Tag Archive | "Indianapolis Colts"

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NFL Hot Seat Rankings

Posted on 02 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

The end of another NFL season and the beginning of a new calendar year is sure to bring change as unfilled goals and promises demand accountability. Continue Reading

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Two days later: I’ll be the lone voice — it didn’t look like the Colts wanted to win on Sunday

Posted on 13 December 2011 by Drew Forrester

I decided to give it two full days before I brought the subject up here at “Two Days Later”.

I’ve looked, listened, watched and still…nothing.

No one has brought it up.

Except for me.

And that either makes me completely off-base — or I’m simply the only one willing to point out that there’s a big white elephant in the room and, accordingly, offer some evidence for what I saw this past Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts came to town.

I’ll say it:  I absolutely don’t think the Colts wanted to win the game on Sunday in Baltimore.  Yes, I’m saying what you think I’m saying.  It looked to me like Indianapolis wasn’t trying to win the game.

While most NFL followers consider the #1 pick in the college draft to be an albatross no team REALLY wants, it would seem the Colts are hell-bent on “earning” that distinction in time for the 2012 draft, otherwise known as the “Andrew Luck gets to learn from Peyton Manning for two years” jam session.

I understand this smacks at the entry-level qualification for a professional sports event to be considered a “professional sports event”.  In other words, for it to be a game that “counts”, per-se, both teams have to be trying to win.  That’s the most minimal starting point for any competition — are YOU trying to beat ME?  And vice versa.  If so, we got ourselves a game.

I don’t think the Colts were trying to win on Sunday.  In case you haven’t seen the standings recently, our friends in Indianapolis have a stranglehold on that #1 draft pick if they just keep losing.

I watched the game with my own two eyes from the comfy confines of M&T Bank Stadium.  I watched carefully.  The Indy skill-set players on offense — that means anyone, except the center, who has a chance to touch the ball — were absolutely invisible until about two minutes remained in the game.  I observed them all.  It was a mass-mail-in effort from every one of them on the offensive side of the ball.  Wayne, Garcon, Collie, Clark, Addai, Brown…none of them put in a half day’s work, let alone took a lunch hour.  Dan Orlovsky was the sacrificial lamb who perhaps wasn’t in on the joke, but he traded his legitimate effort for poor play.  I think Orlovsky tried — he just wasn’t any good.

But the guys who most affected the game from the standpoint of offense had ZERO impact in 58 minutes.  Prior to their final series that generated 76 yards, the Colts had only 91 yards of TOTAL offense for the entire day.  And I’m not sure how they produced that much, honestly.

Go around the league and start HONESTLY assessing all the teams and their skill-set players minus their quarterback.  Just breeze through the rosters and look at wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.  You’ll be surprised how many of those teams have inferior skill-set players to those the Colts have.  Jacksonville, St. Louis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Washington, Oakland…I’ve just rattled all five.  Keep playing at home if you want.

Does no one else find it odd that a team loaded with high-efficiency offensive players is 0-13?

Is the NFL not interested in looking into the subject at all?

I’m being completely serious here — does the NFL not see 0-13 and 62-7 losses and 91 yards of total offense for 58 minutes and ask themselves, “Is something fishy going on in Indianapolis?”

If they’re not at least ASKING that question, there’s something fishy going on there, too.

I don’t know what they’d find, if anything.  I’m completely aware that intentionally losing a game or games — or at the very least, not TRYING to win — is extremely difficult to pull off, but I will take this opportunity (please see next page)

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Laughable effort from Colts helps Ravens to 24-10 win

Posted on 11 December 2011 by Drew Forrester

In my ten seasons covering Ravens football for WNST, I’ve seen some pretty poor offensive performances from the visiting teams.

But I’ve never seen a more pitiful effort – the actual effort put forth – than the one turned in by the Indianapolis Colts offense on Sunday.

If the league isn’t investigating the Colts, they’re not paying any attention.  Here’s the laundry list as I saw it on Sunday as the Ravens waltzed past Indianapolis, 24-10.

Reggie Wayne — mailed it in

Pierre Garcon — half an effort

Austin Collie — not interested

Donald Brown — didn’t break a sweat

Dan Orlovsky — made Kyle Boller look like a Hall of Famer

It was a junior varsity effort at best from the winless Colts, who clearly aren’t REALLY trying to win football games.  Whether or not that’s an edict from the front office is something we’ll never know, but watching them play in Baltimore revealed an ugly side of the game that you only see when no one on one side of the ball puts forth much effort.

The Colts somehow managed to score a touchdown in the game’s final two minutes, long after the outcome was decided.  The only story from the game was just that — a Colts touchdown on the final play meant the gamblers who took the Ravens minus-17 points wound up a loser.  And that, my friends, is why they build large, gaudy, half-billion hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.

Prior to that final drive that netted them their only touchdown, the Indianapolis offense had managed to compile a grand total of 91 yards…for the entire game.  Nope, not a typo.  91 yards in 57 minutes or so.  They then put up 76 yards to move down the field and end the game with a last-second TD, but don’t let that get in the way of the facts.  The Colts offense didn’t try on Sunday.

That the Ravens won the game 24-10 would give some indication that perhaps the game was close.  It was only close until Dan Orlovsky rose from his downtown Baltimore hotel bed on Sunday morning and proclaimed himself fit to play.  The Colts would have been far better off signing Gilligan to play quarterback for them on Sunday.

I understand Peyton Manning is really good.  I’ve seen enough of him to know that the Colts are a vastly different team when #18 is behind center.

But he’s not so good that the Colts can’t win one game without him.

That said, it’s hard enough to win in the league if your team IS trying…let alone when you pack it in and don’t put forth an effort like the Indy offense did on Sunday.

Hopefully these last two weeks against Division III teams like Cleveland and Indianapolis won’t slow the Ravens down next Sunday night in San Diego when they face a real team.

Someone else from WNST.net will cover the details of Sunday’s win from the Ravens standpoint.  Luke Jones will have some words of wisdom about the greatness of Terrell Suggs, who set a single-season sack record with his 11th, 12th and 13th sacks against the Colts.  Nestor will have video footage from a joyous locker room.

I watched the game, like most of you, and just couldn’t get over how inept the Colts were from start to finish, except for the final drive where they got the bit between their teeth and decided NOT to set the all-time franchise record for least yards gained in a game.

The league should be ashamed.

The Colts should be embarrassed.

And the fans who sat through it, particularly those who eschewed the early departure and stuck it out until the final whistle, should be applauded.

The game was over in the first quarter when the Ravens went up 10-0.

But the real story played itself out all day, where the Colts basically went through the motions on offense to ensure they’d fall to 0-13 in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.

Even the old drunk Bob Irsay had to be shaking his head somewhere.

 

 

 

 

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The Nasty Purple Pre-Game "3-Things": Colts at Ravens

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The Nasty Purple Pre-Game “3-Things”: Colts at Ravens

Posted on 11 December 2011 by Ryan Chell

Glenn’s List

1. Maintain manageable 3rd down situations

 

 

2. Battle Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis without help

 

 

3. Improved linebacker coverage versus Dallas Clark

 

 

Ryan’s List

1. Convert scoring opportunities into points

 

 

2. Don’t let Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney wreck havoc in the backfield

 

 

3. Turn the safeties for the Colts and take shots down the field

 


Tune into the Nasty Purple Post-Game Show to see if these expectations come to light! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ravens pound hapless Browns, 24-10

Posted on 04 December 2011 by Drew Forrester

If ever a football game could induce writer’s block, that one on Sunday in Cleveland sure did the trick to me.

I have no idea what to say about that game except this:  How the hell did the Browns win four games so far this season?

Holy cow they stink.

I almost felt bad for the Ravens in the 3rd quarter when it was 10-0.  There was no challenge, no real resistance from the Browns, and, predictably, a half-filled stadium with virtually no energy for the game or the home team.

I thought I was watching the annual Hall of Fame game in Canton. It was that bad.

The Ravens weren’t bad, mind you.  They ran more than Forrest Gump on Sunday, traumatizing the Browns front seven with smash-mouth football and a 204 yard day from Ray Rice that commenced with a 30-yard scamper on Baltimore’s first offensive play of the game.

But the game itself was about as boring as Barry Manilow covering a bunch of Bob Dylan tunes.

Fortunately, unlike two other occasions when the Ravens went into sleep-walking mode against inferior opponents in Jacksonville and Seattle, Baltimore would not give in to the day’s boredom.  They plodded their way to a 10-0 lead and eventually stretched it to 24-3 before giving up a late touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Evan Moore.

It wasn’t even a cakewalk on Sunday.

It was easier than that.

And it should be that easy again next Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts and their 0-12 record come wobbling into Charm City for an expected thrashing at M&T Bank Stadium.

The schedule favors the Ravens now, as they finish the season with the Colts, Chargers, Browns and Bengals.  Four wins and Baltimore secures home-field throughout the AFC playoffs.  And when you secure home-field throughout, you’re only two wins away from the Super Bowl.

Writer’s block.  That’s what games like Sunday’s affair in Cleveland produce.

I wanted to write about how great the Ravens running game was in the victory.  Or how Baltimore managed to win despite two missed field goals and a costly Joe Flacco turnover near midfield.

But all I could keep thinking was this — “How the hell did Cleveland win four times this season?”

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Chris Pika takes a look inside the game notes for tonight's Thanksgiving feast in Baltimore.

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A look inside Thanksgiving feast of Ravens-49ers

Posted on 24 November 2011 by Chris Pika

One of the more-hyped games of the 2011 schedule once it came out in April is tonight’s Thanksgiving game in Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium when the broithers Harbaugh meet as the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens (8 pm ET; NFL Network).

The 9-1 49ers have a stranglehold on the NFC West and can clinch the division with a victory and either a loss or tie by Seattle on Sunday or a tie and a Seattle loss.

The 7-3 Ravens lead the AFC North, and are tied for the AFC’s best record.

The combined 16-4 record (.800) of the two teams is tied for fourth-best between Thanksgiving Day combatants since 1970.

It will be Baltimore’s John vs. San Francisco’s Jim, and Jim, and according to NFL Network’s Mike Mayock, who will help call the game with Brad Nessler, this matchup is one to watch:

When you combine the surprising success of San Francisco, along with Baltimore being pretty much where you expect them to be, we’ve got one of the best games of the season on Thursday night.

In a national teleconference to promote the game earlier this week, Jim mentioned how brotherly love goes out the window once competition is involved:

Leading up to this, John has talked freely and openly about football with me. Now, it’s more talking in code. I’m being serious. I can see there are limitations to what he’s telling me. I thought love had no boundaries, but now I see that it does.

— Jim Harbaugh, on football communication with John since the 2011 NFL schedule was announced

For John’s part, it is a continuation of competition that has gone on since they were kids:

We were in the same room for 16 years, and we had to draw a tape line. If you stepped across, there was a fight. The last time we fought, I was 27. He was the quarterback for the Bears. He got up to 6-4, 230 pounds. I was 195, something like that. He takes us on vacation to Florida, we’re on the beach, and we get into this wrestling match. It’s getting a little aggressive and works its way over to the water. He gets a shot in; I get a shot in. I’m starting to think maybe I can hang with the big little brother. Next, he grabs me in a headlock, picks me up, and slams me into three feet of water. My head is on the sand underneath the water. Of course, he’s not going to drown me, but I’m thinking maybe he’s snapped. My dad’s trying to pull him off, but he’s too strong. I’m going to drown. Before I died, he pulled me up. He didn’t do mouth-to-mouth; that would have been against the rules. I then realized I’m never going to fight my brother again. He’s too big.

— John Harbaugh on his brother

The first-ever coaching matchup between two brothers in NFL history is a testament to their father, Jack, himself a former college head coach:

Their father gave them a gift; by making them and teaching them how to compete. If we can instill competition in our kids, that’s all we want. We want them to go out in the world and compete.

— NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk on the relationship between Jack Harbaugh and his sons, Jim and John

Baltimore is coming off a 31-24 victory over AFC North rival Cincinnati at home last Sunday:

NOTE OF THE WEEK: SMITH SOARS

  • Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith leads the NFL with a 20.3 yardsper-catch average (29 receptions for 590 yards).
  • Impressively, 4 of Smith’s 5 TD receptions have covered at least 25 yards (74, 41, 38, 26 and 18 yards), and he’s averaging a sensational 39.4 yards per TD catch.
  • Smith now owns the Ravens’ single-season (590) and single-game (165 vs. Cin. last week) records for receiving yards by a rookie.
  • Never before has a Ravens’ wideout posted dual 150-yard receiving games in a season (165 vs. Cin. and 152 at STL).
  • Smith also owns the top two receiving yards performances by a rookie in the NFL this season.
  • Smith’s 590 receiving yards this season rank second in the NFL among all rookies (635, Cincy’sA.J. Green).
  • Last week, Smith joined Ken Burrow (2 in 1971) and Randy Moss (3 in 1998) as the only rookies in NFL history to have multiple games with at least 150 receiving yards and a touchdown catch.

WEEK 12 QUICK HITS:

  • The Ravens have won 15 of their last 16 games at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore is 24-5 at home under head coach John Harbaugh, tied (New England) for the NFL’s most home wins since 2008 (as of games played by 11/20).
  • The Ravens aim for their eighth consecutive win at home and sixth this season (5-0 in 2011).
  • Baltimore’s seven-game winning streak at home currently ranks as the NFL’s second longest (Green Bay is first at 10 games).
  • Baltimore aims to reach 8-3 for just the second time in team history (2010 season).

STOUT VS. NFC: Dating back to the 2008 campaign, when head coach John Harbaugh took over in Baltimore, the Ravens have posted a 10-5 record (.667) vs. the NFC, good for the fourth-best mark among AFC teams against the “other conference” during that span.

AFC’s BEST RECORDS VS. THE NFC
(since 2008)
1t. New England Patriots 12-2 .857
1t. Tennessee Titans 12-2 .857
3. Pittsburgh Steelers 10-4 .714
4. Baltimore Ravens 10-5 .667

San Francisco is working on an eight-game win streak, and beat NFC West rival Arizona 23-7 last Sunday at home:

WINNING WAYS: With the win last week vs. Arz. (11/20), head coach Jim Harbaugh became just the 3rd rookie head coach in franchise history to start his career with a 9-1 record.

  • The 49ers have won eight consecutive games, making Coach Harbaugh’s eight-game winning streak the fourth longest by a rookie head coach since the 1970 NFL/AFL merger, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Jim Caldwell’s Colts won 14 in a row in 2009. Steve Mariucci’s 49ers won 11 in a row in 1997. Ted Marchibroda’s Colts won nine in a row in 1975. Bobby Ross’Chargers won seven straight in 1992.
  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).
  • Harbaugh became the first rookie head coach in franchise history to inherit a team with a losing record and lead them to a 9-1 start in his first season.

GOLDEN NUGGETS:
A HOT START

  • With a 9-1 record to start 2011, the 49ers are tied for the 4th-best start since the team joined the NFL in 1950, behind 1984 (15-1); 1990 (13-1); 1997 (11-1); 1989 (9-1).

ROAD WARRIORS

  • With a 4-0 record on the road, the Niners join the Green Bay Packers as the only two teams in the NFL to remain undefeated away from home.

THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE

  • The 49ers have outscored their opponents 256-145. The +111 scoring differential ranks 2nd in the NFL.

A SHORT FIELD

  • The 49ers have started 25 drives in their opponents territory, ranking 1st in the NFL, and have scored 81 points on those drives, ranking 3rd in the NFL.

YOU WANNA START SOMETHING?

  • The 49ers average starting field position is at their own 33.1-yard line, ranking 1st in the NFL.

LONG WAY TO GO

  • The 49ers rank 1st in the NFL with an opponents average starting field position of the 24.3.

BRINGING IT BACK

  • The 49ers rank t-1st in the NFL with 7 PRs of 20+ yds, while ranking 2nd in the NFL with a KOR avg. of 28.0 yds.

POINTS HARD TO COME BY

  • The 49ers have allowed just 145 points on the season, ranking 1st in the NFL for the fewest points allowed.

SHORT AND TOUGH

  • The 49ers have allowed just 16 first downs on 3rd and less than 4 yds. (15 of 33 – 48.5 pct.), ranking 2nd in the NFL.

EFFICIENCY ON D

  • The 49ers defense has allowed opponents to score on just 24.0 pct. of their possessions, ranking 1st in the NFL.

STICKY FINGERS

  • The 49ers have only committed 9 turnovers on the year, ranking t-1st in the NFL for fewest turnovers (Houston – 9).

PRODUCTIVE ON FIRST

  • The 49ers offense has gained 4+ yds. on 52.2 pct. (142 of 272) of their first down plays, ranking 4th in the NFL.

THE COMEBACK TRAIL: Four, 4th quarter come-from-behind-win epitomizes the never quit attitude the 49ers embody this season. One player in particular can parallel his career to the theme, QBAlex Smith. Smith is now tied with NYG QB Eli Manning for the most comeback wins by an NFL QB this season.

Smith became just the second quarterback in franchise history to record 3, 4th qtr. comebacks on the road (QB Joe Montanta – 4 in 1989 and 3 in 1990).

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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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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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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Who's Feeling Lucky?

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Who’s Feeling Lucky?

Posted on 26 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

I have long held to the belief that any college player that we’re talking about as the likely #1 pick in the draft at this time of year or around whom we’re building a “sweepstakes” usually sees that esteem (and his draft status) drop substantially before we actually get to the draft. That said, very smart people are saying that Stanford’s Andrew Luck not only has all of the tools necessary to be a successful NFL QB, but also that he’ll be a top-10 NFL signal caller on the day that he is chosen.

With that in mind, here’s who could/should be feeling Luck”y” 3 weeks in to this NFL season.

 

Colts – (0-3) – It would seem like perfect synergy if the Colts, sans Manning, found their way somehow to the top pick in the draft and the chance to transition from one elite quarterback era to another. Certainly the chance to study for a season or two at the foot of a talent like Manning could give Luck a chance at an Aaron Rodgers-like level of preparation before actually being called on to play significant time. Surely too, Manning would rather the Colts spend a top pick on a player that could help him to win now, in the time that he has left. It’ll be interesting to see if Manning rushes back late season and piles up a couple of wins for the Colts as “Luck Insurance”. You can bet that the Colts are coming to grips with Manning’s eminent decline even if Manning himself is not, and a talent like Luck would be tough to pass on.

 

Dolphins – (0-3) – Compared to the potential Colts’ situation described above, and given the recent success of young NFL signal callers, Miami might be a more appealing situation for Luck himself. Taking his talents to South Beach would surely give Luck the chance to play sooner rather than later and would be a nice “booby prize” for Dolphins fans reduced at present to pining for Kyle Orton. The interesting part here is that although head coach Tony Sparano could certainly use a talent like Luck to jumpstart that offense, since Sparano himself is already squarely on the hot seat it seems unlikely he’d be around to enjoy the fruits of Luck’s labor if the Dolphins finish with the type of record that lands them a shot at Luck.

 

Vikings – (0-3) – The Vikings are off to a rough start under McNabb and look to be getting old in a hurry. While the team spent highly to bring in Christian Ponder this off-season it’s unlikely he’d be enough to compel them away from Luck if given a chance. Before long it may be Ponder who gets his shot and therefore gives the Vikings a better shot at positioning themselves for Luck as a result. It looks like the Vikings may be in need of a serious overhaul on both sides of the ball, and Luck would make a pretty nice cornerstone on which to begin.

 

Seahawks – (1-2) – Jim Harbaugh and Pete Carroll in the same division already projects to be a contentious situation. The Niners, given Harbaugh’s familiarity with Luck and their own QB situation with Alex Smith would seem to be the ideal landing spot for the toast of the draft. San Francisco’s 2-1 record so far though looks to be a severe roadblock to such a reunion. The Seahawks meanwhile may be the worst team in football (yesterday’s win notwithstanding) and are by no means married to current QB Tavaris Jackson. The chance to beat Harbaugh for the next decade or more with a QB of his own making might be too much for Carroll and the Seahawks to resist.

 

Broncos – (1-2) – Hey why not? The Broncos already have 2 first round QBs on their roster and neither is doing enough to win the job away from delightfully mediocre former 4th round pick Kyle Orton. The Broncos look like a team that will play their way out of this conversation as the season progresses, but you never know…Tim Tebow may still get his chance yet and might keep the Broncos “in the hunt” as a result.

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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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