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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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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.

NFL, Week 11, Picks, Adrian Peterson, and maybe a little Taylor Swift

You know, I feel heartbroken. I have gone far out of my way to support a few teams this season and I have absolutely nothing to show for it. The only other person who knows who knows about this degree of heartbreak is Taylor Swift. Her most recent classic “Blank Space” has inspired me to fill in the blank space that a few teams have created.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are overrated beyond belief. So this team dominated both the Colts and Ravens, but the couldn’t beat the sorry Jets. Quarterbacks like Kyle Orton, Alex Smith, and Phillip Rivers have all lit up the Jets, but Mr. twelve-touchdown passer, Ben Roethlisberger couldn’t pass gas against the New York. I have no faith in Pittsburgh. Actually, no one should have faith in Steelers. Earlier, in the season the Tampa Bay beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh. I sincerely like Mike Tomlin, but I believe he is ready to take over a new position with a team that worth his talents.

By the way, who was the genius that decided to invite Justin Beiber to bible study? His music career has been hit by a steel curtain for gosh sake. Why keep losers around your team? He screws up everything he is involved with.

Chicago Bears

Fans of Da Bears should feel extremely disgusted by the lack of production the extremely talented team has put on the field. Jay Cutler is making Brian Hoyer look like Tom Brady. A few weeks ago I said that Jay was not the only reason for the mournful play of the Chicago team. Since week seven the defense has allowed 133 points. Marc Trestman should be shown the door. The team has gotten significantly worse since he has taken over leadership over the franchise.

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton should apply for Affordable Healthcare. Apparently, Cam Newton is still not 100%. It also doesn’t help that his offensive line is worse than the secret service. Below is the list of quarterback hits in the past four seasons:

  1. Cam Newton 531
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick 272
  3. Alex Smith 257
  4. Joe Flacco 254

No one can make a great play when they are lying on the ground. Ron Rivera has done a fantastic job as head coach, but if I were he I would be checking out prices for U-Haul rentals.

Week 11 Storylines

  • Is it possible for the Cards to remain at the top of the league without Carson Palmer?
  • Can the Seahawks beat a quality Chiefs team?
  • Will the Giants show they are worth something as they face the 9ers?
  • Can the Chip Kelly system defeat GB? The winner may be the Ayatollah of the NFC.
  • Which team is actually 2nd best in the AFC? Is it Indy or NE?
  • Is Cincy worth anything?
  • Can Teddy lead his team to a win at Soldier Field?

Adrian Peterson

Hopefully, AP gets reinstated this week. He should be allowed back into the league immediately because what he did is questionable. What do I mean by questionable? He is this harsh violent football player, but he was not charged with any crime. I know people who were not whipped who turned out to be good people and I also know some who are now the scum of the earth. I ended up fine. Every time I did something wrong I was whipped. It’s how I learned right from wrong. Peterson thought he did the right thing for his child and the NFL should not be able to punish him for that.

Week 11

Last Week:                9-4

Total:                         107-49-1

Percentage:               .682

Byes

New York (A), Baltimore, Dallas, Jacksonville

FYI: 1st time this season I have been confused on more than one game.

MIAMI over Buffalo

CLEVELAND over Houston

CHICAGO over Minnesota

Denver over St. Louis

NEW YORK (N) over San Francisco

CAROLINA over Atlanta

Cincinnati over NEW ORLEANS

KANSAS CITY over Seattle

WASHINGTON over Tampa Bay

Detroit over ARIZONA

SAN DIEGO over Oakland

GREEN BAY over Philadelphia

INDIANAPOLIS over New England

TENNEESSEE over Pittsburgh

Week 9 Preview, NFL, London, Storylines, Hot Seat, Love/Hate

by Regis Welch

Follow at @regisjwelch

Down the Line Sports

Normally, I write a positive lead, but for week 9 that task seems impossible. Last week, I seen some of the worst play I have ever seen in any sport. Jets quarterback, Geno Smith, played worse than Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez combined. Do you know how bad you have to play to do that? Before he was pulled for Michael Vick, Smith had already thrown three picks en route to a QBR less that 0.1. Watching this team seriously made my eyes hurt.

Two weeks ago the entire city of Chicago wanted to kill Jay Cutler, but he was not the reason they lost last week. Da Bears were trumped 51-23 in Boston. Their defense had no answers for Brady, Gronkowski, or LaFell. I really don’t understand this team. Chicago is way too good to be so bad.

I remember when the Oakland Raiders was a respected sports franchise. Now, they are possibly worse than President Obama’s approval rating on foxnews.com. I like Derek Carr and the receivers that he has, but that’s about it. The coaching is awful and the defense is miserable. Al Davis is rolling over in his grave and the people in the faithful black hole should consider giving up their season tickets for the foreseeable future.

Week 9 Storylines

  • Who really is better Peyton or Brady?
  • Can Tony Romo stay healthy for the duration of the season? We’ve talked so much about DeMarco Murray playing in all sixteen games, but no one has mentioned Romo. They cannot win without him, but they can lose with him.
  • Who are the Houston Texans? This week against Philly they will have an opportunity to play like the playoff team they should be.
  • What is Washington thinking? Do they ever think? Colt McCoy has won back-to-back games and they bench him. RG3 has garbage when he was healthy and Kirk Cousins played like a Jets quarterback. In the NFC East it is never too late for a team to make a come back and win the division. Expect Robert Griffin to come back to the trainer’s room within the next three weeks. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
  • Can Ben Roethlisberger repeat his record-breaking performance last week? Heinz Field is still on fire as Big Ben had his way with the Colts.

London

londonpub.com.au
londonpub.com.au

For the life of me I cant understand why the NFL wants to take over the London market and put a team there. This week we will have the Seattle Seahawks go against the London Monarchs. Who will want to travel all that way? How about putting an NFL team in LA, Portland (OR), Toronto, Mexico City, Maui, Vegas, or San Antonio. Remember NFL Europe, how did that end? The Beijing Communists, Australian Kangaroos, Egypt Pyramids, and the Rome Chicken Parmesans will be on the docket ten years from now.

Coaches on the Hot Seat

nydailynews.com
nydailynews.com
  • Rex Ryan- I like him, but he knows that he has been set up to fail this season. The Jets have way too much cap room not to bring in quality players. Last week, the Jets had a receiver playing cornerback. With all of that money they can’t get a mediocre cornerback or quarterback. Something seems off. I hope he get another head coaching job.
  • Marvin Lewis- This Bengals coach has had a great team since he’s been in Cincy, but he has not made a significant push in the post season. Nothing will change this year. The AFC will run through New England and Denver. Cincinnati will have no say so.
  • Tom Coughlin- This two-time SB champion has run out of luck. I predict that the G-Men will go 7-9 and miss the playoffs. Since Coughlin joined the team in 2004 they have missed the playoffs in five of his ten seasons.s

The team I am beginning to LOVE:

Arizona- This was the best team last season to not make the playoffs and they are now showing teams that they are for real. Carson Palmer is possibly playing the best ball that he has ever played and he is doing it by not passing to Larry Fitzgerald on every down. They are also +9 on turnovers. I do not, however, like the way Patrick Peterson is playing. He is a shadow of what he was last season. Quarterbacks are no longer afraid to go after him.

The team I am beginning to HATE:

San Diego- The Chargers started the off hot, but they are starting to simmer off. Phillip Rivers is a great QB, but there is only so much he can do on the offensive side of the ball. Brandon Oliver has done an okay job in starting in the place of Ryan Matthews, but they need more. Especially since Denver is starting to pull away in the AFC West.

Dummy of the Week:

This award was made for Lamar Houston. His Bears were being blown out. Houston got a sack on the Patriots backup QB before he decided to celebrate. In which this happened.

lamear.0

Last Week:    9-6

Total:             79-41-1

Percentage:   .653

Byes: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay, Tennessee 

CAROLINA over New Orleans

CLEVELAND over Tampa Bay

Arizona over DALLAS

KANSAS CITY over New York (A)

MINNESOTA over Washington

CINCINNATI over Jacksonville

Philadelphia over HOUSTON

MIAMI over San Diego

SAN FRANCISCO over St. Louis

SEATTLE over Oakland

Baltimore over PITTSBURGH

Indianapolis over NEW YORK (N)