Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Rob Gronkowski (pictured above) and the New England Patriots will redeem themselves on February 3rd with their fourth Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
By Josh Kramer
It has been 208 days since the New England Patriots and more specifically Wes Welker let a golden opportunity slip through their fingers. For those of you in need of a refresher, back on February 5th in the house that Peyton Manning built (Lucas Oil Stadium), the New York Giants once again shocked the New England Patriots in a very closely contested Super Bowl game. That was then though and this is now. America’s most popular sport is just five days away from its official kickoff. Who is ready for some football?
AFC East Champion: New England Patriots
I am sure you are all shocked at this pick. New England has only won three straight divisional crowns and qualified for the playoffs eight of the past nine years. People are already comparing this year’s squad to the greatest team to ever grace the gridiron, but fail to win the Lombardi Trophy (2007 Patriots). With Brandon Lloyd added to the mix, it is hard to say these comparisons are all that far-fetched. However, it should be noted that the defense has some flaws, and the offensive line will have its fair of struggles due to the absence of Matt Light (retirement), Brian Waters (possibly retirement), Logan Mankins (ACL tear), and Sebastian Vollmer (back injury). Luckily for New England, the Jets appear to have taken a step backwards with the acquisition of “God” Tebow, and the Miami Dolphins appear to just be a horrible team (Hard Knocks has provided clear evidence of this). Buffalo is improved, but does not have nearly the firepower to stick with New England throughout the duration of a grueling 17-week season. Continue reading
Posted in NFL
Tagged A.J. Green, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Andre Johnson, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Arian Foster, Baltimore Ravens, Brandon Lloyd, Brian Waters, Buffalo Bills, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Carson Palmer, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Darren Mcfadden, Denver Broncos, Drew Brees, Ed Reed, Eli Manning, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, James Harrison, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Joe Montana, Jon Beason, Kansas City Chiefs, Logan Mankins, Luke Kuechly, Mario Manningham, Matt Light, Matt Schaub, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Randy Moss, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Rob Gronkowski, Robert Griffin III, San Diego Chargers, Sebastian Vollmer, Steve Young, Super Bowl, Terrell Suggs, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu, Wes Welker
Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The often criticized Alex Smith (pictured above) has finally turned the corner and had a Montana-like moment on Saturday. Can he lead San Francisco past the Giants and into the Super Bowl?
By Wesley Kaminsky
After a Wild-Card weekend that featured Tim Tebow shocking the Steelers in overtime, nobody thought the divisional weekend could top the one prior. Everybody was wrong.
The divisional playoffs started off with a bang Saturday afternoon, when the 49ers and Saints combined for 28 points in the final four minutes of the game, with Alex Smith hitting Vernon Davis for the winning touchdown with nine seconds left. That game was just more proof of the amazing job Jim Harbaugh has done this season in San Francisco, and it’s not over yet. Harbaugh transformed Alex Smith from Ryan Leaf to Joe Montana. (Okay, at least for one game). He inherited an almost identical 49ers team that struggled in 2010 and made them a contender. There is something about that Harbaugh family. Continue reading
Posted in NFL
Tagged Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Eli Manning, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Jim Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Joe Montana, John Kuhn, New England Patriots, New Orlean's Saints, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers, Rob Gronkowski, Ryan Grant, Ryan Leaf, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl, T.J. Yates, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady, Vernon Davis
Photo courtesy of LakersTopbuzz.com. Derek Fisher (pictured above) is the President of the NBA Players Association. If there is any hope of an NBA season in 2011/2012, we better start seeing more of him along with other NBA player representatives and fast.
By Josh Kramer
We just witnessed the best NFL weekend of the year by far. College Football was also very exciting. And we are hitting the end of September, which means the end of the MLB regular season. There is so much going on and so much to talk about. Here are the main items that have caught my attention.
Is no news good news?
I have always been a firm believer in the expression, “No news is good news.” Generally, when one stays out of the news, one is staying out of trouble. People thirst to read and hear about controversy. Bad news is what normally engulfs the news in our society.
Well today is the 89th day of the NBA lockout. And I must say that the second professional sports lockout of the year has been far more quiet than the first. As you are all more than aware, the NFL experienced the longest lockout in the history of the League, spanning over 136 days. And for nearly all 136 of the days, there was immense coverage by all of the sporting networks. That has been far from the case regarding the NBA lockout. Mainly we have just been hearing about players looking to lock down lavish contracts overseas. Has all hope been lost on the 2011/2012 NBA season? Continue reading
Posted in Miscellaneous
Tagged Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, Brett Favre, CBA, Derek Fisher, Indianapolis Colts, Joe Montana, Michael Vick, MLB, NBA, NCAA Football, NFL, Peyton Manning, Philadelphia Eagles, Steve Young
I will admit that I am utterly shocked. Quite frankly, I am dumbfounded. Anybody in the baseball world who says that they are not surprised is lying to themselves. Who in April saw this coming? Who even at the beginning of October saw … Continue reading
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.
Posted in NFL
Tagged Adrian Wilson, Alex Smith, Anquan Boldin, Arizona Cardinals, Chris Wells, Donnie Avery, Frank Gore, Golden Tate, Joe Montana, Justin Forsett, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, Laurent Robinson, Leon Washington, Matt Leinart, Michael Crabtree, Nate Burleson, Nate Clement, NFC West, NFL, Patrick Willis, Pete Carroll, Sam Bradford, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams, Stephen Jackson, Steve Breaston, Steve Young, Takeo Spikes, Ted Ginn Jr., Tim Hightower, TJ Houshmandzadeh, USC, Vernon Davis