Tag Archives: Josh Freeman

Quarterbacks with the most to prove

Photo courtesy of thesportsvmi.com. Will Cam Newton (left) and Andy Dalton (right) be able to avoid the infamous “Sophomore Slump?”

By Josh Kramer

Last year was declared the “Year of the Quarterback.”  It easily could have been called the “Year of the Tight End” as well.  To be a contender these days in the NFL, it all starts with the quarterback position.  Without a solid player under center, a team can kiss the Lombardi Trophy goodbye before they even play a down.  Here are five quarterbacks that have the most to prove heading into the 2012/2013 season.

5.  Andy Dalton/Cam Newton

I have a tie at the five-spot.  While Cam Newton received the vast majority of the national media attention, there was another pretty good rookie quarterback in Cincinnati.  Both rookie stars not only met expectations, but they exceeded them.  This resulted in both booking a trip to the Pro Bowl.  In the NFL, it is widely speculated that there is a thing called the sophomore slump for quarterbacks.  Two recent quarterbacks that come to mind who were victims of this so-called sophomore slump are Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan.  Expectations are high in both Cincinnati and Carolina where most fans are saying playoffs or bust.  Will Dalton and Newton be able to handle the hype in year number two? Continue reading

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Week 11 NFL Power Rankings: Eagles Hit Rock Bottom

Photo courtesy of withfriendship.com. Andy Reid (pictured above) appears to be sitting on a boiling seat these days. His time in Philadelphia appears about done.

By Wesley Kaminsky

Eagles 34, Cowboys 7. That was the score three weeks ago when the Eagles dominated the Cowboys, winning their second straight game, leading people to believe that the self-proclaimed “Dream Team” had finally figured it out.

How fooled we all were.

After a Week 9 home loss to the Bears on Monday Night Football, Eagles fans had all but lost hope. Week 10 was a new low, as they lost to the John Skelton-led Cardinals in Philadelphia 21-17. At 3-6, Andy Reid’s seat has never been hotter, and the city of Philadelphia has lost its patience. Michael Vick has regressed this season, and his status is in doubt for their Sunday Night game in New York. If he cannot go, Vince Young, the very man who proclaimed the Eagles the “Dream Team” would start. Oh, joy. Continue reading

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of nfltouchdown.com. Former Harvard star Ryan Fitzpatrick (pictured above) has the Bills thinking playoffs for the first time since 1999.

By Wesley Kaminsky

Before the season started, if I were to tell you that the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins, and Detroit Lions would all be 2-0 by the beginning of Week 3, you would have thought I was crazy. Yet, here we are, two weeks into the 2011 season and all three of these teams are surprising everyone. Both the Bills and Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 1999, and the fans in Buffalo and Detroit deserve a playoff team, badly. Could this be the year they both do it? We are a long way away from the playoffs, but it’s just a thought to think about.

1. Green Bay Packers (1): 2-0. The Super Bowl champs overcame an early deficit to beat the Panthers in Carolina, forcing four turnovers in the process. Next up for the Packers is a trip to Soldier Field for an NFC Championship game rematch. Continue reading

“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

“NFC South Preview”

Can Matt Ryan lead the Falcons past the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints?

 The NFC South had a banner year last season producing their first Super Bowl Champion since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took it home behind a stellar game by Dexter Jackson in the 2002-2003 season.  Jon Gruden was at the top of the coaching realm at that time.  Now he is one of the best analysts that ESPN has to offer.  But how about those Saints?  What a heartfelt story and exciting team to watch.  It was a very well deserved victory for the team and the entire city of New Orleans. 

NFC South:  Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers, Saints 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4th place):  Things have not been the greatest in Tampa Bay for the past couple of years.  This franchise has not made the playoffs since 2007, and that does not appear to be changing this year.  They have both an abysmal offense and defense these days, that really struggles at defending the pass.  First of all the problem for this team starts at quarterback.  The 22-year-old, Josh Freeman, has a world of potential, but no business starting in the NFL yet.  This is not a League that young guys can typically make an instant impact in such as the NBA.  The running back combo of this team in Cadillac Williams and Derrick Ward is mediocre at best.  It is hard to run a ball on a team that will have such an anemic passing game.  Which leads me to how much the loss of Antonio Bryant will hurt.  The Bucs were towards the bottom of the League in the passing game last year, think what it will be like this year with Kellen Winslow as your only real receiving threat (he is a Tight End).  On the defensive side of the ball, things get even worse.  The only names you will recognize are guys like Ronde Barber and Aqib Talib.  You recognize Ronde, because he once was great, and Aqib because of his run ins with the law.  Plus Ronde looks to be all but retired, and may actually be retired before the season starts.  So there you have it, not much hope for Tampa Bay in 2010. 

Carolina Panthers (3rd place):  Next you have a Carolina Panther’s team that is coming off of a very disappointing 3rd place finish.  Well expect the same this year.  The one thing this team has going for them is a very strong defense.  Jon Beason is rapidly becoming one of the best linebackers in the League.  He is another great NFL linebacker out of none other than the U (Miami University).  Chris Gamble is a gamer in the secondary and can come up with some big time plays.  But the loss of Julius Peppers will sting.  Regardless if the guy was overpaid, he still contributed big time and really was a guy that offensive lines keyed in on freeing up others on the Panther’s defense to run rampant.  Can the Panther’s secondary still do well without a Julius Pepper’s attack coming at opposing QB’s?  We will find out.  Offensively, there is a brand new look with the sad departure of Jake Delhomme.  It will be interesting to see how Matt Moore does with the pressure of being the starter and having a guy like Jimmy Clausen breathing down his throat.  At least there is a great 2 headed monster at running back in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart.  Oh yeah, they also have a guy named Steve Smith to throw to.  But the loss of Muhsin Muhammad will hurt and somebody will have to step up as the number 2 receiver.  All in all, this Panther’s team has a lot of question marks.  But expect the rushing attack to be solid and do not be surprised to see this team win between 6 and 8 games. 

Atlanta Falcons (2nd place):  Atlanta will boast a solid offensive attack again this year led by their fearless quarterback Matt Ryan.  Ryan is getting close to entering his prime and continues to develop into a very strong NFL quarterback.  This team has targets for him to throw to such as Roddy White, Michael Jenkins, and the future hall of famer, Tony Gonzalez.  But make no mistake, this is still one of the NFL’s few run first teams.  Between having a healthy Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, and the explosive Jerious Norwood, opponents should fear the rushing attack of Atlanta.  Also word on the street is that Michael Turner has had a fantastic off-season and has a big time year forthcoming.  On the other side of the ball, you may not have heard of many of these guys if you are not from Atlanta, but they are tough.  Led by linebacker Curtis Lofton and safety Erik Coleman, this defense is very solid.  They work very well as a collaborative unit and this year should be no different.  The only question is can this team improve in stopping the pass?  If they are able to improve as a secondary unit, they could challenge the pass happy Saints for the divisional crown.  Expect this team to come up just short of a Wild Card spot, but to have a very solid season. 

New Orleans Saints (1st place):  I know it has been a trap in recent history to pick the defending Super Bowl Champs to make any noise the next season.  I know the past couple of years the defending champs have faltered in even making it back to the playoffs, but this team looks too good not to at least make the postseason.  They are led by possibly the game’s best quarterback in Drew Brees.  They have an outstanding receiving corps in Colston, Henderson, Meachem, and Shockey.  Also they have probably the best receiving running back in the League in Reggie Bush.  This team can hurt you in so many ways offensively.  And with the way Drew Brees spreads the ball around, it does not really matter who you put around him or what defenses you throw at him.  Brees will put up points.  Also this team has the best run/pass balance in the League.  They are old-fashioned, and though they appear pass happy at times, they are able to do this due to an established rushing attack.  Though the loss of Mike Bell will hurt, expect Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush to carry the load just fine and really compliment each other well.  Then on the defensive side of the ball, can Darren Sharper repeat his amazing performance of a year ago?  Or at least half of the performance?  For a Super Bowl Champion, the Saints did not have a great defense.  They really lived and died on the bend and not break motto.  But who cares.  If you are putting up points the way this team does, all the defense has to do is hold opponents under 30 (sometimes 35).  Jonathan Vilma, Darren Sharper, and Roman Harper just have to ensure that this defense does not totally collapse.  Due to the amazing scoring ability of the offense, they predominantly have to defend against the pass as teams try to catch up.  Is the defense up to the challenge? 

So the NFC South looks to be very good as usual.  I see the Saints repeating as champions and the Falcons having a great season, but just missing a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.  The Saints will break the recent streak of defending Super Bowl Champions not making the playoffs. 

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze. 

-TheSportsKraze