Tag Archives: Mark Ingram

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

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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

“Weekly Nickel”

Mark Ingram (pictured above) and Alabama look to show the country what could have been on Friday, and spoil their rival Auburn's hopes of a perfect season.

And the beat goes on..

Football is heating up.  Baseball’s awards are being dispersed.  The NBA has taken flight and is now coasting.  College Basketball is heating up as teams look to show that their conference is the best.  Plus baseball free agency continues.

There is so much going on that it would be impossible to follow it all.  Here is my top 5 for the week though.

5.  The Yankees continue to play “Lets Make a Deal” with the “Captain” and playoff stud, Cliff Lee.  Joey Votto awaits a possible MVP announcement at 2PM Eastern time today.  The games are done.  Now it is time for recognition.  All of Cincinnati anxiously awaits to hear the announcement of their star as the NL’s best.

4.  The NBA is coasting now with great games every night.  Basically every night this week has a big time matchup.

-Monday (Tonight):  The Magic head to the Alamo to take on the 11 and 1 Spurs.   Many thought that the Spurs were getting too old.  Many were wrong.  Tony Parker may be getting a divorce, but he is still playing at a very high level.  This should be a great game between two of the top teams in basketball.

-Tuesday:  The Bulls head to LA to take on the Lake Show.  Both of these teams lead their respective divisions for a reason.  This could be a major statement win for the Bulls if they could shock Kobe, Pau, and Co.

-Wednesday:  The Battle of Florida commences for Round 2.  Can the Magic redeem themselves after an embarrassing loss back on October 29th to their in-state rival?  Dwight Howard will need to expose the Heat’s lack of an interior presence and have a big night for the Magic to grab a W in this one.

-Thursday:  Really a rain check night with two lackluster matchups on Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving Day has always been about football anyways.

-Friday:  One of basketball’s best rivalries commences as the Mavericks head to the Alamo to take on the Spurs.  Can the Mavericks redeem themselves after their embarrassing playoff exit last season at the hands of their in-state rival?  This will be their first crack at Tim, Tony, and the boys since last April.

-Saturday:  Lebron and the traveling Miami Show head to Dallas to take on Mark Cuban’s Mavericks.  These are two of the top teams in the League.  Can Dirk lead the Dallas boys to a big time home victory?

3.  Dick Vitale is back, and more enthusiastic than ever.  A big slate of games all week highlighted by a ranked showdown between Kansas State and Gonzaga tonight.  Expect Frank Martin to occasionally yell during this one.  Continue to keep an eye on Ohio State and their stellar group of freshman.  Outside of Duke, the Buckeyes appear to be the team to beat.

2.  Did you think Week 12 of College Football was exciting? Wait until you get a look at Week 13.  What an amazing slate of games.  Plus we get 2 full days of games between Friday and Saturday.  So enjoy the NFL on Thanksgiving, but strap in for some College Football for the following two days. 

Should Friday be called, “The D-Day of the Undefeated Teams?”

Friday’s Major Matchups:

Auburn at Alabama-This should be yet another SEC slugfest.  Alabama would like nothing more than to spoil Auburn’s perfect season and show people that they are still talented enough to beat any team in the country. I am putting this game on a Major Upset Alert Watch.

Arizona at Oregon-Though Arizona has struggled lately losing their past 2 contests, they also have an opportunity like Bama to spoil a conference opponent’s perfect season.  I do not see the upset happening here, but Arizona may come out and shock the country with some very inspired football.

Boise State at Nevada-Boise faces their last test of the season.  Nevada has an opportunity to not only ruin Boise’s National Championship hopes, but also their outright WAC Championship hopes.  This could be a tragic day for Boise Football if Nevada could pull of the unthinkable.  But sadly for Nevada, I do not think they have the horses to pull this monumental upset off.

Saturday’s Major Matchups:

LSU at Arkansas-  Both of these teams are still looking to make it into BCS Bowls.  It will be stellar matchup of great offense versus great defense.  Does offense or defense reign supreme in this one?

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State- The winner of this Big 12 regular season finale looks to have a great  chance to head to the Big 12 Title Game.  Who will win the Battle of Oklahoma this year?

1.  The Turkey Bowl that is Thanksgiving Thursday.  People across the country will get to sit on the couch, eat lots of food, and watch the Lions take another Thanksgiving Day beating.  I will state that the other matchups though should be a bit more exciting.  As two playoff bound teams (Saints and Jets) take on two very talented, but underachieving opponents (Cowboys and Bengals). 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy this amazing week of sports.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 5: A Midseason Championship Week?”

Florida Freshman, Trey Burton (pictured above on the right) is bringing back memories of Gator legend, Tim Tebow (pictured above on the left). Could this stellar freshman be the difference maker against Alabama on Saturday?

Folks, major conference play is getting under way or right around the corner for most.  Now we are hitting October football.  This is where the games really heat up, even though the weather is beginning to cool down.  Injuries are taking its toll on teams, but the best teams will continue to find ways to win.

I will state this right now.  Week 5 will be live.

Texas vs Oklahoma:  The Red River Rivalry is one of the best games College Football has to offer year in and year out.  And let’s be honest, it is in essence, a midseason Big 12 Championship game (normally).  Though Nebraska has looked just as good or better than both of these formidable squads, this game will go a long way in determining who wins the mighty Big 12 in its last year as the normal Big 12.  Texas is coming off of a horrible home loss to a decent UCLA game.  This loss really shocked the country and showed Texas to have some big time holes this year.  I will admit though, Mack Brown demonstrating great sportsmanship and gave UCLA all the credit in the world, putting the blame on him and his team’s shoulders.  Got to respect that.  Oklahoma barely escaped in a game that they should have lost to Cincinnati, the best 1 and 3 team in the country.  Oklahoma has grinded out close games in 3 of their 4 victories this year.  This team is extremely talented and athletic, though they are lacking much to be desired in the discipline department.   I know the age-old rule is that actual talent can get thrown out the window when it comes to big time rivalry games, but this year, the talent will be the difference.  Oklahoma is head and shoulders better than Texas and will win this game by at least 14 points.  Oklahoma, in their only other game against a big time ranked opponent (FSU), looked like a juggernaut and ran the overmatched Seminoles off the field.  Expect more of the same on Saturday as the combination of Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles continues to shred opposing defenses.

Wisconsin vs Michigan State:  Welcome to a big time brawl in the Big Ten folks.  These two old rivals do not have the greatest of relationships.  Though it is heartwarming to hear that Coach Dantonio will still be able to play a role in the game from the booth for the mighty Spartans.  Michigan State has looked tough this year, though they could have easily been defeated by Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish.  Wisconsin, though they struggled vs Arizona State 2 weeks ago, put up a stunning 70 points last weekend.  This offense is lethal.  The defense is solid, and I think the vaunting Badger rushing attack will prove to be too much for the Spartans on this day.  Michigan State is close to breaking into the elite ranks of College Football, but Greg Jones and the defense will struggle stopping John Clay all day on the way to a tough loss.  I got the Badgers by 3 on the road in this one.

Florida at Alabama:  This is probably the best game of the entire weekend, and maybe even the entire year.  The two best coaches with the two best teams the SEC has to offer battling it out in front of a National Audience.  This game represents what College Football is all about.  Saban vs Meyer.  Talk about an amazing matchup of elite coaches.  Many feel that the Tide will “Roll” against the Gators as they did last year in this one.  And I say not so fast.  The Gators looked to be gaining back their offensive swagger last week against Kentucky and will surprise the Tide with their stellar freshman Trey Burton.  The kid reminded me of a young Tim Tebow last week, accounting for 6 TDs.  There is a reason why no team has ever repeated as BCS National Champions in the BCS era.  There are just too many good teams in College Football, especially in the SEC.  Look for the Gators to pull the unthinkable upset, shocking Nick Saban, Mark Ingram, and the Crimson Tide.  I got Florida shocking the country, with a  3 point victory.

Stanford at Oregon:  In essence, this is the makeshift Pac 10 Championship.  Two very good teams battling it out on National Television.  Sound familiar to what we have going on in both the Big 12 and the SEC?  Against a fairly difficult schedule so far, the Cardinal has looked outstanding both offensively and defensively ranking among the nation’s elite.  This team can flat-out play, and really stepped onto the National scene with an old-fashioned butt whipping of Notre Dame last week.  Oregon on the other hand, may be the only team in the country that has ranked even better than Stanford both offensively and defensively.  This team has looked nearly invincible, other than during a minor lull against ASU last week.  So conventional wisdom would say to pick the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  These are both great teams.  But I feel the speed and athleticism of the Ducks, mixed in with the home crowd will give them the edge.  Look for the Ducks to upend the Cardinal by 3 in a great football game.  LaMichael James may find his way onto the short list for the Heisman Trophy after this one.

So there you have it folks.  Week 5 has arguably the most exciting slate of games we will get all year.  In essence, there is a makeshift Big 12 Championship game, SEC Championship Game, and Pac 10 Championship Game.  I am not sure if you can ask for more excitement.  And the amazing thing, there are other great matchups that I had to leave off of this post.

Week 5 appears to be a “Midseason Championship Week” for half of the major BCS Bowl Conferences.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 4: We Want Some More”

Boise State star receiver, Austin Pettis (pictured above), looks to help lead Boise to another big time victory on Saturday and keep the Broncos National Championship aspirations alive and well.

The 4th week of this College Football season is already upon us.  Yes, we will be a 3rd of the way through the regular season after this weekend.  Hard to believe, but the intrigue continues to mount.  And we all love the excitement.  After last weekends, “Dud Saturday,” the excitement is back with many big time matchups.  So as usual, I am going to give you my thoughts on a few of the primetime showdowns.

Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh:  These are two teams that are still really looking to prove themselves.  Many experts saw both of these teams as definite BCS Contenders, and even possibly as National Title Game Sleepers.  Though neither of these teams really have a chance at playing in Arizona come January 10th, they both have a lot to look forward to.  For Miami, they have had an extra week to clear their heads out for yet another big time road test.  After Jacory Harris demonstrated his old ways, tossing 4 Interceptions against a very good Ohio State team in Columbus, the U looks to make amends.  Pitt is still recovering from an opening night road loss to Utah.  And I think their reeling period is going to continue, as the overall speed and athleticism of the U bombards the Panthers at Heinz Field.  Though it is hard to pick against a good team at home,  I got the U by a touchdown in this one.

Alabama at Arkansas:  Welcome to the SEC folks.  And both of these teams are already in for big time showdown even with it only being the 4th week of the season. For Alabama, this game will be the first of three consecutive against top 12 ranked foes. Can Ryan Mallett, and the explosive offense of the Razorbacks handle the defending National Champs?  Sadly, I do not think so.  Though Arkansas has made tremendous strides and has looked very tough, Bama is at full strength now with Mark Ingram and just look to be “rolling.”   Also take note that Arkansas has lost 4 of 5 to top 25 ranked opponents.  I feel like not only will Mark Ingram at full strength be a difference maker, but the Alabama defense as a whole will play an intricate part in this one.  The game will come down to which defense can get stops.  And though Nick Saban is sporting a young defensive unit, I give them the edge over the Razorbacks D.  Look for Bama to nab a big road win in a shootout type of game by 7.

South Carolina at Auburn:  This may be the best matchup of the whole weekend in my eyes, though there are many great ones.  A good old-fashioned SEC brawl.  We are fortunate enough to have 2 of these top-tier SEC matchups already in a fun-filled Week 4.  But the difference in this one will come down to Auburn’s home field advantage.  I will state that South Carolina sports probably the most exciting freshman talent in the country in Marcus Lattimore.  But after watching the Gamecocks exhibit some flaws in their game last week against a less than flattering opponent in Furman, I have jumped off the bandwagon a little.  Auburn, though it has not been pretty, has learned to win close games.  Winning by 3 each of the last 2 weeks against quality opponents.  I expect them to utilize that resiliency and the home field advantage to edge a Gamecocks team that has lost 5 straight conference road games by a large margin.  Look for Auburn to win by 3.

Oregon State at Boise State:  Oregon State has practiced on a blue field all week in preparation for a monumental matchup against a very talented Boise team.  Boise has been a main topic of conversation throughout College Football all year and will continue to be until they lose a game (which may not happen).  Chris Petersen’s squad has shown that they can really play football despite their somewhat lackluster schedule.  This is probably the toughest game the Broncos have left, and luckily for them, it is at home.  Oregon State has already dropped a game against a tough TCU team this year.  They got blown out on the blue field 42 to 14 in 2006.  And though the Rodger’s brothers are a lethal tandem, it will not be enough.  Boise is too good all around.  Look for Kellen Moore, Titus Young, and Austin Pettis to have another field day on National Television.  I got Boise in this one by 14.  Do not expect it to be close.

So these are 4 of the marquee games of the weekend.  I realize there are other major matchups such as West Virginia at LSU, Oklahoma at Cincinnati, Kentucky at Florida.  So sit back, enjoy, and watch as many of the games as you can.

Week 4 will be one to remember in the College Football Stratosphere.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze

“College Football Week 2: Monster Saturday”

The last time the Hurricanes and Buckeyes matched up was in the legendary 2002 National Championship Game. Could Miami get revenge in Columbus on Saturday?

  Though the NFL is underway, College Football is already heating up with a big time Week 2.  People are calling it “Monster Saturday.”  And it is sure to be a day that fans will remember in this young season.  Each week I am going to pick 3 to 5 of the marquee matchups, give you my predicted winner, and some brief thoughts.  

So the matchups of Week 2’s “Monster Saturday” are as follows:  

Georgia at South Carolina:  This is big time SEC matchup with two of the best coaches in the country going head to head.  My gut has been saying all week that Georgia can come in and take care of business in Gamecockville.  But my mind is saying to go with the home team.  And that is what I am going to do.  Both of these teams looked great against powder puff opponents in Week 1 (typical SEC move).  But the lack of AJ Green will hurt the Bulldogs.  Steve Spurrier is going to ride freshman phenom Marcus Lattimore to a major early season conference victory.  Look for this game to go down to the wire, but expect the Gamecocks to pull it out.  

Florida State at Oklahoma:  What a non conference matchup this is.  Talk about two teams showing balls and taking a risk playing a big time non conference foe.  You got to love it.  Christian Ponder looks outstanding and extremely poised in the pocket.  I guess that is what 3 years as a starter does for you.  Also do not sleep on Greg Reid returning punts.  Special teams always have a large effect on the outcome of big time games.  Florida State is starting to trek towards resembling the Seminoles of old.  But Oklahoma is no slouch either.  Now I know they looked pitiful in their opener.  But maybe it was a good thing to play a close football game already (not really)?  But DeMarco Murray is the most explosive player on the field when healthy.  Ryan Broyles is ready to break out and be considered with the best wide receivers in the country.  And Landry Jones, well, he will get better.  Though I feel Florida State is a very solid team that could make some noise in the ACC, I got the Sooners running away with this one at home.  Look for DeMarco Murray to make his presence felt and launch himself into the Heisman discussion (if he wasn’t already)   

Miami at Ohio State:  This is the game the whole country has been waiting for.  A rematch of the 2002 hotly debated National Championship game.  An instant classic.  Jacory Harris and the U looked like they had the swagger of the old U last weekend.  Ohio State did not look to shabby themselves.  But this is a whole new ball game.  The athleticism on both sides of the ball will be amazing in this one.  Also, this game matches up two of the most athletic quarterbacks in the country (though their styles in the past have been contrasting). Jacory has tended to stay in the pocket though, while Terrelle has always been big on using his legs to gain first downs.  Pryor appears to be transforming in front of our eyes though and is utilizing his intelligence and arm, rather than his legs now.  It has been an amazing transformation.  If this game was being played in Miami, I would give the Hurricanes a chance.  But it is no easy task to come into the Horseshoe and win a ball game.  Even Lebron James will be there, “staying true to his roots” and rooting for the Buckeyes.  I got Ohio State in a very entertaining affair.  

Michigan at Notre Dame:  Talk about history right?  These are your number 1 and 2 ranked programs all time in winning percentage.  Plus they are number 1 and 3 in all time wins.  This rivalry began in 1887 with some Wolverine dominance.  Eventually Notre Dame caught on to the game that people call football.  There have been two major hiatus in this rivalry, but this will be match up number 38.  Anyways, this game finally has some meaning for the first time since probably 2006.  Both teams looked very impressive in their first games and look to be on track towards having solid seasons.  There is one major newcomer to this rivalry though.  And that is Brian Kelly.  This coach has brought with him a whole plethora of tricks and winning knowledge.  Not to mention an excitement that South Bend has been lacking for the past few years.  Look for Notre Dame to have too much offense in this one, and win a tough game against the rival Wolverines.  South Bend will already be praising BK’s name at the end of this one.  I will state though, a victory for Rich Rodriguez in this clash would go a long way towards taking him off the hot seat in Ann Arbor. 

Penn State at Alabama:  Big Ten vs SEC.  Same old story right?  Sadly, in this case yes.  Even if Mark Ingram does not play, Alabama will prove to be too much for an overrated Penn State team.  I guess having Richardson is a plus for Coach Nick Saban.  Outside of Evan Royster and the emerging senior Brett Brackett at receiver, this Penn State team will be vastly overmatched.  Going into Bama with a Freshman quarterback?  Can you say “Roll Tide Roll?”  I do not care if Alabama has some question marks on defense, they are still mighty fast.  Sadly, I see this game being a blowout, but maybe Penn State will hang around for a while.  

So there you have “Monster Saturday.”  You got to love the Fall.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.  

-TheSportsKraze  

“Welcome To College Football”

One of the major stories in College Football this year deals with how Brian Kelly, the former University of Cincinnati Head Coach, handles the pressure of leading the charge in South Bend.

Tonight, another College Football season kicks off with 18 different games around the country.  Let the BCS Madness begin baby.  Here are the main storylines for the year in my eyes.

– Can Alabama “roll” to a 2nd consecutive National Title?

Though Alabama is returning nearly their entire offense, which features future NFL players like Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, and Julio Jones, the SEC is a conference that teams live and die on their defensive units.  Bama is returning just 2 starters from their vaunted defensive squad of a year ago.  In the end, I feel like this team will have a great year, but come up just short due to a lack of experience on the defensive side of the ball.  Also realize that no team has ever repeated as National Champion in the 12 year BCS era.  It is no easy task.

– Can Terrelle Pryor live up to the hype and bring home the first Heisman to Columbus since Troy Smith, in 2006?

This storyline will also be very key in determining if the Buckeyes can bring home their first National Title since 2002.  They have the defense to do it.  It is all a matter of if Terrelle Pryor can lead the offense to playing at a National Championship level.  There is no rhyme or reason why I or anyone else in America believes in this guy. His stats in his two-year stint in Columbus have been nowhere near a Heisman level.  In actuality, they have been quite less than flattering.  But the “swagger” of Terrelle Pryor has led me to believe that he can vault to a Heisman Trophy level of play and lead the Buckeyes to the BCS National Title Game.

– Can Boise State be the first non BCS Conference team to bring home a BCS National Title?

First of all, this team went undefeated a year ago.  They are returning every starter on both sides of the ball except graduated cornerback, Kyle Wilson.  Kellen Moore, who threw for over 3500 yards and had a TD to Interception ratio of 39 to 3 is back.  This team is the real deal.  And with the non conference schedule they have put together, “if” they go undefeated, they deserve a shot to play for the National Championship as much as anyone.  But also realize that they are opening up with the Virginia Tech Hokies.  Led by legendary coach Frank Beamer, the Hokies feature perhaps the best rushing attack in the country.  Sadly for Boise, I see them losing in Week 1, but this team is definitely the real deal and has a definite chance to play in Arizona for the National Championship if they go undefeated.

– Coaching in South Bend is like coaching the Yankees in Major League Baseball.  The pressure is at an all time high every day.  The media and fan base are unforgiving and cold. Can Brian Kelly handle the heat better than some of his predecessors?

Brian Kelly is perhaps the most charismatic coach in America.  He is a phenomenal salesman and says all the right things.  If you have ever heard the expression, “You talk like a man with a paper asshole,” though I am not 100 percent sure what this means, I think it would be the perfect away to describe BK.  Brian Kelly not only is smooth off the field though, he produces on the field.  This guy won two National Titles at Grand Valley State.  He completely turned around an abysmal Central Michigan program and captured a MAC Championship.  Then he went to Cincinnati and made the city believers in Bearcat football.  During his three-year reign, he won 10 or more games all three years (had not won 10 games in a season in Cincinnati since 1951), two Big East Championships, and sent them to two BCS Bowl games.  Coach Kelly has always been known as a mastermind of the spread offense.  He will provide fireworks in South Bend with a high-flying, aerial spread attack.  But also realize that his partner in crime and his right hand man for nearly 20 years, Jeff Quinn, is now the head coach at Buffalo University.  Can BK still put together an offense that puts up 40 plus points a game without his old running mate?  Well I will tell you this, Notre Dame has probably their easiest schedule in the past 10 years.  These guys could rise back to prominence real fast.  Do not be surprised to see a 9 or 10 win season.

– Will an SEC team bring home a 5th consecutive BCS National Championship?

In my eyes, it is a no brainer that this is the best and most elite conference in College Football yet again.  No conference really can touch the coaches, the talent, and the overall speed that this conference demonstrates top to bottom.  There is a reason why the SEC generally plucks players from the Southeast region, with the vast majority of 4 and 5 star recruits coming from this talent rich region.  Why wonder away from home?  But I will state this.  I believe this is the year that a non SEC school wins the National Title.  I feel it is time for the Buckeyes to break through in a National Championship game.  It is a gut feeling, but still expect this conference to be the best in the land again.

– Herbies vs the Forde Dash?

Kirk Herbstreit and Pat Forde are both fantastic at what they do.  They are well-known analysts for ESPN who do an absolutely outstanding job.  They both recently released some of their big thoughts on this upcoming College Football season.  Kirk Herbstreit put out the Herbies while Pat Forde put out the Forde Dash.  The edge in my eyes goes to the Herbies.  Though the Forde Dash is a cool name, the Herbies was easier to follow and I agreed with more of the predictions.  But it was a very tough call.

Welcome to College Football folks.

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze