Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sun sets on Vikes as Pats take over number 1 spot in NFL

I rose from my seats at the 50 yard line as Gillette Stadium slowly grew louder. We all knew what was coming- Adrian Peterson, All Day, AP, whatever you want to call him, was going to try to bust into the end zone. It was 4th and Goal from the 1, and the whole stadium was finally on their feet. Here it came. BAM! Stood up at the line of scrimmage and pushed back to the 2! What a stop! We all started jumping up and down, screaming out praises to the defense. It was the turning point in the game, and possibly the season, for both teams. After our group "hug dance" (don't ask), I looked up and saw the sun setting across the stadium. There was a little opening on the other side of the stadium, and for about a minute you could see the sun setting in the background. And then, after a few moments, it was gone. How poetic. The sun had set on the Vikings season. They were done. Obviously, the second half had to be played, and there were many more plays that won the game for the Patriots (namely, the broken play to Brandon Tate, and the interception by Devin McCourty). But this was the one that changed the whole complexion of the game. This was a stop reminiscent of the legendary Willie McGinest tackle for loss against Edgerrin James and the Colts. Here it was, the best (CJ hasn't been nearly as good this year) running back in the league, going one on one with one of the youngest defensive teams in the league. We came out on top. There was Ron Brace and Rob Ninkovitch (both no-names to all non-Pats fans) holding the line, and there was Brandon Spikes and Vince "Vending Machine" Wilfork bringing him down. Celebrations ensued. Fun way to go into halftime.

A few observations from the Pats game as a whole:
1) The Patriots offense is struggling mightily to put together sustained drives. It may seem to casual observers that the Patriots offense is just fine. But watching them game to game, and scrutinizing every play, there is something terribly wrong. Against the Dolphins (with Moss) we looked out of sync. Against the Ravens, we were dead for three quarters. We couldn't stop the rush against the Chargers and nearly blew a game that was gift wrapped for us. This week, we had great pass protection, but had 9 rushes for 9 yards in the first half, and had tons of trouble opening up the passing game. The second half was much better, but besides for a long play to Aaron Hernandez, the long passing plays seemed to all be fluky. Tate's first long catch went right threw the defender's hands, and his second one wasn't lucky, but it wasn't the way the play was drawn up. Yes, BJGE looked awesome in the second half, but the Patriots passing game seems to be stuck in the mud. A win is a win, and scoring 28 points is scoring 28 points, but the Patriots are going to have to figure out ways to consistently move the ball down field.
2) The Pats defense is gelling. Slowly but surely, the Patriots defense is figuring out ways to make plays. Like my dad said last night, they are very "opportunistic." They have players who are creating turnovers in different, strange ways. Rob Ninkovitch, who has been improving every week, has 3 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions. We all know about Pat Chung's special teams contributions. When the ball is on the ground, we are picking it up, That sounds simple, but the past few years, it wasn't happening. We didn't get the right bounce, or we didn't have the right players. This year, we do.
3) Zoltan Mesko is the man. The Pats drafted him and Gostkowski in the last 5 years, and both have been special teams gems. Watching the Chargers, you gain a greater appreciation for special teams effectiveness.
4) The Pats need Deion Branch to get healthy. He played a meager 23 snaps this game (courtesy of Mike Reiss), and when he was on the field, he didn't look himself. He had a nice screen turned into a long gain, but he also missed a chance at a HUGE play. He was running down the left sideline when Brady lofted a nice ball over his shoulder towards the outside shoulder. He got a hand on it, but couldn't bring it in. I have to assume a healthy Branch gets an extra half step on that play and is gone for a 93 yard touchdown reception. It was thisclose.
5) I retract my anger over not drafting Dez Bryant. Devin McCourty is a BEAST! He is already a legitimate number one cornerback, and he has only played 7 games! He's big, strong, athletic and has a great nose for the ball. His interception last week (@ SD) was just a glimpse of what this kid is capable of. This week he had a beautiful play on a deep ball to Percy Harvin. He not only kept up with Harvin (who is even more incredibly athletic in person) and turned his body around (which, by itself, only about a quarter of the CB's in the league can do), he almost came away with an interception! He also made a nice play in the endzone in the 4th quarter. He is a very impressive young player who by years end will probably be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
6) Randy Moss. Awkward. "I miss them guys. I love all them. I miss Tommy Boy." Maybe he did like the Justin Beiber hairdoo.

Thoughts on Jets- Pack:
1) The Jets need a quarterback. Mark Sanchez has regressed considerably from the Vikings game until now. Maybe he finally hit the sophomore wall. When the running game isn't working, the Jets offense is dead in the water.
2) The Packers might just be turning into the team we all thought they were going to be. Rodgers has been very good, and the defense was stellar this week. Clay Mathews continues to impress as his chances for Defensive Player of the Year keep rising.
3) Strange (gutsy, but probably more dumb than anything) call to go for a fake punt on 4th and 18. Great challenge by Mike McCarthy. The Jets special teams has been very good, but this was one of the wackier plays this season. With a defense like the Jets have, why not punt away and let the D get you the ball back?

Other thoughts from around the NFL:
1) The Cowboys are awful. Wow. It couldn't possibly get any worse than this can it? Their coach, Wade Phillips, may or may not be dead. Jon Kitna is, well, Jon Kitna. And what in the hell happened to that fast, aggressive defense?
2) I hate Oakland. Why are they good all of the sudden? Of course the one time the Pats trade for a number one pick, they become playoff contenders. Except Sebastion Janikowski- keep booting those field goals!
3) Mathew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are going to be very good for a very long time. That they are this good together at their age is just plain scary.
4) Keep your eye on the Chargers. This is usually when they make their move. They looked good in the second half against the Pats, and looked very good against the Titans this week. They also get Vincent Jackson back in a couple of weeks.
5) Rex Grossman! REX GROSSMAN! Are you kidding me Mike Shanahan! Did you really think he wasn't going to give up a fumble returned for a TD??? THIS IS REX GROSSMAN! The same Rex Grossman who had multiple 0.0 QB Ratings in the year his team went to the Super Bowl. He hasn't gotten any better since he left the Bears! That was just an absolutely outrageous move by the head coach.
6) Huge win for the Saints. That was the ferocious defense we have all been waiting to see since week 1. Brees still didn't look like himself though, I don't know what it is, but he just doesn't seem to be playing with as much confidence as last season. He isn't throwing good balls downfield, and has WAY too many turnovers.
7) Someone should probably wake up Al Davis and tell him that the Raiders are actually decent this season. He's been in a coma for years.
8) Has the wind ever affected as many games as it did yesterday? Just from what I saw, the Jets-Pack game, the KC-BUF game and the Pats-Vikes games all were extremely affected by the weather conditions. I bet the Jets wish they would've put that dome on...

I would post some links, but the internet is very spotty, so I'll post them next time.

And another thing:
Wow was I wrong about the San Fransisco Giants. I mean, I knew they had great pitching, but I didn't expect this. Also, where did Cody Ross (or as they call him in San Fran "The Boss") come from? He's a platoon player! When did he morph into Albert Pujols?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The EPIC Celtics-Heat season opener and Roster Breakdown

Like every other basketball fan, I am SO excited for tonight's slate of games. But one sticks out. Yes, I am talking about Celtics-Heat. This one is for all the marbles. This is THE matchup we have all been waiting for.
OK, we may be taking this all a little too seriously. It is the first game of the season. So it may be the best season opening matchup of all-time. Who cares? (Besides the NBA. The NBA always cares.) Last year, the Celtics manhandled the Cavaliers in the first game of the season. Guess how much it mattered down the road? Not one bit. The Cavs were in transition. Shaq had just joined them, and I believe Delonte West was deactivated due to an investigation into his hiding a loaded shotgun in a guitar case while riding his motorcycle. Seriously, that happened. Anyways, the Celtics had their Core 4 and Perk, and the Cavs were just trying to figure out how to play together.
Sound familiar?
The Heat's big 3 have played a whopping 3 minutes together. Wade injured his hammy, and Bron also went down with an injury- leaving Chris Bosh with memories of his years on the Raptors (him, and no one else). They are amazing, no doubt. But they are in transition. The Celtics have added a few pieces as well (Shaq, Jermaine, Von Wafer...don't ask), but their Core 4 are still there- chugging along as usual. People are talking about a healthy Kevin Garnett and a finally healthy Paul Pierce, and they assume the Celtics will be bigger (definitely) and better (who knows?) than last year. The truth is, this game means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
Will it be fun? Yes. Will it be entertaining? Yes. Will everyone write rapid reactions and scrutinize every second of action (including me)? Yes. But what does it all mean? The game is almost meaningless. The C's will be without Delonte "Wild Wild" West and Kendrick Perkins, while the Heat will be without sharpshooter Mike Miller. Neither team is complete, and neither team is in midseason form. So while we are all enjoying tonight's game, try and keep it in perspective. (By the way, Celtics will win it with stingy defense and team chemistry. Also, Lebron is a jerk.)

We all waited so long for Celtics season to start up again, especially after last season's heartbreak, let's take a closer look at each member of this years squad (Reloaded. Again.)

Rajon Rondo- After absolutely exploding onto the National Stage with his pantheon performance in game 4 (29-18-13, from a point guard) of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, Rondo is ready for the big time. I, like many others, expect Rondo to make the leap this season to superstar, and win some games for this team by himself. Finally armed with some offensively capable centers, look for Rondo's assist numbers to be even higher this year.

Ray Allen- Besides for being a consummate professional, Ray Ray has always been the Celtics 3 point threat. We were all praising him after his record breaking performance in game 2 of the Finals, and we were all cursing him in game 3. That is how Ray is. He is a rhythm shooter. Last year we saw a dip in his 3 point percentage, but with KG healthy, and the Diesel keeping defenses honest, we should expect Ray to get more open looks this season.

Paul Pierce- The captain. Pierce is the leader of this team. He preps his warriors for battle. He fights through injuries, and is always called on when the Celtics need a basket at the end of the game. Slowed last season by an array of injuries, Paul seemed to be quickly deteriorating before our eyes. He showed some flashes of his old self in the playoffs, but he really needs to be more consistent this year to still be considered an elite scorer. Let's hope Paul stays healthy and bounces back this season.

Kevin Garnett- KG. The big ticket. The guy who slaps his own head. We can all agree that KG may go overboard sometimes with his emotions, but he gives this team an identity. He spread it to his other half (Kendrick Perkins), and he lets everyone know. We are going to play great defense, and we are going to be loud while we do it. KG had a tough year coming back from his knee injury, but seemed to pick it up in the playoffs. Everyone says it takes two years to recover from a serious knee injury. Hopefully, they are right.

Shaquille O'Neal
- The Diesel has come to Boston for one purpose- to win a ring. OK, so he also went to Phoenix and Cleveland to win a ring, but we will forget about those for now. This is the deepest team he has played on since his years with the Lakers. He is highly motivated to get at least another ring in what he calls his last "730 days" as an NBA player. Kobe threw it in his face last year, and he hates Kobe- ("Hey Kobe, tell me how my A$$ tastes"). I expect big rebounding numbers, and a bunch of easy buckets for the Big Shamrock.

Delonte West- Despite the Celtics addition of Shaq Diesel, I think Delonte is going to prove to be the most significant off-season acquisition by the end of the year. Starting off with a 10 game suspension, Delonte will certainly be behind when he comes back, but he is going to be a great backup for both Rondo and Ray. A high percentage shooter and a great passer, Delonte also possesses the great ability to control the tempo of the game without turning the ball over. He also fits in very well with this tough one on one defensive minded team- he is considered one of the best man to man defenders in the league.

Marquis Daniels + Nate Robinson- Both players figure to play big roles off the bench this season. Quis' is "a completely different player" according to Paul Pierce, and Nate will have a better handle on the offense with his first off-season with the team. I expect both of these players to have very good years, and help solidify the revamped second unit.

Glen "Big Baby" Davis
- Hit a huge speed bump last year when he broke his thumb in a fight with a friend on the eve of the season opener (you can't make this stuff up), Glen was huge for the Celtics by the time the playoffs rolled around. He's got to cut down on his Blocks Against (he got blocked on about 33% of his shots around the rim area), but he seems to be primed for a breakout year. The Celtics will need it, as their bench struggled to score at points last season.

Semih Erden + Jermain O'Neal
- Both big guys figure to play pretty significant roles. Erden is obviously a surprise, but he definitely played well enough in the preseason to garner some attention, and minutes from Coach Doc Rivers. Erden is a wild card, but if he could develop his game, he might be the first rookie to help the Celtics since the Big 3 arrived in 08'. With O'Neal, you know what you're getting. A decent shot blocker, and a pretty good offensive player and rebounder, he is a solid addition to the already deep Celtics bench.

Overall, this team is almost definitely better than last season's squad, but let's just hope there are no more injuries along the way, or it will be very hard for the C's to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions.

On to the links-

A few articles from Celtics-Heat hype machine:

Articles for Celtics fans:

Some other sport's links:
Peter "King" King's great Monday Morning Quarterback-

Strange article about Roger Federer and a hidden Tennis Tournament of high rollers who gamble thousands and thousands of dollars on a single point!

Interesting article on Texas' success this postseason-

Nice blurb about everyone's favorite Patriot: Danny Woodhead-

Finally, Haynesworth earns his paycheck (sort of, maybe, a little)-
AND (at the 1:25 mark)


Great new Lebron Commercial. And to answer your question, you should NOT be an asshole-

And just to get you ready for tonight:

Monday, October 25, 2010

A win is a win, and are you ready for NBA season?

That was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too close. Watching that first half, you would have thought some members of the 1919 White Sox had slipped on San Diego jerseys. I mean, seriously? Did you see those fumbles? [ The way James Sanders celebrates after this play, you would think that he actually did something. Nope. He literally picked up the ball after one of the dumbest plays I've seen in years. What does he do? The classic "strap the belt" celebration. Just ridiculous.]
Given every opportunity to blow this game open in the first half, the Patriots offense failed so miserably, they made Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian's marriage look like a success (engaged after 30 days, divorced after what, like a week and a half? Wait, they are back together? What? Bad example).
Last week, we blamed the offensive struggles on the superb Ravens D (yes, the Ravens who gave up 374 yards passing to the indomitable Ryan Fitzpatrick), and on the transition from #81 to #84. This week, we'll blame it on the great San Diego pass rush. So is this offense still great, or are they going to struggle mightily to put points on the board like they have these past two weeks? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. The running game got a huge spark from the superb Danny Woodhead, and the passing seems to be OK without Randy, but the offensive line is going to have to improve its performance if the Patriots want to still be considered a top offense. Because no matter how good Tom Brady is, he needs time in the pocket to be successful. This week, that didn't happen. Matt Light got destroyed, Koppen looked over matched, and even Sebastion "The Giant German" Vollmer got hit with big penalty. Do the Chargers have a tough pass rush? Yes, but all the playoff bound teams in the AFC have a strong pass rush (Pitt, NYJ, Ind, KC, Bal). If the offensive line doesn't get itself back into form, the Pats are going to have some big problems.
(By the way, you think we missed Logan Mankins on that terrible looking 4th and 1 run at the end of the game? He will be back in a few weeks, so hopefully he will give the line a much needed boost.)
Don't look now, but Jared Allen is coming to town next week.

Welcome back to Gillette, Randy Moss. Next week is going to be very fun, not only because of Randy's return, but because the Vikings have such an exciting team. I've been talking about Percy Harvin for the past few weeks, and he has validated my praise. He's had a receiving TD, kick return TD and rushing TD in the last 3 games. He almost came down with that miracle catch on 1st and 30 at the end of the fourth last night: (the 5:40 mark)
There have been some reports that Brett Favre may not start for the first time in 291 games because of multiple injuries (ankle, elbow etc.). That would suck. We all want to see #4 out there, and we want the Pats to win it fair and square. I actually think that the Patriots are going to focus this week on stopping Adrian Peterson, and try and let Favre, Moss and Harvin beat them. Besides for a few drives in the last two weeks, the Patriots defense has looked pretty good. They are still in dire need of a pass rusher, but slowly this defense is starting to gel and become a solid unit. Hopefully the loss of Pat Chung this week wasn't serious, because he has looked terrific. Belichick has been heaping praise on Jermaine Cunningham and Devin McCourty (What an athletic interception this week. Just beautiful), as both have been playing great for rookies. And Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes and Vince Wilfork have really been shutdown running lanes these past few weeks, no easy task.

As for what I think will happen in the game, it is hard to predict with all of the injuries for both teams. But let's say that Favre and Chung are both healthy, this game is going to be a shootout (similar to the Pack-Vikes game last night). With home field advantage (Tom doesn't lose at home in the regular season), I think the Pats prevail 31-27.


Get pumped! The Celtics open the season tomorrow night against the star studded Miami Heat. There are going to be 8 potential Hall of Famer's on the court at the opening tip (the only ones who aren't locks are Rondo and Bosh- Garnett, Shaq, Pierce, Allen, Wade and Lebron already have plaques), not to mention bragging rights for the Eastern Conference. Most experts consider these two teams the class of the East, with some squeezing Orlando in too. This may be the most highly anticipated season opener in the history of the NBA. You have the Super Villains vs. the Old Guard. There is tons of history within the matchup as well:
1) The Celtics bounced the Heat from the playoffs last year. Let's hope Wade doesn't talk to his hand tomorrow night...
2) The C's also bounced Lebron from the playoffs, and ultimately, Cleveland. Lebron had a quiet (for him) series, and people were questioning his mental toughness after he seemed to give up with a couple minutes left of game 6. Now, Lebron has his Robin (Wade), and even an Alfred (Bosh)- just go with it- let's see what he can do with a legitimate supporting cast.
3) Shaq was supposed to be the missing piece to the Lebron puzzle last year. Well, that worked out well! This year, Shaquille "730 days left" O'Neil is out for revenge (on Kobe, not Lebron). If you don't think Kobe's crack- "I got one more than Shaq"- got the big fella riled up, you're crazy. He is ready to rip it up this season.
4) Lastly, this is really the new NBA. Package three superstars, and you get a ring. We saw it before, to a lesser extent, with the Spurs (Duncan, Ginobili, Parker). And we saw it, more recently, with the Celtics (Big 3 + Rondo) and Lakers (Kobe, Pau, Bynum/Odom/Ron Ron). Now, it's Miami's turn.

Get your popcorn ready.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Quick thoughts for Week 7 in the NFL

Cincinnati @ Atlanta-
Huge game for Atlanta. Everyone thought they were the best of the NFC (Junior Varsity for the AFC), and they got outplayed badly by Philly. Cincinnati looks pretty vulnerable right now, here is Atlanta's chance to get back in the mix.
ATL 31 CIN 20
Washington @ Chicago-
Chicago's offensive line is killing them (especially killing Cutler), and Washington is coming off a tough loss to Indy. I smell an upset.
WASH 27 CHI 20
St. Louis @ Tampa Bay-
Tampa needs to bounce back after the beating they took last week (Where was the run defense? Chris Ivory? Really?), but St. Louis looked very solid last week. This might actually turn out to be quite a game (Sam Bradford vs. Josh Freeman! The future of the NFL!)
TB 21 STL 20
San Fransisco @ Carolina
Wow. Awful game.
CAR 24 SF 23
Buffalo @ Baltimore
At this point, I just feel bad for Buffalo. They may not have enough players left for an active roster after this one. Welcome back Ed Reed!
BAL 38 BUF 6
Philadelphia @ Tennessee
This is going to be a fun game. Possibly Kolb's last start, look for him to have another big game. Tennessee has been very hot and cold this season, but have picked it up the past few weeks. If Tennessee can win this game, we will all see how far the AFC really is ahead of the NFC. It is getting kind of ridiculous at this point.
TEN 30 PHI 27
Jacksonville @ Kansas City
Kansas City is going to crush Jacksonville. The Jags couldn't have looked much worse than last Monday night, and KC is very underrated (especially their defense, which has been great). Blowout alert.
KC 31 JAX 13
Pittsburgh @ Miami
Great test for both teams. Miami has won some tough games and lost some tough ones, a win here would really make them a contender. Pitt really hasn't beaten a good team yet (especially on the road). Let's see what Roethlisberger can do when everyone in the stadium is booing him and he is playing against a real NFL franchise (sorry Cleveland, you are not quite there yet). Pitt's defense might just win them another game (60 points allowed in 5 games! Crazy good!)
Pitt 24 MIA 16
Cleveland @ New Orleans
I know i just bashed Cleveland, but New Orleans hasn't looked so spectacular this season. Potential trap game after a big win last week.
NO 30 CLE 23
Arizona @ Seattle
Only god knows what will happen in this one. [Refuse to make a prediction]
New England @ San Diego
Another potential trap game, this one is going to be fun to watch. The Pats pass defense sucks (273 yrds allowed per game through the air) and Rivers leads the league in yards- he already has 2000! But without a few key players and possibly Gates, I think the edge goes to NE. If Gates plays and his healthy, it would be a battle, without Gates, it may be over by halftime.
NE 27 SD 24
Oakland @ Denver
Denver will make up for last weeks debacle against the Jets where they let a W slip away. Oakland is not good enough to win a tough game on the road (as long as the Patriots have their first round pick, I keep telling myself they aren't good. They're not. Right?)
DEN 34 OAK 17
Minnesota @ Green Bay
Favre. Favre. Favre. Favre. Favre. Favre. Favre. (In case you forgot).
GB 23 MIN 20
NY Giants @ Dallas
I think Dallas finally shows up. If I'm wrong, Jerry Jones kills a man (possibly Wade Phillips?). These Giants-Cowboys prime time clashes always seem to be entertaining though.
DAL 34 NYG 30

Quick thoughts about Pats game tomorrow:
1) Protection is key. Despite the Chargers failures, they do have a terrific pass rush. Neutralize them, and the whole offense will open up.
2) Deion "Randy Who?" Branch and BJGE will have big games. Also, look for Aaron Hernandez to bounce back.
3) Rivers has an unbelievable down field arm. If the Pats go into the deep Cover-2 defense (like they used in the second half last week), they will be able to keep the big plays to a minimum.
4) Don't turn it over! The Chargers have no momentum going into this game, turnovers can change that momentum very quickly. The Pats have done a nice job this season of making the field longer for opposing offenses by not turning it over, Zoltan's booming punts, and Gostkowski's deep kickoffs.

Some quick links-
Good article about the Chargers' troubles. It is an ESPN Insider article, so I tried to make it so everyone can see it by linking the print-page version. Let me know if it works or not:

Peter King's predictions (didn't look at these until after I finished, although I did sort of steal the idea for this column from him. Shhhh):

Because there is nothing I like more than an article that says the Yankees have no heart:

Another great one. Hows that 10 year, 275 million dollar contract look now?

Getting excited for Tuesday night's battle royale between the C's and Heat? Me too.

And One Last Thing-
Great win tonight for the San Fransisco Giants. I honestly don't know how they made it this far with that offense, but I guess that's why they say pitching wins championships. This is going to be a heck of a World Series.
My prediction based on nothing: Rangers in 6

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pretender, Contender or just plain Awful PT. II + Welcome Back Deion!

Rankings Continued:

Hot n' Cold (Jacksonville Jaguars)
Jacksonville (3-3)
Like Tampa Bay, they looked awful this past week. Luckily for them, Josh Scobee's 59 yard game winning field goal against Indy is still in the back of a lot of people's minds. The Jags are not a playoff team in the AFC, and play in the hardest division in the NFL, but they are not far away. They seem to be missing a playmaker on both sides of the ball. MJD has been good, but not great this year, and the defense is solid. Unfortunately, solid doesn't get it done in the AFC South. [Trending: 8-8 season. Good for the best last place record in recent memory. Mediocre]

Where is Mariano Rivera when you need him? (Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins)
I don't even need to differentiate these teams from each other, because they are so similar. They are similar especially in one category: closing. They can't finish. They get SO close, it just doesn't happen. You kind of feel bad for them. It's like the Jamaicans in "Cool Runnings," they come so close to winning, but at the last second the bobsled falls apart. The Redskins have had a few games come down to the last play, and the Broncos have lost by less than a TD a couple of times. Both have a QB who can air it out (how about Kyle Orton! He looks awesome) and some good playmakers on both sides of the ball, but neither team can figure it out in the 4th quarter. I think the problem with these teams is defense. They aren't getting stops when it really matters. If the defenses can turn it around, both of these teams could be tough to beat down the stretch. [Trending: Say it with me: D- Fence! (clap clap) D- Fence! (clap clap) D- Fence! Upwards]

The rest of the rankings I will do without explanations because I am lazy, and because no one really knows who's better than who from here on out:
15. Chicago Bears [Trending: Atrocious offensive line is going to be their demise. Downwards]
14. Houston Texans [Trending: Their defense reminds me of the Pats D from 2 years ago. Nuff' Said. Literally, it is impossible to predict what will happen with them]
13.Green Bay Packers [Trending: They must get healthy, or they are going to find themselves out of the playoffs. Down, for now]
12. Miami Dolphins [Trending: Too inconsistent for the top 10. Must figure out their special teams problems. Holding steady]
11. Tennessee Titans [Trending: Thanks to a couple of blowouts, this team has the best point differential in the league. I'm still not sold. Upwards regardless]
10. Atlanta Falcons [Trending: Considered the best in the NFC until this week, they seem way too shaky both offensively and defensively. Slightly downwards.]
9. New York Giants [Trending: Would have put them higher, but they should have beaten the Lions more handily. A win is a win though. Rising quickly.]
8. Kansas City Chiefs [Trending: Two or three plays away from being undefeated, this is a very good team which remains underrated. Upwards]
7. New Orleans Saints [Trending: Almost unstoppable with a running game. Back to the playoffs]
6. Philadelphia Eagles [Trending: With Kolb or Vick, this team is the class of the NFC. Upwards]
5. Indianapolis Colts [Trending: Peyton Manning is amazing. Playoffs]
4. Baltimore Ravens [Trending: This team could be 6-0 or 2-4. Defense is very good, and offense is balanced well. Playoffs]
3. New England Patriots [Trending: If the Defense plays as well as they did in the 4th quarter and overtime (HUGE if), they are almost impossible to beat. Upwards]
2. New York Jets [Trending: Sanchez is back to planet earth, Tomlinson is still floating in space though. The defense is still great, but Revis looks mediocre. Upwords]
1. Pittsburgh Steelers [Trending: Just got back a top 5 quarterback, and were already a top team. They are the best in the NFL until they lose with Roethlisberger. Top seed in the AFC]

OK! Well, that is the last time I do a 32 team ranking! Moving on...

Lets talk Patriots football:
1) What a freakin huge win! And what a game! That was one of the most exciting regular season games that I can remember. It sort of reminds me of the Patriots-Texans game from 2003. We seemed lost on offense the whole game, but Tom brought us back in the end of the 4th, and then we won it in overtime. Thing is, our defense and special teams won it this time just as much as Tommy Boy. Great game all around.
2) Zoltan Mesko had his breakout game (wait, can you even say that for a punter?) capped off by an absolute BOMB in overtime. That punt killed Baltimore's chance at good field position, and also didn't allow a chance for a return, which always seems to swing overtime games. This is the second game in a row that may have been won by special teams. Last game it was the return unit and the block units, and this week it was Gostkowski and Zoltan. It is always nice to see the special teams get some credit, and they certainly have earned it these past couple of games.
3) Where did that defense come from? In the first 3 quarters, it was same old for the Pats D. They were getting killed by the pass, and couldn't seem to get off the field on third downs. By the time the game was over, the Ravens were a paltry 5-16 on third down attempts. The D did a fantastic job of limiting the explosive Ray Rice (who killed us in the playoffs last year) to just 3.1 YPC and a game long of just 8 yards. We haven't seen that in these parts since the good ole' days of Richard Seymour, Ted Washington and Tedy Bruschi.
4) Deion Branch! Welcome Back! I can't say enough about how well he played. Once the offense got into a rhythm (I'll admit, it took a while) it was so fun to watch Tom and Deion play pitch and catch. ( It brought me back to the last Super Bowl win, where I watched Deion rip apart the fast Eagles defense for 133 yards on 11 catches and take home the Super Bowl MVP. My brothers and I met him and his whole family during the post game party (thanks dad!), and he couldn't have been a nicer dude (unlike Corey Dillon, what a JERK). I am happy to have him back, and I think he is happy to be back. There is an awesome piece about him in this weeks Monday Morning Quarterback by Peter King:
[Should be right at the top of the page. If not, this is page 2 of the article.]
5) Aaron Hernandez is human. After playing out of his mind for the first few weeks, we finally saw some chinks in the 20 year old's armor. He had two very costly drops in overtime. He would have been the goat if it weren't for Brady and Branch's heroics on the last drive.
6) The Ravens defense is unbelievably good, and they still don't have perennial pro-bowler Ed Reed. They are so fast, and so strong, they completely shrink the field. If Flacco can emerge into a superstar in the second half of the season, this team will probably be in the Super Bowl.
7) Haloti Ngata is the best defensive tackle in the league. He is also probably the third best defensive player in the NFL behind Polamalu and Peppers. He is absolutely gigantic (6'4, 350) and is extremely quick for a man his size. He wreaked havoc on the Sanchize in week 1, had a monster game in Baltimore's win over Pittsburgh (11 tackles, 1 sack), and had another terrific game this week (7 tackles, 2 sacks). He may be the only athlete in the world who could both literally and figuratively carry his whole team on his shoulders.
8) I refuse to write about big hits and concussions, because everyone else is doing it, and honestly, what do I know. But Brandon Meriweather is a moron. His hit on Todd Heap was not only vicious, but stupid. The penalty cost the defense a third down stop. Meriweather constantly gives Belichick reasons to yank him from the game, and one of these times, he is not going to be put back in.
9) Danny Woodhead. Wow. This kid doesn't go down. What an awesome game from him. He rejuvenated the running game after BJGE's TD run (he had 10 rushes for 20 yards. O, Boy.) There were some times where he literally seemed to come out of nowhere and gain 10 yards. Tom Brady needs a player like him to succeed, and he seems to thrive in the Kevin Falk-type role of checkdown reciever and draw-play runner. He is going to get a ton of snaps from here on out. Did I mention he is my height!!

On to the links:

Shaughnessy's article on the Patriots really brings home the old school feel that comes with watching the new look Pats:

As usual, MacMullen wrote a perfect piece:

I wrote yesterday that he's an A-Hole. This is just strange:

Very interesting observation (taken from Yahoo Sports):

I don't like Lebron, and apparently other people don't as well (I don't condone the racism though):

On to youtube:

RIDICULOUS one handed catch by Pierre Garcon of the Colts (look at the angle at the 31 second mark. Just outrageous):

2 Outrageous plays by the best defensive player in the league, Troy Polamalu (not from this week):

A hit that went under the radar this weekend:

I wrote about Bradford last time. This is why, most rookies can't make this throw:

Who do you start? Vick or Kolb?

Hilarious video my brother sent to me. You gotta love High School Football in Texas:

And another thing:
Even before tonight's victory over the Rangers, I felt like the Yanks weren't done. The last 3 games of the series are going to be an absolute slugfest. If the Rangers don't win game 6, the Yanks will win in 7.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pretender, Contender or just plain Awful

I feel like Will Ferrell in Old School- "we are streaking through the quad to the gymnasium! Everyone's doing it!!" As a writer who likes football, I feel like I have to write about which teams I believe are for real. I mean, hey, everyone's doing it.

We'll go from worst to first. Part One today, Part Two tomorrow.

The Dynamic Duo (Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers)
Buffalo (0-5)- Being a Bills fan is like cutting onions: you cry every time you open your eyes. The Bills are so bad that they might get relocated to Toronto. Canada. That bad.
Carolina (0-5)- As bad as the Bills are, the Panthers might just be as bad. Despite superduperstar receiver Steve Smith, this offense is atrocious. At the end of last year, there was some hope for this season as Matt Moore came into his own. And now, Moore is on the bench, and everyone feels bad for Jimmy Clausen. You think that defense misses Julius Peppers?

Hopeless. For now. (Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions)
Cleveland (1-5)- Have lost some games this year that they could have won, but there is a reason they lost. This team has no veteran leaders who have been there, done that. Peyton Hillis looks like a diamond in the rough, and the defense has been serviceable, but this team has a ton of holes. Colt McCoy looked pretty good on Sunday against a ridiculous Pittsburgh defense. Keep an eye on him. [Trending: steadily awful]
Detroit (1-5)- I would say that it is unfair to drop them this low after losing their franchize (these Jets fans are really rubbing off on me) quarterback in week 1, but Shaun Hill looked like the second coming of Joe Montana last week. OK, so it was against the Rams, but he looked good again this week against the F-is-for-ferocious Giants defense until he broke his arm (Drew Stanton even played OK, huh?). This team has some potential (Stafford, Best, Johnson and Suh), but it seems they will be cellar dwellers for one more year. [Trending: until they get a QB, downwards]

Preseason Darlings (Oakland Raiders, SF 49ers, SD Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings)
Aside from Oakland, all of these teams were considered playoff teams, or even serious Super Bowl contenders. I was amazed to read before the season began how many writers thought the Raiders were going to be "sleepers" this year ( This season, more than any other in recent history, proves how little sports writers actually know (besides me, I know everything).
Oakland (2-4) Could be 3-3 if Sebastion Janikowski would've had a decent game against Arizona a few weeks ago. Still, this team seems lost. Jason Campbell wasn't the answer at quarterback. Bruce Gradkowski certainly isn't getting them to the playoffs. They aren't far away, but they aren't close either. (Quick rant- this year's Raiders remind me of the Toronto Blue Jays- they have some random talent, and they could win a few games, but they aren't threatening anyone. Both are 2 or 3 impact players away from being contenders) [Trending: nowhere fast]
SF (1-5)- Sorry Simmons, better luck next year (Simmons' prediction for the 49ers: 13-3! Anyway, I don't think anyone saw this coming. They have been on the brink for a few years now, and everyone was hopping on the Mike Singletary bandwagon. And then the wheels fell off. Very quickly. There are a lot of things wrong with this team, but it seems like they have the talent to compete. They just aren't competing. Simple as that (I think). [Trending: couldn't possibly get any worse, right?]
SD (2-4)- Like everyone else, I am dumbfounded. Did this team really just lose to Oakland and St. Louis back to back?! Really? Wow. This team could easily lose 10 games this season. To add to their troubles, All-Pro Antonio Gates went down with an injury this past week. [Trending: downwards, fast]
Cincinnati (2-3)- I don't know how this team beat Baltimore. Carson Palmer has been shaky (possibly the understatement of the year) and their power running game has lacked consistency. Preseason favorites to win/compete for the AFC North title, they would be lucky to finish at 500. Terrell Owens has looked rejuvenated though, and if Palmer can find his mojo, they might just be able to eke out 10 wins and a potential wild card spot (might be the least likely scenario in all of sports. That, or Vernon Gholston becoming an impact player. Pick your poison.) [Trending: towards a dark place]
Dallas (1-4)- Despite a huge amount of talent, this team simply can not put it together. I would not be surprised to see a wanted for murder poster with Jerry Jones' face on it in the next few weeks. Imagine spending a billion dollars on a new stadium, a ton of time and energy to get that stadium a Super Bowl, and watching your team of superstars play with the effort of Manny Ramirez in the outfield. I mean it is truly unbelievable that this team has one win. If they don't wake up, Coach Phillips (who may or may not be alive at this point) is gone, and there will be a whole lot of roster turnover this offseason. [Trending: Their owner might kill a man. You tell me]
Minnesota (2-3)- Probably less talented then the Cowboys, but somehow managed to beat them yesterday. I wrote about Percy Harvin last time- this is why:
These types of players win you games, and the Vikings have a few of them (Harvin, Moss, Jared Allen). Like I said before, when they get Sidney Rice back, look out. [Trending: upwards]

Somehow, Some Way, Surviving (Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals)
Seattle (3-2)- Another one of those, "Whattttt???" teams. They aren't that good, but they are playing in a terrible division, and have won some close games. Apparently, Pete Carroll has them playing hard, I just don't see this team winning more than 8 games. Could possibly steal a playoff spot (and subsequently get destroyed in the first round). By the way, maybe Matt Millen wasn't such a bad GM- Mike Williams looked pretty good on Sunday! Just kidding, he may be one of the worst GM's in recorded history. [Trending: somewhere, possibly a black hole- no one really knows whats going on here]
St. Louis (3-3) Looked horrendous last week, and very good this week. The Rams have a chance to be good, it just seems like they are more likely to emerge next season. Bradford looks like the real deal, unfortunately, all of his top receivers are dropping like flies. [Trending: holding their own- not good, not bad]
Arizona (3-2) Could Max Hall be the answer? [Trending: as far as Hall takes them]

Hot n' Cold (TB Buccaneers)
TB (3-2)- Started off strong, probably the class of the division. Bump in the road this week against New Orleans, but Freeman still looks like a young Roethlisberger making very strong throws, and being quite a mobile quarterback. [Trending: towards the playoffs]


Quick Thoughts from around the NFL:

- Sanchez looks like himself again. Phew.
Every Patriot fan can exhale, because Mark Sanchez is back to being the second coming of Vinny Testaverde. OK, he isn't that bad, but some of his throws the past two weeks have been downright maddening for Jets fans. Did you see his interception this week? Inexcusable. ( - the first play) Luckily for him, the Broncos gave the Jets every opportunity to win the game, and they took advantage. I'm not saying the Jets didn't deserve to win, I'm just saying the Broncos should have won that game. Either way, the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets are 5-1, and have 2 out of their next three games against the Lions and Browns. Again, this AFC race is going to be very exciting until the end.

-Sam Bradford might be worth every penny.
For someone who made 50 million before his first snap as a pro, Sam Bradford was going to have to be pretty damn good, pretty damn quickly. He has answered the call. Playing with that offensive line, and those receivers, he has done everything he could possibly do to keep the Rams in contention. Bradford is going to be an elite quarterback within a few years if he can find some help and get some protection.

-What is up with the NFC?
There doesn't seem to be any real contenders in the whole division. Atlanta was considered the best, but they don't look too impressive. Matt Ryan still hasn't recovered that magic from his rookie year. The Giants could be a top team, but they are very inconsistent right now. If the defense keeps it up though, they will resemble their squad from 2007 (minus gunman Plaxico Burress). I guess the Eagles and Saints are contenders, but they really aren't scaring anyone. The contenders look like they are all in the AFC.

-James Harrison is an A-Hole.
I don't care what position you play, or what you are paid to do. This is disgusting.

Links to come tomorrow. Enjoy, and tell me what you think of the rankings!

And one last thing:
How bout dem Yankees!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jets fan for a night

Last year, I had a fun Sociology class. The teacher assigned us some very entertaining books, like Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, and Gang Leader for a Day by Sudhir Venkatesh. I especially enjoyed Gang Leader, because it felt real. Because I liked the authenticity of the story, I decided to watch a TV show with a similar story to tell- The Wire. Needless to say, I loved The Wire so much that I actually made myself sick because I couldn't ever go to sleep. Absolutely fantastic show (WATCH IT!). It made me feel like I knew the city of Baltimore. Anyway, I am waaaay off topic. What I wanted to say was that I decided to try the premise of Gang Leader for a Day on myself. I would attempt the impossible: I would watch the Jets-Vikings game as a Jets fan, with Jets fans, and I would try to be the biggest fan in the room.
I went the whole nine yards, wearing a throwback Leon Washington jersey a friend lent to me. Lets just put it this way, once you're a die hard Pats fan, you CAN NOT root for the Jets. It is literally impossible. My body, mind and soul were all rebelling against my little experiment. When Nick Folk kicked that opening kickoff out of bounds, and the ref threw the flag for an illegal kick- I jumped out of my seat and screamed, "HA! YOUR KICKER SUCKS!" Then I realized I was wearing a Leon jersey, and I probably looked like a moron. I took off the jersey, laughed with my friends about how quickly my experiment failed, and I moved on.
I had a pretty bad feeling in my stomach about the game (I figured it would be a 24-13 Jets victory). Especially with the rain, thunder and lightning, I thought the Jets had a nice advantage over the fleet-footed Vikings. Things started out ugly, with lots of 3 and outs, a few field goals and more than a handful of dropped passes. Favre looked awful. He was throwing rockets into the ground, he lost a fumble on the transfer from the center, and lost a fumble when the ball fell right out of his hands. After Favre's second fumble I had flashbacks of Super Bowl XLI when Rex Grossman screwed the pooch big time( It really wasn't pretty. Luckily for the Vikings, the Jets couldn't get the ball into the endzone, and put the game out of reach. The Jets' inability to generate TD's set up the great 4th quarter. Between Sanchez throwing near picks, and Favre finding his rhythm (What a great throw to #84!) the game seemed to be turning into a Favre classic. Aside all the history between Favre and the Jets, this past week has done quite a number on Favre's reputation. Honestly, there are some parts of the story that are so disturbing, even scarring, that I'd rather you hop on over to (WARNING: adult content) if you want to know all the dirty, little, details (Wink, Wink). Anyway, despite some terrific throws by Favre in that 4th quarter, I think everyone was sort of bracing for that deadly game-sealing interception. Favre has been absolutely great these last few years for a guy his age, but the fact that late-game, killer interceptions are becoming the norm does not bode well for the Vikings chances this year (and the chances of Favre playing another season in the NFL). It seems as if every season ends on a Favre interception. ( The one against the Dolphins in 2008, which destroyed Matt Cassel and the Patriots' playoff hopes, was just awful. He threw it right to the defense, UGH.
What we learned last night:
1) Mark Sanchez may not have turned the corner quite yet. He looked terrible in the second half, and was very lucky that Antoine Winfield didn't break his perfect TD-INT ratio. Although, I admit, he didn't get help from his receivers. Dustin Keller dropped a couple passes, one of which was a dive attempt in the end zone (another was a third and short). Despite being a tough catch, the way Keller has been playing, I have to believe that in a good weather game that ball is being caught.
2) Ladanian Tomlinson is for real. Watching the game last night, it felt like I was watching LT circa 2007. He doesn't seem to be that home run threat anymore, but he certainly is running at a pro-bowl level right now. If he can sustain this success over the long haul, and that is a BIG if, the Jets are going to be very tough to beat.
3) Brett Favre doesn't get rattled. Yes, he threw the game-clinching interception, but despite the uncertainty which surrounded him all week, he had a pretty good performance. Considering Favre is on the brink of possibly becoming the next Tiger Woods (who, by the way, hasn't been able to return to form since his scandal), and the fact that he looked atrocious in the first three quarters, the poise and focus he showed in the 4th quarter was pretty remarkable.
4) Darelle Revis isn't Darelle Revis. Watching Revis last year, you almost felt like he had a better chance at the ball than the receiver he was covering. So far this year, he has looked above average, but not extraordinary. That whole holdout situation is looking worse and worse for both Revis (whose inability to get into game shape may have been the cause for his hamstring injury) and the Jets (who put a lot of money into a player they thought would transform their defense- so far, he absolutely has not).
5) Percy Harvin is very good. Obviously, he is extremely athletic, and can do a lot with the ball in his hands (witness his return game, and his ability to run after catch). But what surprised me was how good of a receiver he was. That catch in the back of the end zone reminded me of players like Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson. Once the Vikes get Sidney Rice back, they will have the best trio in the league with him, Harvin and Moss. Those are three legitimate number ones.

On to the links:

I know this is a little late, because you all have probably read this (and/or are sick of it) but the Simmons article on Randy Moss was a masterpiece. He literally hit on every important aspect of the trade from the perspective of a fan and reporter.

Peter King's must weekly must read for all football fans.

It is truly unbelievable what the media will do for a story. Regardless of truth, this story is just ridiculous.

Fun article by Laker groupie J.A. Adande about Lebron and Durant.

Crazy article about athletes and concussions which is circulating on ESPN today. The players seem to finally be taking a stand.

Sports Illusrated Special Report. This article will change the way you think about sports agents forever.


Three great interceptions by defensive lineman. These guys are special- unbelievable athleticism!

Great catch here to set up win for Bucs. But was it a catch? You decide. (Don Banks of brings a good point- what do you think Calvin Johnson's reaction is to this?)

Fun game between LSU and Florida, if you haven't seen it yet.

Sick catch that I came across by Hakeem Nicks at UNC. He's having an awesome year for the Giants.

A little youtube extra from last year. Truly unbelievable. (By the way, Iguodala's shot which is on the side tab is also pretty sweet)

And one last thing:
Love the trade for Deion Branch by the Patriots. He was one of Brady's favorite targets, and he always came through in the clutch. Despite his age, I think Branch will come right in and become a big part of this offense. He gets open well downfield and has very good hands and run-after-catch ability. Look what he did against the Pats two years ago (and listen to the announcer, he is so excited, it is almost scary. It is at the 1:34 mark of the video)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The end of the Patriots offense as we know it

OK. Breath, just breathe. We aren't completely screwed, right? Did we actually just trade Randy Moss for a third round pick? Yes. A third round pick? A THIRD FREAKIN ROUND PICK! Are you kidding me?
Regardless of what was happening with Randy and "offensive coordinator" Bill O'Brien (I put quotation marks because we all know that Belichick runs this team from top to bottom), or even between Randy and King Belichick himself, there is no way that his value is equal to a third round pick. There are at least a dozen teams that are in dire need of a number one, and I would bet most teams want Randy Moss. And for a third round pick? They would have flown into Boston and kissed Belichick's rings! Except maybe Rex. I can't possibly accept the fact that the Patriots' best offer for one of the top receivers in the league, one of the most athletically gifted pass catchers of our time, the current record holder for most receiving TD's in league history, was a third round pick!
Now lets be clear. If Belichick was going to trade him, he was going to get him the hell out of the AFC. This alone makes me believe that Belichick thinks Randy's got a lot left in the tank. Believe it or not, I've read opinions of people who mention his 9 catches this year and dropped passes, who say that Randy is deteriorating before our eyes. Yes, he has lost a step since his ridiculous 2007 campaign. And yes, he has dropped a few balls that he used to catch. But this is the guy who makes the whole offense work. By the way, if we are going to say that Belichick wanted him out of the AFC, lets take a look at a few teams who would've probably upped the ante if given the chance:
They are tied in first place in the NFC East. Adding Moss would surely provide a boost to an offense struggling to score through the air. It would also help them pull themselves out of the pack in the crowded NFC East.
They are tied for first in the NFC North, and they have Jay Cutler playing at a pretty high level (we will forget last game, because his offensive line was atrocious). His best receiver right now is Devin Hester. Yes, he was drafted as a cornerback. So I would go ahead and say, that despite a nice season from Hester so far, Mike Martz would kill for the chance to make Moss the bigger, more athletic version of the Isaac Bruce in his offense. This would make them an instant Super Bowl contender. I can't even remember the last time the Bears had an elite number one (Marty Booker anyone??) Check this out:
Falcons- Already a serious contender in the NFC, could you imagine an offense led by Matt Ryan with Michael "the Burner" Turner, Roddy White, Randy Moss AND Tony Gonzalez! That immediately becomes a top 3 offense in the NFL.
Buccaneers- Because they started off hot, perhaps the Bucs would've taken a chance on Moss. They already have two huge targets in Kellen Winslow and Mike Williams. Adding Moss would give budding quarterback Josh Freeman another big down-field threat. A lot of fans thought this would be another putrid year for a franchise that hasn't quite recovered from their Super Bowl hangover, but put Moss on this team in this conference, and the Bucs may be able to squeak out a playoff spot.
In the pitiful NFC West (, anything is possible. There have been multiple writers who have speculated that this could be the first 6 win division winner. If so, I believe any of these teams would put themselves in a better position for a playoff berth by adding a talent like Moss. The Cardinals could team him with Larry Fitzgerald for possibly the greatest WR tandem in NFL history. The Rams could get a number one for Sam Bradford, who is in dire need of a top receiver after the injury to Donnie Avery. The Seahawks offense is atrocious, any addition would be welcomed.

My question is, did the Patriots call these teams? Did they find the best value for their most talented skill position player? Or did they just make a quick call to the Vikings, who everyone knew was in the hunt for a number one (after the VJax talks fell through) and assume this is where the best value would be?

I don't know the answers to these questions, but they are very frustrating to think about. Moss was the greatest receiver in Patriots history. He was the most explosive, exciting player they have ever had. In 2007 he was a one man wrecking crew (with the help of Gisele. oops. I mean Tom). He averaged just a smidgen under a TD per game since he joined the team. And we literally traded him for nothing. Give me a second while I gauge my eyes out with a plastic fork.

Ok, I'm back. I just want to give you something to think about. The following stats are completely made up and have no supporting proofs whatsoever.
A third round pick (in my opinion) has:
a 10 percent chance of becoming a starter
a 2 percent chance of becoming a pro bowler
and a .00001 percent chance of becoming the next Randy Moss

OK, I'm done crying about the fact that we traded the key to our offense for a third round pick. Now I'm going to discuss how Randy's departure affects the Patriots offense. Well, in a word, his departure is devastating. He explained his role in the offense a few weeks ago saying, "I take the top off the defense." By doing this, Randy opened up all of those underneath routes for Wes Welker, and the intermediate routes for Aaron Hernandez (who, by the way, is an unbelievable player. Great hands, fantastic after the catch, a real keeper. And he's only 20!). Now what do we do? There is no doubt teams will start paying a lot more attention to Wes, and from what we saw from the Patriots' two games without Wes last season (we had a dreadful loss to the Jets where Brady looked lost, a nice win over the Falcons in what was Fred Taylor's last effective game as a Patriot, and the shocking playoff loss to the Ravens where our offense was abysmal) the offense doesn't fare too well without him. Guess who we play next? You guessed it, the Ravens! That's going to be fun. It's not like they haven't gotten much better since that game...O wait, they added Anquan Boldin and TJ Houshmandzadeh? S#%@

I don't think the offense is going to all the sudden plummet to Lions-like levels. We still have Tom, Wes, Aaron, Gronk and an emerging Brandon Tate. The "Energizer Bunny" (Julian Edelman) has looked dead, but if he could emerge, we would still have one of the top receiving/tight end groups in the AFC. Playing without Moss will be tough, but it won't be impossible. At least we get to see him in Gillete one more time. Circle October 31st on your calender. It's going to be a doozy.

On to the links:
Hilarious interview that my brother sent me-

Roy Halladay is just unbelievable. He keeps chugging along. I had a conversation with a friend yesterday, and we agreed: overall, Roy Halladay has been the best pitcher in the league since 2002.
[Video was taken down due to copyright infringement. Check youtube for a good one]

A tribute, to one of the greatest performances in NFL history, and one of the greatest years of my life as a sports fan. You may want to sit down for this, some of these catches are absolutely ridiculous. Enjoy the show, and if you're a Pats fan, you should probably weep.

Say hello to the start of the Semih Erden era in Boston. This kid looked awesome last night going 3-3 from the field, 7-8 from the line for 13 points, to go along with 5 rebounds (2 offensive) and 2 blocks in only 23 minutes! Check out this block, which won block of the night awards over at it is nothing special, but people in Boston seem to be pretty excited about this Turk-


Mazz is always good for a solid read. Nice take on the Moss trade-

Great article by Shaughnnessy regarding the Moss trade. I swear I didn't read this before I wrote the article- there are some similar ideas in here-

Fantastic Article by MacMullan. She always seems to write the right things-

Can an article make you happy (Lebron's not MVP) and sad (Lakers win, AGAIN!) at the same time?

Great comparison by Tom Verducci-

And one last thing:
The Patriots have made 2 god awful trades in the last two years. The Seymour trade was certainly a surprise, but a Raiders first round pick is certainly good compensation. I am talking about the Matt Cassel-Mike Vrabel for a second round pick trade. At the time, people thought Cassel was a potential 26 year old franchise quarterback. So we trade a potential franchise quarterback and one of our few remaining veteran leaders and pass rushers for a second round pick! Why was Vrabel even in the deal? Because we were planning on replacing him? With who? Pierre Woods? Shawn Crable? There was no reason for us to add him in that deal. It adds more frustration when reports were leaked that the Broncos were offering a late first round pick for Cassel. I guess that's how it works in the NFL. You win some, you lose some.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

J-E-T-S suck suck suck? Maybe Not

After week 1, everyone was absolutely blasting the Jets. Their offense looked abysmal, Jenkins got injured AGAIN (like my friend Josh said- "his knees are made of jelly"), and the defensive play calling was questionable at best. Rex was blitzing the house constantly, allowing the Baltimore receivers just enough time to get down field for QB Joe Flacco. In week 2 against the Pats, Rex was stubborn (surprise!) and stuck with his defensive game plan: attack the quarterback and pray you get to him before he can throw to a single covered receiver. Well, it didn't work. Luckily for Rex, the Patriots blew about 5 opportunities to take a commanding lead in the first half. You have the Moss play action just outside the end zone on the first drive. You have the Jets converting a 2nd and 20 from their own 15 on their way to a TD. You've got a missed field goal. Just a horribly blown chance for the Patriots to put away their division rivals. Had the Jets lost that game, they would have not only been 0-2 overall, but 0-2 at home which is the mark of death for a playoff hopeful.

And then it happened: Rex made some defensive adjustments, Schottenheimer opened up the playbook, Sanchez stopped playing like a toddler, and the Jets found their identity.

It happened right then in that locker room during halftime against the Pats. Since then, the Jets have outscored opponents 87-37. Sanchez has looked like an NFL quarterback, Dustin Keller has played like a pro-bowler, LT has risen from the dead (actually, last year he was a corpse) and looks completely re-energized, and the defense looks like its getting closer to being as dominant as people predicted before the season began.
After week 1, people wondered whether Sanchez "had what it takes" to be an NFL player. They thought he was immature, they thought he was inaccurate, and they thought that the coaches didn't quite trust him. In the last 3 weeks, Sanchez has built up his image as a true franchise (Sanchize) quarterback as fast as Lebron destroyed his nice guy, team player image during his ridiculous "Decision Special."
[Quick tangent- Lebron is an idiot. He had the whole basketball world eating out of his hand, and now he is basketball's villain. People hate Kobe, but they respect him and his 5 rings. Lebron? He's done nothing. Until he wins a championship he'll just be the great player who could potentially average a triple-double, but could never put it together enough to win a championship. This reminds me of a great Jeremy Piven ad from the NBA playoffs a few years back:
Anyway, we all used to love Lebron, and now we hate him. By the way, I just looked at the Miami Heat roster from tonight's game. If only they had a decent center...]

OK, back to football:
When the Jets couldn't put things together after Rex's infamous "now lets go eat a goddamn snack" speech, I figured there was nothing this poor guy could do to motivate his players. They were lazy, cocky, and too full of themselves (I wonder where that mentality came from??) For those of us lucky enough to have seen HBO's unbelievable Training Camp documentary, "Hardknocks," we saw the Jets players eating cheeseburgers before a scrimmage. Well, after the Jets horrific 14 penalty's for 125 yards debut against the Ravens, one had to wonder whether they devoured a few too many burgers before that game as well. I mean they looked awful, especially CB Antonio Cromartie (who I believe was one of the perpetrators of the aforementioned cheeseburger before scrimmage crime).
But, unfortunately for me, and fortunately for every one of my Jets fan friends (I hate you all)- the Jets didn't give up on the season after one and a half bad weeks, and now look like one of the favorites to come out of the AFC.

A few quick hits on what facilitated the Jets unbelievable turnaround:
1) The offense looks extremely good, and that is because they have finally found a nice balance. Last year, the Jets relied way too heavily on the run game, and it ended up killing them in the AFC Championship game when they didn't have the firepower to keep up with Peyton's Colts. This year, their passing game looks almost unstoppable (Sanchez has thrown 8 TD's and 0 Int's. ZERO! He had 20 last year!) and I think it is just as much because of Dustin Keller and Ladanian Tomlinson as it is about Sanchize. Keller has given Sanchez a big target who gets open over the middle of the field and is awesome in the red zone. LT has given their running game the boost that Shonn Greene was expected to give them. He's running at a 6.1 YPC average, and has helped the Jets close out games against the Pats and Bills.
2) Trusting Sanchez. I think Schottenheimer finally realized that limiting the playbook was limiting Sanchez's ability to perform at a high level. Since Sanchez has started playing with confidence, he has looked like one of the better quarterbacks in the league.
3) I think on the defensive side of the ball two lower key players have stood out: Brodney Pool and Sione Pouha. Pool looked very good in the Patriots game, making a beautiful keep-your-feet-inbounds interception to give the Jets some breathing room in the third quarter. He and Eric Smith have made a nice tandem along with speedy Jim Leonhard. Although Pouha has been quiet the last couple of games, he has done a more than serviceable job filling in for Jenkins. His two fumble recoveries in week 1 gave the Jets a chance to win the game, and he helped smother the Pats run game in week 2.
4) This has nothing to do with the past few games, but to help sustain their success, they are getting back Superstar Holdout Darrelle Revis, the 2nd smartest player in the NFL (behind Braylon)- Santonio Holmes, and Calvin Pace.

Being a Patriots fan from Boston, heaping praise on the Jets isn't easy. And to my fellow Patriots fans, I accept all of the "NY lover" curses you are sending my way. But please don't deduce from this article that I think the Jets are the team to beat in the AFC. In fact, I'm not even sure they are the team to beat in the AFC East. The Patriots are division champs until proven otherwise. I think these two teams are very even overall, and that the division race will come down to the wire (great show by the way). Both of these teams are built well for the postseason- the Jets have the bone crushing defense, the Patriots have Tom Brady.
Here's to a potential Patriots-Jets playoff game for all the marbles...

Here are a couple of links to help you get through another Wednesday of work:

Easterbrook writes ridiculously long articles which go WAY off topic, but overall a must read for all football fans:

From my roommate Matt, a Jets fan perspective on the Pats- Dolphins game. Typical Jets fan spinning everything so the Jets come out on top. You can't say the Patriots didn't deserve to win. Yes, maybe the Dolphins lost the game on some bad mistakes, but the Patriots executed their special teams gameplan to perfection (it is 1/3 of the game) and came out victorious!

A feel good ending for Billy "the Kid" Wagner. Lets hope the Braves can win a championship for him this year, seems like a great guy and teammate:

For those interested in a great sports finish, the Ryder Cup was unbelievable. Not a golf fan at all, but this article will help explain what happened and what it meant to the US:
(check youtube if you want video)


The difference maker. Great block by SamBam Morris, and great inside juke by Tate before he turns the corner:

The start of a New Era:

A couple other thoughts on the Pats game last night that I forgot:
1) It looks like the Patriots have found their Devin Hester/Josh Cribbs. Brandon Tate is downright lethal on kick returns.
2) This wasn't mentioned on TV, so I missed it, but unfortunately Brandon Meriweather was taken out of the game with an injury, and it is unknown whether he will be back in action next week. This could be a huge blow to a secondary which has already lost its top cornerback for the year. Lets hope this is just a minor injury, as Meriweather was just starting to show flashes of his pro-bowl form.
3) I love Danny Woodhead

Monday, October 4, 2010

Welcome to the NFL Pat Chung and Rob Ninkovitch

WOW. What a second half there by the Patriots. Not quite what anyone expected, but this was a great win. Most people, myself included, thought this team was a playoff team just based on their offensive firepower. But tonight's game proved that their special teams and defense can make plays. Don't get me wrong, the defense wasn't pretty (unlike Tom Brady, did you see that post game interview!) but they got the job done when it mattered.
A few observations:
1)The first half was all Rob Ninkovitch. I bet most of the people watching the game hadn't ever heard of him, but those who have been following the Pats have seen some flashes of Mike Vrabel in him. Besides their sharing #50, they both are tough guys who fit in well with Belichicks 3-4 defenseive front. Ninkovitch has shown this year that he can make big-time plays and help set the tone for the defense. He had the big forced fumble/recovery in week 1, and may have saved this game with his 2 interceptions (and a sack) in the first half.
2)Before we move onto Pat Chung, lets talk about two other defensive guys real quick: Brandon Merriweather and Jerod Mayo. Merriweather was a pro-bowler last year, but hasn't played much through the first 3 weeks (we saw why when he took a horrendous angle on the CJ Spiller screen pass TD last week). But he had a few big time hits in the first half- the big stop of the wildcat on third and short, and the bone crushing hit he laid on Davone Bess on that screen pass. Both plays I hope to continue seeing moving forward. As for Mayo, I saw him getting a bunch of tackles over the middle, but this dude had 16 tackles, ALL solo. He may not be a playmaker quite yet, but he can damn sure tackle.
3) Pat Chung, probably the player of the game- blocked punt, blocked FG, INT for TD with 5 tackles. I was wondering where Pat was at the beginning of the game when our defense was looking slow. It seemed that Belichick was going with Merriweather and Sanders, both run-stopping safetys, but with Chung's special team plays, he forced his way into the lineup and put the cherry on top with his pick-6. I love his potential, although I would like to see him become more of an all-around defensive player before we crown him the next big thing.
4) I discussed BJGE last time, and now you know why. He looked really good, running hard, busting his way to a bunch of extra yards and a broken tackle 12 yard touchdown run.
5) Don't overrate this game too much. The defense didn't look good on third downs, and the offense wasn't great. Besides the special teams, the biggest spark was definitely the running game: BJGE and Woodhead looked awesome, and this was one of the first games I can remember where we didn't seem to lose yards on any runs (besides for one crappy Sammy Morris run)

On to more football thoughts.
1) The AFC East is looking more and more like a 2 team race, as the Pats and Jets have beat Miami in Miami the last 2 weeks. The Bills, well, they just suck. At least they have Ryan "Sparkplug" Fitzpatrick. By the way, random note, I learned this past week that Fitzpatrick means the son of Patrick.
2) Andy Reid is an unlucky guy. I mean, he commits to a QB, next thing you know- BAM- concussion. Then Vick comes in and looks good, so he sticks with him- BAM- injury. Now Kolb is back in and everyone is second guessing and triple guessing every decision he makes. What would you have done? I would have done the same thing! Give the guy a damn break.
3) Josh Scobee Josh Scobee Josh Scobee Josh Scobee Josh Scobee (copyright- Sports Guy) Did you see what he said after the game? Neither did I, but thanks to my brother, we got this gem: "I don't know what I was thinking. I blacked out for about 10 seconds. It was incredible!" Sounds like a typical Thursday night.
4) Great call by Steve Young: the Kansas City Chiefs being the last undefeated team is the single craziest subplot of this NFL season. The Chiefs!

And finally, a new addition to the blog, links. Everyone loves links, so I figured I would give you guys some sweet sports articles and videos to look at when your bored in class/at work tomorrow:

Ridiculous one handed catch from St. Louis wideout Danny Amendola:

Great play all around by the 49ers special teams-

I hope this guy is OK, because concussions are really awful, but what a freakin hit (great song too, turn up your speakers)-

Sorry, I couldn't help myself:


Quick shoutout to the Giants defense who absolutely demolished Jay Cutler and helped keep my fantasy football team undefeated.

A couple Celtics articles for those who can't wait for NBA season:
Fun piece about SHAQ Diesel-
Nice article about one of my favorite former/current Celtics, Delonte West-

Classic LA athlete. Bill Plaschke writing about another pathetic surgery for the Lakers oft injured center, Andrew Bynum-,0,735609.column

Last, but not least, the weekly must read for all football fans from Peter King-

Yes, I was nice enough to give you the print version so you only need to load one page.

Week 4 ends (and the Pats are tied for first place), the baseball playoffs are starting (no one in Boston cares), and the NBA is right around the corner. Sounds pretty damn good to me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Boston Sports Kid

I hate New York. Yes, I am a biased sports fan- surprise! I'm a born and raised Boston fan- Celtics, Pats, Red Sox and once upon a time I was a Bruins fan (I was a fan casualty of the lockout).
Let me just start with saying, if you haven't seen Josh Scobee's ridiculous 59 yard game winning field goal, check it out:

Not only a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime kick, but it was to beat the Colts! I hate the Colts, really, really hate the Colts, but Peyton Manning is a goddamn good quarterback. I mean, I have seen lots of good quarterbacks play in person- Brady, Brees, Rivers, Mcnair, Favre etc. But with the exception of Brady in 2007, Manning is the only guy here that when he goes back to pass, you just KNOW he is throwing a completion. It doesn't matter if the guy is covered, or how far away he is, it's gonna be a perfect throw. Just watch any of his 2 minute offenses- he's a killer.

Anyway, I plan on focusing on current sports events, and throwing around my biased opinions and observations. If you don't like it, don't read it. Simple as that. If you think I'm an idiot, post it in the comments.

Lets talk some Pats- Dolphins, AFC East, Monday night showdown. I expect this to be an extremely tough game for the Pats. Not only are they coming off of a really disconcerting victory (you don't usually hear that phrase thrown around too often) over the lowly Bills, but the Dolphins are looking to rebound from their heartbreaking loss against the Jets last Sunday night. I'll give some credit to the Jets right here, because they have looked damn good the last 10 quarters. They kicked the Pats ass in the second half, won a very tough road game in Miami, then obliterated the Bills this week. Sanchez looks confident, the defense plays smash mouth, and Dustin Keller has evolved into a top 2 or 3 TE in just 4 weeks.
Lets get back to the Pats. They will be without starting running back Fred Taylor, opening the door for "the Law Firm"- BenJarvis Green-Ellis. BJGE looked very good last week against a weak Bills defensive front. A lot of Patriots fans like the way he runs, most probably because he is the EXACT opposite of Laurence "Dance till I get tackled behind the line" Maroney. BJGE runs hard, runs "downhill" and has good power between the tackles and inside the 20, but lets see how he does facing a strong run defense like Miami. As for what I think about the outcome: I think that Henne has looked out of control, and if the Pats can get a couple early scores they'll win something like 24-16. If they let the Dolphins control the clock with their two headed running attack, the Dolphins will eke out a victory like last years 22-21 game where the Pats let the Dolphins hang around JUST long enough for Henne to orchestrate a last minute drive.

Before I go, let me say one thing that always bugs me. People always say to me "how come when you talk about the Patriots or Celtics you always say 'we?'" Like "we looked great last night," or " we better win tonight." The reason I say "we" is because when you put your heart into a team, or even into a sport, it becomes a part of you. There is a reason people spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars on season tickets and TV packages every year. They want to see THEIR team. They want to enjoy the team they grew up loving, and they want their kids to love their team as well. Without fans like us, there wouldn't be any sports. There would be no money, no ESPN, and most importantly, no Tom Brady.
And with that, I have one question to ask: "IS IT MONDAY YET?"