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Ravens-Bears: Five predictions for Sunday

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Ravens-Bears: Five predictions for Sunday

Posted on 16 November 2013 by Luke Jones

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With an opportunity to climb back to the .500 mark and improve their standing in the AFC playoff race, the Ravens travel to Chicago on Sunday to take on the Bears for the fifth time in franchise history.

Baltimore will be playing its final road game until mid-December and has struggled away from M&T Bank Stadium with a 1-4 record this season, but the Bears are dealing with a number of key injuries including an ankle ailment to starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who is out for Sunday’s game. The Ravens have listed six starters as questionable for Sunday’s game, but all but two — defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and wide receiver Marlon Brown — took part in Friday’s practice.

Sunday’s forecast at Soldier Field calls for temperatures in the low 60s with an 80 percent chance of rain and winds approaching 30 miles per hour, which could make for a very interesting day as the Ravens play in Chicago for the first time since 2005. The all-time series is tied 2-2 with the Ravens winning the last meeting against the Bears, a 31-7 final in Baltimore on Dec. 20, 2009.

Here’s what to expect as the Ravens try to win their second consecutive game and even their record at 5-5 before a three-game stretch at home that could dramatically alter their playoff outlook …

1. Ray Rice will start the game, but backup Bernard Pierce will finish with more carries than the struggling starting running back. The three-time Pro Bowl running back continues to say all the right things, but there have been no signs of him regaining his old form as his numbers have been even worse since the bye week (29 carries for 47 yards). Coach John Harbaugh acknowledged earlier in the week that the Ravens will go with the hot hand in the backfield, and Pierce showed flashes of improved explosiveness against the Bengals and his power running style has a better chance of gaining ground behind a poor offensive line moving forward. The Bears’ 31st-ranked run defense might provide the Ravens with their last best chance to finally make strides in the running game, and Pierce will be given the ball more consistently after another lackluster start from Rice.

2. Jacoby Jones will finally shake free for a kickoff return for a touchdown to help the struggling Baltimore offense. The Bears gave up a 105-yard kickoff return for a score earlier this year and Jones has yet to make a major impact in the return game since recovering from the knee injury he suffered in Week 1. Call it a hunch, but the 2012 Pro Bowl return specialist is due to bust a long one and the Ravens will need it on a day in which the rain and wind will limit quarterback Joe Flacco’s effectiveness in the passing game. To win enough games to remain in the playoff picture, the Ravens need more game-changing plays from their defense and special teams and Jones represents the best chance to do so in the return game.

3. The weather will help the Ravens in the battle against Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but Bears running back Matt Forte will collect 150 total yards and a touchdown. The rain in the forecast will stunt the Bears’ passing game, but Forte presents a major problem in coverage for either linebackers or safeties as backup Josh McCown will lean on shorter passes. Tight end Martellus Bennett will be another challenge for the pass defense, but his ankle injury will leave him less than 100 percent as he’s listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Marshall and Jeffery will still make an impact with their size advantage over Ravens defensive backs, but Forte will be leaned upon to move the chains consistently against the Baltimore defense.

4. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil will exploit one of the weaker pass-blocking offensive lines in the NFL with a combined 3 1/2 sacks. After arguably his worst game of the year against Cincinnati last week, Suggs will bounce back against a Chicago offensive line that has struggled all season. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will move Suggs and Dumervil around — perhaps even occasionally lining them up on the same side in an overload look like he did last week — to give each rusher opportunities against right tackle Jordan Mills, whose pass blocking has been a major liability. The Ravens’ pass rush must come up big in putting heat on McCown and eliminate his opportunities to make big plays in the passing game, but head coach Marc Trestman will need to call for more quick passes to help neutralize the Ravens’ deadly pass-rushing duo.

5. The Bears’ ability to run the ball more effectively will be the difference in a low-scoring 20-17 win over the Ravens. If the weather proves to be as bad as forecasts are predicting, this one will come down to the running game and field position, which will play into Chicago’s hands perfectly. The Bears have struggled to stop the run this season, but the Ravens’ historically-poor rushing attack has shown no ability to gain yards other than the final 30 minutes of the Miami game in Week 5. Meanwhile, the Baltimore run defense has struggled from time to time — including a four-game stretch earlier this year in which they gave up 140 or more rushing yards three times — and the Bears possess the league’s 15th-ranked running game. After years of priding themselves as a team equipped to win games in the harsh conditions of November and December, the Ravens will show that’s no longer the case on Sunday as Flacco and the passing game won’t be able to do enough in another road loss.

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

Posted on 14 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s cornerstone franchises built around a reputation of menacing defense that’s stretched across decades of professional football.

However, this year’s team under new head coach Marc Trestman centers around an explosive passing game despite injuries that have sidelined starting quarterback Jay Cutler and thrust 34-year-old journeyman Josh McCown into action for the better part of the last month. With Cutler sidelined for Sunday’s tilt against the Ravens, McCown will again serve in a starting capacity, but the number of pass-catching targets at his disposal qualifies as a new version of the “Monsters of the Midway.”

Of course, the Baltimore defense did exceptional work against Cincinnati’s talented group of receivers led by A.J. Green last Sunday, but the Bears bring a level of physicality that the tall but wiry Bengals receivers do not provide. Leading the way is the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and ranks ninth in the NFL with 786 receiving yards and tied for sixth with eight touchdown catches.

“He catches the ball no matter where you put it,” said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who is coming off his best game of the season in Week 10. “If you put it somewhere around him, he can make the catch. That’s what makes him so dangerous. You have to know where he’s at at all times on the field. Wherever he’s lined up, we need to know because he’s a game-changer.”

What makes Marshall so dangerous is Trestman’s willingness to line him up in a variety of places on the field, making it difficult for defenses to find the best matchup consistently. Even if the Ravens are able to harness Marshall, the emergency of second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery has forced pass defenses to pick their poison when electing to bracket coverage on Marshall, leaving the 2012 second-round pick matched up in single coverage.

After an underwhelming rookie season in which he caught just 24 passes for 367 yards, the 6-foot-3 Jeffery is 13th in the league with 735 receiving yards, giving the Bears one of the best pass-catching duos in the NFL. With the Ravens possessing only one cornerback taller than six feet — starter Jimmy Smith — Webb and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham will need to play in a physical manner similar to how they played last week against the Bengals.

“[Jeffery] catches everything. He goes up and gets the ball,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him drop a pass on film. If you’re not attacking the ball and going up and making a play, he’s going to get it.”

The news doesn’t get much better beyond that as 6-foot-6 tight end Martellus Bennett has caught four touchdowns and running back Matt Forte is regarded as one of the most dangerous receivers in the league out of the backfield. The Ravens will find size everywhere they look in the Bears passing game, making their ability to pressure McCown that much more critical in Sunday’s tilt at Soldier Field.

It remains to be seen whether defensive coordinator Dean Pees will once again use Webb inside in the nickel package, but the ability of safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam to gain good position in coverage against Bennett will be a major challenge in containing the Chicago passing attack, especially inside the red zone.

Even with an array of power forward-like targets to throw to, McCown must still deal with a defense tied for third in the NFL with 32 sacks. The Ravens were able to harass Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton into throwing three interceptions and will look for similar results against the career backup, who has completed 60 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions in three games this season.

Baltimore has talked all week about the takeaway outburst against Cincinnati being the result of preparation finally coming together and will try to prove it wasn’t simply the result of some different defensive looks mixed with good fortune against their division rivals in the 20-17 overtime win.

“You all just happened to see a byproduct of all the work that we put in,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “We got put in the position to get those plays. I always like to say that turnovers and interceptions are an accumulation of preparation and luck. Some of those plays, [the ball] landed in the perfect position. It’s luck, but it’s preparation for being there.”

Rare chance for running game

The struggles of the Ravens’ historically-poor running game have been discussed ad nauseam, but Sunday may represent their best last chance of hope that the ground production can improve in the second half of the season.

The Bears rank 31st in the league against the run and are giving up just under 130 rushing yards per game this season. The season-ending loss of defensive tackle Henry Melton in September and the current shoulder injury sidelining outside linebacker Lance Briggs haven’t done the defense any favors as the Bears have needed to lean heavily on offense to build a 5-4 record.

It remains to be seen how offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will handle the workload in the running game after head coach John Harbaugh suggested performance will dictate how many carries struggling starter Ray Rice and backup Bernard Pierce will receive moving forward. Rice is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry while Pierce isn’t much better at 2.8 as both have battled injuries this season.

“We’re working to get better,” Rice said. “I know I’ve worked my butt off to get back on the field to play at a high level. I’ve just got to keep myself motivated, because I know once the opportunity comes and we rip off one of those big gains, we’ll be saying, ‘Well there it goes.’ The day will come.”

If the day doesn’t come Sunday against one of the league’s worst run defenses, it may be time to close the book on any hope for improvement in the Ravens’ rushing attack.

Hester the home-run hitter

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Rice, Suggs In Running For Madden 13 Cover

Posted on 08 March 2012 by WNST Staff

EA SPORTS AND ESPN’S SPORTSNATION KICK OFF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER ATHLETE FAN VOTE

This Year’s Campaign Expands to 64 Players – With Play-In Round Featuring Two Athletes

From Each NFL Team Represented in Head-to-Head Matchups

March 7, 2012 – EA SPORTS™ and ESPN announced today the return of the award-winning Madden NFL Cover Vote campaign, where fans can cast their vote for the next athlete to grace the cover of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises in North America. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast through ESPNSportsNation.com and ESPN mobile in both companies’ most successful cross-platform activation. Tenth-seeded Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis, trucked through the six week competition all the way to the ultimate end zone – the Madden NFL 12 cover.

This year’s competition will incorporate more athletes and more chances to vote as the field has been expanded to 64 NFL players, putting even more control in the hands of the fans. Beginning today through March 21, fans can visit the SportsNation Facebook page to choose among the 64 candidates in a play-in round (each matchup features two players from the same NFL team) to advance to the official 32-player, seeded tournament.  The winners of the play-in round will be unveiled with the official seeded, 32-player bracket on March 21 on ESPN’s “Madden Cover Vote Special” from 5-6p.m. EST.  To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.  Every Wednesday between March 21 and April 25, fans can tune into SportsNation on ESPN2at 5p.m. EST to check out the latest Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote standings.

In addition to the SportsNation Facebook page, fans will be able to vote in the play-in round via the open Web through widgets embedded on blogs, websites and more.  Each widget features an individual match-up for each of the 32 total teams in the league.  For the cover vote from March 21-April 25, all voting must be cast at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

The star-studded list of candidates participating in the play-in round features past Super Bowl winners, perennial Pro Bowlers and some of the most popular players in the NFL including Drew Brees, Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. The full list of matchups featured in the play-in round are:

AFC

Ravens Terrell Suggs vs. Ray Rice Jets Mark Sanchez vs. Darrelle Revis
Steelers Troy Polamalu vs. Ben Roethlisberger Bills Stevie Johnson vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Browns Joe Thomas vs. Joe Haden Dolphins Reggie Bush vs. Brandon Marshall
Bengals Andy Dalton vs. AJ Green Patriots Wes Welker vs. Rob Gronkowski
Texans Arian Foster vs. Andre Johnson Chargers Phillip Rivers vs. Antonio Gates
Colts Dwight Freeney vs. Robert Mathis Broncos Tim Tebow vs. Von Miller
Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Blaine Gabbert Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Derrick Johnson
Titans Jake Locker vs. Chris Johnson Raiders Sebastian Janikowski vs. Shane Lechler

NFC

Bears Jay Cutler vs. Matt Forte Rams Chris Long vs. Brandon Lloyd
Lions Calvin Johnson vs. Matt Stafford 49ers Vernon Davis vs. Patrick Willis
Vikings Percy Harvin vs. Jared Allen Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. Earl Thomas
Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. Clay Matthews Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Peterson
Falcons Matt Ryan vs. Julio Jones Eagles Michael Vick vs. LeSean McCoy
Saints Drew Brees vs. Jimmy Graham Giants Victor Cruz vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Panthers Cam Newton vs. Steve Smith Cowboys Jason Witten vs. DeMarcus Ware
Buccaneers Josh Freeman vs. LeGarrette Blount Redskins Brian Orakpo vs. Ryan Kerrigan

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN’s SportsNation.

Madden NFL 13 is developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon.  For more information about Madden NFL 13, please visit: http://www.ea.com/madden-nfl. To download assets pertaining to the Madden NFL 13 please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com.

All player participation has been facilitated by National Football League Players Incorporated, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers experiences that ignite the emotions of sport through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield™, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS Active, The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd.  Battlefield is a trademark of EA Digital Illusions CE AB.  John Madden, NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA, NCAA, Tiger Woods, and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission.  Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Officially Licensed Product of National Football League Players Incorporated.

About SportsNation

SportsNation is a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.  The show, which has the youngest and most male audience on the ESPN network, features discussions of the day’s hottest sports topics but also smaller stories that generate buzz on the Web but are overlooked by other shows.  Feeding off the theory that if two heads are better than one, 200,000 heads are better than two, SportsNation engages hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country via ESPN.com’s SportsNation page (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/).

About ESPN Games and EA

ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA produces deep brand integrations into console gaming titles such as EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 and Fight Night Champion.  Additionally, the relationship in 2011 produced the biggest ESPN poll vote ever for the Madden NFL 12 cover vote, logging nearly 13 million votes, the most ESPN votes ever for a joint collaboration.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also most recently extended to boxing and golf in 2011.

###

PLAY-IN ROUND VOTING THRU FACEBOOK & OPEN WEB

Thanks for your interest in SportsNation’s Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

EA Sports and ESPN’s SportsNation have chosen two players from each NFL team to be included in a social play-in round for the Madden NFL 13 cover.

Starting March 7th on SportsNation’s Facebook page and on voting matchups called ‘sapplets’ or ‘widgets’ embedded across open web (info below), fans will be able to vote on matchups from each NFL team to send one representative into the final bracket of 32 players at ESPN.com/MaddenVote on March 21st.

If you choose to embed one of the 32 individual voting ‘sapplets’, you can use the next page that includes all 32 embed codes for all 32 NFL teams. They post to your site much like a YouTube clip and can increase time spent on your site as well as traffic by generating debate about matchups.

The social Play-in vote launches on Wednesday, March 7th and closes two week later on Wednesday, March 21st. The Facebook tab and voting ‘sapplets’ will be live during those two weeks.

CHEAT SHEET:

WAY TO EMBED:

  • Go to page 2. Find your team.
  • Copy the embed code.
  • Paste the embed code onto your website where you would embed a YouTube clip.
  • The voting platform is ready and interactive on your page!
  • Please Note: do NOT embed on Tumblr and do NOT change the height & width

Canvas

NEW embed Code

49ers Vote

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Redskins Vote

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Eagles Vote

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“The Reality Check” Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 08 September 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Power Rankings…

32. Oakland Raiders

I’m well aware they went 6-0 against the AFC West last year. They had Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller then. I’m thinking like The Who now. I “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” The Raiders stink.

31. San Francisco 49ers

I don’t think an organization can have a “lose on purpose” philosophy. I think it’s impossible to convince a group of men to not try to win. But if a team was shaping up to get Andrew Luck, it would be the Niners.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars

If I’m Jack Del Rio, I’m asking for the Jags to just go ahead and fire me now. The move is puzzling, but the bigger puzzle is “what will the name of the team be when they move to Los Angeles”?

29. Carolina Panthers

The Panthers actually went out and got a couple of players this offseason. Winning games will be predicated on Cam Newton progressing. It’s no guarantee, but they might have a chance.

28. Washington Redskins

If they didn’t have to play a quarterback they’d be higher in my rankings. Since I hate the Skins I smile a bit every time I hear the name Rex Grossman.

27. Cincinnati Bengals

Cincy’s defense is too good to be the worst team in the NFL, but Andy Dalton looks to be one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL at the moment.

26. Cleveland Browns

I’m not buying into Colt McCoy helping the Browns take the “next step.” I don’t think they’re very good and I don’t think it’s changing soon.

25. Tennessee Titans

If Matt Hasselbeck played all 16 games, the Titans would win 8. He won’t and they won’t.

24. Buffalo Bills

I don’t like much about the Bills, but I’ll give Ryan Fitzpatrick the benefit of the doubt. He was pretty good last year, perhaps he’ll be fairly decent again this season.

23. Seattle Seahawks

Once again, it’s a shame teams aren’t allowed to play without quarterbacks. They’d likely win more games with David Garrard than with Tavaris Jackson.

22. Minnesota Vikings

I’m gonna go ahead and guess that Donovan McNabb doesn’t play 16 games this season. I know I’m really going out on a limb.

21. Miami Dolphins

I like Daniel Thomas. I like Brandon Marshall. I like the Phins’ defense. I just don’t understand why I don’t like the Dolphins more.

20. Denver Broncos

I don’t like Kyle Orton nearly as much as some others do. But there’s probably more to like about the Broncos than I’m willing to give them credit for.

19. Dallas Cowboys

I can’t figure out if the Cowboys need to rebuild or simply retool. They clearly didn’t do enough this offseason either way. A healthy Tony Romo helps, but does it really make them a contender in the NFC East?

18. Arizona Cardinals

I immediately regret putting the Cards ahead of the Cowboys on this list, but if Kevin Kolb is any good at all the Cardinals have a great chance at winning the NFC West. There’s talent on both sides of the ball.

17. St. Louis Rams

Love Sam Bradford. Love Steven Jackson. Question marks just about everywhere else. Still think they win the division.

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50 words or less …. Tuesday, April 26th

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50 words or less …. Tuesday, April 26th

Posted on 26 April 2011 by Rex Snider

After resting and licking the wounds of a couple losses at the hands of the Yankees, the Orioles will recollect themselves and begin a 3 game series against the Red Sox tonight.

The Yankees’ series certainly revealed some glaring weaknesses for Buck’s offensive attack; CC Sabathia’s 28-pitch count thru 3 innings and Freddy Garcia’s 2-hitter thru 6 innings serve as fresh reminders of the problems with the lineup.

Here’s to hoping things improve over the next few nights. And, here’s your Tuesday edition of “50 Words Or Less” …..
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Andino …. Out Or Safe ???
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It doesn’t really matter, so long as this current edition of the Orioles lineup continues to languish and squander opportunities to score runs. They made Freddy Garcia look like Roy Halladay, yesterday.

It won’t get any easier with seeing Josh Beckett and Jon Lester over the next few games.
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Shocking …..
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Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Say last Friday, Ryan Chell would’ve uttered “an NFL player will be stabbed this coming weekend, who will it be?” I can honestly admit Brandon Marshall would’ve been on my short list of probable victims.

Funny …. I have never really associated “victim” with Marshall’s name. Thus, there is probably much more to the story. Stay tuned …..
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A Proposal Of Sorts
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Last week, a Milwaukee Brewers fan and devoted follower of Ryan Braun decided to do something unique. “Robin” made a sign proposing marriage to the Brewers star outfielder, and she attached her personal PHONE NUMBER TO IT …..

You know the rest of the story, right? Every desperate loser watching that game – and probably drinking a 12 pack of Old Milwaukee decided to call her. Robin has temporarily turned her phone off …..
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Do You Feel Lucky?
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Perhaps, the more burning question is can the Ravens afford to risk being UNLUCKY? Several reports have Ozzie Newsome and his staff salivating over the temptation of grabbing highly touted Colorado cornerback, Jimmy Smith.

The problem? Well, Smith has allegedly failed a series of drug tests during his college career and he has some underage drinking issues. After last year’s Sergio Kindle situation, I’m betting on a more conservative approach, but we shall see in just a few days …..
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And You Thought I was Crazy
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When I officially swore to give up LION TAMING for Lent, many listeners shuddered with dismay and frivolous disbelief. Well, it can get crazier …..

J. Wilson, an Iowa newspaper editor decided to give up every nutritional fuel source, except BEER for the entire period of Lent. And, he did it. That’s my hero, baby !!!! Here is the STORY
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Good News On Brooks
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Many of us have watched Brooks Robinson’s health situation from a distance, while holding out hope for the very best. Well, the Orioles legend appeared at a weekend autographed show and he was looking rejuvenated.

Here’s to hoping he gets stronger in the coming days and weeks.

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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Chris Pika

Week 4 is the first week that byes take place in the NFL, so this is a great time to take short stock of each of the clubs through three weeks. And by short, I mean one line on each team — some stats, some observations and some conjecture.

First up, the AFC teams by division. Records are through Week 3:

Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

AFC East

New York Jets (2-1): Despite crippled Revis Island on defense, brash Jets are only team in AFC East with perfect division record (2-0).

New England Patriots (2-1): QB Tom Brady (8 TD, 109.1 passer rating) is back to form as Patriots have AFC’s highest point total (90) and highest TD total (12) so far.

Miami Dolphins (2-1): Even with deep threat WR Brandon Marshall and RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins have same amount of TDs (5) as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills (0-3): Another lost year for Bills, which have scored fourth-least points (47) in AFC and have given up most points (87) on defense in the conference.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0): The question for head coach Mike Tomlin is if the Steelers are 4-0 after a win over Baltimore in Week 4, why change QBs to Ben Roethlisberger?

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Bengals, despite record, have struggled on offense as QB Carson Palmer (12th rated AFC passer at 71.3) hasn’t found rhythm with T.O.cho Show.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Defense, led by MLB Ray Lewis, continues to carry a team expected to score much more in 2010 (44 points; 2nd-lowest in AFC), despite breakout game by WR Anquan Boldin (3 TDs) last week.

Cleveland Browns (0-3): Browns are led by Peyton … not Manning, but RB Hillis (220 yards, 3 TDs) as Browns gave popular AFC Super Bowl pick Ravens much trouble in Week 3.

AFC South

Houston Texans (2-1): Texans got over the hump of beating the Colts, but Houston is not the best team in state of Texas after bad loss to Cowboys.

Tennessee Titans (2-1): Titans defense has allowed fourth-fewest points in the AFC (42), and the Tennessee offense has RB Chris Johnson (4 TDs), but continuing issues at quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts (2-1): Despite loss to Houston, Colts still have potent passing attack with QB Peyton Manning and are arguably still best club in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jagaurs (1-2): Jaguars have worst scoring differential in AFC (-43), and Jack Del Rio could be the AFC’s first fired coach.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Most surprising number for unbeaten Chiefs is that defense has allowed least points in the AFC (38), and in weak AFC West, KC might have enough to win the division.

San Diego Chargers (1-2): Special teams burned for two scores at Seattle, and Chargers QB Philip Rivers (AFC-high 4 INTs) is missing a suddenly resurgent RB LaDainian Tomlinson, now with the Jets.

Denver Broncos (1-2): Broncos getting decent offensive production from QB Kyle Orton, but overall have a minus point differential (-4; 61 PF, 65 PA).

Oakland Raiders (1-2): High-priced K Sebastian Janikowski could have made Raiders a 2-1 team with made kicks at Arizona, but Raiders need more than 3s (4 TDs, tied for lowest in AFC with JAX) to be competitive in up-for-grabs division.

Now for the NFC:

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): The Eagles have gone from a transitional season with QB Kevin Kolb to division title hopes with QB Michael Vick, who might be a legit NFL MVP candidate down the road.

Washington Redskins (1-2): Opening victory over Dallas doesn’t look as good after defense was shredded in last two weeks and Cowboys’ struggles.

New York Giants (1-2): A minus-30 scoring differential (55 PF, 85 PA) is third-worst in NFC, and head coach Tom Coughlin is starting to feel the heat.

Dallas Cowboys (1-2): Cowboys avoided 0-3 start in Week 3 with big win over Houston, and Dallas has the personnel to rebound in a wide-open NFC East race.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (3-0): Most unlikely last remaining 3-0 team in NFC gives head coach Lovie Smith some breathing room as O-line tries to keep QB Jay Cutler upright in Mike Martz offensive system.

Green Bay Packers (2-1): Despite mental miscues in Week 3 loss at Chicago, popular Super Bowl XLV NFC pick has plenty of offensive weapons for QB Aaron Rodgers, but need run game to be re-established after Ryan Grant injury.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2): QB Brett Favre looks very old right now, and Vikings best chance to win is to get away from pass-first mindset to get the ball into Adrian Peterson’s hopefully sure hands more often.

Detroit Lions (0-3): Injury to QB Matthew Stafford put dent into head coach Jim Schwartz’s immediate rebuilding plans, and Lions don’t get a break in Week 4 against Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (2-1): Falcons posted most-impressive win of Week 3 as they marched out of New Orleans with a OT win, and Atlanta has NFC best-tying +31 point differential.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): AFter 2-0 start, Bucs ran into Steelers’ buzzsaw in Week 3, and Tampa Bay is staring at possible 2-3 record with games vs. Cincinnati and New Orleans after bye week.

New Orleans Saints (2-1): Saints run defense was exposed in loss to Falcons, and defending Super Bowl champs need fast starts in order to avoid same fate against strong run teams going forward.

Carolina Panthers (0-3): Winless Panthers have least TDs in NFC (3), and head coach John Fox may be running out of rope with owner Jerry Richardson.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (2-1): Head coach Pete Carroll sidestepped Southern California mess and he has put Seattle in early position to make headway in weak NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals (2-1): Despite record, Cards have minus-29 point differential (48 PF, 77 PA) and would be 1-2 if Oakland made a field goal or two in Week 3.

St. Louis Rams (1-2): Rookie QB Sam Bradford will have to grow up in a hurry, but the shame is that the Rams can’t play Washington every week.

San Francisco 49ers (0-3): Head coach Mike Singletary used the next-to-last bullet in his gun after firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, and the last one might be used by 49ers ownership at end of the season if disappointments continue.

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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2010 NFL Forecast: Will the Ravens raise the Lombardi Trophy?

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Luke Jones

With the beginning of the 2010 NFL season only hours away, expectations have never been higher in Baltimore as the Ravens have their eyes fixed on their first Super Bowl title since the 2000 season.

Questions remain in the secondary and whether Joe Flacco can reach elite status with an abundance of new weapons in the Baltimore offense, but contenders and pretenders alike face some level of uncertainty on the eve of Week 1.

Easy schedules — and the unsophisticated attempts to predict a team’s fate week by week — in early September frequently transform into daunting slates in the unpredictable nature of the NFL. An injury to a key performer at the wrong position can derail even the strongest teams’ championship aspirations.

Inevitably, a sexy preseason contender or two will collapse under fatal flaws, and an anonymous outfit that no one is even pondering as a victor will find itself playing long into January.

We just never can tell.

And with that digression, I toss my hat into the futile, but enjoyable, pool of forecasting the 2010 season. If nothing else, predictions offer damning proof that most of us (all of us?) really don’t know what we’re talking about when the dust settles in early February.

AFC East
New England – The Jets will continue to steal the headlines, but the Patriots will happily take the division title.
New York – Rex Ryan speaks loudly and carries a big stick, but Mark Sanchez is not ready for the big stage yet.
Miami – No one is happier about Brandon Marshall’s arrival in South Beach than Chad Henne.
Buffalo - Did Chan Gailey really get another head coaching gig in the NFL?

AFC North
Baltimore – Can Joe Flacco keep three former Pro Bowl receivers happy in a potentially explosive passing game?
Cincinnati* – Coordinator Mike Zimmer and the defense will prove their No. 4 ranking in 2009 was no fluke.
Pittsburgh – An aging defense and a shaky offensive line will not be able to overcome Ben Roethlisberger’s four-game suspension and ensuing rust.
Cleveland - It’s rarely a good thing when all people want to talk about is the new front office.

AFC South
Indianapolis – Would the NFL have tweaked the umpire’s positioning if Peyton Manning had not been the one to complain the loudest?
Houston* – After being the chic pick for a couple seasons, Gary Kubiak and the Texans finally crack the postseason.
Tennessee – Does Chris Johnson hold up long enough to touch the ball over 400 times again?
Jacksonville - Three straight losing seasons could spell the end of Jack Del Rio’s eight-year stay with the Jaguars.

AFC West
San Diego – Ryan Mathews won’t make Chargers fans forget LaDainian Tomlinson, but the rookie back is poised for a dynamic rookie campaign.
Oakland – Picking the Raiders any place other than last seems foreign, but Tom Cable has some semblance of a football team if Al Davis doesn’t meddle too much. Good luck with that.
Denver – Kyle Orton is serviceable but not enough to make a difference in the Broncos’ fate.
Kansas City - Safety Eric Berry is a future star and one of several young players giving the Chiefs hope for the future.

NFC East
Dallas – No Cowboys coach has lasted longer than four seasons since Jimmy Johnson (1989-93), so Wade Phillips (entering his fourth year) needs a big season in Big D.
New York – The Giants’ Steve Smith (107 receptions in 2009) has officially turned the Carolina wideout into the “other” one.
Philadelphia – Kevin Kolb will seal Andy Reid’s fate as a genius or mark the beginning of the end for the coach in Philadelphia.
Washington - Donovan McNabb will limp through a hapless season without enough talent surrounding him.

NFC North
Green Bay – This might be the year that Aaron Rodgers exorcises the ghost of Favre by bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Titletown.
Minnesota* – The absence of Sidney Rice will hurt more than Brett Favre’s ankle, taking the Vikings down a small notch.
Chicago – A fortune was spent for Jay Cutler a year ago and Julius Peppers this offseason, but a small return this season will mark the end for Lovie Smith.
Detroit - Rookies Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best give Lions fans two reasons to be excited for the future.

NFC South
New Orleans – Drew Brees might be the one quarterback in the league you wouldn’t grow tired of seeing in the Super Bowl.
Atlanta* – Though he took a step back in his sophomore year, far too many people are overlooking Matt Ryan and the Falcons this season.
Carolina – Whether the Panthers surprise or wilt with Matt Moore at the helm, it looks like this is the final act in Charlotte for John Fox, whose contract expires after the season.
Tampa Bay - At least they have those “creamsicle” throwbacks to look forward to at some point this season, right?

NFC West
San Francisco – Alex Smith is no Joe Montana or Steve Young — or even Jeff Garcia — but the 49ers are the strongest team in a pedestrian division.
Arizona – Cardinals fans wish Kurt Warner would be more like Brett Favre in his retirement practices.
Seattle – As if his first two go-rounds in the NFL weren’t bad enough, the shadow of the sanctions at USC makes Pete Carroll an easy guy to root against.
St. Louis - Sam Bradford has 50 million reasons to smile while he takes a beating in his rookie season.

* = Wild-card berth

Wild-Card Round
New England over Cincinnati
Houston over San Diego
Minnesota over San Francisco
Atlanta over Dallas

Divisional Round
Indianapolis over Houston
Baltimore over New England
New Orleans over Atlanta
Green Bay over Minnesota

AFC Championship
Baltimore over Indianapolis

NFC Championship
Green Bay over New Orleans

Super Bowl XLV
Baltimore over Green Bay

MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson
Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Ryan Mathews
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Ndamukong Suh
Coach of the Year: John Harbaugh

The exhilarating journey begins Thursday night.

Enjoy the ride.

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My NFL Predictions ….

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My NFL Predictions ….

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, we’ve finally reached that point, right? The National Football League kicks off its season tomorrow night. So, the training camp perspectives can now be translated into your outlook for the AFC, NFC and ultimately, the Super Bowl winner.

It’s easy to sit back and forecast the Ravens to hoist the Lombardi Trophy into the Dallas night, on February 6th. That’s what our hearts say – regardless, of whatever cautionary measures our minds consider. You wanna pick the Ravens, because it feels good to do so …..

Of course, choosing Joe Flacco and company is a logical consideration, as well. This team identified vulnerabilities during the offseason, and they did their best to address current injury-related weaknesses over the past month. Overall, it appears to be a very stellar squad.

This Ravens team is much more lethal on the offensive side of the ball, specifically in the passing game. And, the defense appears to be primed for another strong campaign, even when considering the woes in the secondary. As for special teams play, management chose the leg that boots the ball deeper on kickoffs, and that makes me happy.

Am I picking the Ravens? You’re damned right I’m picking them. I’m rewarding my heart and my mind. And, like I said, it’s a logical proposition. As for my overall views, I’ll spend the next few days dishing on them. Today, I’m providing my picks for the AFC:

AFC EAST
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1) Miami Dolphins (11-5) – I’ve just got a feeling this team finally reaches its potential. Much of the hope will rest upon Ronnie Brown’s health and I’m suspecting he’ll finally stay on his feet for an entire season. Combined with Ricky Williams in the backfield and the addition of Brandon Marshall in the passing game, I think the Dolphins realize that next step.

If you recall, they were that one team NOBODY wanted to play for a substantial stretch of the 2009 season. That said, they started the season poorly and seemed to be climbing uphill through December. This year, it’s a different story. They’ll finish 11-5 and win the AFC East.

2) New England Patriots (10-6)

3) New York Jets (10-6)

4) Buffalo Bills (3-13)
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AFC NORTH
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1) Baltimore Ravens (12-4) – Yeah, I’m drinking the purple kool-aid and it’s for good reason; they’re a solid freakin’ team. When I attended the Ravens ’09 season ending press conference, during the first week of February, I distinctly recall Steve Bisciotti’s words. He said the organization was committed to building around Joe Flacco, and he obviously wasn’t kidding.

Here we stand a mere seven months later and Ozzie Newsome has added receivers Anquan Boldin, Donte’ Stallworth and TJ Houshmandzadeh, as well as rookie tight ends Ed Dickson and Vince Pitta as legitimate options for Flacco’s arm. The defense, while still primarily intact will continue to play at a level Ray Lewis demands of himself. They’ll be fine and this will be a very enjoyable season.

2) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)

3) Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8)

4) Cleveland Browns (5-11)
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AFC SOUTH
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1) Indianapolis Colts (11-5) – I would like nothing more than to predict doom and gloom for the Colts. But, they’ve still got a superior passing game with Peyton Manning continuing to make good receivers look great. This will be the season of a new favorite target for Manning, as Pierre Garcon will supplant Reggie Wayne as his favorite deep target.

I realize everyone is smitten with the Houston Texans passing game, as well. But, Matt Schaub and his stable of receiving targets will not be enough to overtake the Colts.

2) Houston Texans (10-6)

3) Tennessee Titans (10-6)

4) Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
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AFC WEST
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1) San Diego Chargers (11-5) – Not a hard decision, huh? The Chargers, minus Vince Jackson and LaDanian Tomlinson are fairly intact as the unit that dominated the AFC WEST, last season. I think rookie Ryan Matthews is an upgrade over LT and the recently acquired Patrick Crayton should provide some support to the receiving corps.

Philip Rivers is really coming into his own as an elite NFL quarterback and in a similar fashion to Peyton Manning, his arm and intellect will make his targets look better than they would in a lesser system.

2) Kansas City Chiefs (8-8)

3) Oakland Raiders (7-9)

4) Denver Broncos (6-10)

Well, this is how I see the AFC shaping up. Tomorrow, I’ll give my predictions for the NFC and on Friday, I’ll post my postseason scenarios for both conferences, as well as pick my Super Bowl winner.

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won’t Get It ….

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won’t Get It ….

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rex Snider

While I’m not a passionate fan of Michael Vick’s play on the football field, I have been quietly rooting for him since last season’s return.

To be honest, my hope in seeing him overcome his past has no real tie to football or athletic achievements, at all. I’ve really hoped he would leave his sordid transgressions and the associated lifestyle in the rear view mirror, while proving to himself and others that he is indeed a “CHANGED MAN.”

Better yet, I thought Michael Vick could motivate a growing generation of adolescents who’ve made poor personal choices in their young lives. Maybe, just maybe, his story and ultimate rise from self-destruction would help others in an inspirational way.

There is just one “catch” ….. this anticipated story of a compassionate comeback needs to stay on track.

As recently as a couple weeks ago, things were looking very opimistic.

Today, I’m not so sure.

As the world now knows, Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday with a BIG BASH at a Virginia Beach nightclub, on Thursday night. It was promoted and advertised to the general public, via Facebook, Twitter and informal means.
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While some people might think that hosting parties and momentous celebrations are an expressed inclusion of our freedoms, many of us also realize that such events are an invitation to more than just dancing, drinking and eating birthday cake.

And, discerning between these two considerations is probably where Michael Vick screwed up.

I don’t care that he’s a convicted felon and federal parolee; I don’t simply assume he’s done something illegal. He’s paid his debt to society – he has every right to attend charity functions at Martins West, movie premieres in Hollywood and parties thrown in his honor.

However, a clearly distinct line distinguishes the difference between the “RIGHT” to do something, and whether it’s “RIGHT” to do something. I’m certain celebrities employ such decision making methods when considering their presence and involvement at events – both public and private in nature.

It doesn’t matter if they organize or host the event, if a BIG NAME is in attendance and something goes wrong, they’ll be forever tied to it. Just ask TMZ’s Harvey Levin …..

When is the last time this guy did something DUMB or ill-advised in a social setting?
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Good luck finding such an incident. You’ll likely search for days and still never find any smoking guns. And, there is a very plausible reason behind striking out on any quest in finding dirt on Peyton Manning – HE KNOWS BETTER.

Peyton Manning is aware of his image, reputation and obligation to an array of different people. The list includes …..
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His Team
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His Wife
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His Business Partners
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His Family’s Name
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I’m sure you see my point – even if you disagree. But, the names go beyond Peyton Manning. I’m confident this list of guys will not be arrested, accused of criminal conduct or attending a party where another attendee is SHOT, in 2010 ….. Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Steve Nash, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Albert Pujols, Hines Ward, Tim Duncan, Jeff Gordon, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco …..

How about this ….. I can think of a list of guys who have endured legal troubles, while making some very poor choices in their respectives pasts. But, they’ve given us every reason to believe we won’t be seeing their name associated with crime and punishment, by year’s end. For me, the list starts with Ray Lewis.

It’s been a decade since Ray ran afoul of the legal system or found himself in a public meltdown of poor judgement. He’s way beyond such indiscretions – he values his reputation and image. He has plenty of company among those who’ve had troubles and overcame them, like ….. Kobe Bryant, Ricky Williams, Josh Hamilton, Kurt Busch, Bernard Hopkins, Brett Favre and Jamal Lewis.

Of course, the final group is those who’ve committed multiple transgressions. Arrested? Yes. Stupid decisions? Yes. Numerous occurences of one or both? Yes. These are the guys you’re most likely going to be hearing about during a BREAKING NEWS segment, early in the morning. This is where you’ll find Brandon Marshall, Elijah Dukes, Sidney Ponson, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson, John Daly, Jeremy Mayfield, Cedric Benson, Allen Iverson, Matt Jones, Delonte West and Michael Vick.

Hey, it’s accurate.

Michael Vick may very well have intended to celebrate an innocent occasion, last Thursday. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it. He doesn’t want to screw up – he doesn’t want to be out of a job – he doesn’t want to go back to prison. I honestly believe these things.

However, I also believe Michael Vick lacks the sensibility to dissect a proposed action or decision, while considering the ramifications of the FALLOUT if something goes wrong. That’s exactly what he should’ve done when the idea of his birthday party being held at a nightclub, and open to the general public was tabled.
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Why?

Well, there are a few reasons. Foremost, there is very little positive exposure to be gained in a nightclub environment. While nightclubs attract girls dressed in their sexiest wares, they also serve as a hotspot for people with checkered characters. Say what you will – Mike should be whoring himself to more “feel good” opportunities than President Obama, Tom Cruise and the CEO of BP, combined.

Another consideration is Michael Vick should not host, endorse or attach his likeness to ANY EVENT, unless he has direct control over it. I don’t care if a promoter really handled the party, its got the name MICHAEL VICK forever stamped to it. In the future (or in hindsight), he should celebrate his birthday with a party at home or in an establishment that can offer a respected reputation and a high degree of decorum.

If he wants to get CRAZEE and dance with some hotties, while fondling an expensive champagne bottle, he should have the party at home – and make all guests leave their cellphones at the door. Be assured, that’s what happens at Diddy’s house. And, he has much less to worry about than Mike does.

You don’t think Alex Rodriguez enjoyed the arrival of his 30th birthday? How about Ladanian Tomlinson? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Shaq? They just make good decisions when it comes to enjoying themslves.

As we sit here today, Michael Vick has problems. He might not face any legal sanctions with his Probation Officer. But, I think that everything else is in limbo. I’d bet my HOUSE that a certain group of individuals are angry as HELL. They’ve attached themselves to Michael Vick and he has let them down. Of course, the most important one is obvious …..
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However, you can also include Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Arthur Blank. Each of them went to bat for him, helped him or had a HUGE part in giving him this most recent chance to make a living as a member of the National Football League.

What could they do differently, specifically ask “Michael, will you be celebrating your 30th birthday in a nightclub” ??? They should’ve expected that he would exercise better judgement. No doubt, they rightfully expected it from him.

With each passing hour, more and more details regarding the NIGHTLIFE of Michael Vick are surfacing. Welcome to the age of Twitter, Facebook and online tabloids. We now know Vick hosted parties in May, as well as April.

I wonder if dog fighting co-defendant, Quanis Phillips, attended those events. Probably not. Why did he attend this one? Well, it was held near his home. But, most importantly, he attended last Thursday’s party, because he could.

NOBODY and/or NO PLAN was in place to stop such a situation. And, if they did plan for it, they failed …. which is even worse, if you really think about it.

Thursday’s incident is a loud, distinct message to one of Michael Vick’s former endorsers, as if they have really considered resurrecting his marketability …..
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You can bet the folks in Beaverton, Oregon, are thinking one thing …. “MIKE AIN”T WORTH THE RISK.” And, if Nike is scared off, so is McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Visa and Under Armor. Like humans, corporations are known to forgive and reconcile, but they arguably take far less chances than people do.

Over the last few days, we’ve heard the typical “we will wait until all the facts are known before addressing the situation” line. It’s the SAFE thing to say …. and it may very well apply to the United States Justice Department’s role in the life of Michael Vick.

But, rest assured, NFL spokeman, Greg Aiello, was better off giving the politically correct statement, rather than saying “Roger is done with this experiment.”

As for the Eagles, did you expect them to say “Mr. Lurie is knee deep in trying to void Michael Vick’s contract.” Oh and “Jeff Garcia is visiting team headquarters, later this week.”

Perhaps, both Mr. Goodell and Mr. Lurie haven’t exercised such drastic measures. But, you can bet they’re not sitting on their hands while waiting for an outcome, either. Not a chance …..

They know what they need to know.

Michael Vick may never, EVER be involved in another incident of violence. He may never pose for another mugshot in his life.

But, he cannot be trusted to really think about a potential outcome to the hair-brained ideas of family, friends and cohorts. No doubt, he’s as spontaneously reactive to his cultural ideals as Paris Hilton is to shopping for shoes.

He’s evidently incapable of change. He is who he is …..

He just can’t be trusted to do the RIGHT thing.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 15 April 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because…I FINALLY have a reason to be excited about the NHL Playoffs!!!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow9zaT8ebfQ[/youtube]

Look, Baltimore has never had a team. If we ever GET a team, I’ll root for them. I’d root for the Washington Capitals if I lived in Washington. Since I don’t, no thanks. I DID however live in Phoenix for 2 years, and went out of my way 25+ times each season to drive to the OTHER SIDE OF THE CITY in order to watch the ‘Yotes so I could see how great hockey really was.

The Desert Dogs weren’t any good at the time, but I knew there was something special about the NHL product. I badly want Charm City to get an arena and get a team, but in the meantime what is happening with out in Phoenix with the Coyotes means the WORLD to me.

Oh and also, “Crowd Chant” by Joe Satriani should be used at (intense) sporting events almost as much as “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC. Freaking great arena song.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Carlos Pena, BJ Upton crushed 3 run bombs as Rays swept Orioles

After what happened Tuesday night, you could kinda see it coming. They sorta pulled out “all of the stops” Tuesday night; with the orange pajamas, the goofy lineup, Brian Matusz, Luke Scott’s theatrics, Matt Wieters t-shirt night, extra innings, the whole deal.

And sadly, it all lead to a loss. Playing a game after a deflating loss like that leaves you dry emotionally, and the Orioles just had nothing left yesterday.

Of course, Brad Bergesen didn’t do much to help.

And it probably wouldn’t have mattered too much if he had, to be honest.

What else do we say?

There’s been a lot of talk over recent days about how it will be good for the team to “get away”, as if they will suddenly become a good baseball team just because they aren’t playing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Look, we all know they’re not going to go 1-161 this season. They’re going to win at some point. They’ll probably win a couple of games. But it would take a MIRACLE for them to see .500 at some point this season-and I’m already starting to feel a bit uneasy about my prediction that they would win 74 games.

Of course, our “Apologist of the Morning” Neal S from the blog “The Loss Column” still thinks the team can “right the ship” and be 10 games under .500 at the All-Star Game.

If “righting the ship” includes being 10 games under .500 at the All-Star break, the ship is more of a disaster than the FREAKING TITANIC.

And even accomplishing THAT would take a minor miracle.

What a summer we have ahead of us.

2. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of loss

It’s easy to figure out why a team lost when a game is close and individual plays REALLY matter. It would be all too easy to just point at Bergesen as being to blame for yesterday’s game (and certainly he deserves to shoulder it), but there are other things I didn’t like.

-Nick Markakis had a triple yesterday, which is pretty good. But he also struck out twice. There might be an argument that striking out twice is better than being nervous to swing at all-which is what it was starting to look like Markakis was going through early in the season-but it sure as hell isn’t good.

-Ty Wigginton went 2-4 yesterday, which we ALL know is a good thing. And while Dave Trembley is desperately working through a neverending quest to put together an effective lineup, Wigginton’s bat might look like a decent option for the number 2 spot. But asking someone whose baserunning abilities appear to represent “lumbering” at times to hit 2nd might not be the best idea. Wigginton was on 1st base in the 8th inning, yet failed to score on a 2 out double to RIGHT FIELD by Felix Pie.

And it wasn’t as if it looked like he wasn’t trying. He just isn’t quick, and shouldn’t be hitting 2nd. The run didn’t REALLY matter yesterday because the game was a blowout-but the run COULD’VE mattered.

-It’s hard to blame Cesar Izturis OR Miguel Tejada for Tejada’s error in the first inning. On a sunny afternoon, sometimes pop-ups are lost. Embarrassing? Yes. But they HAPPEN. However, it is a bit concerning to hear/read that the problem was communication. Two players-especially two players that don’t have a language barrier issue-should be able to let each other know what’s going on there.

Of course, Brad Bergesen needs to be able to pick his players up, but that’s another thing altogether.

-Jason Berken is the one guy worth applauding yesterday, and it certainly looks like long relief is a role that suits him just fine.

3. The AP says “closer” Mike Gonzalez placed on DL

Placed on the DL due to what I believe was listed officially as a “bruised ego.”

Could Mike Gonzalez REALLY be hurt? Sure, maybe. Is it very likely that Gonzalez is no more hurt today than he was on Opening Day? Yeah, that’s particularly likely.

Does it make it worse when the player placed on the DL isn’t available to speak to the media after a game? Yes, that makes it worse. Especially when even MASN (the TEAM-RUN “media outlet”) can’t get a quote. It makes it look particularly fishy.

Amber Theoharris said during yesterday’s broadcast that Kam Mickolio is expected to be called up today to take Gonzalez’s place. The only exciting part about that statement is that Amber Theoharris said it.

Of course, maybe Mickolio is a better option at closer than Gonzalez. I think the Orioles should go with Jim Johnson IF they ever get another chance to close another game, but at this point they might as well go with Willis Roberts to finish off games.

Welcome back to Baltimore, Kam.

4. SI’s Jon Heyman says no use for O’s to ‘worry’

And I completely get what he’s trying to say. Why “worry” when this team wasn’t going to do anything anyway against the likes of the Rays, Yankees, and Red Sox in the AL East?

You know what I’m going to spend my time worrying about instead of worrying about the O’s? Finding out more about whoever Nicky Whelan is…(Thanks Busted Coverage!)

whelan

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Jake Arrieta, Rhyne Hughes, Steve Johnson all sparked for Birds on farm

And when things are as bad at the major league level as they’ve been for the Orioles, what happens at Norfolk and at Bowie seems to get more and more notice. “Hey, the Orioles lost, but Steve Johnson threw 5 shutout innings for the Baysox!!!”

Before we move on from baseball, the Orioles return to action LATE tonight when the face the Oakland Athletics at Oakland Alameda Coliseum. First pitch is at 10:05, the game can be seen on MASN. David Hernandez returns to the hill for the Birds, he faces Ben Sheets. We’ll of course have our “Orange Crush” chat going at WNST.net, I think we’re opening it early if you want to talk about the Washington Capitals’ playoff game.

You can also follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for 24/7 commentary regarding the Birds. During yesterday’s game, I offered the classic quip “Don’t worry, Brad Bergesen says he’ll be fine by Opening Day!”

6. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Derrick Mason has sights set on winning Super Bowl this season

A couple of things:

1-Mike Preston apparently blogged yesterday that the Ravens held the press conference to “pacify” Derrick Mason; as the team doesn’t usually hold press conferences when a player re-signs, but they needed to hold one for Mason because they held press conferences recently for Donte’ Stallworth and Anquan Boldin. Apparently Mike forgot about the press conference the team held for Ray Lewis just a season ago-which also happened a couple weeks after HE signed because of scheduling issues.

2-I heard/saw a few local and national football analysts say “I bet the Ravens are regretting the fact that they traded for Boldin and didn’t hold out for Brandon Marshall knowing the price the Miami Dolphins got him for!”

HUH?

The Ravens were THRILLED to get Anquan Boldin, especially for the price they paid for him. While Brandon Marshall is taller and maybe could be more of a red zone target, he also has a MUCH MORE checkered past, and Ozzie Newsome and company never really appeared to TRULY be interested in him-especially not for the price the Fins paid.

If you missed Derrick this morning with Drew Forrester on AM1570, make sure you click on the “Audio” tab right above where you’re reading this; it will take you to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault, where you can hear the interview.

7. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Morehouse OT Ramon Harewood has visited 1 Winning Drive

What do you need to know about Ramon Harewood? He’s certainly a beast at 6’6″, 341 pounds; and it does appear as though he will be drafted.

While OT might not jump out at Ravens fans as an area of great need, it will be an area they’ll look to upgrade no matter what happens with Jared Gaither.

Should they end up trading Jared Gaither, they’ll have an immediate need at OT, with Oniel Cousins, Marshal Yanda and Tony Moll their top options behind Michael Oher.

Should they end up KEEPING Jared Gaither, they’re still unlikely to give him an extension keep him here long-term, meaning they’ll need depth at the position anyway.

Either way, they’ll be in the market. Watch names like Vladimir Ducasse (UMass) and Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale College) as well.

8. The Sun’s Ken Murray says Morgan State WR EJ Morton-Green worked out with Jim Zorn in Owings Mills yesterday

If you missed Morton-Green with Drew Forrester this morning, click on that same “Audio” tab you used to listen to Derrick Mason.

As I’ve said before, Morton-Green is unlikely to get drafted, but thanks to his size (6’4″), he could certainly be an option for the Ravens to sign as an undrafted free agent and give him a look during Training Camp.

9. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Ryan Mink says NFL schedule to be released Tuesday night at 7pm, Ravens will find out when they play AFC North, AFC East, NFC South teams

I wish I could say this would provide a nice distraction from the Orioles-but since the Birds are in Seattle, the game isn’t until 10pm. So after 3 hours of dissecting the schedule and figuring out what the Ravens are going to do, you’ll still have to watch the Orioles face the Mariners-who have suddenly looked a bit better recently.

IT NEVER ENDS!!!!

10. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Ralph Friedgen still wants to see more from Pete White

Does anyone get concerned that White might join the likes of Jared Gaither and Bruce Campbell amongst Terrapins O-Linemen who seem to have NFL level ability but just never really make it work at an All-ACC level in College Park? Or am I just too paranoid as a Terps fan?

Cue Black Sabbath…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_aIhh9nFYv4[/youtube]

11. Inside Lacrosse says Maryland’s Grant Catalino, Brian Farrell; Loyola’s Jake Hagelin nominees for Tewaaraton Award

It’s a long list. There’s 4 players from the state of Maryland (including one from Salisbury), and ONE from a school in Baltimore.

Those things aren’t good.

You know what else is good? Pictures of Supaksorn Chaimongkol at Guyism.com…

chaimongkol

And finally, I leave you with this.

I usually don’t use this area for more “hot chicks” pictures, but I usually don’t find pictures of Edyta Sliwinska from “Dancing With The Stars” in Maxim…

dwts

…Yeah, she seems nice.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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