Tag Archive | "Detroit Lions"

Bring Out Your Dead

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Bring Out Your Dead

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Inspired by the scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where the body cart is being pushed through the city during the plague as the mortician cries “Bring Out Your Dead”. As one man ambitiously tries to deliver a not quite dead elderly man to the cart hilarity ensues. Here’s a look at who’s being (or has been) written off for dead in the sports world, and what the final prognosis might be.

“I’m Not Dead Yet” – Despite reports to the contrary these guys are not dead yet, but may have one foot in the proverbial grave and another on a banana peel.

 

Cam Newton – Superman has become the Super-Sulker but he’s not dead yet, not by a long shot. Still there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Newton’s post-loss body language has been unbearable. We can all appreciate that the kid wants to win, but he’ll have to do some growing up before he can become a leader of men. Cam took everyone (including himself) to task in the wake of the Panthers most recent defeat, but mostly seemed to point fingers at his offensive coordinator. Newton is looking for a game plan that authors blowouts but will sooner or later have to learn that life in the NFL doesn’t work that way. In 3 of his 5 losses this season, Cam has had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game in the final 5 minutes. If he intends to be the star he’s being cast as, he’ll need to get comfortable in those situations. It’d also help if Newton stopped shaking off teammates’ efforts to celebrate TDs with him while clearing out space to do his ridiculous Superman dance.

 

 

Cam Cameron – Sticking with Cams, reports of the demise of Cam Cameron might be a byproduct of Ravens fans wishes more than anything else. In the wake of the Ravens most recent disappointment against the Houston Texans however, another long and introspective look at this offense might be long overdue. Cameron was “under fire” by owner Steve Bisciotti last season and managed to survive. There’s no reason to believe the Ravens will make a change before seasons end, but in the event that it doesn’t end in the Super Bowl, this season could very likely be Cameron’s last.

 

Maurice Jones-Drew – Remember MJD calling out Jay Cutler a couple of seasons ago for surrendering during the playoffs due to an MCL injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and didn’t require surgery. Last week in a game the Jaguars lost in overtime to a less than spectacular Oakland Raiders squad, MJD watched from the sidelines while nursing a foot injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and that apparently won’t require surgery. This on the heels of his extended and controversial holdout from training camp while trying to earn a new contract or force a trade won’t buy Jones-Drew much empathy as he watches from the sidelines for the next couple of weeks at least.

 

Lance Armstrong – Maybe the Lance Armstrong fiasco will give us a long overdue chance to examine ourselves. He lorded over a sport that was rampant with doping and drug use, and while he adamantly proclaimed being above it throughout his once storied and undeniably dominant career. Now having given up the fight and having been stripped of all of his career accolades Armstrong also finds that those who rode his coattails to success and fortune aren’t set to stand by him in the hard times. It’s still impossible to ignore all of the good that Armstrong has done in his career, and it seems only a matter of time before he’ll inevitably bounce back in the court of public opinion…but it doesn’t look like it’ll be terribly easy, or any time soon for that matter.

 

Dirk Nowitzki – Just as the world was ready to close the book on the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki he surprised everyone and cemented that legacy by winning an NBA championship. He backed it up however by showing up for a lockout shortened NBA season the following year out of shape, and now looks ready to miss at least the first few weeks of this season as he recovers from ankle surgery. It may now be safe to close the book on Nowitzki’s NBA legacy. It appears he got that title just in the nick of time.

 

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Pay Rice or Delay Rice?

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Pay Rice or Delay Rice?

Posted on 06 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Lingering legends aside, Ray Rice might be the most popular and productive Raven today. One thing’s for sure…at $550K or so in the final season of his contract, Ray Rice is easily the Ravens best pound-for-pound bargain, and arguably the league’s best. One other thing that seems assured is that Rice is going to get paid. When, how much and where that happens however may not be as much of a foregone conclusion as it would seem.

This has been “the year of…” lots of things in the NFL, the year of the 5K quarterbacks, the year of the rookies, the year of the power forwards at tight end and the year of the disgruntled running back.

 

As running backs league wide from Chris Johnson to Frank Gore, from Matt Forte to Peyton Hillis have barked and in some cases dogged it (allegedly…and no pun intended) over their “contract to performance ratios”, Rice with arguably the strongest case of all has remained silent. Silent about the contract that is, on the field he has been anything but silent or dogged.

 

It’s been a running topic of conversation all season on the MobTown Sports Beat and everyone seems assured that Rice will be taken care of by the Ravens and some have speculated that there’s no reason Rice shouldn’t feel confident that the team will take care of him.

 

It’s all but 100% (in my mind at least) that Rice will be back next season, but under what circumstances and for how long are still debatable.

 

If you subscribe to the school of WWBBD (What would Bill Bellichick do?) the answer is to franchise Rice. Given Adrian Peterson’s new contract, the franchise tag will be a big number, but only for one season. Whether Rice would maintain his decorum for another season under similar (albeit more lucrative) circumstances to this one would remain to be seen as well.

 

In addition to Peterson’s contract, his injury will also likely factor heavily into the Ravens impending decision of whether to franchise Rice or to pay him long term money. Peterson’s injury is a not so subtle reminder of just how quickly a running back in particular can see his season (or even his career) ended. Having all of your eggs in that proverbial basket is a high-risk high reward proposition (as we learned in 2001 with Jamal Lewis’ injury).

 

The value of NFL running backs is on the decline, but the pay scale on the top end of the position is still rising. There are lots of Pro Bowl caliber and highly compensated running backs in the NFL watching the playoffs from home this season, and most of the league’s most productive offenses have plug and play backfields and use the running game as an afterthought for little more than window dressing it would seem at times.

 

Only one running back went in the first round of the last NFL draft and while still promising, Mark Ingram has done little to make teams sorry for passing on him. DeMarco Murray, taken on the second day of the draft was the league’s best rookie at the position.

 

One year prior, Ryan Matthews, CJ Spiller and Jahvid Best all went in the first round and all were summarily outperformed by undrafted rookies LaGarrette Blount and Chris Ivory. An undrafted practice squad player from one season earlier led the league in rushing last season and the Packers marched through the Super Bowl after losing their bell-cow in Ryan Grant and replacing him with little known and lightly regarded James Starks.

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NFL Playoff Positional Power Rankings

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NFL Playoff Positional Power Rankings

Posted on 05 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look at my positional power rankings for the players and teams that are left in the playoffs. This year’s stats accounted for a lot but at the end of the day it’s my opinion on who I’d suit up today for the best chance at winning.

Quarterbacks

 

1 – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

2 – Drew Brees (NO)

3 – Tom Brady (NE)

4 – Eli Manning (NYG)

5 – Matthew Stafford (DET)

6 – Matt Ryan (ATL)

 

* I gave 6 here since the first 3 were fairly obvious (if not their respective places in that top 3)

 

 

Running Backs

 

1 – Ray Rice (BAL)

2 – Arian Foster (HOU)

3 – Michael Turner (ATL)

4 – Frank Gore (SF)

5 – Darren Sproles (NO)

 

 

Wide Receivers

 

1 – Calvin Johnson (DET)

2 – Andre Johnson (HOU)

3 – AJ Green (CIN)

4 – Victor Cruz (NYG)

5 – Wes Welker (NE)

6 – Roddy White (ATL)

7 – Greg Jennings (GB)

8 – Jordy Nelson (GB)

9 – Mike Wallace (PIT)

10 – Hakeem Nicks (NYG)

 

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Not in My Back Yard

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Not in My Back Yard

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Week 15 of the NFL season brought about a heavy dose of perspective and a number of reality checks for teams that rightly appeared to be primed for the playoffs just a week ago. While frustration, part and parcel to any NFL season, isn’t easy to accept, it’s still far better than the alternative…apathy.

Sometimes seeing your own favorite team regularly and up close and for all its warts and blemishes makes it tough to mesh that perspective with the “bird’s eye” view that we get of most teams through highlights and limited national TV exposure. That said, fans in cities from Green Bay to Indianapolis are up in arms over the weekend’s action and could all probably use a healthy dose of perspective.

While the Ravens are far from perfect or infallible, they’re the devil we know, and for that I’m both happy and hopeful. As for the devils that we don’t know, here are 10 of the most interesting NFL storylines that I’m glad to be seeing from the bird’s eye view, as they’re undoubtedly entertaining for fans, but probably best appreciated from afar.

Here are the Top 10 NFL Storylines That I’m Glad Are Playing Out in Someone Else’s Back Yard.

Storyline #10- Suck for Luck

 

For the first 5 or so weeks of the season there were anywhere from 5-10 interested and interesting looking candidates in the Luck sweepstakes. By mid-season it was down to 2, and as Matt Moore and the Dolphins tried against hope to rally around coach Tony Sparano, only Indianapolis was left in the Luck conversation. That invited a number of other conversations regarding Luck’s potential and Peyton Manning’s future with the Colts. Last week’s win by Indy may have reignited hope in both St. Louis and Minnesota as potential Luck destinations.

 

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MobTown Sports Blog – Tue 12/6

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MobTown Sports Blog – Tue 12/6

Posted on 06 December 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look ahead at the Tuesday agenda for the MobTown Sports Beat. It’ll be a late start today as “Monday Night Live with Brendan Ayanbadejo” will air from 10 until 11 am, but we’ll be getting it in after that.

 

 

Guest Lineup

 

Jason Butt from CBS Sports and the Baltimore Guide will join us at 11:30 to talk Ravens.

 

Luke Jones will provide the Ravens intelligence with a Ravens report at 12:30.

 

Ravens Reaction

 

A thankfully uneventful foray in Cleveland in the books the Ravens look ahead to a toothless Colts team. We’re always open to Ravens rap.

 

A Nickel and a Nail

 

Five topical conversation starters and a nail for someone who deserves it. Share your thoughts:

 

#1 – Unlikely MVP Candidates

 

As the season winds down and as we set the countdown to declare Aaron Rodgers MVP of the league, who else might deserve to be in the conversation albeit under unlikely circumstances?

 

Peyton Manning who proved his value even more in his absence than with the impressive body of work that preceded it. Tim Tebow who has delivered the Broncos from 1-4 to the top of the AFC West despite no organizational support and the trade of the team’s best receiver on the day Tebow got the job. Matt Moore who has rescued the Dolphins from the throes of winlessness and played them right out of the Andrew Luck sweepstakes. Maurice Jones-Drew who has put together a terrific campaign despite being on a team with no other offensive weapons. Matt Forte and Frank Gore who literally carried their teams to unexpected success (Forte’s value may become more apparent in coming weeks too via his absence). Wes Welker, Victor Cruz, Marshawn Lynch, Arian Foster and Darren McFadden are all probably worth a mention too.

 

#2 – The Miami Heat of Baseball

 

Given the season the Eagles are enduring, carrying the title “Miami Heat of” anything is probably an unwelcome harbinger of struggles ahead. As the newly anointed Miami Marlins go about making their splash into big market baseball though, most recently by heaping money on Jose Reyes and now looking to pique the interests of Albert Pujols, this rapid reconstruct looks much more like the Heat than even Philly’s football version.

 

Forget for a second that Reyes’ career season and the timing thereof couldn’t have been better for him personally as it came just ahead of free agency, and color me cynical if I see a 28-year old Dominican and immediately assume there’s at least a chance he might be a tad north of his listed age. The fact that Reyes and current “face of the Marlins” Hanley Ramirez both play shortstop and like LeBron James and DeWayne Wade’s skill sets the move seems justifiable yet glaringly redundant. Adding the best player in the game in Pujols would cement the Heat persona for this team…perhaps by design.

 

If so, it’s probably worth noting that while the Marlins were looking to the Heat for their blueprint for success they should have been careful to notice the white slipcovers that cover the empty American Airlines Arena seats in a feeble attempt to disguise the problem these Marlins know all too well…even a team full of superstars is a tough draw in a city full of lavish beaches, tropical locales and loads of other entertainment options. If the Heat’s Big 3 can’t draw in Miami during the winter months what’s to keep folks interested in the Marlins on beautiful summer nights…Pujols or not?

 

#3 – Tough Luck Contenders

 

They’re still in the thick of their respective conference playoff pictures, but that’s about all that’s gone right for the Houston Texans and Chicago Bears this season.

 

The Texans lost Mario Williams for the season early, Arian Foster for most of the season’s first quarter, Andre Johnson for a handful of games along the way yet were still firmly positioned atop the AFC South when the bottom fell out on Matt Schaub…and then Matt Leinart immediately thereafter. A game TJ Yates showed well in his trial by fire win against the tough Falcons on Sunday but lost Johnson again along the way. They still have a 2 game lead over the Titans who are the only team in the division able to catch them mathematically, and would be well positioned in the wild card even if they faltered away the division. With dates @CIN, vs. CAR, @IND & vs. TEN left the Texans look like a lock for the playoffs no matter who they have to rely on to get them there, the question is what they’ll be able to do once they finally reach that long awaited summit.

 

The Bears on the other had started slow as quarterback Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz struggled to get on the same page and with an apparent lack of talent on the offensive line. They were able to right their ship and ride Matt Forte into wildcard contention in the only division in football seemingly salted away (by the Packers) in week 6. Hoping for the best from Caleb Hanie at quarterback, the Bears were dealt the worst possible blow on Sunday (as were all of my fantasy teams) with the loss of Matt Forte possibly for the season. With dates remaining @DEN, vs. SEA, @ GB and @ MIN and clinging loosely to the 1st NFC wildcard spot at present the Bears road to the playoffs is much more in doubt.

 

The Raiders can probably fairly count themselves in this group too, losing Jason Campbell and spending mightily to replace him with Carson Palmer only to lose Darren McFadden immediately and indefinitely upon Palmer’s arrival. They’re in a dogfight for the AFC West / 2nd AFC wildcard with dates remaining @GB, vs. DET, @ KC and vs. SD.

 

 

#4 – BC-Mess continued

 

I vented on this topic here yesterday and won’t rehash that argument again. I will however add a couple of things.

 

First is that the BCS title rematch is a result (in my opinion) of media arrogance above all else. As 5 of the 7 computer rankings had Oklahoma State ahead of Alabama for the BCS’ second spot but the human side of the ledger tipped the balance to Alabama. As the media ordained Alabama the best team in the country through most of the season, their willingness to shake that notion was evident as the talk of a rematch began before the first game was even played. Much like the writers who bought into the Eagles dream team persona in the lead up to the NFL season and as a result were calling the midseason games of a sub .500 and floundering team the “beginning of the Eagles playoffs”…really?!?!?!?

 

Would the media be so quick to put LSU back in a rematch if the shoe were on the other foot and Alabama had beaten them at home? I doubt it. And while the human element seems just and justifiable as part of the formula, who amongst the voters have actually watched all of the BCS’ top 25 in multiple games this season…and how many watch 3 or 4 marquee games per week and take the word of the media and the assembled highlights of SportsCenter and other highlight shows to form their opinions about the others? How does that make sense? And how does anyone who tried to “work the vote” by putting Oklahoma State 4th or 5th on their ballot ever hope to keep a ballot for the following season?

 

Second, since we’re all in agreement that LSU is the unquestioned #1, and since the real debate begins at #2 and #3; why not let Alabama face Oklahoma Sate in a bowl, crown LSU the champ and showcase them against Boise State, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin or some other conference champ with no real shot at beating the Tigers?

 

Crown LSU the champ and settle the debate surrounding #2. We’ll see who’s smarter, the voters or the computers, once and for all. As it stands now, if LSU loses to Alabama in the BSC title game, theirs’ (LSU’s) will still be the better overall body of work with a better out of conference schedule, a win in Alabama’s building and an extra win in the SEC title game, yet the Tide will be the BCS crowned and titular champion.

 

 

#5 – Lions Melting Down

 

Who will be to blame if the Lions miss the playoffs? After an encouraging start, the Lions can’t get out of their own way and seem to be more caught up on winning the battle or the fight than the football game. Is any of this attributable to head coach Jim Schwartz’ ugly episode around the handshake after losing to the 49ers? Is their reputation too far gone to rescue this season to any real success?

 

And the Nail Goes to … Jason Garrett

 

Not just for icing his own kicker on Sunday, but that’s surely a part of it. The offensive genius that Garrett was touted to be once upon a time has yet to emerge and Garrett is surely feeling the heat after Sunday’s debacle on top of the debacle of a season that has preceded it as well.

 

I was a big Garrett critic when the Ravens were wooing him but backed off of my criticisms after he seemed to turn the Cowboys around after taking over mid-season last year. He lost me again (maybe just as a bitter Felix Jones owner) when he helped the Cowboys blow an apparently safe late lead and called snap after futile snap from the shotgun inside of the 10-yard line amongst other things in rolling over for the Jets.

 

Below is what I wrote here about the Ravens pursuit of Garrett prior to the 2008 season. Thanks for making me look smart Jason Garrett…that isn’t always easy.

 

With the benefit of hindsight it’s unbelievable that the Ravens were more interested in Garrett than he was in them…laughable even. Thanks Garrett (and Jerry Jones) for saving us from ourselves on that one too.

 

Jason Garrett’s Professional Mentors:

 

As a Player:

 

Princeton University – played under Ron Rogerson and Steve Tosches

 

Columbia University – played under Jim Garrett (Jim Garrett resigned after 0-10 season and allegations of verbal and physical abuse)

 

San Antonio Riders – played under Mike Riley

 

Ottawa Rough Riders – played under Dave Ritchie

 

Dallas Cowboys – played under Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey

 

New York Giants – played under Jim Fassel

 

Tampa Bay Bucs – played under Jon Gruden

 

As a Coach:

 

Miami Dolphins – QB coach – under Nick Saban

 

Dallas Cowboys – Offensive Coordinator – under Wade Phillips
 
Hiring a guy with Jason Garrett’s limited experience would be considered a gamble in most cases, yet somehow Garrett has managed to create a bidding war for his services. What Garrett lacks in pedigree he must make up for in potential. He comes from a football family, but his dad coached in the Ivy League and guided Columbia to an 0-10 season in 1995. Garrett jumped from Princeton to Columbia to play for his dad, and then back to Princeton after his dad was fired.
 
Garrett lasted for a long time in the NFL, presumably on brains more than physical gifts, and played for the Cowboys dynasty in the 90’s and on the Giants Superbowl team in 2000. Although he has played on successful teams, he certainly didn’t come up under a who’s who of coaches. He played for Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer and Chan Gailey in Dallas, Jim Fassel in New York and Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay. He played 4 years of Ivy League ball, and a few years between the WLAF and CFL. Although Garrett was on successful teams and was said to have mentored Kerry Collins in New York, he wasn’t coming up under Knute Rockne or Vince Lombardi by any means.
 
Garrett’s coaching credentials are even more suspect. Two years with the Dolphins as QB coach, during which he oversaw 5 different starters at the position. And then one year with the Cowboys in which he did a good job, with an offense that was good before his arrival. Garrett was presumably brought in to fix whatever caused Dallas to meltdown in the last 4 games of 2006 and to fizzle in the playoffs. His offense was in the top 5 in both scoring and yardage, but again melted down in the last 4 games of the season and fizzled in the playoffs. Garrett’s second half play calling against the Giants in the playoffs has to be among the worst called halves in the history of the game.
 
What may be more troubling than the limited amount of time that Garrett has had as an NFL coach, are the coaches under whom he has learned. Before spending this season in the shadow of the legendary Wade Phillips, who is so highly regarded that he may be fired in favor of Garrett before this all plays out, Garrett spent his previous two seasons learning his craft from the icon Nick Saban.
 
Garrett may or may not have learned much about the game of football from Saban, but based on the way that he is handling negotiations so far, he must have learned something from Saban. Saban, who left LSU fresh off of a national championship, for a big payday with the Dolphins, and then turned tail and ran back to the college ranks as soon as someone else came along with money. That kind of puts a different perspective on Garrett’s negotiations so far, doesn’t it?
 
John Harbaugh may be quickly emerging as a favorite now. Interestingly enough, based on the way that the coaching trees are assembled, Harbaugh would probably not be on Bill Walsh’s tree, even though it was Ray Rhodes who gave him his first NFL coaching job. It looks like coaches whose fathers were coaches too, were assumed to have learned their philosophies at home. Count Rex Ryan among the coaches who don’t come from the same 3 trees.
 
I probably like Harbaugh the best of all of the serious candidates, mostly because he isn’t a retread, and he isn’t a coordinator riding the momentum of a big season, and a talented team. If John Harbaugh is being interviewed, they must really like him, because he doesn’t have a top 5 offense or defense to boast of. In fact, he doesn’t have an offense or defense at all, he’s a position coach. So he must bring something else very impressive to the table if he is getting serious consideration.
 
Looking at the current head coaches in the NFL, of those who have actually won Superbowls, only Mike Holmgren did it with the first team he coached. Bill Bellichick, Mike Shannahan and Tony Dungy were all fired by their first employers, and Jon Gruden left Oakland before winning it all in Tampa. All of those coaches seemed to learn from previous failures, and excel when given another opportunity. Hiring a retread seems to be a bad PR move, but is usually a safer way to go.
 
I have suspected all along that Bisciotti’s ego has been driving this whole process. He is out to put his stamp on this team and this organization. Art Modell didn’t look like a good owner to me when he first came to town. He was seemingly broke, and didn’t have another lucrative business outside of football as most owners do. Then along came Bisciotti with the money, and proved me, and lots of other doubters wrong. Hopefully he’ll do it again. I’m not ready to write him off as an owner just yet; hopefully this will be just a bump in the road. For now though, things aren’t looking so good.
 
Maybe Bisciotti’s quest to put a stamp on his legacy goes beyond finding a hall of fame coach. From the list of candidates, he looks like he’ll be trying to start a hall of fame coaching tree. If Garrett is indeed to be that seed, let’s hope that this apple fell far from the trees under which he’s grown up
 
 

 

The Big 3 Questions

 

Call it the Miami Heat of radio segments and tweet talk, 3 random questions. Hit me with your answers on Twitter @Thyrl or @WNST, by email thyrl@wnst.net, or at 410-481-1570. Whatever you do, get back @ me.

 

#1 – Are you taking the #Packers or the field to win the #SuperBowl as of now? #NFL

 

I’ll still reluctantly take the field.

 

#2 – Do the #Ravens have an issue at kicker?

 

I hope not…

 

#3 – Which #NFL QBs would you trade Joe Flacco for today?

 

Rodgers, Brees and that’s it for me. Disagree (I’ll bet you do) call me on it.

 

 

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

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The Ledge: Boise State, Redskins, Broncos, City of Dallas & the Commish

Posted on 31 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

Boise State: It was supposed to somehow be their year. What’s more, this should have been a good weekend for the Boise Sate Broncos, instead it was just another in a series of tough late season blows for the “Little Engine That Could” of college football as the Stanford Cardinal not only survived a triple OT scare against USC, but catapulted the Broncos for the fourth spot in the BCS this week as a result.

 

The losses by Kansas State and Clemson had to be encouraging for the Broncos, and if the probability of USC upending Stanford as it was happening appeared too good to be true, it ultimately was. After starting the season with little #’s 5 & 7 in the two major polls next to their name, the Broncos appeared to be in line for their first legitimate shot at getting into the BCS title game if a few things broke their way. Lately it became apparent that they were the contingency plan for Oklahoma State at best. Now looking up at Stanford too, it seems that QB Kellen Moore and company will need lots of help in earning their “lifetime achievement award”.

 

Last but not least, it seems that in the era of conference landscape shake-up the Broncos, apparently Big East bound will still be looking at a future where the strength of schedule still serves to indict their record no matter how impressive.

 

Outlook: Stay positive, the weekend wasn’t a total loss. Clemson lost, K-State lost, and Stanford at least proved that they could be beaten. The Cardinal still have a showdown with Oregon and the PAC-12 title game to get through and Oklahoma State’s road may be even tougher than that. Boise’s BCS outlook may still be more realistic and closer than ever.

 

 

Washington Redskins: You started 3-1 and Rex Grossman’s misplaced confidence in declaring the Redskins contenders seemed to be both founded and contagious. Three straight losses and two quarterbacks later the Skins are fresh off of a 23-0 oak-sticking at the hands of the Bills and the once vulnerable looking NFC East is beginning to round more into the form that most expected to begin the season. The Eagles look to be clicking right now, the Giants and Cowboys both look talented but inconsistent and the Redskins look to be pulling up the rear.

 

Outlook: You knew it would eventually come to this, didn’t you? Even at 3-1 the Redskins were tough to buy into, now we’re being reminded of why. 

 

 

City of Dallas: The year began so well. The Cowboys played host to the Super Bowl and even though they expected to be in it and weren’t and even though the weather was an ongoing storyline throughout Super Bowl week, it’s tough to count that experience as a negative. In fact on the heels of the Super Bowl and tons of giant events at the new “Jerry-World” the Mavericks won the NBA Finals and the Rangers dominated most of the summer.

 

Now however, the Rangers arguably choked away their first world title twice in game 6 of the World Series then lost it in game 7, the reeling Cowboys are 3-4 and fresh off of an embarrassing Sunday Night performance on national television, and the Mavericks chance to defend their NBA title is on hold indefinitely as the NBA lockout drags on.

 

Outlook: Everything is bigger in Big D, I suppose panic is no different.

 

 

Denver Broncos: Okay, Tim Tebow stinks. It’s easy to tolerate when he’s winning and inspiring people along the way, but a win over a bad Dolphins team was just that no matter how exciting, and the reeling Detroit Lions exacted 2 weeks of frustrations on the Broncos on Sunday with ease. Tebow was a winner in college, but so were lots of NFL players, and even more who never made it or simply stunk in the NFL. Winning at this level is different, and Tebow has a long way to go before he can think about doing it consistently, and the current coaching staff may have no legitimate designs on waiting for him to be ready.

 

The Broncos are paying 3 quarterbacks good money, yet still have no real answer at quarterback. Additionally their win against the Dolphins while inspirational has them looking “up” at 4 teams in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes and on even ground (in the loss column) with 4 more.

 

Outlook: A team with 2 quarterbacks really has none; a team with 3 might have no idea what they’re looking for. Be afraid Bronco’s fans yours is a tough road ahead.

 

 

Roger Goodell: Mr. Ndamukong Suh would like to see you sir.

 

Outlook: Be afraid be very afraid.

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts)    season: 13-12 (-20 pts) 

 

Saints -14 @ Rams 

 

Lions -3 @ Broncos

 

Steelers +3 vs. Patriots

 

Browns +9 @ 49ers

 

Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts)    season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)

 

Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings

 

Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants

 

Bills -6 vs. Redskins

 

Bengals -3 @ Seahawks

 

Cowboys +3.5  @ Eagles

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts)    season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)

 

Titans -9 vs. Colts

 

Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans

 

Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals

  

Last week Total: 5-7-1  (-164 pts)     Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

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The Ledge: Lions, Sparano, BCS Contenders & NBA Fans

Posted on 24 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations collide with poor performances fans tend to find themselves at the ledge. It’s that fan purgatory where blood pressure always seems to be rising and the sky always seems to be falling. Let’s take a look outside to see who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

 

The Detroit Lions – Losers now of two straight, the Lions could surely use some good publicity to take some of the spotlight away from coach Jim Schwartz’ loss of decorum during his post game exchange with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh immediately following the Lions first loss of the season. Getting into a pre-game dust up with the Falcons probably isn’t going to do it, nor is Ndamukong Suh going to do much for his quickly devolving reputation for antics by standing over Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan while heaping on celebratory trash talk and reveling in Ryan’s apparent injury.

 

Beating the reeling Falcons away from the safety of the Georgia Dome would have been a nice feather in the Lions’ cap, but yesterday’s loss to those Falcons 23-16 may instead serve as a real stumbling block to the Lions potential playoff fortunes. Having seen the Packers run their record to 7-0 with a win on Sunday, the Lions can now look to the NFC wildcard as their most likely passage into the playoffs. As the also-rans of the AFC South look to be fighting for the very same, the Lions may have lost an important tiebreaker on Sunday.

 

Either way their running game is in apparent shambles, the failed Ronnie Brown trade looks to hurt a lot and the oft injured Matthew Stafford may have gone down to injury on the last play of Sunday’s game to boot.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight Lions fans. Next up: @ Denver, Bye, @ Chicago & vs. Carolina before a Thanksgiving Day showdown with Green Bay. There’s plenty of time to right the ship.

 

 

Tony Sparano – Sunday’s game at Miami against the Broncos might have felt like the whole world (or at least the whole stadium) vs. Tony Sparano. And for a while it looked as though Sparano might have won.

 

The coach surely began the season on the hot seat, and if Jim Harbaugh had been compelled to take his talents to South Beach there may have been no seat at all for Sparano. There clearly has been no quarterback for Sparano and the Dolphins since making due with Chad Pennington to moderate success in 2008.

 

Sunday though was strange. Tim Tebow, making his debut for the Broncos this season, enjoyed a great deal of crowd favor from those who showed up to celebrate Tebow’s 2008 Florida Gators National Championship team, and most Dolphins fans it seems have succumbed to the “suck for Luck” philosophy that wins at this point will only inhibit their chances at the top pick in next year’s draft.

 

As Tebow was crossing the goal with the game tying 2-point conversion, fans of both teams (plentiful in Miami on Sunday) seemed united in their hopes that Sparano and his Dolphins would find a way to lose…and they did. Everyone but Sparano left happy (or at least appeased).

 

Prognosis: Prepare to be pushed Tony Sparano. Your boy Bill Parcells bailed on you already, and the only purpose you’re serving at present is to be the means to a 0-16 season that will deliver Andrew Luck and likely the next head coach as well. No need for the Dolphins to rush that move though, they can save money now and keep the new guy from being associated with this ongoing mess.

 

 

NBA Fans – The NBA lockout got shock value attention courtesy of Bryant Gumbel last week, they got impartial mediation courtesy of the federal government and they got the best wishes of seemingly every fan still clinging to hopes of an NBA season at all this year. The end result, talks broke off at an apparent impasse with not only no apparent resolution in sight, but it seems there aren’t even any official plans to continue the talks as yet. The players are into the “making plans” phase of taking their talents to wherever paychecks are imminent and many owners seem contented to let the whole season go un-played, and David Stern will probably cancel Christmas this week.

 

Prognosis: Hang tight; college basketball is just around the corner. Accept the fact that there probably won’t be an NBA season and get over it. That way if there is one you’ll be imminently happy but you won’t waste any time, energy or emotion sweating it out in the meanwhile.

 

 

Clemson, Stanford & Boise State – It’s that time of year again too. The national championship picture is down to 7 teams after undefeated Oklahoma and Wisconsin fell last weekend. For those 7 teams, their chance at a national title just became a lot more real, and suddenly a lot more important too.

 

In fairness, it’s probably only 5 of the 7 legitimate title contenders that are seeing the championship picture with more clarity this week, as it’s been all but ordained that the winner of the SEC’s loaded western division would roll though the conference title game and into the BCS National Championship game as a result. For weeks we’ve been touting the LSU and Alabama winner as one half of the title picture at least, that part hasn’t changed.

 

What has changed is the likelihood that the Big-12 winner would get the other side of that bracket as that may be suddenly not be so likely. The Big-12 still has 2 undefeated teams in Oklahoma State (3rd in the BCS) and Kansas State (8th in the BCS) but both still have to play each other and a still strong Oklahoma team now relegated to the role of spoiler. Oklahoma State also still has Baylor with Heisman candidate Robert Griffin III and the Texas Tech team that just beat Oklahoma on their schedule and Kansas State has Texas and Texas A&M still remaining too.

 

Mathematically there could still be 5 undefeated powers left at season’s end (but likely won’t be). Where the ones who don’t reside in the SEC shake out should be quite interesting and is still very much up in the air right now.

 

Prognosis: If you’re a fan of any one of the three listed in the title, you might as well jump as no matter which team you side with, the odds are stacked against you. Beware though that if you do, you’ll surely miss out on an exciting and controversial finish to the college football season.

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 4: 4-1 (290 pts)    season: 11-9 (110 pts) 

 

Chargers -2 @ Jets 

 

Texans +3 @ Titans

 

Steelers -3.5 @ Cardinals

 

Packers -9 @. Vikings

 

Ravens -7.5 @ Jaguars

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 4: 3-2 (40 pts)    season: 8-10 (-150 pts)

 

Redskins +2.5 @ Panthers

 

Browns -3 vs. Seahawks

 

Broncos +1.5 @ Dolphins

 

Raiders -4.5 vs. Chiefs

 

Saints -14 vs. Colts

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 4: 1-1-1 (-2 pts)    season 8-8-2 (-16 pts)

 

Buccaneers +1 vs. Bears (in London)

 

Lions -3.5 vs. Falcons

 

Cowboys -12.5 vs. Rams

  

Last week Total: 8-4-1 (328 pts)     Season Total: 27-27-2 (-56 pts)

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MSB Monday Market Watch

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MSB Monday Market Watch

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

5 On The Rise

#1 – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox this weekend to close the gap in the AL Wild Card to 2 games with 10 games to go for each side. Whether the Sox can manage to hold off the Rays or not, they’re in trouble as injuries have taken another mighty toll on Boston this season. Still, after leading Tampa by 9 games as late as September 3rd, there will be no legitimate excuses for the Sox if they should somehow complete one of the worst late season collapses in modern baseball history.

 

If the Rays somehow find their way in, it’ll be to the chagrin of not just the Sox but of all of the AL teams who do make the playoffs too as the Rays formidable starting pitching has managed to keep them afloat as the bullpen and lineup have spent most of the year learning on the fly. Although it’s a small sample size, the Rays 11-4 record in their last 15 games suggests that they’re peaking at the right time.

 

Forecast: The schedule suggests that Boston is still in a pretty good place. Six of their 10 remaining games are on the road, but 3 of those and 7 overall of the last 10 are against Baltimore, against whom the Sox are 8-3 on the year. Their other 4 games are against the Yankees, who the Sox have owned to the tune of 11-4 so far this season. Tampa on the other hand has 6 of 10 games remaining at home and 7 of their remaining 10 against the Yankees, against whom they’re 5-6 on the season. Their other 3 games are against the Blue Jays, against whom they’re 10-5 so far.

 

With a magic number of 7 and 10 of their remaining 11 games against the Rays and Red Sox, the Yankees aren’t yet out of the woods either, igniting essentially 2 pennant races in the AL East when Yanks and Sox both appeared to be foregone conclusions just a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

#2 – The Atlantic Coast Conference – ACC fans have been waiting anxiously in the dark as the most recent round of Super-Conference manifest destinies began taking shape again. As all of the moves have seemingly been football driven, fans of the basketball first ACC sat hopefully expecting the conference to do it’s best to keep their 12-member alliance intact and maintain the status quo. Now it seems that the ACC may be on the fast track to becoming the nation’s first super conference as over the weekend news of the intents of both Syracuse and Pitt to join the ACC ranks began to spread.

 

At the very least, the 2 new members provide the conference with an insurance policy should the SEC come calling officially for Clemson and Florida State, but with UConn already rumored to be poised to follow, it seems but a mere formality that the ACC will add one more player to the mix and become an official Super-Conference with a giant TV network to follow. West Virginia, or on an outside shot South Carolina might be the best bets at #16.

 

Lost in the euphoria, but no less important this weekend, Miami upset #17 Ohio State, Clemson upset #21 Auburn and Maryland showed well (in the box score at least) against #18 West Virginia.

 

Forecast: So far so good it seems. Again, at the very least the ACC will be able to maintain 12 members should a couple succumb to the temptations of the SEC or some other budding Super-Conference and will be able to continue staging their own conference title games in football. At best, the ACC could win the race to 16 and become the first of likely many Super-Conferences. Keep in mind though that the most recent versions of ACC expansion didn’t exactly bring about the anticipated results or football credibility that seemed all but foregone at the time.

 

 

#3 – Cam Newton – The controversial Heisman trophy / National Championship winning quarterback turned controversial first round (first overall) draft pick of the Panthers unleashed his second straight 400+ yard passing performance en route to his second straight loss to begin his NFL career. Clearly he’d rather be winning and shining, but for now, he’s shining enough to have us all impressed, shocked and mesmerized. Shredding the suspect Cardinals defense in week 1 was impressive enough, that he was able to do it to the defending World Champs while keeping them against the ropes for most of the game after they had spent a week dissecting his tape is flat out amazing. If the youngster keeps playing like that, the wins will surely follow…as will more accolades.

 

Forecast: He’ll get a chance at the Jags next week and might be able to muster that elusive first win. After that, the schedule gets kind of hairy for a while. He’ll continue to sling it you can bet, and will learn some tough lessons along the way. The funniest thing may be that sooner or later teams will have to adjust to his ability to sling it all over the field, and when they do, Cam will get his chance to showcase the wheels that gained him so much notoriety last season at Auburn. It’s an unbelievable start to an NFL career, begging the simple question what will the kid do next?

 

 

#4 – Detroit Lions – The Lions picked up their second straight win to begin the season on Sunday and in so doing justified the faith of tons of pre-season prognosticators who thought the Lions to be on the rise. The interesting part of the Lions ascendance however is that so far it least it hasn’t been based on the brick wall that will be Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh when the rookie Fairley eventually gets onto the field; instead the Lions have been getting it done on offense with Matthew Stafford playing the part of polished veteran and Jahvid Best rebounding nicely from an injury plagued 2010.

 

Forecast: The Lions will have their work cut out for them in a contentious NFC North, and health has to be their biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. When exactly the Lions official window might open is debatable, but for now they’re at least knocking on the door.

 

 

#5 – Robert Griffin III – He entered the season as a lightly regarded Heisman candidate from a lightly regarded Baylor program flying largely under the radar. He emerged from a week 1 shootout with TCU (on the back of 359 yards passing and 5 TD) as RG3 and at the forefront of the Heisman conversation. After a 15-day hiatus Griffin and the Bears returned to action on Sunday and RG3 backed up his performance with a 20 for 22 night for a modest 265 yards and 3 TD, while adding 78 yards on the ground for good measure.

 

Forecast: The Bears will be looking at the Big-12 portion of their schedule soon enough affording Griffin plenty of chances in the national spotlight. And while the Bears may not be able to hold their own against top notch foes (TCU would beg to differ) Griffin might, and the need to keep his foot on the gas could lead to some seriously gaudy numbers along the way.

 

 

5 On The Slide

 

#1 – Professional Boxing – The fact that Floyd “Money” Mayweather was fighting “Vicious” Victor Ortiz on Saturday night (for an outrageous pay-per-view price tag of $69.99) should be in and of itself another proverbial “black eye” for boxing. This is after all the 147 pound division, touted by most as boxing’s best, yet the best match-up they could muster on that night for the best boxer of his generation was a hard punching young southpaw just 2 years removed from quitting in the ring against a middling Marcos Maidana. That Floyd Mayweather has not yet fought Manny Pacquiao is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and to the otherwise cleaned out by Mayweather 147-pound division. The action that took place in the ring…well that was kind of embarrassing too.

 

History will remember Floyd winning by a cheap shot, but that’s more likely as a result of our feelings about Floyd as a despicable human being than as a result of what actually happened in the ring on Saturday night. For 2 of the 3 full rounds Floyd landed easily and won decisively. In the middle round, Ortiz showed enough heart and offense to compel some to see it his way, but 2 of the 3 judges at ringside scored that one for Mayweather too. In the 4th Ortiz got aggressive, bullied Mayweather into a corner and then inexplicably charged him like a crazed bull with the crown of his head landing square in Mayweather’s face. That would be the fight’s only illegal shot, but not it’s last controversial one.

 

Immediately after butting Mayweather, as referee Joe Cortez attempted to step in and separate the fighters, Ortiz began apologizing to Mayweather. Ortiz hugged Mayweather and even kissed him on the cheek before being led to the center of the ring by Cortez to make the point deduction official. When the fighters got back together Ortiz again hugged Mayweather. Mayweather didn’t appear to reciprocate the hug and stood there arms out waiting to resume the action, which he did as soon as Ortiz backed away, landing a quick left followed by a crushing right that left Ortiz on the ground and unable to beat the count.

 

We’ll remember Mayweather’s cheap shot although his was legal, and forget too that he was dominating Ortiz in a way that suggested he’d end it sooner rather than later and that Mayweather may have been rightly enraged at Ortiz’ illegal and intentional head butt. What we won’t remember is a great fight or one that was worth the buy as neither was the case on Saturday.

 

Forecast: Mayweather will spend another year or so flaunting and burning (literally) the $25 million plus he made from this farce while we all wait anxiously for him to step in front of Pacquiao and into the beating that so many have been waiting to see him get. Mayweather will get paid again, likely beat Pacquiao too and continue to be a general A-hole. And we’ll keep giving him money.

 

 

#2 – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens backed up their impressive week one domination over the Pittsburgh Steelers by being beaten in all three phases of the game by the Tennessee Titans and are now left to reevaluate their estimations of their own greatness.

 

Throughout the Harbaugh era these Ravens have been far too professional to overlook opponents, even when those opponents don’t seem to have much of a realistic chance at winning against them. Or maybe, as we look back at games like Carolina and Buffalo in 2010, perhaps Sunday was the first time that the Ravens paid the price for taking a second division caliber team lightly. Regardless, on Sunday the Ravens had their proverbial lunches eaten by the Titans and then were charged with cleaning up the scraps when their bully nemeses were through.

 

The Ravens will surely have to pick up those scraps quickly and put them to use against St. Louis as for now at least, the loss served to bring the Steelers back into a tie for the division lead (albeit only week 2). There are plenty of wins to be had on the Ravens schedule; the question may simply be whether the team is professional enough to go about collecting them.

 

Forecast: This should serve as the wake up call that a team as professional as these Ravens have been shouldn’t have needed in the first place. They’ll get St. Louis coming off of a short week before returning home for a slugfest with the Jets. The Steelers meanwhile get the Manning-less Colts next week.

 

 

#3 – Arian Foster – Last year’s improbable rushing champ started this season without the fullback who had cleared holes for him to run through last season and with company in the backfield in Ben Tate who the Texans envisioned as the starter before losing him to injury last year. He continued his trek by injuring his hamstring, calling fantasy owners concerned about his health for their own reasons sick, tweeted images of his MRI and proclaimed himself ready for week 1. He wasn’t.

 

Ben Tate though was, possibly compelling Foster to rush back to action this week against the Dolphins, where he rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries before re-aggravating the hamstring and coming out of the game for good. Ben Tate in the meantime has gone over the century mark on the ground in each of the Texans first 2 games and will likely remain a big part of the mix with or without Foster.

 

Forecast: The smart thing would seem to be to rest Foster until his hamstring issues are clearly behind him. More likely though, Foster, gamer that he is, will continue trying to rush himself back and struggle with the injury all season. Either way, Ben Tate seems to be a viable part of the running game for the foreseeable future and for now a better option than Foster.

 

 

#4 – Chiefs, Seahawks and Colts – The Manning-less Colts looked terrible again, this time at home against the Cleveland Browns. The already injury riddled Chiefs suffered another embarrassing defeat and in the process may have been hit with their worst injury so far, apparently losing Jamaal Charles for the season with an ACL injury. And the Seahawks although mostly healthy look like they may be the worst team in football without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.

 

All three playoff teams from 2010 are off to 0-2 starts and looking like long shots to get back there.

 

Forecast: Count all three squarely in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.

 

 

#5 – The NBA Season – With each passing day, the likelihood of seeing an entire NBA season or any part of a season at all get bleaker and bleaker. The more concerning part, for the league and its fans, should probably be that no one really seems to care very much. Unlike the NFL lockout, which had us spinning and clamoring for updates daily, everyone seems resigned to the expectation that here simply won’t be an NBA this year. Folks were missing football despite the fact that we never actually missed any football at all. Judging by the attention or lack thereof to the NBA’s labor issues, basketball…we’ll see you when we see you.

 

Forecast: This isn’t getting better anytime soon. Check back in February.

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