Thursday, January 20, 2011

Can Big Ben Ground the Jets? Can the Pack Hibernate the Bears?

Listening to the Herd with Colin Cowherd this morning, ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd challenged his listeners to come up with two different 12-words (or less) headlines for the outcomes of Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship games. Some headlines included "Jets Flight To Dallas Grounded By Winter Blitz in Pittsburgh" and "Mister Rodgers' Neighborhood Is In Dallas". On Sunday, six months of training camp, pre-season, and regular season games have all come to this- the right to play in Super Bowl XLV in Texas on February 6.

6) Green Bay Packers (12-6) at 2) Chicago Bears (12-5)- Sunday @ 3PM EST at Soldier Field (Chicago, IL) on Fox

The oldest rivalry in the National Football League will represent one-half of the Super Bowl XLV ticket. The last time the Packers and Bears met in the playoffs, Franklin D. Roosevelt was in his third term in office, our Nation was at war (one week to the day of the horrific attack on Pearl Harbor), radio was our form of home entertainment, and Big Band jazz invaded the top charts. Fast forward 69 years, one month, and nine days- our Nation is still at war (in Iraq and Afghanistan), we can download apps for our favorite programs, and those Glee-sters keep on spinning out hits on the Billboard charts. Both teams have won Super Bowls before (The Packers won the first two Super Bowls and won again in 1997, and the Bears defense coasted to victory in Super Bowl XX in 1986), but neither have big-name field generals. For the Bears, Jay Cutler played his first postseason game since his senior year of high school back in Indiana (at Vanderbilt, Cutler went through four losing seasons), as Cutler scored three touchdowns in a 35-24 win over Seattle. Their reward....

The Green Bay Packers. They had the Atlanta Falcons seeing gangrene last Saturday night, as the Pack forced turnover after turnover in a 48-21 rout of the NFC's best team during the regular season. With a win in the Windy City, the Packers will be the next Wildcard team to knock off all three top seeds and advance to the Super Bowl.

Here is what will happen, the Packers defense will be in Cutler's face like they were three weeks ago in the Regular Season finale. Green Bay shut Atlanta down hard last week, and this week, the Packers defense will send the Monsters of the Midway back into hibernation.

Pick: Packers 38-8

6) New York Jets (13-5) at 3) Pittsburgh Steelers (13-4)- Sunday @ 6:30PM EST at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, PA) on CBS

The New York Jets, in four wins out of five playoff games under Rex Ryan have grounded many of the league's elite quarterbacks- Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning, and last week, Tom Brady. Can they shut down Ben Roethlisberger? am NOT a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, never have been, and never will be. But, I think the Steelers will win, because (1) they are a DANGEROUS team in the Playoffs, especially in the last five years. For example- They knocked out Carson Palmer in a cheap shot, on their way to winning Super Bowl XL. (2) They have won more Super Bowls than any other team in the history of the Super Bowl. (3) Big Name Recognitions. Every one knows who Ben Roethlisberger is (for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with football- I'll just leave it at that). Everyone knew who Jerome Bettis was. Who Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swann are. Et cetera, et cetera. (4) The Steelers defense is lethal to an opposing team's offense, especially that hit-happy number 92, what's-his-name, I think it's Harrison, but yeah. However, if the J-E-T-S, Jets do win, Mark Sanchez will be the first Hispanic-American quarterback to start a Super Bowl. But until then,

Pick: SteAlers 27-6

Green Bay Packers (13-6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (14-4)

On "The Herd (with Colin Cowherd)", Colin Cowherd, again this morning explained that two of the top four NFL niches are in Green Bay and Pittsburgh, which aren't Top 40 markets at all, but they have two of the top four NFL fanbases (out of the 32 teams). Steelers fans are everywhere, not just in Western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, or even the Ohio Governor's Office, but all over the country, as former steel mill workers spread out across the country when all of the steel mills in western Pennsylvania closed in the 1960s and 1970s. Cities like New York and Chicago, two of the top markets with NFL franchises, don't have huge fan bases, like they do with other sports (New York- The Yankees, Chicago- The Blackhawks). Cowherd, today, also projected the NFL coming to Los Angeles by 2015, with one of four teams (Chargers, Rams, Vikings, or Jaguars) possibly re-locating to the City of Angels.

Next time, the picks for Super Bowl XLV.

Friday, January 14, 2011

College Football: The Best of 2010

With the 2010 College Football Season in the Books, it is time to take a look back at the season that was college football.

Best Firing- Rich Rodriguez (Michigan)
Best Game-Winning Play: Little Giants (Michigan State vs. Notre Dame)
Best Special Teams Play: also Little Giants (Michigan State vs. Notre Dame)
Best BCS Bowl Game- Rose Bowl (TCU def. Wisconsin)
Most Controversial Quote: "Little Sisters of the Poor" (Dr. E. Gordon Gee, President of The Ohio State University)
Most Overrated I-FBS Team: The Ohio State Buckeyes
Most Overrated Division III School: Mount Union Purple Raiders
Worst I-FBS Team Invited to a Bowl: Michigan
Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson (TCU)
Worst Coach of the Year: Rich Rodriguez + (defensive coordinator) Greg Robinson (Michigan)
"Hand in the Cookie Jar" Award (College Player Getting in Trouble OFF the Field)- SIX-WAY TIE: Cam Newton (Auburn) and Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Mike Adams, Daniel "Boom" Herron, and Solomon Thomas (ALL from Ohio State)
Worst BCS Bowl Win (TIE): Ohio State over Arkansas AND Auburn over Oregon
Most Controversial Play: Michael Dyer keeps on going despite his knee somewhat coming down (Auburn vs. Oregon)
Most Entertaining Bowl Game: Tostito's BCS National Championship
Bowl Game Most Painful To Sit Through (TIE): Capital One Bowl (Alabama > Michigan State in the Saban Bowl) and Gator Bowl (Mississippi State > Michigan in RichRod's last stand)
Team of the Year: Texas Christian Horned Frogs "The Little Sisters of the Poor"
Improvement of the Year: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Fall from Grace of the Year (TIE): Texas Longhorns and Cincinnati Bearcats
Most Disappointing Team: Michigan Wolverines (runners-up included Miami Hurricanes, Texas Longhorns, Georgia Bulldogs, Washington Huskies, and Iowa Hawkeyes)
Worst I-FBS Team: Akron Zips
Team Projected to Win it All in 2011: Find out in August... ;)
Team Projected to Win Biggest Fall From Grace Next Year: O-H...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NFL: 2010 Season- Week 19 (Divisional Round) + New Coaching Hires

Another week, another dollar. Four more postseason games will take place over Saturday and Sunday on CBS and Fox. The action begins and ends on CBS as the Baltimore Ravens (13-4) visit their hated rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) on Saturday at 4:30. 24 hours later, the New York Jets (12-5) visit their rivals the New England Patriots (14-2). On Saturday night on Fox, the Green Bay Packers (11-6) visit the Atlanta Falcons (13-3). On Sunday afternoon, the Seattle Seahawks (8-9) visit the Windy City and the Chicago Bears (11-5).


5) Baltimore Ravens (13-4) at 2) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)- 4:30PM EST Saturday at Heinz Field (Pittsburgh, PA) on CBS

These two teams hate each other. In a division full of heated rivalries, this one is probably the most heated up. This is the second time in the last three years, and the third time overall that these teams have met in the playoffs. Pittsburgh is unbeaten (1-0 against Cincinnati, 1-0 against the then-Houston Oilers, 2-0 against Cleveland, 2-0 against Baltimore) against division rivals in the AFC Playoffs. Don't expect a lot of points to be scored in Heinz Field on Saturday afternoon. Last week, Joe Flacco proved why he is only the fourth quarterback in NFL history to reach the postseason in his first three years as the Ravens soared over the Chiefs, 30-7, in which the Chiefs' star receiver Dwayne Bowe was completely shut out of the mix. This week, the Ravens defense will have a field day with the Steelers offense, and vice versa.

Pick: Pittsburgh 17-10

6) New York Jets (12-5) at 1) New England Patriots (14-2)- 4:30PM EST Sunday at Gillette Stadium (Foxborough, MA) on CBS

These two teams don't get along. Over the course of the week, unpleasantries were exchanged back and forth from players (Jets' CB Antonio Cromartie and Patriots' QB Tom Brady) and coaches alike. The last time the Jets were in Foxborough, the Patriots shot them down 45-3. This will be an ugly and bitter fight in cold, snowy Foxborough.

Pick: New England 28-7


6) Green Bay Packers (11-6) at 1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)- 8PM EST Saturday at Georgia Dome (Atlanta, GA) on Fox

Let me argue my case for why the Falcons will win, and it is NOT the NFL Play60 Commercial. The Falcons will win because Matt Ryan NEVER loses at home (OK, he's lost twice in his three year career, thus far). Matt Ryan almost NEVER loses at home. Here is why the Falcons will lose. The Packers defense has come to play when the going got tough. When they needed to win out to make the playoffs, the Green Bay defense has risen to the occasion, and that is why an upset in on the horizon in the land of peaches and Ted Turner.

Pick: Atlanta 23-20 (OT)

4) Seattle Seahawks (8-9) at 2) Chicago Bears (11-5)- 1PM EST Sunday at Soldier Field (Chicago, IL) on Fox

The Seahawks won here earlier this season before they got into their funk which led to them being not only the first 7-9 (or losing team) to a) Win their Division and b) Reach the Playoffs, but (c) they became the first losing team to do A & B win a playoff game (which is again, C), by knocking off last year's Super Bowl Champs, New Orleans in a wild one 41-36, where the Seahawks led by as many as 14. The Bears, fresh off a week off, need to get a little pep in their step, because Jay Cutler has little to no postseason experience, what-so-ever. And Pete Carroll...well, he spent the last nine years at USC, where, need I mention his accomplishments there?

Pick: Seattle 27-14

If this holds up...

AFC Championship- 2) Pittsburgh Steelers at 1) New England Patriots
NFC Championship- 4) Seattle Seahawks at 1) Atlanta Falcons

My Super Bowl Predix are STILL New England vs. Atlanta.

The San Francisco 49ers hired Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh (a 14-year NFL quarterback) as their new head coach last Friday. Harbaugh received offers from the Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and his alma mater, the University of Michigan.

The Cleveland Browns hired St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur today.

The Denver Broncos hired former Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox today.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mission Accomplished (Michigan fires RichRod) + NFL Wildcard Picks


After three long-suffering years, angry and pissed off University of Michigan football fans finally got their belated Christmas present on Wednesday as the University of Michigan finally fired Head Coach Rich Rodriguez after a 15-22 record and four days after the worst bowl loss in Michigan history- a 52-14 laugher to the fifth-place team in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (Mississippi State, that would be you).

While Michigan fans want their native son Jim Harbaugh to come home and take Michigan to a National Championship in the next few years. We sports pundits, both amateur and pro all know that that's not going to happen. It's wishful thinking. Harbaugh will more than likely (a) stay at Stanford or (b) leave Stanford for greener pastures in the NFL. If Harbaugh were to accept the Michigan job, we would have looked forward to his introduction where he would have guaranteed a thumping of the Ohio State Buckeyes on Nov. 26 in the Big House*.

But the most important thing for Michigan is to hire a "Michigan man". Michigan needs a man that can outsmart "The Vest", that is a defensive mind, and that can bring the Boys in Blue back to National prominence and can bring the BCS National Championship to Ann Arbor. Wimpy coaches that only know how to run the spread offense need not apply, because in the last three years, you have seen what the spread offense has done to Michigan. It decimated a once-proud team to a lumpy pile of manure.

Michigan hit new lows (most losses in a season, worst Bowl loss in a season, longest losing streak to Overrated State) during this administration, and it will take a lot to fix everything that Rodriguez jacked up in just a short time. While Rodriguez was a success at West Virginia, the spread offense doesn't work in the Big Ten. Look at Ohio State, they play "smash-it-up" football, when they're not playing the ultra-conservative "Tresselball"**. Michigan needs to go back to the "Smashmouth" football that fans have known for years, and maybe then, they will get back to National prominence, and in the next few years, we could see Harbaugh, or Brady Hoke, or Les Miles, or whomever the next Michigan coach is, hoist that BCS National Championship trophy high with Maize and Blue pride.

Official Story from the University of Michigan Athletic Department

*- In 1986, Harbaugh guaranteed a Michigan trip to the Rose Bowl with a win over Ohio State. Michigan won that game in the Horseshoe 26-24, only to lose in the Rose Bowl to Arizona State, 22-15. The Arizona State coach? He would have a lot of bad luck with Michigan, which would later cost him his job as Ohio State's head football coach following the 2000 season. Of course, I'm talking about John Cooper.

**- Tresselball- How Ohio State finds ways to lose as they play very conservatively in tight games and let the other team manhandle them to victory (i.e.- Texas in 2005 and in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl; USC in 2009; LSU in the 2007 BCS National Championship; Purdue in 2009; Wisconsin in 2010)



The regular season of the NFL is over. The road to Dallas and Super Bowl XLV has begun. On Saturday, two teams will see their dreams end, and on Sunday, two more teams will see their Super Bowl dreams go up in smoke as well. This past Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks became the first losing team in the 91-year history of the National Football League to win their division and clinch a playoff berth with a 16-6 win over the St. Louis Rams.

The Seahawks will kick the postseason off by hosting the defending Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, fresh off a 23-13 loss to Tampa Bay, who was one of two 10-6 teams to miss the playoffs in the NFC, a first for the conference since 1991.

The nightcap for Saturday night features the defending AFC Champions, Indianapolis hosting the New York Jets in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship game.

On Sunday afternoon, the AFC West champs Kansas City host the Baltimore Ravens, while the season will end the way it began for either the Green Bay Packers or the Philadelphia Eagles, in a rematch of the season opener for both teams, a 27-20 Packers win.

5) New Orleans Saints (11-5, regular season) at 4) Seattle Seahawks (7-9, regular season)- 4:30PM EST on NBC (Qwest Field; Seattle, WA)
Well, they did it. The Seahawks made history on Sunday night as the first losing team to win their division. For the second year in a row, the # 4 seed closes out the regular season and kicks off the postseason (the Cincinnati Bengals lost 37-0 in the Sunday Night finale to the Jets and again six days later 24-14 in the Wildcard) with a game against the defending Super Bowl Champs, the Saints. The Saints have had their highs and lows, and this could be an upset game, if the Saints don't get their act together. After all, they did lose to the Cleveland Browns this season. However, Matt Hasselbeck (or Charlie Whitehurst) can't beat the Saints on his own.
Pick: New Orleans 20-13

6) New York Jets (11-5, regular season) at 3) Indianapolis Colts (10-6, regular season)- 8:10PM EST on NBC (Lucas Oil Stadium; Indianapolis, IN)
This will be the home of next year's Super Bowl, as well as the inaugural Big Ten Championship game next season, and the site of last year's thrilling AFC Championship game, where the Colts came from behind to beat the Jets and reach Super Bowl XLIV. The Jets, after a 9-2 start, slid into the playoffs after a Week 16 loss to the Bears, and managed to win their finale, a meaningless 38-7 romp over Buffalo. The Colts won the AFC South with a 23-20 win over the Titans (on a 43-yard Adam Vinatieri field goal with no time left) and a Jacksonville loss to the Houston Texans. The Colts may be a dangerous team, with Peyton Manning, and the few targets he has left. Joseph Addai has returned to the team healthy. However, the Jets have more questions on offense than answers, and they won't find them in Indy.
Pick: Indianapolis 31-14

5) Baltimore Ravens (12-4, regular season) at 4) Kansas City Chiefs (10-6, regular season)- 1PM EST on CBS (Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, MO)
The Ravens are very lethal to play this time of year as Joe Flacco is only the fourth quarterback to make it to the second season each of his first three seasons in the league. On the other side, the Chiefs are this years Bengals. While they didn't sweep the AFC (8-8 Oakland did, and even that wasn't enough to save Tom Cable his job), the Chiefs are pretenders (in their first playoff appearance in seven years), more than contenders, having not won a playoff game since 1993 (losing to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Championship Game), and not making it to the Super Bowl since they won it all in Super Bowl IV, 41 years ago. This one will be over by halftime as Todd Haley is probably the most overrated coach in the NFL.
Pick: Baltimore 34-7

6) Green Bay Packers (10-6, regular season) at 3) Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, regular season)- 4:40PM EST on Fox (Lincoln Financial Field; Philadelphia, PA)
This is how the Packers and Eagles began their season, back on Sept. 12. This, also is where the season will end for one of these two teams. These two teams also kept the New York Giants out of the playoffs with head-to-head wins (Eagles swept the season series, and Green Bay thumped the Giants in Week 16), and are looking to move on up in the NFC playoffs. Andy Reid is on the hot seat, having not won the Big Game in the playoffs, and only making the Super Bowl once in his 12 years in Philadelphia (a Super Bowl XXXIX loss to New England). The Packers are a dangerous team to play this late in the year, and could spread that into the playoffs. This game was also the start of the Michael Vick-Kevin Kolb quarterback soap opera that took place in Philadelphia. Look for the Packers defense to have a big game.
Pick: Green Bay 28-14

If this holds up...
3) Indianapolis Colts at 2) Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, regular season)- Jan. 15 @ 4:40PM EST on CBS
6) Green Bay Packers at 1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3, regular season)- Jan. 15 @ 8:10PM EST on Fox
5) New Orleans Saints at 2) Chicago Bears (11-5, regular season)- Jan. 16 @ 1PM EST on Fox
5) Baltimore Ravens at 1) New England Patriots (14-2, regular season)- Jan. 16 @ 4:30PM EST on CBS