Tag Archive | "terrell owens"

Huff no longer a loser, but these five guys are…for sure (I think)

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Huff no longer a loser, but these five guys are…for sure (I think)

Posted on 02 November 2010 by Drew Forrester

It took him a while, but Aubrey Huff finally proved me wrong.

I’ll say it here, now, for the first time publicly, to completely offer my concession:

Aubrey Huff is a winner.

I’m noting this today because for years, I labeled Huff a “career loser”. From Tampa Bay to Baltimore — with quick stops in Houston and Detroit as well — Huff always showed up at the park accompanied by the “losing van”.

Some players enter the stadium or ballpark with their kids or wearing an iPod or being trailed by a team staffer who’s given him instructions on what his pre-game duties are that day/night.

Huff showed up at the stadium with losing in tow. On team flights, losing sat next to him. In the hotel room — well, let’s not talk about that. Huff already gave us a clear picture of what happens to him in hotel rooms.

You get the picture, though. Huff, until last night, was a career loser.

That’s over.

And to his credit, in all fairness, Huff himself was a big reason why the Giants won the World Series. It’s one thing if he gets his ring without playing or being actively involved (see Frank Thomas), it’s another to be a main contributor.

Huff was a big reason why the Giants won.

He’s no longer a career loser.

Now, that brings me to my list of “career losers”. Needing to strike Huff off the list, I offer you my up-to-date Top 5. These five guys will NEVER win a championship in their playing career. They will lose forever. A couple of the list-makers might surprise you, but a couple of them won’t, for sure.

Here we go with the list.

#5
CASTELLON DE LA PLANA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 22: Sergio Garcia of Spain reacts to his approach shot on the 13th hole during the second round of the Castello Masters Costa Azahar at the Club de Campo del Mediterraneo on October 22, 2010 in Castellon de la Plana, Spain. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

This one is fairly easy. Sergio Garcia isn’t REALLY a loser. He’s rich beyond his means, he’s won 7 times on the PGA Tour, including the PLAYERS Championship, but he’s never won a major title in his pro career. And he’s not going to do it, either. EVER. Why? I don’t know. It’s just something about him. Too much of a crybaby (“Waaah, my tee-time had bad weather and Tiger got sunshine in the afternoon”), too shaky with the putter and, perhaps, too good looking. He gets all the hot girls he wants, he can’t possibly win The Masters too. That wouldn’t be fair to a guy like Kenny Perry.

#4

Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas calls out a play as the Wizards play the San Antonio Spurs at the Verizon Center in Washington on January 2, 2010. Arenas allegedly drew a gun on teammate Javaris Crittenton during a locker room dispute. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

Man, was this guy prophetic when he dubbed himself “Agent Zero”. He signed a $66 million dollar deal, so the joke is on the rest of us, but Gilbert is a career loser. He’ll never win. He just won’t. Too much “all about me” to be a winner.

#3

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 11: Danny Briere  of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass the puck against the Colorado Avalanche in a hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center on October 11, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

This little turd came close to winning last spring, until Patrick Kane broke his heart with an overtime goal in Philly that gave the Blackhawks the title. And if there really IS a hockey God somewhere, that’s the closest Danny Briere ever comes to winning. This guy is a combination of Brian Propp-Ken Linseman-Dave Poulin…he might be the biggest prick in the league. The next time he scores a goal when he’s NOT standing on the doorstep will be his 2nd one scoring like that. This dude is a L-O-S-E-R.

#2

May 17, 2010 - Atlanta, GEORGIA, United States - epa02161543 Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Derek Lowe pitches to a New York Mets batter in the first inning of their MLB baseball game in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, on 17 May 2010.

Wait, Derek Lowe is a champion. How’d he get on the list? He won the World Series for the Red Sox in 2004 when he single-handedly eliminated the Yankees in Game 7 in New York. He doesn’t belong on the list, he’s a W-I-N-N-E-R. My bad.

#2 (left) and #1 (right)

Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco talk during warm-ups before taking on the New England Patriots in their NFL football game in Foxborough, Massachusetts September 12, 2010.    REUTERS/Adam Hunger   (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

When you find the perfect picture, you go with it. #2 is Terrell Owens (left) and #1 is Chad Johnson (right). You can make book on this: Neither of those guys will EVER win a title. Worst of all? I don’t think it will matter to either one of them. Owens short-armed a few balls last weekend at home vs. Miami. Good news for him? He could just wear that alligator costume to trick or treating on Sunday night. As for Johnson, all you need to know about him is that he changed his name to match his uniform number. (*DORK ALERT*) The next time Chad Johnson is on a team that wins a big game means this: he’ll have ONE more big-game career win than you and I.

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

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Where will the Ravens be in January?

Posted on 28 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Fast forward yourself a couple months to the week following Christmas. You will most likely be experiencing the typical holiday happenings – your kids are complaining about the things Santa did NOT leave under the tree …. your wife is counting down the days until school returns from the seasonal break …. and you’re simply trying to survive such an ordeal.

Oh yeah, and you’re also digesting the Ravens latest win, against the Cleveland Browns, in the final road game of the regular season. It will probably be a little tougher than most of us originally imagined, but beating the Browns will be a mandatory formality.

And, as certain as many parents are looking ahead to the second half of the school year, many of us are looking ahead to some pretty exciting circumstances …..

College football’s biggest bowl games are approaching …..

New Years festivities are being planned …..

Rex Snider is watching his new HAIR as it’s starting to grow …..
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And, the Ravens will be readying for the ultimate arrival of the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale’ …..

Now, bring yourself back to this 28th day of October …..

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

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

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Chris Pika

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

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

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

AFC East

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

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

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

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

AFC North

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

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

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

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

AFC South

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

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

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

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

AFC West

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

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

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

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

Now for the NFC:

NFC East

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

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

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

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

NFC North

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

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

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

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

NFC South

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

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

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

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

NFC West

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

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

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

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

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

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Ravens vs. Bengals  –  5 Keys To The Game

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Ravens vs. Bengals – 5 Keys To The Game

Posted on 19 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, after months of dissecting the New Yorks Jets, followed by an emotionally draining Monday night contest in the Meadowlands, it’s time to get back to SUNDAY football.

The Ravens travel to the Queen City, this afternoon, for a 1pm matchup against the Bengals. It should be another tough, close game …. albeit from a diiferent perspective than the struggle against the Jets. The Bengals will most certainly feature a better passing game, while offering weaker resistance than Gang Green’s defensive attack.

Here are my FIVE KEYS to today’s game …..

1) STOP CEDRIC BENSON
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This was the one thing the intimidating Ravens defense could not achieve, in 2009. Benson rushed for 120 and 117 yards, respectively, in both meetings. And, he broke runs of 20+ yards both times, as well. This cannot happen today.

Cedric Benson’s success is undoubtedly tied to his large, athletic offensive line. Each lineman weighs in excess of 320 pounds and they provided a formidable shield for 100 yard gains, 8 times, in 2009. The Ravens must find a way to stop the running attack – if Benson is successful, again, it will leave the Ravens defense languishing on the field for long drives.

It would be nice to see “Mount” Cody helping to plug up the middle. Perhaps, we’ll see Paul Kruger – who runs around like his hair is on fire, as well. Regardless, they MUST stop Benson.
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2) WATCH RAY RUN
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It’s simple, see Key #1. Just as Cedric Benson succeeded against the Ravens, in 2009, Ray Rice realized lesser success. He managed 69 and 48 yards, respectively, in both games. The second matchup, in Cincinnati, exploits some misleading numbers. Rice had only 12 touches, with an average gain of 4 yards, per carry.

While the improved Ravens passing game will be a factor in today’s game, Ray Rice figures to offer that same ability to grinding positive yardage and keeping the Bengals defense on the field. It’s going to be 86 degrees and humid, in Cincinnati, today. It will undoubtedly be tiring conditions for each team’s defense.
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3) SHUT DOWN CARSON PALMER’S ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
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Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens will make catches in today’s game. That’s fine. I worry more about the likes of Jordan Shipley, Andre’ Caldwell (remember him?) and Jermaine Gresham. Each of these guys offer varying targets for Palmer. And, I’m suspicious of rookie Gresham’s possible success across the middle. He’s a lot BIGGER than Dustin Keller and he’s quite athletic.

With Ray Lewis nursing a sore foot, I’ll be watching the middle pretty closely.
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4) FLACCO OUTGUNS PALMER
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Perhaps, today can be the DAY that Joe Flacco serves notice as the most prolific passer in the AFC-North. He now has a surrounding cast comparable to the likes of Carson Palmer. Translation – NO EXCUSES.

The additions of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were evident, last week. However, they can STAND OUT today. And, with Todd Heap hurting, we can rely on better backups than names like L.J. Smith and Quinn Sypniewski. Welcome to the show, Ed Dickson. We just might see some fireworks from one of the NFL’s next rockstar tight ends.

But, it rests upon the shoulders (and arm) of Joe Flacco. With Keith Rivers also nursing a sore foot and Jonathan Fanene OUT, the Ravens will likely benefit from a weakened pass rush. Flacco delivers today …..
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5) OUTCOACH ‘EM
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He absolutely did it to Rex Ryan, just 6 nights ago. Today, John Harbaugh is tasked with outsmarting Marvin Lewis in the strategical side of the game. Can it happen? Heck yeah …..

Say what you want, a big part of the Bengals embarrassing performance against New England can be attributed to being OUTCOACHED. Bill Belichick was hellbent on putting the Bengals in an early hole, while removing Cedric Benson from a revamped comeback agenda. It worked perfectly.

Today, Harbaugh & Company will need to have a shrewd strategy as the team enters enemy territory for the 2nd time in as many weeks. It starts with DISCIPLINE, and there is little doubt the Ravens will have that angle covered. Now, lets be smart …..
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Ravens 27 Bengals 24

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Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

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Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

Posted on 18 September 2010 by Derek Arnold

Next up in the “teams whose head coach owes their job to Ray Lewis” are the Cincinnati Bengals. Now we just need the Jacksonville Jaguars (Jack Del Rio) and the 2005-2008 San Francisco 49ers (Mike Nolan) to complete the “#52′s head coach’s tree.” Marvin Lewis’ team is still licking their wounds from that 38-24 drubbing at the hands of the New England Patriots (a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score) in Week 1, and will look to rebound against a team that they had plenty of success against in 2009.

Those 2009 losses to Cincy were especially surprising for the Ravens and their fans not necessarily because of the outcomes, but because of the manner in which the Bengals were victorious. Running back Cedric Benson rad roughshod over B’More’s usually stout run defense, breaking their streak of 40 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher on his way to 120 yards in Week 5, and duplicating the feat with 117 yards just four weeks later. Benson managed just 43 yards on 15 carries in Week 1, but his opportunities were quite limited due to his team getting blown out of the water early and being forced to play catch-up.

The Ravens will be looking for some revenge against Benson Sunday. If rookie defensive tackle Terrence Cody is able to suit up (he practiced this week), it will go a long way to exacting said revenge. Along with Haloti Ngata and Cory Redding up front, Benson will be hard pressed to find even a sliver of daylight. Even without Cody, the Ravens did well against the Jets’ vaunted rushing attack last week, as RBs Shonn Green and LaDainian Tomlinson managed 80 yards on 16 carries.

“Well, wait a minute, that’s 5 yards per carry,” you might be saying. The stat is a bit misleading, as Tomlinson ripped off two 21-yard runs in the game. Take away those two, and the numbers drop to 38 yards on 14 carries, a 2.7 ypc average. Of course, you can’t just “take away” big plays – the Ravens need to avoid giving up similar big plays to Benson and Bengals’ “change-of-pace” back Bernard Scott.

Which of course, isn’t to say that stopping the run = Ravens win. Quarterback Carson Palmer has always done well against our Ravens, putting up a career record of 8-3. Even after throwing a pick-6 to Ed Reed last year, Palmer bounced back and led his team to a last-minute game-winning touchdown in Baltimore.

Palmer threw for 345 yards and 2 touchdowns last week in New England, but again – they were in catch-up mode all day after falling behind 31-3. He again has a full compliment of weapons to throw to, including two reality TV stars.

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Along with those two, rookie WR Jordan Shipley is dangerous, and Andre Caldwell (though I ripped Mike Preston earlier this week for bringing him up) is set to return from a groin injury and has hurt the Ravens in the past.

Just as getting Cody back could help the run defense, a return from injury in the secondary could greatly improve the Ravens’ chances Sunday. Lardarius Webb has been removed from the injury report, but is still “working out the kinks,” after ACL surgery. With Webby in there, the much maligned Ravens’ secondary is instantly better. Without him, newcomer Josh Wilson and safety Haruki Nakamura will be forced to line up against the Bengals’ receivers, matchups that favor Cincy.

The Bengals also gave the Ravens fits on defense last year, holding them to 14 and 7 points, respectively, in the two meetings. This despite Ray Rice racking up 143 and 135 yards from scrimmage (mostly receiving). The problem was that Rice was the team’s leading receiver in both games, as cornerbacks Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph gave Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ wideouts fits.

2010 is a new year, though, and now Hall and Joseph have to deal with Anquan “Q” Boldin and former teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who weren’t there last year. Hopefully Housh can also bring some “insider info” to the Ravens in practice this week – the offense and defense could both use all the help they can get after being swept last season. Tom Brady had no trouble finding his wideouts last week, as both Wes Welker (8 catches, 64 yards, 2 TD) and Randy Moss (5, 59, 0) had better days than any Ravens WR had against the Bengals in 2009.

Of course, he’s Tom Brady. While Flacco looked like Brady on occasion last week, skillfully avoiding the Jets’ pressure and converting key 3rd-and-long situations, but looked downright awful at other times, holding the ball too long in the pocket, overthrowing a wide open Le’Ron McClain in the end zone, and throwing from his back foot. To show that he really is ready to step into the next tier of NFL quarterbacks, as so many experts see him doing, Joe needs to start beating quality QBs – not just the likes of Mark Sanchez and Jay Cutler – in head-to-head matchups. He has the weapons to do it now, so the time for excuses is over. In his defense, he had a perfect touchdown pass dropped last week (by Todd Heap) and another likely touchdown just flat out missed (by Derrick Mason). But he also underthrew Mason on another deep route, underthrew Boldin from his back foot, and missed Ray Rice on a slant that would have given the Ravens a 1st-and-goal inside the 5. We know he can make the throws. What we need to see now is consistency from #5.

The Ravens have revenge on their minds after being embarrassed by Cincy in 2009. The Bengals have redemption on theirs, after being blown out in Week 1.

I think the Bengals do bounce back this week…just not quite high enough.

Ravens 24 Bengals 20

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Ravens Head to Cincinnati With Hopes of Kicking Bengals While They’re Down

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Ravens Head to Cincinnati With Hopes of Kicking Bengals While They’re Down

Posted on 17 September 2010 by Ryan Chell

Despite the Ravens’ poor play at times Monday night in Baltimore’s 10-9 victory over the New York Jets, the Ravens travel to Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 PM on CBS as the division-rival Bengals host the Ravens.

Ravens Bengals

Meanwhile, the Bengals despite some impressive numbers in the second half of their game against the New England Patriots, were very sluggish in Foxborough at the start-one of the reasons why the AFC North Division champs from 2009 fell, 38-24.

And now the Ravens, who had some impressive numbers in the victory against the Jets( 11-0f-19 on 3rd down), will be looking to jump ahead in the AFC North race by kicking the Bengals when they’re down.

The Bengals went undefeated in 2009 in a tough AFC North division (6-0), with wins over the Ravens on Oct 11 in Baltimore (17-14) and in Cincinnati (17-7) on November 8th.

Ray Lewis

Drama also surrounded the Bengals receivers against New England; as Chad OchoCinco and Terrell Owens both left the field early at the end of the first half before  a Hail-Mary shot that slot receiver Jordan Shipley had to come down with.

Running back Cedric Benson rebounded with a late touchdown in the Patriots’ blowout, but he also lost a fumble and struggled at times against an average New England rush defense, averaging only 2.9 YPC on 15 carries(43 yards).

Cedric Benson

Baltimore would hope that they see the Benson of Week 1  as opposed to the Benson of last year, who finished with 1251 yards on a comeback season with Cincinnati and shredded the Ravens in 237 yards in two games last year.

In their first match up in Baltimore, Benson became the first opposing running back to top the 100 yard mark in 40 games. He did it again later in the second Bengals victory, as did Adrian Peterson in the Ravens 33-31 loss to the Vikings on October 18th.

And with the Ravens on a short week, Baltimore could be in line to either ride the momentum from Monday’s win, or they could be in a position to struggle after a physical beating from the Jets and get the Bengals’ confidence back up and get guys like OchoCinco and Owens talking again after a big win.

Ravens Run Offense vs. Bengals Run Defense: Even

Ray Rice

Ray Rice last year against the Bengals gained only 117 yards in two games against Cincinnati , but that wasn’t due to his struggles. The Ravens just did not stick with a true identity in either contest against Cincinnati, and quarterback Joe Flacco turned the ball over several times via interceptions. The Ravens struggled to run the ball effectively against the Jets Monday night, and the Bengals may look to copy that game plan against Rice and  Willis McGahee, who fumbled the ball as well against New York but also had the Ravens’ lone touchdown.

Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene(hamstring) is out on Sunday, which could bode well for the interior of the Ravens offensive line, as well as linebacker Keith Rivers hobbled with a foot injury.

Ravens Passing Game vs. Bengals Pass Defense; Edge: Ravens

Joe Flacco

In both of last year’s match-ups,  Joe Flacco didn’t have trouble finding receivers-the only issue was that the receivers were the Bengals defensive backs. Anquan Boldin lit up Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie Monday (110 yards receiving), and the Bengals failed to generate pressure on quarterback Tom Brady, who in turn threw three touchdown passes against the Bengals.

Wes Welker had success in the slot and had very good yards after the catch against Cincinnati, and the Ravens receivers may have similar success getting YAC. Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall are maybe one of the best 1-2 corner combinations in the league and they sometimes can cover their guys 1-on-1, but I think the Ravens can make some plays down the field against them.

T.J. Houshmandzadeh will be driven to do well against his old team, but tight end Todd Heap could miss the game with a shoulder injury on a diving catch he made in the fourth quarter against the Jets. And finally, the Bengals could look to exploit the right side of the line where Marshal Yanda could be filling in for Jared Gaither for yet another game at right tackle. Hopefully this wont happen to Flacco on the first play against Cincy like it did against the Jets.

Joe Flacco sacked

Bengals Run Offense vs. Ravens Run Defense; Edge: Bengals

Even as a Ravens follower, I am on the Cedric Benson bandwagon. The Bengals receivers last year were no where near the receiving corps they are now, which is going to prevent the Ravens from stacking the box with eight defenders to stop the former Texas Longhorn. Benson joined longtime Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis as the only running back to rush for over 100 yards against the Ravens twice in the same season, and I think Benson will have the same success again. I think if Benson gets over 100 yards again, the Bengals win no questions asked.

The Ravens are 7-14 all time when allowing a 100-yard rusher.

LB Jarret Johnson may miss Sunday’s game with a back injury that has lingered over the last several years, but WNST’s own Glenn Clark told Rex Snider he expected Johnson to suit up. Jarret has been the Ravens’ “Iron Man” so to speak, playing in 98 straight games.

But with the loss of Johnson, helping the Ravens’ cause for stopping Benson may be aided by the return of DT Terrence Cody, who was limited in practice Thursday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. If Cody were to play, it certainly shifts the balance of power in the run game toward the Ravens a bit.

Bengals Passing Offense vs. Ravens Passing Defense; Edge: Bengals

The Ravens have had problems with Owens and Chad OchoCinco in the past, but now they’re both on the same team. OchoCinco had 12 catches for 159 yards and a TD against the Patriots, and the Bengals established Owens early, as he caught 7 passes for 53 yards. I think these guys are two physical receivers who are going to be trouble for the Ravens’ smaller corners.

Hopefully this happens to OchoCinco again on Sunday-although without the penalty and on a legal hit…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpVvmATPi2w[/youtube]

But two other players who I think will cause matchup problems for the Ravens are two Big-12 receivers in former Texas Longhorn Jordan Shipley and ex-Sooner Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals tight end who drew looks from the Ravens in the draft. Shipley (5-11, 193 lb) may be too speedy in the slot for the Ravens to cover, much like Wes Welker. And the Gresham match-up (6-5, 261 lb.) against anyone on the Ravens defense is a win for the Bengals. If the Bengals don’t run all over the Ravens, I see them certainly passing all over Baltimore.

Jermaine Gresham

What benefits the Ravens is that  defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will have one of his best tacklers in the secondary with Lardarius Webb not even showing up on the injury report after coming back from a season-ending ACL tear in 2009. Webb was actually slated to play on Monday, but with the late rain going over the Meadowlands, the Ravens coaching staff got cold feet and deactivated Webb.

The Ravens earned two sacks on Monday against the Jets between Haloti Ngata, Jarret Johnson, and Terrell Suggs against a decent pass-blocking team with New York. The Bengals offensive-line is better at run blocking than stopping the opposing team from sacking the quarterback, and I think Ravens fans hope that Carson Palmer is still having going to have issues with holding onto the football with wrist, finger and elbow injuries sustained over the last several seasons.

The Ravens are 37-13 when Suggs records a sack, and Baltimore is 10-0 when he records two or more drops of the quarterback.

My take:

I don’t like the short week, and I do take into effect that the Bengals picked it up in the second half against the Patriots on Sunday, scoring three touchdowns. The Ravens didn’t look perfect on Monday against the Jets, and barely defeated a team that handed them the victory in all facets of the game. I see the Bengals scoring some points offensively either on the ground or through the air-it will just be the Ravens picking their poison.

And I think offensively, the Ravens will have a better showing offensively as opposed to the two games last year, but I still see Flacco making a bad decision against a team that is just going to sit in Cover 2 and wait for Flacco to throw a pass into coverage. All of these AFC North games are close, but I see the Bengals coming out on top late in the game.

In their last five trips to Cincinnati, the Ravens are 1-4 in those away games, with the only win coming in 2008.

Bengals 21, Ravens 17

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Baltimore Ravens as they move through the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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The Dirty Half-Dozen …..

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The Dirty Half-Dozen …..

Posted on 16 September 2010 by Rex Snider

During yesterday’s AFTERNOON DRIVE, I came across a list of “Most Disliked Athletes In America,” as reported by CNBC. The list was actually compiled through a public survey by the Q Scores Company (www.qscores.com); a firm that conducts a variety of different consumer studies.

I considered broaching the topic during yesterday’s show. However, I was uncomfortable with the list, because it only contained the TOP-6 most disliked athletes and I noticed an immediate distinguishing theme …..
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Hmmm ….. do you notice any similar visual characteristics? Without really looking at the featured “bad guys”, I wasn’t going to broach the topic with my audience. I have a responsibility to myself and YOU when it comes to talking about a subject from an informed viewpoint.

That said, I’m really wrestling with the notion that the half dozen most despised athletes are all African American. And, if the survey is accurate, does racial makeup play a part in it?

Of this group, 4 of the 6 have never been charged with a criminal offense. So, that can’t be a social discriminative factor. While some of these players have an animated streak to their personality, none of them are known for being “dirty” competitors on the field, nor have they been censured for performance enhancing drug usage.

So, what makes them so hated? Is it their flamboyance or self indulgent ways? All of them have egos; some have huge egos. But, an overwhelming amount of pro athletes have egos.

Are they selfish toward fans or charitable causes? I don’t see that, either. Perhaps, it’s their wealth? Nah …. once again, most pro athletes are wealthy.

Hmmm ….. all of them are or were at the top of their respective games within the past decade. Maybe that’s it. However, if that’s the case, how does top billing of the infamous not include Peyton Manning, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Johnson, Alex Ovechkin and Drew Brees?

I’m just asking …..

I’ve taken the time to really think about the athletes who are disliked in our sports society. Of course, I’m relying on personal conversations, negative publicity, public perceptions and simple common sense. I came up with this group …..
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Ben Roethlisberger – I guess women weren’t surveyed? Maybe, the study was done a year ago? Roethlisberger is universally disliked in our sports society, and his infamy really has nothing to do with his play on the field – outside of Baltimore.
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Jeff Gordon – If you’ve never attended a NASCAR event, you’ll simply need to trust me on this one. Jeff Gordon gets bombarded with the most resounding course of BOOS I’ve ever witnessed at a sporting event. And, it happens every single week. He’s never done anything to anyone. He was an “outsider” and he dominated an era. Those days are over, but the HATE lingers on.
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Alex Rodriguez – He, too, was disliked for being the greatest of his generation. But, when the steroid allegations became truth, A’Rod’s popularity among most baseball enthusiasts sank below the Mendoza line. He’s brash, conceited and surly, at times. He’s a guy that opposing fans love to taunt.
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Tom Brady – Here’s a guy who is HATED and we all know it. Is it the envy? He’s done it all …. Super Bowls, movie star looks, smokin’ hot wife. Yet, fans outside of Beantown hate Tom Brady. How do I know? Well, I’ve always liked him. But, if I mention his name on-air or in conversation, the hate starts pouring out of people.
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I suppose these lists can really be taken as pure subjective matter. We see a few of them, annually. Such studies are compiled and released by Forbes, GQ, Mens Daily and others. However, this is my first experience in seeing a list unanimously devoted to one race.

Believe me, I’m not one who hypes bias of any kind, to include racial considerations. When race is arbitrarily injected into issues or recklessly expolited by persons who just want to provide a convenient excuse, people become divided. That’s not my intent.

However, I do think the Q Scores list is questionable and I just felt compelled to write about it.

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Have we overvalued the Cincinnati Bengals?

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Have we overvalued the Cincinnati Bengals?

Posted on 12 September 2010 by Rex Snider

Earlier this afternoon, I plopped down into my Lazy Boy recliner while the REAL WORLD came crashing to a sudden halt, as it will each and every Sunday, through February 6th, 2011.

With the Ravens scheduled for tomorrow night’s primetime matchup against the Jets, I was looking forward to a contentious battle between the Bengals and Patriots, on this first Sunday of the NFL season. Damn, was I wrong …..

Before I could begin picking apart my Royal Farms fried chicken lunch, Tom Brady was doing the very same thing to the Bengals defensive secondary. In a little less than 3 minutes, Brady and company marched 72 yards through a virtual non-resistance by Cincinnati’s defenders.

When Wes Welker snatched the first touchdown, I came to an immediate conclusion …..

Bill Belichick digested that assbeating delivered by the Ravens in last season’s playoffs and employed its sobering effects to serve as an inspiration in rebuilding his fractured organization.

You remember the Ravens’ dismantling of the 3-time Super Bowl Champions, just 8 short months ago, right? Before the collective football world fully tuned into that game, the Ravens enjoyed a 14-0 lead, enroute to a resounding 33-14 victory …..
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The Patriots obviously didn’t spend the winter, spring and summer feeling sorry themselves or licking any resulting wounds. They committed to replenishing a talented, but aging roster.

Additions, such as rookies, Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes made an impact today.

For the most part, the Patriots spent the offseason and recent pre-season flying well under the radar; in virtual anonymity. That’s right, as Rex Ryan and his HARD KNOCKED Jets stole most headlines, Belichick’s team hid in the grass …. as they usually do.

As for the Bengals, we expected a big splash to begin 2010, right?

They won the AFC-North, in 2009. They, too added young talent since that divisional championship. And, they brought in the guy who would team with Chad Ochocinco to form a dynamic duo …..
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Hey, T.O. was money from the start of the game.

But, something happened after the initial hookups with Carson Palmer, to start today’s game. T.O. disappeared …..

Of course, this was most relevant when the Bengals reassumed possession of the ball just prior to halftime. They had time to run a deep play. Yet, there was no Owens or Ochocinco to be found on the sideline – they both headed to the locker room, separately, while the Patriots still had possession and the clock trickled down.

Palmer hit rookie wideout, Jordan Shipley, for a 52 yard gain. But, the catch was downed just outside the endzone.

Where were Owens on Ochocinco?

Tweeting?

Filming footage for their respective reality shows?

Posing in front of the visitors mirror?

I know …. they were donning their halftime garb in an effort to inspire teammates and bring more attention to their narcissistic egos …..
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The antics of Cincy’s version of BATMAN & ROBIN have been amusing in a grab-ass kinda way. They’re silly, juvenile and virtually harmless – thus far.

We’ll see if that same harmless humor continues if the Bengals continue to play like they did today. I’m betting the OLD (in more ways than one) editions of T.O. and Chad will eventually surface if they don’t start making highlight reports – and WINNING.

Yeah, I know #85 had a touchdown and 159 yards receiving. But, lets be honest, these stats were achieved in “trash time”. He didn’t have any catches when the Bengals were in the game.

Then again, they were NEVER in the game.

And, that’s their problem.

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2010 NFL Predictions

Posted on 09 September 2010 by Tom Clayton

With the NFL Season beginning tonight it is time for my season predictions. I will start with the NFC and move on to the AFC…remember all of these picks are for fun and shouldn’t be taken seriously in anyway.

*-denotes a Wild Card Team

NFC East
1. Cowboys 13-3
The Cowboys are perhaps the most talent team in the NFL and I think that’s going to be proven throughout the regular season.
2. Giants 9-7
The Giants look to be a team that is going to be fairly solid but not spectacular in any facet of the game; I do believe Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw are due for breakout years.
3. Eagles 8-8
After dealing Donovan McNabb to a division rival the Kevin Kolb era has officially begun. I think he may have a good season with one of the best collections of skill players in the NFL but like Aaron Rodgers two years ago I think the team may struggle in his first season under center.
4. Redskins 7-9
A lot of distractions are circling around Washington but I think with the additions of Mike Shannahan and Donovan McNabb the Redskins will improve but not enough to make the playoffs. Redskin fans better hope that McNabb can stay healthy behind a subpar offensive line.

NFC South
1. Saints 12-4
I don’t believe the Saints will suffer from a post Super Bowl hangover; Drew Brees and this offense will be right on schedule. They may lose a few games more games then last year due to the fact their defense won’t have the same ability to turn opponents over and create field position for Brees and company.
2. Falcons 10-6*
Atlanta may be the best team almost nobody is talking about. I see a big bounce back year for Michael Turner and a breakout year for Matt Ryan in his third season.
3. Panthers 6-10
The Panthers can run the ball and I believe Matt Moore will be a surprise at quarterback but with the loss of Julius Peppers the Panthers defense will be this teams Achilles heel all season.
4. Buccaneers 4-12
Tampa Bay will have an improved defense with the addition of Gerald McCoy but they also have a ton of holes at almost every other position. The rebuilding process has begun and Bucs fans better hope that Josh Freeman is ready to take the next step….quickly.

NFC West
1. 49ers 9-7
The 49ers are slowly building a very solid team under Mike Singletary; the brunt of the expectation in the Bay Area will fall squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Alex Smith. Smith has a plethora of weapons with Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, and Frank Gore and solid defense on the on the other side led by All World linebacker Patrick Willis, so there are no more excuses for Smith or the 49ers if they don’t take the next step.
2. Cardinals 8-8
It is difficult to win in the NFL without a quarterback and the Cardinals are going to run Ravens/Browns castoff Derek Anderson and BYU product Max Hall so…..good luck. I think the Cardinals will have a fairly solid defense led by Defensive Tackle Darnell Dockett but the offense is going to turn the ball over a ton and have trouble moving the ball when not giving it to the other team.
3. Rams 3-12
Good luck Sam Bradford, you looked good in the preseason but the #1 overall pick will quickly learn there is a big difference between the pre and regular season. The Rams have nobody for Bradford to throw to, their line is awful, and Steven Jackson may take a few weeks off in the middle of the season to rest his surgically repaired back. With those prospects it is going to be a struggle for the Rams to win more than three games.
4. Seahawks 2-14
First of all, thank you Pete Carroll for the cornerback and wide receiver you gave to us. Honestly I believe Carroll is building a team the right way and there are going to be A LOT of growing pains in this first season but eventually they will be able to compete in this very poor division. But for this year Seattle will be battling for the #1 overall pick in next years draft not a playoff spot.

NFC North
1. Packers 13-3
The Packers have the best offense in the NFL and Aaron Rodgers will continue to prove he is in the Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady conversation as the best quarterback in the NFL. Jermichael Finley is in for an absolutely gigantic year and could be the #1 fantasy tight end when all is said and done. The Packers should complement their high powered offense with an attacking, opportunistic defense. There is a serious case to be made that the Packers are the best team in the NFL and barring a major injury they should cruise into the playoffs.
2. Vikings 10-6*
Brett Favre is finally back and just as he did his best receiver Sidney Rice went down for a minimum of eight weeks after hip surgery. I think teams are going to batter and beat old #4 into submission this year with Saints Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams giving teams the blueprint in last seasons NFC Championship game. The defense will be stout as ever and Adrian Peterson will have a big season so even if #4 doesn’t make it through 16 games the Vikings ability to run the ball and stop the run will carry them into the playoffs.
3. Lions 8-8
Matthew Stafford and Megatron are going to absolutely blowup this season and lead the Lions to respectability. Helping to speed up the rebuilding process will be defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch but the secondary and linebacking corps have MAJOR questions that will force the Lions into a lot of shootouts.
4. Bears 5-11
Mike Martz will help Jay Cutler to a better second season in the second city but he has very little to throw to and his offensive line is pretty awful. The defense should be improved with the addition of Julius Peppers and a healthy linebacking corps; but Cutler’s turnovers and a lack of explosive skill players will lead the Bears to the cellar in the NFC North.

AFC
AFC East
1. Patriots 11-5
I have some major questions about the Patriots secondary but fortunately for Pats fans Tom Brady and company have the ability to beat any team in a shootout. I think Brady will need Wes Welker to be healthy for Brady to return to his form of three seasons ago and “The Hoodie” will need to do his best job to keep Randy Moss happy but I just believe that Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are too good of a combination to count out.
2. Jets 10-6
Rex Ryan has some high hopes for this team and rightfully so because they are loaded almost everywhere…..but the two places where they have questions will be the two reasons this team doesn’t make the playoffs. Mark Sanchez’ decision making and inability to stay away from the big turnover will directly lead to 2-3 looses this season. Also with the loss of Calvin Pace I wonder where Rex is going to get any pass rushing help off the edge. If Rex can’t get pressure off the edge I think he will not be able to do all of the things he wants to on defense and Revis Island may be exposed a little more than people think. The running game will be stout again running behind the best offensive line in football and look for L.T. to have a big bounce back year.
3. Dolphins 9-7
If Chad Henne can have the type of breakout season people are predicting with Brandon Marshall than the Dolphins could supplant the Jets in this division but I am not completely sold. The running game will be great as usual with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown poised to have a big year coming back from a season ending foot injury. Karlos Dansby will need to prove he was worth the big money Miami gave him in the offseason but I believe the Dolphins defense led by Mike Nolan will be a middle of the pack unit that won’t lose games for this team.
4. Bills 2-14
The Bills are awful that’s pretty much all I can say…..CJ Spiller should be a shot in the arm when he can find open space but they have virtually no talent anywhere on the field. Two wins may be generous for a team that could battle for a winless season.

AFC South
1. Colts 11-5
The Colts have Peyton Manning and that is good for ten wins a season but he will struggle to remain upright unless Joseph Addai and/or Donald Brown can manufacture any type of ground game. I think this division is gaining on the Colts but Peyton Manning and their bookend defensive ends will hold everyone off for one more season. I see a breakout season for wide receiver Pierre Garcon who is a scary replica of Reggie Wayne.
2. Titans 10-6*
Vince Young has had a rollercoaster of an NFL career but I believe this season he will become more of an NFL quarterback and less of a throwing running back. Chris Johnson would help any quarterback as he’ll draw a majority of the attention from opposing defenses and create one on one matchups for receivers on the outside. Tennessee doesn’t have a lot of big names on the defensive side of the ball but Jeff Fischer always seems to coach up his defense and they should be a top-10 unit again this season.
3. Texans 8-8
I want to give the Texans double digit wins and put them in the playoffs but I just have too many questions about this team on the defensive side of the ball. Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, and Brian Cushing (once he returns from his 4 game suspension) are all Pro Bowl caliber players but that is about all Houston has on that side of the ball. The offense will once again be as explosive as any in the NFL and Arian Foster should bring some stability to the running game, but one big caveat is Matt Schaub will need to stay healthy for this team to have any shot at the playoffs.
4. Jaguars 4-12
People in Jacksonville don’t care about the Jaguars and outside of fantasy owners that have Maurice Jones Drew neither does the rest of the country. The Jaguars are going to be pretty awful on both sides of the ball and will be irrelevant in an ever improving division.

AFC West
1. Chargers 10-6
Phillip Rivers has some issues going into this season with the holdouts of his blindside tackle Marcus McNeill and his #1 target Vincent Jackson so his numbers are probably going to take a hit. The team is going to need to lean on rookie Ryan Matthews to carry more of the load than his predecessor L.T. could last year. The defense is intact and should be a top-10 unit with a strong ability to get to the quarterback. Honestly I believe this is the beginning of the end for the Chargers as the “big dogs” in the AFC West and General Manager AJ Smith may not be long for his job if this team collapses in the next two years.
2. Raiders 9-7
Oh boy did I want to pick the Raiders to shock the world and make the playoffs but I think they are one season away. Jason Campbell will stabilize an offense that has struggled with Jamarcus “Purple Drank” Russell under center and the combination of Michael Bush and Darren McFadden could be huge this season. Drafting Rolando McClain will give the Raiders a stud middle linebacker that will become the unquestioned leader of what is a very up and coming defense. The Raiders have a real shot at unseating the Chargers at the top of this division and should be fighting for a playoff birth right down to the wire.
3. Chiefs 5-11
Jamaal Charles looked like Barry Sanders the last quarter of the season and if he can keep up that type of production for 16 games this team could be dangerous but I don’t think it will happen. Head Coach Todd Haley is a constant tinkerer that will sub Charles in and out for Thomas Jones who was a stud behind a great offensive line in New York but could struggle behind a subpar line in Kansas City. Matt Cassel is going to prove what I knew from the beginning he is a good backup and a serviceable starter with Randy Moss and Wes Welker on the outside but he is a below average quarterback on an average team. The defense will need top-5 picks Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson to prove they aren’t busts this season if this team is going to take the next step on defense. On the positive side watch out for diminutive rookie Dexter McCluster who will be an all purpose dynamo and a big time weapon all over the field.
4. Broncos 3-13
Josh McDaniels is going to learn this season he isn’t Bill Belichick and that a mass exodus of your top playmakers isn’t a good thing for a football team. I am a believer in Kyle Orton as an NFL quarterback when he has a go to receiver, the only problem for Orton this season is his go to receiver is in Miami. The defense is going to struggle with the losses of coordinator Mike Nolan to Miami and pass rusher Elvis Dumervil to a torn pectoral muscle. Overall the outlook is grim in Denver and fans could be calling for the “Mile High Messiah” by mid-season if things are as bad as they seem. Jabar Gaffney is a potential bright spot and could be a PPR monster in fantasy leagues.

AFC North
1. Ravens 12-4
The Ravens are potentially the best team in the NFL and they are going to get the chance to prove it on the field. The team opens up with 3 very tough road games against the Jets, Bengals, and Patriots in the first six weeks of the season; I think we will have a better idea where this team is after these games. Even though the schedule looks tough Joe Flacco is poised to have a breakout season with the additions of Aquan Boldin, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Ed Dickson, and Dennis Pitta. Ray Rice and Willis McGahee should be strong running behind a big, athletic offensive line that needs Jared Gaither to take off his diaper for them to be as good as they can. Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg, Trevor Pryce, and Mount Cody will combine with a loaded linebacking corps led by Ray Lewis to create one of if not the best front seven in football. The secondary has some major questions but I think the addition of Josh Wilson will help and if Ed Reed returns after week 6 they should be OK. This is a team primed to make a serious run to and through the playoffs and I have very high hopes for this team.
2. Bengals 11-5*
The addition of Terrell Owens and tight end Jermaine Gresham will bolster a passing game that was almost nonexistent last season and should open up big holes for Cedric Benson in the running game. The defense should be as good as last season with perhaps the best pair of corners in the league and stud USC linebackers Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga ready to breakout this season. If Marvin Lewis can keep all of the teams “personalities” in check, something that is easier said than done, the Bengals should contend for the AFC North crown for a second consecutive season.
3. Steelers 9-7
The four game suspension of Big Ben is going to put the Steelers in a hole that I think they will struggle to get out of. I believe they will be a dangerous team down the wire as they compete for a playoff spot but I just don’t know if they will be able to in a loaded conference. Troy Polamalu is back and healthy and he should lead a defense that will keep this team in every game but in the end I think they just miss out on the playoff for a second consecutive season.
4. Browns 2-14
Last season Jake Delhomme looked awful in Carolina and I don’t know how he will be any better this season in Cleveland. Jerome Harrison looks like a potential breakout talent running behind a better than advertised offensive line but I don’t think they have enough talent to finish out of the basement of the AFC North. Defensively the Browns should be better with the addition of cornerback Joe Haden but the additions on defense won’t be enough to take this defense out of the bottom half of the NFL.

So here are my playoff seeds:
NFC
1. Packers 13-3
2. Cowboys 13-3
3. Saints 12-4
4. 49ers 9-7
5. Vikings 10-6
6. Falcons 10-6

AFC
1. Ravens 12-4
2. Colts 11-5
3. Patriots 11-5
4. Chargers 10-6
5. Bengals 11-5
6. Titans 10-6

Come back tomorrow when I make my playoff predictions and reveal my award winners. Please feel free to argue and attack all of my picks but remember that injures make any prognostication impossible in the NFL.

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How Much Is The Fox Worth ?

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How Much Is The Fox Worth ?

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Rex Snider

On Friday morning, I packed up a week’s worth of wares and officially brought my vacation to an end, as I departed Dewey Beach. While driving north, thru Rehoboth, my Blackberry sounded with a message from the trusted WNST Text Service …..

“Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth tears ACL in his knee”

While I certainly expected the obvious medical diagnosis – GONE FOR THE YEAR – I did not expect the onslaught of doom and gloom, and occasional panic, that would ensue throughout the afternoon. As much as many Ravens fans have chosen to feast upon the pre-season hype, a proportionate number also greeted Foxworth’s injury with a feeling of insurmountable loss.

Really?

While I’ll agree he was the best cornerback on the active roster, as Friday’s full camp opened, I’ve never really considered Domonique Foxworth to be among the irreplacable realities of a Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Michael Oher and Haloti Ngata. Indeed, if one of these players tears his ACL, you can push the PANIC BUTTON.

Let me start by saying I liked Foxworth’s play during the final stages of the 2009 season and he was certainly going to be relied upon for carrying a more significant role as a season opening matchup with the New York Jets neared. But, irreplacable? Sorry, I just don’t see it.

Some optimists might point out his perceived lackluster coverage in the early stages of last season. Indeed, Foxworth appeared to struggle against bigger, physical receivers. Does anyone recall the game in San Diego …..
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However, in true fairness it’s also quite rightful to point out the Ravens’ surprisingly substandard pass rush, last season. In fact, it’s just an absolute truth. Domonique Foxworth had very little support from Terrell Suggs and company, when it came to pressuring the likes of Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Carson Palmer.

And, as we all know, pressuring the quarterback, consistently, can make ROCK STARS out of formidable cornerbacks. Conversely, failing to achieve that same attack can make the same cornerbacks look like they’re not doing their jobs.

Welcome to the NFL.

So, as we look back on 2009, did we really have so much of the upcoming season’s potential and promise vested upon the shoulders of Domonique Foxworth? Sure, the injuries to Fabian Washington and Lardarius Webb have compounded and magnified the value regarding a player of Foxworth’s caliber.

But, can he be satisfactorily replaced? While Washington and Webb move closer to regained form, can someone step up and cover?

Is it Cary Williams or Travis Fisher? Will Chris Carr play even BIGGER? Who knows …. but a group of collective players have undoubtedly hungered for THAT CHANCE to prove themselves. And, this is that chance …..

After all, who was talking about the potential impact of Danelle Ellerbe, at the beginning of last season’s camp?

Does the Foxworth injury impact other facets of the Ravens defense? Sure. And, one particular name comes to mind …..
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So long as Terrell Suggs doesn’t spend another season producing like a member of the Orioles, the pass rush is likely to improve. Given the increased vulnerability of the secondary, I’ll imagine Greg Mattison is already formulating a way to make his attack more dynamic.

The reality is the season-ending injury to Domonique Foxworth just sucks. He’s a damn good cornerback and obviously committed to the “team first” philosophy. But, his injury an ultimate loss is a defining factor of everyday life in the National Football League.

He won’t be the last member of the Ravens lost to injury. And, don’t worry about the bad luck abstaining from other franchises. Every NFL team gets a bite of this sandwich. It’s already hit the Steelers (Willie Colon), Cowboys (Dez Bryant) and Broncos (Knowshon Moreno). The Patriots, Colts, Jets and Chargers will suffer their losses, too.

Speaking of the Patriots and Colts, what will they do if faced with the loss of a vital player? We keep saying the Ravens must beat the great teams, if they’re going to rise to the next level. Well, those great teams lose FRANCHISE players, like Tom Brady and Bob Sanders to injury, yet, they still find a way to win.

And, that’s the challenge facing the Ravens.

There are no “silver linings” to the loss of Domonique Foxworth. Yet, his injury could’ve occured at a more inconvenient time. The Ravens have six weeks to address it. Last season, they had less than six days to address the loss of a starting cornerback …..
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Injuries, while detrimental, also create opportunities ….. especially in training camp. I don’t think the value of such a competition can be overlooked. A handful of young, marginal players are going to be afforded the chance to prove they’re more talented than the depth chart suggests. And, some “old dogs” are out to prove they can still hunt.

I suppose Friday’s bad news really serves as a reminder that pre-season predictions aren’t worth a bag of rotten crab shells. Who could’ve guessed Domoniqe Foxworth would tear his ACL or Sergio Kindle would be in a Texas hospital, while recovering from a fractured skull? You can’t …..

Of course, every purple-blooded loyalist couldn’t resist the accolades. The Ravens have been lathered with a layering of “favorite” in the AFC-North. And, while this supposed indestructible Baltimore football machine has spent the past week proving there is no such distinction, a divisional rival has been stealing headlines, for positive reasons, since last Tuesday.

Meet the new AFC-North favorites …. the Cincinnati Bengals.

The good news is their hype is every bit as fragile as the Ravens. They, too, haven’t played a single game, yet. But, that hasn’t stopped the World Wide Leader and others from forecasting a lethal passing attack – especially with the addition of a soon-to-be 37 year old wide receiver.

As a sports community, we’re so damn fickle. On one hand, we wanted nothing to do with Terrell Owens, because he’s known to be a cancerous plague within a locker room – and he’s beyond his most productive years. On the other hand, we fear the addition of the GREAT T.O.’s arrival, in Cincinnati. Remember, he’s the same exact guy nobody wanted in a Ravens uniform.

Yet, we figure up the loss of Domonique Foxworth, coupled with the addition of Owens, in Cincinnati, and the result is DOOM & GLOOM.

The crippled Ravens secondary will never stop these guys …..
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Don’t forget Antonio Bryant, Jermaine Gresham or Jordan Shipley. Heck, don’t forget Cedric Benson – who really bulldozed his way thru the Ravens defensive line, twice, last year.

Yet, it’s Owens that instills this uneasiness in Ravens fans, while also rallying those in media to annoint the Bengals as the team to beat. Don’t buy into it. There is a distinct reason why the Ravens didn’t want him, along with 30 other teams.

In fact, don’t get caught up in any of the extreme impressions, one way or another, caused by injuries, additions or anything else.

The Ravens lost Domonique Foxworth for the season. That’s a fact. If their aspirations and Super Bowl hopes were tied to one player of Foxworth’s caliber, then this 2010 team really isn’t as good as many people might think.

Relax.

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