Tag Archive | "Bill Belichick"

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Art Modell on the life of Art Modell – celebrating his amazing life all weekend at WNST.net

Posted on 07 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been reading a lot about the life and times of Art Modell over the last 24 hours. Obviously, my heart has been heavy with the loss of his charm, humor and kindness not only for my selfish emotions but for everyone who ever loved Mr. Modell. I’ll never forget seeing the raw emotions of Ray Lewis, Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Byrne and John Harbaugh yesterday in Owings Mills.

Today and all weekend at WNST.net & AM 1570 we will be presenting what I feel is the finest radio interview of my career – a long-winded, emotional, retrospective of the life and times of Arthur B. Modell, told in his own words.

In 2004, just after I retired from hosting a daily show after 13 years of grinding out quality sports talk radio, I decided to do a series of “sit downs” – I called them “Barbara Walters-style interviews” – with many Baltimore sports legends. Art Donovan, Cal Ripken, Phil Savage, Brian Billick, Marvin Lewis, Pam Shriver, Lenny Moore, Bob Ehrlich and several others were kind enough to participate in a series of monthly chats I did to shed light on their careers and how they came to enter their chosen field of work.

Every conversation was personal and memorable but nothing like my time with Art Modell.

I joined Art Modell at his office at M&T Bank Stadium in the spring of 2004 and wound up taking the better part of two mornings to get all of the questions answered.

I haven’t even listened to these yet myself to know exactly all of the ground we covered. I do remember him saying at the end, “You have enough there for a book. No one has ever asked me that many questions before!”

I remember him being emotional several times when I asked about his father. I remember him being a little upset at some of the line of questioning. I remember him being incredibly thoughtful and patient as I probed some memories that he was mostly uncomfortable sharing with me.

But I think we both brought our “A games” with us those two days as we chatted about his entire life and the many people who affected him and shaped his world. How he met soap opera actress Patricia Breslin and married her and adopted her two young sons, David and John. Tales of Jim Brown, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Ozzie Newsome, Ray Lewis, Lou Groza, Cleveland, the Browns, Bernie Kosar, Bill Belichick, Pete Rozelle – there’s a lot of meat in this conversation.

This will take some time – there’s about 3 hours worth of chatter here, most of it dominated by Art telling the best stories of his life.

The last question I asked him was stolen from Jim Lipton (and Bernard Pivot):

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

Art Modell deadpanned: “First and long…”

There’s a lot of humor in this conversation as well because that was Art’s Way.

We’ll be playing this interview all weekend on WNST-AM 1570. You can listen in your car or you can click below to take with you wherever you go.

I hope you enjoy the chat. And, quite frankly, I hope it’s as good as I remember it being.

Here are the links via WNST.net and our Buy A Toyota audio vault:

Part 1 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 2 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 3 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 4 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 5 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 6 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 7 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 8 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

Part 9 of my WNST.net sitdown with Art Modell

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Harbaugh’s honest comments create another “story” involving Ravens

Posted on 01 May 2012 by Luke Jones

In the latest example that the start of the 2012 NFL season cannot come soon enough, Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s comments regarding two other coaches and organizations have him in hot water with some in the football world.

In an interview with 98 Rock on Tuesday morning, Harbaugh was asked about the perceptions of championships won by the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints amid cheating scandals that resulted in severe disciplinary action for each organization.

“What happens — even the thing in New England — no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now,” Harbaugh said in the interview. “It’s been stained.”

Of course, the comments created quite a firestorm via social media, causing major sports media outlets to pick up the story. The reaction prompted Harbaugh to issue a statement this afternoon.

“While on the 98 Rock show this morning to talk about the run to honor O.J. Brigance and raise funds for ALS research, I answered a question about playing within the rules and referred to the perception that the Super Bowl championships won by the Patriots and Saints have a stain,” Harbaugh said. “My reference was to the perception out there that came as the result of the league’s actions.

“I could have been more clear that I was referring to those viewpoints. I totally believe that the Patriot and Saint coaches and players earned those championships. Bill [Belichick] and Sean [Payton] both know that.”

Harbaugh went on to say that he reached out to both Belichick and former Patriots linebacker and current ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi to clarify his comments. Belichick and Harbaugh share an amicable relationship, as the Patriots coach offered a high recommendation of Harbaugh before the Ravens decided to make him the third coach in the history of the franchise in January 2008.

“I have so much respect for Coach Belichick and the job he does and has accomplished in his Hall of Fame career,” Harbaugh said. “I called him to remind him of my respect for him.”

It’s critical to note that Harbaugh never said the aforementioned championships should be stained — even if he feels that way privately. He commented on the opinion many clearly hold regarding the recent successes of the Patriots and Saints and how their legitimacy came into doubt because of the respective scandals. However, in the modern age of media and the thirst for news about all things related to the NFL, it’s no surprise many are taking these words and running with them.

As we saw with the comments made by Joe Flacco in regards to where he thought he ranked among NFL quarterbacks, we constantly ask sports figures for honesty and originality in what they say, but then we’re unmercifully quick to criticize when we receive just that.

Regardless of your opinion on whether Harbaugh’s comments were inflammatory or not, this is sure to create even more drama in the weeks leading up to an AFC Championship rematch between the Ravens and Patriots on Sunday night, Sept. 23.

With that in mind, I suppose this qualifies as “news” when we’re still three months away from the start of training camp.

Even if it’s really not.

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Time is right for Ravens to consider risk (and reward) of adding Moss

Posted on 14 February 2012 by Luke Jones

When Randy Moss announced the news of his intention to return to the NFL in 2012, I tried to dismiss him as an option for the Ravens as quickly as I could.

I just didn’t want to consider him as a real possibility to come to Baltimore.

The poor attitude, playing for three teams in his final season, and his turning 35 on Monday are all strikes against him. Not being able to help himself, Moss took to his Twitter account on Tuesday to fire back at former Minnesota Vikings teammate Cris Carter, who called the seven-time Pro Bowl receiver’s “quit mechanism” unlike any other superstar he’s been around.

The character blemishes are there, and there’s no way to overlook them. The guy can be a clown, and that’s putting it kindly.

His eye-popping numbers worthy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame include 153 touchdowns and 14,858 yards in 13 seasons, but you’re not getting the Moss of 1998 or even 2007 when he made a league-record 23 touchdown catches in his first season with the New England Patriots. His 2010 season split between New England, Minnesota, and Tennessee resulted in just 28 catches, 393 yards, and five touchdowns while wearing out his welcome in two places and making little impact at his final destination before announcing his retirement last summer.

But the past images of watching him sprint by a helpless cornerback or leap over a defender to haul in another touchdown are still too bright in my mind to ignore. Call me a sucker, but people said Moss was finished before he escaped football purgatory in Oakland and went on to have the best season of his career.

The possibility of the 6-foot-4 veteran still having something left in the tank cannot be overlooked by a team that was only a few tenths of a second away  — in holding onto a catch in the end zone — from a trip to the Super Bowl three weeks ago. Eliminating all other variables, the mere subtraction of the disappointing Lee Evans and his near-$6 million cap number and the addition of Moss at a cheaper rate is enough to make you salivate at the possibilities.

Moss certainly can’t do any worse than four receptions in an injury-plagued season and failing to secure a championship-clinching catch in the final seconds in Foxborough, right?

The first order of business before coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens should even consider welcoming Moss to Baltimore is determining where he stands physically. Can Moss still run with the speed to blow the top off a defense and force safeties to play deeper than they normally would? Would opposing defenses still have to account for him on every play?

If not, you run the risk of dealing with a broken-down former star with an ego still in its prime. In other words, the reward wouldn’t be worth the potential headaches.

But unlike the other volatile veteran receiver who will be on the open market, Terrell Owens, Moss isn’t returning from a serious knee injury. Other than the potentially cruel reality of being 35 years old and the question of how well he kept himself in shape over the last calendar year, there’s no reason to believe Moss isn’t up to the physical task of once again donning the cleats and striking fear in the hearts of opposing secondaries.

If the 40-time is right, you now move to the more complicated piece of the equation. You sit down with the combative receiver, reminding him he’s no longer in a position of power after a year away from the game. You press him to see how serious he is about not just playing again but also being part of a winning organization like he was in New England for three years — quite harmoniously — before an expiring contract flushed the relationship down the drain in year four. And reminding him of that heartbreaking defeat in Super Bowl XLII and how he’s never won a championship probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

You allow Moss to explain exactly what happened in his disastrous 2010 season.

And you listen.

“A team like the Ravens would be perfect,” Steve Wyche of the NFL Network told WNST.net on Tuesday. “I work with [former Patriots fullback] Heath Evans, who played with Randy in New England, and Heath said, ‘If Randy’s in a situation where he’s winning, where everybody on the team has bought in, he’s fantastic.’

“I talked to people at the Patriots when he was there. He was the leader. He was the guy who organized a lot of meetings. He was the guy who broke down the huddle.”

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Ray Rice, Brandon Meriweather, James Sanders, Leigh Bodden

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Clear challenge for Ravens against maligned New England defense

Posted on 19 January 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — With the Ravens’ vaunted defense preparing to face the most explosive offense still standing in the NFL playoffs, the challenge isn’t a big secret for the offense against the New England Patriots in Sunday’s AFC championship game.

“We are going to have to score points to win this game,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “We have one of the top defenses in the league, and we stand by our defense and believe in our defense. They are pretty much the rock of our team. For us, we know we are going to have to help them out a lot.”

Playing a Tom Brady-led offense that’s scored 30 or more points in seven of its last eight contests, the Baltimore defense will be hard-pressed to stop the New England attack, leaving it up to the Ravens offense to produce more points than they have in recent weeks. In contrast to the Patriots’ production, the Ravens have reached the 30-point plateau only once in their last nine games.

On the surface, the Ravens appear to have a favorable matchup against the 31st-ranked defense in the NFL that surrendered 411.1 yards per game in the regular season. The Patriots’ pass defense ranked 31st, giving up an average of 293.9 yards through the air. In fact, the New England defense has come under fire by the national media and prompted many to write off the Patriots as Super Bowl contenders before the postseason began.

But the Patriots’ 45-10 win over Denver in the divisional round showed the unit in a more favorable light — at least against an underwhelming offense.

“I have never bought into the total yardage, as in terms of ranking defenses or offenses for that matter,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “They don’t give up a ton of points. They’ve had some big leads, and so when you have a big lead, you are going to play smart, you are going to give up ground grudgingly, and you may give up some passing yardage. But then you stand your ground when the ball gets to the 20-yard line.

“This is an underrated defense. I am sure they probably feel that way. We look at the tape, and it’s the healthiest it’s been, and it’s a defense that’s playing its best football right now.”

The numbers support Cameron’s argument, as the Patriots ranked 15th in points allowed (21.4 per game) and surprisingly led the conference in takeaways with 34. Coupled with an offense that committed the fewest turnovers (17) in the AFC, the Patriots ranked third in the NFL with a plus-17 turnover ratio.

Though the late-season loss of defensive end Andre Carter (10 sacks in 14 games) put a dent in the New England pass rush, the return of Patrick Chung has stabilized the secondary after the free safety missed nearly two months of action with a foot injury. The Patriots collected 40 sacks in 2011, with defensive end Mark Anderson (10) and linebacker Rob Ninkovich (6 1/2) picking up some of the slack in Carter’s absence.

While the New England pass defense has received the brunt of the criticism, the Patriots’ run defense is not as impressive as its ranking (17th in rushing yards allowed) suggests. Typically enjoying big leads against opponents while on their way to a 13-3 record, opposing offenses were forced to abandon the ground game despite the Patriots allowing 4.6 yards per carry (24th in the NFL) this season.

Running back Ray Rice will be the key as always in establishing the run, but the Ravens will not hesitate to use him aggressively in the passing game. Regardless of whether it’s Rice on the ground or Flacco using tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in the short passing game, the Ravens need to find positive yardage on first and second down to keep drives alive.

It’s a simple formula for the Ravens as they can guarantee a lower number of points allowed if they can limit Brady’s possessions and take care of the football.

“Third down is going to be really important – for both sides – getting off the field and extending drives,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Time of possession for us is going to be important in this game. It’s going to be a big red zone game on the defensive side, on both sides really.”

When they do manage to find their way inside the red zone, the Ravens cannot settle for field goals against the third-highest scoring offense in the league. Asking their defense to make stops is one thing, but matching early touchdowns with field goals is a sure-fire way to get blown out in Foxborough.

With the aggressive nature of New England’s offense, the Ravens must use every weapon at their disposal. Simply grinding it out with Rice and Ricky Williams won’t guarantee success, but allowing Flacco to throw 50 times increases the likelihood of short possessions and giving the ball back to Brady more often. Balance will be the key while mixing in some vertical shots with the running game and short-to-intermediate passes.

Ultimately, the Ravens quarterback said it best when assessing his often-maligned offense that has won 13 games this season amid all the flak.

“The bottom line is we get the job done,” Flacco said. “We score points when we need to. We are really good in situational football. If we need to be really good in two-minute [situations] – which we don’t have a lot of chances at – we are a really good two-minute team. I think that has been proven over the year. If we need to run the ball, we usually run the ball. If we need to throw the ball, we usually throw the ball. We don’t do a ton of things to be really explosive – in the top of the league statistically – but we have the ability to be a really good offense.”

That confidence and ability will never be more important than Sunday afternoon as the offense tries to hold up its end of the bargain for a defense that will likely need a big hand in sending the Ravens to the Super Bowl.

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It was fun seeing Pittsburgh lose, but Broncos’ win may cost Ravens Super Bowl

Posted on 10 January 2012 by Peter Dilutis

Everyone in Baltimore takes pride in seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers lose.

We’ve all seen the shirts.

“I root for two teams: The Ravens and whoever is playing the Steelers.”

That’s all well and good. It’s fun to root against those slimy dirtbags from up north. They’ve ended the Ravens’ season two times in the past three years. They deserve our hatred.

While all of Baltimore is basking in the glory of watching Mike Tomlin and Big Ben walk off the field losers to a mediocre Denver Broncos team, I’m here to remind you that the high we’re all on right now may come at a very steep price.

That price could be the Ravens losing their chance at taking their talents to Indianapolis.

The Ravens are 8-0 at M&T Bank Stadium this year. They are 4-4 on the road, with losses to Tennessee, Jacksonville, Seattle, and San Diego.

Could the Ravens go to Foxborough and knock of New England in the AFC Championship? You bet they could.

Is it likely? I say no.

The Ravens did it in 2009 when they went ran all over the Patriots defense. They definitely have it in them to beat the Patriots in New England.

But an average road team going into New England this year is a much tougher proposition than staying at home in Charm City and facing a hobbled Pittsburgh Steelers team who the Ravens have already defeated twice in 2011.

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Rex Ryan joins me on today's show

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Rex Ryan joins me on today’s show

Posted on 16 June 2011 by Rex Snider

As the title of the blog confirms, we will have a ROCKSTAR quality guest during today’s edition of the Afternoon Drive. We will be chatting with former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator and current New York Jets head coach, Rex Ryan.

We will emphasize the conversation on his new book, Play Like You Mean It, which provides the reader with an insightful look into Rex’s childhood and his earlier days of coaching, as well as a thorough account of his time in Baltimore and New York.
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Of course, we’ll take a few moments to chat about how much his career and life have changed in the few short years following his move up I-95.

How does Rex Ryan the HEAD COACH differ from the same man who once commanded a Ravens defense that was feared throughout an era in the National Football League?

Have public demands and obligations accompanied his rise to coaching stardom?

Do the Jets and Patriots share that same intense disdain we see between the Ravens and Steelers? And, does he mention Bill Belichick in the new book?

You’ll find out the answers to these questions and much, today at 4:05pm …..

You can order Play Like You Mean It online, RIGHT HERE

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If you can't beat 'em .... steal their idea !!!!

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If you can’t beat ’em …. steal their idea !!!!

Posted on 16 March 2011 by Rex Snider

 

Hey, it’s made more than one career, right?  Don’t invent your own wheel, just take your neighbor’s, when he’s not looking …. smear a little paint or touch-up on it and of course, make it even better.

 

When I walked into the WNST studios, yesterday, I looked at Ryan Chell and suggested that we add our own selections to the Morning Reaction’s “Tuesday Top-7” theme of the day.  I found it thought provoking, as usual, and I had my own list to share.

 

However, the Afternoon Drive’s format dictated a little more diligence and we weren’t able to squeeze in our picks for “ESPN Documentaries We Would Like To Make” …..

 

But, it was after I arrived home for the evening and enjoyed a couple tall glasses of Cherry Vodka and Diet Coke, that a quite original idea crossed my mind.  Funny how that happens, huh? 

 

Why add to Drew and Glenn’s List? 

 

Let’s just take it – make it better and give it a different name.  After all, Drew is ALWAYS gonna be hung up on Tiger Woods and Atlanta Braves pitchers.  Glenn, on the other hand, loves Andy Roddick and I’m pretty sure he knows Juan Dixon’s birthday and favorite ice cream flavor.

 

No surprises, right?  Well, I would imagine that restraining order precluded any Gary Williams mentions for hopeful documentaries …..

 

I figured my selections would be a little more zany or unpredictable.  But, I need a name for the general concept and subsequent blogs.  How about the “Wednesday Wish List?”  I won’t even need to come up with a weekly idea – I’ll just wait for the sun to set on Tuesday and steal the morning show’s idea.

 

Without further delay, here’s my WISH LIST for “ESPN Documentaries I would Like To Make” …..

 

5)  EXILED …. THE STORY OF MIKE MARSHALL

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The former Cy Young Award winner has re-invented the pitching motion, in an effort to eliminate the very injury leading to Tommy John surgery.  Today, he is Dr. Mike Marshall, an esteemed graduate of Michigan State University, with a doctorate degree in kinesiology.

 

He has built a distinguishable track record in developing young pitchers who thrive on his prescribed motion, while minimizing arm injuries.  Marshall suffered serious arm injuries and upon developing his technique rebounded and thrived in the game.  He appeared in a record setting 106 games (with 208 innings amassed) in 1974, all in relief.

 

Yet, he is shunned by Major League Baseball executives.  He can’t crack any organization, nor the league’s administration, itself.  Why is that?  He would like to know, and I would too …..

 

4)  HEELS & BABYFACES …. THE MODERN WORLD OF PRO WRESTLING

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If you’re thinking I want to make a documentary based on who the next WWE Champion will be, you’re mistaken.  But, I would like to take a look inside this world of choreographed sports entertainment.  From storyline development to the actual casting of characters, I think it’s a fascinating product.

 

Yeah, Vince McMahon has hands of gold when emptying the pockets of a certain demographic when it comes to the WWE’s consumers.  But, he employs some of the shrewdest and innovative minds when it comes to development of his shows.  It’s high-tech theatrics blended with physical abilities.

 

The world of rasslin’ is a soap opera of sorts, but they’ve found a way to get millions of viewers to watch every second of it.  I want to see the product from behind those curtains …..

 

3)  OCHOCINCO …. THE SAGA OF CHAD JOHNSON

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He’s the ultimate split personality, right?  I’m not so interested in how Chad develops his ideas and ploys for public relevance.  But, I would be interested in taking a look back at his life to see where the narcissism originated.

 

We know the deal …. he’s an immense talent, purveyor of self-importance and social media star.  But, he’s not a champion, nor has he ever really achieved his potential as a winner.  There must be a reason behind his overachievement in image, while underachieving in on-field success.

 

What leads a guy to change his name?  What compels a man to latch onto the moments of others?  What causes the outbursts of negativity toward teammates, followed by multiple acts of generosity for complete strangers.  Damn, I’d like to know …..

 

2)  HELD TO A HIGHER STANDARD …. THE BYU ATHLETE

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Yeah, you’re right, I’m not ready to let this go.  Ever since Brandon Davies was dismissed from the BYU basketball team, I’ve cast a discerning eye toward that program.  Something is not adding up and this is probably a storyline to be covered on an upcoming edition of 60 Minutes or Dateline NBC.

 

The common rationale by American sports consumers is “he agreed to certain rules when he accepted the scholarship.”  For me, that’s a weak way of looking at it.  The BYU “Honor Code” reaches beyond sexual activity, to include caffeine abstinence and use of profanity.

It applies to everyone – not just scholar athletes.  Fair enough – but give me a Friday night in the BYU social circles and I’d be willing to bet I could uncover some cans of Pepsi along with a few slurred bad words.  Hey, it’s against the “Honor Code”.

 

In fact, I have no doubt that I could walk around the BYU dorms for an isolated hour and profile likely residents who would flunk the ‘ole code if their rooms were searched.  I would love to see a documentary that sheds some transparency on the BYU institution …..

 

1)  THE LUCKY GENIUS …. INSIDE THE CAREER OF BILL BELICHICK

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He is without a doubt one of the most polarizing individuals in the pro sports world.  Distinct opinions abound when it comes to Bill Belichick; cheater, champion, aloof, fortunate, gambler.  You name it ….

 

I think one of the most compelling characteristics about Bill Belichick is he doesn’t give a damn what anybody thinks about him.  He’s probably the complete opposite personality from a Chad Ochocinco.  But, he’s powerful – and he knows it.

 

Detractors will say Belichick’s success is directly hitched to Tom Brady, because “he stunk” without the Hall of Fame quarterback.  While his early head coaching resume’ is not as polished as this past decade, he did convert a kid who had never taken an NFL snap into an 11 game winner, in 2008.

 

I think a documentary about Bill Belichick would answer many of the queries posed of him.  Personally, I think he is a GENIUS and I will always be upfront about it …..

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ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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Blog & Tackle: NFL one-liners through Week 13

Posted on 09 December 2010 by Chris Pika

The 2010 NFL season has reached the three-quarter mark, and like any good game on Sundays, it’s usually the fourth quarter that decides success or failure.

It’s a chance to take stock of each conference after 13 weeks and 12 games with one-liners on each of the teams. Below are some stats, observations and conjecture as we look ahead to the final four weeks.

First, here is a look at the AFC by divisions. Records are through Week 13:

AFC East

New England Patriots (10-2): Patriots have won last four, including huge win over the Jets to solidfy their claim as AFC’s best team behind conference-best (+110) scoring differential; road to AFC title will go through Gillette Stadium and coach Bill Belichick.

New York Jets (9-3): Despite 3-1 stretch, Jets went from potentially being in line to host AFC title game to very vulnerable after shredding of New York’s vaunted D by the Patriots.

Miami Dolphins (6-6): Dolphins continue to confound with 5-1 road mark, but 1-5 home record — that will be main reason they will not make playoffs as well as offensive woes (-23 point differential).

Buffalo Bills (2-10): Bills finally saw results after 0-8 start with two straight victories, but close loss to Steelers and blowout defeat to Vikings has slowed Buffalo’s progress.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3): Steelers have grabbed choke-hold of AFC North after winning the war in Baltimore last week behind QB Ben Roethlisberger and stout defense; now Pittsburgh could host AFC Divisional Playoff at always-tough Heinz Field.

Baltimore Ravens (8-4): Only home loss of season so far to Steelers was costly as Ravens may have three straight playoff games on the road instead of one or two home games; predicted high-production offense has gone cold at bad times.

Cleveland Browns (5-7): Cleveland continues to be a “tough out” thanks to solid running game behind RB Peyton Hillis; if they get QB (and maybe head coach) situation settled in offseason, could be 2011 team to watch in AFC.

Cincinnati Bengals (2-10): The wheels have completely come off the cart for one of the preseason favorites to win the division — nine-game losing streak may spell the end of the Marvin Lewis era in Cincinnati.

AFC South

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-5): Jaguars, after 3-1 stretch, find themselves on top in the division, despite worst point differential among all division leaders (-43) — only question is can they hold off slumping Colts?

Indianapolis Colts (6-6): Colts’ injuries have finally taken a toll; forget Peyton Manning for a moment, being in position of having to pass so much has allowed opponents to tee off in crucial situations — but Indy can still catch Jaguars for division title.

Houston Texans (5-7): Lack of strong starts have doomed Texans, 1-5 in their last six games — last chance for Houston (and maybe coach Gary Kubiak’s job) comes with Monday night visit by Ravens in Week 14.

Tennessee Titans (5-7): When you didn’t think anybody else could surpass Minnesota as NFL’s best soap opera, here comes the Titans; normally unflappable coach Jeff Fisher has had to deal with Vince Young, Randy Moss and owner Bud Adams in recent weeks.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (8-4): Chiefs seem to have control of the division after a three-game win streak and perfect 6-0 home mark; can they hold off the Raiders and Chargers over the final four weeks?

Oakland Raiders (6-6): Progress has been slowed by 3-2 mark in last five games, but 4-0 division record could be factor if they get help before Week 17 showdown at traditional rival Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers (6-6): Amazing how one loss changes things after blowout defeat by Raiders last week that stopped four-game win streak; season on the line vs. Chiefs this week.

Denver Broncos (3-9): A three-game losing streak coupled with Spygate-like scandal in London finally cost Josh McDaniels his coaching job; Eric Studesville gets his audition but the supporting cast is not there.

And now for the NFC by divisions:

NFC East

ATLANTA - NOVEMBER 11: Quarterback Matt Ryan  of the Atlanta Falcons converses with quarterback Joe Flacco  of the Baltimore Ravens after the Falcons 26-21 win at Georgia Dome on November 11, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Philadelphia Eagles (8-4): The Eagles are tied for the division lead, but arguably have the NFC East’s toughest schedule left with two games vs. Dallas and one each against the Giants and Vikings — for what was originally expected to be a transition year, a lot is still on the table.

New York Giants (8-4): Giants are playing as well as any team in NFC right now, but head coach Tom Coughlin’s team must navigate Minnesota, Philadelphia and Green Bay the next three weeks to stay in the division and Wild Card mix.

Washington Redskins (5-7): The Redskins season has become a trainwreck as head coach Mike Shanahan has had to deal with several distractions, including DT Albert Haynesworth’s suspension for conduct detrimental; the Skins defense should be suspended as well, allowing the fifth-most points in the NFC.

Dallas Cowboys (4-8): The Cowboys have gotten off the deck to become a team no one wants to face down the stretch; Dallas could play spoiler in the NFC East and help Jason Garrett remove the interim coaching tag.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (9-3): The Bears have won five straight to hold the division lead by one game thanks to resurgent play by QB Jay Cutler and LB Brian Urlacher; Chicago has murderous final four weeks capped by Week 17 visit to Packers.

Green Bay Packers (8-4): Despite injuries, Packers are firmly in the playoff mix, but key Week 12 loss at Atlanta looms large as well as final three games against New England, Giants and Chicago — win those and Green Bay will have earned its postseason ticket.

Minnesota Vikings (5-7): A change in head coach to well-respected assistant Leslie Frazier has helped the mood in Minnesota, but the final four weeks will be all about Brett Favre’s literal limp to the finish of his career (I think).

Detroit Lions (2-10): Some of the strides made early in the season by the Lions have been erased by the current five-game losing streak; coach Jim Schwartz is still looking for consistent winning formula.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (10-2): The hottest team in the NFC with six straight wins, the Falcons may do something no Atlanta NFL team ever has — host the NFC Championship Game in January; but they have to get through Week 16 Monday Night game vs. Saints.

New Orleans Saints (9-3): The defending Super Bowl champions are playing like it for first time all season with a current five-game win streak as the Saints try to go stride-for-stride with the Falcons; back-to-back road contests at Baltimore and Atlanta in Weeks 15-16 are New Orleans’ key games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5): The air has finally come out of the Buccaneers’ balloon with two straight losses, but Tampa Bay is just one game out of a Wild Card spot with favorable matchups in the next three weeks before Week 17 at Saints.

Carolina Panthers (1-11): The Panthers just want the season to be over, and the housecleaning will begin soon after starting with head coach John Fox; Panthers are a NFC-worst minus-153 in point differential.

NFC West

St. Louis Rams (6-6): The Rams have quietly put themselves in position to make the playoffs out of a weak NFC West, but don’t mistake St. Louis as a weak team — QB Sam Bradford is one of the league’s feel-good stories of 2010, and division could come down to Week 17 tilt at Seattle.

Seattle Seahawks (6-6): The Seahawks are in position to capture the NFC West, but head coach Pete Carroll’s squad still has worst point differential among NFC teams with a winning record (-49); Week 17 vs. St. Louis could be the decider.

San Francisco 49ers (4-8): San Francisco not officially dead in NFC West race, but last gasp could come this Sunday vs. Seattle; if they win, they still have games vs. St. Louis and Arizona — teams they have already beaten in 2010.

Arizona Cardinals (3-9): Cardinals have gone south for the winter as they have lost seven straight and hold NFC’s second-worst point difference (-138), but have three winnable games in final four weeks.

For up-to-date Tweets on the NFL and the Ravens, please follow me on Twitter (@BlogAndTackle). For more national NFL stories, please visit my personal site at BlogAndTackle.net.

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FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots greets teammates during warms up against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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I hope the Ravens watched Monday Night Football …..

Posted on 07 December 2010 by Rex Snider

When I plopped down into my Lazy Boy recliner for last night’s showdown between the New England Patriots and New York Jets, I prepared myself for a second straight night of hard fought football between two hated rivals.

Yet, what I observed was an absolute dismantling of a team that has flirted with LOSING for the last six weeks …..

Last night, Rex Ryan and his Jets were “schooled” by the quarterback and coach who’ve served as their obsession in the AFC-East. To say it was a beatdown kinda falls short of the absolute mastery displayed by the Patriots.

I was not surprised to see the Jets lose the game, but I was absolutely stunned to see Mark Sanchez and company get their heads handed to them. They’ve played excruciatingly close contests with the Lions, Browns and Texans over the past month, and whispers of OVERRATED have been getting louder and louder.

I’ll humbly admit that seeing Rex Ryan and GANG GREEN suffering a one-sided loss was pretty satisfying. I really, really like Rex and I think his personality will ultimately lead him down the path of becoming our generation’s next “John Madden” personality.

But, I’ve still got the putrid, pompous taste of last summer’s HARD KNOCKS burned into my short term memory. Based solely on the swagger and ego of the Jets, I’ve wanted to see them throttled. Thus, I found last night’s result to be pretty pleasurable.

However, I think this game really served a greater purpose, especially for a team like the Baltimore Ravens …..

I hope those minds assembled within the Ravens offensive braintrust were watching the Patriots bludgeoning of their divisional rival. I don’t care where they were watching, so long as they got a good look at it.

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 06: Tom Brady  of the New England Patriots greets teammates during warms up against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on December 6, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Why? It’s simple …. that’s how you kick another team’s ass !!!!

That’s how you find weaknesses and exploit them. That’s how you seize an early lead and methodically dissect an opposing defense, while ultimately forcing their offense to change its gameplan.

Call it what you will, the Patriots served up a blueprint for talented offenses around the National Football League …..

If you’re sitting back and thinking “well, the Patriots have Tom Brady,” that’s fine and certainly noteworthy, but the rest of their cast is arguably lesser talented than the playmakers comprising the Ravens offensive attack.

I’ll take Ray Rice and Willis McGahee over Ben Jarvis Green Ellis and Danny Woodhead ….

I’ll take Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and T.J. Houshmandzadeh over Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and Deion Branch ….

Admittedly, the Patriots probably have a stronger offensive line; they’re certainly healthier. But, Brady isn’t solely dependent upon pocket protection. He typically holds the ball for an incredibly brief second or two, before hitting one of his targets for a usual 5-8 yard gain on a quick route.

The Patriots are innovative, yet predictably methodical in their unveiling of a singular strategy that usually emphasizes on wounding a defense, before bleeding them to death over a stretch of 60 minutes.

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MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 24: Denny Hamlin (R), driver of the  FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with car owner Joe Gibbs (L), in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2010 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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Sunday Money – 6-Pack

Posted on 19 November 2010 by Rex Snider

For weeks, I’ve been boasting about my preseason predictions for the Baltimore Ravens. On September 8th, I previewed each game on the schedule, on-air, and gave my opinion on how things would turn out.

I kept that schedule and it’s hanging on the wall of my home office. To date, I’ve been correct on 8 of the 9 games. The lone blemish is the contest against the Miami Dolphins. Yep, I had that game in the loss column.

Hey, the good news is I forecasted the loss against the Atlanta Falcons as the final defeat of the 2010 season. That’s correct, I picked the Ravens to run the table throughout the remainder of the regular slate of games.

And, I’ll stick by it …..

Since I’ve been so accurate with my predictions over the past couple months, I’ve decided to share my weekly prognostications with YOU, the listener and reader. It’s my early Christmas gift to anyone who reads my blogs.

I have no doubt that when my peers read this, they’ll have some provoking thoughts …..

Drew Forrester : “I like Rex, but I’m not following his advice – he freakin’ texted me from Vegas and asked which baseball games to bet. By the way, he won a few hundred bucks ….. and I’m still waiting for my Chinese lunch.”

Glenn Clark : “I don’t really like Rex, and I absolutely NEVER, EVER agree with him. I’m certain his predictions will be LAUGHABLE ….. if not, INSANE. So, before I even look at his picks, I’ll get this outta the way ….. DUDE, YOU’RE JUST WRONG.”

Thyrl Nelson : “His fantasy football team, Rexual HerAssMent, is 3-7 …. that’s all I need to know.”

Regardless of what others might say, you can rest assured that my LOCKS for the weekend will come to fruition. You’ll make money, guaranteed. Count on this 6-pack of predictions …..

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