Fantasy Football News

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Commissioner Goodell Only Fine Johnson, Finnegan $25,000 apiece

Big news yesterday was not the backlash of the streaking San Diego Chargers' whipping of Peyton Manning's Colts the night before, but rather the decision Roger Goodell made to only fine Houston Texans' wide receiver Andre Johnson and Tennessee Titans' defensive back Cortland Finnegan. To make matters worse, the fine was just $25,000 each.

As you all have likely heard by now, after pushing and shoving each other throughout the Tennessee/Houston game on Sunday afternoon, Johnson finally lashed out and threw--and connected on--multiple punches on Finnegan. Both helmets were ripped off each other as they tussled in the middle of the play in the second half of the game. They didn't even have the audacity to wait until the two teams had finished running the play. Finnegan, much smaller than the 6'3''/230-pound Johnson, didn't have a chance and wasn't even able to get a punch out before both benches had cleared and the two were broken up.


The two players never did have a liking for each other. In fact, this is now the second season in a row that Johnson has been fined for actions against his counterpart, Finnegan. Last September Johnson--usually a very quite and humble player who keeps to himself--was fined $7,500 by the league for a brush up he had with Cortland, during which both teams' benches were cleared as well.

It's hard to blame Johnson, really, considering Finnegan has gained an aggressive, almost dirty reputation from his fellow players over the last several years. It appeared as though Finnegan had done a bit of instigating, pushing Johnson to his limit and, eventually, over the top. Johnson snapped, and he will have to pay the consequences.

Fans and plenty of other people in the NFL society have shown their frustration with this mere 'slap-on-the-wrist' type punishment. Defensive players are being fined $50,000-$75,000 for helmet-to-helmet contact, yet Johnson can land multiple punches on a helmet-less player without a suspension, and just a $25,000 fine. It just doesn't seem right, and I agree 100% with any of Johnson's fellow NFLers who happen to speak out about this.
It seems to me as though Goodell is supporting, or at least not acting out against, this whole WWE-style persona. I don't like it and I think Johnson should face a minimum three-game suspension. Players have, rightly so, been getting hit with 4-6 game suspensions (sometimes even lengthier) for off-the-field issues, yet Johnson (and Finnegan, he's not completely innocent in this incident despite not throwing any punches) can beat on a defender and not face any major punishment.

It's not just this one incident that I have questioned, either. As I wrote about last week, Richard Seymour was ejected from last week's game, just like Johnson and Finnegan were two days ago, for sucker-punching Ben Roethlisberger after he threw a touchdown pass. But Seymour was also just hit with a $25,000 docking of his paycheck.

That's not the only thing that shocked me. It's one thing to just fine them with no suspension, but to give both Johnson and Finnegan the same dollar amount in fines is just ridiculous, in my opinion. Yes, Johnson was victorious in the fight, but that should mean he gets a larger sum of money docked, because of the fact that he was the one throwing the punches. Seymour had one punch, Johnson? Two or three solid, at least.

What I would have done? Fine Finnegan $25,000 with a one-game suspension and hit Johnson with a $50,000 fine and three-game suspension. But maybe that's just me.

Photo Credit
Andre Johnson: AP Photo/Dave Einsel

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Start 'em, Sit 'em: Week 12 Edition (Game Picks Included)

A majority of fantasy football leagues' regular seasons should be winding down at this point, which means the "new" season, also known as the playoffs, are right around the corner. Keeping up with your team's roster and making the right decisions when it comes to starting, and benching, certain players is very crucial from here on out.

Whether you've already locked up a playoff spot or are fighting for a chance to play in the winner's bracket, these are the guys you want to have in your lineup this week. I added some guys who you may want to stay away from, as well.

Quarterbacks

Start:

Ben Roethlisberger, vs. Buffalo

To me, I think this is rather obvious. Roethlisberger has racked up 275-plus yards and three touchdowns through the air in two consecutive games and has thrown just four interceptions in his six starts this season. Buffalo's defense has allowed 20 touchdown passes this season and has allowed the second-least turnovers with 11 (tied with Denver). Huge mismatch in Pittsburgh's favor.

Brett Favre, vs. Washington

Tough to predict what will happen with Favre at this point, but if you don't have an elite quarterback on your roster then Favre may be your best bet. He has a favorable matchup against the 29th-ranked passing defense in Washington, plus Favre's favorite target from 2009, Sidney Rice, seems to be close to getting back on track. Perhaps tomorrow is his breakout game.
Kyle Orton, vs. St. Louis

Orton has shown he belongs on the top 10 fantasy quarterbacks list this season. With at least one touchdown pass in all 10 of Denver's games, Orton has done everything he can for the Broncos, despite their 3-7 record. He hasn't been a winner in reality, but fantasy and reality can very easily have different outcomes when it comes to the National Football League. Orton has protected the ball well with just six interceptions and two fumbles. A matchup with St. Louis should produce solid numbers for Orton, but that doesn't necessarily mean Denver will come out victorious.

Matt Cassel, vs. Seattle

One of the more underrated quarterbacks, fantasy-wise at least, Cassel has a nice looking matchup Sunday against Seattle's 30th-ranked pass defense. Fighting to stay alive in the AFC West race, the only thing going against Cassel in this game is the fact that the Chiefs are 1-4 on the road and the game will be played in Seattle. Seattle has allowed at least 290 passing yards and a combined 10 touchdown passes in their past four games. Cassel is sure to be licking his chops right now.

Sit:

Eli Manning, vs. Jacksonville

This may surprise everyone, other than Eli's skeptics, considering the younger Manning brother has currently scored the sixth-most fantasy points among NFL quarterbacks (according to my league on ESPN.com). But after throwing three picks in last week's loss and losing leading receiver Hakeem Nicks for at least a couple weeks, I think a hot Jags team--on a season-high three game win streak--will be able to contain Eli and keep him from lighting up the scoreboard.

Matt Ryan/Aaron Rodgers, playing each other

Both are elite quarterbacks, but seeing as they are both signal callers for Super Bowl contenders coming out of the NFC, they each have tough defenses and will need to play safe football. Atlanta and Green Bay are both top six scoring defenses (Green Bay is tied with Chicago for least amount of points allowed with 146) and have intercepted 15 passes this season. Theses two elite quarterbacks may be seeing themselves throwing touchdown passes to the defenders, instead of their own receivers.

Running Backs

Start:

Peyton Hillis, vs. Carolina

Hillis has had a huge breakout season thus far, with three 100-yard games and eight touchdowns for the lowly Cleveland Browns. Facing off against Carolina, at home, is already great news for Hillis. What makes it even more of a no-brainer (starting Hillis, that is) is the fact that Jake Delhomme will be making his return to the lineup after rookie Colt McCoy suffered a high ankle sprain. This likely means Hillis will see more carries/touches come his way in order to take pressure off Delhomme.
Michael Turner, vs. Green Bay

It may look like I'm contradicting myself after listing Matt Ryan under the sit category and saying the game will be dominated by the defenses, but Turner has had some solid games and the ground game will be crucial against a defense that revolves around rushing the quarterback and stopping the pass. The only team Turner didn't fare well against in the past three games was Baltimore's smash-mouth defense led by veteran Ray Lewis. Turner will be the key to Atlanta coming out on top in this NFC showdown.

Ahmad Bradshaw, vs. Jacksonville

Jacksonville will be so focused on stopping Eli Manning that they will likely forget all about Bradshaw, who has done a nice job stepping in for the overrated Brandon Jacobs and has had a solid 2010 campaign. This success will continue as long as he works on that fumbling problem. Bradshaw is one of those bruising tailbacks who is bound to break-free nearly every time he touches the ball.

Mike Tolbert, vs. Indianapolis

With rookie Ryan Mathews still ailing, Tolbert has been forced to step up and recorded his second 100-yard game last week against the Broncos with 111 and a touchdown. Tolbert now has eight rushing touchdowns this season as a fill-in and has a favorable matchup against Indy's 29th-best run defense. Tolbert is a must-start if your backfield has been hit with the injury bug.

Sit:

Maurice Jones-Drew, vs. New York Giants

Jones-Drew has turned his disappointing season around the past few weeks, but an unfavorable matchup with the league's fourth-best run defense on the road in New York doesn't look like good for MJD and his Jags, who currently hold the lead in the AFC South. P.S. Their division lead will be short-lived with Peyton and Co.
Fred Jackson, vs. Pittsburgh

Sorry, Buffalo fans! But your current win streak will end tomorrow, at your house, against the phenomenal run defense of Pittsburgh. As will Jackson's two-game 100 yard-plus streak. But hey, it was great while it lasted, right?

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Start:

Mike Wallace, vs. Buffalo

Ben's favorite target will sure to get some looks against a defense that has allowed 20 touchdowns through the air this season. Buffalo has picked off just four of their opponents' pass attempts this season and I wouldn't be surprised if Roethlisberger tried to hook up with Wallace on a couple deep passes throughout the game.

Vernon Davis, vs. Arizona

Listed as probable, Davis seems to be gaining his health back. And after an off-game (1 catch for three yards against Tampa before leaving the game) last week Davis seems poised to break out with a solid performance against Arizona's weak pass defense, who has allowed the second-most points in the league this season.
Sit:

Roddy White, vs. Green Bay

I will most likely end up regretting the decision to put White on the sit list, but it's tough when he has such an unfavorable matchup against a defense like Green Bay's. Expect Matt Ryan to be pressured most of the game, meaning his passes may not be quite as on-target as usual. Therefore hurting White's number of targets.

Randy Moss, vs. Houston

Another big, superstar name on my sit list. But, if you are an active NFL fan then you know Moss's, and the Titans', story this season. Moss has been merely a decoy, leaving other Titan receivers with single coverage. With the injury to Vince Young, the rookie Rusty Smith will make his first career start, furthermore hurting Randy's stock. Maybe it's time for him to hang up his cleats? Just a thought.

Defense and STs/Kickers

Start:

Pittsburgh D/ST

Expect a couple of INTs and sacks of Buffalo's immobile Ryan Fitzpatrick as well as a stout run defense against Jackson. Maybe a touchdown or two as well?? We'll see.
Sebastian Janikowski, vs. Miami

The highest-scoring kicker this season may get quite a bit of opportunities tomorrow with a close game likely headed our way. Oakland has relied quite a bit on Janikowski and he has really pulled through. With Bruce Gradkowski returning to the lineup as the starter, we may see quite a few Sebastian field goal attempts.

Sit:

Chicago D/ST

Ok, yes, I understand that Chicago's defense has been the best there is this season, leading the league in several defensive categories. But they have yet to try and stop Vick, who is making a strong case for league MVP this season. In eight of Philly's 10 games the offense has put up 20 or more points. This very well may be the game of the week.

Tennessee D/ST

Houston knows they will be facing a rookie quarterback in Rusty Smith, so on offense I wouldn't be surprised if the Texans came right at Tennessee early and often, putting more pressure on Rusty Smith and his right arm.

------------

Game Picks:

Thanksgiving picks: Pats over Lions (correct), Saints over Cowboys (correct, barely), Jets over Bengals (correct).
Sunday November, 28, 2010

Giants over Jags
Steelers over Bills
Vikings over Skins
Browns over Panthers
Falcons over Packers
Texans over Titans
Chiefs over Seahawks
Raiders over Dolphins
Eagles over Bears
Rams over Broncos
Ravens over Bucs
Chargers over Colts

Monday November 29, 2010

Niners over Cardinals

Photo Credit
Kyle Orton: AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
Peyton Hillis: AP Photo/Mark Duncan
Fred Jackson: AP Photo/Ed Behrman
Vernon Davis: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma
Steelers' defense (James Farrior and Ryan Clark): AP Photo/Don Wright
Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis: AP Photo/Rick Osentoski

Friday, November 26, 2010

Pats, Jets Improve to 9-2; Saints Edge 'Boys on Turkey Day

What am I thankful for? Thanksgiving football, of course!

And my family and friends as well, can't forget them.

But, the big news today is that both the New York Jets and New England Patriots survived their respective Turkey Day matchups. What exactly does this mean? Well, it means that next Monday we will be witnessing a heavy-weight AFC East showdown between the 9-2 Patriots and 9-2 Jets. As if that isn't already incentive enough to tune in, it's a primetime game and will be played in Gillette Stadium. December games in Massachusetts always means there's a pretty good chance that snowfall may play a role as well.

Scarily enough, Tom Brady looked nearly flawless, passing for 341 yards and four touchdowns. New England got off to a slow start, struggling with stopping Shaun Hill's short passing game and former Seattle Seahawk Maurice Morris, who was a threat both on the ground and through the air.
Detroit simply didn't show up for all 60 minutes of the ball game, blowing its 17-10 halftime lead as the two teams were in a 24-24 deadlock at the end of the third quarter of play. That was when Tom Brady really turned up the heat on Detroit's pass defense, throwing two touchdown passes (22-yarder to Deion Branch and 16-yarder to Wes Welker) in the final quarter of play. Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis capped off the 21-point fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown run just before the two minute warning.

Branch, Welker and Green-Ellis all had two touchdowns each as the Pats put up 45 points at Ford Field.

Phil Simms' (CBS) All-Iron Award winner: Tom Brady--21/27, 341 yards, 4 TDs, 158.3 QB rating

Game two of the full, three-game slate was much more anticipated back in April when the schedules came out. Now that the Cowboys got off to a slow, 2-8 start which brought about the firing of Wade Phillips, this matchup may not have been seen as much of a heavy-weight battle. But much like the early game, the ending was well worth the ugly first half of play.

New Orleans' took control early as the Cowboys struggled to hold on to the ball and convert first downs. Dallas failed to convert a fourth down inside the red zone early in the game, which may have come back to haunt them. New Orleans went in to the locker room at the half with a 20-6 lead after Dallas' kicker David Buehler kicked a career-high 53-yard field goal as the time on the game clock expired.

Dallas came out ready to play in the second half, cutting the lead to 20-13 just one minute in to the third quarter as WR Miles Austin took an end around 60 yards for the score. A Garrett Hartley field goal (28 yards) was the only points of the quarter for New Orleans as the 'Boys put up another seven when Marion Barber III capped a scoring drive with a one-yard run, putting Dallas within three.
Another one-yard run in the final quarter, Tashard Choice this time, gave Dallas a four-point lead with about six minutes to play. Dallas had the chance to put the game away but on a long 47-yard catch and run by receiver Roy Williams, New Orleans cornerback Malcolm Jenkins stripped Williams of the ball, giving the Saints another shot. Drew Brees wasted no time, hitting Lance Moore in stride just five plays later. The 12-yard touchdown strike put the Saints up 30-27. Jon Kitna led a strong, 9-play drive in an attempt to get the lead back, but David Buehler's missed 59-yard field goal spoiled the Cowboys' comeback bid.

New Orleans improved to 8-3 which, for the moment, puts them in second place in the NFC South, ahead of the 7-3 Buccaneers and just behind the 8-2 Falcons. Dallas falls to 3-8, still last place in the NFC East.

Fox's Galloping Gobbler winner: Drew Brees--23/39, 352 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 86.7 QB rating

Carson Palmer continues to show why he is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the league. He has numerous weapons to get the ball to yet hasn't been able to win games (2-9 on the season). His inability to stay healthy also gets some blame, but it's mainly just because of the fact that he has been erratic with the football in his hands.

Jets' cornerback Darrelle Revis was able to contain future Hall of Famer Terrell Owens (3 rec., 17 yards) and New York's fifth-best run defense shut down Cedric Benson, therefore limiting Palmer's pass attack even more. Mark Sanchez threw for just 166 yards and one touchdown, but he really didn't have to do much other than just managing the game, especially with his run game--and defense--working so well.
Wide receiver Brad Smith's 53-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter, giving New York a 10-7 lead, proved to be the game-winner. But, he wasn't done there. After Cincinnati's Aaron Pettrey kicked a 28-yarder between the uprights to put the Bengals within a touchdown early in the fourth, Smith sealed the deal with an 89-yard kickoff return for the touchdown.

A Trevor Pryce sack, and safety, of Carson Palmer capped off the Jets' 26-point performance and finally put any hope the Bengals had to bed. The loss was Cincinnati's eighth-straight as New York captured its fourth straight victory and a 4-2 record at home.

NFL Network's Pudding Pie winners: Darrelle Revis--limited T.O. to 3 rec., 17 yards; Brad Smith--two touchdowns (53-yard run, 89-yard KO return)

Photo Credit
Wes Welker: AP Photo
Drew Brees: AP Photo/Mike Fuentes
Antonio Cromartie: AP Photo/Mike Koustroun

Monday, November 22, 2010

Richard Seymour, You Sir, Are a Disgrace to the National Football League

While a Patriot, defensive end Richard Seymour was always a player I respected. He was always a guy who I saw as a hard-worker who did what it takes to win games for his team. His 227 tackles and 39 sacks in eight seasons with the Patriots is proof of his hard work and a salute to his solid NFL career.

Now a Raider since last season, Seymour has recorded 60 tackles and 8.5 sacks in his 25 games in Oakland.
Unfortunately, all respect I had for him is gone after watching his unsportsmanlike display in yesterday's ugly 35-3 loss to the 7-3 Pittsburgh Steelers.

After Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to rookie wideout Emmanuel Sanders he went up behind Seymour and appeared to say something to him. Seymour then turned around and threw an open-hand "punch" at Roethlisberger, knocking him to the ground. The officials went on to eject him from the game.

Now, of course, Roethlisberger isn't quite innocent in this incident as we see him clearly saying something to him to provoke the punch, but that does not mean Seymour shouldn't get in trouble. Goodell fined him $25,000 today, but I think the punch certainly warrants a suspension of at least one game. There's absolutely no excuse for a 31-year old man to punch another player on the football field. Wasn't he ever taught not to let your emotions get the best of you, especially on the field? Kids are told that by their youth football coaches all the time, why can't a grown man understand this concept?

Unacceptable.

And what makes it even worse is, after further research, it has come to my attention that this is not the first time he's been fined for unnecessary roughness after the whistle. Last December he was ejected and fined $10,000 for hitting Cleveland's running back Jerome Harrison after the play was dead. One thing is for sure, Seymour doesn't like the AFC North too much.

Photo Credit
Richard Seymour: AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Week 11 Picks: Colts/Pats Game to Watch

Thursday November 18, 2010

**Picked Bears over Dolphins (Bears shut out Dolphins 16-0)**

Sunday November 21, 2010

Ravens over Panthers...With one of last season's best run games battling injuries, and Brian St. Pierre making the first start of his prolonged career there's no way Carolina will manage to outscore Baltimore.

Jets over Texans...Battling to keep up with the Pats, Sanchez will be healthier than last week and likely ready to go.

Browns over Jaguars...Browns, surprisingly enough, have been playing good football lately, upsetting the Saints and Pats and falling just short to the 7-2 Jets.

Packers over Vikings...Favre's last game against Green Bay. I guess it's just too bad the Packers are playing better football at the current moment.
Chiefs over Cardinals...Undefeated at home, the Chiefs are looking to snap its two game losing streak and stay alive in the West.

Cowboys over Lions...Jon Kitna facing his former team and it looks like Dallas may finally have a little confidence after defeating Eli Manning's Giants.

Raiders over Steelers...Oakland upset Pittsburgh last season too, only this time it may not even be considered an upset considering how well Oakland (5-4) has been playing lately.

Bengals over Bills...Terrell Owens will be looking to impress his 2009 team, and Carson Palmer shouldn't have much trouble against Buffalo's defense.

Titans over Redskins...It's going to be tough to rebound after allowing 59 points to the Eagles on the biggest stage of the weekend (MNF). I say Tennessee's high-powered offense puts up 30.

Saints over Seahawks...With Reggie Bush likely to return, the Saints are looking to take control of the NFC South.

Niners over Bucs...This will be considered an upset, although I never really thought of the Bucs as contenders despite the 6-3 record.
Falcons over Rams...Atlanta is one of the league's best teams, if not the best. After Matt Ryan led the offense 80 yards in just over one minute to win the game against Baltimore's smash-mouth defense, I was convinced that they are Super Bowl contenders this season.

Patriots over Colts...No doubt the matchup of the weekend. After witnessing Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski dominate Pittsburgh's stellar defense on Sunday night, I'm convinced that they wont have much trouble putting points up against this banged up Colts team.

Eagles over Giants...Much like the Pats, it's really hard to doubt the Eagles after last week's 59-point performance. Michael Vick will carve up New York's defense and we will see how Eli Manning responds after being upset by Dallas last week.

Monday November 22, 2010

Chargers over Broncos...Tim Tebow throwing his first touchdown as a pro, and running for another, was a great story in the Broncos' 49-point game last week, but let's face it, Josh McDaniels has a little more work to do.

Byes: None

Who will shock the world this week??

Photo Credit:
Driver and Favre: AP Photo/Morry Gash
Jason Snelling: AP Photo/John Bazemore

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vick Picks Apart Skins on National Television; Climbs up Rankings in Process

If there was any doubt in Philly that Michael Vick could lead this Eagles offense, it has surely been erased over the past two weekends.

First, Vick takes hold of the reins as Philadelphia defeats Indianapolis for the first time since Peyton Manning joined the franchise in 1998. Next, Vick picked apart Washington's defense for a franchise-record 59 points at Fedex Field last night.
Vick did it all. He did what he does best--ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns--and he completed 20 of his 28 pass attempts for 333 yards and four touchdowns. He also managed to protect the ball, which was very key in Philadelphia's record-breaking 42 point first half. The 31-point victory (59-28) was Philly's fourth road victory, making them one of the most successful road warriors so far this season at 4-1, along with the 5-0 Jets and 4-1 Steelers.

This game alone, despite the 'Skins 4-5 record, should place the Eagles inside the top five in this week's power rankings, especially with the Giants, Ravens, Steelers and Titans all losing their respective match ups.

Vick wasn't the only player to have a great game last night. Vick's top three receiving threats--DeSean Jackson (2 rec., 98 yards, 1 TD), Jeremy Maclin (4 rec., 79 yards, 1 TD) and Jason Avant (5 rec., 76 yards, 1 TD)--all had spectacular games, and Philly's run game accumulated 260 yards on the ground.

On defense, the Eagles picked off former teammate Donovan McNabb, fresh off his new contract extension, three times. One of those three picks was turned into a pick6 after the interceptor, defensive back Dimitri Patterson, returned the ball 40 yards for the eighth and final touchdown of the night.

Photo Credit
Michael Vick: AP Photo/Gail Burton

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Picture is Worth a 1,000 words: Haley vs. McDaniels

After Denver defeated AFC West rival Kansas City by thirty (49-29), head coach of the Chiefs Todd Haley refused to shake Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels' hand in the middle of the field. Haley, obviously disgusted with the way Denver played (probably felt McDaniels was running up the score on his Chiefs), shaked his finger at Josh and walked away.
Earlier today Haley did apologize to both McDaniels and the Broncos franchise, but that doesn't mean he is truly sorry for what he did. What do I think of the incident? I think Haley should try not to be such a baby and maybe try stopping this from happening by playing better defense. I mean, come one, 35 of those 49 points came in the first half.
This was not a case of "running up the score." Rather a case of a team really sticking it to their inter-division counterparts. Nothing dirty about scoring 35 first half points. Sorry, Mr. Haley.

Two Weeks Later: McNabb Signs Five-year Extension with Skins

Earlier today ESPN reporter Michael Smith broke the news in D.C.

The Washington Redskins, hours before the team's matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, signed 33-year old veteran Donovan McNabb--the former long-time Eagle--to a five-year, $78 million contract extension. The contract reportedly includes around $40 million in guaranteed money.
The signing came just two weeks after head coach Mike Shanahan benched McNabb in Detroit with two minutes remaining in the game. Washington was trailing by six when Rex Grossman was sent on to the field as McNabb looked on. On the first play from scrimmage, Grossman fumbled the ball, which was recovered by rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and returned 17 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

It was later discovered that, in fact, there was no sort of injury involved with the benching, and that Shanahan made the decision because of his unfamiliarity with the two minute offense. He never even said that he regretted the decision to sit him.

As much of a head-scratcher as this seems to me, and likely many other NFL followers out there, the Skins seem to know what they want. Even if that does happen to be Donovan McNabb under center for at least another five years. Huge risk which may not be worth the price in the end.

Photo Credit
Donovan McNabb: AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Tired of "Fans" Hating on Tom Brady

This is one of my pet peeves when it comes to all of these so-called NFL fans. Calling him offensive names is not going to change the fact that he will go down in history as one of the best quarterbacks in league history.

The 33-year old has three Super Bowl championships, two Super Bowl MVP awards, a league MVP award (2007), five Pro Bowl selections, etc., etc., etc.
Yes, ok, I agree he is a bit of a pretty boy. And, yes, at times it may seem that the league is overly protective. But, with his top-tier offensive line he is able to pick apart defenses like it's his job--oh wait, it is his job, isn't it? And he does his job better than anyone else out there. After watching him tear apart Pittsburgh's hard-hitting defense last night, putting up 39 against the league's leader in points allowed per game, I'm convinced that Brady isn't going away anytime soon.

Much like Indianapolis' three-time MVP quarterback Peyton Manning, I really don't think it matters who Brady's weapons are. In fact, just twice in Brady's 11 seasons have the Pats ranked in the top 10 in rushing. Could be the result of Belichick trusting Brady with the ball in his hands, and the team's pas-to-run ratio. But nonetheless, Brady turns decent receivers in to great receivers, and Belichick's calm coaching style complements Brady well.

Hate the pretty boy all you want, but if you're a fan of football, the passing game in particular, you should appreciate Brady's approach and his passion for the game of football. Stop hating just because he knows how to win games and doesn't buckle under pressure. Please and thank you.

Photo Credit
Tom Brady: Joe Robbins/NFL

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Week 10 is Here: Game Picks

Thursday November 11, 2010

Picked Ravens over Falcons--Falcons defeated Ravens 27-21.

Sunday November 14, 2010

Bills over Lions

This may be Buffalo's best chance at winning a game this season, and with Matthew Stafford out looks like they could finally pull it off.

Bears over Vikings

Bears defense is likely to exploit Favre and his offense, making the Vikes one dimensional.

Jets over Browns

Rex vs. Rob. New York's defense will stop the Browns from continuing it's upset streak.

Colts over Bengals

Despite missing some key pieces on offense, Peyton Manning will find a way to beat out these struggling Bengals.

Texans over Jaguars

Arian Foster, my first half MVP, will have a big day and Matt Schaub will give them a balanced offensive attack against Del Rio's defense.

Titans over Dolphins

Kerry Collins will be starting, but with Chad Pennington's first start of the season, the Titans defense will tear this offense apart with several turnovers.

Bucs over Panthers

Mike Goodson is making his second start in replacement of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Without their top two running backs, Carolina doesn't have much.
Chiefs over Broncos

Kansas City's second-best running game will run all over Denver's 31st-ranked run defense.

Cardinals over Seahawks

Seattle is scoring just 16 points a game, good enough for 31st in the league. Inconsistency is the weakness in Seattle right now.

Giants over Cowboys

Eli's G-men have been one of the hottest teams in the league and I don't expect that to change against the 1-7 Cowboys.

Rams over Niners

Sam Bradford is in the running for rookie of the year, and has really impressed me so far.

Steelers over Patriots

If he plays, expect James Harrison to hit Tom Brady as much as possible. They will likely add on to their league-leading 21 forced turnovers as well.

Monday November 15, 2010

Eagles over Redskins

Michael Vick returned last week with a strong performance against the Colts. With him in the lineup again tomorrow, expect him to give the Skins a handful of trouble.

Byes: Raiders, Chargers, Packers Saints

Photo Credit
Josh Freeman: AP Photo/David Goldman

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Night Football (On NFL Network) Kicks off with Heavyweight Matchup

Aside from the first week of the season in which the Vikings and Saints kicked off the season on a Thursday night, tonight is the first of several Thursday night games that will be aired on NFL Network.

The matchup between the two conferences' top teams, Baltimore Ravens (6-2; first in AFC North) and Atlanta Falcons (6-2; first in NFC South), has been anticipated for a while now. Matt Ryan vs. Joe Flacco, two third-year quarterbacks whose careers have gotten off to a quick start and have great weapons at their disposal on the offensive side of the ball. Both offenses are very similar. Baltimore has a great run game combination of the short, quick Ray Rice and the red zone presence of Willis McGahee while Atlanta has the explosive Michael Turner, a TD machine.
Baltimore clearly has the defensive advantage with Ed Reed roaming the defensive secondary. Reed, in his two games this season, has three interceptions and one forced fumble. I wouldn't expect anything less than a INT or two tonight, despite playing against the elite Matt Ryan and Roddy White.

Baltimore also has the coaching advantage with coach John Harbaugh, who is 26-14 in his third season in Baltimore. But, I think one of the biggest reasons why I have picked Baltimore to beat Atlanta tonight is because of the fact that Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White (ankle) is listed as questionable. Yes, it's very likely that he will still play, but nonetheless he will not be 100% no matter what he tells the press. Because of this, Atlanta's pass game will be exposed and Baltimore's defense is likely to take advantage of this.

Prediction: Baltimore 28, Atlanta 24



Photo Credit
Willis McGahee: AP Photo/Nick Wass

Whether or Not You Tweet, Having a Twitter Account Pays Dividends (especially if you're an avid sports fan like myself)

I know what you're thinking..."Twitter? Really?"

And the answer is a simple, yes. I have a twitter account (follow me at ), and I used it a couple of times a week. I don't do much tweeting myself, but I'd say probably about half of the celebrities and athletes regularly tweet. This means, yes, following athletes on twitter allows you to receive inside information first-hand.

Not only do I follow NFL superstars, but also TV personalities and sportswriters. In today's society, more and more major networks, such as ESPN, are using twitter to break news. Personally, I currently follow about 220 people, mostly athletes and sportswriters like I mentioned above.

I have only posted about 23 tweets, most of which I tweeted in order to advertise for this blog, and have just eight followers. Twitter allows me to get in the heads of millionaire athletes and see what it is they are up to on a regular basis, who doesn't love that?

So, if you're a huge sports fan and would like to get the inside scoop on players, coaches or be the first to read about breaking news, I advise you to sign up for a Twitter account and let the following begin!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Power Rankings: Top 15 Teams After Week Nine

With a couple of big upsets this past weekend, the top 15 list will certainly be looking a little different heading in to this week's slate of games.

Top 15:

15. Oakland Raiders

Record: 5-4
Victories: SD, DEN, SEA, KC,
Defeats: TEN, ARI, HOU, SF
Stock: Up

The Raiders are currently on the franchise's first three-game win streak since December of '02, the year they lost to Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. It is also the first time they have had a winning record in November since that same season. As weird as this may sound, Oakland is the AFC's hottest team with a 4-1 record in the last five weeks. Just as surprising as Oakland's record may be the fact that they have scored the second-most points in the league, with 235 (behind only San Diego).

14. San Diego Chargers

Record: 4-5
Victories: JAC, ARI, TEN, HOU
Defeats: KC, SEA, OAK, STL, NE
Stock: Up

San Diego is the only team on the list with a losing record right now, at 4-5. San Diego has the league's best quarterback (as of week nine) in Philip Rivers and, despite being without last season's team leader in receiving--Vincent Jackson--the Bolts have had one of the league's top air attacks, and has put up a league-high 239 points in nine games. If they can get a healthy Ryan Mathews in the lineup and win a few games on the road they could break out in to the top 10 very quickly.
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 5-3
Victories: CLE, CAR, CIN, STL, ARI
Defeats: PIT, NO, ATL
Stock: Even

Tampa started out on fire but has since cooled down a bit, though they are still a team who is on the verge of breaking out to the next level, the playoffs. With a Ben Roethlisberger-esque quarterback in Josh Freeman, the Bucs have seemed to have found their franchise quarterback. All head coach Raheem Morris needs to do now is implement a consistent run game, and the addition of rookie rushing leader LeGarrette Blount may be step No. 1 in turning things around in Tampa.

12. Philadelphia Eagles

Record: 5-3
Victories: DET, JAC, SF, ATL, IND
Defeats: GB, WAS, TEN
Stock: Up

Mike Vick's return this past Sunday has given Philly fans plenty to cheer about, especially after he led them to a victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts, the first time Philadelphia has defeat Indianapolis since Manning arrived in '98. Despite not having a definite No. 1 quarterback throughout the first nine weeks of play, Philadelphia is ranked 10th in passing offense and got a solid game from the underachieving LeSean McCoy against Indy's run defense. There's no doubt they have a tough road ahead of them with five more NFC East matchups, but so far Philadelphia is well on its way to a possible playoff run in January.
11. Kansas City Chiefs

Record: 5-3
Victories: SD, CLE, SF, JAC, BUF
Defeats: IND, HOU, OAK
Stock: Even

Very uncharacteristic of the AFC West to have three teams in the top 15, but you better believe it this year, they are certainly playing like they belong. Kansas City's run game is second in the league, is averaging 5.0 yards per carry, and has fumbled the ball just five times this season. Arrowhead Stadium continues to be an extremely tough place for opponents to play as they are one of only five teams still undefeated at home (4-0), and two of the team's three defeats came against teams in the top 15.

10. New Orleans Saints

Record: 6-3
Victories: MIN, SF, CAR, TB, PIT, CAR
Defeats: ATL, ARI, CLE
Stock: Down

Super Bowl hangover? It is very possible, yet the Saints still managed to crack the top 10 after the first nine weeks. Brees looks to be more human than we originally thought, with 12 interceptions in his nine games played. He threw just 11 through all of last season. New Orleans has had some solid victories over teams such as Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh, but the win over San Francisco and two wins over Carolina don't look all that impressive right now, and the losses to Arizona and Cleveland have surely hurt their status. Atlanta may beat them out for the NFC South title this year, but I would still expect them to be in the running for one of the two wild card spots.
9. Indianapolis Colts

Record: 5-3
Victories: NYG, DEN, KC, WAS, HOU
Defeats: HOU, JAC, PHI
Stock: Even

Still ahead of the Eagles even after this past Sunday's result. The one thing holding Indianapolis back is surely the injuries to the backfield. Joseph Addai hasn't played since Oct. 17 and may miss this week as well, while both his backups-Donald Brown and Mike Hart--have been banged up as well and rather ineffective lately. Just like Manning's pass-catchers, Anthony Gonzalez, TE Dallas Clark, Austin Collie (suffered concussion this past Sunday after just returning from a wrist injury), Indy's backfield was hit hard with the injury bug. In fact, if the Colts offense as a whole was healthy this year they would without a doubt be the scariest team in the league. Dwight Freeney, the anchor of Indy's fifth-ranked pass defense, is as scary as ever coming around the edge. All Indy needs to do to make a late-January run is overcome the injury bug.

8. Tennessee Titans

Record: 5-3
Victories: OAK, NYG, DAL, JAC, PHI
Defeats: PIT, DEN, SD
Stock: Even

Tennessee has had some solid victories by beating the Raiders, Giants, Jags and Eagles, and the team's only three losses have come against top 15 teams. Vince Young may have lost Kenny Britt for several weeks, but the addition of All-Pro Randy Moss could pay dividends if he can get along with the guys in the locker room. Can't forget about the underrated Nate Washington opposite of Moss, in fact he could break out with some big games considering Moss will attract multiple defenders. When the offense is clicking, it's really clicking. Four of the team's victories came in blowout fashion and with a favorable remaining schedule, Tennessee will certainly at least give Indy a formidable competitor in the South.
7. New England Patriots

Record: 6-2
Victories: CIN, BUF, MIA, BAL, SD, MIN
Defeats: NYJ, CLE
Stock: Down

The only thing that persuaded me to list the Pats' stock as down was watching Cleveland's Peyton Hillis run all over New England's defense on Sunday. As scary as Tom Brady's offense is, New England can't win games while giving up 34 points. And, quite obviously, the defense is New England's biggest weakness. Belichick's defense is ranked 29th overall at the moment, and both the pass defense and run defense is below the league's average. Could be the fact that New England's defense is a bit over-aged, but either way they need to stop allowing 23.5 points/game.

6. Atlanta Falcons

Record: 6-2
Victories: ARI, NO, SF, CLE, CIN, TB
Defeats: PIT, PHI
Stock: Even

Matt Ryan continues to be one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league, yet he produces week in and week out. Currently leading the South, Atlanta is undefeated at home (4-0) and within the division (2-0) with key victories over New Orleans and Tampa Bay. Ryan has been well protected--sacked just 13 times thus far--which allows him to protect the ball, throwing just five picks this season. Ryan has two Pro Bowl caliber targets to throw to, future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez and the speedy Roddy White, and Michael Turner is finally stepping his game up after an off 2009 campaign. Like many teams in today's game, the defense is Mike Smith's weakness in Atlanta, yet they still only allow 19.3 points/game. A favorable remaining schedule looks to be on Atlanta's side as well.
5. New York Jets

Record: 6-2
Victories: NE, MIA, BUF, MIN, DEN, DET
Defeats: BAL, GB
Stock: Even

With a more matured quarterback, Mark Sanchez, a top five rushing attack duo (Ladainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene), and a top five run defense, New York still looks to be a top five team in the league despite the slow start in the beginning of the season. A solid 28-14 victory over AFC East rival New England, and a 4-0 road record add to the depth of New York's solid resume. New York's only losses came to top five teams in Baltimore and Green Bay, and both were by a combined 10 points. Sanchez isn't the type to put up 30 touchdown seasons, but his five interceptions are pretty impressive, which leads me to believe he has learned from his rookie season. With continued maturity and experience from the signal caller, New York could make another run to the conference championship if everything goes right for them.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

Record: 6-2
Victories: ATL, TEN, TB, CLE, MIA, CIN
Defeats: BAL, NO
Stock: Even

So called "experts" are still calling them the best in the game despite barely edging out Miami, 23-22, with a little bit of misfortune on Miami's side, and coming close to blowing a 20-point lead against the 2-5 Cincinnati Bengals. While, yes, the Steelers' offense will only improve with more games under Ben Roethlisberger's belt this season, and yes the defense is still one of the best in the game. But, Rashard Mendenhall's inconsistency towards the end of games has led me to believe that they are not as super human as many believe. They managed to come away with some great wins against teams such as Atlanta, Tennessee and Tampa Bay, but if they can't win the big ones against the likes of Baltimore and New Orleans then you can't expect to make a late run. Great team? Yes. Room for improvement? Yes, as well.
3. New York Giants

Record: 6-2
Victories: CAR, CHI, HOU, DET, DAL, SEA
Defeats: IND, TEN
Stock: Up

New York has really impressed me with four 31-plus point games. Eli Manning has shown he belongs with the elite with his 17 touchdown tosses, 2,000-plus yards and second consecutive season with a rating of 90 or more. Ahmad Bradshaw has stepped up nicely to replace the struggling Brandon Jacobs as well. With a 3-1 road record and 27 touchdowns, good enough for a tie for second in the league, the Giants are in line to beat out the Eagles for the East title. If they capture the division, it would not surprise me if the defense (first against pass, second against run) led them to a playoff win or two.

2. Baltimore Ravens

Record: 6-2
Victories: NYJ, CLE, PIT, DEN, BUF, MIA
Defeats: CIN, NE
Stock: Up

Ray Rice hasn't been quite as effective as he was last season, but he still creates a dynamic threat and is one of the best pass-catchers coming out of the backfield. With the combination of his dual threat and the red zone presence of the 228 pound Willis McGahee balances Baltimore's offense out a bit. Quarterback Joe Flacco has already hooked up with Anquan Boldin for over 500 yards and five touchdowns. Just like every other year, Baltimore's defense is top five in the league, led by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis. Baltimore's pass defense was lacking a bit from the beginning as All-Pro free safety Ed Reed was on the PUP (physically unable to perform lis), but he returned two weeks ago and already has three INTs in his two games played. The 32-year old has certainly showed his presence, and with him back in the lineup Baltimore's defense improves greatly. They are No. 2 in the league right now, but they still have a tough road ahead of them (@ATL, TB, PIT, @HOU, NO being their toughest opponents) and will need to stay healthy to keep up with the rest of the league.
1. Green Bay Packers

Record: 6-3
Victories: PHI, BUF, DET, MIN, NYJ, DAL
Defeats: CHI, WAS, MIA
Stock: Up

Of course that last win over Dallas isn't quite as impressive as the score, 45-7, shows us, but Green Bay's  ball-hawking defense is at the top of its game. Led by second-year linebacker Clay Matthews III, Green Bay has allowed just 143 points and forced 19 turnovers. Aaron Rodgers has shown some inconsistency at times this season, but when he's in the zone he's been pretty spot on. It's pretty impressive for Rodgers to carry this offense and average 24.5 points/game despite being without Pro Bowl running back Ryan Grant for every game after suffering a season-ending ankle injury in the team's first game of the season. Rodgers looks to lead the league's fourth highest scoring offense to another playoff appearance come January.

Bottom Five:

28. Denver Broncos 2-6

Not only did head coach Josh McDaniels drive Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler out of town just before last season kicked off, but him and Denver's front office also happened to take a huge risk in drafting Tim Tebow in the first round of April's draft and pull the trigger on this offseason's worst trade: gave up Peyton Hillis and draft picks for career benchwarmer Brady Quinn. What I would do if I was in Denver? Fire Josh McDaniels.
29. San Francisco 49ers 2-6

San Franciso has had a shot at winning three or four games but Mike Singletary's crew just hasn't been able to finish games strong. Inconsistency at the quarterback position may be where most of the blame falls. With Alex Smith still not being cleared to play, Troy Smith has gotten most of the first team reps and looks to make another start this week against the Rams.

30. Dallas Cowboys 1-7

The latest news in the 'Boys' shocking 1-7 start? The firing of Wade Phillips. This really has been a disappointing season in Big D, but Jason Garrett seems to be poised to turn this season around despite very little chance of even coming close to a playoff appearance. Looks like a rare rebuilding season in Dallas for owner Jerry Jones.

31. Carolina Panthers 1-7

First, and still the only, win of the season came against the struggling 2-6 Niners who, you've already figured out, are 29th-best in the league. Just like a lot of the struggling teams this season, starting quarterback Matt Moore looks to be done for the season, meaning Carolina is back to starting rookie Jimmy Clausen. What's even more shocking than the quarterback situation may be the running game, who was one of the best in the league last season with the dynamic duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Williams (foot) and Stewart (head) both missed practice today and Carolina expects to start second-year back Mike Goodson in place of them. Goodson has run the ball just 16 times for 50 yards this season.
32. Buffalo Bills 0-8

What can I say? Buffalo, the only team yet to win a game in eight tries, was the only team to cut its starting quarterback (Trent Edwards) in the middle of the season. Although they now have a consistent starting quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick, the rest of the Bills' roster needs some adjusting. On the defensive side of the ball they have added a veteran leader in Shawne Merriman, who will make his Bills debut this Sunday. Regardless of the pickup, it's obvious that the only reason anyone would watch a Bills game at this point is because they want to get a nice laugh.

Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments, thanks.

Here's how ESPN ranks the team's at this point in the season: http://espn.go.com/nfl/powerrankings/_/year/2010/week/10

(Note: ESPN's rankings had zero effect on how I made my list. In fact, I did my rankings before I even looked/read ESPN's).

Photo Credit
Antonio Gates: AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Michael Vick: AP Photo/Michael Perez
Lance Moore: AP Photo/Dave Martin
Vince Young, Chris Johnson: AP Photo/Gregory Bull
Falcons Defense: AP Photo/John Bazemore
Troy Polamalu: AP Photo/Gene Puskar
Aaron Rodgers: AP Photo/Mike Roemer
Tim Tebow: AP Photo/Joe Mahoney
Steve Johnson: AP Photo/David Duprey

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Terrell Owens is slowly, but surely, stealing Ochocinco's spotlight

Yes, his convincing efforts in tonight's six-point loss to the 6-2 Steelers turned out to be all for nothing, but Terrell Owens' 10 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns has surely caught the attention of the general public.

Not only did Owens' first touchdown of the night put the Bengals back in the game, but it also just so happened to be his 150th career touchdown reception, making him just the third player to reach such a milestone (joining the likes of Jerry Rice and Randy Moss).
His second of two touchdowns, again, gave the Bengals offense some confidence and allowed them to make a great attempt at a comeback. But, by the fourth quarter there was some tension not only on the sidelines, but on the field between two certain players.

Those two players, not surprisingly (to me anyways), happened to be a quarterback and a wide receiver. A frustrated Chad Ochocinco, who caught just one pass for 15 yards all game, lashed out against Palmer--in the middle of the field in between plays, of all places! This was quite an embarrassment for Cincinnati fans, if you ask me. Palmer, who targeted Chad seven times throughout the game, had overthrown him, which did not make Ocho a happy camper.

To make matters worse, Ocho's good buddy, the guy Chad lobbied to bring in to Cincinnati, stole the spotlight as he was targeted an astonishing 14 times during the game.

So, while Chad attracts all the defenders and negative attention, Terrell gets all the touches and touchdowns. Hmmm, for some reason this looks a bit familiar. I knew this wouldn't last forever. It seems as though the Palmer/Ochocinco/T.O. trio could have it's days numbered already.

If there's one thing fans have picked up on by now, it's that Chad doesn't let go of things very often, so if Cincinnati continues to struggle, I don't expect this problem to go away anytime soon. Get ready for more drama in Cincinnati, people!

Photo Credit
Owens/Ocho: AP Photo/David Kohl

Monday, November 8, 2010

MNF Live Blog/Game Notes: Pittsburgh Travels to Cincinnati

The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals face off in this fierce AFC North division battle. The 5-2 Steelers are looking to join the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens atop the division while Carson Palmer and his 2-5 Bengals are just trying to stay in the playoff hunt.
*Cincinnati fumbles the opening kickoff, forced by rookie wideout Emmanuel Sanders, and the Steelers take advantage of the short field as Rashard Mendenhall takes it in from one yard out.

*Less than ten minutes later veteran kicker Jeff Reed extends the early lead to 10 with a 25-yard field goal.

*Fast fact: Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is 11-2 in his career in Ohio (6-1, 5-1 @ Browns/Bengals).

*Update after opening quarter: Cincinnati has run the ball with Benson nine times already (41 yards), with only four pass attempts from Carson Palmer. Good to see the Bengals are not panicking despite the slow start.

*Special team miscues are the only difference in this game so far, but they may have made up for those as they just downed a punt inside Pittsburgh's two-yard line.

*Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh's short yardage back, starts this drive off with a run up the middle. Interesting stat from coach Jon Gruden: Cincinnati has allowed the most scoring drives of 80-plus yards this season.

*Something to watch out for throughout the remainder of the game is Terrell Owens, who was rolled up on while blocking during Cincinnati's last offensive drive. He looks to be a little shaken but stayed in the game. Not too serious, but no reason why you shouldn't keep an eye out.

*Despite his costly fumble last Sunday night against the Saints, tight end Heath Miller has been very reliable throughout his career and may be one of Roethlisberger's most underrated targets coming off the line.

*Another injury to Pittsburgh's offensive line, it's rookie center Maurkice Pouncey this time as we take another injury timeout. Big Ben has already had to shake off quite a few defenders to avoid any and all sack opportunities for Cincy's defense. This could prove costly for the Steelers' offensive attack.

*Any more injuries to the Steelers' line and they may have to use a backup defensive lineman as Big Ben's center.

*Hines Ward's streak of games with a reception has been extended to 186, just four behind Marvin Harrison's 190, and almost a hundred behind Jerry Rice's 274.

*Costly fumble for the Steelers, giving Cincinnati it's first scoring opportunity. This will be important for the Bengals. If they don't take advantage they may be in for some trouble later on.

*Palmer-T.O. connection cuts the Steelers lead to just three, 10-7 after the extra point. Both touchdowns have been the result of costly turnovers...Terrell Owens now has three receptions for 49 yards and a score in about a quarter and a half of play. The touchdown is No. 150 for Owens, just three shy of Randy Moss's 153.

*With eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, both Pouncey and Chris Kemoeatu continue to be out of the game. Pouncey had to go to the locker room while Kemoeatu is sitting on the sideline attempting to get taped up. Stay tuned for more injury updates when I get them.

*Owens has quickly become Palmer's go-to guy this season as he makes yet another catch, his fourth of the evening. Ochocinco has attracted more defenders, giving Owens, the future Hall of Famer, plenty of open looks thus far.

*Palmer looking like a rookie out there with that interception, throwing in to triple coverage on third down. That now gives Pittsburgh two first half turnovers and Big Ben gets the ball at about midfield with plenty of time to work with to try and add to the lead before the half.

*Hines Ward's 83 career touchdown (second on franchise's all-time list behind HOFer Franco Harris) comes with just over two minutes remaining. Despite recent struggles in the red zone this season, Roethlisberger finds Mr. Reliable for a short 8-yard touchdown to extend the lead back to 10 points.

*Mike Wallace has made a couple of nice grabs tonight, but that last drop was very costly. Pittsburgh is forced to attempt a 53-yard field goal. Jeff Reed, a pretty reliable veteran kicker, drills it, tying his career-high.

*Halftime score: Steelers 20, Bengals 7. Pittsburgh will receive the ball to start the second half, coming up in about 10 minutes.

**Cincinnati's pressure finally gets to Roethlisberger as he tries to avoid the rush. Robert Geathers records Cincy's first sack of the night as they force the 3&out on the opening drive of the second half.

**Relatively quiet so far tonight (five tackles, two for loss), James Harrison is shaken up on the field, forcing another injury timeout. When the game resumes Cincinnati will be facing fourth down, giving Pittsburgh the ball back.

**Both teams have exchanged punts throughout the third quarter, with the defenses dominated on both sides of the ball. About two and a half minutes to play in the quarter and the score is still 20-7. For Pittsburgh, James Farrior, James Harrison and Lamarr Woodley have all recorded sacks on Palmer as Pittsburgh gets the ball back once again.

**If Mendenhall can put the ball in the end zone during this drive, they could put the game away despite having a full quarter left to play. Terrell Owens seems to be the only Bengal still playing hard. Even Carson seems to have given up all hope...this game is a must-win for Cincy and it doesn't look like they want it at all. Shameful, really.

**End of quarter three, scoreless quarter. Just two penalties apiece throughout the game, and almost all of the statistical categories (except the score, of course) seem to be relatively even. If Cincinnati can get a defensive stop and get their heads back in the game they could turn it around. They have to want it for this to work, though.

**You can erase that whole last statement. Pittsburgh uses trickery (WR option pass from Randle El to Mike Wallace) for a long 39-yard touchdown pass, taking advantage of the injury to Cincy's Chris Crocker, who came out of the game after suffering an injury in the third quarter. 27-7 Pittsburgh, 14:50 remaining in the game.

**Owens is putting on a clinic for Pittsburgh's secondary as he makes his second touchdown catch of the night (151st of his prolonged career), which also happened to be his eighth catch of the game, giving him 118 yards through the air. Pittsburgh needs to establish the run game this drive in order to run out some clock...27-14 with just over 13 minutes to play.

**Another opportunity for Cincinnati to take advantage of as safety Roy Williams picks off Roethlisberger after an errant misses tight end Heath Miller. And, to top it all off, there was yet another injury timeout for Isaac Redman (turns out he's ok) and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Flozell Adams. Palmer has a shot at turning this thing around.

**Oh my, a late pass interference call made against Ike Taylor as he was covering Owens in the end zone. Cincinnati gets the ball at the one. Looks like I spoke too soon with the "not many penalties" statement.

**Benson punches it in from one yard out, Newgent kicks the extra point throught the uprights...27-21 with under 10 to play. Boy have the tables turned in the past four minutes of play. Looks for a fantastic finish in this game.

**Looks like one of my above statements was jinxed once again. The "usually pretty reliable veteran" kicker Jeff Reed missed from 46 yards out and his 2010 struggles continue (sixth miss this season, most of which have come at very bad times).

**The missed field goal gives Cincinnati solid field position to start as we hit the two minute warning..

**Cincinnati put together a solid-looking drive, but it sputtered a bit with a 10-yard holding penalty and a couple of dropped passes. Pittsburgh's defense held up in the end as Cincinnati turned the ball over on downs and Roethlisberger kneeled the ball a couple of times.

---Pittsburgh survives late scare to improve to 6-2, tied with Baltimore atop division (Baltimore holds head-to-head tiebreaker), while Cincinnati drops to 2-6. Hope you enjoyed following the action here on my blog. Come back next week for more live blog action!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Clay Matthews, Packers' Defense Unblockable in Big Win over Big D

Things just haven't been going Dallas' way this season, and Green Bay's 45-7 shellacking of Jerry Jones' 'Boys tonight have just made matters worse.

Not only was Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers-led offense spot on, but so was the ball-hawking defense of Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson and A.J. Hawk.

Aaron Rodgers threw for nearly 300 yards and three TDs while Green Bay's defense scored two more times, once on a fumble returned by Nick Collins and the other a 62-yard interception return by Matthews. Kitna was pressured all night long and just couldn't seem to get much of anything going, unless of course he was throwing to rookie wideout Dez Bryant, who caught nine passes for 86 yards and the team's only touchdown.
Green Bay doubled Dallas' total yards, 415-205, as the Cowboys rushing attack struggled dearly, running for a mere 39 yards on 14 carries (2.8 YPC).

Jerry Jones has a Texas-sized problem out in Big D, but it isn't likely that he will be firing the 63-year old despite the team's 1-7 record this season.

What else have I learned from this game? Green Bay is a top five team. The last time I posted a top 10 (Oct. 30) I had the Pack at No. 9, but after this week they will certainly crack the top five considering the Pats and Chiefs both lost earlier today.

Photo Credits
John Kuhn: AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps

The NFL's 2010 Midseason Awards are here!

With week nine upon us, we are officially past the halfway point in the regular season. But, being a college student and all, I am a bit behind. So, here they are. Ben Heck's midseason awards. Enjoy.

MVP: Arian Foster, Houston Texans

Houston's 4-3 record is due mainly in part because of Foster's 737 rushing yards (second in league) and seven TDs (second in league as well). Foster, on just 130 carries, has allowed Houston's eighth-best rushing attack to keep the offense balanced. Despite not leading the league in yards, there's no doubt Foster is having a better season than the other runners out there, including the likes of Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson.
Offensive Player (other than Foster): Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

In order to spread out the wealth, I have left Foster out of the running for "offensive player." Despite San Diego's dismal 3-5 record in the AFC West, it's clear that Rivers has done all he can to win games. Rivers is leading the league's top offense (when it comes to total yards at least). In fact, the team has gained nearly 500 yards more than the second-best Oakland Raiders. Rivers has been nothing but great this season and I'm sure he'd love it if his supporting cast stepped their game up a bit.

Defensive Player: Clay Matthews, Green Bay Packers

He hasn't exactly been an all-around threat so far this season like he usually is, but his league-leading 9.5 sacks are enough to intimidate even the elite quarterbacks of today. One of the best pass-rushing linebackers out there, Matthews is just half a sack shy of tying his total from last season (his rookie year), and is just 11 tackles shy of tying his 36 total from last year as well. This is a well-deserved award for Mr. Matthews. (Note: DeAngelo Hall, and his 6 INTs, were a very close second place).
Offensive Rookie: Sam Bradford, St. Louis Rams

The one thing Bradford hasn't done well this season is win on the road, which is understandable because that can be tough for veterans at times, too. St. Louis is in second place in the West because of his leadership. Despite limited weapons in the passing game, Bradford has made the most of his opportunity, passing for 209 yards/game and 11 TDs. If he can win a couple games on the road he'd be in good shape to make a run.

Defensive Rookie: Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions

Suh leads all defensive tackles in tackling (22 solo, five assists) and has recorded 6.5 sacks for the Lions defense this season, good enough for a tie for eighth-most. He has also picked off a pass this season and even returned a fumble 20 yards for his first career touchdown last week against the Redskins to seal the team's second victory.
Coach: Tom Cable, Oakland Raiders

As odd as this may sound, I felt obligated to throw Cable's name out there simply because of the fact that the Raiders have managed to make it to .500 despite not having a flat-out No. 1 quarterback all season. Darren McFadden and the running game have kept Oakland in games, and has made Cable look better. But, looking at the remaining schedule, the Raiders certainly have a chance at making a run. Not to mention they've really only been blown out once, and that was week one against the Titans.

Surprise Team: Chiefs/Bucs

I am awarding this one to two different teams because it was just too hard to decide on one of them. Both teams currently sit atop it's respective division with a 5-2 record (Bucs are tied with Atlanta). But, unlike Kansas City, Tampa Bay has allowed more points than they have scored, meaning I may have to give the Chiefs the edge despite the fact that Tampa is playing in a tougher division.
Game: Week Seven, Giants def. Cowboys 41-35

Ah, the game that all Cowboys fans wish to forget. Not only did they lose Tony Romo indefinitely after suffering a shoulder injury, but they also lost a heartbreaker to a division rival in their own doghouse. After replacing Romo, Jon Kitna threw for 187 yards and two TDs, but Dallas' defense couldn't back him up despite his three INTs. Manning's 306 yards and four TDs were just enough to come out a winner in the end. Game's like this one are always fun to watch.

Let's hope the second half of the season is at least as good, if not better, than the first half of play.

Photo Credits
Arian Foster: AP Photo/Dave Einsel
Clay Matthews: AP Photo/Morry Gash
Ndamukong Suh: AP Photo/Paul Sancya
Jamaal Charles: AP Photo/Ed Zurga

Week 9 Picks

Sunday November 7, 2010

Falcons over Bucs

Ravens over Dolphins

Bills over Bears

Saints over Panthers

Patriots over Browns

Jets over Lions

Texans over Chargers

Vikings over Cardinals

Giants over Seahawks



Raiders over Chiefs

Eagles over Colts

Packers over Cowboys

Monday November 8, 2010

Steelers over Bengals

Byes: Broncos, Titans, Jaguars, Redskins, Rams, Niners

Friday, November 5, 2010

With Saints' Backfield Troubles Worsening, Rookie Chris Ivory Looks to Get Start vs. Carolina

The 5-3 New Orleans Saints will likely be without it's top two rushers again this week against NFC South rivals Carolina.

Pierre Thomas (ankle) has already been ruled out for the game and Reggie Bush (fibula), who carried the ball just seven times this season, is currently listed as doubtful.

Past Thomas and Bush, New Orleans' depth chart is very thin when it comes to running backs. The 22-year old rookie Ivory has the most rushing attempts (66) on the team in his six games played, including a 158-yard performance against the Bucs three weeks ago.
As a team, the Saints have scored on the ground just twice this season, and the other two backs they have on the depth chart have a combined 173 rushing yards and one touchdown. One of the two, Ladell Betts, was cut before the season but was brought back after Bush broke his leg in September.

In six of the Saints' eight games they have been held to under a 100 rushing yards, but Drew Brees' passing attack has allowed them to win five games, good enough for second place in the NFC South. With a solid 20-10 victory over the defensive-oriented Steelers despite just 30 rushing yards last Sunday night, the Saints may not have to run the ball in order to play in January.

But, if they want to consistently win ball games, and stay alive in the close, back-and-forth games, they are going to have to have a solid run game. Once Bush and Thomas are back and healthy, New Orleans may end up being the strongest team out there. I advise you to start Chris Ivory in your fantasy league this week, he should see plenty of second half carries if New Orleans pulls ahead early.

Photo Credits
Chris Ivory: AP Photo/Chris O'Meara