Tag Archives: Brian Urlacher

“NFL Conference Championship Outlook”

Packer's Cornerback, #38 Tramon Williams (pictured above) has been outstanding all year long, and especially in the playoffs. With 3 interceptions in the postseason already, look for him to add to that total on Sunday.

We are getting closer to Dallas people.  To be exact, we are just over 2 weeks away from the big game.  The NFL is America’s most popular professional sport.  And the Super Bowl is the culminating event.  It has been another phenomenal year full of stellar on the field play, injuries, on/off the field issues, #4 shenanigans, and upsets galore.  Plus there is the looming issue with the CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement).

Well now we are down to the NFL’s version of the Final Four.  We have already heard our very own Wesley Kaminsky’s outlook for the two Conference Championship Games.  Now it is my turn. Continue reading

“If You Were a Professional Athlete”

Newly acquired Phillie's ace, Cliff Lee (pictured above), has helped demonstrate to me why the MLB would be the best professional sport to participated in.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion with some of  my fellow sports fanatics regarding professional sports, and which would be the best one to play.  Now obviously, none of us have a shot of being a professional athlete.  Those days are long gone.  But every guy can dream a little right?

So the discussion, which rapidly got very heated centered around the topic of, “If you were a professional athlete, which sport would you want it to be and why.”  Oddly enough, we all had differing opinions.  Is there no ideal professional sport to play?  Or is there..

The following is a G Rated version of the main points brought up in our recent discussion and my ultimate list in order of preference.

5. Professional soccer was immediately thrown out.  Does anybody really want to play in the MLS?  Sure, soccer is the world’s most popular sport.  But this is the United States my friends.  Soccer has been the next big thing for 30+ years now it seems.  Will it ever become the “current” big thing?  Plenty of players in the MLS make just $40,000 a year.  Then you have your Landon Donovan’s, who make a little over $2 million a year.  In actuality though, the League minimum is $33,000 a year.  The League average salary is $138,000.  Also, take note that this number is highly distorted due to players like David Beckham and Thierry Henry making far more than the rest of the League.  On average, players on the practice squads for NFL football teams make over $80,000 a year.  Next..

4.  A few of the guys in the room said golf.  They had no real tangible reason other than you get to travel the world and staying in peak shape is not essential.  Typical response of a lazy couch potato right? But I think my friends failed to realize a key factor on the PGA Tour.  There is no League minimum.  There is no minimum salary.  So if you sustain a major injury or a major funk, you could come out making piss poor money.  Maybe you get to travel the world, but on whose penny?

3. Then there was talk about the most popular League in American sports, the NFL.  The NFL looks great.  Who does not love to sit down on Sundays and watch the NFL?  And in this game, you only play one game a week.  This is where the numbers start getting better.  The League minimum for a rookie is $285,000.  For a second year player, it is $360,000.  By your 5th year, it is $595,000.  But I also realize that the average NFL career is only 3 years for a reason.  Guys like Ray Lewis, James Harrison, and Brian Urlacher are mainstays in this League.  Fear of injury and a lack of guarantees would sway my vote away from the NFL.  But if you remain healthy, the money is very good.

2.  Then you got the NBA.  As a rookie, the League minimum is right around $470,000 (wow).  By year 2, it has already skyrocketed to around $760,000.  Sorry, NFL, but this money is better.  And injuries are less prevalent.  Granted the average NBA roster carries only 12 active players a game (can have up to 15 guys on the roster).  In the NFL, 53 players can be on the roster, with 45 active guys on gameday.  So sure, this might be why NBA players rake in higher salaries at least from a minimum standpoint, because there are less of them.  The NBA gets my nod over the NFL without question.

1.  My winner though, by the slimmest of margins, is the MLB.  Did anybody just witness the recent Cliff Lee bonanza?  Guy turned down a $150 million dollar contract.  Alex Rodriguez was making $33 million in straight salary last year.  I mean give me a break.  Sure baseball is a grind nearly every day for over 6 months.  162 games is a lot of games.  Sure I have a bias in that baseball is my favorite sport out of all of these to play.  But lets take a look at some of the numbers and facts.  Number one, injuries are less frequent in the MLB, than the NFL or NBA.  Guarantees are much more secure regardless of injuries.  The average MLB career lasts 5.6 years.  An average NFL career is right around 3 seasons.  The average NBA career is just below 5 years.  So the MLB average career length is the longest of the big 3.  The league minimum in the MLB is $400,000.  Which is slightly less than the NBA league minimum for a rookie, but more than an NFL rookie.  But here is the most eye-popping stat, that separate the MLB and NBA from the rest of the pack.  The average MLB player makes $3 million dollars (average Yankee made $7.6 million this past year).  And in the NBA, the average salary is around $5 million.  So I guess my case is flawed in the straight money aspect.  But who ever said it was all about the money?

Okay, so it is a toss-up between the NBA and MLB I guess.  My nod goes to the MLB because I enjoy playing baseball more, but it is very close.  Also my apologies for the lack of mention of the NHL.  If forced to choose though, I would place it in 4th behind the NFL.  The average salary is much better than in the MLS or on the PGA Tour, but the injuries are just far too prevalent.  Plus, does hockey’s popularity in the US compare to that of baseball, basketball or football?

What are your thoughts?  If you were a professional athlete, what sport would you want it to be?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Runzel’s Bear’s Outlook”

Today we have a special treat.  We have added a new writer to TheSportsKraze.  His name is Will Runzel and he is based out of Chicago.  Runzel will be contributing as a guest writer on a weekly basis providing his expertise on the Chicago Area Sporting realm.

Will Runzel is an  entrepreneur and sports guru out of Chicago.  Follow Will on Twitter @WillRunzel

For my first post for TheSportsKraze, I would like to start off on the right foot with my readers. Call your bookie or log onto the internet and bet on the Chicago Bears to beat the Detroit Lions by 4 points or more this Sunday (the spread is -3.5). It is the closest I have seen to a no brainer all year. Yes, I do respect the line makers in Vegas but I do believe they got this one wrong.
 

According to our Chicago Sports Guru, Will Runzel, Brian Urlacher (pictured above) and the Bears are a sure thing to cover the spread against the Detroit Lions.

Reasons:
1. The Bears confidence is at an all time high after beating Mike Vick’s Eagles last week.
2. Every week Jay Cutler gets more comfortable in Mike Martz’s offense.
3. This will be the Bears fourth straight game with the same five offensive lineman starting (the Bears one weak point is their O-line, the only think that can keep the Bears from beating the point spread is Ndamukong Suh against this below average offensive line).
4. The Lions are starting their third string QB Drew Stanton (former 2nd round pick out of Michigan State)
5. The Lions have lost 17 straight divisional games dating back to October of 2007
 
Look forward to future contributions from me.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 10 Predictions”

Eagle's Quarterback, Michael Vick (pictured above), sports the highest QB Passing Rating in the League. Can he lead Philly to a big Monday Night win in the nation's capital?

NFL Week 10 is already upon us.  The Falcons shocked the Ravens last night in the ATL with a major drive in the last 65 seconds of play.  Atlanta may be the cream of the crop in the NFC.  Or at least when they get to play at home.  Matt Ryan is now 18 and 1 all time as a NFL starting quarterback when playing at home.  Roddy White, even though he had a couple of drops, continues to put up MVP type numbers.

Do not sleep on the Ravens though.  They are still one of the AFC’s elite. 

Lets take a look at the Pick’em scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:   73                          CV3:  78

I still got to make up a good amount of ground the expert out of Ohio University.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Lions at Bills:  The Bills have been heartbroken 3 straight weeks.  That streak ends this week against a team that has lost 4 games by 5 or less points.  Sorry Lions.  I feel another heartbreaker coming this week in Buffalo.  Bills by 3 at home.

Vikings at Bears:  Brett Favre and his off field issues versus Da Bears.  It is a shame that Miss Sterger cannot start at linebacker alongside Urlacher and Briggs.  It won’t matter on this night.  The Vikings have way too much inner team turmoil to beat a tough Bear’s team in Chicago.  Bears by 7 at home.

Jets at Browns:  I know the Browns are hot.  I realize that they are coming off two big time wins over the Saints and Patriots.  But the Jets are my AFC favorite for a reason.  They run the ball with great efficiency and also stop the run as good as anybody.  The difference in this one will be the Brown’s inability to shut down the Jet’s vaunted rushing attack.  I got New York by 7 on the road.

Panthers at Buccaneers:  Tampa Bay is coming off a tough loss to the Falcons and really looking to demonstrate why they feel they are one of the NFC’s elite teams.  Well they are fortunate enough to get to play one of the NFL’s worst teams at home coming off of a loss.  The Panthers have been horrific in nearly every facet of the game all year.  The Buccaneers may struggle early, but look for Tampa to win by 10 at home.

Texans at Jaguars:  Both of these teams are tied in the AFC South Divisional race.  Honestly through 8 games, the Texans have been one of the League’s most dissapointing teams after showing so much promise early on.  They have a prolific offense that is arguably the most balanced in the League.  But they struggle to stop the pass.  Luckily for Houston, they are taking on a Jaguar squad with an anemic passing attack.  Look for Houston to steal one on the road by 7.

Bengals at Colts:  The Who Deys travel to Indy after a heartbreaking loss on Monday Night to the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.  I realize that the Colts are beat up at nearly every position (except quarterback).  But they have Peyton Manning.  I will admit I was utterly shocked to see Indy lose last week to Philly.  Do not expect them to lose for a 2nd week in a row though.  For the first time all year, I am picking against my home town team.  Colts by 7 at home.

Titans at Dolphins:  The 1st place Titans head down to Miami to take on a really inconsistent Miami team.  A Miami team that has not won a home game all season long.  Look for Chris Johnson to go wild after having a bye week to rest his legs.  Titans run away with this battle by 8 on the road.

Chiefs at Broncos:  I wanted to pick the Broncos to upset the KC boys in this one.  But I can’t do it.  The Chiefs have the number 1 rushing attack in the NFL.  Denver is the 2nd worst team in the League at defending against the run.  Expect big numbers out of the Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones.  KC by 13 on the road.

Cowboys at Giants:  America’s team heads to the Meadowlands to take on the G Men.  Arguably the NFC’s best team versus the NFC’s worst team.  I realize that Dallas has talent, but they have way too much inner turmoil and finger pointing going on to pull off this upset.  It may be a rivalry game, but the Giants have the best offensive and defensive balance in the NFC, and possibly the entire NFL.  Look for the Giants to make a statement with a 14 point win at home.

Seahawks at Cardinals:  The Seahawks head to Arizona after being thoroughly embarassed by the G Men last week.  Well expect the losing to continue.  Neither of these teams really stand out in any way.  I just know that the Seahawks looked like a mid level college team last week and I expect their horrific play to continue.  Cards by 9 at home.

Rams at 49ers:  These are two teams that have shocked the experts for opposite reasons.  One team has thoroughly exceeded expectations while the other has under achieved in a big way.  I think the Rams are much improved from last year’s embarassment, but I see them choking a big one on the road this week.  Expect Patrick Willis and the 49ers D to confuse rookie Sam Bradford late in the game on their way to a big 3 point victory at home.

Patriots at Steelers:  Two of the AFC’s best lock horns in the Sunday Night Game.  The Patriots were embarrassed by an Ohio team last week while the Steelers ripped another Ohio team’s heart out.  The Steelers continue to wow the entire League with their great defense and innate ability to win big games.  I normally would never pick a NE to lose coming off of a loss.  But I just think that the Steelers are too tough.  Pittsburgh by 1 in the best game of the week.

Eagles at Redskins:  The team that sports the quarterback with the highest QB rating flies into the nation’s capital for the primetime game of the week.  Can Mr. Vick continue to lead the Eagle’s high powered offense against one of the worst pass defenses in the League?  You better believe it.  Eagles over the Skins by 3 in the Monday Night Affair.

CV3’s Picks

Bills over Lions by 3
Vikings over Bears by 7
Jets over Browns by 3
Titans over Dolphins by 7
Buccaneers over Panthers by 14
Texans over Jags by 6
Chiefs over Broncos by 7
Cowboys (inspired with new coach) over Giants by 3
Cards over Seahawks by 1
Rams over 49ers by 6
Pats over Steelers by 3
Eagles over Redskins by 7
UPSET ALERT
Bengals over Colts by 3
They won’t miss the field goals this time

So there you have it.  The two major games to keep an eye on are the Patriots/Steelers rumble on Sunday Night and the Eagles/Redskins duel on Monday Night.

Also, I realize that CV3 and myself missed out on picking the Thursday Night Game.  But I would like to keep the format the same way and put out on picks on the Friday every week.  So the Thursday game will be a pass game every week, and one we get to watch for straight enjoyment.

It should be a great weekend in the NFL.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 7 Predictions”

James Harrison (pictured above) will be looking to bring the noise with some big hits this week. I expect many bone shattering hits at stadiums all across the country as players make a statement to League officials.

As with College Football, last weekend was also a very tough one for my NFL picks as well.  I am doing all in my power though to prove that last week was just a meer fluke. 

The Jets are appearing to be the real deal.  They were my preseason Super Bowl pick.  They have looked outstanding.  The AFC South has a 3 way tie at the top.  Could this be the end of the Colt’s near decade long reign?  And finally, both the Cowboys and the 49ers, two major favorites to win their divisions remain in the cellar spots.  You got to love the NFL.

The pick’em scoreboard after 6 weeks reads:

TheSportsKraze: 51                          CV3:  52

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Bengals at Falcons:  I am a homer and I got the Bengals waking up after a much-needed bye week.  Carson shreds the Falcons on the way to a big 3 point victory on the road!

Redskins at Bears:  Look for the Bears to redeem themselves after a shocking home loss to the Seahawks.  Donovan Mcnabb will need some Chunky soup after he deals with Urlacher, Briggs, and Co.  Bears by 6.

Rams at Buccaneers:  Both of these teams have been major enigmas.  For some reason my gut is telling me that Sam Bradford, Stephen Jackson, and the Rams are going to have a ball in Tampa.  I got the Rams by 3 on the road.

49ers at Panthers:  Look for Patrick Willis and the 49ers D to give Matt Moore, Jimmy Clausen, Tony Pike and the whole Panthers quarterback depth chart fits.  I got the 49ers winning by 7 on the road.

Bills at Ravens:  This one could get ugly.  I got the Ravens by 14 coming off a very tough loss to the Patriots.

Eagles at Titans:  Have a day Chris Johnson in front of the home crowd.  The Eagles do not stop the run and Chris Johnson is going to run them out of Cashville.  Titans by 10.

Jaguars at Chiefs:  Both of these teams can really wreak havoc on the ground.  The only difference is KC can actually stop the run too.  I got the Chiefs by 3 at  home.

Steelers at Dolphins:  The Dolphins are a solid team.  But the Steelers defense can be flat-out nasty.  I got the Steelers behind Big Ben and the mighty D stealing a road win by 6.

Browns at Saints:  Last year this game would have been a joke.  This year, the Saints continue to struggle due to a lack of solid rushing options.  It won’t matter on this day in front of a big time NOLA crowd.  Saints by 10 at home.

Cardinals at Seahawks:  The Cardinals have been abysmal in nearly every statistical category.  Yet they are 3 and 2.  Also they have won 4 straight against Seattle.  Can they fly high over Seahawks on the road?  I think not.  The rain will stifle the Cardinals as Seattle takes the W by 3.

Patriots at Chargers:  San Diego is the best at throwing the ball and the best at defending against the pass in the League.  New England can’t run the ball.  I am taking the Patriots by 3 on the road.

Raiders at Broncos:  In a great rivalry game, I got the Broncos taking care of business at home by 7.

Vikings at Packers:  Will Brett Favre’s off field issues affect his on the field play?  It probably will, as the Vikings drop a “must win” on the road to the Cheeseheads by 3.

Giants at Cowboys:  The Cowboy’s lacking rushing attack will kill them in this one.  I got the Giants on the road embarrassing America’s team in front of all of America.  G Men by 6.

CV3 Picks:

Redskins over Bears by 4

Titans over Eagles by 3

Chiefs over Jaguars by 10

Steelers over Dolphins by 6

Saints over Brownies by 7

Rams over Buccaneers by 9

Carolina over 49ers by 6

Ravens over Bills by 17

Seahawks over Cards by 12

Raiders over Broncos by 3

Patriots over Chargers by 10

 

Vikings over Packers 1

Giants over Cowboys by 9

Bengals over Falcons by 1(Hopefully a bye gave them a little time to put things together)

So there you have the Week 7 picks.  I am looking to make up ground on CV3 this week and establish myself as a force to be reckoned with in the pick’em game.

Look for some hard hits as the players look to make a statement towards League Officials.  Let the boys play.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFC North Preview”

Aaron Rodgers was once Brett Favre's understudy as shown in this picture. Then Aaron took Brett's spot as the Packers quarterback and is now trying to take Brett and the Viking's spot atop the NFC North.

 To finish off my division by division breakdowns, we have the NFC West.  This division has become a  two headed monster.  There are two very good teams at the top, one mediocre squad, and a very weak team at the bottom.  When Brett Favre officially announces his return, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, the Vikings and Packers will begin duking it out for divisional supremacy.  Lets get ready to rumble in the NFC North.

 NFC North:  Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings (alphabetical order)

 Detroit Lions (4th place):  Detroit’s suffering will continue for at least another year.  This team has only won 2 games over the course of the past two years and has not won more than 7 games in a season since the year 2000.  It has been a brutal last 10 years.  Well expect this year to be pretty typical for the Lion’s faithful.  This team had the worst defense in the League last year and an almost equally as bad offensive attack.  Lots of weight will placed on 2nd year quarterback Matthew Stafford.  Can he live up to the lofty expectations?  Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game.  It is a shame that the Lions cannot really give him another solid receiver to play alongside.  Guys like Dennis Northcutt and Bryant Johnson have not been able to cut the mustard.  From a rushing standpoint, they still have Kevin Smith, who will hopefully be fully recovered from a devastating Week 14 ACL tear (last season).  They also have rookie Jahvid Best.  Do not expect too much from this duo though due to lack of an offensive line.  Defensively it gets worse.  There is really not one player of note on the entire unit other than recently drafted Ndamukong Suh.  Lions’ fans better pray this guy gets signed, lives up to the hype, and is ready to be an instant leader for this team on the defensive side of the ball.  That is a lot to ask of a rookie.  Do not expect the Lion’s

to win more than 5 games this year.

Chicago Bears (3rd place):  Da Bears!  Yes Chris Berman is in the Hall of Fame, but the Bears still do not have the look of a contender sadly.  No matter how excited Chris Berman can get people when talking about the boys out of the windy city, the team is not ready to be a force yet.  The Bears have not been to the postseason since 2006, and do not count on that streak ending this year.  This team suffered without Brian Urlacher last year defensively, and did not do much with the newly acquired Jay Cutler from an offensive standpoint.  Though the Bears finally added a complement to Matt Forte in Chester Taylor, this does not appear to solve the rushing issues.  This team was near the bottom of the League in rushing yards last year, and though Taylor should help a little, these guys do not really compliment each other well in that they each have a very similar style.  I just hope for the Bear’s sake, conflict does not arise between Forte and Taylor.  The receiving corps has not improved either.  This team is still lacking a number 1 threat for Jay Cutler to use his “super” strong-arm to throw too.  So do not expect this team to put up a flurry of points on a weekly basis.  Defensively, the unquestioned leader is still the man with “swag,” Brian Urlacher.  Urlacher along with Lance Briggs make up one of the League’s best linebacker duos.  Also, the addition of Julius Peppers to the defensive line should make an instant impact.  If Urlacher can stay healthy, expect this team to be much better defensively than they were last year.  The secondary did do a solid job against the pass so hopefully with Peppers rushing the opposing quarterback, their jobs can be even easier this year.  The Bears will be a decent team.  But do not expect them to sneak into the playoffs.  I am predicting 7 or 8 wins due to the lack of offensive stability. 

Green Bay Packers (2nd place):  The Cheesheads may be disappointed with another 2nd place appearance, but count on this team to roll deep into the playoffs.  I have them cruising all the way to the Super Bowl.  It will take this team time to gel and it will help when Favre tires down the stretch for the Vikings come playoff time.  This team is led by a lethal offensive attack.  Aaron Rodgers has become one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the League hands down.  They got a great duo at receiver in the up and coming Greg Jennings and the seasoned veteran Donald Driver.  Hopefully Driver is healthy after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on both of his knees this off-season.  But luckily for the Packers, they have young guns James Jones and Jordy Nelson waiting in the wings.  Not to mention they have a very solid tandem of receiving tight ends in Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee.  I also forgot to mention that though this team lives on the pass, do not sleep on Ryan Grant pounding the rock.  The question is who can complement Grant down the stretch?  Possibly the seasoned veteran Ahmad Brooks or the Florida product DeShawn Wynn.  Offensively, this is the only question mark this team has if any.  Defensively the Packers number 2 defense of a season ago will be led by the linebacking trio of Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, and Clay Matthews.  This the best linebacking trio in the League in my eyes.  They are young, tough, and very fun to watch.  Lastly, you have 2 very strong veterans in Charles Woodson and Al Harris anchoring the secondary.  Good luck scoring points on these guys.  Neither AJ Hawk nor Clay Matthews has really entered their prime yet.  There is lots of upside.  The Packers have the best combination of offense and defense in the entire NFC. 

Minnesota Vikings (1st place):  This team came up just short of making an appearance in the Super Bowl last season.  They are determined to go one step further this year and bring a Super Bowl title back to the twin cities of Minnesota.  And why shouldn’t they be confident?  They have a great core group of guys returning.  Minnesota also possesses both a great offense and defense.  Last season, the Vikings became a pass first offense.  I think Brett Favre is the only player in the League that could make a team that has the one they call “All Day” (Adrian Peterson) a pass first team.  Brett can still really play and put on quite a show last season.  And I fully expect him to put up great numbers again this year.  Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian are a great trio of targets for Favre.  All 3 are young and have a ton of upside.  Look for Favre to be slinging the ball all over the field again this year.  My question is will Sidney Rice be healthy?  Either way the passing attack will be lethal.  Then of course the Vikings do have the luxury of handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson, who has the ability to turn any play into a big time play.  If AP starts fumbling again though, who is the next guy in? Ryan Moats or the rookie Toby Gerhart?  This team does not really have a sure-fire compliment for Peterson nor do they really need one.  As long as Peterson stays healthy, it will be paradise in the Minnesota backfield.  Then from a defensive standpoint, this team stops the run with the best of them.  Guys like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Pat Williams are absolutely outstanding.  They not only stop the run, but they pressure the quarterback early and often.  Then in the secondary, the addition of veteran cornerback Lito Shephard should help turn this unit from average, to pretty good.  Big things will also be expected from the outstanding cornerback Antoine Winfield, and their injury prone safety, Madieu Williams.  All I can say is, watch out, because this Viking’s team will be scary.  Do not be surprised to see this team roll deep into the postseason.

So the NFC North should have a repeat champion in the Minnesota Vikings.  But do not sleep on the Green Bay Packers, who I think could overtake the Vikings come playoff time on their way to making an appearance in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997.  Both of these teams are very strong in nearly all aspects of the game.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze