Tagged with "NFC"
It's Really Upside Down
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFC halfway point

 

 

What's up? The usually stable NFL has some upheaval at its halfway point. Halloween spooks? Maybe. It's that bad in some places.

Usually there's a surprise or two. Maybe rookies, free agents or coaching changes have reversed someone's fortunes and we have a couple of surprise contenders, or pretenders at least. But usually it isn't mostly confined to one conference. This year it is.

 

The AFC has its share of little surprises, but that's all. Not long ago, it looked like San Diego might have Denver's number. Suddenly it doesn't look that way anymore. The Patriots were in last place once. But now they're back in first, with yet another Brady/Manning Bowl about to happen, possibly to decide playoff seeding. Sounds familiar. Cincinnati leads the AFCN, but barely, and the Cats look vulnerable as Baltimore and Pittsburgh slowly reclaim their status as division lynchpins. The Browns are making noise and are 4-3... but somehow they're still last.

Buffalo and Miami are challenging New England in the AFCE, but so far it's just a challenge. Indy had a rocky start and continues to hit bumps, but they're still in first. The Jags and Raiders are last in their divisions. So far it doesn't look too much like a rocking boat.

Indy is getting a perhaps surprising challenge from Houston, but the Colts, for all the cracks they've shown, have Andrew Luck while the Texans' biggest threat is JJ Watt, who may score points from his DE position but can't score them like Luck can from QB. Things are familiar enough.

 

Ah, but the NFC has become the bastion of surprise. Thought not long ago to have wrested the mantle of strongest conference from the AFC, the NFC finds itself awash in upheaval, not all of it related solely to the standings. Let's look at the divisions as they stand.

NFCE

This traditionally most puzzling division must drive fans of circle-the-number football cards nuts. The Giants came out like a lost cause, blasted their way into a wave of fan optimism, then sank back again. They are a shade erratic, to understate the obvious, but that's not so unusual in this division. 

The Redskins started RG3 and picked up where they had left off last year when he was benched. Griffin was hurt again, so they gave Cousins a surprisingly futile shot, giving up on him. So what happens? They stroll into the house of what was being perhaps nostalgically labeled "the best team in football" and beat the Boys with Colt McCoy still covered in mothballs. The score was close, but the game was dominated by the Skins, who shut down the Boys' vaunted rushing attack and nearly broke Tony Romo in half. That Brandon Weeden proved a capable backup wasn't very consoling. What this does to the Boys' fragile collective ego remains to be seen. What it's done to Romo's health also remains to be seen. What will it do for Washington though? Likely nothing. With a fresh start and a quarterback the team seems eager to play hard for (remember Tom Brady's first year?), they announced the return of RG3, who calls his own shots and clearly sees handwriting starting to form on the walls. When you've got two quarterbacks, you haven't really got one, as the saying goes. How about three?

The Eagles, for all their supposed defensive weakness, remain the team that seems most immune to laying an egg so far. Even their loss last week might have been a win if the field were a foot wider. So at the moment it's turmoil, but in this division at least we've come to expect it.

NFCN

The home of the Packers and Everybody Else for a while now, is starting to change slowly. The Vikings show no signs of coming very far off the bottom. You can smell that in a team that thinks it will ride a running back these days. The Bears, picked by some foolhardy souls to control the division with their explosiveness, have instead imploded, a condition punctuated by last week's humiliation in Foxboro.

The Packers, meanwhile, have been hit by the never-ending injury plague that continues to infest the NFL despite a new CBA that was supposed to fix everything by limiting the preseason workouts. Run that by me again? Still, they've played well enough to contend. But their crushing at the hands of New Orleans wasn't a good sign. Neither was the sight of Aaron Rodgers, as he became the latest proof of the problems that fashionable running quarterbacks create (speaking of the injury plague). With most, it's the fact that reliance on their legs in college led to little mastery of skills like reading defenses. With Rodgers, who can read any defense, it's purely about mobility. He wasn't even hit while running for a first down. His hamstring just popped.

But the story of the division so far is the Lions. Atop the division, saved in London by a delay of game call (on them!) that shouldn't have been called, they've made a season so far out of falling behind and rallying late. It's heartwarming, but it's also reminiscent of the old Buffalo Bills waiting until the last possible moment to turn it on. Made them fun to watch, but frustrating. Wide Right showed what happens when you leave no margin for error. The Lions, still in just-wait-til-Megatron-gets-back mode, are lucky to be where they are. Time will tell whether it's enough. History is not on their side.

NFCS

Upheaval? This division was considered by many either the cream or the #2 division in football. The Panthers, somehow 13-3 last season, have reverted to form. Newton is perpetually hurt, and that exposes his erratic passing. Atlanta, somehow 3-13 last season, was supposed to be back. Their excuse was Julio Jones. It was a silly excuse. Now they have none. And the Bucs, thought promising coming into the season under the guidance of Lovie Smith, actually look worse than they did under Schiano --- they're regressing.

Meanwhile, the Saints started slowly. Lately they're picking it up. The defense may not be their strong point, but it probably isn't as bad as most had labeled it. Brees may have started poorly, but he's picking it up a bit himself. It's all good for a 4-4 record, which amazingly puts them on top of what has so far become the garbage pail of NFL divisions. That in of itself qualifies as an upheaval, even if having the Saints in first looks pretty recognizable. There's not a winning team in sight.

NFCW

Finally, the star of the show. The division with all the power, featuring the two best teams in football. Did anyone doubt that after watching Seattle squeak by San Francisco in the playoffs and then take the Broncos apart with a Sawzall? Those teams each have the model of the new mobile quarterback. Great arm. Avoids trouble instead of looking for it. Great runners. Great defenses. Wait... what's going on?

The mighty Niners are 4-3. They were just dissected by that same Broncos team, and at home too. Kaepernick looks lost most of the time. The defense is vulnerable. The coach is under fire. That's the same coach they tried to trade to the Cleveland Browns for some reason. They opened the season awash in question marks. Whoda thunk they'd be overtaken in that department?

The mightier Seahawks are 4-3 too. Since their opening-game rout of Green Bay, after which they were crowned Super Bowl Champions again by the media, they've gone 3-3 with an even point differential. They've lost at home. They've lost to the Rams. They darn near lost to the pathetic Panthers last week. And their locker room turmoil is the stuff of legend now. The only way they'll quash the ugly rumors they've officially tried to ignore is to start winning big again. They've dug themselves a hole.

The Rams, with Sam Bradford perhaps now officially another cruel mirage, are last. No surprise. They may be the one beacon of stability (along with Tampa) in the NFC.

So who's first? Why, the team universally picked for third place. Unlike their oddball rivals farther north, the Cardinals have played stable football under the stable Bruce Arians and it's been enough to vault them to a 6-1 record. Think about it. The Cardinals in first, 2 games over Seattle and San Francisco. Now that's upheaval. They've even survived a multigame loss of their starting QB. I don't think the majority believe this will last, but underdog lovers everywhere are hoping.


So why all this funny stuff? A hint may have come from none other than Bill Belichick who, just before his team was stomped in Kansas City, told a reporter that Week Four was like the 4th week of preseason in terms of the number of snaps the teams had taken, again thanks to that new CBA. It could explain the slow starts of teams like New England, Denver, Pittsburgh and several others... and the unexpected early success of some teams.

But it probably can't explain everything.

 

 

Divisional Upheaval?
Category: FEATURED
Tags: NFL Manziel NFC AFC

 

Why talk football? Why not, with a bare 6 weeks or so before we gear up for preseason? Good time for a final prediction before the oft-meaningless results of said preseason cloud one's judgement, catastrophic injuries excepted.

Football doesn't change much. Despite an effective draft system and free agency galore, the league has a stunning equilibrium, at least in some divisions. Bottom feeders like the Red Sox don't vault to the top in one season --- then plummet to the bottom again the next. In hockey, the elite tend to stay that way for a while until slow change overcomes them. The NBA is the one place where one player, whether named Wilt Chamberlain or LeBron James, can team-hop and turn the league upside-down.

The one thing that can produce a sea change in the NFL is a dramatic QB change, but even Peyton Manning hasn't seen the mountain air produce a ring.

Anyway, on with it!

AFC East:

In what has become the most predictable division in football, don't expect any miracles outside Foxboro. The Patriots, with all their supposed issues, will win the division again and vie for the ring again just because they're... well... the Patriots.

The Jets, erstwhile challengers, have spent the past few seasons in the bad joke department. This year, despite what many are calling vast improvements in personnel, one of said improvements has been none other than Mike Vick. Gone is Sanchez, the questionable quarterback who led them to two conference games not so long ago. Vick is aboard to 'mentor' Geno Smith. Smith needs more than mentoring, but doesn't relish the thought of being a backup. The plan is that he starts. We shall see. The stage is set for another circus.

The Fins, sidetracked by the media's vapid anti-bullying campaign last year, have proven less than resilient in the face of adversity, however minor. Why they should suddenly develop the heart of a champion is a topic for conjecture.

And, as usual... Buffalo. They seem to have a lot of good players. They are a tough out in the division. But they're always an out. EJ Manuel isn't going to turn into Tom Brady. Or Ryan Tannehill. Or even Mike Vick. But they may not finish last. In fact, except for first place it's a scramble, but one with dubious probability of producing a wild card.

 

AFC North:

With the decline of Baltimore and Pittsburgh, the Bengals have been something of a default champion recently by virtue of being a solid team. But they lack everything necessary to advance past their first playoff game. What that lack is can't be quantified easily, but it will focus, as it always does, on Dalton. Fair? Who cares? Anyway, though Pitt and Balty have stronger organizations, the front offices don't slug it out on Sundays.

The Browns are a big talking point. Again. Last year they looked formidable for a game and a half before Hoyer crumbled behind his oddly porous offensive line. Everyone would love to see Johnny Football ride in on his horse and pull an instant Andrew Luck, but only Cleveland fans could possibly believe it will happen. Something good could happen. The Browns have some pieces, the Bengals are still a dubious division dynasty, and the Ravens and Steelers still have winning pedigree but not much else. Unfortunately, the Browns' organization from top to bottom is so chaotic that it's impossible to believe they can pull it off until it happens.

The Ravens and Steelers are lumped together. Each team has a star quarterback, but the rest of the equation is a big fat question mark. It's hard to fathom starting a season without a 'pick one' for the AFCN between them, but here we are.

 

AFC South:

Colts Magic may be burning out a bit, but has anyone lately come out of college and turned a completely dismantled team into a winner like Andrew Luck? So far the rebuild has been more successful than planned. Expect this to continue. Unless...

Well, there is one case of first-to-worst in the NFL, and it's the Texans. How a team boasting one of the strongest rosters can succumb to injuries (and to two disheartening blowouts to New England) with a 2-14 season is beyond belief. We are about to find out whether Gary Kubiak was the glue that held them together or the problem. Bill O'Brien is a great coordinator but this is his first head job in the NFL. A coaching change can do wonders, and if he can revive their moribund offense things might get interesing. But bypassing a quarterback for a defensive end in the draft may have sealed their fate.

Tennessee ain't too bad... and ain't too good. End of story.

Jacksonville had a very good offseason, but the Jags need to pull a 'show me' to regain credibility as a contender. The team has heart. It could happen.

 

AFC West:

You'd think with two flops in the playoffs and Peyton Manning applying for Social Security the Broncos would hang it up. Not John Elway. He has his window, and this year is proving no different than last with an army of acquisitions to get Peyton his ring. It's doubtful that it will, but it will get him yet another division crown.

Should Denver slip up, however, the Chiefs at least look like the clear lady in waiting. Alex Smith may not be Manning, but he's pretty good, and his team isn't bad either. It's all a question of what the Broncos do, and after that Super Bowl, more than one potential sword hangs over their heads.

And then there's Oakland. Except for the Browns, the perennial example of how not to do things. This year they had a good offseason, not just for them but for anyone. The question will be whether the added talent has effect or just gets sucked into the bottomless pit that has claimed so many. Matt Schaub will become the latest faded star to try his luck. Carson Palmer couldn't do it. Went to Arizona and looked just fine. Oughtta tell you something.

Finally we have the Chargers... or what's left of them. They showed so much heart last year, it's impossible to write them off. Under AnybodyButNorv, they blossomed from talented underachievers to untalented overachievers. The latter is far more fun to watch. Don't count them out of second place unless a few of their remaining wheels fall off.

 

NFC East:

The division that had everyone in a 4-way head scratching quandary for years now is Nick Foles' to lose. The Eagles may not be great, but they're good, and that's all it should take. The reasons?

The Giants stunk, and have great stink potential again. The embattled Coughlin could pull one of his miracles again, but this time it would have to be a real miracle.

The Redskins have more problems than their name (or, more accurately, those who've made a PC cause celebre out of it) and they start with what was only recently their one rock-solid position. Two years ago, RG3 and Kirk Cousins looked too good to stay on the same team. But they did, and the results were disasterous. Griffin, back early from his injury (at his insistence), stunk the house out. He was so bad that he was benched in favor of Cousins, unfortunately so late in the season that the cause was hopeless and Cousins was hopelessly out of sorts. Now they have two young question marks to go with the others... which comprise the whole shebang, on and off the field.

The Cowboys get sillier --- and progressively worse --- by the year. Don't guess this trend will continue. Bank on it.

 

NFC North:

The Pack may not be what they were once, and Aaron Rodgers may be contemplating suicide judging from his comments on running with the ball, but for reasons so common among the divisions they should manage win theirs.

The Bears are coming back with a revamped defense. Good idea. After that it's Jay and Matt and pray for health. Same old Bears.

The Lions continue to be the league's shining example of how to squander apparent talent. Will a coaching change make all the difference? Something better.

The Vikings try hard, and that might be enough to push them past the menagerie if both animal squads sputter, which is more than possible. But whatever happens they probably won't catch Green Bay. You can't ride AP like a horse.

 

NFC South:

I've been predicting the dissolution of the Saints for a few years now, and been wrong. Last year their hot start buried the Falcons, leaving doubt as to how hard said Falcons were actually trying. And they handled upstart Carolina when they had to. They have the best (and dirtiest) coach in the division. Will that still be enough? Maybe. Maybe not. The wheels have to fall off some day, but they need some encouragement.

Atlanta is a huge question mark following a pathetic season rivaled only by Houston. Is Mike Smith really back? Consistency may be something the Falcons don't want this time around. Nobody sinks like that after losing a wide receiver. Nobody good, anyway.

Carolina had a breakout season for Cam last year. Or was it a flash in the pan? Judging from what happened between the season and postseason, it'll all depend on how short a leash they can keep on Newton, who appears to prefer the Superman routine, which loses, to the game manager routine, which won them games.

Tampa Bay isn't pathetic, but the Bucs also aren't looking like contenders either. This year, though, is the Lovie Smith Show. If they play as hard for him as the Bears did, who knows where this fairly talented team might end up?

 

NFC West:

Suddenly the premier division in football, the NFCW has two powerhouses, one good team and one mystery flop. Seattle's hold on the division is anything but guaranteed. But the champs are the likeliest to win it. There's one major reason.

Colin Kaepernick has been showing more and more of his flaky side since the reins came off. He's talented and dynamic, but he's also a mistake-prone passer who can be a liability when he goes sour. His discipline is in, shall we say, some question, certainly when compared to that of the possibly less skilled Russell Wilson. But the Niners should be there until the end anyway.

The Cards surprised almost everybody by making a run at a playoff spot late. Carson Palmer settled into his role, and the team played well. There's just too much to overcome right now in the division though.

Which brings us to the Rams. Is Sam still a franchise QB? Have all those draft picks borne fruit yet? Will they this time around? Is Fisher really still a capable coach? Stay tuned, but the likely anwers, as their record shall determine, are no, no and no. This ain't the NFCE. This ain't even the NFCS. Rebuilds don't take this long.

Reflecting on The Pats Season
Category: Daily Blog 2.0
Tags: Super Bowl AFC NFC Broncos Patriots Manning Brady


This is a tale of two similar seasons 12 years removed. ?In January 2002, I watched the divisional round of the playoffs from a cruise ship leaving Miami. ?I watched an improbable Patriots win to advance to the AFC title game in Pittsburgh. I watched that game from Key West Florida. ?This year, I watched the divisional round just before leaving on vacation, and came home to watch the AFC title game. ?Both playoff runs were improbable ??if for different reasons. ?Both the 2001 and 2013 Patriots had fluky things happen to get to the #2 seed. ?Neither team was really expected to get there. ?The big difference ??the 2001 team had enough horses to make it over the finish line.

So, that Patriots fell short ??as it happens, very short ??this year. ?That said, there s no shame in losing the AFC title to the most prolific offense in NFL history with a team depleted as much by injury (Gronkowski,?WIlfork) as by apparent malfeasance (Hernandez). ?This is a team that completely overachieved this season, as I suggested in an earlier article. ?They won several games (Broncos, Texans, Browns) they had no business winning, and were lucky enough to pull out the #2 seed ??I m still not sure how that happened.

So here s my thing: it s easy to point to yet another big game loss and wonder if Brady has any more big game wins left in him, but over the last 12 years the Patriots have gone to 5 Super Bowls, 8 Championship Games. ?I can t think of a more impressive run, ever. ?As far as I m concerned, while I m disappointed my team lost, I m happy as hell that I got another week to watch them play this year, that they went as far as they did. ?Winning is great, but you also have to appreciate getting to the game. ?It?wasn t really that long ago that I was thrilled the Pats got to the playoffs, never mind really contesting the Super Bowl. ?

I was really giggling at the thought the Pats could play for another Super Bowl on Eli s home turf. ?Of course, if I m being completely candid, I honestly thought that it would be the NFC representative dancing under the confetti at the end of the day. ?Of course, in February 2002, I was convinced of the same. ?Anything really can happen.

Now, I cannot leave it there. ?The Broncos absolutely deserve to be in the title game. ?In fact, there was a point at which I was convinced they could go undefeated all season. ?Additionally, they showed they were the superior team Sunday. ?No doubt there. ?They controlled the ball for the entirety of the game; the offense truly had their will and the defense stifled the Patriots. ?Sure, the Patriots played a bad game, but in my opinion was a result of the Manning-led offense playing their game with precision and victimizing the Patriot defense. ?No doubt, the AFC is sending the best representative to the Meadowlands February 2.

The NFC game was the polar opposite of the AFC tilt.? Sloppy at times, a potentially fatal officiating error on a turnover on the goal line, obviated only by Marshawn Lynch failing to get a handle on a handoff.? In the end, the Seahawks put the game away with 22 seconds left in the game.? Consider that against the AFC game earlier.? Little doubt in my mind really, I think the ?Hawks are probably the best team in the league and are my pick for the Super Bowl Champion.? That said, Coach Carroll is going to have to keep the showboating and sloppy plays down ? a Peyton Manning led team will eat those mistakes for dinner.? Richard Sherman got the best of his opponent, and in his post game interview he was stuck on some disrespect by Crabtree and reaffirming his status as the best corner in the game.? C?mon man.? Buck up.? You won.? Lose the ego.? We?ll see if you?re the best in the game when you?re facing Manning in the Super Bowl.

Now, on a personal note, to make matters worse, the game comes on the heels of a really cold vacation week ??I know, complain about a week away ??but it was disappointing in that respect. ?And of course, I got myself locked out of my work email, so I m sure there s 1000 mails begging my attention. ?Sometimes being away for a week?isn t worth the backlog you come back to ??even with all the?prepwork?you do to avoid it. ?TO make matters even worse, I changed my voice mail with the very clear message ?I m not here, here s where you can get answers. ??And of course I come back to three voice messages from the same person saying they left a message the other day and?weren t sure why I?hadn t responded. ?Yeah, I have a new message for you the best part is that I have NO idea why they re calling me ??they ?would have been advised to follow up on my directions. ??File this:?NMP? ?Not My Problem.


Congratulations Denver and good luck February 2. ?I think you?re going to need it.

?

?

Deep Thoughts 12-11-13
Category: FEATURED
Tags: Texas Longhorns and Mack Brown Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jones and Monte Kiffin NFC contenders AFC contenders Danica Patrick Dances Olympic Football?

 

Hello and welcome to another Wednesday of deep thoughts. If you are a football fan, it would be tough to beat last weekend for watching football…unless you are a Longhorn or Cowboys fan. I admit that I was less than confident that the Horns would be up to the task of beating Baylor in Waco. I told friends that Waco is a tough place to play. Winning conference games on the road is always tough. I was hopeful, but anything but confident. To make matters worse, Saturday was the last game being played at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco and with the loss by Oklahoma State earlier in the day…the game was for the Big 12 title. As everyone knows, Texas battled to a 3-3 tie at halftime before Baylor figured out the cold weather and pulled away in the second half. With the loss, the eyes of Texas have begun to look for new leadership. The heat on Longhorn boss Mack Brown has grown increasingly hot in the past few years. 2013 was supposed to be the year that Texas became relevant nationally; once again…they were not. There are many in Longhorn nation that believe Mack Brown should be replaced. I am not one of them anymore. Earlier in the season I believed that Texas needed a new head coach, but what happened after the loss to Ole Miss changed my mind. Had Texas won one more conference game, there would have been a good argument for Brown to be the Big 12 coach of the year. Given the injuries that the Longhorns have faced this year, it is amazing that Texas was able to win as many games as they did. But, for many fans that is simply not good enough. I suppose that I am in a minority, but if Brown has one more year on his contract…why not allow Mack Brown to finish out his time? Given the good times that Mack has brought to the 40 acres, it seems the right way to end this era.

 

 

 

Now, changes do need to be made. The first thing that I would address is a new offensive coordinator. Major Applewhite was a great player while at Texas, but I just don’t see him as the answer at Texas. During the Baylor game, Texas ran the ball extremely well. Despite the success on the ground, each time the Horns crossed midfield, Applewhite went with a pass play. I understand the concept of a balanced offense, but in that weather…with Case McCoy at QB…keep running the ball. Each time Texas went with the pass, the incompletion meant that another pass was necessary. It is why Texas was unable to finish several promising drives and only able to muster 3 points in the half. Once Baylor put two scores up in the second half, Texas was done.

Next I would take a long hard look at the talent evaluators at Texas. I like what Case McCoy represents, but 12 for 34 for 54 yards is just unacceptable. In today’s college football if you don’t have a QB…you don’t win. When Mack has had a good QB, Texas has won. It really is that simple. Teams are going to make mistakes sometimes, but how is it possible that there was not more talent in the QB cupboard? You can make the argument that better QBs were at Texas and left and that is a fair take. But when you realize that Texas tried to talk RG3 into being a wide receiver, you have to wonder at the wisdom of those making the talent decisions.

Mack joked before the Baylor game that he had to be the only coach in America with a team playing for a conference championship and also answering questions about his job. If history is correct, where there is smoke, there is almost always fire. I suppose that we will hear in a few days that Brown is stepping down and a new coach is taking over. That is too bad. For all of those Texas fans clamoring for Nick Saban, be careful what you wish for. Saban is the same age as Brown and if he is the one chosen to replace Mack, his tenure at UT surely won’t be long. Of course, five years at one place is a long time for Saban. For those keeping tabs…the extension that Bama offered Saban on Friday remains unsigned…hmmm. I wonder if that means anything.

 

                                              

 


 

 

All of those great NFL games on Sunday left me excited to see the Cowboys face the Bears. I envisioned the Bears in Chicago to be much tamer than those in Waco. The Bear defense has been horrid this year and I fully expected the Boys to rack up points. The game began just as I expected, with Dallas running the ball at will. For once, the Cowboys took the opening kickoff and scored a TD. This was going to be fun, I thought. Then Chicago scored and scored again and again and again. I think that the Bears punter had one punt. The Bears used their big receivers Marshall and Jeffery to haul in one first down after another. Then Forte ran a bit, and then he caught a few passes. The poor passes that Josh McCown threw, Dallas dropped. The Bears dropped nothing. I watched a replay the other day of the 1994 Cowboys against Green Bay on Thanksgiving. I realized how much defensive talent they had on that team…Jeffcoat, Haley, Maryland, Hennings, Leon Lett, Robert Jones, Darrin Smith, Bill Bates, Darren Woodson, Larry Brown. There were players at every position and even the back-up players were good.  As I watched the Cowboy defense Monday night, what I noticed is that they just did not have the talent to make the plays necessary to stop the Bears. Maybe Monte Kiffin is the right guy…maybe he is not. In the end, the team with the best talent wins and Dallas just does not have enough talent of defense to make any coordinator’s system work. Seriously…this stat says it all. For the season, the Cowboys defense has allowed an average of 25 first downs each game. This is just pitiful. The funny thing is, I still think that Dallas will probably win the NFC East. But I know what is ahead. Sadness and disappointment lay ahead for Cowboy fans.

 

 

I laugh when I hear the press spouting stats about Tony Romo’s December struggles. There is a reason that Tony Romo has struggled in December. This is the time of year that defense wins games. Really, what chance does Dallas have of winning if it is not Romo’s offense outscoring the opposition? For those that criticize Romo…what would Dallas have without him? I had to laugh when I read this quote about Monte Kiffin from Jerry Jones on Tuesday:

 

"He takes it personally; it's hard on him," Jones said of Kiffin during his twice weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "Very hard on him. He's been doing this a long time.

"At his age [73], he's had a lot of different experiences. With all of that in mind, he's just got a resolve and he doesn't in any way reject the responsibility. As a matter of fact, he invites it all on himself."

After the loss, Jones said he wished the Cowboys (7-6) would trick up some of their defensive schemes and get more pressure on the quarterback to create turnovers.

"To be doing what we're doing and to fix what we're doing, there's nobody I would rather have than him and [defensive line coach] Rod Marinelli," Jones said. "Where we are today, to get this fixed over the next, if you would, week or four or five days, the next three weeks, there's nobody I would rather have to get it fixed.

"First of all, he knows what's happening to us better than anyone. And if there are adjustments to be made, he's the right man for the job right now."

It is clear to all what adjustment is needed in Dallas. A general manager not named Jerry Jones. Seriously…read that quote. What the hell does this mean? “a week or four or five days, the next three weeks” It is time for Dallas to find someone that actually knows how to build a team. The tough part is convincing the owner…

 

 I have said and continue to say that unless a team plays defense this time of year that they cannot win in the playoffs. It looks to me like there are two teams in the NFC that have a chance of making the Super Bowl. Seattle and San Francisco have the defenses to compete the rest do not. I thought that Carolina might have a chance, but after Sunday, I am not so sure.

The AFC seems like a four team race. Denver, New England, Cincinnati and KC appear to be the four teams with a realistic chance this year. Of course, those pesky Ravens always seem to be a problem if they manage to make the playoffs. Is it just me or are the Ravens very similar to what the Giants were a few years ago. With that defense, this time of year seems to just agree with them. Flacco plays like shit the entire year, then suddenly transforms into an NFL QB for a month. Think how good they would be if they still had Boldin. I am still trying to figure out why they did no resign that guy.

If you believe in defense winning, Denver and New England do not seem to be the choice to be in the Super Bowl. Of course, when you have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady…sometimes you can make up for a leaky defense. Watching Gronk go out on Sunday, I could not help but think that the Pats chances got much tougher. It is too bad he cannot stay healthy as he is a great player. For my money, it looks like Denver and Seattle in the Super Bowl this year. Offense against defense...in the cold. If Peyton actually wins outside in NY, he really does have a right to tell everyone to stick those questions in their ear.

 


 

 

I am sure that Qwazier will cover this, but I had to at least give it a mention. Apparently, Danica Patrick is now a Las Vegas show girl? During the America county music awards in Las Vegas, Danica Patrick showed up in her dancing gear…

 

 


 

 

I caught a bit of conversation on sports radio about Football being added to the summer Olympics. What do you think about this? Why would other countries agree to this? Is there any doubt that we would kick everyone’s ass for decades? The rest of the world could put a team together and I doubt they could still even compete. It will be interesting to see how this develops. Strange that they take wrestling out of the Olympics and add football? I wonder what crazy rules Olympic football would have?


That’s all I have today, but will leave you with a bit of Jack Handey…

 

 

"I think people tend to forget that trees are living creatures. They're sort of like dogs. Huge, quiet, motionless dogs, with bark instead of fur."

 

The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and feel free to leave a few deep thoughts of your own…

 

 

Conference Championship Picks with IHM
Category: NFL
Tags: NFL AFC NFC Patriots Ravens 49ers Giants

  Well folks, it's that time of year again... the men have been separated from the boys, the cream has risen to the top, and a number of other cliches could also be used to describe the majesty that is the AFC and NFC Championship weekend. The final four include some old standbys in the AFC, the Patriots and Ravens, and a band of underachievers and overachievers in the NFC with the Giants and 49ers. 

  Last week, I really shit the bed, going 2-2 on my picks, bringing my playoff record to 5-3. This week I can save a little face... or get them both wrong and sit at .500 going into the Super Bowl. If that happens, my days as an amateur prognosticator are OVER! 

  We'll start with the early game, the AFC Title contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots. As much as I hate to say it, the Ravens have a real chance here. This should be a tight ballgame... the real question being which strength will win, the Patriots offense or the Ravens defense. The clear formula for the Ravens, run the ball, control the clock, and keep Tom Brady in check. The clear formula for the Pats... score more points than your defense allows! Look, I'm not saying the Patriots defense is BAD... but they're not what you'd call great, either. Honestly, in a game like this, I say it comes down to the play of your quarterback... and the Patriots have a clear edge there. 

  Patriots 31- Ravens 23

  In the NFC, a championship game between the Giants and 49ers would have drawn a few odd looks in your direction had you predicted it going into this season. Mostly people wondering if you realized this was 2011, not 1991. The Giants seemed a safe bet for the playoffs, and the 49ers a sexy pick in the NFC West... but honestly no real expectations for either club. This one comes down to the running game, pure and simple. Alex Smith was good last week, and this week is his chance prove that was no fluke. Eli Manning has always been a bit streaky in my eyes... this is his chance to have a third consecutive solid-to-great playoff performance... something he didn't put together the entire regular season. But at the end of the day, the winner will be the team that runs the ball effectively, and you're looking at a 49ers defense that didn't allow a rushing touchdown until week 16. 

 49ers 28- Giants 24

  There's the picks... hopefully I'll be coming to you in two weeks at 7-3, giving you a Patriots-49ers Super Bowl preview! Thanks for reading and for any comments you leave on the way out. 

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