Tag Archives: Matthew Stafford

Week 3 NFL Power Rankings. Trouble in New Orleans

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. The New Orleans Saints are struggling in the absence of their head coach Sean Payton (pictured above).

By Wesley Kaminsky

After two straight losses to non-playoff teams from a season ago, the New Orleans Saints look like a different team from 2011. That offense, which was so unstoppable under Sean Payton, is out of sync, and the defense is struggling without Gregg Williams. In an improved NFC, the Saints appear to be in trouble. Payton was that important to this team and it’s showing.

In this weeks power rankings, the Eagles and the Dolphins made the biggest leap, jumping seven spots, while the Bears and Redskins had the biggest fall, tumbling six spots. The Falcons cracked the top five, and the 49ers maintained their number one ranking.

Enough of me spoiling it, time for you to find out for yourself where your favorite team ranks. Continue reading

NFL Week 2 Predictions

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Many are talking about the Lions/49ers matchup. Unfortunately, much of the discussion revolves around the animosity between Jim Schwartz (left) and Jim Harbaugh (right).

By Josh Kramer

Week 1 of the NFL season was everything we could have hoped for.  Five teams scored 40 or more points.  Robert Griffin III performed like a Heisman Trophy winner is supposed to.  Peyton Manning showed that playing quarterback in the NFL is like riding a bike for him.  And the replacement referees, though far from perfect, did not directly influence the outcome of a game.

As has become the tradition, we are once again having “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge.”

The participants this season are as follows:

BD-Brien Dulle: A life-long sports fan that has lived all of his life in Cincinnati. Growing up as a sports fan in a tough city for professional teams (Bengals and Reds), Brien never developed strong allegiances for any one particular team. This unbiased vantage point gives him a much broader range of the sporting world. His opinions from sports have been greatly influenced by the likes of individuals like Colin Cowherd, Scott Van Pelt, Ryen Russillo, Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon whom he listens to daily.

CB-Craig Baker:  A former collegiate baseball player and current special education teacher.

CV3-Chad Vordenberge:  An elite high school wide receiver and a very successful business owner.

TSK (two-time defending champion)-Josh Kramer: Founder/Editor-in-Chief of “TheSportsKraze,” former ESPN intern, current Sunday columnist for the popular SNY Network Blog “It’s About The Money,” and writer for fantasy sports website DraftDay.com.

After Week 1, here is the scoreboard.

BD-11

CB-11

CV3-9

TSK-11

Week 2 Slate: Continue reading

Week 2 NFL Power Rankings: Robert Griffin III has arrived

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Alex Smith (pictured above) outplayed reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers as the 49ers got a huge victory in the opener at Lambeau Field.

By Wesley Kaminsky

Last season, it was Cam Newton who dazzled us all, throwing for 422 yards in his NFL debut. One year later, Robert Griffin III went into the Superdome, threw for 322 yards, two touchdowns, and beat the Saints. It took awhile Washington, but your quarterback has finally arrived. The Redskins will make some noise in the NFC East this season.

Griffin was just one of many stories through Week 1 of the NFL season. In case you missed it, here’s a quick recap.

Taking over this weeks number one spot in the power rankings are the 49ers, who marched into Lambeau Field and beat the Packers. Another team that made a statement was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Manning finished 19-26 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Steelers.

Ah, so much to get to. Where does your team rank after Week 1?

1. San Francisco 49ers (4): 1-0. That was a statement win for the 49ers in Green Bay. Alex Smith outplayed Aaron Rodgers. Impressive. (Next game: vs. Detroit on SNF) Continue reading

2012 NFL Power Rankings: Beware of the Chicago Bears

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Are Jay Cutler (pictured above) and the Chicago Bears poised for a big year in 2012? Our very own Wesley Kaminsky thinks so.

By Wesley Kaminsky

The NFL off-season always seems too long, doesn’t it? In an off-season dominated by Tim Tebow and the New York Jets, it’s that other team in New York who are the reigning Super Bowl champions. They shocked the NFL world a season ago, getting hot at the right time, beating the likes of the Packers, 49ers, and then eventually the Patriots. That takes guts.

With teams such as the Packers, 49ers, Bears, Saints, and Falcons, just to name a few, the NFC is becoming a powerhouse. I didn’t even touch on the NFC East.

In the AFC, the Patriots look like the clear-cut team to beat, as they added more weapons to an already lethal offense and revamped their defense.

Can the Ravens finally get over the hump? Will Peyton Manning return with a vengeance?

These questions will be answered in due time. Continue reading

NFL Wild-Card Weekend

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. Much of the talk regarding the Bengals/Texans matchup on Saturday has been centered on the rookie quarterbacks. The return of Andre Johnson (pictured above) may have a heavy impact on the outcome as well.

By Josh Kramer

It is finally the time that we have all been waiting for.  And no I am not referring to “Tebow Time,” though there is a possibility of some “Tebowing.”  America’s most popular sport is now down to the final 12.  By Sunday night, the field will be narrowed down to eight, as teams desperately try to book a trip to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl on February 5th.  What team will be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy around 10:30PM on February 5th?

I know you have all been anxiously awaiting the final “TheSportsKraze Pick’em Challenge” results.  The final standings were as follows:

TSK:  172

CV3:  163

CB:  161

DC: 158

(TSK is the champion for a second consecutive year)

Let’s take a deeper look at the upcoming weekend.

Wild-Card Weekend:

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans

The Word:  A game of firsts.  Houston is in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history and Cincinnati has not won a postseason game since January 6th, of 1991. Continue reading

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings: Packers Remain Perfect

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com. James Jones (pictured above) had a huge game in Detroit on Thanksgiviing. Can the defending champs do the unthinkable and complete a perfect season?

By Wesley Kaminsky

With five games to go in the 2011 NFL season, the Green Bay Packers have remained undefeated and got past their biggest test on Thanksgiving with ease. That defense, which was supposed to get lit up against a high-powered Lions offense didn’t by any means, as they picked off Matthew Stafford three times.

And that Aaron Rodgers guy? He continued to play at an MVP level as he threw for 307 yards, and two touchdowns. Can any team in the NFC stop the Packers from returning to the Super Bowl? It’s going to be pretty difficult to try to do that at Lambeau Field during the playoffs. Aside from the Saints, I can’t see any team winning there.

The Packers have had the top spot of these power rankings since Week 1, and they don’t look like they are going to give it up anytime soon. Continue reading

Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of sports.gearlive.com. After Jim Harbaugh (pictured above) did the unthinkable and rebuilt the Stanford football program, he is at it again. Only this time, at the professional level.

By Wesley Kaminsky

What if I told you in the beginning of the season that by week six, the Lions would be 5-0, and the Bills and the 49ers would be 4-1? Would you have called me crazy? I would have called myself crazy.

That’s what is so great about the NFL though, you just never know. Yet here we are, five weeks gone, and all these teams are surprising everyone. Matthew Stafford is transforming himself into an elite quarterback, Fred Jackson has become an MVP candidate, and Jim Harbaugh has completely turned around the 49ers.

It wasn’t long ago that all three of these teams were lost and unsure of what direction to go. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. Continue reading

2011 NFL Season: Pre-Season NFL Power Rankings

Photo courtesy of nflnewsworld.com.

By Wesley Kaminsky

After a long off-season in which there were questions as to whether or not there would be a season in 2011, the NFL is back, and better than ever. Following the conclusion of the lockout, it was madness in the NFL, with big names such as Chad Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Donovan McNabb all on new teams. That’s just to name a few.

Heading into the season, teams such as the Patriots and Eagles are in a Super Bowl or bust mentality. These two teams have been the story of the off-season, with the Patriots landing Chad Ochocinco, Shaun Ellis, and Albert Haynesworth, while the Eagles landed Nnamdi Asomugha, and Ronnie Brown, among others.

It seems to me that people are forgetting about the team that won the Super Bowl last season, the Green Bay Packers. They didn’t make noise in free agency, but don’t forget they were without Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley during their Super Bowl run.

Without further ado, here are my NFL power rankings heading into the 2011 season.

Continue reading

“NFC North Preview”

Aaron Rodgers was once Brett Favre's understudy as shown in this picture. Then Aaron took Brett's spot as the Packers quarterback and is now trying to take Brett and the Viking's spot atop the NFC North.

 To finish off my division by division breakdowns, we have the NFC West.  This division has become a  two headed monster.  There are two very good teams at the top, one mediocre squad, and a very weak team at the bottom.  When Brett Favre officially announces his return, which will hopefully be sooner rather than later, the Vikings and Packers will begin duking it out for divisional supremacy.  Lets get ready to rumble in the NFC North.

 NFC North:  Bears, Lions, Packers, Vikings (alphabetical order)

 Detroit Lions (4th place):  Detroit’s suffering will continue for at least another year.  This team has only won 2 games over the course of the past two years and has not won more than 7 games in a season since the year 2000.  It has been a brutal last 10 years.  Well expect this year to be pretty typical for the Lion’s faithful.  This team had the worst defense in the League last year and an almost equally as bad offensive attack.  Lots of weight will placed on 2nd year quarterback Matthew Stafford.  Can he live up to the lofty expectations?  Calvin Johnson is one of the best receivers in the game.  It is a shame that the Lions cannot really give him another solid receiver to play alongside.  Guys like Dennis Northcutt and Bryant Johnson have not been able to cut the mustard.  From a rushing standpoint, they still have Kevin Smith, who will hopefully be fully recovered from a devastating Week 14 ACL tear (last season).  They also have rookie Jahvid Best.  Do not expect too much from this duo though due to lack of an offensive line.  Defensively it gets worse.  There is really not one player of note on the entire unit other than recently drafted Ndamukong Suh.  Lions’ fans better pray this guy gets signed, lives up to the hype, and is ready to be an instant leader for this team on the defensive side of the ball.  That is a lot to ask of a rookie.  Do not expect the Lion’s

to win more than 5 games this year.

Chicago Bears (3rd place):  Da Bears!  Yes Chris Berman is in the Hall of Fame, but the Bears still do not have the look of a contender sadly.  No matter how excited Chris Berman can get people when talking about the boys out of the windy city, the team is not ready to be a force yet.  The Bears have not been to the postseason since 2006, and do not count on that streak ending this year.  This team suffered without Brian Urlacher last year defensively, and did not do much with the newly acquired Jay Cutler from an offensive standpoint.  Though the Bears finally added a complement to Matt Forte in Chester Taylor, this does not appear to solve the rushing issues.  This team was near the bottom of the League in rushing yards last year, and though Taylor should help a little, these guys do not really compliment each other well in that they each have a very similar style.  I just hope for the Bear’s sake, conflict does not arise between Forte and Taylor.  The receiving corps has not improved either.  This team is still lacking a number 1 threat for Jay Cutler to use his “super” strong-arm to throw too.  So do not expect this team to put up a flurry of points on a weekly basis.  Defensively, the unquestioned leader is still the man with “swag,” Brian Urlacher.  Urlacher along with Lance Briggs make up one of the League’s best linebacker duos.  Also, the addition of Julius Peppers to the defensive line should make an instant impact.  If Urlacher can stay healthy, expect this team to be much better defensively than they were last year.  The secondary did do a solid job against the pass so hopefully with Peppers rushing the opposing quarterback, their jobs can be even easier this year.  The Bears will be a decent team.  But do not expect them to sneak into the playoffs.  I am predicting 7 or 8 wins due to the lack of offensive stability. 

Green Bay Packers (2nd place):  The Cheesheads may be disappointed with another 2nd place appearance, but count on this team to roll deep into the playoffs.  I have them cruising all the way to the Super Bowl.  It will take this team time to gel and it will help when Favre tires down the stretch for the Vikings come playoff time.  This team is led by a lethal offensive attack.  Aaron Rodgers has become one of the top 5 quarterbacks in the League hands down.  They got a great duo at receiver in the up and coming Greg Jennings and the seasoned veteran Donald Driver.  Hopefully Driver is healthy after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on both of his knees this off-season.  But luckily for the Packers, they have young guns James Jones and Jordy Nelson waiting in the wings.  Not to mention they have a very solid tandem of receiving tight ends in Jermichael Finley and Donald Lee.  I also forgot to mention that though this team lives on the pass, do not sleep on Ryan Grant pounding the rock.  The question is who can complement Grant down the stretch?  Possibly the seasoned veteran Ahmad Brooks or the Florida product DeShawn Wynn.  Offensively, this is the only question mark this team has if any.  Defensively the Packers number 2 defense of a season ago will be led by the linebacking trio of Nick Barnett, AJ Hawk, and Clay Matthews.  This the best linebacking trio in the League in my eyes.  They are young, tough, and very fun to watch.  Lastly, you have 2 very strong veterans in Charles Woodson and Al Harris anchoring the secondary.  Good luck scoring points on these guys.  Neither AJ Hawk nor Clay Matthews has really entered their prime yet.  There is lots of upside.  The Packers have the best combination of offense and defense in the entire NFC. 

Minnesota Vikings (1st place):  This team came up just short of making an appearance in the Super Bowl last season.  They are determined to go one step further this year and bring a Super Bowl title back to the twin cities of Minnesota.  And why shouldn’t they be confident?  They have a great core group of guys returning.  Minnesota also possesses both a great offense and defense.  Last season, the Vikings became a pass first offense.  I think Brett Favre is the only player in the League that could make a team that has the one they call “All Day” (Adrian Peterson) a pass first team.  Brett can still really play and put on quite a show last season.  And I fully expect him to put up great numbers again this year.  Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Bernard Berrian are a great trio of targets for Favre.  All 3 are young and have a ton of upside.  Look for Favre to be slinging the ball all over the field again this year.  My question is will Sidney Rice be healthy?  Either way the passing attack will be lethal.  Then of course the Vikings do have the luxury of handing the ball off to Adrian Peterson, who has the ability to turn any play into a big time play.  If AP starts fumbling again though, who is the next guy in? Ryan Moats or the rookie Toby Gerhart?  This team does not really have a sure-fire compliment for Peterson nor do they really need one.  As long as Peterson stays healthy, it will be paradise in the Minnesota backfield.  Then from a defensive standpoint, this team stops the run with the best of them.  Guys like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams, and Pat Williams are absolutely outstanding.  They not only stop the run, but they pressure the quarterback early and often.  Then in the secondary, the addition of veteran cornerback Lito Shephard should help turn this unit from average, to pretty good.  Big things will also be expected from the outstanding cornerback Antoine Winfield, and their injury prone safety, Madieu Williams.  All I can say is, watch out, because this Viking’s team will be scary.  Do not be surprised to see this team roll deep into the postseason.

So the NFC North should have a repeat champion in the Minnesota Vikings.  But do not sleep on the Green Bay Packers, who I think could overtake the Vikings come playoff time on their way to making an appearance in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1997.  Both of these teams are very strong in nearly all aspects of the game.  

Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.

-TheSportsKraze