Monthly Archives: September 2010

“Does 0 and 2 Spell Death?”

Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings are in desperate need of star receiver, Sidney Rice (pictured above).

The NFL is already off to an extremely exciting start.  And fans should be prepping for a year that appears to really be wide open (as usual).  And who would want it any other way? There are many major storylines already in my eyes, but one has really stood out to me.

Storyline :  Two Super Bowl favorites, the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are 0 and 2.  Who would have thought this would be the case?  Both of theses teams were extremely common picks to not only win their respective divisions, but to win the entire NFC.  Which one of them in worse shape?  Do either still have a chance to make the playoffs?

Dallas Cowboys

Situation:

The Cowboys have lost to 2 teams that most did not have making any noise this season.  The Redskins and Bears are not exactly thought of as powerhouse teams (though the Bears sit at 2 and 0).  This Dallas team is as talented as ever.  This team is experienced.  Supposed to be solid on both sides of the ball.  Jerry Jones is not a happy man.  Dallas is 4th in yards in yards gained this year, and 11th in total D.  So they are doing okay both offensively and defensively.  So what is the problem?

Problem:

Well for one, they are not scoring enough points.  In their first two ball games, they have given up 40 total points while they have only scored 27.  This all stems from a continued Red Zone conversion problem in Dallas.  Experts talked about this problem all season last year, especially down the stretch.  And the preseason, nor these first two weeks have looked to ease any of these worries.  In addition, could the pressure be getting to guys like Romo?  The core of this team has been winning for a good few years now.  But they have not gotten over the hump like Emmit Smith and Troy Aikman were able to do in the mid 90s.  Romo has never been known as Mr. Clutch.  And yesterday, he demonstrated his lack of big game ability with 2 crucial INTs.  The other major problem for the Boys, a non-existent rushing attack.  This team ran for 36 yards yesterday.  I know the game is turning into a pass first style, but 36 rushing yards is unacceptable if you are expecting to win a game in the NFL.  Not to mention they only ran for 89 yards in Week 1 (they are 27th in the League in rushing yards).

Solution:

The Cowboys must learn how to convert consistently in the Red Zone with touchdowns.  They must also develop a reliable rushing attack.  If they can do these two things, they will definitely be able to still make a run at the playoffs.

Verdict:

The Cowboys have a very tough first place schedule.  A turnaround will not be easy.  Plus they head to Houston against a very tough Texans team next week.  Though it is possible, do not expect this team to be playing a “Home” Game in this year’s Super Bowl.  I would not count on them even making the playoffs either.  Too many egos.  Too many internal issues.  Expect the Cowboys to finish 8 and 8 or 9 and 7, just missing the playoffs.

Minnesota Vikings:

Situation:

The Vikings are currently sitting at 0 and 2, even with their “savior” Brett Favre.  At least they get to take the Lions on at home next week to put a mark in the win column right?

Problem:

This team has no offense so far.  Other than in the rushing category, this team is in the lower half of the League in every offensive statistical category, including 29th in points.  For all the talk of Brett Favre being possibly the “Greatest Quarterback of All Time,” he has looked extremely human through 2 games.  Now I realize this team has some major injuries hurting their receiving corps.  But the way the unit has played, has been unacceptable.  They have mustered up 19 total points against two teams, that do not feature great defenses (Saints and Dolphins).  The major problem for this squad has not been the defense.  In actuality, their defense ranks 8th overall in the League.  And it hasn’t been the rushing attack.  It’s been # 4′s gunslinger mentality.  Brett’s interceptions are a huge reason why this very talented team is sitting at 0 and 2.

Solution:

Run the ball more.  Continue to give Adrian 25 plus carries a game.  Until star receiver Sidney Rice returns, this team will have to live and die on the run.  Brett’s confidence is a bit down.  And if the team can put together a couple of wins, he will get his swagger back.  But the defense overall has been fine.  Adrian Peterson has been awesome.  But Favre must cut down on the turnovers.  Possibly give the man a simpler game plan if possible (just don’t let him know you are babying him).  Give him a lot of plays where he gets to utilize his tight ends.  The problem is, you do not want to mess Brett Favre’s ego.  So it is definitely a touchy area and easier said than done to fix this problem.

Verdict:

I feel this team is perfectly fine.  I still fully expect them to nab at least a Wild Card.  Though they have to play a first place schedule, just like Dallas, I feel like their division is not as deep.  Therefore they will have a few more games that are very winnable, and this will be the difference.  I also hate to say it, but I don’t see Brett missing the playoffs in his “final” season.

So neither of these teams are down and out yet.  I believe both of them will finish at least 8 and 8 due to the fact that they are far too talented not to win as many games as they lose.  But I will admit that I feel Dallas is in big trouble in their pursuance of a playoff spot.

So what are your thoughts?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Bengals vs Ravens In Game”

Mike Nugent (pictured above), the former Ohio State Buckeye star, came up big today for the Bengals with 5 field goals on the afternoon.

So today I have decided to try something a little different.  I am going to give you an “in-game” look at the marquee matchup of Week 2 in my eyes, the AFC North battle, between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals.  These are two teams that had very different types of opening games.  The Bengals got blown out by an upstart New England Patriot’s team.  While the Ravens came up with an outstanding defensive effort and took care of a business against a favored Jets team on the road. 

Marvin Lewis is 9 and 5 all time against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens.  And has a Bengals team, that went 6 and 0 against the rugged AFC North last season and is looking to win their 8th consecutive divisional matchup.  Can the Bengals rebound today?  Can Joe Flacco learn how to throw an accurate pass?  We will find out in less than 5 minutes, as the Ravens travel to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Who Deys in Cincinnati.

Today I will also have some esteemed guests contributing with their in-game thoughts.  We will have “DC,” David Clark and  Mr. “Beezy,” Chris O’Brien.  Let the games begin.

1st Quarter:

The Bengals have looked solid overall in the first quarter.  Carson is looking more and more comfortable as his offensive line is giving him ample time to get the ball out to his receiving weapons.  Minus a few inaccurate throws to TO, he seems to be looking like a big time quarterback.  In addition, Cedric Benson and Jordan Shipley have looked very solid.  Benson has made some crucial 3rd down conversions and Shipley continues to catch everything thrown at him.  I just wish Chad could resist talking trash at his opponents.

Joe Flacco continues to struggle and the Ravens offense looks in shambles.  0 of 4 for 0 yards sums it up for the former Delaware star.  Their defense is still laying out the big hits, but are beginning to not get the push that they got last week.  Could the short week be hurting them?

Mr. Breezy:  “The offensive line (for the Bengals) is day and night compared to last week.”

DC:  “My biggest surprise of this game is Joe Flacco’s inability to pass.”

2nd Quarter:

The only way to describe this one so far is, “Ugly.” Both quarterbacks are under 100 yards passing. Both teams are under 150 total yards (the Ravens are under 80).  It has been a defensive struggle.  The Bengals have blown some key Red Zone opportunities and only go into the half up 6 to 0.  But I will state this 1st half has been night and day compared to last weeks for Cincinnati. 

The Who Deys must cut down on the penalties.  6 is entirely too many and will come back to bite them if it continues.  Palmer also continues to struggle with his accuracy, though he has not been nearly as bad as Joe Flacco.  Should be a down to the wire finish in the 2nd half though with these two bitter rivals.

Mr. Breezy: “The Bengals would be winning by a lot more if they didn’t shoot themselves in the foot with penalties.”

DC: “Ravens are lucky to only be down 6 to 0.  If the Bengals keep shooting themselves in the feet with penalties, then they cannot expect to win this game.”

3rd Quarter:

Joe Flacco has woken up folks (somewhat).  Not good news for the Bengals.  The Bengal’s offense has looked like they are struggling with communication.  This is a major problem especially against a team with a defense like the Ravens.  TO continues to struggle with the physicality of the AFC North.  Palmer is continuing to be inconsistent.  Plus the Bengals lucked out with a tripping penalty on Ray Lewis to save this crucial drive.  I have a hunch this game  will come down to the final drive.

Mr. Breezy:  “The Bengals are just far too inconsistent.”

DC: “Bengals need to capitalize on a Joe Flacco interception.  This drive at the end of the 3rd quarter will decide the outcome of the game.”

4th Quarter:

Really just a back and forth battle between two teams that really wanted this one.  Neither team could really muster up any offensive fluidity.  Possession and field goal kicking were the name of the game.  And the Bengals took care of the ball, and hit their field goal chances.

Mr. Breezy: “This was a big time win for the Bengals.  Though it was ugly, a win is a win.”

DC:  “I will take the W, but Bratkowski has to develop a new game plan offensively.

Post Game Recap:

So there you have it.  It was not pretty by any means.  But the Bengals continued to exude AFC North dominance with a major victory in Week 2 over the rival Ravens.  Mike Nugent and the Bengal’s defense are Co-MVP’s in this game in my eyes.  Really, Joe Flacco could be considered the LVP (Least Valuable Player). 

The man had 0 passing yards in the entire first quarter.  Threw 4 picks.  And had a quarterback rating of 23.8.  Could it be time to consider giving Marc Bulger a go under center?  And though the Bengals got the win, Carson completed just 16 of 35 passes, and missed open receivers time and time again.  Can Palmer still play like the guy that we saw in 2005?

Taking care of the difference in this one.  4 interceptions to 0 gave the Bengals a big time win today.

Hope you enjoyed the first annual “In game” analysis.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 2 Predictions”

It appears Michael Vick (pictured above), may be starting his first game since 2006 on Sunday. Does he still have the amazing athleticism that once made him the real "Human Highlight Reel?"

One week of the 17 week grind that is the NFL Regular Season has been completed.  Now we enter Week 2.  There is a little bit less mysteriousness to each squad.  There is a bit more familiarity and film to see what lays ahead.  But still, there are a ton of question marks.  A ton of teams looking to prove that Week 1 was a fluke, or for those teams that played well, that Week 1 was not a fluke.  Once again I go head to head with CV3 on picks.

Week 1 Results:  TheSportsKraze: 8             CV3:  9

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Steelers at Titans:  The Steelers proved me wrong last week.  But this week they are on the road with their young 3rd string quarterback in Dennis Dixon.  Not to mention they go up against the most dangerous running back in the NFL Chris Johnson.  Look for this to be a very competitive game, but expect CJ to be the game’s determining factor.  Titans by 3.

Dolphins at Vikings:  You think that Brett Favre and the Vikings like losing?  Now the Dolphins are a solid team, but you have to like Minnesota in their home opener.  The Vikings are a great all around team, that even though they played pretty awful in their opener, they were still in a position to beat the defending champs on the road.  Chad Henne, the former Wolverine, will struggle on the road against the outstanding pass rush of the very tough Viking’s defensive line.  Brandon Marshall, will have to make a couple of highlight reel plays to keep the boys from Miami in the game.  Though I think this game will be competitive most of the way, I got the Vikings by 10 at home.

Cardinals at Falcons:  Arizona is flying high after a big week one win at St. Louis.  Well not really.  They struggled against one of football’s worst teams and looked out of sorts for much of the game.  Other than a great 2nd quarter, and the phenomenal play of Steve Breaston, this team did not look like a team ready to make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year.  The Falcons on the other hand, nearly came away with a victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday.  And though their offense only mustered up 9 points, they were going against a whole different animal in the Steeler’s defense.  Look for Matt Ryan to connect with Roddy White early and often, and look for Michael Turner to have a big day on the ground.  I got the Falcons running away with this one by 13.

Ravens at Bengals:  This may be the marquee matchup of the weekend.  Two major AFC contenders and divisional rivals going head to head.  The Ravens surprised many with a major Monday Night win in New York.  While the Bengals shot their load in a bad loss to the New England Patriots.  This is a whole new week.  And expect to see a different Bengals defense, plus more of the offense you witnessed in the 2nd half of last week’s contest.  In the Marvin Lewis/Carson Palmer era, the Bengals are 9 and 5 against the Edgar Allen Poe Bad Boy Ravens.  I will state this though.  If the Bengals play like they did in the first half of last week’s game even for a quarter, the Ravens will throw the knockout punch early.  But I expect Mike Zimmer’s defense to play big time smash mouth defense, and Palmer’s offense to have a big day.  I got the Bengals by 3 in a nail biter.

Chiefs at Browns:  Can you say Jamaal Charles?  Teams have a history of big days on the ground versus the Browns over the years.  Well this game will be no different.  And though the Browns sport the best return man in football, Josh Cribbs, the Chiefs are not too shabby themselves with rookie Dexter McCluster.  The Chiefs were a team that I said would surprise people this year and sneak their way to a pretty solid season. They definitely turned some heads last week with a major upset victory over San Diego.  Look for the Chiefs to be 2 and 0 at the end of Sunday.  I got KC by 9 over Cleveland.

Bears at Cowboys:  Da Bears verse America’s team.  No big deal right?  Wrong.  Both of these teams have a lot to prove after weak performances in Week 1.  The Bears escaped against the Lions on a very controversial call.  I will state that I thought it was a completed pass to Calvin Johnson.  And the Cowboys helped the Redskins shock the world.  By beating themselves.  This week will be different.  Jerry Jones, will not let another team full of big time talent, choke away the season already.  Look for the Cowboys to come out with a vengeance and expect Miles Austin to have another big day.  Cowboys by 13 running away with this one.

Eagles at Lions:  Michael Vick to start again?  I feel like it is 2006 all over again.  Talk about a time warp.  Well both of these teams surprised many with their Week 1 performances.  Though the Lions have weapons with guys like Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best.  Without their former number 1 draft pick, quarterback Matt Stafford (injured), the Tryin Lions will not get to taste victory for the first time this season.  I got Michael Vick leading the Eagles to a 3 point victory in Detroit.

Bills at Packers:  Buffalo heads to Cheesehead Country.  Well it will not be a pleasant visit.  This is the game that I feel could end up with the most lopsided outcome of this week’s batch of contests.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in football in my eyes, while the Packers are perhaps the most well-rounded.  Look for Aaron Rodgers to make up for last week’s 2 interceptions with a 4 TD performance.  Green Bay get excited, as your boys begin the year 2 and 0.  I got Green Bay by 17. 

Buccaneers at Panthers:  Neither of these teams looked great in their openers.  Tampa escaped against a weak Cleveland team, while the Panthers were torched by the G Men.  This game will be close from the start, with two teams that are towards the bottom tier of the League.  At least we may get to see former Notre Dame big shot, Jimmy Clausen, start his first game in the NFL.  Believe me, it won’t matter.  Buccaneers by 6 in a matchup of two bottom feeders.

Seahawks at Broncos:  Seattle may have pulled off the biggest surprise of Week 1.  They absolutely killed the hot pick in the NFC West, the 49ers, relentlessly.  Matt Hassleback demonstrated great management skills at the QB position, while defensive back, Marcus Trufant, led the D to an outstanding performance.  The Broncos on the other hand, surprised many including myself, with a tough loss to the Jaguars.  2 key turnovers killed them last week, and could once again hurt them this week.  Kyle Orton threw for nearly 300 yards, going to Brandon Lloyd and Eddie Royals with a great frequency.  Well the Seattle defense is much tougher than Jacksonville’s, or at least they looked like it last week.  I got the Seahawks continuing to surprise and moving to 2 and 0 with a 6 point victory in Denver.

Rams at Raiders:  This is a matchup that I could never tune into unless forced.  Two of the worst teams in the NFL going head to head.  There is really nothing appealing about this one in any way unless you are a Rams or Raiders fan.  I think the difference in this one will be Jason Campbell’s mediocre, yet steady play at quarterback.  I got the Raiders by 3 at home in a game that I do not recommend watching unless you are a fan of either squad.

Texans at Redskins:  Arian Foster, the story of Week 1, takes the Texan’s show to Washington.  The way Houston was able to run the ball last week, and the passing attack we know they posses could cause major problems for Washington (or anybody for that matter).  Though Washington pulled off perhaps the 2nd biggest upset of Week 1 over America’s team, the Texans destroyed a very tough Colts team.  Look for Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson to stay hot in this one.  Texans by 10 in D.C.

Patriots at Jets:  This is a great matchup.  The AFC East favorites locking horns already?  Can the Jets recover from last week’s embarrassing offensive performance on Monday Night?  Can the Patriots continue to play outstanding?  My brain is telling me to pick the Pats in this one, but I got the Jets.  Sanchez must wake up to give his team a chance though.  The Jets tenacious defense will force Randy Moss onto Revis Island, and the Jets will win this thriller by 1 point.

Jaguars at Chargers: Both of these teams surprised in Week 1.  The Jaguars surprised with a win, while the Chargers surprised with a loss.  Well, do not expect San Diego to fall to 0 and 2.  Especially since they are at home in this game.  Norv Turner has led this team to the playoffs every year he has been with them for a reason.  They have a tradition of starting slow, having started under 500 through their first 5 games for 3 straight years.  But they will take care of business this week.  I got SD by 7 at home.

Giants at Colts:  I feel bad for the G Men coming off a big time performance last week.  They are now facing an angry Colt’s team.  And you know what that means?  An angry and motivated Peyton Manning.  Not what you want to hear as an opponent.  Though the Giants are a very good team, good luck in going into Lucas Oil and knocking off Peyton’s Colts coming off of a loss.  I got the Colts by 10 in this one.

Saints at 49ers:  Two popular picks to bring home their respective divisions.  Though I believe the 49ers are much better than what they showed last week, they are playing the defending champs on Prime Time now.  Drew Brees, fresh off his debut appearance on the hit television show “Entourage” thrives on the big stage.  Sorry San Fran.  An 0 and 2 start will not be the end to your season in a weak NFC West by any means.  Saints by 9 in this one.

CV3′s Picks:

FALCONS over Cardinals by 6- Look for the Falcons offense to have a much better week after facing off with the Steelers. Both teams are playing at a similar level but the home field advantage and Falcon D should be enough to edge the Falcons over the Cardinals.

EAGLES  over Lions by 14- No Stafford, no win.

PACKERS over Bills by 10- Packers will roll at home with their offense, even without Ryan Grant. Look for the back-up Brandon Jackson to have a good day. Packers will be one of the teams with an early season winning streak.

Browns over Chiefs by 3- The Chiefs didn’t produce a whole lot when you look at the stats last week. The Browns can match the Chiefs on special teams and defense so I think the Browns have the edge if Delhomme plays. If not it is up in the air with two similar teams.

Cowboys over Bears by 10- The Boys should be embarrassed by their performance against the Skins last week. Jerry Jones will not let that happen in Jerry World. Look for the Cowboys to gel on offense and win a shootout against Jay Cutler and Mike Martz. 

Vikings over Dolphins by 6- Vikings are hungry for the W after a repeat loss to the Saints. They are playing at home and they will most likely stick to the run, as opposed to last week. AP should have a decent day with at least 2 TD’s in this one.

Titans over Steelers by 3- The Steeler’s D will not allow Chris Johnson to run all over them. I believe he will get to 100 yards but it will take about 25 carries. This should be another low scoring one with a good Steeler’s D and a stagnant Steeler’s offense. Unless for some reason DD comes alive the Titans offense will prevail.

Broncos over Seahawks by 8- The Broncos will have a good offensive showing in this one. Last week the Seahawks shut down a poor offense that has trouble throwing the ball. This week Orton will pick through their D with a lot of short “West-Coast” style passes. The Seahawks are on the rise but will take a loss in this one.

Panthers over Buccos by 6- I don’t believe either team will be close to the playoffs but I give the advantage to the Panthers in this one solely on the home field advantage. Last week the home teams won 75% of the games.

Raiders over Rams by 1- These two are pretty evenly matched but again I give it to the home team. I think Bradford will show flashes of a future star but he will fall short again in this one. The Raiders offense should get a boost if Michael Bush is able to play this week. He is a big bruiser that will open up the game for McFadden. Plus if the Raiders are going to win a few games this season you would think St. Louis would one of the few they will beat.

Patriots over Jets by 10- This one will not be very close. The Jets coaching staff showed that Mark Sanchez clearly isn’t ready for the big time game yet. They had no confidence in him and limited him to the short game. The short game is what the Patriots are best at. The Jets D has taken a big hit looking Jenkins and I don’t think they will be able to hang with the Patriot’s high-flying offense that resembles 2007 already.

Jags over Chargers by 3- Last week the Chargers showed that something is clearly off in their organization. I doubt it is a quick fix. The Jags just saw the mighty Colts go down and have some extra motivation now that they realize the Colts can be beat. Unless Rivers can rally his team, the Chargers will struggle again.

Texans over Redskins by 9- WOW… This Texans team is scary! I wouldn’t want to play ‘em.

Colts over Giants by 7- Big brother will show why he is still big brother in this one. Peyton is at home and they are angry. He will not miss a beat in this one. Look for a three or four touchdown performance by him in this one. Little Eli will have to wait another year before he gets to take down big bro.

Saints over 49ers by a lot- Hmm… the tough 49er’s D was not so tough against the Seahawks. I think we know what will happen in this one. The defending champs will show why they are the defending champs.

Bengals over Ravens by 5- I do not have much faith in Bratkowski but if he comes out flat (not using the no huddle) then he should be fired. He should have been gone a while ago but Mr. Brown won’t let that happen. If he cannot recognize how effective that offense was last week (in the no huddle) then he deserves no spot in the NFL. Everyone knows what the Raven’s D is capable of but their offense is not very productive. The Bengals are angry and ready to react (not think) on defense. Playing at home against a division rival, I’m taking the Bengals in this one.

Can I begin to catch up to CV3 this week?  Feel free to post your picks in the comments and see how you stack up.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 3: Dud Saturday”

Ricky Stanzi (pictured above), looks to lead Iowa to a big road victory over 24th ranked Arizona on Saturday, in a weekend full of lackluster matchups.

 After last week’s “Monster Saturday”, College Football has managed to put together a “Dud Saturday.”  I mean in all honesty, when looking at this coming weekend versus last, not sure exactly what happened, but it wasn’t good (for entertainment value that is).  People like to see ranked teams go head to head.  Preferably highly ranked ones at that.  It is human nature for fans to want to see good teams go to battle.  Well this weekend, there is only one match up between two ranked teams.  And one of them is ranked 24th (Arizona). 

So here is my inside look at a few of the main matchups in what I am proclaiming “Dud Saturday.” 

Arkansas at Georgia:  Ryan Mallett and the Razorbacks bring the offensive juggernaut that is Arkansas into Georgia for an SEC rumble.  Now Georgia did not look great in a loss to South Carolina last week, as freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore ran all over them.  And the Bulldogs will still be without star receiver AJ Green.  Georgia’s highly touted freshman quarterback, Aaron Murray, has shown glimpses of greatness in his first two games.  And definitely looks game to live up to the hype that has surrounded him since his early high school days.  But sadly for Mark Richt, he may be in deep trouble if this game turns into a track meet.  Ryan Mallett is arguably the best quarterback in the country, with great weapons and a plethora of experience at his disposal.  Could we be seeing the year of the Razorback in the SEC?  I got Arkansas winning this SEC duel by 10.  

Georgia Tech at North Carolina:  Two of the ACC’s best go to battle.  Or at least these are two of the ACC’s most hyped teams.  After the weekend of death for ACC football (last weekend), two of the League’s titans go to battle in what should be a great game.  Georgia Tech still boasts the old school triple option threat and is one of the few well-known teams in the country to really have no passing attack.  Their quarterback, senior Josh Nesbitt, has been a three starter, and knows the offensive scheme inside and out.  Sadly for GTech, Nesbitt has not only been their quarterback and leader offensively, he has become their whole offense.  This could be a major problem when facing the swarming type defense of a Butch Davis led Tar Heels team.  The Tar Hells almost pulled off the unthinkable upset against a pro LSU crowd in a primetime matchup in Atlanta.  Not to mention they had over 12 players suspended.  After 2 weeks rest and a little chance for the program to clear its head a little, look for the Tar Heels to come out and take care of business at home over the Yellow Jackets.  Hard to believe that GTech could come out and lose 2 of their first 3 games (after playing in the Orange Bowl last year). 

Iowa at Arizona:  In the only match up of two ranked foes on this dud of a weekend, the Big Ten and Pac 10 go to battle in the desert.  Iowa has looked solid in its first two powder puff games of the year.  They appear to have the look of a team ready to take that next step and compete with OSU for the Big Ten title (I don’t think they can beat OSU though).  Ricky Stanzi is one of the most poised, experienced, and battle tested quarterbacks in the country.  He is also yet to throw an interception yet this year, which has been his achilles heel in the past.  This team is one of the few teams in the country that is able to both run and pass the ball effectively.  This makes a team very hard to stop in today’s College Football stratosphere.  Arizona on the other hand has looked awesome both offensively and defensively so far.  Granted they have played Toledo and the Citadel.  Arizona started the year unranked, and is one of those schools that has always been a basketball first University.  Well times are changing as Sean Miller failed to take the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament last season.  Is this team, behind 2nd year starting quarterback, Nick Foles, the real deal?  Well they will be solid in a very weak Pac 10, but they will not be able to secure the victory this weekend even though they are at home.  I got Iowa by 7 stealing one on the road. 

It was a struggle to choose 3 intriguing matchups in this dud of a weekend.  “Monster Saturday” had 5 or 6 big time matchups and made me have to leave a major game or 2 out, because there were so many good ones.  Either way, football is football.  And I, along with the rest of America will watch.  

Also, there is always the NFL on Sunday.. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

Aside

 Last evening, the Yankees and Rays continued to battle it out in what is becoming the most exciting rivalry in the game of baseball (at least for this year).  For the second straight evening, a game was won in extra innings.  … Continue reading

“Too Good to Be True?”

Joe Flacco (pictured above) and the Ravens gutted out a major Week 1 victory on the road against the highly touted New York Jets. Will Flacco play better next week against AFC North rival, Cincinnati?

  At the end of  Week 1 the Pick’em challenge scoreboard reads: 

TheSportsKraze:   8                      CV3:  9 (realize Chad picked the Ravens to win by 1 last night) 

The marquee matchup of this Week 1 of football was the Monday Night Showdown in New York between two big time contenders in the AFC, the Jets and the Ravens.  Both of these teams are considered favorites not only within their respective divisions, but in the conference as a whole.  Each team had outstanding off seasons, bringing in key acquisitions to squads that already made the playoffs last year.  The Jets picked up Antonio Cromartie, LT, and Jason Taylor.  While the Ravens brought in two big time receivers in TJ Houshmandzadeh and Anquan Boldin.  There is one major concern though in my eyes that could hold both of these teams back from Super Bowl glory…  

Isn’t there a show called Monday NFL Quarterback?  Last night was not an example.  

Mark Sanchez was absolutely horrific last evening.  Now I realize the Jets are generally a run first team.  A team that likes to play old school, smash mouth football.  Winning games with a strong rushing attack and superb defense.  And that is fine, even though the League is in the midst of the pass happy era.  A team could still win with an average passing game if they had a superb defense and rushing attack.  Well the Jets without question have the tools defensively.  I mean wow did they put on a show last night.  But how about the former USC Trojan in the pocket?  

Sanchez went 10 for 21 for 74 yards.  This is not pee wee football.  This is the NFL.  A quarterback should be throwing for nearly 74 yards a quarter.  Now I realize that he was playing against the vaunted Ravens defense and all of jazz.  But Mr. GQ was playing in front of a big time home crowd with many weapons at his disposal such as Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Shonn Greene.  He also has former Steelers number 1 receiver, Santonio Holmes at his disposal (hopefully soon).  Also, I realize that Mark is still just in his 2nd year.  Maybe he could be entering the Sophomore slump?  Well not really, considering he did not have a big time rookie year, so it would not be considered a slump.  My one major suggestion for Sanchez is to start throwing to his tight ends more.  I realize that Dustin Keller let him down on last night’s big 4th down play late in the 4th quarter in one of the most bonehead plays I have ever seen.  But give the guy a break.  He had just been summoned by Ray Lewis, the ultimate hitmaker.  A reliable tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend.  Sanchez better improve fast, or this team will not have a prayer at making a run deep into the playoffs.  They will be able to survive on their defense in most games, but against tough contenders like the Ravens, Sanchez will have to perform better than last night.  

Now speaking of young quarterbacks.  The Ravens have a young gun of their own at the helm in Joe Flacco.  Now I will admit, I was thoroughly disappointed by the former Delaware stud last evening.  When you look at Joe, you just feel like he has the look of a big time NFL quarterback.  He possesses that  big time NFL “swagger,” for lack of a better term, which is so hard to explain to somebody who is not a fan of the game.  Last night, Flacco went 20 of 38 (which isn’t horrible), for 248 yards.  He did throw an interception as well.  Now, by no means, was Flacco as bad as Sanchez.  But I along with most football fans hold higher expectations for Joe.  We expect him to do more out there each week than Sanchez.  Partially because he has to with an aging Ravens defensive core.  And in all seriousness, this guy has arguably the most weapons around him of any QB in the League.  He has 2 big play receivers in a Anquan Boldin (now a big play guy and no longer a possession) and Derrick Mason.  He has the 2nd best possession receiver in the game at his disposal in TJ Houshmandzadeh (after Wes Welker).  Todd Heap is a very seasoned tight end who has always been a major threat in the passing attack.  Plus he has a monster 3 headed rushing attack to fall back on in Rice, McGahee, and McClain.  The guy has no excuses.  And sure his team escaped last night against a very tough team on the road.  For this team to make a Super Bowl run, he will have to play much better.  I recommend Flacco develops a deep bond with his new possession guy in TJ Houshmandzadeh and continues to work on his chemistry with tight end Todd Heap.  

Both of these quarterbacks have the luxury of playing on teams with big time defenses and solid rushing attacks.  But in today’s game, you have to at least demonstrate a mediocre passing attack to advance deep into the playoffs.  Who would you rather have at QB, Flacco or Sanchez?  Which of these teams could make a run to the big game?  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.  

-TheSportsKraze  

“NFL Week 1 Fun”

Arian Foster stole the show in Week 1 rushing for 233 yards and helping the Texans shock the Colts (Foster is now number 23).

The first Sunday of the NFL season is always unpredictable, wacky, fun all in one.  It is always a weekend filled with excitement.  Full of mysteriousness.  And most of all, full of people sitting on their couches all day.  Following this enigmatic day, the scoreboard reads: 

TheSportsKraze:  8               CV3:  8 

There were few storylines that really caught my eye on the weekend.  

-Who is Arian Foster?  

First of all the Houston Texans monumental upset of the Indianapolis Colts.  Going into the 17th matchup of these franchises, Houston was 1 and 15 all time against the defending AFC Champion Colts.  When was the last time you can remember Peyton and the Indianapolis offensive juggernaut losing in Week 1?  And how about the pass happy Texans getting the job done on the ground.  When looking at some initial statistics you would be astonished.  Matt Schaub, who threw for over 4700 yards last season threw for 107 today, not to mention he threw an interception.  Peyton Manning threw for 433 yards and 3 TDs.  But the real story of this game.  How about Mr. Arian Foster?  The guy just blew up rushing for 233 yards (2nd most all time in an opener behind OJ Simpson) and 3 TDs.  Foster is a 2nd year running back out of Rocky Top (Tennessee) that rushed for 257 yards and 3 TDs all year in his rookie campaign.  Well he just ripped the heart out of the defending AFC Champs on Day 1.  Could the Texans be on the verge of breaking the Colts stranglehold on the AFC South this year? 

-The Steelers take care of business without Big Ben. 

Pittsburgh won their first of four games without their starting quarterback today over a very tough Falcons team.  Rashard Mendenhall and Hines Ward came up big for the Terrible Towels and took care of Week 1.  I will admit that I thought that the Steelers would lose this one without Roethlisberger.  But with inspired play from Ward and Mendenhall on the offensive side of the ball, and Bryant McFadden leading the charge on the defensive side of the ball (15 tackles today, 12 solo), this team could survive this month-long stretch in decent shape. 

-Welcome back Michael Vick? 

This was the best Michael Vick has looked in years.  The guy played inspired football and almost brought the Eagles back against a very tough Packers team.  Starter Kevin Kolb went down with a concussion in the 2nd quarter, and the electric Michael Vick came to the rescue for the fighting city of Philadelphia.  He rushed for over 100 yards and threw for 175.  Should Vick start over a healthy Kolb next week?  Coach Reid definitely has some thinking to do.  It was nice to see the playmaker back in action bringing back some of the memories of the old glory days (in a weekend where his alma mater took their worst loss in school history). 

-Are the 49ers a pretender? 

Many, including myself picked the 49ers to win the ultra weak NFC West.  Well today, they took a good old-fashioned butt whooping from a divisional rival.  San Francisco came out smoking but then had a rough end to the first half and continued to get worse as the game progressed.  Frank Gore’s rushing attack was non-existent.  Alex Smith threw 2 interceptions.  And I could go on.  Vernon Davis was the only bright spot on the day for the 49ers.  Where is that amazing defense we have been hearing about all off-season and theat newly improved offense?  Are the 49ers contenders or pretenders? 

-Blinded by the hype? 

Another team that thoroughly disappointed was the Cincinnati Bengals.  This team looked to still be playing a preseason game until the 3rd quarter of this one.  And a Patriots team, that definitely has a chip on their shoulder due to the talk of the Jets being the favorite in the AFC East, steamrolled Cincinnati.  The only bright spot for the Bengals on this day was Chad OchoCinco and glimpses of a big time aerial attack.  Sure Carson threw for 345 yards.  But what happened to the smash mouth, run first Bengals (now I realize they were behind so they needed to throw).  Palmer threw the ball 50 times today.  Cedric Benson only had 15 carries.  The real show in this game was the reunited amazing connection of Wes Welker and Tom Brady.  These guys picked up right where they left off following Welker’s knee injury.  The best slot receiver in football had 8 catches and 2 TDs.  Are the Patriots a Super Bowl contender? 

-Is Chris Johnson Superman? 

Chris Johnson picked up right where he left off at the end of last year.  On this day, he led his Titans to an easy victory over an overmatched Raiders team.  Johnson compiled 142 rushing yards and 2 TDs.  And once again broke loose for a big time run of 70+ yards.  The guy is outstanding and looks to only be getting better.  The rest of the League needs to beware of Chris Johnson. 

-Can Roy Williams catch a break in Dallas? 

So in one of the most sloppy games I have ever seen in my life, the Redskins began the Mike Shanahan/Donovan McNabb era with a victory over the rival Cowboys.  The Redskins went 0 and 6 in the vaunted NFC East last season and were ecstatic to get that monkey off their shoulders in Week 1.  Since the arrival of Williams in Dallas, things have progressively gotten worse as he went from being a big time pick up to a guy that fans in Dallas booed consistently.  Once again Roy had a modest evening, of 3 catches for 21 yards, but on the last play of the game, he had appeared to come up with the catch that probably would have won the game for the Cowboys (barring an extra point attempt).  Roy’s heart had to be pounding.  Then he and the rest of Cowboy nation saw a yellow flag on the field.  Alex Barron, the Cowboys 6th year (1st with Cowboys) offensive tackle out of Florida State, had done the unthinkable.  Against a weak, 3 man Washington rush, he blatantly held Redskin linebacker Brian Orakpo.  So Roy’s heroics are already all but forgotten.  Sorry Roy.  Mine as well jump on the Miles Austin bandwagon with the rest of America. 

So these are just a few stories from an amazing opening Sunday.  The NFL is back in the flesh baby. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

“College Football Week 2: Monster Saturday”

The last time the Hurricanes and Buckeyes matched up was in the legendary 2002 National Championship Game. Could Miami get revenge in Columbus on Saturday?

  Though the NFL is underway, College Football is already heating up with a big time Week 2.  People are calling it “Monster Saturday.”  And it is sure to be a day that fans will remember in this young season.  Each week I am going to pick 3 to 5 of the marquee matchups, give you my predicted winner, and some brief thoughts.  

So the matchups of Week 2′s “Monster Saturday” are as follows:  

Georgia at South Carolina:  This is big time SEC matchup with two of the best coaches in the country going head to head.  My gut has been saying all week that Georgia can come in and take care of business in Gamecockville.  But my mind is saying to go with the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  Both of these teams looked great against powder puff opponents in Week 1 (typical SEC move).  But the lack of AJ Green will hurt the Bulldogs.  Steve Spurrier is going to ride freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore to a major early season conference victory.  Look for this game to go down to the wire, but expect the Gamecocks to pull it out.  

Florida State at Oklahoma:  What a non conference matchup this is.  Talk about two teams showing balls and taking a risk playing a big time non conference foe.  You got to love it.  Christian Ponder looks outstanding and extremely poised in the pocket.  I guess that is what 3 years as a starter does for you.  Also do not sleep on Greg Reid returning punts.  Special teams always have a large effect on the outcome of big time games.  Florida State is starting to trek towards resembling the Seminoles of old.  But Oklahoma is no slouch either.  Now I know they looked pitiful in their opener.  But maybe it was a good thing to play a close football game already (not really)?  But DeMarco Murray is the most explosive player on the field when healthy.  Ryan Broyles is ready to break out and be considered with the best wide receivers in the country.  And Landry Jones, well, he will get better.  Though I feel Florida State is a very solid team that could make some noise in the ACC, I got the Sooners running away with this one at home.  Look for DeMarco Murray to make his presence felt and launch himself into the Heisman discussion (if he wasn’t already)   

Miami at Ohio State:  This is the game the whole country has been waiting for.  A rematch of the 2002 hotly debated National Championship game.  An instant classic.  Jacory Harris and the U looked like they had the swagger of the old U last weekend.  Ohio State did not look to shabby themselves.  But this is a whole new ball game.  The athleticism on both sides of the ball will be amazing in this one.  Also, this game matches up two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country (though their styles in the past have been contrasting). Jacory has tended to stay in the pocket though, while Terrelle has always been big on using his legs to gain first downs.  Pryor appears to be transforming in front of our eyes though and is utilizing his intelligence and arm, rather than his legs now.  It has been an amazing transformation.  If this game was being played in Miami, I would give the Hurricanes a chance.  But it is no easy task to come into the Horseshoe and win a ball game.  Even Lebron James will be there, “staying true to his roots” and rooting for the Buckeyes.  I got Ohio State in a very entertaining affair.  

Michigan at Notre Dame:  Talk about history right?  These are your number 1 and 2 ranked programs all time in winning percentage.  Plus they are number 1 and 3 in all time wins.  This rivalry began in 1887 with some Wolverine dominance.  Eventually Notre Dame caught on to the game that people call football.  There have been two major hiatus in this rivalry, but this will be match up number 38.  Anyways, this game finally has some meaning for the first time since probably 2006.  Both teams looked very impressive in their first games and look to be on track towards having solid seasons.  There is one major newcomer to this rivalry though.  And that is Brian Kelly.  This coach has brought with him a whole plethora of tricks and winning knowledge.  Not to mention an excitement that South Bend has been lacking for the past few years.  Look for Notre Dame to have too much offense in this one, and win a tough game against the rival Wolverines.  South Bend will already be praising BK’s name at the end of this one.  I will state though, a victory for Rich Rodriguez in this clash would go a long way towards taking him off the hot seat in Ann Arbor. 

Penn State at Alabama:  Big Ten vs SEC.  Same old story right?  Sadly, in this case yes.  Even if Mark Ingram does not play, Alabama will prove to be too much for an overrated Penn State team.  I guess having Richardson is a plus for Coach Nick Saban.  Outside of Evan Royster and the emerging senior Brett Brackett at receiver, this Penn State team will be vastly overmatched.  Going into Bama with a Freshman quarterback?  Can you say “Roll Tide Roll?”  I do not care if Alabama has some question marks on defense, they are still mighty fast.  Sadly, I see this game being a blowout, but maybe Penn State will hang around for a while.  

So there you have “Monster Saturday.”  You got to love the Fall.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.  

-TheSportsKraze  

“NFL Week 1 Predictions”

In one of the top matchups of Week 1, Darrelle Revis and the vaunted Jet's defense look to contain an extremely talented Baltimore Raven's offense.

Are you ready for some football?..

Well the NFL is back in the flesh tonight baby.  So I am going to give you my Week 1 Prediction breakdown.  And for those of you who are College Football Fans, I will be picking the major games as well in the very near future.

But let’s get something straight about this pick’em scheme.  I am not a gambling man.  So I do not pay any attention to the spread.  I am going to pick straight up winners with a predicted margin of victory.  So take it as you will.

In addition, joining me on my NFL Predictions each week will be a lifelong friend, Chad Vordenberge, aka CV3.  Chad is an avid sports fan, who has innate expertise pertaining to the NFL.  We will be competing all year.  He has the honor of being the first official guest ever on “TheSportsKraze.” Here is a write up about him:

CV3 Bio: While I love just about every sport, even soccer, the NFL is my favorite and I pay very close attention to it all year long. With some football experience I look for more than the average fan when it comes to picking winners. I pay very close attention to offensive and defensive schemes and how they match up against one another among many other aspects of the game. I look forward to picking each weeks winners along with the knowledgeable Kraze this season. We are in for a treat this season with a lot of top and emerging teams that could make a run for the Super Bowl. There are some old faces in new places this season that might shake a few things up along with some talented rookies. This season should be an interesting one for NFL fans everywhere.

Week 1 (TheSportsKraze picks):

Vikings at Saints:  Saints by 7 in a shootout type of atmosphere.  Remember that the defending Super Bowl Champion has won their opening contest for 10 straight years running now.

Panthers at Giants:  G-Men by 7 in an old school smash mouth struggle that is won on the ground.  Look for some great running schemes and blocking during this affair.

Steelers at Falcons:  Falcons by 3 in a game where the Steelers really miss the lack of Big Ben on the field.  Dennis Dixon will have some “rookie” like struggles on the road (I know he is not a rookie).

Browns at Buccaneers: Buccaneers in a rumble of some pretty weak sides all around by 6.

Broncos at Jaguars: Broncos are always tough early in the year even if they may be in for a down season.  A very close 3 point escape.

Colts at Texans:  In perhaps the marquee matchup of Sunday’s games, I got the Colts  by 7.  Never sleep on Peyton Manning finding  a way to win on the home or on the road.  The Colts are not ready to give up their AFC South Crown yet.

Dolphins at Bills:  I got the Dolphins by 10 against a Bills team that lacks a passing attack.  Do not be surprised to see CJ Spiller break off a long run at some point though.  The kid is electric.

Lions at Bears:  Bears by 6 in a game that will demonstrate that the Lions are improving.  They just are not quite there yet.  But also enjoy getting to watch Peppers and Suh on the same field for the first time.

Raiders at Titans:  Titans by 3 in a down to the wire type of atmosphere.  The Raiders have the makings of a team that could sneak out 6 wins.  Ultimately though, in this game, as will happen in many, their lack of a big time receiving threat will come back to bite them.

Bengals at Patriots:  Welcome to a first place schedule Cincinnati fans.  I guess things could be worse, and you could have to go up to Gillette Stadium during the bitter cold of November, December, or dare I say January.  But my brain is telling me Patriots, but my heart has the Bengals winning this one by 3.

Cardinals at Rams:  Cardinals by 10 in a matchup of a declining Arizona squad and a woeful Rams team.  If only the Rams could have Albert Pujols suit up.  At least there would be excitement for football in St. Louis again.

49ers at Seahawks:  49ers by 6 in a back and forth affair.  Many are declaring San Francisco the favorite to win the NFC West.  And I will admit, I have jumped on the bandwagon.  A very solid defense led by the stud Patrick Willis, and a capable offense led by Alex Smith, Frank Gore, and Vernon Davis will be too much for Seattle.

Packers at Eagles: The post Donovan McNabb era will start with a loss sadly for the fighting city of Philadelphia.  I got the Packers running away with this one in perhaps the most lopsided affair of the week.

Cowboys at Redskins:  I know the Redskins made a great off-season pick up in acquiring Donovan McNabb.  And we are all very excited to see what he can do.  But the Cowboys have been aware of all he can do and more now for years.  I got the Boys by 10 as the Redskins inner turmoil proves to be too much of a distraction against the much more talented team out of Dallas.

Ravens at Jets:  I know the Ravens are becoming a very popular Super Bowl pick with the newly acquired TJ Houshmandzadeh out of Seattle.  And I will admit, they have as good of a chance as anyone.  But my pick to win the Super Bowl this year is the Jets.  And I got Rex Ryan and the Jets by 3 at home in a fantastic Monday Night Opener.

Chargers at Chiefs:  Chargers by 7 in the first game of the post LT era.  Though the Chargers have many issues with resigning players, holdouts, etc, they are still a little bit too tough for an improving team out of Kansas City.

Week 1 (CV3 Picks):

There are a lot of good match-ups on the schedule for this opening weekend in the NFL. There may be a few surprises this season with some top teams struggling and some young teams flourishing. I am excited to see how things play out over these very important first couple weeks of the season. Here are my picks for semana uno.

Saints over Vikings by 3- Will be tough to beat the Saints in what is possibly the loudest stadium now that the RCA dome is gone. Vikings are the better team if AP holds on to the football. Its hard to pick against Favre even at his age but the atmosphere will make the difference in this high scoring matchup.

Bills over Dolphins by 3 (Buffalo will make the field goal)- Buffalo’s defense will play better than Miami’s. Plus, C.J. Spiller will sniff out the endzone, maybe multiple times.

Titans over Raiders by 9- Chris Johnson is already a star, Michael Bush will establish himself as a better version of Brandon Jacobs (although he may not play week 1, look out for him). Raiders have more promise now that Jamarcus is gone but not enough to hold Chris Johnson to under 100 yards.

Bengals over Pats by 3- I’m waffling back and forth on this one. Both quarterbacks have shown that they are capable of last minute drives to win games, this will be close. If the Bengals O-line holds, the Defenses will be the difference in this game. 

Bears over Lions by 6- Lions have a lot of fire-power with Pettigrew, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Jahvid Best, and Matthew Stafford but the defense is now the question. Can Suh help the Lions get back on track? Probably not, they need more than just one stud on D to help their team.

Giants over Panthers by 10- Quarterbacks will make the difference in this game. 

Falcons – Steelers TIE! Not this time. Steelers over Falcons by 6. Dennis Dixon will be a pleasant surprise. Also, the Steelers will not be run all over and Polamalu is back healthy. Plus, the Steelers are at home.

Browns over Bucs- Battle of who can make fewer mistakes. Having Holmgren as president will start a turn around in Cleveland, but not a complete turn around.

Broncos over Jags by 3- Bronco’s defense is missing a lot with Elvis out of the building but Dawkins and Bailey are capable of making the plays to keep them in the game. Orton is looking good and Tebow might show up in a few wildcat plays. If MJD has a great performance the Jags can win. 

Colts over Texans by 3- Look for this be a tight one. In their last four games the Colts have outscored the Texans by only 14 points, total. Schaub had more yards than Manning last year and the Colts have to deal with a beast in Andre Johnson. Houston is more than capable of hanging with the big dogs, however, I still have to go with the Colts on this one because of the experience in the organization and, Peyton Manning.

Cards over Rams by 10- Cards on the decline and Rams on the incline, should meet somewhere in the middle. With an even running game, only because Stephen Jackson doesn’t have an O-line to block for him yet, the Cards will win out with a better passing game and stronger defense.

Packers over Eagles by 8- The Packers had a great defense last year and their offense is borderline scary to any opposing defense. Rodgers has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and I believe he is ready to handle that responsibility. The Eagles are not a scrub team but there has to be some transition from McNabb and Westbrook to Kolb and McCoy.

49ers over Seahawks by 14- Mike Singletary has a terrific defense this year with P Willis continuing to lead the league in tackles. Expect Seattle to have trouble getting any type of offense going in this one.

Cowboys over Redskins by 10- The Cowboys have not lived up to their Superbowl expectations in recent years but with a healthy backfield and a solid defense they will go a long way this year.

Chargers over Chiefs by 9- I do not like the guy but Rivers knows how to lead that offense, even without Vincent Jackson. The Chargers, another team with high expectations, should control the Chiefs in this game. The one positive side for Chiefs fans is their rushing game with Jamaal Charles in the backfield who finished last year strong. 

Ravens over Jets by 1- Wow, football fans are going to be treated to an amazing game to  kickoff Monday night football. Two top teams with a lot of expectations. These two are very similar in the way they approach a game with a stingy D and tough rushing attack. Look for Sanchez to be the deciding factor in this game. It’s now time for him to take control of a game rather than manage it. Between Sanchez and Flacco, look for Cool Joe to lead his Ravens to a victory.

So there you have my picks along with CV3′s.  I will keep a running tally of my accuracy versus CV3 for the year.  Please provide your picks in the comments and we can compete and see who is the most accurate picker over the course of the season.

Get ready for Week 1 of the 2010-2011 NFL season folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“The Green Light Gone?”

Venus Williams (left in picture above) is carrying the "Green Light (Hope)" of American Tennis on her shoulders in Flushing Meadows.

 In one of the most popular and renowned pieces of literature in history, there is talk of a green light.  A look into the orgastic future.  F. Scott Fitzgerald, the novel’s author, filled a seemingly simple plot in his classic with depth and heavy meaning.  It has become an American literature classic and a book that encompasses themes that we as Americans talk about daily.  I mean, how frequently do you here about the so-called “American Dream.”  And I am a firm believer in this idea and fully stand behind it.  Except when talking about American tennis recently, more specifically, American Men’s Tennis. 

The US Open is the grandest and most high scale tournament we have to offer in the United States.  Each year from Labor Day up until the middle of September, all eyes of the tennis world are focused on Flushing Meadows.  Arthur Ashe Stadium is the place to be.  It is all a part of the moment.  This year sadly, I feel the US Open has been vastly overshadowed.  This in large part has been due to the early exit of America’s top player, Andy Roddick. All of the sporting world’s attention has shifted focus towards College Football, the NFL, and the scintillating stretch run that is September baseball.  And I honestly cannot blame the American public for seeming to lose interest. 

I, myself, am a major tennis connoisseur. I love to watch tennis on television or in person all the time.  I was an avid player and still like to consider myself a pretty big fan. But my focus has shifted from this tournament to College Football’s opening weekend and my beloved Reds pennant race.  Now I realize that guys like Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish, and John Isner all made decent runs this year.  And who can forget the amazing Ryan Harrison’s first round upset victory?  But today, the men begin the quarterfinals.  And want to know how many Americans are left in the draw?  A big fat 0.  The women are now entering the semifinals.  Want to know how many women are left in the draw?  Try 1. 

This tournament began with 256 total players comprising both the Men and Women’s Draw.  There were 17 American men participating in American’s pride and joy tournament.  We have hit the Final 8, and there are 0 left.  There were 12 American women participating in our gem of a tennis tournament.  We have hit the prestigious Final 4, and there is 1 remaining.  So Americans as a whole made up over 11 percent of the total 256 participants, and we have hit the final 12 players left, with 1 participant remaining?  Does not really sound like our tournament very much anymore now does it? 

Now Venus Williams has a good chance at capturing the women’s title in that she is a Williams sister.  Though she has a bum knee and had taken the past 2 months off, she appears fit and ready to handle business.  Amazingly, she has not played in the Finals in Flushing since 2002, when she lost to her sister Serena.  Hard to believe in that Venus used to own the Wimbledon/US Open part of the season every summer for years.  Can Venus bring home her 8th Grand Slam singles title (she has won 12 doubles)?  I am going with a probably not.  Kim Clijsters is an amazing player at Flushing, capturing her only 2 Grand Slam Titles here, and Wozniacki is looming in the top half of the draw. 

So the Green light may be disappearing in American tennis, but at least I got a pennant race, College Football, and the opening weekend of the  NFL to watch.  It is not so bad being an American sports fan right now. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze