Titans to Add Williams

Titans to Add Gregg Williams

Image obtained from: http://blog.nola.com/saintsbeat/2009/01/gregg_williams_hired_as_new_or_1.html

Gregg Williams, former defensive coordinator of the "Bountygate" +New Orleans Saints. The scandal has plagued the NFL, the players, and coaches involved. Although he was suspended indefinitely, he has already been given two jobs in the NFL. He was given a contract for St. Louis last season, and never coached a game for them before he was fired. Now, according to +ESPN, it appears that Tennessee is willing to give him an opportunity as their assistant head coach, and defensive coordinator. This is embarrassing and a sham.

Although he is still suspended indefinitely and no relief in sight, the +Tennessee Titans are willing to give this man some control of their franchise. Keep in mind, they will at least need to find an interim defensive coordinator to coach the defense until Gregg is allowed back on an NFL sideline. This means they will have to instill one defensive strategy at the beginning of the season, and then when Williams is allowed to coach again (probably sometime this upcoming season) they will have to switch their whole scheme.

If they are going to stick to the current scheme, why not just give the interim the full time position and allow him to coach. This hiring really makes me mad. What the man allowed to happen and even encouraged in an NFL locker room is unacceptable. But apparently the Titans are willing to give up ethics for a guy that has shown improvement in defenses in the past. I hope the Titans made this a conditional contract and it is not as binding as others!


NFL Championship Round

NFL Championship Round: Previews and Predictions


Picks for TFT Crew:
Nat: 49ers and Ravens
Ron: 49ers and Patriots
Kyle: 49ers and Ravens
Marshal: 49ers and Patriots

*Original Story*

+San Francisco 49ers vs. +Atlanta Falcons- 3:00pm ET Sunday, January 20

In a match-up of the #1 and #2 seed of the NFC, these heavyweights will slug it out and find out who is going to the Super Bowl, and who is beginning their offseason. In the 49ers case, this is the game that they went out last year in a few fluke plays. For Atlanta, this is the first championship game for most of the players on the team.

Atlanta is the home team, and I think that may be their only advantage in this game. The Falcons are short on experienced players in playoff situations, and they are also coming off a less than impressive performance against the +Seattle Seahawks last weekend. In a game that Atlanta dominated in the first half, their second half nearly undid the early lead. They won on a last second field goal that put them up 30-28. Seattle basically gave the game away, and that is why I have little confidence in Atlanta.

San Francisco is coming off a game they would be hard pressed to match. Kaepernick was nothing short of Maddenesque in his first playoff performance. I don't think he'll be able to match the performance against a better Atlanta defense, but he and Frank Gore should be able to do enough to get them to the Super Bowl.

The Niners need to have a better showing on defense, else this game could get out of hand. The Falcons have as potent a passing game as any in the league. They sport Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Tony Gonzalez who are all very difficult to cover up. Luckily for San Francisco, they have a very athletic linebacking core that can help in coverage and get to the quarterback to take some pressure off of the secondary.

I look for Frank Gore to have a heyday against this Falcons defense. He should take pressure off of Kaepernick and allow him to do what he does best behind center. Atlanta will  keep this game close, but in the end, run out of firepower.

Prediction: San Francisco 35- Atlanta 31
Player of the Game: Frank Gore

+Baltimore Ravens vs. +New England Patriots- 6:00pm ET

Baltimore is coming into this game fresh off of an impressive win against Denver to face a very talented New England team. This will be a rematch of last years AFC title game that saw Baltimore fall short on a missed field goal that would have sent the game into overtime. With Billy Cundiff safely out of Baltimore and what seems to be a more impressive Joe Flacco, this game could be every bit as interesting as it was last year.

New England is also coming off of an impressive win, in which they dismantled the Houston defense. The final score looked a lot closer than the game actually was, and it still didn't look good for Houston. Houston did have the talent to compete in that game, and did early on. But the offense stalled on far too many drives to keep the defense off the field and fresh against a very high powered offense. This could be the case in this game as well for Baltimore. Tom Brady will have a challenge against this stout Ravens defense, and it will be another case of great Offense vs. a great Defense. Lately these matchups have favored the offenses, but I expect things to change.

Fortunately for Baltimore, Joe Flacco has never looked as good as he did last game. Granted it was against a weak defense in Denver, but New England's defense is very suspect as well. I still do not buy into the Patriots defense being "that much better" than the squad they sent out last year. They have just been lucky enough to play while ahead and only have to defend against the pass for the most part. This Ravens defense will play inspired to try to get Ray Lewis one more ring in his last hurrah, and keep Tom Brady and the multiple offensive threats off of the field. Can this Ravens offense do the job though? I think they can, Ray Rice is as dynamic a player as the league has, and he can do many things for the offense. If he can keep the pressure off of Flacco enough for him to hit Jacoby Jones, Torrey Smith, and company this game could very easily go in Baltimore's favor. Inclement weather should not be seen, and I believe the Ravens get the upper hand in this game.


Prediction: Ravens 31- Patriots 27 

Player of the Game: Joe Flacco


Writing History

Lebron James continues to add to his resume and the argument of the greatest basketball player. Last night (January 17, 2013) at age 28, Lebron became the youngest player to reach 20,000 career points. Impressive, seeing as the rest of the active 20,000 club is nearing the ends of their careers. He also chalked up his 5000th career assist. Last season, he got his ring, 3rd season MVP, and Olympic gold on the off season. Lebron definitely will be Hall of Fame material at the end of his career, regardless of how many more rings he acquires. In the chase of points, he is still 3000 points away from reaching the top 25 scores list of all time. He is also roughly 12,000 behind out scoring Micheal Jordan's number three spot, and 18,000 behind Kareem. The maturity of the king, we have seen progressively develope. He has gotten better as a player every season. We saw him play like a champion in the finals last year. He was focused, serious, determined, and a leader. He probably will reach another championship. I look forward to what the king and the Heat bring in coming years.

In other milestones this month, Steve Nash reached 10,000 career assist, sitting at 5th all time in that field (5,765 away fom John Stocktons record). Before his career is over, I see it entirely possible passing Magic Johnson on the number 4 spot, with only 100 assists to gain that spot. And finally, a name I actually do remember from when I was a kid. Grant Hill had a milestone of his own playing in his 1000th career game. Congratulations are in order for all Thea accomplishments!


NFL Divisional Round Recap

NFL Divisional Round Recap

+Baltimore Ravens vs. +Denver Broncos-

This was a very exciting game from beginning to end, and was the first double overtime playoff game I have ever seen. While there was some added drama with the officiating, let's not allow that to take away from the game. Denver and Peyton Manning were really held in check for the most part for the majority of this game, but two return touchdowns by Trendon Holliday kept them in the lead for most of the game. But the real story of this game for me was Joe Flacco, not only did he play well, he showed he belongs in the playoffs to many of the naysayers. He and his receiving core consistently tore up Champ Bailey, who is widely considered one of the best cornerbacks in the league!

I've been saying all along that this Denver defense isn't good enough to win the Super Bowl, regardless of who their quarterback is. This defense padded it's stats against the cupcake schedule that was the last 11 games of the season, and made many believe that defense was a strength of this team. Can you imagine if it had been New England rather than Baltimore in this game? With the Patriots offense, the Broncos wouldn't have lost 38-35, they would have lost 50+ to less than 35 considering the Patriots great special teams play. 

Living in Utah, the majority of people here are Broncos fans. Instant feedback of the game was that the officiating cost them the game... I could not disagree more. While there was some definite questionable officiating in the game, it was questionable for both teams, not just Denver. In fact the penalties were almost even in the game with Denver having 10 and Baltimore having 9. Some have referenced the reviews as also terrible calls. I was watching the game, the Manning fumble was a fumble. The Boldin catch, was a catch. There was a questionable holding call that extended a late drive for Baltimore that resulted in a touchdown... But to say the officials cost you a game when you had a safety and a cornerback allow a receiver to run right by both of them for a 70 yard touchdown bomb at the end of the game... you didn't deserve to win. A safety's job in that situation is to be the last man back, and just stood there and watched Jacoby Jones run right by. Besides that, you had every opportunity in overtime after the game had been extended. Blame your pathetic pass defense against a not very potent passing game! 

With all that being said, the officiating experiment of "All-Star" crews seems to be a bust. Breaking up the chemistry of the regular crews is a mistake in my opinion. The inexperience with each other has caused some confusion, and downright unreasonable calls. They need to address this before the next round of games begin on Sunday.

+Green Bay Packers vs. +San Francisco 49ers-

This game was a high scoring, action-packed barn burner that kind of surprised me. While I did pick San Francisco to win the game, I thought it would be a lot closer of a game. I expected the 49ers defense to contain the potent Green Bay offense, and Frank Gore and Colin Kaepernick to run the 49ers to a close win. While Frank Gore did do his part, this was pretty much a one man show. Kaepernick was able to brush away my concerns with him being a rookie in a playoff situation that may be bigger than he was ready for. He made the Packers defense as vulnerable as I thought they truly were. 

When Green Bay can't get pressure on the quarterback via Clay Matthews, it is very apparent that they are not a very good defense. Colin was able to read when they were in man coverage, and he tucked the ball and ran seemingly every time they were. When they needed a big third down conversion, he picked it up with his legs if they weren't blitzing. If they were, he used his cannon of an arm to hit one of his receivers down field. 

Speaking of receivers down field, Michael Crabtree finally proved to me he was worth the pick that he was drafted with. He tore up a tired defense, and had what was his best performance as a pro, under the brightest of lights. 

San Francisco went from me thinking they were going to lose in the NFC Championship game, to now my Super Bowl favorite. Yes, I just said they are my Super Bowl favorites to beat the AFC representative  even before I know who that will be (most likely New England.)

+Seattle Seahawks vs. +Atlanta Falcons-

This was a tale of two halves. Atlanta just took it to this Seattle team in the first half, and made what looked like the hottest team coming into this contest look like a non-playoff team. The Falcons led this game 20-0 at the half due to some costly errors from the Seattle offense and coaching staff. While I thought that Seattle would stifle the great passing and rushing game that the Falcons possess, it took them until the second half to start playing great football. 

After picking off Matt Ryan in the first quarter, three plays later, Marshawn Lynch coughed up the ball and gave it right back to Atlanta. They proceeded to score and gave themselves an even more controlling lead. Seattle decided to go for a fourth down conversion once they were already down 13-0 rather than just kicking the easy field goal. Rather than giving their beast in the backfield the ball, they handed the ball off to the fullback that ran into a brick wall that was the Falcons defense and even lost a yard. Atlanta proceeded to put up 7 more points to give them a 20 point lead with only limited time left for Seattle to score right before the half. 

Seattle finally put together a great drive on offense and ended up on Atlanta's 10 yard line with one timeout left. On first down they gained four yards and rather than running up to the line and spiking the ball, they used their last timeout with under 30 seconds left. The next play resulted in a false start moving the offense back to the 11 yard line from the 6. On 2nd and 11, Russell Wilson threw an incomplete pass leaving approximately 16 seconds on the clock. On 3rd and 11, he was sacked by a blitz coming from the middle of the formation. Because Pete Carroll had already used their last timeout, they were unable to call it and bring out the field goal unit, and they also didn't have time to line up for another play before time expired. At the half, Pete Carroll had cost his team 6 points, and those points were crucial. 

The second half saw Seattle rip off 28 unanswered points to take the lead with 36 seconds left on the clock. A decent return on the ensuing kickoff resulted in the ball being placed at Atlanta's 28 yard line with 31 seconds left and all three timeouts. Two long passes into the middle of the field against prevent coverage and three timeouts later, the Falcons were at Seattle's 31 yard line with 13 seconds left. Atlanta lined up to kick what would be the game winning field goal- but Pete Carroll called a timeout way before the ball was snapped. The Falcons long snapper still snapped the ball to the holder some 3 seconds later and the kicker boomed off his practice kick, which he missed (this is a whole different subject, which I will discuss in a moment.) Sure enough when he lined up after his practice kick, he had made the adjustment and boomed in the game winner. Seattle had one more chance after a terrible kickoff, but the game ended in a Hail Mary heave that ended in Julio Jones' hands. Pete Carroll only has himself to blame for this loss in my opinion, poor decision-making and clock management cost his team 6 points in the first half, and the game was decided by 3. I can't say that the defense would have held Atlanta to no score if they would have gone for the TD for their last possession, but there would have at least been a chance. 

Now on the subject of icing the kicker... Pete Carroll has no fault in the timeout that resulted in the practice kick for Atlanta, he clearly called the timeout way before the snap and the whistle was blown before the snapper hiked the ball (I counted a 3 second delay from the time Carroll called the timeout to the time the ball was snapped.) There has to be a rule change when it comes to this practice. The kicker essentially got a practice run to make adjustments after the timeout had been called and the play was blown dead. This is clearly an unfair advantage. I could understand if the coach called the timeout right before the ball was snapped, but there was a definite delay. I'm not sure what kind of rule should be implemented, but in this case where it wasn't even close to being snapped right after the timeout was called, I believe that should have resulted in a 10 yard penalty. This is a case of protecting the integrity of the game. I would be surprised and appalled if the NFL does not do something about this debacle before the start of next season. 

+Houston Texans vs. +New England Patriots-

This was not much of a game and was quite frankly very disappointing. Houston has a complete roster with talent all over both sides of the ball. In fact, I have called them the most complete team in football more than a few times this year. It was puzzling to me to see them collapse the last 6 games of the year in which they went 2-4 and went from one of the most dynamic and balanced offenses to not being able to get in the endzone. This was no more apparent than in their playoff game against Cincinnati in which they dominated on both sides of the ball, but ended up winning by a margin of 6 points. 

The lackluster performance was followed by another bomb of a performance in New England a week later. I've been saying during this 7 game streak of poor performances that "this is the week they wake up." Well this is the week they wake up in their own homes on an offseason long vacation. While this team has the talent to win it all, I don't know if they can win with the inconsistent quarterback that is Matt Schaub. As I said in my preview for this game, he can play like a top-tier quarterback at times, he can also play like a Raiders quarterback of the last 10 years. I don't know if there is an answer for them in the draft or free agency, but it is apparent that they will have to make some changes to beat the elite teams in the AFC. 

With that being said, the Patriots are looking as good as ever. They seem to have recovered from their late season struggles in which they almost lost a game to a 2 win Jacksonville squad. They are primed to make another Super Bowl run, and all that stands in their way is a scrappy Baltimore team. They did lose Rob Gronkowski for the rest of the playoffs and that may affect their chances, but they still have a very stacked receiving core minus him. I will say, I'm still not sold that this defense is capable of stopping a good offense, and they will face a good offense whoever it may be in the NFC if they can get past Baltimore. 

So from this, my picks will be New England over Baltimore and San Francisco over Atlanta. With all of that being said, I will be less active on the blog for the next few months. The work, school, raising a kid, and homework load is definitely picking up now that school is in the full swing of things. I am leaving the blog in very capable hands with +Kyle Gilmore, Gina, Nat, Ron, and Marsh. I will definitely be uploading some posts, just not in the quantity I have been on break. Thanks for reading my articles and I hope to see some good stuff up on the blog in the near future.

Bill Montoya


NFL Division Round Picks

Kyle: GB, SEA, NE, BAL
Billy: SF, SEA, NE, BAL
Marshal: GB, ATL, NE, DEN
Nathaniel: GB, ATL, NE, DEN


NFL Divisional Round: Saturday Games

Divisional Round: Championship Push

This is always my favorite week of the playoffs. It fuels a debate in my mind every year. Is that first round bye, and home field "advantage" really helpful in the road to the super bowl? I could dive into that topic, however I just want you to think about how the week off affects teams, and whether that wild card win is a momentum builder.

Baltimore Ravens @ Denver Broncos on CBS at 2:30 PM MT (Yes, this game is in the Rockies)

This game is the shining example of my point above. No one can dispute the Broncos amazing 11 game win streak to close out the season. It is truly amazing what Peyton has done this year with a new team. And not to be left out is their defense, which has been solid nearly the entire year. All this culminated in the Broncos taking the first seed and winning home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Also earning them a bye, which I feel is the worst thing that could happen to a team like Denver. Momentum was their biggest ally during the 2012 season. Taking the week off will slow them down, that fire and excitement will not be as intense as it was in throughout the last 3/4s of the season. On the other side of this story, we have the Baltimore Ravens, who struggled, and some doubted their validity as a playoff team. This is where wild card weekend is instrumental in many team's success. The Ravens were able to pick up an emotional win behind their longtime leader Ray Lewis. I feel this momentum carries over into an upset win for the Ravens. Ray Rice will not put the ball on the ground this week, and will have a heavy work load and carry this team to a win. Also, Joe Flacco and that hurry up offense actually had success last week. It will be a taller order against the Broncos D, but I look for Torrey Smith to have an amazing game. Ray Lewis, if given another opportunity to make an interception like the one against the Colts, has to come up with the ball. I feel he will. Then you throw in Ed Reed, whose mission in life is to make quarterbacks, especially top tier ones, miserable for 4+ quarters. This is not a popular pick, but it is mine. This will not be a repeat of their previous meeting this season, mostly due to the fact the Ravens are finally healthy.The Ravens will ride Ray Lewis' inspirational ride for at least one more week.

Baltimore 28, Denver 24
Player of the game:
Ray Rice

Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers on FOX at 6:00 PM MT (Cause I'm in the Rockies)

Saturday nights game is a battle between two teams that have played already this season. The 49ers were able to defeat the Packers in week 1 30-22. These were two very different teams all those weeks ago. While the Packers have come on strong during wild card weekend, the 49ers have not been playing like the same team, especially on defence. The argument could be made that Kaepernick has added a new dimension to their offense. The 49ers have one of the most consistent running back in Frank Gore. He always seems to fall for at least a few yards, and those are on the bad plays. Their passing game has finally seemed to get going this year after that atrocious showing against the Giants in the playoffs last year. Justin Smith's injury has been huge. Aldon Smith has been without a sack since he went out, only proving that the "Cowboy" is the true star of that line. It is possible that he makes his return this week. Then there is the Green Bay Packers. They had an embarrassing playoff appearance last year, and had a 2012 season filled with ups and downs. Its not the regular season anymore. They picked up speed with their win against Minnesota, the offense is finally healthy and firing on all cylinders. The defense is finally playing to its potential. Look for Charles Woodson to have a huge impact from here on out, much like their Super Bowl run a few years ago. This game is literally the old vs. new mentality in the league. The 49ers play stout defense and power football on offense. The Packers have a high flying, high octane offense and a D that plays well enough to keep the other team from scoring as much as their own offense. It took me some time to come to my conclusion on this game, and since it doesn't really matter, because the winner loses to Seattle next week anyways, Green Bay takes the win. This will setup what will be the most talked about championship game in years, all because of a certain hail mary catch(?) during the regular season.

Green Bay 31, San Francisco 17
Player of the Game:
Charles Woodson

Please let me know your thoughts and picks on these games. Looking forward to another weekend of post-season football.

Phinland Pride,
Kyle Gilmore

NFL Divisional Round: Sunday Games

image obtained from NFL.com

+NFL Divisional Round: Sunday Games

We're down to the last eight teams standing in the NFL this weekend. The remaining games all look like they could go either way, and are getting much more difficult to pick. I'm taking a 9-2 record into this week at picking games since week 17, with that on the line... here we go! 

+Seattle Seahawks  @ +Atlanta Falcons- 1:00pm ET on Fox

This game is a match-up of a very resilient Seahawks team that overcame a 14-0 deficit in the first quarter last week vs. Washington and scored 24 unanswered over the next 3 quarters while playing absurdly great defense and an Atlanta team with the best record in the NFC. Atlanta has been widely overlooked for consistently having the best record in their league all season. While it may be upsetting to the Falcons players that they have been written off all season, it's for a good reason. Matt Ryan has played exemplary at home in his career, but in the playoffs he is a dismal 0-3. 

So is this the season that the Falcons take the jump and finally make it to a NFC Championship game? Not so fast. The Falcons have added quite a few pieces this year, and have had breakout performances by Julio Jones and Asante Samuel, but Seattle also matches up very well against this Atlanta team. Atlanta has what may be the best receiving core in the league right now in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and the legend Tony Gonzalez. Unfortunately for them, Seattle has the most dynamic secondary in the league to cover them up, and a ground attack to keep the Falcons offense off the field as much as possible. 

For these reasons, I am picking Seattle in this game. I realize that Russell Wilson is only a rookie, but he is the most poised rookie I have seen in a long time. He is a team player that puts up pancake blocks on the secondary for his running back. Speaking of that running back, Marshawn Lynch took over the game against Washington in the second half breaking off run after run for ten yards or more. He ended up with 132 yards on 20 carries and one TD. His change of pace back is no slouch either in Turbin, and Wilson rips off runs every time he is given the opportunity. This rushing attack is very formidable and could carry this team all the way to hoisting the trophy at the end of the year. 

One major factor that was taken away from Seattle's potent defense was Chris Clemons. He is able to pressure the quarterback and force bad throws. If the Seahawks can step up and still get to the passer without the presence of Clemons, this game should go in their favor. Also, keep in mind Seattle had to sign a new kicker for this playoff game with Steven Hauschka having to go on IR. If they lose by a field goal or on a missed field goal... that would also not surprise me. 

Prediction: Seattle 24- Atlanta 20
Player of the Game: Marshawn Lynch

+Houston Texans  @ +New England Patriots - 4:30pm ET on +CBS 

Week after week, I keep defending these +Houston Texans. I keep saying top to bottom, their roster is as good as any in the league. I'm standing by that statement, but I'm not sure that this team can win a Super Bowl anymore. They seem to lack the mental toughness to put the ball in the endzone when they need to, and they don't seem to be able to win when the pressure is on. I've been on the wagon all season, but I think now may be the time to jump off. 

My only remaining defense for this match-up is that most teams that get a rematch chance play much better in the second meeting. The first time these teams matched up, it wasn't much of a game. The final ended up 14-42 in New England's favor. Granted there were a few blown calls by the refs that gave New England multiple second chance points. I recall a pass interference call on Daniel Manning on an overthrown pass directed at Wes Welker, that even if Wes was 8 feet tall, he still couldn't have put a hand on it. There were also a few fumbles that bounced directly to Patriots players, and some forced passes by Schaub that were intercepted. 

With all that being said, I still think that the Patriots would have won that game had the officiating been better, or a those few fumbles gone to Houston instead. But would that game have been 42-14? No way! I believe if all of the things that favored the Patriots in that game had gone to Houston, this game would have been a field goal or TD differential. 

Here's the things I believe favor each team. 
  1. Quarterback- definitely a nod to the Patriots, Brady is in a category with few other signal callers. Schaub is capable of playing at a level close to Brady, but we've never seen it consistently in a season, let alone a game. 
  2. Running game- This one is much closer, but Arian Foster is a much more complete back to me than Stevan Ridley. Arian Foster could be the difference in this game. If he's able to establish himself against this suspect defense, it could be a long day on the sidelines for Tom Brady and that potent offense. 
  3. Receiving core- This is another close one, but New England has more weapons (not necessarily better ones.) Andre Johnson is the best receiver in this game no doubt, but Tom Brady has Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski to throw to. Owen Daniels and Andre Johnson are great, don't get me wrong. But Brady has way more options and that is why I give the Patriots the mark. 
  4. Front seven (Defense)- One name, JJ Watt. He is able to take over games, and if he's able to get to Brady, we've seen him struggle in the past against the pass rush (see last two Super Bowls against the Giants.) Houston has the better defense in this game without a doubt, and it should help keep the running game at bay. Although, Vince Wilfork is able to single-handed take away running plays for the Patriots, Houston wins this category. 
  5. Offensive line- New England. Take away their ability to get away with holding on every play and it might be a wash, but since they do... the Patriots get the mark. 
  6. Secondary- Although this was at one point a strength for Houston, they are starting to play worse as the season grows older. I don't believe this is really an area of strength for the Patriots either, but they are able to force some turnovers so a very slight nod to New England. 

So who am I picking in this game? It's hard to pick against a Tom Brady led team and I don't think I will. This is really one of the harder games for me to pick. I really think whoever gets an early lead wins this game. Almost everything I've said means Houston will win, but I can't pick against the Patriots at home in the playoffs. 

Prediction: New England 31- Houston 27
Player of the Game: Tom Brady


FedEx Field: an embarrasment.

Anyone who watched the wild card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, got a glimpse at how turf fields can go horribly wrong. While days before, the field had passed all of the NFL's field tests, on game day it simply was not a playable field.

Most of the coverage of this game is centered around RGIII's injury and if Mike Shanahan should have pulled him from the game. Too often, as in this case, we are focused on the wrong aspects of a story. That decision was between Mike, RGIII, and the team doctor. Argue it any way you'd like, unless you are one of those three people, we really can't properly assess that situation. The real focus should be on the field conditions, and the fact that they have seriously injured two players in this one game. Yes, I do think RGIII's injury was the result of the field.

If you watch the replay of both, RGIII's roll out in the red zone and the low snap that ultimately led to him leaving the game, it seems that his cleats get caught up on the turf. Perhaps this is merely my opinion, however Chris Clemons of the Seahawks also injured his ACL in what looks to be an issue of his cleats not being able to disengage from the turf. We now have two players whose off season will be severely hampered by these injuries. Instead of improving technique or studying film, these two will be focused on rehabilitation after surgery.

With the intense push for safety in the NFL by Roger Goodell, this issue cannot be ignored. There will always be the arguement of grass vs. turf. However look to the Green Bay Packers, who have a grass field infused with sinthetic fibers. Their field looked perfectly fine for their game this past weekend. And quite frankly, it is one of the best fields in the game today. Perhaps the answers aren't there yet, but if safety really is the #1 priority for the NFL, no player should step foot on a field in the condition that FedEX field was on Sunday.

While i understand top story headlines will always grab your attention, I applaud the anylists who have focused on the real issue in this story.

I wish both RGIII and Chris Clemons a speedy recovery and hope they return in the 2013 season at 100%.

Phinland Pride,
Kyle Gilmore

NFL Wild Card Round Wrap Up

Wild Card Week Full of Intrigue

The NFL wild card weekend is often the most exciting week of the playoffs because the teams that play are often better stories than actual teams. It's the weekend of the underdog trying to show that they belong, when in reality they often do not. That was definitely the case this weekend, as all of the favorites in the games won by pretty convincing margins except for Houston. 

Houston largely outplayed Cincinnati in their game, but were unable to capitalize on many of their scoring opportunities. They often settled for field goals after easily marching down the field. With that being said, Arian Foster and the offensive line looked great in this game. The defense played at a championship caliber level at times during this game, and if this team can get some consistency on offense out of Schaub and Andre Johnson, they could be primed to make a Super Bowl run. However, the offense did sputter on most of their drives, and this doesn't bode well for them if they can't take advantage of their opportunities in the next round versus the New England Patriots.  If they settle for field goals against the high powered New England offense, it will be a very one-sided game and Houston will be heading home for a long offseason after falling short of their playoff goals for the second season in a row. 

Green Bay pretty much handled business and took care of an ailing team in Minnesota. The Vikings found out shortly before the game that Christian Ponder would not be able to participate in the game, but had been using Joe Webb in practice during the week to prepare for this. It did not show. Joe Webb looked horrendous and lost in this offensive scheme. Dom Capers was dialing up blitzes to keep Webb confused and constantly under pressure. This pretty much neutralized any mobility advantages that Webb had by keeping him in the pocket and looking for receivers down the field. Once they got Webb uncomfortable, they immediately started stacking the defensive line and putting eight men in the box to take away the threat of Adrian Peterson. Aaron Rodgers was able to do what he does, although in a much less stat heavy way, and the Pack glided to an easy win. This game pretty much amounted to a warm up for the looming match-up against San Francisco in the Bay.

Indianapolis played surprisingly well minus their offensive coordinator. Bruce Arians was hospitalized the night before the game, and it was decided that he would not be calling the plays for the game. I'm not sure if that played much of a role in the Indy loss, but it probably had some affect on the outcome. Baltimore's defense looked like the defense of old that has carried them to playoff success in the past. Granted it was against an offense ran by a rookie signal caller. The Colts defense did keep them in this game until the fourth quarter when the Ravens finally took over and put the game out of reach. Baltimore faces a tough task in the divisional round against a stacked Broncos offense, but if there's a defense that can contain it, it will be Baltimore's in Ray Lewis's last run. 

In what turned out to be the most intriguing game for most people, Washington's dream season finally came to an end. The red hot Seattle team was able to overcome some early struggles and take over the game after a sloppy first quarter. The Redskins jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and Seattle looked lost on offense and defense. Eventually they remembered that they have one of the most dominant rushing attacks in the NFL, and they started feeding the ball to Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin. By halftime they had erased the lead to one point, and the defense just took over. Robert Griffin III had been slowed by a re-aggravation of an injury sustained a few weeks earlier against Baltimore, and it was really showing in his play. In the third quarter he was noticeably limping and unable to make cuts on his runs. He would break for the sideline every rushing opportunity he took. With Seattle scoring the go-ahead touchdown and two point conversion, and thus a seven point lead, RGIII came back out on the field for a fourth quarter comeback. He had been making magic all season long, and the crowd was just ready to explode if he could make some more on this night. Unfortunately for him, the Seattle defense reared up a blitz and took him down for a loss of twelve yards. Visibly hurt and shaken, he made his way slowly back to the huddle. At this point I was sure that Shanahan would call a timeout and pull him from the game. He didn't. Next play was a botched snap that rolled on the ground, Griffin bent down to grab it before the defense could recover it, and his knee buckled. Unable to move, he fell to the ground and immediately grabbed for his injured knee. Seattle recovered the ball and three short plays later added three more points to the board to give them a ten point lead with under four minutes to go. Kirk Cousins came in to try and make a miracle comeback, but Seattle's defense was dialed in now, and after a couple of first downs, the drive stalled and the Seahawks were victorious. 

Since documenting picks in week 17 and the wild card round, I'm sitting at a solid 9-2 record for those games. Look for the trend to continue in the upcoming days when the Divisional Round Preview is up!
Thanks for reading,


BCS National Championship

Alabama Rolls To National Title


Final score 42-14.


It may be a little unprofessional starting to write this article with 22 minutes left in this "game," but with the score being 35-0 it may be safe to call it over. This has been the most one-sided game I can ever remember in the National Title Contest. Notre Dame looks like a team that doesn't even belong on the same field as their opposition. Alabama is just running through the Irish defense and no one is able to take Lacy down.

It's hard for me to write this article praising how well Alabama has played, but I have been very impressed with the performance of their defense, offensive line, and AJ McCarron. Notre Dame has been unable to get pressure to the quarterback, leaving their suspect secondary fending for themselves. Against the speedy Alabama receivers, they have no chance.

The first quarter was pretty suspect from an officiating standpoint. On a third and long for the Irish, Everett Golson completed a pass for a first down to Tyler Eifert along the sideline. On the completion the big tight end got two feet down, took another step before going out of bounds. After going out of bounds, the tight end had the ball swatted free. The referees called it an incompletion and the booth did not buzz down for a review, even though Brian Kelly called a timeout to give them a chance to get a better look at it. Rather than having a first down, Notre Dame was forced to punt. Alabama took the gained momentum and put themselves up 14-0.

After another failed series on offense, Notre Dame lined up for a punt on fourth down. A fair catch was called for, but the returner dropped the fair catch. An Alabama blocker ran into his teammate trying to return the ball. The returner was unable to cover the ball and the Irish recovered, gaining possession. But, the referee threw a flag and called the Irish for interfering with a fair catch opportunity even though it was his own teammate that did the interfering. Essentially in the first quarter the referees accounted for possibly a 14 point swing. 

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Notre Dame should be winning this game. Their defense couldn't stop a nose bleed tonight. But you could see the team almost get deflated on the second blown call that resulted in not only them losing possession, but also gave the Tide a few extra yards.

With all that being said, teams cannot give up because of officiating. If Notre Dame was a championship caliber team, they would have dug in and not let the refs affect their resolve. Have to give props to Alabama, they went out and won this game. Looks like the seventh National Championship in a row for the SEC and back-to-back for Bama.

Congrats to Alabama as a program, but I will never say congrats to Nick Saban.


RGIII Injures Knee Again

RGIII Injury

In what looked like an aggravation of an injury from a few weeks ago, Robert Griffin III left the field in the Wild Card game against the Seattle Seahawks with only a few minutes left in the 4th quarter of the game. The initial injury took place some weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens. After missing just one game, he came back and played the last couple of the season, albeit not at full health. Early in the game there was reason for concern as he was struggling pushing off of his leg to throw, and to run. Mike Shanahan left him in despite the obvious limitations of his quarterback. 

Coming off of a sack in the 4th quarter and a loss of 12 yards, he was visibly shaken and probably should have been taken out of the game. Once again, despite him clearly being in pain, he was left in. The next play (see the video) that would happen could change the course of this young man's career, even as early into it as he is. A low snap saw Griffin trying to scoop the ball off of the ground and his knee gave out. I'm no expert on the subject, but at the least I would say he has an MCL tear, and most likely an ACL tear as well. This could be devastating to his season next year, as an ACL tear can take up to a whole year to heal. Although RGIII is a threat to throw the ball at all times, what makes him dangerous is the fact that he can pull the ball down and run at any time. This occupies one defensive player at all times if they decide to try to contain him by using a spy on defense. So while I expect him to make a full recovery, I don't see him being the offensive force he was this year if he ends up with these significant injuries at least for next year and possibly well into the future. Luckily for Washington, they look to have secured a good backup in Kirk Cousins, as he has shown to be effective in limited playing time.

I hope for his sake that he makes a full recovery, but I can't help shaking the feeling that the whole situation was terribly mishandled by the entire coaching staff and medical staff that were on hand for this game. If his knee wasn't already shredded after the sack, it was after it gave out going after the low snap. He had no business still being in that game!


More on Black Monday Firings


Well Black Monday hit, the day where NFL Coaches and General Managers hope to keep a job or begin to look for a new one. Here is the list: 

San Diego Chargers Coach Norv Turner along with GM A.J. Smith

Kansas City Chiefs Coach Romeo Crennel

Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid

N.Y. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum

Jacksonville Jaguars GM Gene Smith

Cleveland Browns Coach Pat Shumur and GM Tom Heckert

Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves

Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey

Chicago Bears Lovie Smith

Now some of the firings such as Turner, Crennel, and Reid (whose time has truly run its course) make total sense.  Kansas City finished 2-14, dropping from a 7-9 season the previous year. Although Crennel is one awesome Defensive Coordinator, his head coaching record (28-55) leaves people flat.   San Diego FINALLY decided to make a change, sending Norv Turner and GM A.J. Smith packing.  The parting of the ways was overdue in my opinion.  Yet there is one that I do not agree with and for the life of me did not see coming: Lovie Smith.  That  firing will be a plus for another team, and the demise of the once prominent Chicago Bears. Why do you say I can’t seem to grasp his firing? Well let’s look at the overall picture. 
      Smith overall record is above .500 (81-63 or .563). Smith has been to the NFC Championship game twice losing to  the Packers and Panthers and he was in the Superbowl, losing to Peyton and the Colts.  But according to Bears GM Phil Emery it was the right thing to do.  Emery states;  “Our No. 1 goal always has to be to win championships, and to win championships we have to be in contention on a consistent basis, and to be in contention we have to make the playoffs on a consistent basis," he said Tuesday (via PFT). "We've had defensive excellence, but during the course of coach Smith's years here, we've had one offense that was ranked in the top 15." (CBSSports) This is the same guy who fired Mike Martz for Mike Tice and we all know what happened with that train wreck.  
   Again maybe the time and magic with Smith ran it's course with the Bears.  There are a few people who feel it was unjustified. People like Mike Ditka and Devon Hester (who is thinking of retiring after this fiasco) have voiced their opinion even going as far as to say the firing was a stupid move. (Ditka)
In my opinion, play calling along with not protecting the QB stood out more to me.  I personally know that no matter who is QB, wide receiver or running back, if you can’t make holes to run through or protect the QB to have time to survey the field, it starts with the line first, leading to the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and scouts. Talent is what you need.
      Lucky for Andy Reid, he has signed to become the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs ( ESPN), and Lovie is being interviewed by the Bills ( Smith InterviewsBoth are talented and looking at the issues they endured this season, will be very interesting next season. You can have the greatest coach, but if you surround them with mediocre talent, they will not win.
      How many times have we seen QB Rivers self-destruct? Jay Cutler? It is amazing Mike Vick can still walk and want to play the game period.  The owners and GMs need to back off and let the coaches do their job. Yes I know they pay the salaries but you know what. If you don’t have the talent to fill the seats, to win the games all you have left is zero. Just look at the second train wreck… Dallas Cowboys.
Overall, we will see if these latest firings will improve the records of these teams. I bet money Chicago and Philly will be at the bottom of the basement. Wonder if they will get fired after their first season if they do not make it to the playoffs. 2013 will be very interesting.


The Fans Talk Sports Picks: NFL Wild Card Round

NFL Wild Card Round Picks

Cincinnati at Houston-

Kyle- Cincinnati
Nat- Cincinnati
Billy- Houston

Minnesota at Green Bay-

Kyle- Minnesota
Nat- Minnesota
Billy- Minnesota

Seattle at Washington-

Kyle- Seattle
Nat- Washington
Billy- Seattle
Marshal- Washington

Indianapolis at Baltimore-

Kyle- Baltimore
Nat- Baltimore
Billy- Baltimore
Marshal- Baltimore

NFL Wild Card Preview: Sunday Games

NFL Wild Card Preview: Sunday Games

These articles were written by Marshal Cummings, and posted by me (Billy Montoya.)

Seattle at Washington- Sun 2:30pm ET

Seattle and Russell Wilson head across the country to try and put the fire that is the Washington Redskins rushing offense out…….. of the playoffs that is. Russell Wilson continues to improve each week and over the last 17 weeks he has made leaps and bounds all the way into the post season. Although he is getting all the attention I believe this Seattle Defense is the story. The Seattle D has two giant corners who can really cover some ground. They seem to have more than 11 players on the field at times. These boys are not afraid of contact either. Ask Vernon Davis of the San Francisco 49ers. Colin Kaepernick, the Niners second year quarterback, left his tight end out to dry and he took a punishing blow that put him out for the rest of that game and the next. Marshawn Lynch a.k.a Beast Mode has had quite the year. In fact he is the second leading rusher in the league. A steady dose of Beast mode should keep RGIII off the field and limit the opportunities the Redskins will have at making the jaw dropping plays that fans have grown accustomed to this season. All the things I have listed above seem to make Seattle the clear choice here. That’s why I’m picking Washington. I know what you are thinking Seattle is on a tear and dominated one of the most complete teams in the NFL two short weeks ago in those 49ers. However they have to make the long journey across this great country of ours. That is very taxing on a team, especially after a brutal 17 week season where the Seahawks have had some physical games. Washington should pound Alfred Morris and catch the Seahawks D creeping up with some play action. Look for RGIII to find Pierre Garcon and the rest of the Redskins receiving core to get some big plays on those talented corners I mentioned earlier. RGIII can throw the deep ball as good as anyone in recent memory. This I believe will be the key matchup of the game. RGIII against the Seattle secondary. If he can keep them honest, Alfred Morris should have success against a seven man front. These two will feed off each other for many years to come. Lookout NFL the Redskins have two rookies with some real staying power.

Washington 24 Seattle 17
Player of the Game
Robert Griffin III

Indianapolis @ Baltimore

Does Luck finally run out in Baltimore? This game has two stories that should keep these teams motivated. Although Baltimore has hit a slump these past few weeks I believe they step it up for the most motivational player in NFL history. Ray Lewis has announced this will be his “final ride” as a Baltimore Raven. Colts Coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed earlier this season with Leukemia. The support that was shown for him around the league was just beautiful. In his own locker room players shaved their heads to show support. Heck even two cheerleaders shaved their heads to show the beloved coach how much he means to the organization. The better story is Pagano and the Colts. They lost arguably one of the best Quarterbacks in history and went from the worst record in the league to a playoff team. Unfortunately stories can’t win games. I believe Luck does indeed run out of magic and the Baltimore ravens send them home. Look for Ray Lewis to get the Ravens back on track and hold on tight because everyone in that city wants to send Ray Lew off into the sunset with another Ring. How will they do that you ask? Simple Ray Rice, Ray Rice, followed by hey diddle diddle Ray Rice up the middle. The Ravens could be championship contenders if they would just remember they have mighty mouse in the backfield. Joe Flacco one day may be in the upper echelon of quarterbacks in this league but Ray Rice already is a top five back in this league. Let Mighty Mouse take you to the promised land Baltimore. Everyone is sick and tired of hearing how Joe Flacco thinks he gets disrespected. Ray Lewis deserves more from this coaching staff than letting Joe throw him home with an early exit.

Indianapolis 10 Baltimore 27
Player of the Game:
Ray Rice


Whose our QB?

At this point in the year teams begin to formulate what direction they are going to move forward in. For a lot of quarterbacks, that means an escort to the door. There are a few teams in the league that are still looking for an answer at quarterback.

Kansas City Chiefs- Matt Cassel was never the answer KC had hoped he would be. Brady Quinn came in and never really got anything going, which has become the staple of his career. They will be looking for a quarterback this off season. I would like to see Alex Smith go to the Chiefs, assuming he leaves The Bay, much like another 49er. With Jamal Charles running all over the place, all Alex smith would have to do is manage the game.

Jacksonville Jaguars- While I realize it still may be too early to call Blaine Gabbert a bust, at what point do you admit he is not ready, and bring in a veteran for him to learn behind? I see them them pulling in a veteran quarterback in free agency. Then again I don't have a big enough mustache to pretend like I know what is going on in Jacksonville.

Arizona Cardinals- How many quarterbacks does it take to win in Arizona? I don't know, I'll let ya kow when one shows up. There is not a team in worse shape at the quarterback position. Then again Andy Reid is telling Arizona if they hire him, he can fix Kevin Kolb.

New York Jets- If Tim Tebow comes in and can't fix your quarterback situation, I dont know what will. Wait, What???? My good friend Edward Kopfman thinks someone should put him in at fullback. It would have to make more of an impact then sitting on the bench. Before I get completely off subject, Mark Sanchez is never going to be a Matt Ryan or any of the other up and comers. I honestly think the only way for him to succeed in the league is if someone handles him the way Alex Smith was in San Francisco. And I honestly do believe he still has a chance to be a quarterback in the NFL. Just not the way everyone thought he would coming out of USC. Pete Carroll was quoted saying Mark needed to stay another season to develop, he didn't believe he was ready for the NFL. Perhaps he was onto something. Maybe Greg McElroy is the answer......

Buffalo Bills- I am constantly told that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a pretty good quarterback. While I'll admit that he has had some amazing games, I just need to see some consistency before I can believe that. Although, in his defence, I feel the play calling in 2012 was rediculous. C.J. Spiller should have been fed the ball non stop. Then let the Fitzpatrick manage the game as opposed to trying to win it every week.

Cleveland Browns- I felt I had to put the Browns on here. However I think it is still too early to give up on Brandon Weeden. Right Colt?

Philidelphia Eagles- I will be truly amazed if Michael Vick is still an Eagle next year. Honestly I dont think there is a chance in hell. I would like to see what Nick Foles can do with an entire off season with the starters. I would expect them to bring in a veteran as well.

Oakland Raiders- The Raiders got more out of Carson Palmer than I thought they would have. However, he is not the answer, neither is Matt Leinart, nor Terrelle Pryor. Until this position is set for the years to come, I don't think the Raiders will ever move forward. Maybe they will bring in Michael Vick and Terrelle Pryor could learn under him.

These are just the babblings of a fan who is happy to not see his team on this list. Though its too early to tell if I will be off the list for long, it should comfort all of you to know the difference one off season can make. Look at the Colts, Seahawks, Redskins, Broncos, and even my Dolphins. When the quarterback position isn't the glaring weekness on the team, it allows the team to finally begin building. The quarterback is much like the heart in your chest. Without it, the rest of the body will shut down.

Please share your comments. What did you agree with? Have I lost my mind?
All feedback is welcome.

Phinland Pride,
Kyle Gilmore


NFL Wild Card Preview Saturday Games

NFL Wild Card Round Preview: Saturday Games

The most exciting part of the NFL season is just around the corner. For those of us whose teams didn't even sniff a playoff spot, it is still exciting to see the NFL playoffs. For me, I will be pulling for whoever may play the Broncos, and then once they get eliminated (hopefully) it's all just fun to watch after that. With that here's the Wild Card match-ups and some analysis to go along with it!

+Cincinnati Bengals at +Houston Texans- 4:30pm ET on +NBC 

I realize that Houston is a 12-4 team, but this team is the most inconsistent 12-4 team I think I have ever seen. One game they look like potential Super Bowl champions, the next game they can barely beat a non-playoff team, and then get trounced by a playoff team another. I know this is the NFL and any team can win on a Sunday, but this team almost lost to a 2-14 Jacksonville team in Houston. With all that being said, this is a dangerous team that could go off at any time for a large amount of yards and points, while stifling a team with their stout defense. My only worries are that they had two chances to lock up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs against Minnesota and Indianapolis and lost both games pretty handily. Granted only two times in the last twelve years has a #1 seed won the Super Bowl. Houston should have as good a chance as any if they can get more consistent play out of Matt Schaub, and that should hold true against this Cincinnati club.

Cincinnati has a few weapons on offense and a decent defense, but this is one team in the playoffs that doesn't really jump out at me as a contender. They were playing pretty well to end the season though, winning seven out of their last nine. Andy Dalton has shown that he can win in big situations, but I just don't see this offense outscoring the Houston offense. AJ Green will be the player that can swing this game in Cincinnati's favor, if Houston can't cover him, he will keep the Bengals in this game and possibly win it for them.

I don't see this game as being a high scoring one, even though both teams are capable of putting up a lot of points. I think we will see a steady dose of both Arian Foster for Houston and Benjarvis Green-Ellis for Cincinnati which will eat up a lot of clock and keep the point totals down. I don't see the Bengals pulling this one off, as last week served as a wake up call for Houston. They need to start playing their kind of football or they won't be around in the playoffs long. Houston is too good of a team to lose in the opening round of the playoffs and I think they will handle business to get another chance at New England in the second round of the playoffs. 

Prediction: 24-16 Houston Wins

Player of the game: Arian Foster

Minnesota at Green Bay -8:00pm ET on NBC

This is a repeat of the week 17 match-up in which the Minnesota Vikings won 37-34. Because they played the game just a week ago, the teams should have a better feel for each other. It is integral for the Minnesota Vikings to get up early or at least not get behind by more than a touchdown. I don't believe they can rely on the passing game to win this game with Christian Ponder at the helm. So their formula for success is ride Adrian Peterson all game and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field as much as possible. The formula worked out last week, but had the kicker missed the field goal that sealed the game, I don't think Minnesota would have won in overtime with all the momentum that Green Bay had built up. Keep in mind this game is at Lambeau Field, a very difficult place to play for visiting teams. 

For Green Bay to win this game, they need to get the ball first and put the ball in the end zone right from the beginning. If they can do that and get up by 10 points early, Minnesota won't have a chance to come back without being able to let AP run wild. Green Bay's defense is a major concern to me, Peterson has gone off on them in recent games. This is not a good defense, and is the main reason I don't see them making it all the way to the Super Bowl. I think this game all comes down to who can score first, if Green Bay can I think they win this game. 

Although Green Bay are major favorites, I'm picking Minnesota once again. They are a team that is on a little hot streak going into the playoffs. We've seen this happen before with the New York Giants coming in on a streak and barely making the playoffs. In the last few years it's been the team that has momentum going into the playoffs that usually make a splash. I look for the trend to continue with the Vikings handing the Packers a first round upset, and a long offseason. Adrian Peterson is going to go off again on this poor Green Bay defense, and Ponder will have a decent enough game to keep them ahead. This should be a heavy hitting game that comes down to the last second.

Prediction: Vikings win 31-28
Player of the Game: Adrian Peterson