Category Archives: 2014-2015 NFL Posts

Hotard: NFL Postseason Picks

The NFL preseason teases people more than the girl who “friend zoned” you in high school. As I told my buddies in high school, it gets better. All the teasing comes to an end this Thursday when the defending champion New England Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers. As exciting as the offseason and preseason were, from Geno Smith getting punched out of 10 games (literally) to Deflategate, the real thing is FINALLY upon us. It is going to be glorious. With that being said, every year there is always so much uncertainty looming around the NFL season.

Now is the time for fans and analysts to make all of their predictions regarding their favorite teams and players for the upcoming season, just so we can laugh at every blunder from now until February. According to NFL.com, at least four new teams have made the playoffs each year since 1990, with that number climbing more toward five in the last decade. The landscape is constantly changing in the NFL, which is why I believe people seem to crave it more with every season. It also helps that there is not 82 or 162 games. Each week becomes more meaningful than the next. That is what makes the NFL special.

Without further ado, I will introduce my lucky 12 teams to earn a playoff birth, along with my conference championship and Super Bowl teams.

AFC

1- New England Patriots 13-3

Is it really hard to understand why I take the Patriots as the top team in the AFC? Tom Brady had his four-game suspension lifted and I believe he will have a fantastic year because he is competitive to a fault. I feel like he wants to stick it to the commissioner. He is climbing in age and certainly isn’t the guy he was in 2007, but he still finds ways to win games. Since taking over the starting role for Drew Bledsoe in what seems like centuries ago, he has made the conference title game practically every other year (not an exaggeration).

2- Indianapolis Colts 12-4

The Colts made some great signings this offseason adding longtime Texans receiver and future Hall of Famer Andre Johnson, along with former 49ers running back Frank Gore. I think some veteran presence is exactly what the Colts need and they got it. I also loved them picking Miami receiver Phillip Dorsett in the draft. They still have issues on the offensive line, but that hasn’t seemed to phase Andrew Luck yet.

3- Baltimore Ravens 10-6

The Ravens are just a sound football team and its built from the ground up, which is why they seem to be at their best come playoff time. A solid front seven on defense and a solid offensive front is enough reason for me to believe Ravens will once again find themselves deep in the postseason.

4- Denver Broncos 10-6

Much like Brady, Peyton Manning has been winning for so long that it seems impossible to bet against him. I just have to wonder if the Peyton every football guru gushes over actually shows up. If he does, how long does it last? His first half of the season last year was typical Peyton numbers. He was erratic for the last 8 games due to injuries. So which guy are we going to get? He is still one of the best to ever play, no question, but age is definitely catching up.

5- Miami Dolphins 11-5

Yes, I love the Phins this year. Ndamakung Suh was a big win for Miami. Pairing him on that front line with Oliver Vernon and Cameron Wake will certainly be a trio that is tough to stop. Former LSU star, Jarvis Landry posted a solid rookie campaign with over 700 yards and five touchdowns. Miami was aggressive to get pass catchers this offseason as they snagged receivers Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, as well as tight end Jordan Cameron. As icing on the cake, they drafted the speedster from Louisville Devante Parker in the first round. All I can say for the latest big money quarterback Ryan Tannehill is…pick your poison.

6- Buffalo Bills 10-6

A lot of people don’t like Rex Ryan as a head coach, but I do. Although I am unsure about Tyrod Taylor as a starting quarterback, it doesn’t matter. That offense is set up for success with running back Lesean McCoy and receiver Sammy Watkins. IF Percy Harvin can stay healthy, that offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch. Defensively, they did lose linebacker Kiko Alonso as part of the McCoy trade, but they still have a front four that includes Marcel Dareus and Mario Williams. With Sexy Rex running the show, that defense won’t miss a beat.

NFC

1- Green Bay Packers 12-4

I know receiver Jordy Nelson is out for the year, but Aaron Rodgers was a fantastic quarterback prior to having Nelson and it won’t change now. Donald Adams showed some flashes of potential last season and he finally gets to showcase it. Plus they still have a healthy Randall Cobb. Not saying you can just replace Nelson, but the best quarterback in the game will be just fine. Unless 12 goes down, they’re still the top dog this year.

2- Philadelphia Eagles 12-4

Unfortunately Sam Bradford has one massive question mark on his head. I was listening to The Herd on Fox Sports today and Troy Aikman said if he stays healthy, Bradford could be an MVP candidate. I don’t know if I am buying that, but I am not selling it either. I hope the former Sooner can stay healthy because I want to see the fireworks that follow.

3- Seattle Seahawks 11-5

Losing center Max Unger in the trade for tight end Jimmy Graham will be tough on the offensive side. Although, I do love that Russell Wilson finally has a big name to throw the rock to. The big question is coming on defense though. Safety Earl Thomas is expected to play in the season opener. Great news for Seattle fans, however, fellow safety Kam Chancellor is unhappy and plans to hold out. The team is still loaded, but that hurts and is why I have them dropping to 11-5.

4- New Orleans Saints 10-6

I feel like I am being a bit of a homer here, but the Saints have a favorable schedule so I think they can manage to sneak out of the division with the title. There are just so many questions. How will the defense rebound with all the injuries? Who is the go-to-guy on offense? Are they really going to focus heavily on the run game? I love that the offensive line is looking damn good again, on paper. The reason Dallas looked like the best team in football come playoff time was their offensive line and of course Demarco Murray. The defense was below average, but it was masked because they were rarely on the field. I think the Saints could use a similar formula to reach the playoffs again.

5- Arizona Cardinals 11-5

Defensively, the Cardinals won’t miss a beat. Offensively, it comes down to Carson Palmer. Much like Sam Bradford, if Palmer can put together a healthy year, this is a dangerous football team. Cardinals already had a solid offensive line and they wound up getting former 49ers guard Mike Iupati, which only boosts the offense.

6- Minnesota Vikings 10-6

Adrian Peterson makes his triumphant return and he finally has a solid signal caller to play off of. Teams will not be able to just stack the box anymore. Good luck covering Mike Wallace if you choose to do so. Teddy Bridgewater was fantastic toward the end of last season notching in a pair of three-hundred-yard outings and managed to not dip below a 68 percent completion rate in the final five contests.

Championship Sunday Picks: 

AFC- Ravens @ Colts

NFC- Seahawks @ Packers

Super Bowl Pick: 

Packers over Colts –

MVP- Aaron Rodgers

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Super Bowl Preview

Wow, I can’t believe that I have now written twenty-one NFL previews this season. For those of you keeping score at home that’s seventeen regular season, three playoff games, and one Super Bowl. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for someone who has read all of these previews.

Before we get to the game, let’s remember that Katy Perry will be performing at halftime with Lenny Kravitz. You can view the Katy Perry top 10 songs here.

Anyways, let’s get back to football. This Sunday the New England Patriots will face Seattle Seahawks.

I’m sure you already know about Deflategate, so I we will stroll around that topic.

New England’s offense will have to depend on someone besides Tom Brady and the Gronk. Everyone knows that Bill Belichick will have some trick up his sleeve. People are expecting LaGarrette Blount to have a huge game, but will Belichick go to Jonas Gray instead. The Patriots also have a great defense led by a vacation destination Revis Island. New England is solid team that will be tough to beat.

Quick question: If the Patriots win, is it fine to say that Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time? He would have four rings in six trips to the big dance. The same question applies for Belichick. Reply below with what you think.

The Seattle defense will have to set the pace for the offense, however they are banged up. Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas were both injured in the Seahawks last outing against Green Bay. Both players have been participants in practice all week.

”I feel so much better. Each day, it’s surprised me because this is my first time with the injury and you don’t know what to expect. It has been just positive results from the trainers.” Thomas said.

Russell Wilson has been the heartbeat for the Seahawks all season. He personally, has engineered the offense. It surely has not been his lifeless teammates known as receivers.

Mr. I’m Just Here So I Don’t Get Fined will also need to have a beast mode type of game.

Who wins?

This game is really the battle between good and evil or old vs. young. Will we see a changing of the guard? Can the Seahawks defeat another Hall of Famer in the Super Bowl? I am going with the New England Patriots. This team was left for dead at the beginning of the season. Someone even asked Coach Belichick if Brady should be benched. Regardless of how you feel about this team, you have to acknowledge their success.

Score 31-27

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5 Things to watch instead of the Pro Bowl

Personally speaking, the Pro Bowl and all other all-star games are jokes. Yes, it’s great that all of our favorite players come together for one night, but really there’s no game. No one takes the event serious. It’s just another way for the NFL to expand revenue and we, as football lovers will watch anything that has football in the description.

However, there are 7 things that will be a bit more exiting than the Pro Bowl Sunday night, which is at 8 PM EST.

1. Catch up on House of Cards. It returns February 27.


2. The Royal Rumble will be happening on the WWE Network for $9.99.

Picture by: Jonathan Bachman Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar
Picture by: Jonathan Bachman
Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar

3. Screen Actors Guild Awards on TNT

boyhood


4. 4th Round of the Australian Open

Paul Kane / Getty Images AsiaPac
Paul Kane / Getty Images AsiaPac

5. Cutthroat Kitchen

blog.foodnetwork.com
blog.foodnetwork.com

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Falcons new stadium is… WOW

The Atlanta Falcons will open the 2017 season inside a brand new home.

Below is a video of what the new stadium will look like inside and outside.

The new home is being estimated at $1.2 billion dollars.

The Dirty Birds have played in the Georgia Dome since 1992.

This is not only stadium that is being constructed in Atlanta. The Braves will open SunTrust Park also in 2017.

For a an up to the minute update on the Falcons new playground you can head to newstadium.atlantafalcons.com/.

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2015 NFL Championship Preview

The playoffs continue this weekend with two rematches from the regular season. Now I’m not one to brag, but in my preseason Super Bowl selection I said that Seattle would face Indianapolis in Arizona. I also said that Jay Gruden would win Coach of the Year, but that is beside the point and has nothing to do with this conversation.

The playoffs continue this weekend with two exact rematches from the regular season. Now I’m not one to brag, but in my preseason Super Bowl selection I said that Seattle would face Indianapolis in Arizona. I also said that Jay Gruden would win Coach of the Year, but that is beside the point and has nothing to do with this conversation.

Green Bay vs. Seattle 3:05 PM EST FOX

In the regular season opener Seattle manhandled the Packers 36-16. Russell Wilson passed for two touchdowns and Marshawn Lynch rushed for 110 yards and two scores. Aaron Rodgers threw one pass for a touchdown, but the running game never got going for GB. The team had a total of 80 yards on the ground. Also, in that game Rodgers did not consider challenging Richard Sherman.

For Green Bay to win this week they will need a healthy Rodgers because the Seattle D will make him move around to make plays. Eddie Lacy will have to touch the ball early and often.

The Seahawks will need to do more than lean on Russell Wilson. In a lot of the games late in the season he had to make plays with his feet to stay alive. Good thing Wilson has the Legion of Boom on his side.

Who wins?

I have to stay true to my preseason selection and go with the Hawks. The defense has been on fire since they have become healthy. I also believe that Rodgers’ calf injury will play a huge part in this game. Last week he was able to adjust, but please know that the Dallas D is not the Seattle D.

Score: 24-17


Indianapolis vs. New England 6:40 PM EST CBS

In the first meeting between these two AFC foes the Pats ran over the Colts. Remember the name Jonas Gray. Don’t worry I didn’t remember him either. Gray had his coming out party that Sunday night in Indy. He rushed for 201 yards and four scores. Ahmad Bradshaw injured his lower left leg in the contest and was later put on IR along side the Indy running game. The team also has a little media attention. You can read the articles about Trent Richardson and Josh McNary here.

To me the Colts are still a mystery. Andrew Luck in just his third year in the NFL is the only threat the Patriots really need to be aware. Daniel Herron appears to be a good back, but he is not consistent. Reggie Wayne and TY Hilton are both healthy so expect Luck to be passing all game log. Maybe he might take a trip to Revis Island.

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are gonna have some type of new offensive strategy for this game. Maybe they will use four linemen again. It’s possible that LeGarrette Blount may lead a heavy rushing attack. Who knows?

Who wins?

The right thing for me to do is to go with my previous selection and select the Colts. However, that is not the team that will win this contest. New England wins because of experience and a more balanced attack.

Score: 38-24


There it is New England vs. Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX


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Josh McNary placed on Exempt List

Josh McNary, linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, was placed on the exempt list early Thursday morning.

The 26-year-old has been charged with rape, battery resulting in bodily injury, and criminal confinement with bodily injury.

The Colts organization put out a statement that said:

“After reviewing the documents supporting the very serious criminal charges filed yesterday afternoon against Josh McNary, the Colts have requested Commissioner Goodell to immediately place Josh on the league’s Commissioner Exemption list,” the Colts said in a statement released Thursday.

“That designation will permit the investigation provided by the league’s Personal Conduct Policy to run its course and will afford Josh the opportunity to focus on his defense against the charges. The Colts sincerely hope this extraordinarily serious matter will be resolved expeditiously and that justice will prevail.”

McNary, 2nd year player, “unhesitatingly” denies the rape allegations.

He may not be apart of any team activities. He may not practice or attend any games.

He had 28 combined tackles and .5 sacks.

The Colts take this field this weekend in the AFC Championship game against the New England Patriots.

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Bowles Joins Jets

Todd Bowles told ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he will become the 18th head coach of the New York Jets. He will be signing a four-year deal.

Bowles had been the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals for the past two seasons. This season the Cards defense was 8th in defense, 3rd in passing yards allowed, and 12th in rushing yards allowed.

Now that the Jets job has been taken only five head coaching vacancies remain. They are Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, and Chicago.

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Fox and Broncos Go Separate Ways

It has been reported that John Fox will no longer be the coach of the Denver Broncos.

Under Fox the Denver went 46-18 and 3-3 in the playoffs. His total record as a head coach is 119-89.

On Sunday, Peyton Manning said that he is unsure about his future. Are these two things related? Who knows, but if Manning plays next season the Denver coaching position will be the most desirable.

I would assume that John Fox’s name will come up in other head coach conversations. Chicago, New York (A), Oakland, San Francisco, and Atlanta all have vacancies.

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Richardson a bust?

Trent Richardson will not suit up for the Indianapolis Colts divisional round playoff game against the Denver Broncos. He will be a healthy inactive player.

Last week, Richardson played only one snap.

So, is it time to label Richardson a bust? Typically, when young athletes go to the University of Alabama they expect to have a great career. As a member of the “Roll Tide” he had over 3,700 total yards. He was so good that the Cleveland Browns drafted him third overall in 2012. (Go figure)

In 17 games with the Browns, he rushed for 1,055 before being traded to the Indianapolis Colts.

As a Colt, he rushed for a lackluster 977 yards in the past two seasons. His career average is 3.3 yards per rush.

Hopefully, he gets a chance with another team next year, but as of now the future for Trent Richardson seems very unsuccessful.

You may also like to see the preview of the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

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2015 NFL Divisional Round Preview

After going a perfect 4-0 last week I return to inform everyone of what’s going to occur during the 2015 divisional round of the NFL playoffs. The “few notes section” does come from ESPN.

Saturday Games

Baltimore vs. New England 4:35 EST NBC

Personally, I believe the first game of the divisional round will be the best one.

Joe Flacco leads a hot Ravens squad into Foxboro. He passed for nearly 4,000 yards over the regular season and Justin Forsett rushed for over 1,200. Their balanced attack has been elevated thanks to the Smith twins, Steve and Torry. The biggest weapon that Baltimore has, however, is the defense. No one will run the ball against them. NOBODY! Which means it will be tough for the non-existent Pats running game. Jonas Gray and LaGarrette Blount will not rush for over 50 yards combined.

New England does have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Do they need any more? I can’t tell you anything you do not know about what they will do. Expect Gronk to have at least 6 receptions for 120.

Few Notes:

  • Tom Brady is 1-2 in his postseason career at home against the Ravens, and 11-1 against everyone else.
  • Joe Flacco has 10 playoff wins (5 straight) since he entered the league in 2008, twice as many as any other QB in the NFL. His 7 road playoff wins and 11 road playoff starts are most by any QB in NFL history.
  • In Tom Brady’s career, he has 7 postseason game-winning drives, more than 3 times the amount of any other remaining QB in the playoffs. In fact, if you added up the total game-winning drives in the playoffs from the other 7 QB in the postseason, Flacco, Wilson, Romo, Manning, Luck, Rodgers and Newton they would equal…7…the same amount of game-winning postseason drives as Brady.

Who wins?

Baltimore rolls once again. The defense will win it for them and Flacco won’t lose it. Brady will at least have two picks.

Score: 24-17


Carolina vs. Seattle 8:15 EST FOX

It’s the battle of the read offense and the two best mobile quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Panthers are riding a five game winning streak and Cam is looking better than ever. Who knew that getting in a wreck could be a good thing? Carolina has always been a running team and the help of healthy running backs, Stewart and Williams, the Panthers could be a tough out.

The defending champs seem to be everyone’s pick to win it all. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because they have home field advantage and the Legion of Doom is back. Russell Wilson is carrying the offense because he doesn’t have a respectable receiver. Doug Baldwin has been MIA for the majority of the season.

Few Notes:

  • The Panthers and Seahawks follow the same plan: run the ball and play defense. Since Week 12, the two teams have been the best in several key rushing and defensive stats.
  • At least one road team was won in the Divisional playoffs in the previous nine seasons (2005-13), the second-longest streak in NFL history (road team won in 13 straight years from 1975-87). 2004 was the last season in which all four home teams won on Divisional weekend.
  • The Panthers and Seahawks have combined for 69 points in their previous three meetings and the two teams have only scored touchdowns on two of their 15 red-zone drives.

Who wins?

This will be a tough defensive game. The score will be tight. Seattle will soar.

Score: 20-17


Sunday Games 

Dallas vs. Green Bay 1:05 FOX

This game will be played on the frooooozen tundra. The running backs will be the feature of this contest. I see big games for both Eddie Lacy and DeMarco Murray.

Dallas was lead by the great of the referees last week. That was not professional, but the ‘boys should have lost. I still can’t ignore the great play of Tony Romo. He has lead this team far better than in years before. In the second half last week, it was fair for spectators to assume he was going to throw a costly interception but he didn’t.

Green Bay has a gigantic quarterback question. Is Aaron Rodgers healthy? We will be able to see how good that leg is after kickoff. Lacy will have to be driving force behind the Packers offense.

Few Notes:

  • Aaron Rodgers’ calf injury could limit his mobility. No QB has more Pass TD (33) from out of the pocket than Rodgers the last 5 seasons.
  • Including playoffs, Aaron Rodgers hasn’t thrown an interception at home in his last 477 pass attempts. He’s played 16 games since his last interception at home, throwing 38 Pass TD in that time.
  • The Cowboys went 8-0 on the road this season. The Packers went 8-0 at home this season. According to Elias, only once since the merger has an unbeaten home team hosted an unbeaten road team in the playoffs. In 1972 the Dolphins (7-0 on the road) defeated the Steelers (7-0 at home) 21-17 in the AFC Conference Championship game.

Who wins?

How Bout Dem Cowboys?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Especially, if Chris Christie shows up.

Score: 30-24


Indianapolis vs. Denver 4:40 EST CBS

This is the battle of old versus new. Many people have already proclaimed Andrew Luck as a Hall of Famer and G.O.A.T. but he will still has yet to go to a conference championship. Is he Peyton Manning? No!

As I stated last week, it will be difficult for Indy to do anything on offense because of their ability to run the ball. He will have to pass over 45 times if his team wants an opportunity and his defense will have to show up and stop the run for once. CJ Anderson cannot have a huge game. If he does, the Colts don’t stand a chance.

The Broncos have Peyton Manning. End of story.

Few Notes:

  • Over the last five weeks of the regular season, Peyton Manning ranked 30th in red zone completion percentage (39 percent) and 22nd in red zone Total QBR (18) out of 32 qualified quarterbacks. Manning ranked first in both completion percentage (78 percent) and Total QBR (97) in the red zone in the season’s first 12 weeks.
  • Peyton Manning was off target on seven of his 16 red zone passes to Demaryius Thomas in the last five weeks of the regular season. Thomas had more drops (2) than receptions (1) in the red zone during that span.

Who wins?

Denver wins and it won’t be close.

Score: 35-21

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2015 NFL Wild Card Preview

The 2015 NFL Wild Card round is will begin this weekend and there will be four great contests. All of the “few notes” are from ESPN Stats and Information.

Saturday Games

Arizona vs. Carolina

I would not want to face the Panthers in the post season. This team is smoking hot. They’re riding a four game win streak and the defense is firing on all cylinders. They beat Atlanta 34-3 last week to get into the playoffs. Just because they are 7-8-1 DO NOT take this team lightly. Since Cam Newton’s wreck they have seemed to be invincible.

For the banged up Cards, they must be feeling like they are the most underrated team remaining. Injuries have mounted at nearly every skill position, but they have been able to implement the next man up philosophy. Ryan Lindley is a third string quarterback who will have to lead this team to possibly four victories. Is it possible?

Few Notes

  • Over the last 10 seasons, the Panthers are the 5th team to make the playoffs with a record of .500 or worse…each of the previous 3 teams went on to win in the Wild Card round.
  • Teams that finished .500 or worse in the regular season have won 5 of their last 6 Wild Card games. No team that finished .500 or worse has made it past the Divisional Playoffs, however.
  • From Elias: If Ryan Lindleystarts for the Cardinals, he will be the 7th QB since the 1970 merger to start a playoff game after having 1-or-fewer regular-season wins as a starter. Those QBs are a combined 2-4 and haven’t won since Gifford Nielsen won in 1979 for the Oilers.

Who wins?

I believe that this game will not be close. Bruce Arians has done a phenomenal job at motivating his team and preparing his troops for the next battle. However, Carolina is clicking and it will be tough for Arizona to stay in it.

Score: 27-10


Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh

This is the only divisional contest this weekend and it is fueled by hatred and that alone. The squads split the regular season contests by both winning on their home turf. Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 17-14.

Baltimore clinched the final playoff spot by defeating the Browns in there finale 20-10. They have a balanced offense that is being fueled by the strong running of Justin Forsett. He shockingly ran for over 1200 yards.

It’s still no secret that I have had it in for the Steelers all season. The Philadelphia 76ers have been more consistent than the Steelers. Remember this is the same team that lost to both the Bucs and Jets. They have won four games straight so they will be looking to keep their spark lit. The biggest question mark for Pitt is the health of arguably the best running back in the NFL, Le’Veon Bell. He has a right knee injury and he did not practice on Thursday.

Bell said, “I feel really good. I didn’t expect to be feeling this well this early. But I am, so I’m just going to take it day by day and see where it goes.”

Few Notes

  • Pittsburgh leads the all-time series 17-14
  • The Steelers were an NFL-best 6-1 against teams that finished over .500 this season.
  • The Ravens are 6-1 in the Wild Card Playoffs in team history, the best record in the NFL among the 29 teams to play at least 4 Wild Card games.

Who wins?

Well if I have not been that excited the Steelers through the regular season, do you really think I pick them now. Baltimore wins by a field goal.

Score: 23-20


Sunday Games

Cincinnati vs. Indianapolis

I have no idea what to expect in this contest. Both teams have the ability to put up points, but they can also stink up the joint. On paper we can expect a high scoring game, but if it is low scoring I would not be surprised.

The only way Cincinnati can win is if AJ Green plays. He did not practice on Friday due to the NFL concussion protocol. Can Andy Dalton lead this team to victory win it counts? Will the Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard run for at least 150 to take some pressure off of Dalton? There are way too many questions and I have no answers.

I have the same doubts about Indy. They can’t run the ball. The defense is more off pitch than Idina Menzel singing at a New Year’s Eve performance. Click here for the performance.

Few Notes

  • Marvin Lewis has lost his 1st 5 postseason games as head coach. Lewis has won 100 games in the regular season and joins Jim Mora as the only coaches with at least 100 wins and 0 postseason wins in NFL history.
  • The Colts defense allowed just 7 pass TD and a 27.1 Total QBR at home this season, both best in the NFL.
  • The Bengals had 135 yards of offense and went 1-of-13 on 3rd down in the Week 7 shutout loss to the Colts. It was the Bengals worst offensive performance since getting shutout in Week 17 against the Jets in 2009, when the starters didn’t play the full game.
  • Andrew Luck has thrown 8 interceptions in 3 career playoff games. Luck is the 1st QB to throw 8+ interceptions in his 1st 3 playoff games since Dan Fouts (1979-80 seasons).

Who wins?

By default I have to give the win to the Colts.

Score: 27-17


Detroit vs. Dallas

This will be the best matchup over the course of the weekend. This will be a battle of the lines. Can the Cowboys o-line stop the Detroit d-line? The Lions have been the best team against the run this season only allowing 69 yards per outing.

Matthew Stafford will have to have a perfect game if he wants to beat the ‘Boys. I’m sure Joique Bell and Reggie Bush will some pressure off of Stafford, but he cannot have another playoff letdown.

Dallas very well may be the best team in the league. They can pass, run, and defend. Murray and Romo have both made claims for the MVP award. They finished 6-1 to polish a very good regular season.

Few Notes

  • If history tells us anything, the Cowboys should go ahead and pack their bags for Green Bay. Matthew Staffordis 0-16 in road games against teams that finished the season with a winning record, the 3rd-most losses without a win in such games for any quarterback since the 1970 merger.
  • The Lions allowed an NFL-low 3.3 yards per rush on first down during the regular season. Only three teams have allowed fewer yards per rush on first down in a season in the last five years.
  • With Nick Fairleyreturning to practice, the Lions run defense could get another boost after Ndamukong Suh’s suspension was overturned earlier in the week. The Lions allowed 2.48 yards per rush against 86 carries with that duo on the field together this season. Those numbers dropped off significantly when 1, or both were out of the game.

Who wins?

How ‘bout the Cowboys????

Score: 31- 20

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Marrone out of Buffalo

Doug Marrone has decided to opt out of his contract to pursue other coaching opportunities. Marrone still had two years left on his four-year contract. He will still be paid his base salary of $4 million dollars.

Marrone may go back to the Jets where he was an offensive line coach or maybe he will be interviewing for one of the other jobs open. As of Wednesday afternoon, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, and Chicago all have coaching vacancies.

Reaction via Twitter:

His coaching record with the Bills is 15-17.

Bills owner, Terry Pegula said, “We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.”

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Week 17 NFL, Black Monday, Hot Seat, Picks

Normally, I give a huge spill about what’s huge storylines, but this week there is only one storyline. It’s either win or go home.

AFC North

If you had asked me a few weeks if these two teams would make the playoffs I would have laughed in your face. Jeremy Hill seems to be a great compliment to Gio Bernard. With both in the backfield Andy Dalton should have more time to throw the rock. It is no secret that I have been a little mean to the Steeler Nation. I still don’t believe them however to go deep into the playoffs.

NFC North

There will be a huge game on the “Frozen Tundra” known as Lambeau Field. Green Bay has been unstoppable at home this season. They are 7-0 and averaging 41.1 points per game. Detroit is hot on offense. The question is will the front line be able to put some kind of pressure on Rodgers.

NFC South

Both the Falcons and Panthers deserve a playoff spot by the way they have both ended the season. Both teams are on hot and they have apparently saved both of their head coach’s jobs. I have no problem with a team under .500 making the playoffs as long as they have some type of positive momentum ending the regular season.

AFC Wildcard

Teams are still jockeying for the final AFC Wildcard spot. San Diego has the opportunity to serve out for the position. They will travel to Kansas City for a chance to do that. Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City are all still alive.

Josh Gordon

Earlier this week he was suspended by the Browns for the regular season finale against the Ravens.

Final Hot Seat

I can see the following teams cleaning house:

  • Chicago
  • Oakland
  • New York (A)
  • New York (N)

Last Week:    10-6

Overall:          169-80-1

Percentage:   .676

NEW ENGLAND over Buffalo

BALTIMORE over Cleveland

WASHINGTON over Dallas

MINNESOTA over Chicago

HOUSTON over Jacksonville

Indianapolis over TENNESSEE

MIAMI over New York (A)

San Diego over KANSAS CITY

TAMPA BAY over New Orleans

NEW YORK (N) over Philadelphia

ATLANTA over Carolina

DENVER over Oakland

GREEN BAY over Detroit

SAN FRANCISCO over Arizona

SEATTLE over St. Louis

PITTSBURGH over Cincinnati

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Week 16, Storylines, Picks, Cleveland, MVP, OROY, McDonald

There is a big bear in the room and we need to address it. I like Jay Cutler there I said it. (See week 11 post and week 8) Should he have been the highest paid offensive player in the league? No, but who else could Chicago have gotten to be their starter. This has been a let down season for Cutler, but this is not completely his fault. I blame coaching and defense. When the defense allows so many points, the quarterback must take more risks to catch back up. Matt Forte is one of the best backs in the league, why is he not touching the ball? It’s a shame Jay played better under Lovie Smith, a defensive minded coach, than Marc Trestman. The entire front office should be cleared out.

Jimmy Clausen will get the start this Sunday.

Week 16 Storylines

  • The Marcus Mariota Bowl will be on Thursday, as the Titans will face the Jags. Is that a reason to watch? Uh no.
  • Really, who wants to win the NFC South?
  • Can RG3 save his Washington roster spot?
  • Will DeMarco Murray play just days after having hand surgery?
  • Is Phillip Rivers healthy enough to lead his team to a possible playoff spot?

Offensive Rookie of the Year

  1. Mike Evans
  2. Kelvin Benjamin
  3. Odell Beckham Jr.

MVP Race

  1. Tom Brady
  2. Aaron Rodgers
  3. DeMarco Murray
  4. JJ Watt
  5. Peyton Manning
  6. Russell Wilson

I don’t understand the argument against JJ Watt winning the MVP. The Texans would still be a contender for the number one pick without Watt. According to ESPN Watt has 16.5 sacks, 64 combined tackles, 5 fumble recoveries, and 5 total touchdowns. I think of JJ the way I think of a pitcher in baseball A pitcher has a specialty but they can affect the scoreboard and momentum and the same applies to Watt. Clayton Kershaw (in the regular season) = JJ Watt.

Teams that have clinched a playoff berth:

Arizona, New England, Indianapolis, and Denver

Manziel

Johnny Manziel will never be mentioned in the MVP Race of peewee league. Anyone knows me knows that I am not one to brag. Refer back to last week’s article about the switch to Johnny Interception. Oh, I also mentioned it in Week 14. You may now call me Mr. Cleo.

Ray McDonald

Click here to read the article written earlier this week about him.

Jon Gruden

The former Oakland and Tampa Bay coach announced Monday night that he signed an extension to remain in the Monday Night Football booth through 2021. Hopefully, this puts an end to all of the rumors about him heading back to the sidelines. This is a huge announcement for the Gruden family. His brother Jay, coach of Washington, may need a new gig in the next couple of years.

Head Coaching Vacancies

These are the jobs that are certain to be open on Black Monday:

San Francisco

New York (N)

Chicago

New York (A)

Atlanta

Oakland

Possibly Tennessee & Jacksonville

Last Week:      12-4

Overall:             159-74-1

Percentage:     .679

JACKSONVILLE over Tennessee

Philadelphia over WASHINGTON

San Diego over SAN FRANCISCO

Baltimore over HOUSTON

Detroit over CHICAGO

Kansas City over PITTSBURGH

New England over NEW YORK (A)

CAROLINA over Cleveland

Green Bay over TAMPA BAY

MIAMI over Minnesota

Atlanta over NEW ORLEANS

Buffalo over OAKLAND

ST. LOUIS over New York (N)

Indianapolis over DALLAS

Seattle over ARIZONA

CINCINNATI over Denver

Be sure to follow Down the Line Sports and Entertainment and follow me on Twitter @RegisJWelch.

San Fran parts ways with Ray McDonald

As if the San Francisco 49ers didn’t have enough things go wrong these season. The team has decided to release Ray McDonald because of an alleged sexual assault.

The San Jose Police Department said:

“On December 16, 2014 at approximately 10:43 am, the San Jose Police Department received a call from a local area hospital regarding a possible sexual assault victim who was receiving treatment. Officers responded and made contact with the adult female victim. The victim alleged she was possible sexually assaulted a day prior. The preliminary investigation revealed the alleged suspect was Ray McDonald.

The San Jose Police Department Sexual Assaults Investigations unit was notified and responded to conduct follow-up investigation. Based on preliminary investigation, detectives secured a search warrant and served it at the alleged suspect’s residence in San Jose.

No arrests have been made. The investigation is active and on-going.”

Last month McDonald was cleared of domestic violence charges.

This season he has had 39 combined tackles and 3 sacks.

McDonald may be the first person tried under the new personal conduct policy that the NFL put in place last week.

NFL Week 15, Storylines, NFC West, Picks, and Manziel

Remember the phrase, “Any given Sunday”? Any team did win in week 14, Who would have believed that Carolina would go ahead and steamroll New Orleans in New Orleans? Oh, wait I did. Seattle only allowed fourteen points to the highflying Eagles. The Raiders yes the Raiders won the Battle of the Bay 24-13. Finally, Pittsburgh went into Cincy and doubled em’ up. The last three weeks of the season is sure to be exciting and action packed.

Storylines

  • Is the Legion of Boom really back?
  • Is Jay Gruden really on the hot seat after one season?
  • Can St. Louis continue its hot streak?
  • Will the Green Bay winning streak continue?
  • Can Derek Anderson lead the Panthers to another win without Cam Newton?

Arizona

The Cards were able to hold off the Kansas City Chiefs last week to capture they’re tenth victory of the season. I believe it was the teams last win. There are just too many holes in this boat and not enough gum. Carson Palmer and Andre Ellington are gone for the season. Tyrann Mathieu will not play this week. On the bright side it does look like Larry Fitzgerald will be on the field.

To finish the season, the Arizona must go to St. Louis, play Seattle at home, and then travel to San Francisco. That schedule should seem impossible for a team that is fourteenth in the league in passing and thirtieth in rushing.

Cleveland

I addressed this travesty Tuesday. Please click here to view my commentary about it.

Eric Berry

The Chiefs safety was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma earlier this week. The fifth year player only played in six games this season where he had thirty- seven combined tackles. According to the Chiefs website, Hodgkin Lymphoma is treatable and potentially curable. Get well, Eric!

Last Week:      11-5

Overall:           147-70-1

Percentage:    .674

ST. LOUIS over Arizona

Green Bay over BUFFALO

BALTIMORE over Jacksonville

Cincinnati over CLEVELAND

CAROLINA over Tampa Bay

INDIANAPOLIS over Houston

KANSAS CITY over Oakland

NEW ENGLAND over Miami

NEW YORK (N) over Washington

ATLANTA over Pittsburgh

Denver over SAN DIEGO

DETROIT over Minnesota

TENNESSEE over New York (A)

SEATTLE over San Francisco

Dallas over PHILADELPHIA

CHICAGO over New Orleans

Also, remember that Down the Line Sports is now Down the Line Sports and Entertainment. Currently, you can find the Top 25 Hip Hop and R&B songs of 2014 and the Top 25 Country songs of 2014 under the music menu. Pop/Rock will be released on Friday, December 11. The rest of the schedule is as follows.

  • Thursday- NFL weekly preview
  • Saturday- Top 10 countdown of a current artists greatest hits. Ex. Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Blake Shelton.
  • Tuesday- Top 10 countdown of a legendary artists greatest hits. Ex. Lionel Richie, Dolly Parton, Tupac.

Articles can be released at any time.

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Manziel to get the start against Cincy

It was just announced that Johnny Manziel will be making his first NFL head start this Sunday.

Whatever.

I’ve said it repeatedly that Cleveland should ride the horse that brought them to the big game. Read the lead from last week. Without Brian Hoyer, this team would have been 3-13 like any other season.

The 7-6 Browns will once again finish the season with a losing record.

Cleveland will finish the vs. Cincy, at Carolina, and at Baltimore.

I doubt I am wrong, but if I am I will apologize.

Week 14, Browns, Picks, Ray Rice, Ngata, Bryan Burwell

USA Today
USA Today

Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had twenty starting quarterbacks. Let me reiterate that. Since 1999, the Cleveland Browns have had twenty quarterbacks. Some how this sorry excuse of a team finds themselves in a quarterback controversy. Brian Hoyer has led the team to a 7-5 record. 7-5 is outstanding for the Browns and it’s all because of Brian Hoyer.

Because the team was down by 17 in the fourth quarter last week head coach, Mike Pettine, decided to put in Johnny Manziel who led the team down field and scored a touchdown. Oh, happy day.

This organization has been looked down upon more than any other team in the NFL since the team resurfaced. They have an opportunity to go to the playoffs, but they will eventually cater to what people want instead of what works.

Last time I checked Johnny Manziel is not Aaron Rodgers, Steve Young or Doug Flutie. Hell, he’s no Earl Morrall. Those players just waited. Their Hall of Fame head coaches knew when the right time was to put them in and not a second sooner.

Cleveland may never experience success like this again. Ride the horse that brought you to the dance. If Manziel is the guy for next year play him then. Until then, stifle yourselves!

Storylines:

  1. Is the beginning of another miserable December for the Cowboys?
  2. Will someone actually step in front of the NFC South?
  3. Will the Cardinals get a much-needed win against the Chiefs?
  4. Can the Bengals extend their AFC North lead?
  5. Can the Giants ever play like a NFL quality team?

Ray Rice

Last week, Rice was reinstated back into the NFL like he should have been. Calm down please. This guy did the time he was originally awarded and then some. No one cares about public opinion. He has the right to make a living just like everyone else. Any team in the league can pick him up. If a team does not want to be surrounded with his baggage they have the option to not sign him.

I don’t believe Ray Rice will be signed this season because it’s just too late. However, he will be signed right after the draft next year. Expect him to be a vengeful player.

Pittsburgh

Which team in the NFL lost to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, and the Jets this season? Yep, that would be Pittsburgh. Well, I said it in week 11, but no one believed me. The Steelers are worse than the Philadelphia 76ers. Good thing the team remains dedicated to their coaches because Mike Tomlin would have been fired with any other team.

Detroit

The team that may be trending at the right time has to be the Lions. If Matthew Stafford can place the ball in the receiver’s hands this team may be unbeatable in January. I like the way Joique Bell is running and that defensive line is nasty. Be on the lookout.

Seattle

The Seahawks seem to be playing like the Seahawks again. Their defense shut down San Fran on Thanksgiving and it seems is though the running game is what’s moving the ball. It’s never been mentioned, but is Russell Wilson a MVP contender? Without him Seattle may be 4-12.

San Francisco

49ers-ravens-football-jim-harbaugh_pg_600

Why would the Niners consider trading Jim Harbaugh? Yes, he may be a pain in the behind, but he wins every place he goes. He even brought this team to the Super Bowl and they are not appreciative. At some point in time we all have to step outside of our comfort zone. Apparently, Frisco is not wiling to do that.

Haloti Ngata

USA Today
USA Today

The Pro Bowler will miss the last four games of the season because of the use of Adderall. The defensive leader will be missed. We will see how the team reacts in a must win game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Hot Seat part 2

It appears as though Rex Ryan is a lame duck, so he is excused from this conversation.

  • Mike Smith- The head coach of the Falcons on their way to another disappointing season. Though Atlanta is still tied for the NFC South lead, they are still an awful team. The defense is dismal and the high-powered offense is weaker than Dodge Charger with a Ford Pinto motor. I believe the writing is on the wall for Smith.
  • Marc Trestman- Da Bears are possibly a bigger disappointment than the Falcons. Jay Cutler has underperformed and their defense has allowed over 149 points since week 8. I don’t believe his position is savable under any circumstance.

For other Hot Seat candidates please see my post from week 9.

RIP Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

dm_130317_parting_shot_jerry_tarkanian_hof
ESPN

On Thursday, December 4, the world lost one of the best sports journalists of our time. Maybe you have read his column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch or you could have possibly seen him on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters. Burwell was 59.

 Last Week     11-5

Overall:          136-65-1

Percentage:  .673

Dallas over CHICAGO

MIAMI over Baltimore

Indianapolis over CLEVELAND

Carolina over NEW ORLEANS

CINCINNATI over Pittsburgh

DETROIT over Tampa Bay

Houston over JACKSONVILLE

MINNESOTA over New York (A)

TENNEESSE over New York (N)

St. Louis over WASHINGTON

DENVER over Buffalo

Kansas City over ARIZONA

San Francisco over OAKLAND

Seattle over PHILADELPHIA

New England over SAN DIEGO

GREEN BAY over Atlanta

Week 13, Picks, Ferguson, Turkeys, Storylines

This is a sports blog, but we can not ignore what has been happening in Ferguson, MO. Only two people will truly ever know the complete truth of what happened the evening that Michael Brown was killed. I may not be the smartest person but even I know that violence plus violence does not equal peace.

Let’s get back to football.

Storylines

  • Will the loser of the Seattle/San Fran game not make the playoffs?
  • Who’s really the exceptional team in the NFC East?
  • Will we get a SB preview when NE goes against GB?
  • Cleveland, really?
  • Can San Diego make a comeback and win the AFC West?
  • Will Colt McCoy make Washington respectable? Please notice I said a change was coming three weeks ago.
  • Can Arizona go into Atlanta and pick up a W?

NFC South

This division is arguably the most competitive group of four teams. Each team is still mathematically alive to win the division even though there is a possibility that no one will finish with a winning record. I still have Atlanta winning the NFC South. Cam Newton can’t stay on his feet and Tampa Bay is worth less than a $2 steak. Frankly, New Orleans never had a chance!

Jive Turkeys of the Year

This honor was fairly simple to award this year. Ray and Janay Rice truly deserve this prestigious distinction more than other couple on the planet. You know the story so I don’t need to go there again. He’s an ignorant imbecile while she is a dummy. They belong together.

Congrats on the award!

Presidential Turkey Pardon

If you are a weekly reader of Down the Line Sports you know that do not believe in the hardship that the NFL has put Adrian Peterson through. He should be reinstated into the NFL ASAP. There is no reason as why he is being put through hell.

Adrian Peterson, you have been officially pardoned.

Last Week:    12-3

Overall:          125-60-1

Percentage:   .672

Week 13 Picks

DETROIT over Chicago

DALLAS over Philadelphia

SAN FRANCISCO over Seattle

BUFFALO over Cleveland

BALTIMORE over San Diego

Carolina over MINNESOTA

Cincinnati over TAMPA BAY

HOUSTON over Tennessee

INDIANAPOLIS over Washington

JACKSONVILLE over New York (N)

PITTSBURGH over New Orleans

ST. LOUIS over Oakland                      If you watch this game you seriously need a life!

ATLANTA over Arizona

GREEN BAY over New England

Denver over KANSAS CITY

MIAMI over NEW YORK (A)

Why the Odell Beckham Jr. catch was not the Greatest of All-Time

I have had enough of the football world saying that the Odell Beckham Jr. was the greatest catch ever. It was spectacular and it has never been done before, but it was meaningless. The last time I checked the 3-8 New York Giants are going no where this season Personally, I will place any great catch that has been made in the postseason above the Beckham grab. In due time we will forget about the catch from last week, but those listed below will never be forgotten. They are in no particular order.

Santonio Holmes

Dwight Clark “The Catch”

David Tyree

Franco Harris “The Immaculate Reception”