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“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 8 Predictions”

Look for Peyton Manning (pictured above), to lead the Colts to a major victory on Monday Night Football.

The NFL scampers on to the near halfway point.  So far this year has been crazy, and expect it to get “scary” this weekend on Halloween.  The Cowboys are in dire trouble.  The Vikings are vastly underachieving and marred by Brett Favre issues.  Both teams out of New York are in first place and showing a true “Empire State of Mind.”  Neither of last year’s Super Bowl participants, the Colts nor Saints, are in first place in their divisions. And the injuries are mounting.

In the pick’em challenge, the scoreboard reads as follows:

TheSportsKraze:  59                             CV3:  62

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Dolphins at Bengals:  I cannot pick against the Who Deys at home.  They showed glimmers of life in the 3rd quarter last week.  I cannot see this talented group falling to 2 and 5 against a mediocre Miami team.  Bengals by 3 at home.

Jaguars at Cowboys:  America’s team looks to be a “one man team.”  Outside of Dez Bryant, this team has looked awful.  But for some reason, I am picking them to be able to slow down the Jaguars one-dimensional offense and regain some dignity at home.  Cowboys by 3.

Redskins at Lions:  I will admit that the Skins have thoroughly surprised me this season.  They have played close games pretty much every week, and gutted out 4 wins.  The Lions have lost many close games this year.  Sadly for Detroit, they are going to lose another close one at home by 1 this week.

Bills at Chiefs:  The Bills are the worst team at defending against the run in the NFL and the Chiefs are the best rushing team in the League.  Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones will power the KC boys at home by 10.

Panthers at Rams:  The Panthers gutted one out last week while the Rams lost a heartbreaker.  Look for a reversal of roles this week.  Expect Sam Bradford to put up numbers, as the Rams scrap out a nail biter at home by 3.

Packers at Jets:  My preseason Super Bowl pick right here.  Sadly, injuries have really hurt the Cheeseheads.  Still both teams are definite title contenders.  But look for the Jets overall balance both offensively and defensively to prove too much at home.  Jets by 1 in a wild one.

Broncos at 49ers:  The 49ers are arguably the NFL’s most disappointing team thus far.  The Broncos have also been underachievers.  Look for the 49ers to ride Frank Gore to a victory in front of Big Ben (London) by 6.

Titans at Chargers:    The Chargers have the number 1 ranked offense and number 1 ranked defense in the League! Yet they are 2 and 5. The Titans have been riding Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt offensively to a very strong start.  Look for the Chargers numbers to finally translate into wins.  SD by 3 at home.

Buccaneers at Cardinals:  The Buccaneers feel they are the best team in the NFC.  I am not so sure about that.  Look for the Cardinals to somehow grind out a victory by 7 at home over the supposed “NFC’s Best Team.”

Vikings at Patriots:  Will Brett Favre start?  Who cares!  No matter who the Vikings put under center, the Patriots will prove to be too much.  Moss will be regretting his departure as his “new” team gets spanked by his “old” team.  Pats by 10 at home.

Seahawks at Raiders:  Was that Raider’s performance legitimate last week?  The Raiders are great at pounding the ball on the ground while the Seahawks have been masterful at stopping the run.  Look for Seattle to “Rain” on the Raider’s parade with a 3 point road victory.

Steelers at Saints:  It is no longer last season.  The Saints are struggling offensively.  They hit new lows with a home loss to the lowly Browns last week.  Well things will continue to get worse as the Steeler’s D roughs Drew Brees up in front of a national television audience.  Steelers steal one on the road by 6.

Texans at Colts:  What a matchup this will be.  Definitely the week’s most exciting game.  Two great offenses putting on a show on Monday Night Football.  Do not expect Peyton Manning to lose two times to a divisional opponent.  It just doesn’t happen.  Colts by 3 at home.

CV3 Picks:

Jags over Boys by 10

Skins over Lions by 6

Chiefs over Bills by 14

Rams over Panthers by 7

Jets over Packers by 8

Broncos over 49er’s 10

Chargers over Titans by 3

Raiders over Seahawks by 7

Pats over Vikings by 9

Bucs over Cards by 6

Steelers over Saints by 7

Colts over Texans by 3

Bengals over Phins by 1

Almost halfway through the season with no undefeated teams. There is something to play for every single week. Look for some mid-level teams to try and make a push for the second half of the season this week.

Expect some spooky NFL action this Sunday.  Many teams will be trick or treating while others will be crying.  The wild NFL continues Sunday.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 5 Predictions”

All eyes will be on Number 4, Brett Favre (pictured above), for a change on Monday Night Football. Can he come up big with his new star target Randy Moss?

The NFL regular season is already a quarter of the way complete.  Hard to believe, but true.  Teams are starting to flash their true colors and people are starting to separate the contenders from the pretenders (sort of).

In the pick’em challenge, the scoreboard reads as follows:

TheSportsKraze:  38                CV3:  37

TheSportsKraze Picks:

Jaguars at Bills:  The Jaguars are coming off an amazing win in which they hit a 59 yard field goal as time expired to shock the Indianapolis Colts.  I will admit I am still shocked that the Jaguars won this game.  The Bills continue to struggle with stopping the run and are in search of their first win.  Well this is their week.  Home field advantage means a lot in the NFL and I expect Jacksonville to fall hard after such a great high they experienced last week.  Bills will surprise the Jags by 3 at home behind a big day for CJ Spiller.

Buccaneers at Bengals:  The Who Deys are coming off of a disastrous loss at in state rival Cleveland.  The Buccaneers looked solid in their first two games, but were absolutely molly whopped by the Steelers in their last game.  The physical nature of the AFC North proved to be too much.  Though the Bengals have struggled all year, I do expect them to take care of business at home.  Maybe Chad and TO can each play well on the same day?  Also this looks to be a day where Cedric Benson can get back on track with some smash mouth running against a Tampa team that struggles to stop the run.  Bengals by 7 at home.

Falcons at Browns:  Atlanta will fly into the Pound on a 3 game winning streak. The Brownies may still be excited about their big win in the Battle of Ohio, but sadly this week, the Falcons are going to shred them apart.  Look for Atlanta’s extremely balanced offense, led by Matt Ryan, to have a field day both passing and running the ball.  I got the Falcons by 9 on the road.

Rams at Lions:  The Rams are 2 and 2.  Yes, 2 and 2.  I will admit that I have picked against them every week.  And sadly, I am going to pick against them for a 5th straight week.  The Lions are a team that has been very close to winning in 3 of it’s 4 contests.  Well this is the week where they notch one up in the win column.  Look for Calvin Johnson to reel in a couple of TDs and for the Lions to win a shootout by 6 at home.

Chiefs at Colts:  Do you know who the lone undefeated team in the National Football League is?  I will give you a hint.  Their home field is in Kansas City and they once had a star running back by the name of Priest.  But this is a team that has lived on a smash mouth rushing attack offensively, and a great defense against the run.  They have not been too good at passing the ball or defending against the pass.  But their rushing attack, led by the 2 headed monster that is Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones has been simply outstanding.  The Colts on the other hand have struggled to stop the run all year, as they are off to their worst start in recent memory.  So all directions would say to pick the Chiefs monster rushing attack to run over the weak Colt’s defense right?  Wrong.  Do not expect a Peyton Manning team to fall under 500.  I got the Colts by 6 at home.

Packers at Redskins:  There is one major statistic in this game that will be the differentiating factor.  The Redskins are 31st in the League at defending against the pass.  Do you know who Green Bay’s quarterback is?  Look for a monster day for Packer Quarterback Aaron Rodgers as Green Bay takes one in the nation’s capital.  I got the Cheesesheads by 10 on the road.

Bears at Panthers:  Can the Bears redeem themselves after an embarrassing performance on Monday Night Football by their offensive line?  Honestly, I am not sure.  But I do know that the Bears defense against the run can be flat-out scary at times.  And with a young quarterback in place in Carolina, the Panthers will continue to rely heavily on their ground attack.  Sadly, they will not be able to muster up enough offense to beat Da Bears.  I got Chicago by 3 on the road in a very lackluster game.

Broncos at Ravens:  The Edgar Allen Poes are coming off their biggest win of the season in which they took care of business against the divisional rival Steelers.  Can the Ravens continue to fly against a 2 and 2 Denver team?  Well this matchup pits the number 1 passing team in the League (Denver), against the number 1 ranked defense against the pass in Baltimore.  Talk about an exciting scenario.  Great defenses normally prevail over great offenses.  The Broncos have still not really developed an identity as they play great one week, then awful the next. I got the Ravens winning by 9 at home.

Giants at Texans:  What a performance the Giant’s defense put on against the Bears on Monday Night.  It was quite the show and brought back memories of the Giant’s Super Bowl Team back in 2007.  Sadly for the Giants, they now take on a team that is one of the League’s elite in rushing and passing.  Matt Schaub can rely on the run if the Giant’s pass rush becomes too much.  Too many weapons offensively for the Texans.  I got Houston at home by 7.

Saints at Cardinals:  The defending Super Bowl Champs head to Arizona to take on the NFC West leading Cardinals.  The Saints are struggling offensively without Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas.  Luckily for the NOLA boys, they are taking on a Cardinal’s team that has not been able to stop any offense through the air or on the ground all season.  I got the Saints gutting out a tough road victory due to the amazing poise and intelligence of their quarterback, Drew Brees.  Expect a patented Bree’s two-minute drill to win this one.  Saints by 7.

Chargers at Raiders:  In an old school AFC West rivalry, San Diego heads to Oakland to take on a Raider’s team that has suffered two very tough losses in a row.  Believe me, San Diego will show no sympathy.  The Charger’s balance offensive attack will prove too much for the Raiders to handle as Rivers demonstrates a his great arm, and lets his tandem of running backs, Mike Tolbert and Ryan Matthews shred a weak Oakland defense against the run.  I got the Chargers by 10 on the road.

Titans at Cowboys:  Tennessee heads to Dallas for a rendezvous with Cowboy Nation.  The Titans have been extremely hard to understand this year with their lack of consistent play.  This is a very unusual for  Jeff Fisher led team.  The Cowboys are coming off of their bye week and looked revitalized the last time they took the field, when they smashed a formerly undefeated Texans team.  Expect more of the same in this one.  The Cowboys are just too talented not to make a run at the playoffs.  Look for Dallas to contain Chris Johnson on their way to a hard-fought 6 point victory at home.

Eagles at 49ers:  Philadelphia takes on a highly disappointing 49ers sqaud.  This was a San Francisco team that many picked to win the lowly NFC West and make a run in the playoffs.  Well that has not happened thus far.  Could this be the day where they finally leave the League’s “defeated” ranks?  I think it is.  Look for Frank Gore to make a statement in the Sunday Night Game and for Patrick Willis and the boys to take advantage of a Michael Vickless Eagle’s squad.  49ers by 3 at home. 

Vikings at Jets:  What a matchup this is.  You got the “Return of the Moss” in Minnesota.  And wouldn’t you know his first game with his former team is the Monday Night Game.  Other than last week, the MNF slate has been outstanding and hasn’t disappointed anybody.  Well expect another great one tonight.  Minnesota’s main weakness this year other than Favre’s inability to take care of the ball has been a weak passing attack in general.  Well Moss could be just the medicine the Vikes need.  Either way, I got the Jets winning this time on the bright lights by 3 at home.  Expect an awesome game.

CV3 Picks:

Jaguars over Bills by 3- The Bills are a struggling team and they are not very good at defending the run. MJD is averaging almost 4 yards a carry and if Jacksonville plans well this game belongs to them. They are the better team and should beat the Bills.

Falcons over Browns by 7- The Browns are on a high after a rare win. They will now be brought back down. The Falcons will not make the same mistakes that the Bengals did and will handle the Browns, no matter how much Hillis rushes for.

Rams over Lions by 1- The Rams are on the rise and are beginning to gel. They also have a very stingy defense. The Lions have been able to move the ball very well lately but they make more mistakes than anyone in the league. These mistakes should limit the Lions on offense and defense. 

Colts over Chiefs by 7- The Colts are at home and are not happy coming off of a division loss. Peyton should stop the Chiefs surprising run of 3 straight victories. I don’t think the Colts will be shocked again. 

Packers over Redskins by 6- With the Packers having a better defense than the Redskins and both having pretty even offenses, I go with the Pack. Aaron Rodgers will outperform the elder McNabb who has nothing special to play for this week after beating the Eagles last week.

Bears over Panthers by 10- The Panthers have a lot more to build before they can win a game this season, especially against the high powered Bears. The Bears new offense will be too much for the Panthers to handle.

Saints over Cardinals by 10- The Saints have not completely gelled yet this season but they have too many weapons for the Cards to handle. The Cards have won two games against lower level teams and been dominated by good teams. The Saints are a good team that will roll.

Texans over Giants by 3- This should be a close game but the Texans are a good team, solid on offense but they give yards through the air. This could be a shootout but the game will end close.

Cowboys over Titans by 7- The Boys are fresh coming off of a bye and have had two full weeks to prepare for this game. They will get to .500 after this week and begin a roll towards making the playoffs. They have all of the right pieces and once they put them all together they will be dangerous.

Raiders upset Chargers by 3- The Raiders have not beat the Chargers in their last 13 games. However, the Raiders can now run the ball and stop the pass. This is my upset pick for the week.

Ravens over Broncos by 3- While the Broncos seem to be passing at will and the Ravens cannot get anything going on offense, you would expect the Broncos to just outscore the Ravens. However, the Ravens can run the ball and the Broncos cannot. The Ravens will also have a good defensive game plan to stop the pass. The Ravens are at home and remind me of the 2006 Steelers. Just barely getting by, but getting by.

49ers over Eagles by 6- With Vick gone it will be tough for the Eagles to win the game. San Fran should get their first victory in this by limiting Kolb in Vick’s absence. 

Jets over Vikings by 6- Randy Moss will not go off against the Jets this time. They will be prepared for the Vikings passing game. If they can hold AP they should be able to limit the Vikings in this one.

Bengals over Bucs by 6- Bengals will limit mistakes and be able to outscore the Bucs bruising run game. I don’t know the exact statistic but when Benson gets the ball 25+ times they are hard to beat. Go back to the run Bengals and make some big plays in the passing game.

So there you have the picks for Week 5.  It should definitely be a dandy capped off by an awesome Monday Night matchup.  You got to love the NFL.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“NFL Week 1 Fun”

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

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

TheSportsKraze:  8               CV3:  8 

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

-Who is Arian Foster?  

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

-The Steelers take care of business without Big Ben. 

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

-Welcome back Michael Vick? 

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

-Are the 49ers a pretender? 

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

-Blinded by the hype? 

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

-Is Chris Johnson Superman? 

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

-Can Roy Williams catch a break in Dallas? 

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

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

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze 

“NFC West Preview”

See any resemblance to Joe Montana or Steve Young? Well Alex Smith is ready to lead the 49ers back to the playoffs for the first time since 2002.

The NFC’s version of the Wild Wild West has not been the most glamorous conference in recent memory.  In fact, they have not sent 2 teams to the playoffs since 2003.  They also have not had more than one team with an above 500 record since 2003.  So generally, you have one team do solid, another team do around 500, and the other 2 just finish absolutely abysmal.  This year appeared like it could be different.  It appeared that there could possibly be 2 teams with a fighting chance to make their way into the playoffs.  That was until Arizona lost their quarterback to retirement and one of the best receivers to the Ravens (Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin). 

NFC West: Cardinals, Rams, Seahawks, 49ers (alphabetical order)

St. Louis Rams (4th place):  The Rams had a nightmarish season last year.  And though I think they will do better than one win this season, I do not see them finding themselves out of the division cellar just yet.  Sure they drafted a very talented quarterback in Sam Bradford.  And sure they have an outstanding running back in Stephen Jackson.  But really what else is there?  I mean Albert Pujols cannot suit up for this squad.  This squad featured one of the worst passing games I have ever seen in recent memory.  And to think, we are only 10 years removed from the “Greatest Show on Turf.” Guys like Donnie Avery and Laurent Robinson must step up and provide the rookie Bradford with some targets.  Sure Stephen Jackson is a great guy to have for rookie Sam Bradford to hand the ball off too.  But the NFL has become a pass first League.  You cannot win without some sort of passing attack.  The Rams, unfortunately, are going to struggle in this department all year.  The Rams defense is not to amazing either.  In fact, it looks to be on its way to a horrific year.  I guess a team that goes 1 and 15 generally is not too strong in many areas.  James Laurinaitis will have a ton of weight put on his shoulder to anchor the defense.  He is no longer a rookie and will be expected to be the engine that makes the defense go.  But other than that, there is not a whole lot of promising prospects on this defense.  I do think they will finish better than 1 and 15, but not much.

Seattle Seahawks (3rd place):  Rainy Seattle will once again fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007.  This team features both a sub par offense and defense.  Matt Hasselbeck is a very savvy veteran that really just does not have much to work with.  Sure TJ Houshmandzadeh is a great possession receiver, but the loss of Nate Burleson hurts.  Golden Tate, the outstanding receiver out of Notre Dame will be expected to produce from Day 1.  He will be expected to be a big play guy similar to a Steve Smith type of mold (lots of pressure on the little guy).  This team cannot survive simply with Houshmandzadeh.  I mean this team does not have much of a rushing attack.  Justin Forsett and Leon Washington are not necessarily gamebreakers.  Maybe Washington will surprise some people and start to really produce, but I wouldn’t count on it.  Then you look at the Seahawks on the other side of the ball.  And there really isn’t a whole lot of star power to look at.  Who will step up?  Nobody really knows.  The main thing Seattle has going for them is the arrival of former USC Head Coach, Pete Carroll.  Now normally coaches do not do so hot going back and forth between the League and College in any sport.  But this guy has been running a professional program for years now.  Plus he had 15 years of “official” professional coaching experience before he arrived in Trojanville.  Just ask USC what they think about it.  Maybe he could get this team to come somewhere near 8 and 8?  I would say it is highly doubtful they win 8 games, but who knows, it could happen.

Arizona Cardinals (2nd place):  This is a team that probably lost the most of any team in this division.  They lost a big time number 2 receiver in Anquan Boldin.  They lost a big time quarterback in Kurt Warner.  And with Kurt and Anquan, goes a major part of the high-flying attack that has carried the Cardinals for the past couple of years.  This is a team that has lived and died on the pass reminiscent of the way many college teams play today.  They had a rushing attack that did not even average 100 yards a game.  Yet they advanced to the playoffs?  Go figure.  Times have really changed.  Offenses have slowly but surely turned into pass first teams all around the League.  I mean the Cardinals do have 2 decent running backs in the massive Chris “Beanie Wells and Tim Hightower.  But neither of these guys get many opportunities in this pass happy Cardinal’s offensive scheme.  If Steve Breaston does not emerge as a big time number 2, Arizona’s offense could collapse in that teams will double on Fitzgerald and the passing attack will die.  And this does not even get me started on Matt Leinart.  The man came into the League with so much upside but has vastly underachieved.  This year will be his chance.  There is also a defensive side of the ball.  And the Cardinals are not too good at defending.  They like to play shootout style games where they score a ton of points, and give up lots of points.  A way that you can tell this team has struggled defensively is players like  Adrian Wilson and Antrel Rolle are 2 of the top 4 tacklers on the team.  These guys both play in the secondary.  So I feel like this team will probably win 6 to 8 games.  But there have been too many losses on the offensive side of the ball for them to outscore all of their opponents and their defense does not appear too promising on paper.

San Francisco 49ers (1st place):  Yes, this is the year we have all been waiting for.  The 49ers long awaited return to the playoffs.  There were the Joe Montana days.  Then the Steve Young days.  Now there are the..Alex Smith days?  You better believe it.  This team has not gone over .500 since 2002.  Well that all changes this year.  There will be a changing of the guard, or at least a retro look in the West.  With the 49ers back on top.  This team has been knocking on the door for a few years now and is ready to come inside. The 49ers have a solid defense that is led by in my eyes the best linebacker in the game, Patrick Willis.  You should have heard of this guy already, but if you have not, he is here to stay.  They also have the veteran leadership of a linebacker that has been around the block in Takeo Spikes.  This team boasts arguably the best linebacking core in the League.  They also have a solid secondary led by former Pro Bowler Nate Clements, and the veteran Mark Roman.  So expect this team to be ranked among the League’s elite on the defensive side of the ball.  And on offense, this team looks to improve from a dismal showing last year.  They will be led by a young group in Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and Josh Morgan.  These guys are all young, but ready to show that they are entering the primes of their careers.  Also do not forget about the always dangerous Ted Ginn Jr.  This team will not be one of the League’s elite offensively, but you better believe that they will put on a much better performance than last year as they begin to gel and enter the primes of their careers.  Hopefully the 49ers can keep this core group on the offensive side of the ball together for years to come.  San Francisco will return to the playoffs for the first time in 8 years.

So there you have it, a changing of the guard in the NFC West.  A return to the old.  The 49ers are back and look poised to be solid for the next few years with a relatively young group.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze