Archives for category: NFL

bengals-eagles

Cincinnati Bengals (7-6, 6-6-1 ATS) vs Philadelphia Eagles (4-9, 3-9-1 ATS) @ Lincoln Financial Field, 8.20 PM

Line: CIN by 5

Total: 45

This is one of the toughest Thursday night spreads of the season. The Bengals were winners of four straight before losing to the Cowboys at home 20-19, blowing a 9 point lead. How will the Bengals respond in a must win game on a short week. Even if Cinncy pulls this one out tonight, they still have play Pittsburgh and Baltimore, beating both to make the wild card.

Then there’s the Eagles, who I expected to roll over last week in Tampa, instead down 21-10, Nick Foles leads two touchdown drives with four minutes left, lifting Philly to a 23-21 win. With Vick, McCoy, and Jackson all missing again this week, Foles and Bryce Brown led Eagles have covered the spread the last two weeks against the Bucs and Cowboys. The Eagles are also doing a better job protecting Foles when he drops back in the pocket, but they’ll be tested against Geno Atkins & Carlos Dunlap and the seemingly endless line depth the Bengals have.

Bengals WR A.J. Green (who was featured in yesterday’s post) should be targeted early in tonight’s game, when he lines up against a battered Nnamdi Asomugha. Cincinnati will probably trying some big plays in their first series to suck the life out of the Philly faithful (cause 4-9 team and showing up on Thursday is as faithful as it gets) and lower the confidence of a young Eagles squad.

If those big plays do not workout for the Bengals, the Eagles will stick around much like they did the last two weeks. On a short week you cannot trust a Marv Lewis coached team to show up, even if the guy on the other sideline is packing up his office after the game, I wouldn’t count out the “new/young” Eagles as the home underdog on a short week.

Take Philly +5 and the under.

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Here are some of the athletes that are on the cusp of becoming household names next year for sports fans.

A.J. Green

If the 4th pick in the 2011 draft had been drafted by the Falcons or like the Jets, you’d be hearing about Green none stop, but cause he plays in Cincinnati, Green plays in the shadow of the Steelers and Ravens. Green was one the top players coming into college, often being compared to young Randy Moss because of his long frame, great speed and jumping ability. In three seasons at Georgia, Green had 166 catches for 2619 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also missed the first four games of his junior year for receiving improper benefits, you could argue if he had played those four games he could have gone No.1 in the draft with off the chat numbers.

His first season in Cinncy was a huge success despite having a rookie QB in Andy Dalton and no off-season to train together. Most figured the Bengals were going to be a disaster in 2011, but ended up making the playoffs as a wild card team. Green led all rookie receivers with 65 receptions and 1057 yards. He and Dalton would go on to become the all time leaders in yards and receptions for a rookie QB/WR combination.

So far in 2012, Green has continued his development into a superstar, with 79 catches for 1151 yards and is tied for the lead in receiving TD’s with 10. The Bengals have had a revolving door at the no.2 WR spot this year, forcing Green to beat constant double teams , Green still leads the league with 7 catches over 40+ yards. While Andy Dalton is sure looks to go down as one of the best 2nd round QB’s of all time, he’s certainly not on the level of Matt Stafford, who hammers throws to Calvin Johnson, and Green does not get the support of a top RB like Arian Foster in Houston, a la Andre Johnson. If the Bengals end up making the playoffs this season, I fully expect them to have a game centerd on getting the ball in the hands of A.J. Green and he’ll be fully capable of taking his game to superstar levels. In two seasons from now Green could be in a position to be the NFL first $140 million dollar WR.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT7MEMIATQY

Clayton Kershaw

With all the attention in Dodgerland centered around Magic Johnson and the $2.1 billion it took to purchase the team, then the Hanely Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez trades, and finally the massive Zach Grienke contract, it’s easy to forget that the best player was already on the roster.

Making his major league debut at 20 years old, Kershaw, already in his fourth season with the Dodgers, holds a career 61-37 record with a 2.79 ERA and 974 K’s. The big south-paw is a two-time all-star, a two-time MLB ERA champion, 2011 Cy Young, 2011 Gold Glove, and 2012 Roberto Clemente award winner.

This is just getting started into what the young ace has accomplished in the majors, he’s the first pitcher to lead his league back to back in ERA since Randy Johnson in 2000/2001. By finishing with the lowest ERA in the majors two years in a row, he’s only the fourth pitcher to accomplish this since WWII, the other three: Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, and Sandy Koufax. That’s pretty elite company.

Kershaw was a rock again in 2012 going 14-9 with a 2.53 ERA, 229 Ks in 227.2 innings for a Dodgers team that struggled with constant headlines over speculation with ownership and constant roster turnover.

If all goes right for L.A. this year, Kershaw could be looking at a 25+ win season with a sub 2.00 ERA lining up, Kershaw to be Major League Baseball first $200 million dollar pitcher.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnDK13__bk8

O.J. Mayo

Mayo is an amazing talent that has had trouble follow him everywhere (and he’s been to a lot of places!). Mayo is originally from West Virgina but moved to Kentucky because they allow middle school students to play H.S. basketball. As a seventh grader Mayo was averaging 23.1 PPG playing against H.S. competition. After three season’s dominating Kentucky H.S. basketball, O.J. moved to Ohio, where he’d go on to two consecutive state Player of the Year titles. With all the moving Mayo’s eligibility was always a year behind so in 2006 as an 18-year-old junior he was preparing to make the jump to the NBA, but later that season the NBA made the rule you had to be one year removed from H.S. to be draft eligible. Instead of going to college, Mayo choose to play his senior year back home in Huntington, West Virgina and that’s where the real fun begins.

Mayo ended up getting suspended for assaulting an official and then a few months later ended up making headline when he and a bunch of friends were booked by police smoking pot. Despite all that Mayo would still win his third state Player of the Year award, signing with USC to play his lone season in college.

After a strong season at USC which saw varying level of success, ESPN “Outside the Lines” series did a whole expose on how Mayo was taking improper benefits at USC and the strange odyssey of his recruitment to ‘SC. The following season the NCAA would strip ‘SC of all their wins from the 2007-2008 season and forfeting future post-season play due to Mayo’s actions while on campus.

Mayo ended up going third in the very strong 2008 NBA draft, but later would be traded on draft day from Minnesota to Memphis for Kevin Love. His rookie year was strong, scoring 30 points in a game seven times that year, finishing second to Derrick Rose in rookie of the year voting.

The next two season ended up being filled with more controversy, with a fist fight over a gambling debt with Tony Allen, 10 game suspension for violating the leagues substance abuse policy, ended up costing him his starting job and the coaching staff lost faith in him. Memphis would let Mayo walk out the door at the end of the season with little regret.

Dallas signing Mayo to a two-year deal is looking like the steal of the off-season. With no Dirk for most of the year, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry gone,the Mavs needed someone who can fill the basket. Mayo has been an absolute revelation for Dallas, scoring 20.8 PPG along with 3.5 APG and 4.0 RPG, all career highs.

At 25 years old and moving constantly for the last decade, Mayo seems to have finally found a home in Dallas. With an owner like Mark Cuban will to massage his massive ego, Mayo can help stay relevant for a few more years and live up to his immense hype as a teenager.

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Philadelphia Eagles

Top Name: Jon Gruden

Any team that gets Jon Gruden out of the Monday Night Football booth will be getting a thank you basket from yours truly. Gruden has ties to the Eagles from his days as an offensive coordinator in the 90’s. Gruden would bring along his brother, Jay, who’s done a terrific job in two years in Cincinnati. Jay’s done a great job developing Andy Dalton into a top up and comer at the quarterback position. Jon’s “Chucky” demeanor would be a complete 180 from Andy Reid, who’s the proud owner of one lone facial expression. This type of hiring would avoid the McNabb-draft reaction that Philly fans take so much pride in.

Surprise Hire that Totally Wouldn’t be a Surprise: Chip Kelly

While it may finally be time to see if Chip Kelly has what it takes to hack it in the pro’s, Philly would provide an ownership that doesn’t meddle in football affairs, 20+ million in cap space (could be even more if they cut Vick), and an offense with tons of weapons with top end speed to run Kelly’s famous up-tempo spread offense. There are few teams that could provide Kelly the weapons and resources right away to give him the complete control over the roster that college coaches crave.

Surprise Hire That Totally Would Be a Surprise: Marty Mornhinweg

Couple of years ago or something like that ESPN wrote an article that based on a few elements, they predicted that Marty Mornhinweg could be a success if ever given a second chance at being the head guy. Of course, a lot can happen in a few years, reputations come and go, QB’s that can’t stay healthy and lineman that can’t protect, can turn geniuses into fools real quick. Philadelphia has been a loyal organization to most of their coaching staff and maybe giving a guy in-house a chance maybe the best solution. If the offense continues to perform with Nick Foles as their QB, their good be some internal push for Marty, as to not to rock the boat too much.

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San Diego Chargers

Top Name: Andy Reid

While I don’t think anyone would blame Andy for taking a year off and be with his family for a while, if Reid decides to get back on the saddle (one very large saddle) what better place then the beaches of sunny San Diego. Teaming Phillip Rivers and Reid would be an offensive dream, after you think about what Reid has done with McNabb, Jeff Garcia, A.J. Feeley, Ty Dytmer, Kevin Kolb, the sky’s the limit. One thing that could keep Reid away would be the fact you’d have to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos twice a year, and that’s no easy task.

Surprise Hire That Totally Wouldn’t Be A Surprise: Ken Whisenhunt

Before the last two seasons, Whisenhunt was an offensive wizard that led the lonely Cardinals to their first Super Bowl apperance. After two years of terrible decisions at the quarterback position, in a quarterback driven league, could cost Kenny this job in the desert. Antonio Gates would love this move, as Whisenhunt is a former tight end, that stress the position in his offense. With Rivers having a large say in picking the next head coach, with all off Whisenhunt’s recent success in Pittsburgh and Arizona and his buddy Gates wanting to continue being a focal point, this seems kind of logical.

Surprise Hire That Totally Would Be a Surprise: Marty Schottenheimer

This is a complete long shot, but after firing him after a 14-2 season, Chargers owner Dean Spanos has to think what might have been if he didn’t side with GM A.J. Smith all those years ago. With the uncertainty of the Chargers franchise (whether they get a new stadium in SD or move to L.A.) a stop-gap coach maybe a solution and if you’re gonna go stop-gap theres no one better than Marty.

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Dallas Cowboys

Top Name: Mike Holmgren

After a quick tenure in Cleveland that stopped his retirement train in its tracks, the ‘ole walrus maybe set to return to the sideline for one last kick at the can. Whether you want to call Holmgren’s time with the Browns too short to judge or a quick failure, his ego maybe bruised enough at the moment that he’d accept Jerry Jones as a boss and general manager. Holmgren is a good friend of Bill Parrcells, so I’m sure he’ll do his homework on the whether it’s a manageable situation or not. NFC East would easily have the oldest three coaches combined (Shannahan, Holmgren, Coughlin) at the combined age of 300, could be great competition for a few years, with play-sheets with print the size of newspaper headlines.

Surprise Hire That Totally Wouldn’t Be A Surprise: Andy Reid

While Reid certainly does not seem like the vengeful type, this would be and epic kick-in the ass to a rather lame Eagles-Cowboys rivalry. Oh how Philly would be so mixed with emotions on which Andy Reid Dallas would be getting. Reid would have all the pieces in place on offense and the Cowboys defense that’s better off then the Eagles now. Reid also lacks the ego the go toe to toe with Jerry Jones, that could also be a huge benefit to have someone with Andy’s calm demeanor taking some of the blows for the hot headed owner.

Surprise Hire That Totally Would Be a Surprise: Chip Kelly

Jerry feeling like he needs to go back to some of the old college magic that Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer brought in the early 90’s,  Jones could make Kelly a godfather offer that Kelly can’t refuse. If this actually happened you can bet this move would be all about the mula for Kelly. Anyone and everyone will tell him he’s making a mistake going from the king of the hill in Eugene to Poppet boy in Dallas. Jerry Jones is a businessman above all else and certainly has the means and gumption to get Kelly on the sidelines for Sundays.