper against the Broncos, but if he can get the offense to have success in both dimensions, then Baltimore may actually have a shot at ending Denver’s current nine-game winning streak and put them in a position to finally lock up that pesky AFC North crown.

4) The Giants silenced the Falcons in the wild card round last year, 24-2. If ever there was a time for Atlanta to bring it, it’s in this rematch in the Georgia Dome. 

It’s a well-known fact that Atlanta, since 2008, has been one of the best teams in the league playing at home, having won 33 of their last 38 home games for an .868 winning percentage. That includes six home games this season so far, all wins for the Falcons.

Hold the phone, though…they’re 2-2 in their last four games, and they lost to a too-late-to-call-good team in the Panthers last week 30-20. Matt Ryan, initially in the thick of the MVP race in the first half of the season, has become more of a liability than an asset to the offense (something that’s causing me to lose a fantasy game too many with Julio Jones. #NoFantasyLuckThisYear). It doesn’t help that RB Michael Turner is churning out worm-short numbers game after game.

The Giants flattened the Saints, who ended the Falcons’ undefeated streak not too many weeks ago, into Holy Mush last week, 52-27. New York is fighting to keep its one-game division lead intact, so it has a much more motivating incentive to win than Atlanta, who are simply trying to keep up the wins for home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

Atlanta recently has not looked like the Super Bowl Contender that it looked like early in the season. But, a win against New York in the Georgia Dome would gain the Red Birdies some much-needed confidence going forward. If they go one-and-done again in the playoffs, then Ryan and the Falcons will be perennial pretenders for as long as they all shall play.

5) Indianapolis will win the division if they win out with AFC South leader Houston up twice on their schedule this week and in Week 17. 

Somehow, we smart people had Houston running away with what looked like one of the worst divisions in the league at the start of the year. We suck. Who would have guessed that Andrew Luck would potentially lead the Colts to an 11-5, maybe 12-4 season with a possible first-round bye in his rookie year? *Crickets chirp*. NO ONE could have possible predicted such success for the young, unbalanced team.

Yet here we are, in Week 15, contemplating the possibility that Indianapolis, who won two games all of last season, could potentially ruin the Houston Texans perfect year. Houston is one of the most complete teams in football, but an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots last Monday night exposed some serious holes in Wade Philips’ defense. No, Andrew Luck is not Tom Brady, but he’s looking like a seasoned veteran in the pocket, and he’s still improving. Plus, the Colts scored ten more points on New England than Houston did (Indy scored 24, while Houston mustered up 14).

Indy can win this game by giving Luck enough time in the pocket against a frightening Houston defensive line with J.J. Watt. The offensive line is going to struggle, of course, but Luck is a much more mobile quarterback than Brady and can make plays with his feet when the play breaks down. On the other side, the defense for the Colts will have to force turnovers wherever they can against a strong Texans rushing attack led by Arian Foster. Houston’s offense is too good to try to force them into three-and-outs, though New England was able to do it. Regardless, Indy will need to be aggressive in their secondary play and up front with Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney, both of whom will need to generate pressure on Matt Schaub and hold the running game down effectively.

If the Colts can win on Sunday in Reliant Stadium, then there’s a very good chance that they can steal the division away from Houston in Week 17 when they play them at home at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Who would have thunk it?

Enjoy Week 15!

Make sure to check out yesterday’s article on Consistency in the NFL and comment or tweet us @aceing82!

2+2=4: Consistency Wins

Owners, executives, and coaches on all 32 teams around the league have one primary thought in mind year in and year out: win the Super Bowl (yeah, I love my colons and semi-colons. http://goo.gl/JzdRg).


It’s true in any sport. The reason you play the game that you love is to be great, and there’s no greater achievement than winning a championship. You can be MVP, Coach of the Year, Executive of the Year, etc. five times over. You can attain the biggest, most ridiculous stats that anyone has ever seen. You can even win a huge number of playoff games. But unless those achievements come with Super Bowl wins, they mean nothing.

Especially in the NFL, there’s so much turnover in teams that make the playoffs. Anyone can win a championship if they’re good. You see the Green Bay Packers in 2010, who went 10-6 and hadn’t won a Super Bowl in 15 years. They go in as a wild card, win against the highest seeded, “championship-caliber” teams, and win it all. 2007 and 2011, the New York Giants go 10-6 and 9-7 respectively, look OK in the regular season, are bottom seeded, and go on to pull off improbable wins all the way from wild card weekend to the first Sunday in February.

But how come we don’t consider either of those teams Super Bowl-caliber over and over again? They’ve won big. Why are they not at the top of the Super Bowl contender lists at the beginning of every year? Here’s why:

They ain’t consistent.

They don’t look like Super Bowl teams at the beginning of each season. They don’t have the resumes of being solid, 11-win teams on a regular basis. They have great, winning quarterbacks, good defenses, run games (well, as good as there can be in this era of passing), and coaches who run those teams with great passion. But they aren’t sure winners every time they step to the seasonal plate.


Winning Big

I bring consistency up because of the Week 14 match up between the Houston Texans and New England Patriots. 

The Patriots have been a model of consistency since 2001 when they pulled that Super Bowl win out of Tom Brady’s ass against the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf”. For the past 12 years since, the Pats have been the “Greatest Team Playing Nerf” against the rest of the NFL. Every year, we call them the favorites to win the Super Bowl. This year, they started 1-2, losing to Baltimore and Cardinals. Any other team who started that way would have been labelled losers already. Not New England. We KNEW that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady would get that team turned around. There wasn’t a doubt in our minds that they wouldn’t be contending by this week.

If Tampa Bay or Arizona had been 1-2 by Week 3, we would have counted them out faster than the Chargers would have lost a 24-point lead. Other teams don’t have the consistency of the Patriots, and it’s rightfully assumable that many other teams will never have that. New England has been lucky to have such talent for the last decade, going through players at every position other than quarterback almost every other year. Who is left on that defense from the 2007, 18-1 campaign? The only big name player that comes to my mind is Vince Wilfork.

It’s not rocket science. If a team can win time and again over a large period of time, then there’s no doubting them. If, by some strange apocalyptic happenstance, New England were to be 7-6 at this point in the season, we would expect them to win out and be 10-6, and still be primed to go all the way. 

Now, I know I’m waffling between fan-expected consistency and actual consistency within the machine. There’s a difference in outside-looking-in and vice versa. But when it’s apparent to fans and experts, and the results keep coming, consistency is right there in front of us and it’s automatically assumed.

Moving on, consistency isn’t just winning over and over again.


We’re Not Jokes Anymore

Also consider that most teams won’t be great right away. The Patriots of 2000 went 5-11, then went 11-5 the next year and won the Super Bowl, and THEN shot out to 11+ win seasons almost regularly.

The Texans, who only came into the league in 2002, were the laughing-stock of the NFL up to 2009. Not a single winning season, no reliable players to bring back every year, and experts never really took them seriously for that. But, if you look more closely, they’ve been a model of consistency rising out of mediocrity. Counting 2005, here’s the progression of their season record up until 2011:

2005 – 2-14
2006 – 6-10
2007 – 8-8
2008 – 8-8
2009 – 9-7
2010 – 6-10
2011 – 10-6

Minus the 2010 year, when their passing defense was one of the worst in the league (376.9 yards allowed per game), Houston has been a model of consistent foundation-building. No, they haven’t been the best team in league at any point of their franchise, prior to this year. But the consistency with which they’ve gotten better is jaw-dropping.

It’s like The Black Keys: travelling musicians for 14 years in a beat-up van, then the greatest album of the year in 2010 with Brothers, and now their latest album El Camino (which is f***ing brilliant) is nominated for five Grammys, including Album of the Year.

Same thing with the Texans: biggest busts in the league since 2002, finally have a season above .500 in 2009, win their division and a playoff game in 2011, and now they’re the biggest powerhouse in the AFC at 11-1 as of Week 13 and in a perfect position to wind up with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Their head coach, Gary Kubiak, has been one of the prime reasons why the Texans are where they are today. He’s been part of this build up since 2006, the way Bill Belichick has kept the Patriots winning since 2000. And their quarterback Matt Schaub has played solid football since coming to Houston from Atlanta the year after in 2007, helping the team keep up their building momentum as a franchise.


2+2=4

Other teams throughout history prove how important consistency is in the NFL as well.
The 49ers won 10 games every season from 1983 to 1998. 16 seasons of pure dominance to go with their five Super Bowls. Why? Bill Walsh in the 1980’s, and Joe Montana/Steve Young throughout that entire time period. Three Hall-of-Famer’s right there.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have always been known for defense, and for how long? Since 1974, all the way until the present, thanks to a Christmas bag of Hall-of-Fame players, and more recently Dick LeBeau’s defensive coaching prowess. Six Super Bowls since the 70’s. Why? Head coaches Chuck Noll (70’s), Bill Cowher (90’s-2006), and Mike Tomlin (’06 to the present).

The Dallas Cowboys have been America’s Team, but they’ve backed it up with a showcase of the greatest Head Coaches (Tom Landry, Jimmie Johnson, Bill Parcells) and quarterbacks (Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo) of all time. Five Super Bowls since 1971.

Will is going to kill me for mentioning Romo (that’s what you get for not writing as often). But if you think about it, he’s one of the primary reasons why the Cowboys are still in contention for the playoffs as of Week 14.

If there’s anything head honchos around the league can learn from these teams, who have become the faces of the NFL, it’s this: that without consistency on the needed levels, there’s no way a team can sustain regular contention in football.

I mean, I’ve consistently woken up every morning. Most people (mostly students) my age can’t do that.

Win.


Anything to add? Tweet us at @aceing82 and let us know of anything you might want to see on the blog!

The Clinchers, The Hunters and The Playoffs. Round 2

Hey everyone! It’s Will here, back in action. With the playoffs getting closer and closer, LFTP (Let’s Forget The Politics) is going to analyze and route the postseason picture as it clears up through to Week 17. Let’s see what we’ve got now:


Coming out of Week 14, we’ve got a clear playoff idea. Three weeks to go, and we know for sure we’re going to see the Broncos, the Patriots, the Texans and the Falcons, sadly I can’t revere how right I am with no new additions this week. Then we have those who are next in line to clinch a playoff berth which are the usual suspects with a few suprises 


Clinchers: 

Falcons: (11-2)
Oh No…. Is all I can say. I’m face palming hard enough that if I keep doing it, I’ll be permanently disfigured. This team has it. They’ve got the super bowl potential but if they keep playing like they did against the Panthers this week they are almost completely written out of my Superbowl prophecy. Superbowl? 70% 


Houston Texans: (11-2) 
BRADY! BRADY! BRADY! Will be permanently ringing in these guy’s ears because he put on a clinic this week and made the Division powerhouse look like a herd of calves with their tails between their legs. 14-42 now that’s a punchline. Superbowl? 50%.


Patriots: (10-3) 
BRADY! BRADY! BRADY! I hate repeating myself between articles but you’ve got to take your hat off to him. He almost single handedly beat the high flying Texans team into oblivion. I remember after the game the commentators made a bold statement that I’d have to agree with. Brady is easily the best QB of this day. However can one go as far to say this guy is the best QB of all time? Superbowl? 80%.


Broncos: (10-3) 
They Played Oakland and won. Just doing their job. This is a nice stable team with a good balance and they’re showing it. They have the Ravens, Browns and Chiefs for the next three weeks. That’s all I have to say. 60%.


Hunters: (The teams I think, out of all the possibles, can make the cut) 

AFC:

Jets: (6-7) 

Baltimore are finished. Sorry to break it to you. This week was their week to take a victory and prove their power and tenacity to get over injury issues and they failed to capitalize. Bad news for all you Tim Tebow fans out there but it looks as if this bum running Mark Sanchez is gonna scrape into the playoffs. MAYBE! He is the highest chance I can see, blatantly because of their schedule and the fact that this week they claimed a victory they needed against Jacksonville. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the team with every NFL fan screaming for the Jets not to make the playoffs. 10%

Colts: (9-4) 

The Colts win a game they were meant to win. Nothing special to say Andrew Luck claims another and goes onto next week and has the Colts nibbling at their playoff slice. They are the only reason they would miss the playoffs this season. They’ve got the Chiefs in their schedule and one has to make note of the Texans in the past few weeks. 40%.

Bengals: (7-6)

One point. This team lost by one point. That’s certainly not a reason to see them as dropping out of contention right now and certainly not with their schedule against the Dwindling Eagles and the Wingless Ravens. The Steelers, if Big Ben’s injury contains him, will be easier to conquer. The Bengals hang on in my book.  20%.


NFC: 

49ers: (9-3-1)

I’m gonna say playoff berth and division clinchers (sorry Arneet…again). They win again against the Dolphins as expected. To be honest this team is probably the most predictable team. They win the games they are expected to and they lose games that are a challenge. It’s difficult to predict. Damn it Harbaugh I wanna be excited. 60%.

Packers: (9-4) 

Packers comeback. Aaron Rodgers showed us what he and the Packers are capable of. Granted it was against a bad Detroit Lions side, but there is no reason to take a good win away from these guys and they’ve got a…meh schedule ahead of them. 50%.

Bears: (8-5) 

Oops. You guys underestimated the Vikings didn’t you? AP claims another victim. He rushed for 154 yards off 13 carries. He cut the Bears to ribbons, which is sacrilegious to my beliefs. Nonetheless, they still have the playoffs in their grasp. 70%.


Seahawks: (8-5)

58-0. What more can I say. I tweeted Arneet (@aceing82) this week, congratulating his team on a stellar performance against an absolutely horrible Cardinals team. They would have achieved more by just forfeiting. You get 2-0. Again, the Seahawks beat another team into submission and secured a spot in the playoffs…in my opinion.  60%.

Redskins: (7-6) 

I don’t care what you all think, RGIII is the guy (although there’s probably only a few critics left by now). He’s the rookie to take this team to the Super Bowl. Well at least that’s what I want. I want this guy to take this team to the Super Bowl because it will be exciting for the whole game. The Super Bowl ads will be eclipsed by the game, which is almost unheard of! After downing the Ravens this week as well, I do not doubt this kid for a second. I’m leaving this as is. He’s just the guy! 60%



Knocked Out: 

Baltimore: See Jets ^ 

Quick Hits: Ten Things about Week 14

How does every week seem to produce better and better games than the last? Week 14 was filled with some crazy games, and gave us a little clearer idea of what the playoffs will entail this year. Here’s what we’ve discovered:

1) Nick Foles might be the answer one day. What makes Andy Reid’s departure sadder is that if he were to stay, Foles would have a coach in the man who mentored Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, and Brett Favre. Foles, with some quality coaching, can be the answer in Philly. That bullet to Jason Avant to put the ball on the 1-yard line was like watching a Tommy Gun shoot a quick one. And his bootleg slant to Jeremy Maclin was clutch. Good signs now.

2) The Seahawks can capitalize on bad teams. 58-0 against the division rival Cardinals…meh. Seattle’s defense blew the Cardinals’ “offense” out of the water and took them for a ride to the tune of eight turnovers, four INT’s and four fumbles. Marshawn Lynch also had a big day, turning in three touchdown runs and 128 yards. The Seahawks have made a statement, and have kept themselves running with the 49ers for the NFC West Crown. Meanwhile, here’s a bit that sums up Ken Wisenhunts feelings about his team’s performance in Seattle: a reporter asked Wisenhunt what he will do about the quarterback position. Wisenhunt’s response was to ask the reporter if he can play. Things are bad in the desert.

3) Pittsburgh isn’t playoff bound. They seem to play down to their competition. Their losses include games against the Browns, Chargers, Raiders, and Titans. Despite the return of Ben Roethlisberger, the San Diego had their way. Allowing the Chargers to convert 12 third downs is inexcusable. The Steelers are not going to contend for the playoffs like this, and with games against the Bengals and Browns to come, it looks like it’s time to think about next year.

4) The Bears are slipping…right out of playoff contention. If Chicago can’t win against Minnesota without Percy Harvin, and their once feared defense let Adrian Peterson be a difference-maker, then they aren’t playoff-worthy either. Jay Cutler is playing behind a woeful offensive line, and the running game isn’t moving anything either. Strange that they dropped 51 points on the Vikings not-too-many weeks ago. Chicago is now the sixth seed as of this week and are in hot water if they lose another in this position.

5) New England is back to basics. Brady is making a strong case for his third MVP trophy. I’m getting so sick of it, we need new blood. Can’t wait to see RG3 win it one day. But the Pats are operating on all cylinders, and the defense isn’t doing too badly either, keeping a strong Texans offense off their game. It could be another Super Bowl appearance for New England. Next week against the San Fransisco 49ers could potentially be a Super Bowl playoff preview.

6) Speaking of RG3 and the Redskins, they’ve got two brilliant QB’s. Down by eight, Griffin III suffered a horrifying knee injury that, luckily, only left him with a first degree ligament sprain. Could have been much worse. Rookie Kirk Cousins half drive, two-point conversion run, and drive to win the game in OT were clutch. No QB controversy should be expected, but Washington knows now that they have two capable quarterbacks on their roster who can lead the team in crunch time. Washington is looking like a team ready to make a playoff run.

7) I kind of love Cam Newton in those NFLPlay60 and Under Armour ads. He may be a cry baby on the sidelines, but he’s effing hilarious in those commercials. “I’ve got a bedroom cam, a bathroom cam, garage cam, and a Cam cam.” Steve Smith sees himself in a screen, “What’s that one?” to which Cam replies, “That’s the Steve cam…I don’t trust you man.” Soooo good, haha.

Cam had a huge day against the NFC South leading Falcons that he should have had more often this year, single-handedly leading the Panthers to a win. He ran for 116 yards, including a huge 70+ yarder for a TD. Great game, better commercials.

8) Houston is flawed. I realize how good New England is, but man! If you want to be good, you have to be able to play big in the biggest moments. My next article talks about consistency for teams, and Houston is a model of from-the-ground-up consistency over the last six years. But if this game is in any way telling, and these teams meet up again in the AFC Championship Game, then Houston needs to rethink its defensive identity with the holes they have at linebacker and the problems they’ve had in the secondary, along with trying to figure out the problems with their passing game. The offensive line needs to get back to protecting Matt Schaub the way they were early in the season as well.

9) How in the hell are the Jets still mathematically in the playoffs???

…WHAT?????????

10) Dallas’ win in the face of tragedy was huge. Our prayers are with all of those affected by the wrongful death of practice squad linebacker Jerry Brown. For a family member to be hurt by another member is horrifying.

Dallas came in to Cincinnati with a heavy heart and pulled out a needed win to stay in the NFC East race. Dallas will have to win out to stay alive, especially when remembering that they split their series with the Giants. The road ahead is difficult, but it’s possible that Dallas could be a serious wild card contender by Week 16 if they take out their next one against the Steelers.

The Big Five: Week 14

As we inch closer and closer to the playoffs, understanding what we’re watching is getting more and more complicated, considering how so many analysts, coaches, and even players flip flop answers to interviews week to week, ranging from playoff potential to injury situations, league issues to team persona, and so on. We’re going to stop talking about the teams with little-to-no chance at the postseason. So, with that in mind, let’s have some consistency, shall we?


Here are the five big things that you should keep and eye on in Week 14:

1) With CB Brandon Browner accepting his 4-game suspension, look for FS Earl Thomas, SS Kam Chancellor, and CB Walter Thurmond to step up as the No. 2 next to Richard Sherman for the Seahawks in Arizona.

The Cardinals, no matter who the quarterback is (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, or Ryan Lindley), never seem to generate much offense. It’s a good thing, too, for the Seahawks to lose Browner for the last four games of the season, starting with this snoozer. It means that with winnable games against Arizona, Buffalo, and St. Louis, the team’s only concern will be losing both Sherman and Browner for San Francisco. Walter Thurmond should be able to carry some of the work load on No. 2 and slot receivers while Sherman takes on opposing offenses’ primary targets. And with QB Russell Wilson continuing to develop on offense and become the guy to carry this team down the stretch, the pressure on the secondary is becoming less and less to make up for a previous lack of firepower.

Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are a quietly successful safety tandem due to the strength of the ‘Hawks CB’s, but they are effective and can make an impact in pass defense when their numbers are called. Thomas is known for patrolling the field and being near or right in the middle of each pass play when needed, while Chancellor delivers the big hits in the middle. The latter doesn’t quite have the speed and Polamlu-like playing ability as a safety, but the balance between these two young guys is going to be crucial going into the last four games of the season.

The Arizona game is seemingly a little harder to deal with this week with the loss of Browner, but the Seahawks will manage.

2) The Minnesota Vikings have put WR Percy Harvin on season-ending IR, which could spell the end of their playoff hopes. Look for Christian Ponder to try to go deep more often to make up for the loss.

I’m won’t be the only writer or blogger who thinks this way. Harvin was an MVP candidate based on the work load he was receiving on the offense and special teams. The only reason Christian Ponder was looking like the second coming of a better-armed Tim Tebow was because the short passing game was succeeding, and for only one reason: No. 12. The loss of Harvin is going to have a huge impact on how offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave makes play calls going forward.

It’s a good thing that the Vikings have a potential 2,000 yard rusher in Adrian Peterson (only Martians can recover from an ACL tear and play like he has only 200-some days later). Ponder should be able to rely on the play-action and have a threat to lean on in the face of four-man fronts.

But the deep passing game needs to make a comeback in Minnesota. Against the Bears, whom QB Russell Wilson carved up last Sunday, the Vikes success will be dependent on how much diversity they can mix up on the field to keep the defense true. It’s a mission, but it’s an achievable goal.

3) Houston vs. New England is going have huge ramifications on how the postseason seeding is going to be organized in the AFC.

Houston, as of right now, is a clear favorite to get home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, thanks to a big loss by the Ravens at home against the Steelers last Sunday. They have a two game lead on all three division leaders in the conference, so they have a buffer to lean on for this week in the face of a loss.

New England, on the other hand, is now fighting between Denver and Baltimore to get the No. 2 seed, which a much more exciting battle. New England has already defeated Denver in Week 5 31-21 to take ownership of the head-to-head advantage, but Denver is a different team now than they were in Foxborough. The Patriots don’t play Baltimore this season, so they’re in a must-win situation every week.

If New England wins this one at home, pending the outcomes of the Baltimore vs. Washington and Denver vs. Oakland games, they will only be doing themselves a favor. Oakland and Washington aren’t known for playing top-5 defense, so the Pats are playing the toughest game out of the three. They lose, they may have to fight for the No. 3 seed against Baltimore. On the other hand, Houston is rolling over most of their opponents, minus two OT contests, a drubbing from the Green Bay Packers, and a low-scoring affair in Chicago. The favorite, despite New England’s offensive juggernaut, will be the Texans. The Patriots will have their plate full with Houston’s defense and their push offense, with Matt Schaub and Arian Foster pounding out yards like machines.

4) If there’s one game lying underneath the surface this week, it’s Dallas vs. Cincinnati. Look for the Bengals to gain some respect by taking advantage of Dallas’ lack of a linebacking corps.

Is there a more infuriating team in the league this season than the Cowboys? Yes, against my better prediction, they took down the Eagles last week. But then again, the Cowboys have been one of the best teams in the league in losing close games and my thoughts were justified. They could have easily had the lead at 24-21, and then laid down to look at the stars through the big hole in the roof at Jerry World with a minute to go, allowing Bryce Brown to fumble into the endzone. Then I would have been right.
But in any case, the Bengals, after being written off by many with a 3-4 start earlier on, are gaining momentum as a passing power offense. Dalton-to-Green is one of the most reliable tandems in the league. It’s a wonder why they don’t hook up on passed more often. With that, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis is gaining huge yards, after a disappointing start to the season, giving the passing game a much needed reliance. And their defense has played lights out in the past three weeks, something that could translate over to keeping Romo’s butt on the ground in Paul Brown Stadium.

With Dallas LB Sean Lee out, the Cowboys have been highly susceptible to allowing big run plays and short crossing routes to opposing offenses. Look for Bengals’ OC Jay Gruden to take advantage of that and use “The Law Firm” to gain tough yards between the tackles and help set up a healthy play-action routinem thereby alleviating the pressure on Dalton by Dallas’ LB DeMarcus Ware. It’ll be a sweet match-up for Cincy.

5) If Tampa Bay can’t win against the worst Eagles team in decades, then they don’t belong in the playoffs. Look for Tampa to make a huge statement, and yet only get by.

Playoff teams (or all good teams for that matter) are expected to be like vampires: feed on the weak. Good teams win. Great teams destroy.

If the Bucs can soundly defeat the Eagles this week, with at least a two or three TD advantage, I’ll be ready to call them legitimate. But if they end up making it a close game against a team lacking defense, an experienced quarterback, a so-far unreliable running back, and a 3-9 record, then then call me crazy, but that sounds like a team that will go 8-8 at best.
Right now, Tampa sits at 6-6 behind the projected No. 1 seed in the NFC in the Atlanta Falcons. They have to start winning big consistently to grab the sixth seed away from the grips of the Seahawks. Right now, that’s one of the tightest races in the NFC, with three other teams at .500. I’d like to see a sixth-seeder win a playoff game against whoever the NFC North produces as their runner-up, either Green Bay or Chicago. Seattle can beat both teams. Tampa Bay is unproven, except for a 36-17 beat down of the Vikings in Week 8. If they can handily dismantle Philadelphia, they’ll have more confidence as a team and more respect around the league.

Three point wins will do nothing to instill fear in this league. The more difference in score, the better for the victor.

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The Clinchers, The Hunters and The Playoffs

Hey everyone! It’s Will here, back in action. With the playoffs getting closer and closer, LFTP (Let’s Forget The Politics) is going to analyze and route the postseason picture as it clears up through to Week 17. Let’s see what we’ve got now:

Coming out of Week 13, we’ve got a clear playoff idea. Four weeks to go, and we know for sure we’re going to see the Broncos, the Patriots, the Texans and the Falcons, which doesn’t come as a surprise to me. All of those teams have played consistently well and won when it counted. Then we have those who are next in line to clinch a playoff berth…saying those now would ruin the article. So here we go!

Clinchers: 

Falcons: (11-1)
Top of the NFC and one team that could probably hazard a statement as being the top in the NFL right now. After beating the Saints this week, who previously took their unbeaten streak away from them, they look like the toughest team to beat and in all honestly they probably are. Super Bowl bound? 90% chance.

Houston Texans: (11-1) 
Safely I can say these are the best of the worst. The AFC South division was dominated by this team and so it should have been. Green Bay has been the only team to top them, who are an NFC powerhouse. This week the Texans played Tennessee and won. Super Bowl bound? 70%.

Patriots: (9-3) 
Brady goes through to the playoffs again. The Patriots are on top of the AFC again. They look promising even without Gronkowski and they have a good string of wins going on. This week as well, Brady showed Ryan Tannehill how to close a game. Super Bowl bound? 60%.

Broncos: (9-3) 
Peyton does it again, he shows the league why he’s still elite after a serious neck injury: he takes a team who were decent, to a team who has some serious bite and could make it to the Superbowl, which was definitely shown in their latest outing against the fired up Buccaneers side. A 31-23 win is a big, fat tick in my book. Super Bowl bound? 60%.


Hunters: (The teams I think, out of all the possibles, can make the cut) 

AFC:

Baltimore: (9-3) 

They might be on a decline, but they’ve got the means to scrape into the playoffs. I’m definitely not 100% on this call, but I’m more comfortable calling the Ravens for this than I am the Steelers, who of course beat them this week. But that aside, I still side with Baltimore. Call me crazy. Super Bowl bound? 30%.

Colts: (8-4) 

Andrew Luck has something. I can’t put my finger on it, but he has something that not many other QB’s whom I’ve seen this year and I want to see it in the playoffs. To be honest, I’m fairly certain that we all will. Barring Luck, however, Indianapolis are hitting a stride late in the season and it will carry them through to the playoffs, certainly after a close game against Detroit. Super Bowl bound? 40%.

Bengals: (7-5)

I’m not 100% sure whether this is a well-known fact and I’m the blind one, but the Bengals are on a four-game winning streak and, after topping an unpredictable San Diego Chargers team, it’s safe to say that this team is looking promising. Dalton connecting with A.J Green is a serious threat to any defense and the Bengals defense is not a walk over. This team has guts, determination and a very solid record. Super Bowl bound? 20%.


NFC: 

49ers: (8-3-1)

I’m gonna say playoff berth and division clinchers (sorry Arneet). The 49ers are full of good vibes with two powerful QB’s, an effective run game and their defense is nothing short of sensational. An elite team that has looked good all season and are title contenders. Yes, even after a loss to the Rams. Can’t win every game. Super Bowl bound? 60%.

Packers: (8-4) 

There’s no way I can write up a playoff list and leave Green Bay off it. My fingers will not allow. They’re a nicely balanced team and in the right mindset they can beat anyone, even the Falcons. Easily beating the Vikings cannot go unannounced either. Super Bowl bound? 40%.

Bears: (8-4) 

They might have lost to the Seahawks but I’m still convinced that this team’s defense is one of historical reference. As the saying goes, “Offense wins games, defense wins Championships.” Their offense is not that bad either. They’ve got definite threats spread throughout (Brandon Marshall’s 10-catch, 165 yard performance is evidence of that). Beaten by the Seahawks, although painful, is one to use to become a bigger and better team. Super Bowl bound? 70%.

Seahawks: (7-5)

This is not to save my spot as a blog writer here. I truly believe the Seahawks have what it takes to carry themselves over the playoff hurdle this year. Russell Wilson has done some things that none of us really saw coming and we have enjoyed every minute of it…if you’re not a Packers fan. Plus they beat the Bears this week. That’s right. The above-mentioned Bears. Super Bowl bound? 40%.

Redskins: (6-6) 

I don’t care what you all think, RGIII is the guy (although there’s probably only a few critics left by now). He’s the rookie to take this team to the Super Bowl. Well at least that’s what I want. I want this guy to take this team to the Super Bowl because it will be exciting for the whole game. The Super Bowl ads will be eclipsed by the game, which is almost unheard of! After downing the Giants this week as well, I do not doubt this kid for a second. Super Bowl bound? 30%.

Quick Hits: Week 13

This season has been one of the weirdest, yet most intriguing in a long time. And Week 13 was evidence of why.


Let’s see where we stand:

1) Chicago has some serious issues to solve. That entire team is walking with crutches and a sling. They’ve lost three of their last four now, and against a young, up and coming Seattle team, they further lost the turnover zing that has made them one of the most fearsome defenses in the NFC. Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman both left with injuries on the Seahawks’ game-winning TD drive in OT. Looks like there are some tough times coming for the weak-looking NFC North powerhouse.

2) Speaking of the Seattle – Chi City game, Russell Wilson is no longer just good. He’s making his place among the best in the league. He’s a rookie who has two fourth-quarter/OT winning drives with four weeks of games to play, and he’s becoming just as good on the road as he is at home. The defense is still shaky in the fourth, especially with that huge pass play of 56 yards from Jay Cutler to Brandon Marshall given up in crunch time, but Wilson made up for it by taking the opening possession of OT and driving down the 80 yards for a laser pass to Sidney Rice in the end zone for the win. He also ran for 71 yards, picking up first downs with his legs very often. Wilson now has 19 TD’s on the season, and could end up in the top three for the most touchdown passes by a rookie all-time. Peyton Manning had 26 in 1998. Cam Newton had 22 in 2011.

By the way, after the game, Brandon Marshall of Chicago said that he could learn from Russell Wilson and his poise. That speaks volumes.

3) The Houston Texans are running away with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a loss by the Baltimore Ravens to the Pittsburgh Steelers (horrible timeout management by John Harbaugh), the Texans got a boost in their chase for a guaranteed home run in the playoffs. They clinched a playoff spot today with their win against the Tennessee Titans, and now they’re essentially putting on cruise control with their high-powered offense for the rest of the season. Let’s see if the Texans can get to the point where they can rest their starters as early as Week 16.

4) Cincinnati is inconsistently good at winning. One week, they thrash the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants, and the next they can just barely hold off a lagging San Diego Chargers unit. It’s kind of frustrating sometimes, knowing what the Bengals are capable of this season, but they’re getting the job done. All they need now is a win against the reeling Steelers in a couple of weeks to move ahead of them for the sixth seed in the wild card round.

5) If there was ever a time for San Francisco to put Alex Smith back in the saddle, it would have been today. And then maybe they could have held off St. Louis and their above-par defense and avoided a small one-and-a-half game lead ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC West. It’s getting tougher and tougher for the 49ers to rely on any buffers they might have had in defending their lead. The San Fran vs. Seattle game in Week 16 is looking more and more intriguing as the competition gets thicker.

6) The Browns continue to make an effort to win, and it’s helping them for next season. By pushing themselves to work hard in the face of a losing season, all of the players on the roster are making a case to put Cleveland in the minds of football pundits around the league to be next year’s team. The young guns showed their muscles against the Oakland Raiders, winning a tight 20-17 game. Brandon Weeden is slowly becoming better and better at reading defenses at first glance, and Josh Morgan and Trent Richardson are becoming more reliable as offensive threats. Keep an eye on this team through to Week 17 and in the off-season. The draft is going to make them even more competitive.

7) The Colts are a dangerous football team…and they’re still improving. The more Andrew Luck wins, the more confident he gets under center. He’s already on pace to be the best rookie quarterback the league has seen in a long time. The team is 8-4 after 13 weeks. He’s thrown for 3,596 yards and 17 TD’s. And they can wrap up the fifth seed in the AFC if they keep the foot on the gas through to Week 16. Winning a tight game in Detroit against the Lions on the last play of the game is going to be a huge boost for a young team with several guiding veterans and two inspiring coaches. They’ll take this win, harness its positives, and use it as a tool to enhancing the team’s performance. #scarythought

8) The Jaguars aren’t AAAAALL O’ DAT. But they still have talent. Inserting Chad Henne into the line-up wasn’t going to be the greatest move in franchise history, but putting in a quarterback who can take advantage of the skills of players around him has benefited the team in several ways. Though they lost to an inconsistent Buffalo Bills team, they now know what positions need to be upgraded in the off season and they’re aware now that Chad Henne will be a quality mentor to any quarterback they may pick up in the draft. They have Justin Blackmon, Cecil Shorts III, Rashad Jennings, Marcedes Lewis, and Maurice Jones-Drew on offense, and their defense can be stiff at times. There’s some work to be done, but the Jaguars are not quite the heap of rubble that we thought they were.

9) The Atlanta Falcons are still not convincing, but they’re winning, and they deserve credit for that. Who ever said that winning had to be pretty for it to be called winning? For the defense to pick Drew Brees off five times and hold him without a TD pass was awesome. But the offense is still not at a level that will assure them the playoff win they so desperately need. If they want to have any chance of silencing critics, then Michael Turner needs to play the way he played on Thursday Night, Matt Ryan needs to utilize Julio Jones and Roddy White on a more balanced basis, and the defense needs to be rooted to the ground, the way it was against the Saints. But they are winning, and for this week and the other eleven in which they won, that’s all that matters.

10) To the Kansas City Chiefs and everyone affected by the murder-suicide of Jovan Belcher, our thoughts are with you. The win against Carolina meant much more than just having two wins on the season. This was the symbol of appreciation and love for a fallen soldier by the Chiefs players and coaches. It may be that we never know why what happened transpired. But we pray those affected, and our thoughts go out to all of you.

11) Andy Reid is now solidly fired after the loss to the Cowboys, keeping the ‘Boys playoff hopes faintly alive. It seemed like they had a real shot, but the Philly defense just couldn’t keep Dallas’ offense at bay (thanks for that, because of Jason Witten, I now need Ahmad Bradshaw to hit 25 points to win my fantasy game). Reid should start scoping out new teams to work with, potentially some head coaching positions. Dallas now has to win out to have any kind of chance at the playoffs. If they play the way they did against the Eagles, it might be possible.

The Circumstance of Injury

Originally, I was going to write a piece about how the Super Bowl has become too overly-commercialized. How it has turned into the world’s biggest billboard. 

But recently, I’ve been reading about the San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith’s concussion that knocked him out of their Week 10 game against St. Louis, a match-up that ended up being a tie and the last time we saw Alex Smith taking a snap. The circumstances of his injury and the way Smith’s health was handled are not what is in question. But head coach Jim Harbaugh’s move to start back-up quarterback Colin Kaepernick against the Chicago Bears the following week gave Harbaugh a chance to evaluate Kaepernick when put into a starting role. 
Alex Smith runs for a touchdown.
The rest has been national news since Kaepernick’s Bears outing. He has gone 2-0 thus far against Chicago and New Orleans, and in dominant fashion. Alex Smith has been forced to sit on the sideline and watch his job security slowly slip away, play-by-spectacular-play, as Kaepernick shows why the 49ers drafted him in the second round in 2011. He was instrumental throwing down-field, dismantling what has been widely-believed to be the best secondary in football against Chicago, and then dominated against an awakening New Orleans Saints defense in the Superdome. He’s quickly proving to his coaches, his teammates, and the league that he can, and will, be a force to be reckoned with in these final weeks.
Smith’s Credit
Smith, after being drafted
number-one overall in 2005.
It’s not like Alex Smith hasn’t been on the bench before. Prior to 2011, Alex Smith was labelled a bust after being chosen with the first pick of the draft in 2005 by San Francisco. He was supposed to be the savior of this storied franchise, who employed the likes of Steve Young, Joe Montana, and Y.A. Tittle throughout their history. But he was never consistent, and before 2011, never led the team to a better-than-.500 record. So for six long seasons, the 49ers were locked in the despair that was their inability to pick a better quarterback in that draft. When the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers led his team to a Super Bowl win in 2010, even the front-office heads of 2005 were kicking themselves for not drafting Rodgers when they had the opportunity.
That was until new coach Jim Harbaugh was brought in from Stanford University to help rebuild the ruins of the 49ers franchise. The talent was there, the team just needed the right mentality. So, Harbaugh brought in a blue-collar approach with his team and reminded them over and over again that they were a collective group of players who could pound out plays anytime, no matter how tough the yardage seemed to be to get.
Harbaugh, who at one point was an NFL quarterback himself with the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, had gained a lot of respect in the NCAA and NFL for coaching one of the brightest young quarterback prospects, Andrew Luck, that the league had seen since one Peyton Manning. Luck has since gone on to lead the Indianapolis Colts to a 7-4 record in his first season.
San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh was ready to take on the role of Alex Smith’s new mentor when he came to San Francisco in 2011. They tossed the ball together in the summer, went over playbook countless times together, and formed a trust that is absent with many coaches and their quarterbacks around the league; a trust that both can hold up their end of winning games. That season, their defense turned into an immovable wall against bigger opponents, and their running game led by running back Frank Gore and their offensive line became a highly feared dimension of their offense. Smith was efficient, hardly turned the ball over, and was instrumental in helping his team stay together as a unit and win games as a group. He wasn’t forced to put the team on his shoulders at any point, which Harbaugh knew was exactly the way to help Smith succeed and get this franchise back on its feet.
The one time that Smith obviously carried the team in 2011 was in the Divisional Playoff round against the New Orleans Saints, a game in which the lead changed four times in the last four minutes. Smith kept up scores with one of the best in the business in New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, and the 49ers won a thriller with a game-winning touchdown pass from Smith. So, despite the “Game Manager” title he received as an attack on his inability to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, he could win games.
Where Frustration Lives
2012 started no differently, as the 49ers busted out of the gate and were a solid 6-2 after eight games. Alex was playing even better, making more down-field throws than the year before, killed teams with their running ability, and had a defense that has become almost impossible to move against with Aldon Smith and Justin Smith (you can’t make this stuff up, should just call themselves the San Francisco Smiths)

And then…the St. Louis game happened.
Week 10, Smith is hit at some point of the game after his touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree and reports to team doctors that his vision was blurry…
…And so, all of this leads us to the present. Smith was fully available to play against New Orleans last week, but Jim Harbaugh made a tough decision to go with “the hot hand” and start Kaepernick over Smith.
In the last few days, Smith has spoken out about his situation: 

“It stings the most just because I really felt there was something special going on here, and you sacrifice and invest so much time,” Smith added, “… I have no idea what’s going to happen from here. All I can do now is just prepare and get ready.” A.P., Associated Press 

Smith, after six years of the “bust” label to start his career, a magical run to the NFC Championship game last season, and a 19-5-1 record since Harbaugh became his coach, does not deserve to be benched. He’s obviously worked hard, stayed humble, and was unfairly told to step aside for a young gun. Life sucks for the injured in the NFL. I mean, Alex is concussed and out for one game, and he’s replaced. Alex leads this team to within one game of the Super Bowl, and Harbaugh decides the untested second-year guy is the better choice. Number 11 had been the most efficient quarterback in the league through to his last start, even completing 18 out of 19 passes for a 94% mark of accuracy, breaking an NFL record, and still he’s passed over, when healthy, by Kaepernick.
Colin Kaepernick in action.
And it’s happened again. Kaepernick, at the time of this writing, will start against St. Louis on Sunday.
The NFL, now we’re seeing it, is such a hard business to thrive in, as a coach and as a player. And Harbaugh, according the Ashley Fox, an NFL analyst at ESPN.com, is indirectly showing to his players that lying about an injury to save your job is better than doing what you can to save your body and potentially lose your job:

“Smith was playing well, so to get benched after suffering a concussion is brutal, and unfortunately the message Harbaugh sends is that it’s better for players to hide an injury, particularly a head injury, than to report it.” Ashley Fox, ESPN.com/NFL

This league is turning to mush with how much controversy there is surrounding all injuries, not just concussions. But especially with head injuries, players are always going to do what it takes to keep the pay coming and their jobs secure, even if that means lying to their team doctors about an injury that could put their health in jeopardy.
Smith didn’t lie to his team doctors. He wanted to be as healthy as he could, save his own body, to help this team win games and eventually win a Super Bowl the way that he has this entire season. And in saving his health with the intent of being there for his team, he was replaced for this unselfishness. As much as I respect the work Jim Harbaugh has done with this team, he was wrong to have allowed Alex to sit on the bench for the New Orleans game.
Smith deserves the starting job, concussion or not, however hot Colin Kaepernick’s hand may be. Smith has earned every snap that he’s played since last year and should not have been left in the cold the way that he was in Week 12 against New Orleans. And if he’s traded or waived in the offseason in 2013, it won’t be because of his lack of ability as a player.
It will be because of his humanity and motivation to win.

Fox, Ashley. “Harbaugh Made The Call Any Coach Would.” ESPN.com/NFL. Version 1. ESPN, 30 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. .

Slesser, Marc. “Alex Smith on 49ers Benching: It Sucks.” NFL.com. Version 1. NFL.com, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2012. .

The Big Five: Week 13

Playtime is over! The real tests of the potential wild card teams starts right here and for the next five weeks we’ll be seeing a major Battle Royale take place in both conferences. For the AFC, it’s the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Miami Dolphins all gearing up for a final five-game push to grab the fifth and sixth seeds in the conference. 


Now, that’s all fine and dandy. But the NFC is heating up like no other.


The Seattle Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, AND the Minnesota Vikings all have legitimate (though some more mathematically reliant) shots at the final two seeds of the conference. The NFC North has become the powerhouse division in the league and has the potential to send three teams into the playoffs, while the NFC East is less clear with the New York Giants, Redskins, and Cowboys all in positions to fight for every last win to outdo their rivals.

Ladies and Gentleman, let the rough-housin’ and beer sippin’ begin. Sit back, silence your cellphones, and enjoy the show.

Here are the top five big things to keep an eye on during the week’s games:

1) There isn’t a single person in America who thinks the Eagles are still a good team. Look for them to suck more.

Seriously, there’s no way Andy Reid can pull wins out of his over-sized sphincter and keep his job now. There’s just no realistic scenario that can play out now which would result in Reid keeping his head coaching job. Quarterback Michael Vick, running back LeSean McCoy, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, and defensive end Jason Babin are no longer going to be factors in any potential success for Philadelphia going forward, the first two being injured, Jackson having been put on injured reserve and ending his season, and Babin having been waived. Reid’s all out of options, and I have no doubt he’ll be out of a job at the end of Week 17 in late December.

It’s sad really. Reid’s been one of the most successful coaches in the NFL. He’ll definitely be sought after by teams in need of coordinators and potentially head coaches. Good luck to you, sir, and godspeed.

2) Jacksonville recently made a change at quarterback from Blaine “No Gain on the Play” Gabbert to Chad Henne. Look for Head Coach Mike Mularkey to try to save his job on the shoulders of Henne.

I’m just going to say this outright: I love the new uniforms. I have since they came out. Denver, Seattle, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Detroit have all moved into the future of jerseys and I love it. Still a fan of classics like the Packers and the Bears, but DAYUM. Some of these new uni’s are killing it out there! …But I digress.

Chad Henne, since moving under center for Gabbert against Houston, has been an offensive spark that the Jaguars haven’t had since 2010. Everyone is benefiting: WR’s Justin Blackmon and Cecil Shorts III, tight end Marcedes Lewis, running back Rashad Jennings, and believe it or not their head coach is loving his chances at returning next year because of Henne. Hell, Chad hasn’t played two full games yet, but he’s adding a downfield dimension to an offense that has been severely lacking a big play aspect with Gabbert. Yes, Jacksonville will absolutely pick up a quarterback in the upcoming draft. Henne is no long-term fix. But he’s going to play a huge part in how the front office evaluates the talent on the team. There’s a difference between watching tape of players led by a talent-less fool with hippie hair reminiscent of Sunshine from Remember the Titans, and a quarterback who…well, plainly, can actually throw.

3) The Dallas Cowboys are next year’s team. Look for them to tease the hell out of their fans with a win in Philly, and then trip on a camera wire in Cincinnati the week after, causing QB Tony Romo to shit himself while losing 30 yards before the game even starts.

Too much talent, not enough wins to show for it. It’s time for this team to be revamped from top to bottom, putting pieces together that actually form a complete unit. Coach Jason Garrett is not the right man to run this team as he’s offensive-minded and is better suited calling plays for that one phase of the game. Although, it’s not all his fault.

Football is not a sport where you just toss big name players together and expect results (for more info, see how well it turned out for Philadelphia). Owner and GM Jerry Jones can see the talent when scouting, but he does not have the vision of men like the Raven’s Ozzie Newsome. Newsome has built a juggernaut in Baltimore that is regularly competing for a Super Bowl every year. He hasn’t just randomly picked up guys who can run and catch. He’s much more methodical in choosing players who will work well in a clearly defined scheme that he wants to be run. Jones is far too enticed by speed and spectacular big-play ability without thinking in regards to how they will fit with his team’s already established players and skill sets.

Jones recently had a petition sent against him to the White House by a fan in Dallas, requesting the removal of Jones from both the ownership and GM positions. If that’s not a signal that it’s time to change, then good luck with the apocalypse, bro.

4) Jim Harbaugh is a quarterbacking god. Look for him to summon a win from the heavens with his angry glare of wisdom.

I feel bad for San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith. The guy goes 19-5-1 since the start of 2011, leads his team to an appearance in the NFC Championship Game, busts out of the gate again in 2012 in helping the 49ers become a powerhouse in the conference, and then…loses his job after being out ONE GAME with a concussion. Such is life in the NFL. “But wait,” you say, “wasn’t he cleared to play the next game after?” He certainly was. But his replacement, and potentially the future of the franchise, quarterback Colin Kaepernick was chosen to start over Smith (after his dominant play against the stalwart defense of the Chicago Bears) by head coach Jim Harbaugh, who seems to have a little farm team of quarterbacks developing under his watch. The man is insane; who else would have the balls to go with their back up quarterback, knowing full well that their successful and proven starter is healthy and ready to pick up where he left off? Only Harbaugh.

It’s working, to the hidden dismay of Smith. Two wins for Kaepernick already, and another is coming against a declining defense in rival St. Louis. If Colin can lead this team to the NFC West title, and potentially some postseason success, it may spell the end of Smith’s time in San Francisco.

I hear Canada is nice around this time of year. Next headline, “SMITH TD TO SOME CANADIAN GUY, WINS THE GREY CUP, EH”.

5) Despite the large leads that division leaders in the AFC have, there is still no clear Super Bowl favorite. Look for the Patriots, Ravens, Texans, and Broncos to try and separate themselves from each other.

My Super Bowl pick this year was, and still is, the Houston Texans. They seem like the most complete team in the league, not just the conference. Quarterback Matt Schaub does everything that he can to help this team win when they’re struggling, and he’s proven that he can win games with his arm. Running Back Arian Foster is still one of the scariest dual running-receiving threats in the NFL and is playing smart football. They benefit from a great defense lead by defensive end J.J. Watt, who is tearing the league apart with sacks, tackles for losses, and batted passes. This team is built tough, so look for them to completely dismantle the Tennessee Titans this week.

But in terms of a firm contender, we still don’t know how the Texans would fare against a red-hot Denver offense led by some guy named Peyton Manning. Manning has this team in prime position for a Super Bowl appearance, and at this point it would be a serious upset if they don’t win at least two playoff games. Houston doesn’t play Denver this season, but they may meet in the postseason. Who knows what could happen?

And what about a Houston-New England match-up? The Patriots have averaged 43 points a game since their Week 6 loss in Seattle and quarterback Tom Brady could very easily take advantage of Houston’s linebackers, who are quietly suffering after the loss of Brian Cushing to a season-ending ACL tear (which, by the way, was gruesome). That would be a hell of a game, and again, it could happen, making my point that there’s no clear front-runner.

The only game I see Houston winning every time this year is against the Ravens, who they thumped in Week 7, 43-14. The Ravens’ loss of future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb have left the team relying on the offense led by quarterback Joe Flacco to win games. Thus far, they’ve done well, excluding the Houston game. But they’re far from a sure bet. 

By the way, how in the hell did Baltimore RB Ray Rice pull that run out on fourth-and-29?? He must have finally gotten accepted to Hogwarts, sneakily using a Patronus Charm to keep the mean Chargers defenders away from his route.

Yeah. That’s it.
That’s it from me! Tune in tomorrow to read up on why I think the Super Bowl is getting ridiculously…actually, let’s savor the suspense.

Have an idea for an article? Tweet us @aceing82/@welcometonz or go to our Facebook page and share your thoughts! Every opinion is welcome…except for yours, Terrell Owens. You know why.

Some Changes

It’s been a hectic week and a half for me and I’m sorry I haven’t posted as often as I should have been. I’ve been doing some thinking and we’re going to be revamping the site and the content of our posts going forward.


For starters, the weekly awards are going away now (as you can see on the home page tab).

Quick Hits after Sunday Night Football are now going to become a regular assignment for Will and I as we push forward through the battle zone that is playoff seeding.

Top Ten Things To Look Out For is now going to be the Top Five TTLOF every week before Thursday Night Football.

And finally, there will be a column piece every Friday Night starting this week on different aspects of the NFL as we move into a more muddled-ruled league.

Thanks for being patient with us as we begin to adapt the site to our abilities and your interests. We appreciate the support and hope to keep entertaining y’all with some podcasts, articles, and other miscellaneous bull-squirt.

The Art of Ice

The pressure of adversity does not affect the mind of the brave man… It is more powerful than external circumstances.


If there’s anything I’ve learned in life, it’s that you should never make irrational decisions. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and certainly decisions under pressure shouldn’t be made without thought, a plan, and complete calm.

That ain’t how the NFL works. Not for a quarterback on the 40-yard line with one timeout, 30 seconds on the clock, and whose team is down by four. Need a touchdown here.
The art of keeping cool is a skill that can’t be taught, and is a major reason of success for the best quarterbacks in the league. When you think of John Elway, Joe Montana, Tom Brady, or more recently Eli Manning, you can come up with a million reasons as to why they’re the best. But the most important one, and the one that is unanimously agreed upon? They’re clutch. They’ve won with their backs against the wall, with the crowd closing in, and their teammates looking at them in the huddle waiting for the alpha male to lead them to victory.

Stress can shorten a human being’s life, and there is no stress quite like operating a fourth-quarter comeback in the NFL. You like pressure? Be a quarterback.

Super Bowl XLII: Eli Manning: Clutch Version 1.0 is born.

It’s not an exact science, you can’t see clutch capabilities when you’re scouting rookies, no matter how stupendous a talent evaluator you might be considered. Until they’re put into a professional two-minute drill, where the game is faster than in college, you can’t know how superior a guy is when you’re team is really going to need him. And that’s the problem for a lot of teams when drafting quarterbacks, especially in the modern NFL. When taking into account the higher rate of close games this season, it’s more integral to a team’s success than ever before that their quarterback is money in the most important quarter of the game. It will only get harder and more crucial for teams to have players with these intangibles.


Real Talent…and Stuff

You can find the gunslinger with a rocket for an arm who can get you 50+ yard plays on a regular basis. You can scout the dude with legs like pistons who can gun it down the field for big gains. Hell, you can hire a young buck who folds in the pocket more often that you’d like, but produces big at times. 

The Modern King of the art that is
 Clutch Quarterbacking, Tom Brady.

But unless they can pull out wins for you in the fourth quarter, you’re lost.


Sure, you can make the argument that quarterbacks who put up an abundance of points on your opponents and tuck the game away before the fourth are just as important. But tell me this: how many times have you seen a quarterback single-handedly drop 30, 40, or even 50 points on teams game after game, season upon season? You come up with one, and I’ll draw a massive “L” on my head with a Sharpie and walk around with it for a day. Legit.

It’s far more efficient and efficacious to have your offense run by someone who maybe doesn’t toss points onto the scoreboard like championship darts, but can consistently find ways to win any kind of game. Your boy should be able to keep up with even the best. Of course, a quarterback can’t just have anyone on offense to win games, he needs talent around him. But the best make everyone around them look good. And so, if a quarterback is able to make do with what he has, and effectively play to his teammates skills, you will always have a chance to win. There’s no denying that when your offense is directed by someone who knows what he’s doing, you won’t hold fear as often as those with sub-par fourth-quarter leaders.
Hey, isn’t that John Candy?

Joe Montana on the game winning drive
 in Super Bowl XXIII.

…is what Joe Montana said in the huddle, in Super Bowl XXIII, pointing down the field to famous TV star with 3:10 left on the clock, down by three, and 92 yards of green grass between them and the end zone. What transpired after this huddle was an 11 play drive down the field against a top-5 defense in the Cincinnati Bengals in 1988, and a last second touchdown to John Taylor to win the game. And what happened before that touchdown play solidifies any counter to criticism of Montana’s icy blood. He threw a pass that was nearly intercepted in the end zone, very close to being the biggest error in NFL history. Rather than losing his cool or getting nervous or jumpy after that ball, Montana instead threw a high bullet to Taylor in the back of the end zone.


You read that right, believe me. It still eats me inside when I see that Bengals cornerback drop that sure interception. Then, maybe the Bengals wouldn’t have been such a disappointment for two decades after.

Wishful thinking, I don’t know. I digress.

But here, Montana is in one of the most nerve-wracking situations that a human being could handle, and he’s clowning around in the huddle and lightening the pressure of the situation for all 10 of his teammates. For him to be so calm and collected with so much adversity is, to this day, still one of the most astonishing things about his legacy.

When we talk clutch, we talk ice. We talk about how emotionless, focused, and completely unconscious quarterbacks are of the importance of the place they have been put in. One bad pass can ruin offensive momentum for the rest of the drive. One interception, and the game is over. One bad sack for a big loss, and you’ve lost a down that could have resulted in the game-winning touchdown. So many of these thoughts could enter the mind of any normal human being not playing the game, and often they would hinder the person’s ability to effectively operate and come out successful. But not for the clutch. No, all they can see is the next play, and after each one, how much closer they are to the end zone. It’s this mentality that makes being clutch so hard. As I said before, it’s not a skill that can be learned like jumping rope. Certainly, then, if it can’t be learned, it can’t be taught. It’s all in a person’s head how they interpret their current situation. They aren’t there for the money, or the fame, or the glory. In that moment, they are there because they earned it, and now they have to finish the job. They are transfixed on the mission that must be completed

It’s much easier said than done.
Be You Clutch?

I pose this question to YOU: If there’s a moment in time when you can remember one of the hardest decisions you’ve ever had to make, would you take back some of it? Most of it? Would you change your choices completely?

If the answer is yes to any of these, you’re not clutch. Never look back, keep looking forward, and your goals will be right there for you to achieve.

Welcome to the world of ice.



Pressure Quotes – BrainyQuote. (n.d.).Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote. Retrieved November 16, 2012, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keyw

Quick Hits: Week 10

Here are some easy-to-chew-on thoughts on the outcomes of Week 10:


1) The Bears are in trouble if Jay Cutler misses more than just the San Francisco game next week. Jason Campbell is certainly capable of filling in during Cutler’s absence, but Cutler is the guy who makes that offense click. He and Brandon Marshall have tremendous chemistry that dates back to their Denver days. Campbell will struggle to make it work with the same effectiveness.

2) Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets are dead in the dirt. Not a single offensive point against a tough Seattle defense and allowing 28 points to an offense directed by rookie Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) is mind-numbing. The Tebow experiment is a bust, and broke any kind of offensive rhythm the Jets could have had. It’s over for Gang Green, who are playing like they have gangrene. Gross.

3) Houston seems to be able to win all types of games. Minus the Green Bay debacle at home, the Texans are complete enough to compete in any game against any team. Arian Foster is a ground game king, and Matt Schaub does just enough to keep the offense moving forward. And with some seriously hard-hitting players on defense, this team is going to the Super Bowl. It would be a huge upset if they didn’t.

4) What’s that sound? I-I-It sounds like…uncontrollable weeping? Oh, it’s just Norv Turner in a corner by himself at Qualcomm. It’s time for a coaching change in San Diego, their performances this season are just terrible. It’s a damn shame, too, with so much talent on both sides of the ball.

5) Speaking of coaching changes, Andy Reid has pretty much sealed his own enveloped pink slip. The Eagles are one more loss away from a complete revamping of the franchise. The entire roster will have to be evaluated, along with the coaching staff and the front office. Jeffery Lurie, after all the money spent on superstar free agents in the 2011 offseason, expected positive results, and the Eagles took a dump on his front porch in return. Yes, it’s that bad.

6) Miami may have to wait a season before thinking playoffs. They were brought back down to earth as the Tennessee Titans dropped 31 points and held them to 3. Ryan Tannehill tossed three INT’s along the way and reminded us of the fact that it’s still his first season. And Joe Philbin didn’t do his offense any favors by pulling offensive lineman Richie Incognito out to discipline him after a costly penalty, and then doing the same to Reggie Bush after a fumble. This team is still growing.

7) The Lions still kill themselves with self inflicted wounds that are always avoidable. Calvin Johnson finally got a big ticket game with 207 yards receiving and the first Stafford-Megatron TD pass of the season, but letting Christian Ponder take over, and win, that game devoid of Percy Harvin is not very inspiring.

8) Big Blue doesn’t look AT ALL like the team that ripped the playoffs apart last year. Eli Manning hasn’t tossed a touchdown since Week 7, and the run game is in no way Plan B. With the Cowboys winning in Philly and having a favorable schedule the rest of the way, the Giants need to get back to their way of power and clutch football…and soon.

9) The league’s emphasis on offense is finally touching the running game. Run-oriented offenses are prospering against pass-heavy teams, and it’s rightfully returning to prominence in the national eye. Adrian Peterson’s big 170+ yard day with a pair of TD’s helped power the Vikings past the run-less Lions who rely on their passing attack to win games for them. I’m so glad the NFL is no longer so frustratingly one-dimensional.

10) The Falcons aren’t undefeated anymore. Not surprised at all. I know, yesterday I said they’d drop a few dozen points on the Saints, but New Orleans had a couple of very good defensive stands that nobody saw coming and they crushed their rival’s hopes of staying perfect. In the end, though, it might be a blessing in disguise for Atlanta; the weight of trying to stay perfect is out of the picture, and now they simply focus on winning home-field advantage in the NFC.

11) My 11th Hit is dedicated to the brave men and women in our Armed Forces who put their lives on the line for you and I every day to protect America and everything we stand for. We love you, salute you, hope you come home safe, and pray for you and your families. Thank you.

(Kind of-ish) Weekly Chat: Brees vs. Brady

and omfg
if Rex Ryan doesn’t pick up his sack and play Tebow i will fly over there and crack him in the face
believe me, the more often the Jets win or stay close, the less chance Tebow has of playing
lost cause bro
did you see his wildcat this week though
now that’s why i watch football
meh
12 yards on 4 rushes?
no thanks
4 yards per rush?
not too bad
better than LeShoure this week
jeez that guy got his face mangled
the Bears had him on a string
the bears had the entire offense on a string
thanks to them, calvin johnson caught squat and I won my fantasy gamegrin
hahahaha
brilliant
btw Madden Curse is legit
haha
he’s not hurt, he’s just not very good
haha
same diff, i guess
i guess a small part goes to the fact Stafford has less accuracy than a 4 year old with a shotgun
If Jim Schwartz had more control of that team, they wouldn’t 2-4, they’d be 4-2
the guy can’t control his own temper
let alone that team
it’s sad really
Stafford deserves better
does he though? is he that good?
he’s always ‘underachieved’
basically a nice way of saying dude
you’re crap
we just can’t accept it
5,038 yards last year, 40+ TD’s, 500 yards on the ground, 68% accuracy.
The guy is good in the right situation
yeah fair enough
to be honest, i haven’t seen him in the right light just yet
he’s just been injured so often that last year seemed like an enigma
that entire team can be a playoff team
yeah fair call
probably actually one of my top 5 disappointments
the Lions
Suh needs to straighten his act, that secondary needs to get better, Mikel LeShoure needs to stop being such a Fumbleroony, Megatron needs to produce, Titus Young isn’t a pitbull without an owner he needs to set it straight for himself.
Jeez they got their asses handed to them
and also
Ravens?
Ravens aren’t disappointing. They got caught in a horrifying injury situation
I say no, there are more disappointing teams
oh no i was asking your opinion
trust me i love the ravens
Ray Rice is unbelievably good
what, whether they’re playoff bound?
Flacco is frustratingly awkward
is he good or isn’t he?
no just their situation right now
it’s horrible. That whole team is falling apart. The defense can’t sustain if Lewis is out and Suggs is at, what, 75%? At best? Plus, with Lardarius Webb being out now, that secondary is going to get THRASHED by whoever they play. They just don’t have the above par talent necessary to be where they were pre-Cowboys game. The offense can’t pick it up unless they involve Ray Rice a lot more. Flacco needs support, he’s not Manning or Brady. He can throw the deep ball, but they need Rice to be a threat to keep opposing defenses true. Otherwise, you can sayonara to the Super Bowl, and possibly even to a playoff win if the Texans game told us anything.
Yeah tbh it’s a deathly thought but
Ray Lewis might have to hang up his boots
will he get Canton?
1000000000000% yes
if he doesn’t get voted in on his first ballot, i would be shocked
yeah London Fletcher?
Possibly
if the experts are as professional as they appear, he should be a first-balloter, too
otherwise, he’ll be recognized sooner or later
just maybe not right away
how about Aaron Rodgers?
hmmmm
see he’s won how many superbowls?
his completion rate is pretty impressive
i’d say yes
but he’s got a few more years yet
I think the same. I mean, what if he totally tanks from here to the end of his career? then everything’s up in the air
oh yeah defenintely
he’s not a sure thing
now
big question
Eli Manning?
Yes. After everything he’s been through as a QB in one of the toughest towns to play in, in the shadow of his superstar brother, with more 4th-quarter comeback victories in three seasons than any other QB in league history, he’s earned it.
one would hope so
he is in my books one of the most elite QBs in the modern era
and easily one of the most underrated
He still is! I can’t believe it! People STILL bet against him! Especially against RG3 this week, it’s ridiculous/
RG3 is good i mean *round of applause*
but Eli is so clutch
and then just wins
he is the only QB i’ve seen who if he turns up in the right mindset
he actually just wins a game
no scary moments
just does it
have you seen his face when he’s pulling those comeback from between his butt cheeks? cool as ice, not even furrowing his eye brows.
the guy is freaky
the guy is a born QB
^literally
all the shit they say about Peyton
he hasn’t shown me near enough as Eli
oh and everyone seems to forget the ring count
Eli 2 Peyton 1
OI, HOOOOOLD UP
nope
i’m gonna say it
you can’t stop me
Eli is better than Peyton
No Doubt about it
Peyton and Eli are both at EXACTLY the same place. Dan Marino never won a Super Bowl, yet he’s considered better than Eli and Peyton. Why? Not because of Super Bowls, but because as a quarterback, he was the best.
how good was Marino?
not that you ever watched him
but yeah how good was he
I’ve watched heaps of NFL Films spots on the guy. He was Manning before Manning. Raw stats, franchise QB, one of the greatest offensive football players ever. His 5,084 yards and 48 TDs (both records at the time) 1984 campaign, where he led the Dolphins to 14-2 and a Super Bowl appearance, in his SECOND season, is still considered the greatest full season performance by a QB.

Even Rodgers’ 2011 season doesn’t hold up.

Also consider that Marino played in a time where QB’s no matter who they were were hit routinely and receivers could be hit past the 5 yard margin

Brett Favre won a Super Bowl, yet he’s considered better than Eli despite Eli’s 2 wins BECAUSE Favre was consistently better for longer. Eli struggled for the first four years of his career. Favre WON in the first four years of his career. And Peyton Manning is considered better than Favre. No basis
yeah
i mean i never really watched much about Marino
Favre was good, he just came back
and no one comes back good
Peyton is alright but again he’s getting older
and yeah Eli started poorly
and first impressions are huge
i mean people STILL want Cam Newton to excel
OK, before we get into the Newton argument (that could take years), I ask you this, and all I need is a yes or no to make a point: does Ben Roethlisberger belong in the Hall of Fame?
no
Canton is for great careers
not great seasons
Ben has 4 more 4th-quarter wins than Eli, an extra Super Bowl appearance, a better winning percentage, a better all-time record, and consistently one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL for the last eight years…EIGHT. Why then is Eli worthy of Canton?
and Ben not?
same premise as Marino
He’s just a good QB
Marino never won a Super Bowl
Ben yeah he was good
but he’s just not amazing
he’s been seriously good
like he’s had hall of fame seasons
but not good enough, it’s a tough call
because he’s been good
but i dunno
not a tough call. Both belong in the Hall of Fame. Roethlisberger isn’t horrible one year and amazing the next like Michael Vick. He’s annoyingly consistent, which gets you the Hall.

But both Mannings are at exactly the same place. Peyton has the MVP trophies and the stats and records. Eli has the comebacks and the Super Bowl wins. Maybe one more championship out of Eli and he and Brady will duke it out for the best of the best, because Brady is truly one of the best QBs of all time

Oh Brady is on a whole other level
6th round draft pick
came from NOWHERE
and look now
two MVP seasons
one close to undefeated season
and one undefeated
a string of super bowls
There’s a difference between sure-fire hall-of-famer and borderline entry
yeah And Brady is sure fire
there will be an absolute riot if he’s not Hall of Fame
Exactly
Brady, Peyton, and I think Brees are surefire hall of famers
Nobody surpasses Brees’ tenure with the Saints. No QB has ever been as productive
for one team, i mean
oh yeah
exactly
apart from Brady
not even Brady.
Brees has more passing yards than Brady since 2006
in no six year stretch has Brady outplayed Brees
ever
but take into account
that six year stretch
elaborate on Brees v Brady on this six year stretch
who’s the MVP
if we’re talking pure stats, Brees. If we’re talking Super Bowls, Brady. If we’re talking about importance to their team, Brees. If we’re saying leadership, Brees. On field, Brady. Off field Brees.

Brees 3, Brady 2.

correction: 4-2*
importance to their team?
dude
Brady
dude, may I point to the year 2008?
Matt Cassel in the hizzhouse
I’m sorry, they have the talent to make a lot people look good
doesn’t devalue brady, but the offense is geared so well, he looks like a madden player. anyone else in there can still win
I would love to have Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Deion Branch, Steven Ridley, AND Brandon lloyd to throw to
Who does Brees have? Lance Moore, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston…that’s it. And he’s STILL putting up MVP numbers.
And Brees is 6’1″ while Brady is 6’4″
dude
Jimmy Graham
great
Colston
Great
And Brady has two
gronk AND hernandez
Colston is nobody without brees
Well neither is welker
but they are because they have the best QB’s in the game
I’ll bet anything Welker would be superstar in the short game with RG3
right now
i’m not talking years down the road
possibly
but he’s getting thrown to by brady
same as colston and brees
you can’t be putting colston in the same class as welker!
welker is way better and is a slot receiver, not a numero uno option
well to what point does the QB influence a WR stats
?
…I guess you’d have to look at Yards After Catch numbers
because then you could say Brady is better because Welker is better
whoever has the least means their QB is more important to their team than the other
yeah
but averages
not total
Welker has been around longer
yeah, i’m going to look at that now
just this season, we’ll see
hahahahah
intense discussion right here
BREES V BRADY
THE FINAL BATTLE!
hahahahahaha
Wes Welker is Number Two in averages. Colston isn’t even in the Top 40
mmmmm
what about when he was throwing to Meachem?
c’mon man! That’s a maaaaassive margin!
huh?
no
Meachem doesn’t show up either
there is no way Brees is better
not last season
Meachem is playing for the chargers
sorta
im looking all-time. the only Saints receiver that shows up is Lance Moore in the top 40.
and I mean, 33
yeah
i still don’t think Brees is better
i’m sorry
He’s got nothing on Brady’s consistency
EVERY season
same with Brees! EVERY season!
what about the chargers years?
^considering he came back from a rotator cuff injury with the Chargers to do what he’s done with New Orleans, I’ve solidified my point
Brady
Pass attempts 5,506
Pass completions 3,521
Percentage 63.9
TD–INT 308–116
Passing yards 41,429
QB Rating 96.6
brees
TD–INT 295-152
Passing yards 42,462
QB Rating 93.9
Passing Attempts 5,715
Completions 3,752
Completion Percentage 65.7%
all-time?
as of week 5
so yeah all time
…this whole thing started when I said six-year stretch
not all time
Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
sorry
there
Brady wins
Brady’s been lucky enough to play with the same team his entire career, under the same coach, with the same offensive system, and relatively the same core players.
Brees has been kicked out of San Diego because some young gun named Rivers, has gone through three different coaches, has run four different offensive systems, with almost an entirely new core offensive players in every change
I still give the edge to Brees
Dude Brees got injured and had to comeback
Look at Brady’s consistency
and he’s stayed on the field for majority of his career
I’d say with the difference in the amount Brady and Brees run the ball under pressure and the amount they throw makes Brady’s ACL tear nothing compared to Brees’ rotator cup. I tore all three once: ACL, MCL, and PCL. I can still run at the same speed as before my injury. On the other hand, rotator cup tears are infamous for causing terminal arthritis in a lot of patients
the entire world would back me over you
Brady is a household name as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time
he’s created a dynasty
Brees has not done that
*people in the Bayou are sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches on Bourbon Street*
while every NFL supporter outside of Bayou want you to write down this whole conversation roll it up and eat your words
he’s the best
the winningest QB since ages ago
…just to be clear, how many Super Bowls has he won in the last eight years? Almost a decade?
my memory is still fuzzy three years after celebrating on Bourbon Street
How many has he made it to?
one
ONE
And Brady since his last win? A whole two. And lost both. To a Manning. Both times not able to score more than 17 points. Whereas Brees and the Saints went to 31. That’s the amount the Pats scored in both Super Bowls COMBINED
Two superbowls
ok and Brees made it to?
One Super Bowl, beating Peyton Manning. Who, if I remember correctly, Brady couldn’t beat in Manning’s Super Bowl season.
one superbowl
he’s won one
made it to one
Brady has made it to?
5
and won
AND won?
Miami was unsure if Brees’ shoulder was completely healed and doctors suggested the team not sign him because of the injury.[16] The Dolphins ended negotiations and traded for Minnesota Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper instead. Brees signed a 6-year, $60 million deal with the Saints on March 14, 2006.
lol
idiots
Let me play this out for you. It’s the 2001 season, and Brees and Sean Payton become first timers in their respective jobs. Brees is the starting QB with an illustrious career at Purdue under his belt. Payton, one of the greatest offensive minds ever in the NFL, is leading the team. They come together and in that season, blank the St. Louis Rams with their dual passing game with Joe Horn and their running game in the regular season, and then going on to beat them in the NFC Championship game. Who do they face? Brady and the number 15 offense in the league, being carried by the number 8 defense. That’s year one. You fit Payton (who is a former quarterback) with Brees, you get answers. Same thing happened with Alex Smith in San Fran with Harbaugh last year. Same thing happened with Brady and Belichick, in New england. You put a smart coach with a smart QB, it all works.
You give Brees and Payton to the Saints in 2001, you’ve got a three way rivalry with Manning, Brees, and Brady.
Under the real circumstances, I salute you for your favoritism of Brady
But you give Brees a full career in one city where he’s been an incredible human being on and off the field…you get the greatest QB in the history of the NFL, hands down
oh yeah
if he had been as he is now throughout his whole career
he is the best
I like Brees better than Brady mainly for two reasons: 1), how much of a douche does Brady have to be to live like a friggin Hollywood movie star while the rest of the NFL live like normal-ass Americans?  And 2), in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I don’t see Brady taking as much pride in his city as Brees did considering that he lives the way he does across the country from Boston.
of course he would’ve
he’s can be a jerk
but he’s the best QB in the modern era
taking personalities aside
he’s a special guy
Brady doesn’t hold a dime to Brees. Not on the field, not off the field. Stats, ok, Brady is better in some respects. Super Bowl’s? Yes, Brady has more (Brees still has 5 good years left in him, so watch out). But before you call him the best, I suggest you look outside of the playing field to see who’s the best. It’s not all about raw numbers. It’s about the character of a player, too.

And that sir, is how they pick Hall-of-Famers

he’s a winner
Yeah but off the field it’s the Love to Hate of Brady that makes him famous
that makes him the person he is now
He’s in a family guy episode
Brees hasn’t had that honor
Hahahahaa
Family Guy argument beats all
you realize we’re going around in circles now, right?
pretty much

Top 10 Things To Look Out For: Week 10

Coldplay in action. What a show!

To the fans who follow us, we’re truly sorry for not posting more regularly. It’s been a hectic week for Will and I. Will broke his ankle and that “obviously” debilitated his writing ability. He’ll have a post coming soon. As for me? Work, work, and COLDPLAY CONCERT. They’re my favorite band of all-time and they put on the greatest concert I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending.

But, we’re not here for the concert details. If you are, check out @aceing82 for another show picture.

We’re here for football! And we’ve got some crazy playoff story lines heading into Week 10. The Eagles are slipping away, Leon Washington is facing his old team in the New York Jets, and the Bears are forming a new-look, ferocious takeaway defense. Let’s delve into the events that await us:

1) Houston vs. Bears could be a potential Super Bowl preview. If you have NFL GamePass, keep this in the corner of your screen while you watch anything else. If there’s one thing every NFL fan knows, it’s that despite the power of offenses in the NFL, defense is still what makes champions in this league. Almost all of the Super Bowl contenders this year have D’s that keep them in games and these two juggernauts are no exception. Lovie Smith’s unit has the Bears winning consistently, with just one loss the Packers before their emergence. They will definitely win the next match-up and be in control of the division for the rest of the season. And the Texans, no matter how good Andrew Luck’s Colts are looking, have a dominant all-around team that can pulverize even the best. Whom ever comes out with the win here can be sure that they’ll have to up their level of play and disguise their schemes more thoughtfully if they face off again. With two Defensive Player of the Year candidates on both sides of the ball (J.J. Watt for Houston, Charles Tillman for  Chicago) this has the look a really exciting game.

2) The Colts are going to the playoffs behind Andrew Luck’s historic rookie season. Luck keeps them in games and is proving all the preseason predictions of him right. He’s a game operator who can change the course of his team’s fortunes at any point of the game. Yes, he’s still a rookie, so I don’t expect a deep playoff run (although I wouldn’t be surprised by a wild-card win). But the guy is amazing, and will be for a long time in the league. If there’s a team in the league that is already getting hot at the right time, it’s these guys, and the fact that were able to handily dismantle a Jaguars team that has been a perennial confidence-builder for opposing teams is a huge positive. #IndyIsLegit

3) The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming back, and another win can only re-emphasize that. With an easily winnable game against the dismal Kansas City Chiefs, the Steelers are on a road that could make them a strong candidate to win the AFC North, after a slow start to their season and a possible hole they could have dug themselves in with Baltimore taking over in the driver’s seat of the division. Ben Roethlisberger is running the short passing game effectively in OC Todd Haley’s new scheme in Pittsburgh and can ride on this scheme along with their annoyingly-consistent defense into the playoffs.

4) The Giants are slowing down drastically on offense. And in Cincinnati, they need to get back to their driving ways. Eli Manning has been held without a TD pass in two of their last three games, and as the pilot of the offense, he needs to start revving the engine a little more. The Bengals are on a four-game losing streak, and their defense is not winning anything for them. This will be a huge opportunity for New York to prove that they can efficiently exploit bad defenses and win on both sides of the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul is still a dominant force on the other side along with Justin Tuck, Osi Umeniyora, and Mathias Kiwanuka. But this team is built to win late in games, and last week’s lost to Pittsburgh was a huge disappointment. This will be their first chance to regain some momentum before they start to slip into the middle of the divisional pack in the NFC East.

5) Tampa Bay has a chance to firmly establish their new-found explosiveness in San Diego. Head Coach Greg Schiano was looking like a first-year bust with the Buccaneers through Week 6, with the team at 2-4 in a lost NFC South. But lately, rookie RB Doug Martin and QB Josh Freeman have the team winning tight games with a lot of points on the board. Martin had a historic game in Oakland with 262 yards rushing, 4 TD’s, and a new entrance into the talks for Offensive Rookie of the Year. Their defensive secondary is also making some noise with takeaways in the fourth quarters of games to solidify some much needed wins. All of a sudden, they could be in the thick of the NFC wild-card race. San Diego hasn’t been outstanding, and the Bucs could have a big win coming for them if they play a solid, 60-minute game in all three phases.

6) Dallas vs. Philadelphia will prove which team sucks more. Both Michael Vick and Tony Romo are at about a level 6 V/FPG (Vick-Caliber Fails Per Game). Romo, for his ability to make his team tease their fans into thinking they can win tight games. And Vick…well, the damn scale is named after him, isn’t it? Both teams are heading into NFL oblivion this season and the loser will, for all intents and purposes, be out of the NFC wild-card race. It’s a game that really isn’t going to play a huge factor in January, but will surely affirm which team will need more work. As of now, Philly HC Andy Reid looks like he’ll lose his job and Vick might be on the bench as well. For the ‘Boys, HC Jason Garrett may be replaced with an outside candidate (far-fetched possibilities include Sean Payton and Jon Gruden). Will all due respect, these teams can be playoff contenders will obvious talent and unlocked potential. But it’s not like they’re losing for no reason.

7) Oakland may actually have a winnable game in Baltimore. I’m not saying I would pick them with even $10 dollars on the line, but certainly with the injuries on the Ravens’ D, Carson Palmer has a chance to shred them the way he did Tampa Bay’s last week. Palmer showed that he can still play at an elite level, minus the turnovers, and can lead this team. But he’ll really have to show up with Darren McFadden likely not playing this week with an injury. Baltimore is still going to the favorite, but I wouldn’t call them heavy favorites. If Oakland can generate pressure on Joe Flacco and not give him a chance to shoot the deep ball to Torrey Smith, and hold Ray Rice at the line, then it opens up a chance for Palmer to be the hero. There’s cracks in Baltimore’s shield, and the Raiders could take advantage.

8) Denver will be unstoppable this week. I couldn’t care less about what any remaining critics might have to say about Peyton Manning’s neck, the guy is back, and in a big way. In Carolina, with a struggling all-around team, they’ll be primed to drop a few dozen points on the black-and-blue jerseys and start a clean record in November. The offense looks like the one the Colts had in 2009 with Manning still in Indy blue: young, raw, but with respect for authority. The authority? It’s still the sheriff. Manning, playing with perhaps a little less zing to his throws than in years’ past, is on his way to one of his best statistical seasons, heading towards 4,808 yards and 40 TD’s. With the Panthers’ defense less than intimidating look, look for heavily one-sided games.

9) Speaking of one-sided games, Matty Ice vs. New Orleans’ defense is going to be ugly. New Orleans’ defense is being rolled flat by opposing offenses (with the exception of the lackluster Eagles) and that doesn’t look like it’ll stop with Atlanta on the menu. Matt Ryan (a potential MVP), Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Michael Turner form a unit that will stop at nothing the crush their rivals into the ground so far down that they’ll be in Beijing by January, asking little Chinese women where the playoffs are. Drew Brees will really have to keep pace with Atlanta, which won’t be a monumental task for an elite quarterback like himself. But it’s do-or-die for the Saints right here, and if they can’t match the Falcons point-for-point, then they can greet 2013 a little early with open arms.

10) New England put up 52 against Buffalo last time, so how much will it be this time? I love me some points. Points make the NFL go ’round, they make people’s heads spin in the clutch and in one-sided affairs. The Patriots are skilled at both. Tommy Brady will be out to ramp up the speed and ferocity of an offense that also ran up the score in London to 45 against a declining St. Louis defense. I think I might know a prediction here…62-7. No, wait…62-3. NOPE, hold on here…the score is 62-0 with about 1:30 left on the clock, and Brian Hoyer, the Pats’ backup QB, feels so bad for the Bills that he simply runs backwards and “accidentally” steps out of bounds in his own end zone and feigns disgust with himself, while Mario Williams and the defense all rally around their hero for allowing them half a fantasy point for their “dedicated” owners who couldn’t unload the unit in time for this week.

Yep, some wacky story lines here. Enjoy Week 10, and we’ll be back with some Quick Hits on Sunday Night!

Ten Things To Look Out For: Week 9

We’re back! Hope everyone’s had a great week! Exams are finally f***ing over, and Will and I couldn’t be happier. Enough of the useless crap, though; onto the football!


With Week 9 having started on Thursday with the San Diego Chargers dismantling of the worst team in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs (that’s not even close to impressive). Russell Wilson is making huge strides in an expanded offense, RGIII is facing off against his media-appointed brother Cam Newton of the woeful Carolina Panthers, the teasing Cowboys will try to knock off the 7-0 Falcons, and The Eagles are facing a huge test against another bottom feeder in the N’Awlins Saints. 

In the other half of the league, Peyton Manning has returned to his MVP-caliber play, the Steelers are making themselves relevant for the first time this season, and the Texans are looking more and more like the Super Bowl contender that everyone was expecting this year.

We’re about to see some serious football from this week on. Playoff spots are now on the table and up for grabs. The league has so much parity this year and it’s only going to help the cause of a larger amount of competitive games. 

Welcome to the madness.


Ten Things To Look Out For
1) Mario Williams is frustrated with the Texans success without him, and he’s out for blood. 

Wade Phillips is a defensive mastermind, and living without one of your best pass rushers from last year would be a fancy plate of crap in anyone else’s hands. What Phillips did last year in turning that defense around so drastically was massive, and what he’s done without Williams and Cushing to keep his unit competitive deserves a lot of recognition. But Williams isn’t going to let something like jealousy simply be a limiting factor for him. He’s not happy that his year has been so lackluster after the blockbuster move that the Bills made to grab him. They’re one of the worst run defenses in the league, and it’s like occasional guest appearances when they get to the quarterback. Williams is going to be firing on all cylinders when he faces his old team on Sunday, and it ain’t gon’ be pretty.

2) Mike Vick has his head in Philadelphia’s guillotine. It’s go time. 

Against an underwhelming Saints’ defense, Vick will have to be electric to spark anything for his offense. He’s a smart player who knows that the offense will start with him on every play. LeSean McCoy will be seeing a lot of carries against an historically horrible run defense, but Vick will have to step up on the big passing plays that can exploit the Saints. With the talent that the Eagles have on both sides of the ball, it’s incredible that Andy Reid hasn’t made more of it. But if Vick can collect some confidence with a few big plays to his faster-than-fast receivers, my money is on Mike’s V/FPH (Vick Fails Per Hour) to be lower than even Matt Cassel’s. And that’s cutting Vick a break.

3) The Cowboys are in their make or break game of the year. 

This is it. It’s either the start of a resurgence or the end of the road for Jerry Jones’ wonder team. It’s so horrible to think that if Dallas can’t defeat Atlanta, the season will be out of their grasp for good. Forget window of Super Bowl opportunity, how about actually showing some cajones and saving any kind of positive energy around them? If the ‘Boys lose, they’ll be 3-5 on the season, and the New York Giants will effectively run away with the division in the palm of their hands. Jerry Jones has not done a good enough job as an owner to effectively up the talent of this team to the point of balance. Sure, you have DeMarcus Ware as one of the best pass rushers in the history of the league, but you don’t have a secondary that can come up big in the biggest moments of games. You have Romo, Murray, Austin, Bryant, and Witten on the offense, but how lucky are you to have such talent when that talent has won a humongous, intimidating total of ONE playoff win in Romo’s time behind center? It’s now or next year for this team. They’ve shown they can stay in games. But if they can’t win, they aren’t good. Period.

4) How ’bout DEM Dolphins? How ’bout DEM Colts? How ’bout…playoff implications? Seriously? 

They’ve surpassed minuscule expectations from pundits around the league and both teams are doing it with rookie quarterbacks. Andrew Luck is on pace for 4,000+ yards, and Ryan Tannehill is a full on master of the no-huddle, things that are going to keep both quarterbacks relevant for years forward. Both have kept their teams in a weak playoff race in the AFC and both face off in Indianapolis. This game will be crucial in scaling both quarterbacks against each other. Granted, Tannehill is nursing a bruised thigh, but it’ll be a test to see how far along both teams have gotten to as well, since the Dolphins went 6-10 and the Colts went 2-14 last year. And the craziest part about it is that whoever loses will still be in a good position to grab a playoff spot. Even crazier? How hot RT1’s wife is. <– That'll be my highlight reel.

5) “My waaaaalls are falling, they’re crumbling dowwwwn…” is the song the Cardinals are singing. 

Say hello to one of the biggest collapses of the season. After going undefeated at 4-0, Arizona has lost four straight. Look, it’s not like we didn’t expect the Cardinals to fall at some point. And you’re bullshitting me if you’re going to say that you even expected them to have won four games by now. They’ll be looking to salvage their season against a rejuvenated Green Bay team, so it doesn’t quite look like a vase of roses. The Cards’ defense has been overachieving this season, playing some good, hard-nosed football, but the offense has been…well, they’ve been like a unicorn: possible in theory, yet imaginary and unreal. With Aaron Rodgers playing like last year’s MVP again, and Clay Matthews terrorizing quarterbacks (and considering all the sacks Arizona’s O-line has given up, ‘Getcha Popcorn Ready’), the Cards are looking at a game that could define everything they are. They’re either 9-7 and possible playoff contenders, or they’re 6-10 and plummeting back to the cellar that everyone predicted they would inhabit at the beginning of the season.

6) There is no number six. Six never existed. It’s a figment of your imagination, like Sasquatch. You’ve heard of the number six, but your only proof is your kindergarten teacher telling you so. What the hell did they know? All they did was send you into timeout when you misbehaved and made you count to 20 as a timer. They taught you the number six to add one imaginary second to prolong your pain and suffering in that corner. Using six is a cruel practice. Using six is the reason for the recession. Using six causes catastrophe. Let’s not invite more insanity into our lives. Accept it, and move on.

7) Peyton Manning returns with the ferocity of a real Bronco, so let’s watch him shred defenses with dull scissors. 

It’s the awakening. The re-realization that Peyton is still Peyton. That he drinks WD-40 like soda to keep his gears clean and devoid of rust. The guy is ageless. Brett Favre is rolling in his grave at this thought. Wait…right, he’s just in Mississippi…well, I mean that’s pretty much death already…ANYWAYS, Manning is showing that he still hasn’t lost his skills in playing the game. He’s in the thick of the MVP race, a Comeback Player of the Year candidate along with Adrian Peterson, and showing his Sheriff mentality on the sidelines with the offense, taking control of a young team ready to listen to one of the wisest football players in the game. With a winnable date in Cincinnati looming ahead, Manning could be set to have one of his most explosive games of the year. If Manning can get the offense moving fast, Andy Dalton and the Bengals have no shot in this game at all. Manning is here, and he’s almost assuredly going to be here in late-January.
8) If Baltimore can show some talented depth on their defense, watch them destroy the league. 

For any team, it’s hard losing one of your best players on either side of the ball. It’s even harder when you lose two. But when it’s your Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback and the 17-year leader of your defense, things can turn to shit quickly. That’s the problem that the Ravens are facing from here-on-out. They were destroyed in Houston, and now they’re up against a Cleveland Browns team who have shown serious nut sack against the Chargers, Colts, Bengals, and the Ravens themselves this season. If the Ravens are good enough to be in the Super Bowl, it will because they have depth at important positions. Without players who can step up in the spotlight, Baltimore can either settle for a low seed as a division winner (barely), or just as easily say goodbye to hope this season.
Side Note: If Flacco sucks as much as we think he does, there won’t even be a discussion about whether he’s elite, whether Baltimore is a Super Bowl contender, or whether the Ravens should start looking to draft someone for him to compete with next season. I’m that serious now.

9) If they can’t win in Jacksonville, count the Detroit Lions out of any sort of playoff contention. 

I reckon the Jaguars are like the unofficial measurement of sucking in the NFL. You score 20 and hold them to 15, your defense did its job, your offense sucks. You score 40 and you allow 28, vice-versa. And, you lose, you suck in general and it’s time to consider firing your GM. Matt Stafford is a great quarterback, and it doesn’t get mentioned enough. With Megatron under the Madden Curse (not being injured, just not being productive), he’s found Titus Young as a solid target to trust in clutch situations. Stafford will be the start, middle, and finish of this team’s games for the rest of the season. The defense is alright, not great. They have a match-up against a horrible team with an unimpressed fan base and that should play in the Lions’ favor, regardless of the Jags’ effectiveness. If the Lions can’t win this floozy of a game, then they’re doomed to fall into the garbage of the NFL.

10) This is the Houston Texans moment.

If there’s one game that will define the the dominance of Houston as the best all-around team in the league, it’s this one. At first glance, it looks like a one-sided affair. You’re goddamn right it is. But just how one-sided it is will be dependent on Gary Kubiak’s ability to completely dismantle and exploit every facet of Buffalo’s “defense” and Wade Phillip’s unit stuffing the Bills in every way possibly. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a pretty average quarterback with the ability to win games on occasion, which means that keeping him under 200 yards and a TD with maybe one or two INT’s will still be a massive accomplishment. Should be pretty easy with J.J. Watt leading that formidable defensive line in batting down anything resembling a football. It’s the moment that the Texans are looking at as a backyard football game with really unfair teams.

Houston, meet 7-1 and prime candidacy for Super Bowl favorite.

Ground, Pound…Sugar, Spice, and Everything Golden

San Francisco’s tough win in a battle of ground-and-pound football against the Seattle Seahawks is though-provoking.


In this, the Golden Age of Quarterbacks, we see Madden-style statistics thrown up by quarterbacks and wide receivers. Part of it can be contributed to the gross over-officiating and constricting rules against defenses in today’s NFL. As a fan, it’s fun to watch games with high scores and huge catches in pivotal moments of games. But how much is it spoiling the casual viewer of American football to gear the game towards commercially-accepted, on-field numbers?

Football, since it was invented, has always been one of the most body-damaging sports played in North America (sorry hockey, bad dental work does not equate to rough play). The greats of decades ago were renowned for their toughness and their ability to break tackles and hit with fury. This was the intent of the game: a way for big, strong men to duke it out in the name of victory, and scrawny, unable men like myself to sit and home, watch, and feel the same thrill. It’s not a sport for the faint hearted.

I can still remember watching NFL Films on NFL Network showing the brutal beauty of football. Watching heads get knocked around, tough defense, ground games pounding through tackles is all so inspiring. NFC North teams gutting each other on the field, Earl Campbell running through block after crushing block for the Houston Oilers, Dick Butkus knocking the crap out of quarterbacks, those were the days.

The Heart of a Wimp
Lately though, it’s hard to find games that show this kind of toughness. It’s all ballerina wide receivers in tu-tus and quarterbacks with a 5 yard force field that, if penetrated, is a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. I haven’t seen a really brutal, black-and-blue game in a long time. As much as I love those high-scoring, Tom Brady vs. Swiss Cheese games, I love a win in a grind. It’s all plastic and fake now.

And for what? Better ratings and more money? Screw it. I’m sure Calvin Johnson can take a hit. I’m sure Mike Vick wouldn’t be more than pulp in yesterday’s NFL. In Vick’s case, the Eagles might be better off.

I respect guys like Ben Roethlisberger. I hate his freaking guts, but he ain’t no fruit cake against numerous blockers. He can take a hit, and he can throw the football AND complete the pass while taking the shot. He’s famous among NFL defenses for being one of the toughest quarterbacks in the league to bring down. He’s a player who could survive in any decade of the game’s existence. Can you say that about more than five quarterbacks in the league? Probably not.

And it’s a shame, because if teams looked for stronger, more durable quarterbacks, we wouldn’t have a problem with defenses attacking the NFL’s golden boys so much. It would be an even playing field on all sides and games would still be exciting. Why? Because players would be capable to win games without the help of the league.

If Michael Vick played in the 1970’s, he’d be done halfway through his rookie season. If Tom Brady was on the Patriots against the ’85 Bears 46 defense in Super Bowl XX, he might be paralyzed (not from physical harm, probably just from the idea of Mike Singletary charging towards him with the eyes of a bull). If Mark Sanchez played in the 1960’s in place of Joe Namath…I think with that, you can start carving his tomb stone and digging a hole for his bones halfway to China.

The Way Of The Game
Because of the emphasis on offensive juggernauts, scoring has gone up around the league and as a result, so have individual stats. But the problem with everyone being super…is that no one is super (“The Incredibles” reference? I think so). No matter how many points you put up, it’s the same goal: win.

If you put up 35 and the other team puts up 38, you won’t be rewarded for five touchdowns. You still lose. Your quarterback can throw for 450 yards and 3 TD’s, but what happens when your ground game is lackluster and the other quarterback throws 4 TD’s? You lose…right?

Um, yes. By seven.

It’s all about the wins. The league doesn’t care about field goals. They don’t care about good, hard-fought battles. They care about stats and points, and it’s hurting the game more than we know.

I don’t care who your quarterback is if your team isn’t winning games. Drew Brees is producing like his usual self, yet his team is 2-4. Sure, you can say it’s because of the bounty scandal and the way it rocked the team. They took away Sean Payton, the heart of their officiating unit. But they also took away the quarterback of their defense in LB Johnathan Vilma and it has caused the team to lose games that their offense has kept them in. It’s all checks and balances.

We Can Only Hope
Personally, I’d love to see Super Bowl XLVII played between the Seattle Seahawks/San Francisco 49ers vs. the Houston Texans. Why? Because all three of those teams rely on their defenses and their running games to win. Their quarterbacks are a part of the team as opposed to being the team. They are groups of men who play all three phases of the game and emphasize the importance of all of them equally.

But this match-up, in all likeliness, is impossible in 2012.
With all due respect to the teams above (and the latter two I mentioned are favorites to win it all), the team on the other side is going to have a top-5 passing offense with a middle-to-bottom tier defense, like the Green Bay Packers or the Baltimore Ravens.

Frankly, I’m appalled at how little chance I’m giving my own hopes and dreams for the Super Bowl this year (as I turn the lights off in my room, close the blinds, and sit in a corner in fetal position waiting for the apocalypse). This isn’t the way it should be. I’m sticking by my picks, and most people around the league would feel the same, I’m sure. But the fact is that the NFL is making it almost impossible for teams who reflect the Golden Days of 1960’s, 70’s, ground-and-pound football to make deep playoff runs. The last six Super Bowls were won by teams with elite QB’s. Not top-tier defenses. Not big-time running backs. Quarterbacks. Lots of scoring. It’s these factors that make the new look NFL hard to swallow.

I think I’ve made my point. The world is slowly coming to an end with the over-filling of the hot-air balloons that are the enormity of modern NFL offenses. 

My best wishes to teams that are trying to revive the traditions of old football. Please, for the love of all that is holy and non Goodell-a-fied, win a Super Bowl and restore balance in the world.

It’s all falling apart slowly.



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Super Bowl Favorites? Make Me a Sandwich.

This is the NFL. It doesn’t stand for National Football League. It stands for Not For Losers.

Harsh as it sounds, the NFL is the one league where every game really counts. Sure, division leads and postseason seeding can come down to a single game in baseball, basketball, and hockey. But think about: football is the only major sport in North America (or the world for the matter) that plays less than 20 games in a regular season. Why do you think there’s so many more tie-breaking procedures here than in other sports? Because the aforementioned sports play more 80+ games a year. Hell, the MLB runs a 162-game season!

Hence, football is the only sport where it’s a proven fact that every game really does count.


It’s unlike running from a bear where all you have to do is run faster than the guy running the slowest. In this league, you either win all the games that you can, or you fall out of meaningful existence.

The Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns are both 1-5 on the season, effectively making them irrelevant in terms of the postseason. But…what if they win all of their games from here and each go 11-5? Then what?

Especially for the Chiefs, if they win out their games in a mysterious AFC West, they could be in contention for a wild card spot in the playoffs.

Clearly, that isn’t going to happen. That shit cray, yolo #wutup.

But, my inner hipster and my real self digress.

With the Patriots, 49ers, and Texans losing their games in Week 6, Atlanta barely beating a no-better-than-mediocre Oakland Raiders team, and Baltimore taking some huge injuries into the remainder of their season, five of the projected Super Bowl contenders are looking less than super. 

1) With the 49ers loss to a rejuvenated New York Giants team, they drop to 4-2 and are tied in the NFC West for number one. They steam-rolled their last two opponents, but this one loss hung their division lead in the closet for the time being. If they lose to the Seahawks at home on Thursday, they could be fighting for a simple second place for the next few weeks. No one knows how the season will pan out for the three other teams in the division, but they all have the same thought in mind: can’t lose. Just like the rest of the NFL.

2) The Texans are now 5-1 after an embarrassing loss (and their first of the year) to the back-to-2011-look Green Bay Packers. Now the questions may begin to spring up as to whether Brian Cushing’s season-ending injury is the reason for looking like a baby whose lollipop was taken from their infant mouths in a game that they should have won. OK, Aaron Rodgers is last year’s MVP, fine, got it. But he hasn’t played like it recently (gives me hope for Seattle, even though they didn’t quite win, still held them to 12) and Houston, at home, should have been able to contain him. If this is the defense we’re going to be seeing, say hello to a number 2 seed, and a number 1 break down. Asylum style.

3) The Falcons look like the comeback kids. So amazing, dat kick! So incredible, dat pass, against Carolina! Bullshit. All of it. Will looked at the schedule that Atlanta faces for the rest of the season, and even he said they must’ve rigged the schedule (Weekly Chat: Two Idiots). They can’t help who they play, but at least dominate if that’s what they’re saying. 3 INT’s after having only two all year? Against the RAIDERS? Come on, Matty Ice. This team is going to kick the bucket in the postseason if they can’t beat teams who don’t have the prospects of reaching .500.

4) Baltimore’s defense was already not at its best this season, giving up more yards per game than they did in their previous three seasons. Now, they may have to live without Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, and definitely Lardarius Webb after a win against Dallas. Having three injuries, one to each of the levels of your defense is a coach’s worst nightmare. If they can win their next game, Harbaugh will be praised for his ability to find gold in his wallet. If they lose, all hell will have broken loose in Baltimore.

5) New England is the best off of any of these teams to win a Super Bowl. Their 3-3 record is a little strange for the spoiled ones, but they’re the best 3-3 team in the NFL. They’re in a four-way tie for the AFC East division lead and are in full control of their destiny. But the fact that they made so many mental errors in Seattle (WOOHOO) is concerning. It’s not the same team when you’re miffing clock management when you can put yourself two possessions ahead before halftime. Get better fast, or we may have to get Paul Revere to let Boston know that “THE DOLPHINS ARE COMING! THE DOLPHINS ARE COMING!…ALONG WITH RYAN TANNEHILL’S HOT WIFE.”

So, who are the teams that we can include in this group of Super Bowl contenders? I’ve got a list of possibles after these five. The:

1) New York Giants
2) Chicago Bears
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
4) San Diego Chargers
5) Denver Broncos
6) Seattle Seahawks
7) Philadelphia Eagles
8) Minnesota Vikings
9) Cincinnati Bengals
10) The NFLPA/NFLRA (No politics, just old guys duking it out in pads. Could make for a hilarious Pro Bowl activity though. Ed Hochuli would kill a man).

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