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NFL Pro Bowl is a Joke

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On the final day of this month, the NFL Pro Bowl will take place in Sun Life Stadium in Miami, exactly one week before the Super Bowl. It is the first time in the history of the League the Pro Bowl will be played before the championship game, and is also the first time the game has been played outside of Hawaii since 1979.

The change in game-time is an attempt by Commissioner Roger Goodell to strengthen the game, a typically unpopular and rarely watched event. The usual week-after-the-Super-Bowl date would have pitted the game against the NBA All-Star game, the Daytona 500, and the Winter Olympics.

While its current January 31st air-date does conflict with the 52nd Grammy Awards, the assumed target audiences aren’t likely to overlap to the same degree as the three major sports events in February would.

Regardless of the potential broadcasting conflicts, it is fairly obvious to all followers of the NFL that the true intention of the switch is to generate more fan interest in the least popular of sports all-star games.

The thing about all-star games is this; they’re stupid.

They’re worthless, meaningless displays of star-power void of any effort, rarely memorable, and heavily influenced by foolish fan voting.

The Pro Bowl, meanwhile, is the poorest of them all. It is the only major sport all-star game that takes place at the end of the season, rather than in the middle. It occurs at a time when the average fan has already mentally checked-out of football season, perhaps not even thinking about their team until, at the earliest, the NFL Draft in April.

So, in an attempt to peak interest (and simultaneously make more dollars) the NFL has moved its laughing stock of an all-star game to the week before the Super Bowl, hoping that since the season hasn’t officially ended yet, the fans will for some reason give a damn.

Commissioner Roger Goodell is making the incorrect assumption that since the game now takes place BEFORE the season concludes, fan interest will suddenly skyrocket. He believes the Pro Bowls lack of popularity can be changed simply by a week.

Forget for a second that the change in game-time prevents any pro-bowler from the Super Bowl teams to participate in the match. Forget that 14 pro-bowl worthy players are unable to accept the “honor” because their team is still alive. Forget that the Conference Championship losing coachs are also being restricted from accepting the privilege usually bestowed upon them.

Forget about the players. Forget about the coaches. Think about the fans.

For the fans of 30 teams, the 2009 season is over. Hopes, dreams, and optimism have all gone away. Even the fans of teams who took positive steps towards improvement this year are bitten by the reality that their beloved franchises won’t suit-up for anything meaningful till the start of September.

And yet here they are, all of our teams best players, running around, making big plays, laughing, smiling, joking around with each other, having a ball. It’s devastating to watch. Continue reading

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Brett Favre Blows It, Throws Another Interception

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With the game in the hands of Brett Favre, the old gunslinger did what he does best: throwing it across his body into the middle of the field where it predictably intercepted.  The Saints ran out the clock, won the toss and Favre never touched the ball again.

But hey, he was just trying to make a play out there just like he did when he was kid growing up in Mississippi.

Unfortunately some fans didn’t take the interception that well.

This Vikings fan probably cried himself to sleep last night:

This guy isn’t even a Vikings fan.  He’s a Redskins fan, he had enough to be upset about this year, and even he couldn’t take it:

Continue reading

Divisional Round Wrap Up and Championship Game Picks

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The three home teams and the f**king Jets.

Those words are courtesy of Rex Ryan.

And with that the final four is set.

It was another rather dull weekend of football with the only good game being the late Sunday afternoon affair once again.

But we still have the “best Sunday of football” to look forward too.  Hopefully it’s better than the “best weekend of football” was because I just might lose it if both games are blowouts and I have to suffer through countless AT&T commercials starring a rather pudgy Luke Wilson, whose still waiting to get the call to be in Legally Blond 3.

Before we talk about next weeks games we should look back at the week that was.

Saints 45 Cardinals 14

The loss for the Cardinals could be the last game Kurt Warner ever plays.  If he does hang them up – which it looks like he will – it will end one of the most interesting careers.  To go from stocking shelves to Super Bowl MVP to being benched and then back to the Super Bowl is quite an accomplishment.  He definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and I might even call him a first ballot Hall of Famer.  He led two lowly franchises to Super Bowls, winning one, and owns a career 9-4 postseason record along with many other records.

The Cards will also likely trade Anquan Boldin after seeing that they have capable replacements in Steve Breaston and Early Doucet.  While his loss won’t sting as much as Warner’s, the Cards may come crashing back to earth next season led by Matt Leinart.

Hey 49ers, find a quarterback in the off season and pathch up some holes on the o-line and you should make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

Colts 20 Ravens 3

One of the more boring playoff games in recent memory.  Even when it was still 3-3 in the second quarter, you still knew there was no way Baltimore was winning that game.  Their offense was dreadful and it was only a matter of time before Peyton made his move.

After this game the mood of the locker room was retirement as well as Derrick Mason expressed doubt about his future.  Hey, it looks like Baltimore and Arizona could make a deal.  How does a second rounder for Anquan Boldin sound?  Which teams says no?

Also somewhat surprisingly Ed Reed said he was 50-50 about coming back.  Don’t read too much into that as he was just frustrated over the loss.  Maybe if he stopped turning it over after he forces a turnover the Ravens might still be playing.

Minnesota 34 Dallas 3

What was suppose to be the game of the week turned into the biggest blowout of the weekend.  The Vikings harassed Tony Romo all game long never giving him a chance to make something happen.

Maybe things would have been different if he would have gotten some help from his $45 million receiver, Roy Williams, who was too busy counting his money to actually catch a pass.

I have to agree with Kieth Brooking to an extent for calling the Vikings out on running up the score.  I didn’t mind that they went for it so much, but the fact that they passed it didn’t sit well with me.  Just run the ball and see what happens.

Jets 17 Chargers 14

Those Jets just won’t go away.  They’re now only one game away from the Super Bowl, where they haven’t been since Joe Namath was under center.

The defense bended but never broke holding the Chargers to virtually no big plays.  Add in some great o-line play and the fresh legs of Shonn Greene and the Jets got themselves a victory.  I wonder if Eric Weddle has recovered after getting bowled over by Shonn Greene on his td run.

For the Chargers they have plenty of people to blame for yet another postseason failure.

Nate Kaeding missed as many field goals during the game (3) as he did all regular season.  If I’m the Chargers I’m hoping he pulls a Mike Vanderjact and calls out Phillip Rivers and Norv Turner at the Pro Bowl so I have an excuse to cut him.  Even if he doesn’t he’s still got to go.  I don’t care how good he’s been in the regular season the kid cant kick in the clutch and he’s clearly rattled now.  Vanderjact was never the same kicker after he missed that kick against the Steelers in the 2005 playoffs and Kaeding looks headed down the same path.

Then you have Norv Turner.  Where to start with him?  How about with sticking with an over the hill L.T. and completely ignoring Darren Sproles.  Then at the end of the first half he got a few carries and did something with them and you thought ok he’s got it now.  But this is Norv were talking about and Sproles was nowhere to be seen as L.T. continuously ran into the line of scrimmage and got stuffed.   There’s also the onside kick at the end of the game.  If you kick it deep, we’ll say the Jets get the ball at the 25.  They run three plays don’t have enough for the first and punt because of where they are on the field.  Then the Chargers get the ball at the 35 with a minute and change left only needing a field goal.

But hey, what does Norv Turner get for this mess you might ask?  Well, his punishment was a three year extension.  Are you serious San Diego?  Yeah, it’d be hard to fire him after the season they had, but you didn’t have to give him an extension.  Does anybody actually believe Norv can lead the Chargers to a Super Bow?  Don’t forget Bill Cowher, a Super Bowl winning coach, is a free agent just waiting a good job and would hop at the opportunity to go to San Diego.  Maybe next year Chargers fan, but probably not.

Now let’s take a look at the two conference championship games on Sunday.

New York Jets @ Indianapolis Colts Continue reading

2010 NFL Draft Underclassmen List

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The deadline passed at 5:00 today for underclassmen to declare for the 2010 NFL Draft.

In total, 53 underclassmen declared.  Players who didn’t sign with an agent have until Monday to withdraw if they want.

Notable underclassmen who will return next year include Jake Locker, Noel Devine, Ryan Mallet, and Marvin Austin.  Continue reading

NFL Divisional Round Picks Against the Spread

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It was a rather uneventful Wildcard Weekend save for the Packers-Cardinals game.  Luckily the Divisional Round is often produces “the best weekend of football” and the matchups have the potential for some great games.  But first, can we get rid of the name Divisional Round.  What does that even mean?  Couldn’t the NFL have though of something better before settling on Divisional Round.  Who was like yeah let’s call the Divisional Round, that’s a great name.  It could be the worst name in all of sports. Why not just call it the Conference Semifinals or something similar.  All right, enough of my rant let’s get on to my picks.

I went 4-4 last week, nailing every Saturday pick and missing every Sunday pick.  As I did last week, I’ll be picking the over under as well.

Arizona Cardinals @ New Orleans Saints

The Cardinals are coming off an emotionally draining win over the Packers are now have to travel to New Orleans and play on a short week.  Granted, the Saints are arguably the coldest team in the NFL losing three straight since starting 13-0.  However, the Saints will be at full strenght this game with Pierre Thomas back to solidify the running game, Jeremy Shockey back at full strength, Lance Moore adding more receiving depth, and perhaps most importantly having their starting corners, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, healthy for the first time since Week 8.

This game looks like it has the makings of a shootout with Drew Brees and Kurt Warner trying to out-duel each other.  After seeing Arizona’s defense get shredded by Aaron Rodgers I see no reason why Drew Brees won’t do the same.  The Saints are number one in the NFL in takeaways and as great as Kurt Warner has played he is also very turnover prone and I expect him to throw a few to the opposition.  The Cardinals are also playing in the SuperDome, which will be even rowdier than usual because of the playoffs.

The Pick: Take the Saints (-7) and the over (57)

Baltimore Ravens @ Indianapolis Colts

All the talk leading up to this game will be about how the Colts rested their starters blowing a shot at an undefeated season, but none of that will matter once the whistle blows.  The Ravens looked great last week as they dismantled the Pats, but I wouldn’t be drinking the kool-aid too much.  They caught the Pats at the right time — no Wes Welker, an aging and under preforming defense — and took advantage.  The Colts will be ready for them and there’s no way they get up 24-0 on the Colts.

Getting up so much so quick allowed the Ravens to mask Joe Flacco, who threw for just 34 yards, and their poor secondary by forcing the Pats to pass.  With the Ravens having to stay honest to the run against the Colts expect Peyton Manning to pick apart the Ravens secondary.  He’ll have all his targets fully healthy and even though the Ravens have a good pass rush, Indy is ranked number one in pass protections and Peyton Manning has such a quick release.  I expect the Colts to come out playing with a chip on their shoulder and take care of business in this one.

The Pick: Take the Colts (-6.5) and the Under (44)

Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings Continue reading

5 X-Factors to Watch During the NFL Playoffs

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The playoffs finally start today and wile much attention will be centered on the stars –Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Brett Favre– often it’s the lesser known players that determine whether a team moves on or not.  Here are five guys who I’ll be watching closely these playoffs to see if they can deliver when their team needs it.

5. Mark Sanchez

The much talked about rookie quarterback managed to get his team into the playoffs, though some would argue the Jets made it despite of him.  Regardless, the Jets still need the young signal caller to deliver the goods in the playoffs.  The Jets can beat the Bengals by running the ball and masking Sanchez, but that won’t fly against the likes of the Colts and Chargers.  The Jets boast the leagues best running attack and defense, the only weak link is the passing game.  If the rookie stays turnover free and delivers a few big plays a game the Jets could surprise in the playoffs.

4. Jermichael Finley

I hyped the second year tight end in the preseason and despite getting off to a slow start including a knee injury, he played a vital role for the Packers in the final seven games, six of which the Packers won.  The Packers utilized his athleticism by splitting Finley out wide creating mismatches with the defense.  His emergence has also helped the offensive line, which struggled so much early in the season, as Rodgers targets him on shorter routes thus cutting down the time the line needs to protect.  He ended up being the most targeted receiver by Rodgers over the last seven weeks of the season.

3. Darren Sproles

The shifty back didn’t play a big role in the Chargers offense this season despite much thought to the contrary.  He topped 10 carries only twice the entire season and that came in weeks 2 and 3 when L.T. was hurt.  You would think that the Chargers would have given Sproles the ball more after seeing L.T. struggle to the worst season of his career, but perhaps they were saving him for the playoffs.  If you remember, Sproles dominated in the Chargers win over the colts in last years playoffs and was solid in their defeat to Pittsburgh.  He had over 250 total yards and three touchdowns in those games and while I wouldn’t expect him to repeat those numbers, he could come close.  Continue reading

NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks Against the Spread

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I ended the regular season on a great note going 11-4-1 last week, ending my mini slump.

Let’s see if I can keep it going in Wild Card Weekend.  As a bonus I’ll also be picking the over/under for each game.

New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals

The Jets trounced the Bengals 37-0 last week to reach the playoffs, but this game will have a much different feeling.  For one the game will be in Cincinnati and the Bengals will get back Cedric Benson and Domata Peko among others.  However, I still like the Jets to win the game.

The Jets boast the rushing attack in the league and love to play an old school ground and pound attack.  No team has been able to stop them, which will mask Mark Sanchez and the weak passing game.  The Bengals run a similar offense to the Jets though they have a passing weapon in Chad Ochocinco, but he will be covered by Darrelle Revis, who has shut down every receiver he’s faced all year.  With Ochocinco shut down it will force the Bengals to be a one-dimensional team against the leagues number one defense.

The Pick: Take the Jets (+2.5) and the Over (33.5)

Philadelphia Eagles @ Dallas Cowboys

The NFC East rivals square off for the third time this season and for the second straight week.  The Cowboys have swept the season series, which included a 24-0 thwarting last week. 

Now the Cowboys aren’t as good as they were last week and the Eagles aren’t as bad, but I still like the Cowboys.  The ‘Boys have managed to take out DeSean Jackson both times and without his big play ability the Eagles offense is less than intimidating.  The run game has struggled to do much all year and other than Bret Celek they have no other proven receivers.

Don’t let the a team can’t beat a team three times in a season scare you off.  The Steelers did it last year to the Ravens.

The Pick: Take the Cowboys (-4) and the Over (45) Continue reading