Tag Archives: Darren Mcfadden

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

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Week 4 NFL Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of PigskinBuzz.com. Heavy expectations were placed on the shoulders of second-year starter Sam Bradford (pictured above) and the St. Louis Rams. The first three weeks have not gone as planned for Bradford and the boys.

By Wesley Kaminsky

Week three of the NFL season has come and gone, and football fans were in for a treat. It was a week in which streaks were broken, and games went down to the wire.

Both the Bills and Lions, two of the seasons biggest surprises, have not made the playoffs since 1999. Sunday was another step in that direction as they both improved to 3-0. The Lions won in Minnesota, 26-23, a place where they hadn’t won in 13 years, while the Bills snapped a 15 game losing streak against the Patriots. What makes both of these teams so fun to watch is the fact they play with no fear and think they can beat anybody in the league. Both of them overcame 20 point deficits on Sunday to remain undefeated, and the bandwagon for both of these teams is growing.

Jump on now while you have the chance. Continue reading

“NFL Week 15 Predictions”

Amid many major matchups this weekend, the Jacksonville Jaguars, led by running back Maurice Jones-Drew (pictured above), have a chance to all but shut the door on the Indianapolis Colt's playoff hopes. Can the Jags complete the season sweep on their divisional rival?

After this weekend, there are just 2 more fun-filled Sundays with a full slate of NFL games.  Where did the season go?  This week is full of big time matchups and boy is the NFL different at this point than it was at Week 15 last year.

The Colts with a loss and a little help could be eliminated from postseason play entirely.  Peyton not in the playoffs?  In the words of Shannon Sharpe, “Cmon Man.”  The Eagles and Giants have a royal rumble for NFC East supremacy.  Who foresaw the Cowboys not being in the thick of these race?  Instead, they are in the cellar.  Though everybody knew the NFC West was weak, did anybody expect there to be 0 teams with a 500 or better record?  Could a sub 500 team make the playoffs?  In addition, the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that many thought were a Super Bowl contender, are now in the cellar and in contention for the Andrew Luck/Cam Newton sweepstakes.  Lastly, Rex Grossman will be starting for the Redskins due to the benching of starter Donovan McNabb.  Could it be “Grossmania” in Washington?

Lets take a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:   123                          CV3: 126

So I made up a game.  Sadly I got this week, and the next two to catch the NFL Expert that is CV3.  Hopefully this week I can continue on the upward climb back to picking supremacy.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Lions at Buccaneers:  Detroit is coming off of a big win, but their year is over.  They are already looking ahead to next season.  Tampa on the other hand has a shot to nab a Wild Card.  This is a must win for them if they want a prayer at making the postseason.  When teams are playing for something, they tend to choke.  But I do not see Tampa choking this week.  They will find a way to win another close one as they have done all year.  The Bucs choke job will happen in their final game against New Orleans.  Bucs at home by 6.

Eagles at Giants:  This may very well be the game of the week.  Michael Vick and the Eagles have been rolling behind an electric offensive unit.  Behind an extremely balanced offensive attack, the Eagles are one of the major feel good stories in the NFL this year.  The Giants on the other hand finally seem to be righting their ship.  They have won 3 games in a row since falling to Philly in mid November.  The Giants started the trend of teams really getting at Michael Vick.  Expect them to show a perfected craft in this home contest.  I expect both of these teams to make the playoffs.  But I have the Giants winning this one in a thrilling fashion by 1 in front of a hostile home crowd.

Saints at Ravens:  This is another outstanding matchup.  Fire vs fire.  The Saints high-powered aerial attack versus the Ravens stout defense.  Lately though, the Ravens D has not looked so stout.  The Texans moved the ball at will vs Baltimore in the 4th quarter last Monday and really showed the age of Baltimore’s D.  Can the Ravens regain their swagger?  I think so.  The Saints are playing great football and have won 6 straight.  But this game is in Baltimore.  The conditions should play in the Ravens favor as they sneak by with a 1 point victory.

Cardinals at Panthers:  These are both pitiful teams.  Luckily for Arizona, no matter how bad they have looked at times, they are not nearly as bad as Carolina.  Besides, Arizona showed some offensive life last week in laying a butt whooping on Denver.  The Panthers are playing for Andrew Luck.  They have the inside track to the number 1 pick and what reason do they have to give it up.  There is no motivation for the Panthers to win.  They won’t throw the game by any means.  But there will be no fire to help lead them to their 2nd win of the season.  Cardinals by 7 on the road.

Chiefs at Rams:  Both of these teams are tied for first in their respective divisions.  They both have a lot on the line.  The Chiefs live on an outstanding rushing attack while the Rams live on a balanced offensive unit.  Can Sam Bradford take care of business in the biggest game of his NFL career?  I think so.  I am taking the home team to shock the Chiefs.  Sorry KC.  The Chargers will take over the division from here.  Rams by 3 at home.

Bills at Dolphins:  Both of these teams surprised many with victories last week, including me.  The Bills have a decent rushing attack, but they struggle at stopping the run.  Well, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams should be ready to pound the rock come Sunday.  These two are a solid combination that should take advantage of a very weak Buffalo defensive front.  Also, they do not have to go to Buffalo and deal with the cold weather elements.  Buffalo will at least get to spend a few days out of the cold in Miami.  But they will go home with a cold feeling after losing a close one.  Dolphins by 3 at home.

Texans at Titans:  The Texans have ripped out the heart of Houston again.  Tennessee is also in the midst of a horrible year.  After a solid start, the Titans have now lost 6 straight games.  Expect it to be 7 after this week.  Sure Houston does not really have much to play for.  But Tennessee cannot stop the pass. Houston has an outstanding receiving corps and an elite QB.  Matt Schaub will have a field day come Sunday.  Texans by 10 on the road.

Jaguars at Colts:  The biggest game of the year for both of these squads.  I will admit I had the Jaguars coming in last in the AFC South back in September.  Boy was I wrong.  But Indianapolis has owned this division for over a decade for a reason.  Jacksonville will have to take on Peyton in his Indianapolis sanctuary. Good luck Jacksonville.  Look for Peyton to put on an MVP like performance in keeping his team alive.  Indianapolis does not miss out on the playoffs.  Colts by 7 at home.

Redskins at Cowboys:  The two bottom dwellers of the NFC East link up in Dallas.  America’s team has had a very odd season.  As have the boys out of the nation’s capital.  Rex Grossman gets the pleasure of taking on a Dallas team that has played much better football since the firing of former coach, Wade Phillips. The Skins were in the thick of things until their recent 3 game skid.  Dallas on the other hand has had nothing to play for since October.  Teams that have nothing to play for tend to play well.  Dallas has been no exception to this.  Cowboys by 6 at home.

Browns at Bengals:  The Battle of Ohio.  Sure neither of these teams are in contention.  Sure the Bengals will be blacked out on television again.  But this game is always a big one for both franchises.  Cincinnati can at least split with the Brownies with a home victory in this one.  Sure Cleveland has played very good football for the past couple of months.  But they showed some vulnerability in a loss to the Bills last weekend.  And for some reason, I still think the Bengals can win one more game this year.  What game would be better than a matchup against the rival Brownies, a team that is not “that much” better than them. Besides the Bengals have never lost more than 10 games in a row in franchise history.  The bleeding stops at 10 yet again.  Bengals by 3 at home.

Falcons at Seahawks:  The Falcons are arguably the best team in football.  And without question the top dog in the NFC.  Seattle on the other hand still finds themselves in the hunt in the NFC West.  Sadly for the Seahawks, the Falcons are still looking to clinch down their division.  With the Saints playing great football, the Falcons are highly motivated to continue their winning ways.  Expect Roddy White to have a field day against a depleted Seahawk’s secondary. Falcons by 10 at home.

Jets at Steelers:  Another stellar matchup.  Can Mark Sanchez and the Jets get it together?  Not exactly the ideal game for a struggling Jets offense that has not scored a touchdown in their past 2 games.  Great teams thrive under adversity though.  The Jets play like the old school Steeler’s teams.  They run the ball well.  And their defense is tenacious in every way.  The Steelers on the other hand sit atop the AFC North and are riding a 4 game winning streak.  In addition, they stop the run better than any team in the League.  Though I think the Jets are a great team who I picked to win the Super Bowl, I do not see them figuring things out in a must win game at Heinz Field.  The Steelers will be just too tough and win at home in a brutal battle by 3.

Broncos at Raiders:  An old school rivalry in the AFC West.  Denver has lost 4 in a row and cannot stop the run.  Oakland on the other hand can really run the rock.  Too much Darren McFadden in this one.  Raiders by 7 at home.

Packers at Patriots:  The Packers are fighting for their playoff lives while the Patriots are on cruise control, looking to lock up home field advantage.  If I were the rest of the AFC, I would pray that the Patriots do not clinch home field advantage throughout the duration of the playoffs.  Nobody wants to play in a cold Foxborough Stadium in a playoff atmosphere.  Sadly for the AFC, Rodgers suffered a concussion last week and is the motor that makes this lethal Green Bay offense go.  Whether he plays or not, he will not be full strength.  Though Green Bay defends against the pass at a high level, can anybody stop Brady and the Pats aerial attack?  Look for the Patriots to make it 6 in a row in Foxborough.  NE by 9 at home.

Bears at Vikings:  A Monday Night Affair that many had circled before the season even started.  Much has changed since September.  The Vikings are out of playoff contention and have been for some time now.  Brett Favre’s mythical streak has ended.  And the Bears are in first place.  Did anybody envision any of this 3 months ago?  Either way, when these teams take the field at the University of Minnesota’s field, god knows who will be playing QB for the Vikings.  But it will not matter.  Bears by 6 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

Bengals over browns by 7
Dallas over washington by 13
Houston over Titans by 3
Jags over Colts by 3
Chiefs over Rams by 7
Bills over Dolphins by 10
Giants over Eagles by 6
Bucs over Lions by 1
Cards over Panthers by 6
Saints over Ravens by 6
Falcons over Seahawks by 14
Raiders over Broncos by 14
Steelers over Jets by 10
Pats over Packers by 21
Bears over Vikings by 3

So there you have a look at this week’s NFL slate.  Some great matchups that hold heavy playoff implications.  Can the Colts and Jets stay alive?  Will Baltimore make a statement against the Saints?  And who will reign supreme in the NFC East (Eagles or Giants)?  We will know a lot more after Week 15 concludes.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 14 Predictions”

New England QB, Tom Brady (pictured above), has without question been the MVP through 14 weeks of play. Can he lead the Patriots to an 11th victory against a tough Chicago team on Sunday?

Welcome to NFL Week 14.  This is the time of year when the real colors show up.  Who are the real Super Bowl contenders?  The Falcons appear to have flown to the top of the NFC and are now the favorites.  In the NFC West, the Rams, led by rookie stud, Sam Bradford, are currently in first.  And the Patriots once again have risen to the top of the AFC.

Lets take a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:  114                        CV3: 118

Sadly, I did not make up any games on the tenacious CV3.  Can I begin the comeback trek this week?

Browns at Bills:  The Bills were traditionally a powerhouse in the mid 90s while the Browns have been in the crapper for some time.  That is not the case this year.  Cleveland has won 2 straight games, and are coming off a big time road victory in South Beach.  I got two words for Buffalo fans. “Peyton Hillis.”  Sure the Cleveland bruiser was slowed by a tough Dolphin’s defensive front.  Well this week Hillis gets to stack up against the worst rush defense in the NFL.  Expect the Browns to ride their bruising back to a 7 point victory in bitterly cold Buffalo.

Bengals at Steelers:  One of football’s best rivalries will add another chapter on Sunday at Heinz Field.  Sadly this year, the Bengals are having possibly the most disappointing year of any team in the League.  Cincinnati has not won a game since September 26th.  Do not expect that to change Sunday against the Steeler’s outstanding defense.  Cincy may make it close, but sadly, I do not see the Who Deys pulling off the upset.  Pittsburgh by 6 at home.

Packers at Lions:  Both of these teams live and die on the pass.  Sadly for Detroit though, they have not figured out a way to win close games this season.  In order to beat Green Bay, you have to be able to win a tight game.  Ford Field will witness a 6th straight loss as Aaron Rodgers shreds a mediocre Lion’s defense.  Packers by 5 over the Try’n Lions.

Giants at Vikings:  In the preseason, this appeared to be one of those games that would go a long way towards determining the NFC playoff picture.  The G Men have won 2 straight games and looked awesome last week against the Skins.  The Vikings on the other hand looked great last week.  Granted they were playing against the Bills.  Can they pull off the upset at home over NY?  All logic points towards the Giants winning this one.  But I got the Vikings playing inspired football as they have nothing to lose.  Vikes by 1 at home in a wild one.

Buccaneers at Redskins:  The Redskins have gone from good, to mediocre, to horrible.  They are on a downward trend.  Sadly for them, the schedule does not get any easier this week against a pretty solid Tampa team.  I think there will be two key determining factors in this one.  First of all, McNabb has struggled with the turnover bug lately.  Josh Freeman has been a pretty good game manager.  Secondly, Tampa can run the ball effectively.  The Skins can not.  These will be the difference as Tampa wins by 3 in DC.

Falcons at Panthers:  This week’s most lopsided matchup.  The NFC’s best vs the NFC’s worst.  Carolina has lost 6 straight games.  Number 7 is on the way.  Atlanta will continue to fly behind an outstanding offensive attack and a stingy defense.  The ATL boys by 14 in a blowout.

Raiders at Jaguars:  Both of these team are coming off big time victories last weekend and are still right in the thick of things in their divisional races.  In addition both of these teams run the ball with great effectiveness, yet struggle with their aerial attacks.  Maurice Jones-Dream vs Darren McFadden.  Who you got?  I am going with MJD and the Jags at home.  Jaguars by 3 at home in a very exciting game that goes down to the wire.

Seahawks at 49ers:  A good old-fashioned battle between a pair of NFC West rivals.  Can the Seahawks keep pace with the Rams?  Or will the 49ers wreck the day as they look to make a run of their own?  Look for SF to bounce back in a big way after a disappointing lost to the Cheeseheads last week.  Neither of these squads do anything especially well.  But I expect the 49ers to come out motivated in front of the home crowd and nab the divisional victory.  49ers by 6 at home.

Rams at Saints:  If you would have asked me about this game during the preseason, I would have laughed.  I would have said, you got the NFC’s best team at home vs possibly the worst team in all of football.  Give me a break.  Ironically, the Rams are leading their division, while the Saints are in 2nd in the NFC South.  The Rams are playing solid football behind their fearless rookie QB, Sam Bradford.  Sadly, it will not be enough though against a Saints team that has now won 5 straight.  Too much offense from the defending champs who have put up 30 plus in 4 straight games.  Saints by 10 at home.

Dolphins at Jets:  The Dolphins are a solid team.  They play solid football on both sides of the ball.  Sadly for them, they have to face a very talented Jets team coming off of a horrific loss on Monday Night Football.  Can you say redemption time?  New York will come out with a chip on their shoulder and show the world that last week was a fluke.  The Jets are the real deal, and will demonstrate this with an easy victory at home.  Jets by 11.

Broncos at Cardinals:  Both of these teams are in the midst of horrible years.  They have a combined 6 wins between them.  Their years are over and they are already looking ahead to next year.  Now the Broncos have been bad in losing 3 straight games, but they are have not been nearly as bad as the Cardinals, who have now lost 7 straight games.  Expect the 2 month losing streak to continue as the Denver boys play inspired football behind a new coach.  Broncos by 3 on the road.

Chiefs at Chargers:  Welcome to the AFC West.  This game means a ton for both teams in their hopes to make the playoffs.  The Chargers had been on a tear until last week’s setback against the Raiders.  KC on the other hand has answered the call of a rising SD team and has won 3 straight games.  Both of these teams get the job done in very different ways.  KC lives on a lethal two-headed rushing attack, while the Chargers air it out better than any team in the League.  This is a pass first League now right?  Chargers by 3 at home.

Patriots at Bears:  The Jets are the frontrunners in the AFC East?  Give me a break.  New England showed the world who the real favorite was on the big Monday Night stage.  This Pats team has been rolling behind monster numbers from their QB, Tom Brady.  Well this week they take on one of the NFC’s best.  No problem right?  Chi Town’s finest has won 5 straight games and currently sit atop the NFC North.  Can they handle the Patriot’s potent offensive attack?  I don’t think so.  Pats by 3 in a barn burner at Soldier Field.

Eagles at Cowboys:  A bitter NFC East rivalry is renewed.  Many envisioned the Cowboys sitting atop this division a few months ago.  Many were wrong.  The Michael Vick led Eagles are currently tied for first, while the Cowboys sit in last.  Can they contain Vick and the potent Eagle’s offense?  Well they gave up 35 points last week to the Colts.  Yet they still won in Indy.  I am going out on a limb and taking the Boys at home to shock the Eagles.  Cowboys by 1.

Ravens at Texans: The Monday Night Affair pits two of the AFC’s most talented groups.  Baltimore is coming off of a devastating 3 point loss at the hands of the Black and Yellow boys last week, while the Texans were “Michael Vicked” by the Eagles.  Though this game is in Texas, I expect Baltimore to display a sense of urgency and really shut down a potent Texan’s offensive attack.  Ravens by 3 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

Browns over Bills by 3
Packers over Lions by 9
Giants over Vikings by 10 (Vikings haven’t beaten a good team yet)
Bucs over Skins by 3
Falcons over Panthers by 14
Saints over Rams by 7
Jags over Raiders by 9 (Battle of two teams that know how to run the ball)
Seahawks over 49ers by 1
Bears over Patriots by 3 (Will the Pats be prepared after a hyped up Monday night win)
Jets over Dolphins by 9 (The only thing buried in this game may be the Phins)
Broncos over Cards by 5
Chargers over Chiefs by 17
Eagles over Cowboys by 7
Ravens over Texans by 1 (Monday night thriller)
Bengals over Steelers by 6 (Big Ben with one Pick 6 and the Bengals hold on to the ball this time)

So there you have a look at this week’s games.  Hard to believe that it is already Week 14.  But realize there is no full slate of College Football games this weekend.  So make sure to savor Sunday.  It is the one full day of football we will get this week.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 13 Predictions”

Welcome to Week 13.  We are entering the final quarter stretch.  3 of the AFC

Can Big Ben (pictured above) lead the Steelers to a huge victory over their divisional rival Baltimore on Sunday Night despite foot injuries?

Divisions have ties at the top.  The NFC West leader has a record of under 500.  Plus the Vikings and Cowboys, 2 of the preseason favorites have a combined 7 victories.  Parity.  The NFL has it.  And you got to love it.

Here is a look at the Pick’em Scoreboard.

TheSportsKraze:  103                         CV3:  107

I still got a ways to go to catch Mr. CV3.

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Saints at Bengals:  The defending Champs head to Cincinnati to take on a struggling Bengal’s team.  This team has self destructed, and all parties involved are already looking towards next year.  The Saints are perhaps involved in the best divisional race that the NFC has to offer.  Expect Drew Brees and the phenomenal Saint’s aerial attack to pick apart a depleted Bengal’s secondary.  Saints by 10 on the road.

Bears at Lions:  Da Bears head to Ford Field to take on the 2 and 9 Lions.  These are two teams heading in very different directions.  The Bears have won 4 straight games and appear to really be coming together both offensively and defensively, while the Lions have lost 4 straight.  In addition, the Lions have not even really looked competitive the past couple of weeks.  It may be freezing in Detroit, but the Bears are going to continue rolling behind their stellar defense.  Bears by 7 on the road.

49ers at Packers:  Green Bay is doing all they can to keep up with Chicago and remain in the playoff picture while the 49ers have vaulted themselves back into the NFC West race.  After starting out 0 and 5, the 49ers are now 4 and 7, and just 1 game out of 1st place.  The 49ers have not really wowed me any respect all season though.  And with Frank Gore going down for the season, they will struggle in the tundra that will be Lambeau on Sunday.  The Packers need a win in a big way to stay in the playoff hunt and they will do just that in front of the home crowd.  Packers by 3 at home in a freeze bowl.

Jaguars at Titans:  Who would have thought that the Jaguars would be sitting atop the AFC South come December?  I know that I did not.  Jacksonville has looked very sharp lately, despite coming off a tough 4 point loss in New York last weekend.  The Titans on the other hand have dealt with much inner turmoil and are currently on a 4 game losing skid.  Well that skid ends this week as Jeff Fisher gets his team hyped, and lights a fire under Chris Johnson, Nate Washington, Kenny Britt, and the entire Titan’s offense.  The race in the AFC South could involve 3 teams down the stretch.  Titans by 6 at home.

Broncos at Chiefs:  Times have changed.  And in a hurry.  The Broncos are now the AFC West bottom dwellers while the Chiefs sit at the top.  The Chiefs sport the best rushing attack in the League while the Broncos sport one of the worst.  In a cold weather atmosphere, running the ball efficiently is the key to success. The Chiefs are able to do this while the Broncos cannot.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will be the difference in this game.  Chiefs by 7 at home.

Browns at Dolphins:  The Browns are playing good football.  Yes I said it.  The Browns are actually a team that can go out and beat most teams in this League.  Peyton Hillis, a former 3rd stringer at Arkansas (granted he was behind Darren McFadden and Felix Jones) is turning into one of the best backs in the League.  The Dolphins on the other hand are coming off a big time victory over a tough Raider’s team.  Conventional wisdom would point towards the Dolphins winning this game considering they are playing at home.  Oddly enough the Dolphins are just 1 and 4 at home this season.  Maybe the distraction of that South Beach Basketball All Stars has hindered their performance?  Whatever it is, I am taking the Brownies on the road by 3 in a great game.

Bills at Vikings:  The Bills have played very strong football lately and really should have beaten Pittsburgh last weekend.  The Vikings played better than they have played in a month in Washington last Sunday.  My gut is telling me to pick Buffalo in this one, but logically, I am thinking to go with the home team.  Expect Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, or whomever the Vikings throw in the backfield to have a field day.  Vikings by 3 at home.

Redskins at Giants:  This is a good old-fashioned NFC East throwdown.  In the division that sports the best rivalries in the NFL, there are no gimme games.  Sadly this year, the Giants appear to be far superior in every facet of the game.  I fully expect the Giant’s extremely balanced offensive attack to shred a Redskin’s defense that is lacking in all sorts of ways.  I got the Giants by 9 at home.

Raiders at Chargers:  After a very slow start, the Chargers leapfrogged the Raiders last weekend in the suddenly very competitive race in the AFC West.  Since a major victory in overtime over the Chiefs on November 7th, the Raiders have just looked abysmal.  The Chargers on the other hand have looked awesome since Halloween in winning 4 straight games.  And you better believe that the Chargers are looking for some payback from an October loss to the Oakland boys.  The Chargers will exploit a weak Raider’s running defense which will open up the pass for one of the best QB’s in football, Philip Rivers.  Chargers by 9 at home.

Panthers at Seahawks:  The Panthers are probably the worst team in  football.  They are in the midst of a 5 game losing streak, and do not appear to be making improvement in any facet of the game.  They can’t pass the ball.  They struggle running the ball.  And you better believe that they cannot stop the run.  The Seahawks on the other hand have not been much better in getting blown out the past two weeks. Call me crazy but I am taking Carolina on the road.  They are bound to win again sometime.  Panthers by 1 in Seattle. 

Falcons at Buccaneers:  Two of the NFC’s best will link up in Tampa this weekend.  The Bucs are coming off a tough loss to a very good Baltimore team and are looking to make a statement to the rest of the NFC.  And I will admit that their chances to pull off the upset improve dramatically in getting to play at home, but the Falcons appear to be just too strong all around to drop this one.  The Falcons are looking to remain atop the Saints in the NFC South and will put on a great performance in Tampa.  Roddy White will have a huge day against a weak Buccaneers secondary.  Falcons by 7 on the road.

Rams at Cardinals:  The Cardinals have lost 6 straight games and in the words of Derek Anderson, “This isn’t funny.”  Derek is right, but sadly for Arizona, they are playing a Rams team that continues to improve each week.  Even with Arizona at home, I got the Rams behind rookie Sam Bradford to keep rolling.  The NFC West is wide open folks.  Rams by 3 on the road.

Cowboys at Colts:  In September, this appeared to be a big time matchup where one of the NFC’s best would get to take on one of the AFC’s best.  Sadly, the Cowboys did not pan out the way people expected.  In addition, due to a plethora of injuries, the Colts have struggled more than people expected as well.  Well expect those struggles to end.  Peyton does not ever lose 3 games in a row.  Though I think this will be a very close and high scoring affair, I got Indy by 3 at home.

Steelers at Ravens:  What a matchup this will be.  It is almost as good as the Monday Night Affair.  The NFL got it right in scheduling the night games for this week.  This is probably the best combo of Sunday Night/Monday Night games we will get all year.  Both teams are rolling at the moment and are living large on their stellar defensive units.  Earlier this year, Pittsburgh fell in a very close game against the divisional rival Ravens.  You better believe that they still have that loss on their mind as they head into Sunday Night.  Expect the Steelers to play inspired football behind a banged up Ben Roethlisberger.  Steelers by 1 on the road.

Jets at Patriots:  This may be the best matchup of the entire season thus far.  These two teams realize the importance of this game in gaining a divisional title and possible home field advantage.  Both squads are extremely familiar with each other and have been rolling.  The Patriots have been winning behind an electric offense while the Jets have been relying on their great defensive unit and the timely big play offensively.  The Jets beat the Patriots at home earlier this season by 2 TDs.  Due to home field advantage and a chip on their shoulder from the earlier defeat, I got the Pats by 1 at home in a thriller.

CV3’s Picks:

Saints over Bungles by 16
Bears over Lions by 3
Pack over Niners by 10
Jags over Titans by 3
Chiefs over Broncos by 14
Dolphins over Browns by 1
Vikings over Bills by 17
Giants over Skins by 12
Chargers over Raiders by 2
Colts over Cowboys by 21
Rams over Cards by 7
Panthers over Seahawks by 8
Falcons over Bucs by 10
Steelers over Ravens by 10
Patriots over Jets by 14

This is just a great slate of games.  The AFC will be much clearer after this weekend.  The two night games are especially exciting though as both teams at the top of the AFC East and AFC North lock horns for divisional supremacy.  Can Rex Ryan outsmart the ultimate coach in Bill Belichick?  Who will survive the physical struggle that will ensue in Baltimore this weekend? 

He could go all the way..or could he?

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 3 Predictions”

In possibly the best matchup of Week 3, can Matt Ryan (pictured above), lead the Falcons to a big time win over the defending champs?

So with two weeks completed in this young NFL season, the excitement is still there.  The parity is still there.  Two heavy NFC favorites are 0 and 2 (Vikings and Cowboys).  There are two NFC surprise teams that stand at 2 and 0 (Bears and Buccaneers).  And Miami, Houston, and Kansas City are all leading their respective divisions in the AFC.  You got to love it.

Also, in the pick’em challenge, the scoreboard reads as follows:

TheSportsKraze: Week 1/2-20                                                   CV3:  Week 1/2-19

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Titans at Giants:  This is one of those toss-up type of games.  And though Chris Johnson may be the most dangerous offensive weapon in the League, the Titans showed kryptonite against the Steelers last week and I expect the same on Sunday.  Eli and the Giants at home will be looking to redeem themselves after an embarrassing Sunday night loss in the “Battle of the Brothers.”  Both of these teams have strong rushing attacks and defend well against the pass.  Look for a low scoring and tight affair, but expect the G Men to come out on the victorious end by 3 utilizing home field advantage.

Steelers at Buccaneers:  Though this hurts me to say, I am going to have to take the Steelers on the road in this one.  Tampa has been a very pleasant surprise leaping out to a 2 and 0 start, but the Steelers are no fluke.  Their defense, led by Troy Polamalu is the real deal.  Also, they will be utilizing the ultimate “Journeyman,” Charlie Batch as their starting quarterback.  So even though the Steelers sport the 31st ranked offense in the League, their outstanding defense will continue to take care of business in this one.  Steeler nation is enjoying every win they can get before the return of Big Ben.  Look for the Steelers to win an ugly one by 6.

Bengals at Panthers:  Welcome to the NFL Jimmy Clausen.  In your first start, you get to match up against a Bengal’s defense that looked flat-out awesome last week against Baltimore.  The great mind of the Bengal’s D-Coordinator vs the Panther’s rookie QB Jimmy Clausen?  I got Zimmer every time.  Carolina has sported an anemic offensive attack thus far this season.  Look for Carson Palmer to start to redeem  himself with a major day through the air, featuring big games for TO, Ocho, and Shipley.  I got the Bengals running away with this one on the road by 9.

Browns at Ravens:  This game may be a great rivalry.  For obvious reasons.  But this Ravens team is very hungry after a heartbreaking loss in Cincinnati last weekend.  Look for Ray Lewis and the boys to lay some bone shattering hits.  And probably even provide some points for the struggling offensive attack.  This may be a game where the Ravens bring in Marc Bulger for a series or two sporting a big lead?  The only way the Browns hang around in this one is through a special teams TD by none other than Joshua Cribbs.  Do not count on the offense mustering more than a TD though.  I got the Edgar Allen Poe’s by 10 at home.

Cowboys at Texans:  This is one of the most intriguing matchups of the week for obvious reasons.  Two teams heading in very different directions.  A Cowboy’s team, that has disappointed the entire country, and a Texan’s team, that is 2 and 0, having defeated two tough opponents.  My head has been saying go with the Texans all week, especially at home.  But in the “Battle of Texas,” I got the Cowboys to reestablish their rushing attack behind a motivated offensive line, on their way to a gutsy 1 point victory over their in-state rival.  Jerry Jones will be a happy man (or as happy as Jerry can be with a 1 and 2 start).

49ers at Chiefs:  Another very tough matchup to call here.  The Chiefs have been a pleasant surprise thus far, while the 49ers are another one of those surprising 0 and 2 teams.  Mike Singletary had his team on the cusp of beating the defending champs on Monday Night Football.  Now his team is back in action, heading to a very tough environment in Kansas City.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones have been a 2 headed monster for KC on the ground, but I do not think it will be enough on this day.  Plus Patrick Willis and the 49ers D have done a great job against the run this year.  Alex Smith, the young San Francisco QB, is beginning to show glimmers of a big time leader following his great drive late in the 4th on Monday.  Expect the 49ers to cut down on their mistakes, and nab a big road win by 1.

Lions at Vikings:  Hail Vikings?  Without a victory in this one at home, it may be all over for the Favres.  The Lions have played very well, losing two games in heartbreaking fashion.  They have definitely stepped up their game and are extremely competitive, but it won’t be enough in this one.  Look for AP to run “All Day,” just like his nickname says, and expect Favre to cut down on the INTs.  Minnesota has done well from a statistical standpoint other than in the turnover department.  The Lions on the other hand, have not been the best team statistically, but their aerial attack has been very solid.  Many had the Vikings as a Super Bowl favorite.  Well their trek begins Sunday as they move to 1 and 2 with a 9 point victory over Detriot.

Bills at Patriots:  Da Bills, will get killed.  The Patriots are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of AFC East Rival, New York (Jets). Belichick , Brady, and Moss all hate to lose.  They showed how dangerous they can be in a major Week 1 romp of Cincinnati.  The Bills are one of the worst teams in football up to this point.  Though the Patriots only major strength thus far has been their passing attack, it will be enough to carry them to an easy home victory over Buffalo.  Look for the Patriots to lay an old-fashioned whooping by 14.

Falcons at Saints:  This is a big time showdown in the NFC South.  Brees showed his grit on Monday Night leading a major drive in the final minute of play.  Atlanta also flapped their wings last Sunday with an offensive outburst against the Cardinals.  Can the Saints hold Atlanta’s outstanding rushing attack in check?  Can the Saints fill the void left by a Reggie Bushless offense?  These will be the determining factors in this one.  And I am going with the Saints by 3 at home in possibly the best game of the Week.

Redskins at Rams:  Sorry St. Louis.  Things are going to continue to get worse.  After a heartbreaking loss against the Texans last week, the Redskins look to recover in a big way under the Arch of St. Louis.  This is just the medicine any team needs after suffering a tough defeat.  Go play the Rams.  Though the Redskins have had little to no ground attack all year and have struggled defending the pass, it won’t matter in this one, as they take on one of the worst in the NFL.  Expect the Redskins to take care of business by 7 on the road.

Eagles at Jaguars:  Michael Vicks heads to Jacksonville as the starter?  Is it 2006 again?  After Andy Reid named Michael Vick the starter earlier this week, the whole city of Brotherly Love breathed a sigh of relief.  The Human Highlight Reel will take the show to alligator central this weekend.  The Jaguars have looked okay in their first two games, but they will have no answer for the best athlete in football on this day.  Look for Michael Vick to “juke” his way to a tough 3 point victory on the road.

Raiders at Cardinals:  The bad and the ugly right here folks.  Two teams that stand at 1 and 1, but are probably in the lower tier of the League in all honesty.  The Cardinals demonstrated how bad their defense can be in giving up 41 points last week.  While the Raiders continue to struggle passing the ball, and will start Bruce Gradkowski in this one.  This is not really a game that I want to tune in to watch.  A lot of this matchup will hinge on how the Cardinals can handle the Raider’s rushing tandem in Bush and McFadden, and how the Raider’s can handle the Cardinal’s receiving duo of Fitzgerald and Breaston.  But I got the Cardinal’s receivers putting up some numbers and rolling to an ugly 6 point victory at home.

Chargers at Seahawks:  The Seahawks have shown glimpses of a quality team.  But the Chargers have been tough for some years now and looked like they woke up from the off-season last week.  Phillip Rivers will have a field day against a weak Seattle secondary on his way to a 14 point win.  There will be rain in Seattle this weekend.

Colts at Broncos:  The Peyton show heads to Mile High.  Just look for more of what you saw last Sunday.  The Colts have a great offense.  And the secondary has done a great job defending against the pass.  Unfortunately for Denver, they do not have their typical tough rushing attack to expose the Colt’s weakness of defending against the run.  Look for Peyton to shred the Broncos all day on the way to a 13 point victory.

Jets at Dolphins:  This is a big time matchup early in the season.  Though the Dolphins sit atop the division, the Jets are still the favorite in my eyes, and most of America.  Can New York produce a 2nd straight big time AFC East Victory?  You better believe it as Sanchez continues to get more and more comfortable in the pocket.  The GQ Star looked great last week, and should continue his solid play against a tough Miami defense.  I got the Jets gutting out a tough 1 point victory on the road.

Packers at Bears:  The Monday Night Games have been as good as ever this season.  I do not see that trend stopping this week either, as two bitter rivals take the prime time stage.  But I will say that Aaron Rodgers will get a chance to show the country why is an elite quarterback against a Bear’s secondary that has struggled.  Two teams looking to take hold of the NFC North early on.  It should be fun.  But look for the Cheeseheads to take care of business by 6 on the road.

CV3 Picks:

49ers over Chiefs by 9- The San Fran D should dominate the Chief’s offense while Frank Gore tears apart the Chief’s linebacking core. Mike Singletary has his team under going in the right direction.

Vikings over Lions by 14- C’mon Vikings… A disappointing start to a season that might end with a wild card bid. I can’t see them going to 0-3, especially against the lions. It’s likely that Brett will get into a groove now that he has a couple games under his belt for the season (since he strategically missed most of the preseason, again).

Patriots over Bills by…. who knows, but it will be a lot- The Pats can’t be satisfied with their play against the Jets. Sorry Bills, but you have to face them on their bounce-back week. Brady will put up huge numbers in this one.

Ravens over Browns by 8- Cribbs will score a long touchdown, but that’s it. Baltimore’s D is still elite and it doesn’t matter that their offense sucks because the Browns suck. With anger brewing due to some questionable calls from last week, look for the Ravens to hit hard in this one and probably score on D.

Texans over Boys by 3- In the Battle of Texas, I take the Texans. They are high powered on offense and have shown they can beat a team on the ground and in the air. That powerful offense is backed by a solid D that should extend the Boys downward spiral for another week. Sorry Jerry but you need an O-line. Maybe you can buy it??

Eagles over Jags by 10- Luckily for Eagles fans their coach watched the game tape. I’m a Vick fan too (on the football field). I feel like going back to Madden ’04 and running from sideline to sideline making a fool of defenders. The Eagles have a lot of weapons and Vick will continue to impress as a starter.

Colts over Broncos by 5 1/2- Two offenses that rely on the pass. The Colts D is back on track but this one still should be a shootout. You have to believe that Peyton reigns supreme over Orton in this one though.

Raiders over Cardinals by 3- Go MAC quarterbacks! Bruce will hand the ball off and make a few good passes to Zach Miller in this Raiders win. Hopefully Michael Bush will get involved in the action as well. He is a fun player to watch and the Raiders may start to show that they have a great tandem in McFadden and Bush. Plus, the Cardinals one hope for this season is busy putting his moves down on the dance floor.

Chargers over Seahawks by 10- I thought the Chargers were going to have some management troubles that would trickle down to the field and effect their play, I was wrong. I still don’t like A.J. Smith, especially for what he did to Marty but it looks like Norv has them focused on the opponent rather than their internal struggles. They should roll in this one.

Giants over Titans by 1- This should be a tight one with two similar teams with good running games and a good pass defense. I give this one to the G-Men only because they are playing at home. 

Steelers over Buccaneers by 4- Unfortunately, for Steelers haters, the Curtain is back. As long as Troy stays healthy they could run Akili Smith out there at quarterback and it wouldn’t matter. They are going to win in ugly fashion with defense doing most of the work. Good luck trying to score more than one touchdown Bucs.

Skins over Rams by 6- Again, Bradford will keep this one close with a decent performance but the Skins D is better than the Ram’s.

Jets over the Fins in this one by 3- Both teams are playing stellar D but the Jets have a lot of confidence after beating their conference foes. If the coaches don’t limit Sanchize then the Jets should fly high to their second victory.

Saints over Falcons by 7- I’m picking the defending champs every week until they lose! No Reggie, no problem, maybe… this one could be close with Matty Ice leading his squad.

Bears over Packers by 3- Why will the Pack be upset? Because its Monday night! Hopefully this adds to the thrilling Monday night games we have seen so far. Two top passers with two solid defenses. Something has got to give in this one the defenses or the offenses, I’m betting its the D. In shootout fashion this high scoring game will end with a game winning field goal.

Bengals over Panthers by 10- C’mon Zimmer, destroy Jimmy Clausen!! Get to the quarterback! Even if the Bengals lack pressure on the QB they will win with solid D and a better offense. Brat better come out with a plan to spread the field otherwise a tough Carolina run D will delay the start of the Palmer show. Who Dey? Not the Panthers!

It should be a great Week 3.  Feel free to see how your picks stack up against mine and CV3’s in the comments.

Get ready for some football folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“AFC West Preview”

Jamaal Charles shocked many with an outstanding 2nd year. Could he lead the Chiefs back into contention this year?

Lets head out to the Wild Wild West.  This division was once the playground of the Denver Broncos, but has been all San Diego for the past few years.  The Chargers have maintained a stranglehold in the AFC West, bringing home the last 4 divisional titles.  And with Phillip Rivers at the helm, do you think this is really going to change?

In all honesty, this was a pretty weak division last year.  You had a dominant team in the Chargers that appeared to be the best in the AFC until the Jets shocked them in the playoffs.  Then you had everyone else.  Sure Denver started out the year hot and really surprised some people.  But they finished the year on a 4 game losing streak, which is starting to become a team tradition.  They also lost 3 in a row to end the season in 08.  But other than these two, both the Chiefs and Raiders have been pretty horrendous.  Neither have been at all relevant since the Chiefs went 9 and 7 in 2006.

AFC West:  Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Raiders (alphabetical order)

Oakland Raiders (4th):  This once proud franchise has been utterly woeful for the last 8 years.  They have not had a winning season since 2002.  They have not even won more than 5 games in a season since 2002.  What is going on with Raider Nation?  Well first of all their former number 1 draft pick Jamarcus Russell was one of the biggest busts of all time.  Both on and off the field if you want to talk about his recent drug bust.  So they have not had a quarterback really since Rich Gannon.  This year, their offensive attack will be led by Jason Campbell, who was the guy who could never cut the mustard in Washington.  They have Darren McFadden and Michael Bush as their combo at running back , who are mediocre at best.  And though Darren has big time abilities, he suffered turf toe and some knee injuries which really hurt his performance.  Also, it is hard to run the ball effectively on a team that has such an anemic passing attack.  Unfortunately, for Darren, the Raider’s most recognizable receiving threat is still their tight end, Zach Miller.  The only bright spot on this team really is a very strong secondary, led by Nnamdi Asomugha.  But other than that, the future still looks very dim for Raider nation.  Do not expect this team to make much noise.

Kansas City Chiefs (3rd):  This is another team in the AFC West that has struggled for the past few years.  The days of Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson pounding the ball are long gone.  The Chiefs have not won more than 4 games in a season since 2006.  It has been quite ugly to sum things up.  This is a squad that had a weak offense, and an even worse defense.  This team could not stop the run or the pass.  Which led to a lot of long games.  There was really only one bright spot for this team.  The emergence of Jamaal Charles as a big time back.  Is this the Chief’s new version of Priest Holmes or Larry Johnson?  Kansas City certainly hopes so.  Also the Chiefs made a solid pickup in getting Thomas Jones.  Now the KC boys have a pretty strong 2 headed running back attack in Jamaal Charles and the savvy veteran Thomas Jones.  Matt Cassel has potential to be a solid quarterback.  He has put up numbers for a couple of years now.  Guys like Dwayne Bowe, Chris Chambers, and the rookie out of Ole Miss, Dexter McCluster really need to step up.  It was embarrassing how anemic this team’s aerial attack was last year considering they have an arm like Matt Cassel to work with.  With an enthused running attack, possibly the passing game will fall in line.  Demorrio Williams, Corey Mays, and Glenn Dorsey will have to bring the defense back to respectability though if this team wants to sniff contention in the West.  I will state this team has some potential to do some damage with an outstanding rushing attack and possibly a decent aerial attack.  But can the defense hold up?  This will decide if the Chiefs win 4 games or 8 games.  Do not be surprised if this team makes a little noise though.

Denver Broncos (2nd):  Mike Shanahan is now coaching in Denver.  The former legend is now with another team.  Josh McDaniel is fully in the saddle now.  There will be no offseason conflict or jabbering with Jay Cutler.  It is strictly football in Denver for Josh and the Broncos.   Denver, a team that dominated the late 90s, have not made an appearance in the playoffs since 2005.  The Mile High Boys are thirsting a return to playoff football.  Due to a few late season collapses, this team has just fallen short for the past 4 years.  Kyle Orton will once again be at the helm.  And despite heavy criticism during the duration of his 4 year career, he has dramatically improved each season and is coming off the best year of his career.  So he is not a quarterback that is going to put a team on his back, but he can help a team win ball games.  Denver was a middle of the road defensive team last year, and a pretty strong offensive power led by the typical tough Denver rushing attack.  Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter once again proved that Denver can always run the ball no matter who the backs are.  Expect this attack to be even better this season.  But also expect Cutler to have a much tougher time passing the ball this year.  There will be no instances where he can count on a guy to make 21 catches in a game.  The Brandon Marshall soap opera is over, but guys like Eddie Royal, Gaffney, and Stokley are all solid.  They will all three have to step up in a big way though to give this team a chance at contending.  Lastly, the defense will be solid.  Led by the guy with the coolest name in the NFL, Elvis Dumervil, do not expect an amazing defense, but expect a respectable one.  So the Broncos are an AFC Wild Card bubble team.  I have them finishing either 8 and 8 or 9 and 7.  But I do think the playoff drought continues into a 5th year.

San Diego Chargers (1st):  Expect a 5th straight West title to come back to San Diego.  This team is the best on paper, and should have no trouble conquering the division again.  Phillip Rivers has turned into one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks.  Expect another big year from a guy that throws to the outside of the field better than any other QB in the game.  LT will be missed though from a rushing standpoint.  I do think Darren Sproles is game to take on the challenge.  But is Mike Tolbert ready to step into the number 2 role?  As I have mentioned many times before, the NFL has become a game where you must have 2 running backs ready to compliment each other every game.  Will the Chargers be able to do this?  Vincent Jackson has emerged as possibly the best deep threat in the entire AFC.  Due to some offseason troubles (DUI), nobody is sure when he will be suiting up though.  But between Jackson, Gates, and Phillips amazing passing ability, you better believe this aerial attack will be outstanding again.  Do not be surprised if there is another top 5 passing performance in San Diego.  Last year, the Charger’s defense was just good enough not to lose them games.  With the loss of Antonio Cromartie, I do not see where the defense really improved.  I do expect them to possibly fade a bit as a defensive unit which could cost them some games.  Can Shawn Merriman save the defense singlehandedly?  Once again I see the Chargers winning the division, but possibly in less dominant of a fashion.  Maybe they will only win 10 or 11 games this year.  Look for LT to seek redemption come playoff time on the franchise that he once put on his shoulders.

So I got the Chargers winning the AFC West for a 5th straight year.  Overall, I think this is a fairly weak division, where the team at the top did not improve.  The Chargers will still be good enough to bring home the divisional title, but do not be surprised if the Chiefs turn some heads this season behind their outstanding rushing attack.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze