Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Peyton Manning (pictured above) will make his anxiously awaited debut as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos in his first real NFL action in over 20 months.
By Josh Kramer
The NFL is back in full force after Wednesday night’s opener between the Giants and Cowboys. It is still odd to me that an NFL game was played on a Wednesday, but life goes on. Keep in mind that the last three times the Giants and Cowboys have played each other in their opener, one of the two NFC East rivals has gone on to claim the Lombardi Trophy. Let’s hope the real referees return by then.
Two seasons ago, I created a pick’em challenge with one of my good buddies (CV3). Last year, we added two new players (CB and DC) to increase the competition level of the second annual “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.” In year three, we have replaced last year’s cellar finisher (DC) with a new player (BD) that will surely be in the hunt.
The participants this season are as follows:
BD-Brien Dulle: A life-long sports fan that has lived all of his life in Cincinnati. Growing up as a sports fan in a tough city for professional teams (Bengals and Reds), Brien never developed strong allegiances for any one particular team. This unbiased vantage point gives him a much broader range of the sporting world. His opinions from sports have been greatly influenced by the likes of individuals like Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt, Ryen Russillo, Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon whom he listens to daily.
CB-Craig Baker: A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.
CV3-Chad Vordenberge: An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.
TSK (two-time defending champion)-Josh Kramer: Founder/Editor-in-Chief of “TheSportsKraze,” former ESPN intern, current Sunday columnist for the popular SNY Network Blog “It’s About The Money,” and writer for fantasy sports website DraftDay.com.
Rules of the Game: This is how the game works. We will pick every game each week (outside of the Thursday night games or dare I say Wednesday night games). Whomever gets the most cumulative games right at the end of the regular season wins. No spreads. Just straight up pick’ems for the most parity filled professional sports league in America. Continue reading
Posted in NFL
Tagged AFC, Andrew Luck, Arizona Cardinals, Art Modell, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Marshall, Buffalo Bills, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Christian Ponder, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, John Skelton, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, Marshawn Lynch, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orlean's Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Horton, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow, Washington Redskins
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Rob Gronkowski (pictured above) and the New England Patriots will redeem themselves on February 3rd with their fourth Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
By Josh Kramer
It has been 208 days since the New England Patriots and more specifically Wes Welker let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. For those of you in need of a refresher, back on February 5th in the house that Peyton Manning built (Lucas Oil Stadium), the New York Giants once again shocked the New England Patriots in a very closely contested Super Bowl game. That was then though and this is now. America’s most popular sport is just five days away from its official kickoff. Who is ready for some football?
AFC East Champion: New England Patriots
I am sure you are all shocked at this pick. New England has only won three straight divisional crowns and qualified for the playoffs eight of the past nine years. People are already comparing this year’s squad to the greatest team to ever grace the gridiron, but fail to win the Lombardi Trophy (2007 Patriots). With Brandon Lloyd added to the mix, it is hard to say these comparisons are all that far-fetched. However, it should be noted that the defense has some flaws, and the offensive line will have its fair of struggles due to the absence of Matt Light (retirement), Brian Waters (possibly retirement), Logan Mankins (ACL tear), and Sebastian Vollmer (back injury). Luckily for New England, the Jets appear to have taken a step backwards with the acquisition of “God” Tebow, and the Miami Dolphins appear to just be a horrible team (Hard Knocks has provided clear evidence of this). Buffalo is improved, but does not have nearly the firepower to stick with New England throughout the duration of a grueling 17-week season. Continue reading
Posted in NFL
Tagged A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Andre Johnson, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arian Foster, Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Lloyd, Brian Waters, Buffalo Bills, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Darren Mcfadden, Denver Broncos, Drew Brees, Ed Reed, Eli Manning, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, James Harrison, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Joe Montana, Jon Beason, Kansas City Chiefs, Logan Mankins, Luke Kuechly, Mario Manningham, Matt Light, Matt Schaub, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Rob Gronkowski, Robert Griffin III, San Diego Chargers, Sebastian Vollmer, Steve Young, Super Bowl, Terrell Suggs, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu, Wes Welker
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Are Jay Cutler (pictured above) and the Chicago Bears poised for a big year in 2012? Our very own Wesley Kaminsky thinks so.
By Wesley Kaminsky
The NFL off-season always seems too long, doesn’t it? In an off-season dominated by Tim Tebow and the New York Jets, it’s that other team in New York who are the reigning Super Bowl champions. They shocked the NFL world a season ago, getting hot at the right time, beating the likes of the Packers, 49ers, and then eventually the Patriots. That takes guts.
With teams such as the Packers, 49ers, Bears, Saints, and Falcons, just to name a few, the NFC is becoming a powerhouse. I didn’t even touch on the NFC East.
In the AFC, the Patriots look like the clear-cut team to beat, as they added more weapons to an already lethal offense and revamped their defense.
Can the Ravens finally get over the hump? Will Peyton Manning return with a vengeance?
These questions will be answered in due time. Continue reading
Posted in NFL
Tagged Aaron Rodgers, AFC, Alex Smith, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Ben Roethlisberger, Blaine Gabbert, Brandon Lloyd, Brandon Marshall, Brandon Weeden, Buffalo Bills, Calvin Johnson, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Christian Ponder, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Drew Brees, Green Bay Packers, Greg Schiano, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jake Locker, Jamaal Charles, Jay Cutler, Jeff Fisher, Joe Flacco, John Skelton, Julio Jones, Kansas City Chiefs, Kevin Kolb, Leslie Frazier, Mario Williams, Matt Flynn, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Matthew Stafford, Maurice Jones-Drew, Miami Dolphins, Michael Vick, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orlean's Saints, New York Giants, New York Jets, NFC, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Pete Carroll, Peyton Hillis, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Philip Rivers, Pittsburgh Steelers, Robert Griffin III, Roddy White, Russell Wilson, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Sean Payton, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Washington Redskins, Wesley Kaminsky
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Russell Wilson (pictured above) has shocked the world and been named the starting quarterback in Seattle.
By Josh Kramer
When Pete Carroll left USC, I lost almost all respect for the guy. The situation he left behind was inexcusable and a definite admission of some sort of guilt. That’s all in the past though. Slowly but surely, my respect has returned for the coach that picked up a pair of national titles at USC and is currently running the show in Seattle.
At USC, it seemed as if everything was about the money. Just ask Reggie Bush. Since arriving in Seattle, it appears Carroll has had a change of heart. On Sunday, he named a rookie third-round draft pick the starter at quarterback for Week 1 of the regular season. As much as I try to ignore it, sports are a business. Even collegiate ones unfortunately. Money is what makes the world go round. Not in Seattle’s quarterback case though.
Matt Flynn recently signed a three-year, $26 million deal, with $10 million guaranteed. Everyone and their mother expected Flynn to be the starter. Wilson, a supposedly undersized rookie quarterback is guaranteed just $619,400. In simple terms, Flynn is guaranteed to make over 16 times the money that Wilson is guaranteed with their current contracts. Yet, Wilson is the starting quarterback.
Simply based on merit, Wilson has outplayed his higher-paid counterpart, and is therefore deserving of the starting job. Kudos to Pete Carroll on not being blinded by or influenced by dollar bills this time around. The perception was that Flynn would be the Seahawks starter up until recently. Carroll did not let the perception become a reality. He evaluated the two players competing for the spot strictly on merit and performance. Russell Wilson appears to have a very bright future ahead. I do not envision Carroll regretting this decision to start the “undersized” rookie quarterback. Talk about value in a third-round pick. I guess height, money, and the perception of the public aren’t everything when it comes to quarterback play. Continue reading
Posted in Miscellaneous
Tagged Boston Red Sox, Buffalo Bills, Carson Palmer, David Ortiz, Matt Flynn, Matt Leinart, Oakland Raiders, Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush, Rose Bowl, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Terrell Owens, USC Trojans, Vince Young
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Aroldis Chapman (pictured above) is looking to become the first relief pitcher to win a Cy Young since 2003 and perhaps the first Cincinnati Reds pitcher ever to win the prestigious award.
By Josh Kramer
The Reds may be the oldest team in professional baseball history (established in 1869), but there is one thing this proud franchise has never done. No Cincinnati pitcher has ever claimed the Cy Young Award. Just to put that into perspective, the Diamondbacks (established in 1998) have sported five winners of the prestigious award for the best pitcher in their respective League. I know there is a still a month and a half left in the regular season, but a pair of serious Cy Young candidates currently reside in Cincinnati. I will give you a hint. One is a starter, while the other is a relief pitcher. Despite the absence of star Joey Votto, the Reds have somehow managed to go a remarkable 19 and 8. So much for staying afloat and playing .500 ball with the all-world Votto sidelined.
Sure plenty of players have stepped up in the absence of the MLB’s best all-around hitter (such as Ryan Ludwick and Brandon Phillips), but two players have been getting the job done all year. Johnny Cueto has not only proven himself to be a formidable number one starter, but he has also proven to be arguably the best pitcher in the National League. Cueto currently is tied for the NL lead with 15 wins and ranks third in ERA (2.45). Make sure to note that the two pitchers with better ERA’s than Cueto in the present have 10 wins and 9 wins respectively (Vogelsong and Zimmermann) Then there is the Cuban Missile. Outside of one short-lived rough patch just before the All-Star break, Aroldis Chapman has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Chapman has been simply unhittable as of late going a remarkable 22 straight appearances without allowing a run. Also, in 51.2 innings against National League foes, Chapman has surrendered one earned run. Lastly he has given up just 25 hits. Really think about those statistics. Could we be on the verge of the first relief-pitcher to take home the Cy Young Award since Eric Gagne in 2003? Or perhaps the first Reds Cy Young Award winner ever? Continue reading
Posted in Miscellaneous
Tagged Aroldis Chapman, Boston Celtics, Brandi Chastain, Brandon Phillips, Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Reds, Cy Young, Dwight Howard, Eric Gagne, Hope Solo, Janoris Jenkins, Jered Weaver, Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, Los Angeles Lakers, LSU Tigers, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, Ryan Ludwick, Ryan Vogelsong, Seatte Seahawks, Terrell Owens, Tyrann Mathieu
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Penn State will have to turn their back on the tarnished legacy of Joe Paterno (pictured above) moving forward.
By Josh Kramer
Think back to November 22, 1997. On that particular day in history, Penn State defeated Wisconsin 35 to 10 at Beaver Stadium. Mike McQueary was the starting quarterback and Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator for Penn State. Talk about the irony. After Mark Emmert and the NCAA officially came down with the wrath of fury on the Penn State football program yesterday morning, this somewhat insignificant day of nearly 15 years ago will go down as the final victory of Joe Paterno’s career.
I know this will be hard for many of you to believe, but I am floored by the NCAA’s extremely harsh punishment on Penn State. This punishment makes the infamous death penalty of 25 years ago at SMU look like child’s play. I realize what went on at Penn State was arguably the most egregious act ever to occur in collegiate athletics. I am well-aware of the magnitude. These were despicable acts, but “criminal” acts at their core. I feel the NCAA has completely overstepped their bounds and now are making current players and coaches, who had nothing to do with these horrific acts, pay the price. And yes, I feel for the victims and their families who are still feeling the pain of the monster that is Jerry Sandusky. Their pain is far deeper than that of the current players and coaches. Continue reading
Posted in Miscellaneous
Tagged Adam Scott, Bernie Fine, Bill O'Brien, Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco, Cincinnati Bengals, Dream Team, Duke Blue Devils, Ernie Els, Freeh Report, Greg Norman, Jerry Sandusky, Jim Boeheim, Joe Paterno, Mark Emmert, Mike McQueary, Moneyball, NCAA, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Penn State Nittany Lions, Team USA, Tiger Woods
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Joey Votto (pictured above) is having a year for the ages. Is it the greatest Cincinnati has ever seen?
By Victor Kamesar
Victor Kamesar is a die-hard Cincinnatian who currently finds himself across the country. Despite being out in Cowboy Country (Norman, Oklahoma), Victor still finds time to follow his hometown Reds, Bengals, and Bearcats.
It didn’t hit me until a few weeks ago when I read a Jayson Stark headline proclaiming “Joey Votto hitting like the Bambino.” Cincinnati’s very own gold glove first baseman is having the best season in baseball since the Babe in some categories. Votto is on pace for 197 hits and a ridiculous 127 walks. As Stark pointed out, the only player ever to put up those types of walk numbers in a season in which they amassed 200 hits was “Babe Ruth, The Greaaat Bambino.” As a lifelong Cincinnati sports fanatic, I began to wonder, is Votto having the best season any athlete wearing Cincinnati threads has had since I’ve been alive (FYI I was born in 1990)? Continue reading
Posted in Miscellaneous
Tagged Babe Ruth, Barry Larkin, Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bearcats, Cincinnati Bengals, Cincinnati Reds, Conference USA, Dante Bichette, Joey Votto, Kenyon Martin, MVP, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander, Super Bowl, Victor Kamesar
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Chad Ochocinco (pictured above) is no longer the dominant receiver he once was between 2003 to 2007. Now he is just an average player who struggles to learn the playbook.
By Josh Kramer
Think back to the year 2007. Who was the best wide receiver in all of football? Now right away Randy Moss should come to mind after reeling in a record 23 touchdown receptions and nearly helping the Patriots complete the first perfect season in the NFL since 1972 (Dolphins). On most people’s list Chad Johnson would rank as number two or three. Between the years of 2003 to 2007, Chad Johnson was no only one of the most entertaining players in the game, he was always one of the elite. During the four-year span of 2003 to 2006, Chad Johnson became the only player in NFL history to lead his conference in receiving yards for four consecutive seasons.
Boy have times changed. Not only has his game seen a colossal decline, his name has changed. Yesterday, Ochocinco hit rock-bottom when he was released by the New England Patriots after just one season. As mentioned earlier, Ochocino was one of the best players on the planet not that long ago. Since, he has become arguably the most influential athlete in the world of social media, and possibly the least influential on the actual field. Ochocinco may have nearly 3.5 million followers on Twitter, but he amassed an abysmal 15 catches last season for a meager 276 yards and one touchdown. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The professional career of Matt Leinart (pictured above) has not exactly gone as planned. Now Leinart finds himself back in California and with a familiar teammate. Could Leinart finally begin to live up to some of the promise he demonstrated at USC?
By Josh Kramer
USC was the cream of the crop in college football during the early part of the 2000s. They were the “U,” after the “U.” This resulted in their naming as the team of the decade for the period between 1996 and 2006. It was a renaissance of sorts in Los Angeles in regards to collegiate football. All was good in southern California under the direction of Pete Carroll and an outstanding crop of quarterbacks. Carson Palmer got the party started in Trojanville taking home a Heisman Trophy and an Orange Bowl victory. Then came Matt Leinart. Leinart proceeded to have one of the all-time great college careers capturing two National Championships and a Heisman Trophy.
After his decorated college career, Palmer went on to spend eight years in the Midwest. There were many ups and downs for the former Trojan star, but due to injuries and many other factors, Palmer never lived up to the promise he once demonstrated as a Trojan. Matt Leinart’s professional career has still failed to really take flight yet. It has been all downs and very few ups for the former Heisman winner.
Well yesterday, Matt Leinart signed on with the Oakland Raiders and put himself into a familiar spot. Not only is he back in California, but he is back to studying under Carson Palmer.We all know what results that yielded back when he was sporting the cardinal and gold. Could lightning strike twice for Leinart? Continue reading
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. 2008 was not the best of years for Carson Palmer (pictured above) and the Cincinnati Bengals.
By Josh Kramer
Now I want you all to think back to the Bengal days before Big Red and A.J. Green arrived at Paul Brown Stadium and took the city of Cincinnati by storm. A time where flashiness seemed to outweigh heart, and the name on the back of the jersey seemed more important than the name on the front. It is October 26, 2008. Ryan Fitzpatrick (alumnus of the same fine academic institution as Jeremy Lin) was filling in for an injured Carson Palmer. Cincinnati has just lost for the third straight week by 20+ points. On this particular day, the Who Deys took one on the head at Reliant Stadium to those pesky Houston Texans (sound familiar?). Cincinnati now finds themselves 0 for 8 on the year and in the midst of another lost season. People in Cincinnati are already done with NFL football, and their focus has shifted to college football and the upcoming college hoops season. Any city that is fortunate enough to have a professional football team shouldn’t be finished with America’s most popular sport by the end of October. It just isn’t right. It is a major problem.
I reached out to Paul a little more than three years ago on a whim in regards to a school project. My group was tasked with discussing a major problem in Cincinnati. So naturally, as Cincinnati sports fans, we chose the Bengals as our problem. Continue reading