Tag Archives: Cleveland Browns

NFL Week 1 Predictions

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

NFL Preview 2012-2013

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

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Beware of the Chicago Bears

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

Aside

By Mike Jarvis After hearing the news Thursday that Albert Pujols signed with the Angel’s, several headlines caught my attention. By far the most absurd, ludicrous, and shocking reports I saw was the “so what” attitude by a number of Cardinals … Continue reading

“NFL Draft First Round Recap”

In the biggest surprise on Day 1 of the NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans selected Jake Locker (pictured above) with the 8th overall pick.

The first round of the NFL Draft is in the books.  It only took a little over 3.5 hours, but it is was well worth it.  The always exciting event started with a bang with the introduction of a record number of invitees to the actual event (25), and this year’s Hall of Fame Class.  Following the introduction of all the players, Goodell took the stage to some loud and pronounced boos.  As if nobody saw this coming.  People in New York are generally unforgiving to begin with.  With the current state of the NFL, I was surprised that the boos did not last even longer.  Either way, Goodell handled it well.  He and the owners want football too.  I think we will have it come September. Continue reading

“Who Dey Disaster?”

Terrell Owens (pictured above), a star receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals was on the receiving end of over 220 yards today and a Touchdown. But it was not enough to lead his team to victory over their interstate rival, the Cleveland Browns.

If you are a Cincinnati Bengal’s fan, you are probably not having the best of Sunday’s.  Any loss for the home town team hurts.  But a lost to the abysmal Brownies, who were 0 and 3 coming into the 1st edition of this year’s “Battle of Ohio” Throwdown?  Things just went from bad, to real bad.

The Bengals today once again demonstrated why they appear to not quite be ready to join the League’s upper tier.  Now, I am by no means saying this team will not make the playoffs.  I would be crazy to say that with the talent this squad possesses.  But at 2 and 2, things have not looked good for a team surrounded by much hype.

Lets take a quick look at what transpired today in Cleveland.

The Bengals took on a less than flattering Brown’s team led by long time backup, Seneca Wallace.  In this game, the Who Deys had over 115 more total yards than our opponent.  Cincinnati was also more efficient than their opponent both rushing and passing. Cincy’s big time receiver, TO, had over 220 yards receiving on 10 catches. Yet the Bengals took an L, and had their faces smashed in by former Arkansas Razorback, 3rd string RB, Peyton Hillis.  This guy, who defines what it means to be a bruiser, really hurt the Who Deys late in the game, really solidifying the Browns first win of the season.  The difference in this one though, a blocked field goal.  And it was not Cincinnati’s “quarter season MVP,” Mike Nugent’s fault.  A Brown’s defender came in untouched to block Nugent’s field goal attempt.

So are the Bengals in big trouble standing at 2 and 2?  Currently, we are ranked 15th in the League in overall offense and passing offense.  We are only 18th in the League in rushing.  Last year, we were 24th in the League in overall offense, 26th in the passing game, and 9th overall rushing.  So though I would like to see Cedric and the gang get it going more on the ground, there is no reason to panic offensively.  Defensively, we currently rank 9th overall in the League,  with the 11th ranked defense against the pass, and 13th against the run.  Last year, the AFC North Champion Bengals ranked 4th in the NFL in overall defense.  With a passing defense that was ranked 6th, and a ground stopping attack that ranked 7th.  So the defense has fallen a little, but not much.

So sure the Bengals took a very bad loss today.  But there is no reason to give up on this team yet.  Their numbers are not really any worse than last year’s playoff team.  People just have to accept that Marvin’s team plays down to the level of their competition every week and win in somewhat of an ugly fashion.  Either way a win is a win.  But I will state that this year’s schedule is much tougher than last years.

So what are your thoughts?  Maybe Carson is the problem?  Or maybe it is the play calling from Bob Bratkowski? Can this team bounce back and compete for the AFC North Title or are we on the way to a Who Dey Disaster?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“Bengals vs Panthers In Game”

Bengal's kicker, Mike Nugent (pictured above), has arguably been the Team's MVP through their first 3 games.

The 1 and 1 Bengals travel to Carolina today to take on a struggling Panthers team with a rookie QB making his debut start today in Jimmy Clausen.  Bengal’s D coordinator, Mike Zimmer is looking to feast and should confuse the rookie early and often with a plethora of different defensive schemes.  Look for the Bengal’s offense to wake up as well in a big way today.

My esteemed guests this week are Mr. David Huber, or “Hubes,” Mr. Chris Nesbitt, or “Nez,” and Mr. Grift Krehnbrink,  or “Queen City Kid.”  They will provide their thoughts at the end of each quarter.

1st Quarter:

Weird is the best way to describe this quarter.  The Bengals throw an INT on their first drive only to have Jimmy Clausen mishandle a snap and give it right back.   Late in the quarter, Carson tosses up a horribly underthrown ball to TO that gets picked.  The rookie, Clausen, on the next play, makes a horrible throw to Steve Smith to give the ball right back to Cincy.  Talk about an erratic, back and forth 1st quarter.  The quarterback play has been god awful.     The only adjective I have for this quarter is “weird.”  I feel like I am watching a lower tier high school football game.  Nonetheless, Cincy leads 7 to 0 and has the ball.  In addition, it was nice to see Brian Leonard back out there running hard.

Hubes:  “Carson’s best days are behind him.  Long behind him.”

Nez:  “Despite a lot of sloppy play, the Bengals are in a good spot, as long as Clausen is under center for the Panthers.”

Queen City Kid: “Carson just looks abysmal.  He has not been the same for years now.”

2nd Quarter:

I am absolutely speechless.  Carson has a 22.2 QB Rating with two horrendous interceptions.  Minus the play of Maualuga, Gresham, and Shipley, I am not sure what team I am watching.  The offense is horrendous in every facet.  Thank god we have reliable special teams play in our punter Kevin Huber and kicker Mike Nugent.  Not to mention we are lucky that Jimmy Clausen is the starter for the Panthers on this day.  Also, the clock management for the last 45 seconds was absolutely unacceptable.  Dennis Roland should be ashamed of himself.  I am happy to be up 10 to 0, but just because a team is winning does not mean they are playing well.  This Bengal’s team better play smarter and better in the 2nd half, or they could be on their way to blowing a very winnable game on the road.

Hubes: “Kevin Huber, MVP of the first half.”

Nez: “This is not quality football.”

Queen City Kid: “To the Carolina Panthers, get me a new quarterback, or get me a cheddarwurst.”

3rd Quarter:

Boring and dry.  Other than one extended touchdown drive from Carolina, not too much to say.  The Bengals continue to dominate time of possession and are doing all they can to hold on.  Cedric is carrying the load as Carson’s struggles mount.  Will Carson ever live up the hype?

Hubes: “Bengals better cover the spread.”

Nez:  “This game is too close for comfort.”

Queen City Kid:  “Clausen is showing signs of life.  Probably had a nice halftime.”

4th Quarter:

They did what they had to do.  Got crucial stops.  Nugent continues to make both short and long field goals.  And Cedric Benson came up with some big plays offensively.  Kudos to the defense on a great game even though they were going up against an overmatched rookie QB.

Hubes: “Boring game.”

Nez: “I will take the W.  But it was not pretty.”

Queen City Kid: “I got nothing.  I am speechless.”

Recap:

My MVPs in this one are Mike Nugent, Kevin Huber, and Cedric Benson.  Though the Bengal’s D as a whole played great, they were not exactly going up against a juggernaut of an offense.  Still, a very solid game though, holding the Panthers to under 270 total yards.  The Bengals have now won 5 of their last 6 against the NFC.  The NFL is not about looking good or winning pretty.  And today was a prime example of winning ugly.

The Bengals get to head to Cleveland next week.  Hopefully they can move to 3 and 1 before a Week 5 showdown against the formerly undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  Carson if you are out there, please get it together.  This team will live and die on Palmer, especially against quality opponents.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“AFC North Preview”

How will the arrival of Anquan Boldin in Baltimore and another number 81 in Cincinnati affect the AFC North this year?

Welcome to perhaps the most brutal conference in the NFL.  Or at least the most physical.  These teams are generally tough both on and off the field.  Most off-seasons, you hear a lot of press about what these players are doing with their spare time and normally it is not good news.  You ever hear the saying, “No news is good news?”  Well the AFC North does not believe in that saying.  This is a division with great rivalries, great players, and great fans.  Many say Pittsburgh, or “Shitsburgh” as many Cincinnatians like to say, possesses the best fan base in American sports.  All I have to say is, there is no love lost in the rivalries of this very unpredictable and talented division.

AFC North: Bengals, Browns, Ravens, Steelers (alphabetical order)

Cleveland Browns (4th place):  It seems like the Browns have been inhabiting the cellar for some time now.  In actuality, they have resided in this position every year but 2 since the year 2002.  So there is quite a familiarity with always looking up at their rivals in the standings.  And this year will be no different for a town where things continue to get worse.  The Indians have been god awful the past few years.  Their “King” and savior Lebron James, just jumped ship and added insult to the wounds by having a 1 hour special to make the “Decision,”  and the Browns continue to struggle.  Also lets not forget that winters in Cleveland are awful.  But this team truly does not have much to bring to the table.  They had the worst offense in the League last year for a reason.  They had a passing attack that reminded me of watching a high school team (averaging 129 yards per game).  This year they will have a new QB in Jake Delhomme, who can hopefully rekindle the fire a little bit.  Also their rushing attack will rely squarely on the shoulders of Jerome Harrison and the rookie out of Tennessee, Montario Hardesty.  Now Harrison is not terrible, nor was Cleveland’s rushing attack last year.  But this was partly because they ran the ball so much.  Also on the offensive side of the ball, much will be expected of Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs.  Massaquoi had a few big games last year, and has the talent to be a big play receiver.  But does this really sound like an offense that will be able to score against the likes of the Ravens, Bengals, or Steelers?  On the defensive side of the ball, the Browns are nearly just a bad.  This unit will depend heavily on a hopefully healthy Shaun Rogers, a hopefully healthy D’Qwell Jackson, and the always fun to watch Eric Wright in the secondary.  With the arrival of TO in Cincy and Boldin in Baltimore, Wright along with his buddies in the Cleveland secondary may actually need some Pepto Bismal.  Lastly, realize the best play the Browns have is on their special teams.  No team in the League possesses a threat like Joshua Cribbs in the return game.  This may be the Brown’s only hope to steal some games in the brutal AFC North.  As many in Cincinnati say, “If it is Brown flush it down.”  Well the Browns sadly are going to be down, and are in for another long season.

Pittsburgh Steelers (3rd place):  Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the best run franchises in professional sports will go a second consecutive year without tasting the postseason.  It is not that the Steelers are even so bad, it’s that the Bengals and Ravens will be very tough this year.  When talking about Steeler football, defense always comes to mind right away.  And this team does have a rough a tough defensive unit.  They are one of the top run stopping teams in the League, but do struggle with defending against the aerial attack at times.  James Farrior and James Harrison continue to get better with age it seems like.  Troy Polamalu, when healthy is one of the League’s best.  And Ryan Clark is becoming more and more well-known around the League for his bone shattering hits.  But the flash of the secondary cannot hide its inability at times to defend against the pass.  Big hits only can get you so far in this League.  Guys like Ike Taylor, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, and all the recently drafted rookies in the secondary could make or break this team down the stretch.  Can Pittsburgh prevent the big play?  Offensively this team has a major issue before the season even starts.  Big Ben Roethlisberger, their quarterback and leader, will miss at least the first 4 games, and possibly more.  This will hurt.  It would not have been as big of a blow in the past, since the Steelers were always a smash mouth running team.  But they have turned into a pass first offense along with most of the NFL.  Can Dennis Dixon make sure the Steelers do not dig themselves another early season whole this year?  Because believe me, the Ravens and Bengals will be too tough to allow Pittsburgh to dig out of a massive early year deficit.  Is Rashard Mendenhall ready to carry the load as the featured back?  How many more solid years does Hines Ward have left?  The loss of their top receiver Santonio Holmes hurts, and it will be interesting to see if young guns Mike Wallace and Limas Sweed are ready to step up.  Pittsburgh will be a good team this year and win probably 6 to 8 games, but they will not be good enough to make the playoffs.  There are just too many question marks on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens (2nd place):  The bad boys out of Baltimore will make the playoffs for a 3rd consecutive year.  And though they would prefer to win the division, they will still be a tough out as a Wild Card.  This team has had a fantastic off-season and finally look to have the tools of a top-notch offensive squad.  So the Ravens will finally have a very tough offense to compliment their always tough defense.  Defensively, it is the same story it has been for the better part of a decade.  They stop the run better than anybody, rarely ever giving up 100 rushing yards in a game.  Ray Lewis, the future Hall of Famer, and possibly the best linebacker of all time continues to perform even at the ripe age of 35.  They also feature a very strong safety tandem in Dawan Landry and Ed Reed.  Plus Terrell Suggs, along with Ray Lewis may be the best linebacking duo in the League (even though Ray is 35).  But the corners have been a question the past couple of years, and may be the only minor flaw on this otherwise awesome team.  Can Domonique Foxworth, Fabian Washington, and David Carr defend the likes of the Bengal’s outstanding trio of big play receivers?  These matchups will probably determine who wins the AFC North.  So strap in for some excitement there.  There is also the Ravens now revamped offensive side of the ball.  Joe Flacco, looks to be a quarterback that will continue to win in this League for some time.  And now he has some great weapons to throw to in Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, and Donte Stallworth.  He also still has the former ASU standout, Todd Heap to throw too.  Also the Ravens possess one of the best rushing attacks in the entire League.  Between the up and coming Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and big boy Le’ron McClain, defenses beware.  These guys are no fun to deal with.  And with the look of a team that should really be able to throw the ball downfield, teams will not simply be able to just key on the vaunted Raven’s rushing attack.  Look out for the Ravens in 2010, as they look to go deep into the playoffs.

Cincinnati Bengals (1st place):  Who Dey Nation has been celebrating for the past couple of days.  The TO Show has arrived in Cincinnati to add to an already solid receiving corps.  This team, which was one of the League’s best in running the ball last year should now be able to throw deep with authority.  They have 3 big play receivers in Owens, Ochocinco, and Bryant.  Not to mention the surehanded Andre Caldwell to act as a possession guy, and Jermaine Gresham at tight end.  Also they have one of the League’s best running backs in Cedric Benson.  Carson Palmer has a heck of a team to work with offensively.  Be ready to witness the Carson Palmer of 2005 all over again. Redemption will be so sweet for the former USC standout.  The Bengals on the defensive side of the ball last year, behind the tutelage of Mike Zimmer, became one of the League’s elite.  Do not expect that to change this season as guys continue to get healthy.  The Bengals were extremely efficient at stopping both the run and the pass.  The cornerback tandem of Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph is now known around the football stratosphere as one of the League’s elite.  Really for the Bengals, there are two question marks.  First of all is Carson ready to start playing like an elite quarterback again(which I think he is)?  And secondly, can the Bengals get healthy at safety and defend against a team like the Ravens, who have so many weapons?  With the Bengals, as with any team around the League, the big challenge is to stay healthy.  But this is by far the deepest and most talented team Marvin Lewis has ever had in Cincinnati.  Look for this team to have a big time year and play deep into the postseason.

So there you have.  The AFC North will be brutal as usual and will be represented in the playoffs by both the Bengals and Ravens like last year.  The only real question in this division is can the opposing secondaries handle the deep threats of the Bengals and Ravens?  We will begin to find out come September.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze