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Hi everyone or one, I’m back after a short vacation; recharged and ready for a great 2013. How great is the NFL playoff match-ups looking this year, Green Bay vs Minnesota, Baltimore vs Indy, Cinncy vs Houston, and Seattle vs Washington should all be exciting games. How bout those Clippers!? I don’t think they could they could hang seven games versus a good shooting team like Oklahoma but they’ll be fun as hell on national TV. After David Price only signed a one year, 10 million dollar contract, there’s no doubt he’ll be traded by mid-season. The National Championship Game should be a tight game, hard to bet against a Nick Saban coached team with this much time to prepare. I don’t quiet think Notre Dame has the weapons on offense to generate any consistent pressure on Alabama. Looks like two Canadians could be going back to back number in the NBA Draft with Anthony Bennett tearing it up at UNLV and consensus once in a decade player Andrew Wiggins going to be a one and done next year. While most people thing the NFL Draft is boring in general, this years looks like the least star-studded class in years, promising to be a first round heavy on lineman and cornerbacks. I have purposeful not written anything on the NHL, why give attention to a league on lock-out, if they don’t reach an agreement this week all Canadian’s should ban together and drop Gary Bettman in the middle of the ocean for ruining hockey. Come back later for NFL wildcard previews.

Pretenders:

Atlanta Falcons (10-1)- When coach Mike Smith took over the Atlanta Falcons, running the football was the key to their initial success. Signing Michael Turner away from San Diego allowed the Falcons, despite a shaky offensive line and rookie QB from Boston College to start building a winner. Soon, 300 plus carry seasons were the norm for Turner who seemingly allowed Atlanta to set and forget their running back position for years.

Well it seems like the flames have finally went out on Michael “the Burner” Turner. Turner, after a career 1585 carries in 9 seasons (a majority coming in the last five seasons) has only three carries for over 20 yards this year, with two of those in the first few weeks.

There has been two direct results of the Falcons being woefully under-prepared for their 29 year old running back falling apart. First, QB Matt Ryan, who was always known for his ability to take what the defense gives him and call the game accordingly (game manager), Atlanta now has Ryan playing like he’s leading the 2007 Patriots. In 11 games, Ryan is averaging 39 pass attempts per game (4 more than his career high), he has 3,425 passing yards (3rd highest of his career), and his 429 pass attempts is more then he threw in 16 games in 2008 and 14 game in 2009.  Ryan has also been sacked 21 times this season (4 off his career high), his offensive line does not have a ton of overly athletic players and was not built to drop back 40-50 times a game. Teams like the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers have defensive ends that will make life very difficult on Atlanta’s tackles come playoff time.

Secondly, the Falcons have begun more and more to rely on the diminutive Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers will forever be remembered by college football fans for when he ran all over the Southern Cal team with four NFL linebackers and the Trojans had no answer for him. But putting your faith in a player who’s 5’6, 196 pounds without Barry Sanders speed can be a scary proposition.

Atlanta has also had the luxury of having one of the easier schedules in the league. The Falcons have wins over KC, Denver (Peyton had half an arm at the time), SD, Carolina, Dallas, Oakland, Philly, Arizona, Washington, and Tampa Bay. They really struggled for wins against ‘Zona, Oakland and Dallas. Their one loss came against the New Orleans Saints (31-27 in New Orleans), who have a replacement head coach! With upcoming games against the Saints again, the Giants, and Tampa it’s entirely possible the Falcons lose three of the next five games and lose their bye week and are playing on wild card weekend.

Chicago Bears (8-3)- Da Bears are another team that have been getting a lot of help from their schedule this season. Their only win against a playoff team came in Week One versus Indy (Andrew Luck was making his first career start). All the other games versus playoff teams against Houston, Green Bay and San Francisco, the Bears barely made it interesting.

If Matt Forte has to miss any significant amount of time, Chicago is in serious trouble. Putting more pressure on Jay Cutler and the 32nd ranked passing offense just simply is not an option. Cutler has some how been held to eye popping 177.2 yards per game. In the era of the 5,000 yard passers are the norm, Cutler has somehow erased all memory of playing with any receiver not named Brandon Marshall, targeting Marshall 124 times to the next Bears receiver in Earl Bennett’s 40.

If there was ever an outlier stat that shows the inmates are running the asylum, this is it! I don’t think there’s a coach out there that would go in to the season thinking “If i can get my receiver the ball 300 times, despite constant double teams and the opposition knowing our quarterback doesn’t go anywhere else, we’re gonna win this thing baby!”. Lance Briggs, Brian Urlacher and Charles Tillman have more interceptions for touchdowns (5) than Earl Bennett, Devin Hestor and Kellen Davis have receiving touchdowns (4).

The teams that make the playoffs are the ones that don’t turn the ball over often. Expecting the Bears defense to create those same opportunities in the playoffs will be much harder to come by. If the Bears have to play from behind, teams are going to double down on Marshall and force Cutler to throw to players he either has no trust in or has a real disdain for.

The Bears offensive line has allowed Cutler to get sacked 26 times already, missing a start and parts of games already, they haven’t done a good job protecting the quarterback and we have seen teams like Houston (13-6) and San Fran (32-7) grind Chicago’s offense to a halt. Don’t have faith in Chicago, I mean there quarterback barely does.

Indianapolis Colts (7-4)- Every season usually has some story about a tragedy that happens in one of the organizations that bands them together and putting trivial personal achievements aside for a bigger goal. See saw this a few seasons ago in Cinncy, when defensive coordinators Mike Zimmer’s wife passed away and Cinncy played all out for a grieving coach.  Another example, how the passing of Patriots owner Robert Kraft’s wife helped bring both sides together to end the lockout last year. Sometimes a tragedy can put thing in prospective for a greater good.

This is clearly the case going on in Indy. Colts coach Chuck Pagano has given his team a reason beyond playing personal accolades and try to bring joy to a man that had to fight for his life. Having the a quarterback mature beyond his years has helped a bit too. The Colts are 7-4 despite giving up 273 points against and only scoring 230 points.

Next week they play Detroit, which is a game that could go either way, same with the Titans game, then probably lose to Houston. After the next three weeks they could be sitting at 8-6 or 7-7 then play KC and probably Houston’s second unit to lock up the wild card at 9-7 or 10-6.

The love affair with Andrew Luck will be in full force wild card weekend, where every analyst will be none stop hammering his story on us, turning the Colts into a title contender rather then what they’re, a team that never thought they’d be in this position and lacking experience in a lot of important positions. Indy will have to play either in Baltimore, In Denver versus Peyton Manning and all the drama that goes with that or in New England who dropped 59 on them two weeks ago. Don’t buy into Indy being this season New York Giants as all the talking heads will want you to believe.

The 2012 NFL season has been thrilling to say the least. With this years cast of characters finally starting to reveal themselves, we’ll look at the contenders and pretenders for this years Super Bowl.

Contenders:

New England Patriots (8-3)- First place in the AFC East, the Patriots offense has out scored the next team in the NFL by 80 points (407 Points For). Despite missing TE Rob Gronkwonski, the Pats managed to put up 50 plus points for the third time this season on Thursday vs the Jets.
The Pats have two rookies starting on defense, there’s an old adage in football, for every rookie you start on defense, you can add one more loss to the schedule. After the surprise loss in Arizona (blame that on Chandler Jones) and Baltimore (blame that on Don’ta Hightower) the one real blemish is a road loss in Seattle. Many good teams have lost games in Seattle over the years as its one of the only true home-field advantages left. The Pats offense did enough to win the game but the defense couldn’t stop rookie Russell Wilson leading from a game winning drive.

New England have struggles stopping 4th quarter drives for years now (two Super Bowls and a fourth and two in Indy). With the Addition of Aqib Talib, the Pats D will definitely alleviate some of those concerns. Since Ty Law left, the Pats have struggled to cover the entire field in the two-minute defense when they can make limited to zero personal changes. Talib has the ability to line one on one and shutdown a third of the field. He can cover all types of receivers and be a shutdown corner-back, at 6’2, he can line up against big possession types like Plaxico Buress and he has lots experience lining up against physical types like Roddy White. This by far the most talented corner they have had in a while.

While New England’s offense has been scoring at prolific rates, they lacked a running back that has kept defenses honest. Nobody really feared the Pats on a 3rd and short while protecting the lead. Players like Kevin Faulk and Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis were good players that did certain thing very well but the combination of Steven Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, and Brandon Bolden (suspended for 4 games) do everything really well. It doesn’t matter who’s back there teams can’t stop the Patriots more balanced attack.

With games against possible AFC championship preview Dec 10th vs Houston and a possible Super Bowl preview on Dec 16th vs the 49ers, those teams  should give to much away, cause the teams that play Bill Belichick twice in a season, hate it, just ask the Jets, Dolphins and Bills.

Denver Broncos (8-3)- It’s really worked out in every way possible for the two John’s in Denver. While Elway and Fox dreamed of a QB who could throw the ball, despite early scares in Atlanta and Houston, Peyton Manning has been everything as advertised. The Broncos are riding a six game winning streak that includes back to back road wins in Cincinnati and Carolina. When teams win back to back road games on the opposite coast, it shows this team is well prepared and should be taken seriously.

After winning six straight, Denver will play a tough Tampa squad at home but probably rout the Bucs after their tough division loss last week. Then a road win in Oakland would have them at 10-3 playing in Baltimore the next week than finishing up with Cleveland and Kansas City at home.

The Broncos probably finish the season at 12-4 and if Willis McGahee can get healthy and stay that way for the playoffs, there’s a very good possibility that Denver’s offense will be absolutely peaking come playoff time. With Von Miller rushing the passer and the emergence of Tony Carter opposite Champ Bailey, Denver could be singing the praises of Peyton all the way to Louisiana.

San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1)- The Niners continue to go against the grain and conventional wisdom choosing second year Colin Kaepernick, the starter over veteran Alex Smith. This was a real sink or swim move on coach Jim Harbaugh’s behalf, with the Saints playing better of late and making his second start in a front of a packed Superdome on national TV could have gone either way. Had San Fran struggled last night and waited too long to replace Kaepernick, it could have caused a serious fraction in the locker room. Harbaugh’s gamble looks like its going to pay off big time with Kaerpernick looking like a the explosive Cam Newton of last season.

While Alex Smith did not play his way out of his job, his coaches clearly saw an offense ranked 27th in the passing game, that plus struggles on third down and decided they can be that with or without Smith at quarterback. The Niners already led the league in rushing yards per game adding Kaerpernick’s speed gives another dimension that opponents they didn’t have to prepare for (214 yards, 6.9 yards per carry and 4 TDs in limited action).  Last night Vernon Davis was so shocked to see the ball delivered on time with accuracy, he dropped an easy first down.

San Francisco already had the Super Bowl defense in place, holding opponent s to 187 passing yards per game (2nd) and 91.1 rushing yards a game (4th). The offense line is loaded with former first and second round picks and leads the league with 163.4 rushing yards a game. With games with the Rams, Dolphins, Seahawks (without two of their starting corner backs) and Cardinals sill on the schedule , Kaepernick should have plenty of time to shake out some of the kinks and bone headed errors you make from lack of playing time.

The element the Niners lacked was an ability to play from behind if they were down early. Alex Smith didn’t have the confidence to throw the team on his back and win when it mattered. He wasn’t going to scare anyone with his deep ball and sometime poor decision-making. If the Niners can use the 2005  Pittsburgh Steelers template, they could easily run their way to a title in the new pass happy NFL.

Pretenders coming soon……

New England Patriots (7-3, 6-4 ATS) vs New York Jets (4-6, 5-4-1 ATS) @ MetLife Stadium, 8.20 on NBC
Line: NE by 7
Total: 48.5

Rex Ryan and the Jets are going to be throwing everything at the Patriots defense including the kitchen sink and parts of the foundation. New England allows 290.5 yards thru the air and in the last two meetings made Mark Sanchez look like a solid QB (297 and 268 yards passing in the last two meetings). Fake punts, wildcat with Tebow, flea flicker,s expect offensive coordinator Tony Sparano to try and invent a few things on the fly.

New York dodged a huge media circus last week when St. Louis laid down and gave them the road victory to keep their record to a manageable 4-6, then the dead in the water 9-7. With new acquired Aqib Talib playing in his second game in five days for the Pats, after a five weeks off, should help him get back up to game speed after an up and down game versus Indy.

Brandon Lloyd is going to be looked upon for a big night with both Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez out of the line-up. The Pats will have to use a combination of Daniel Fells, Visante Shinacoe and Mike Hoomanawanui to fill the void at tight end. That shouldn’t be an issue for Tom Brady, back in his Super Bowl winning days, he had lesser known guys manning the position like Daniel Graham, Ben Watson and Christian Fauria. New England’s averaging 35 points a game this season with two 50 spots on opponents this year. Expect this game to go over unless the Jets are completely anemic in this one.

Washington Redskins (4-6, 5-5 ATS) vs Dallas Cowboys (5-5, 4-6 ATS) @ Cowboys Stadium, 4.15 on FOX
Line: DAL by 3
Total: 48

The Dallas Cowboys are 28-15-1 all time on Thanksgiving, winning five of their last six. When I dug a little deeper into the numbers, there were some very odd trends, Dallas is 6-19 when they are the favorite over the last three seasons. The Cowboys are 5-15 against the spread at Cowboy Stadium. Dallas clearly has a history of playing down to opponents much like last weeks OT win versus Cleveland. While this is Dallas and Washington’s first meeting this season, Dallas is 3-1 over the last three seasons, but funny enough the Redskins are 4-0 against the spread over that same time and nobody mistaking those teams for the Art Monk/Joe Riggins ‘Skins of old. There’s two ways I see this game going.

Scenario One: On short rest the Skin’s offensive line does not have the same push on short rest to control the clock thru the ground like they want to do. RG3 goes all Madden-Vick, and he and Pierre Garcon continue to run those school yard plays where RG3 run one way, jukes a couple of defenders, and hurls the ball across the field in the “there’s no way!…..WOW!!! how did he find that guy” moments (like at the 1.08 mark of the video below), which works with varying success. This gives Tony Romo and Cowboys to take chances on Washington’s weak secondary (289.2 yards against in the air, Safety Brandon Meriwether is not playing today) Dez Bryant continues his improved play when he lines up against the less physical/head case in DeAngelo Hall. This ends up being another close game with a final drive to win (for Dallas fans this scares the crap out of them either way).

Scenario Two: Mike Shanahan lays a coaching beat down on Jason Garrett. Washington continues their running dominance (166 ypg) with Dallas missing both defensive tackles Jay Ratliff and Keyon Coleman, this frees up the Skins to double up on DeMarcus Ware. RG3 follows up a stellar performance last week against Philly, 14-15 for 200 yards and 4 TDs, with a healthy mix of play-action pass and scripted runs. The Cowboys without LT Tyron Smith and both centers in Phil Costa and Ryan Cook struggle to protect Romo, and create little space for ‘boys running backs. Redskins win in a rout.

click to see how the play ends!

Houston Texans (9-1, 7-3 ATS) vs Detroit Lions (4-6, 4-6 ATS) @ Ford Field, 12.30 AM on CBS
Line: HOU by 3.5
Total: 49.5

The Houston Texans despite taking off the first three-quarters last week at home versus Jacksonville, managed to pull off a huge come from behind win to extend their four game winning streak. The Texans be playing their fourth game in 19 days, and after last week, no one knows which Texans team is showing up today (HOU is 6-1 when playing on six days or less this season). This game has all the makings of a high scoring aerial assault. With the Detroit Lions losing staple left tackle Jeff Backus last week, rookie Riely Reiff will be making his first career start, the question is going to be a how quickly will Detroit abandon the run game against the Texans run defense that allows 86.3 ypg. If Detroit does goes go all pass expect J.J. “SWAT” Watt to wreak havoc on the inconsistent Matt Stafford. Houston might be without top corner Johnathan Joseph. Despite playing last week, Jags rookie Justin Blackmon lit up Joseph and company to the tune of seven catches for 236 yards and 1 TD. Lions Calvin Johnson been on fire in the last three weeks with 24 catches for 479 yards and 2 TDs. Lions will look to Johnson to put up big numbers today despite constant double teams. With Adrian Foster leading the league in carries playing on short rest you’ll see a ton of Ben Tate today. It really doesn’t matter who the Texans put back there as the team rushes for 136.7 ypg. With all that said, This should be a better game than most of us are accustomed to when it comes to Lions Thanksgiving football. Usually short rest playing on Thursday favors the home squad, but these Texans have shown resolve all season and expect nothing more today. Unless they just do not show cause they all want to get on the first thing back to Houston.

If the game is a blow out in either direction, you might want to watch on mute unless you want to hear a ton about Phil Simms mother’s cooking!

First of all, thank you for visiting the site so far! it’s been a crazy couple of days, trying to write content, setting up the website (and all that came with that, designing this shit, figuring out who to connect the wordpress to godaddy. Enough to drive a man to the bottle!) running the thing, and self editing. I’m still working out some of the kinks. Hopefully with a lot of those issues ironed out I won’t be making rookie mistakes like misspelling athlete’s names in the future. I hope you enjoy all the future content and would like to hear your feedback.

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Los Angeles Clippers (7-2, 7-2 ATS) at San Antonio Spurs (8-2, 6-3 ATS) @ AT&T Centre, 8:30 PM

Line: SAS by 4.5
Total: 198.5

In the classic clash of youth versus experience, The Spurs will be rocking the all veteran line-up with Kawhi Leonard out for two weeks with quadriceps tendonitis in his left knee, Stephen Jackson will be taking his place. San Antonio are going to have to break out all the old dog tricks and slow the pace of the game to a near halt. Last thing Timmy and crew want to do is get in to a sprint with the seemingly endless supply of athletic freaks on the Clips. L.A.’s front-court of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin need to be relentless in their attack of the basket and wear down Duncan and Splitter limiting their effectiveness on the offensive side of the ball. If the Clips can force Tony Parker to try to win the game with his outside shot, they’ll have a better chance of stealing the road win. In the last meeting, Los Angeles was high motivated in a 106-84 win at the Staples centre, after last season’s sweep at the hands of the Spurs in the first round. Well see if Chris Paul and co. can dig down deep again tonight as they come in riding the high of a five game winning streak,w while starting a four game road trip in Texas.

The Spurs are 52-12 vs the Clippers since 1996, and 28-4 in San Antonio in that same span. Sad news for the basketball world today hearing that Wolves guard Brandon Roy was shut down with another knee injury, which would seemingly end his playing career. Of course, Roy shocked everyone when he returned this summer after being forced to retire early last season. Brandon had a huge impact in his short career and not only has a mountain to climb to ever have a hope of playing again let alone walk without some sort of cane. Our hopes are with you.

One last thing, the NFL has some bad voodoo with them these days. From all the concussion issues, the replacement refs, bounty gate, a possible lock-out, bounty gate (again!), Thursday night football being less entertaining than an NBC sitcom, now a Monday Night Football game featuring Jason Campbell and Colin Kaepernick. If the NFL was a stock I’d short the hell out it. Didn’t seem like yesterday, the NFL was the Mugatu of the sports world and literally could have wrapped shit in foil and sold them to the Queen of England. Oh wait they did in terms of the Pats/Rams game in London.