Posts Tagged ‘Atlanta Falcons’

NFL division races

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Here we are sports fans. Three weeks left in the regular season. This is about the time of year that we start to see the various playoff scenarios. The contenders play in meaningful “must win” games, while the pretenders look to play spoiler. Each year, the NFL has 12 postseason invitations. The eight division champs all make the playoffs, along with four wild card teams (two from each conference). So far, three teams have already locked up their division – Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and New England Patriots. The Houston Texans have clinched a playoff berth, but are still battling the Indianapolis Colts for the division crown. With eight spots still up for grabs, there are still a significant number of teams battling down the stretch. Here’s my take on teams that look likely to punch their ticket for the playoffs:

Green Bay Packers – at 9-4, they are in control of the NFC North. They have a huge rivalry game this weekend in Chicago, and a win would clinch the division title.

San Francisco 49ers – With one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL, the 49ers are on the verge of clinching either the division or a wild card berth. They need to play hard though, because the Seattle Seahawks are right on their heels with rookie Russell Wilson leading the charge. Even if Seattle doesn’t catch the 49ers, I still look for them to wrap up a wild card berth and advance to the playoffs.

Baltimore Ravens – Leading the AFC North, but reeling from a 2 game losing streak, it’s time for the Ravens to put up or shut up. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh are both right behind them in the division race.

Indianapolis Colts – Yes, the Colts are a surprising 9-4 with rookie sensation Andrew Luck. They play the Houston Texans twice in the final three weeks, so Indy can think about a division championship or at least a wild card berth. I don’t know anyone who predicted they would be back in contention so soon after losing Peyton Manning.

Any teams I didn’t cover are either on the bubble, like the entire NFC East, or far from contending. No worries though, as we’ll keep you up to date on all the playoff races, and offer you the freshest gear to cheer your contender on in their playoff quest. If all goes well, they will be playing in New Orleans in February.

NFL Football 2012: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The Good: Eight weeks in to the NFL season and we are starting to see the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders. We’re down to one undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons at 7-0. Interestingly though, they are rarely the team mentioned as the best in the NFL. The one loss Houston Texans tend to get more credit, along with the one loss Chicago Bears, and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. After a slow start, it looks like New England Patriots are getting their act together. They have three losses on the season, but appear poised to dominate their division.

The Bad: First up on this list is the Detroit Lions. A young, brash team coming off a playoff berth is in last place in the NFC North. The Lions are 3-4 and have been outscored by their opponents so far. Three games out of first and facing a tough schedule makes me think that this Lions team won’t see the postseason this year. We can’t get through the bad without mentioning Philadelphia either. The Eagles are a mess, with controversy around the QB, head coach, and the defense. With Michael Vick and Andy Reid fighting for their jobs, most of the country has already given up on them. Finally, I have to mention the New York Jets. Mark Sanchez isn’t getting it done, but the team is wary of putting in the backup, Tim Tebow, to try and lead a turnaround. Under .500 and in danger of not making the playoffs, this team needs a face lift.

The Ugly: Let’s start with the New Orleans Saints. Sure, there was plenty of controversy surrounding the team this year, and they don’t really have a head coach. However, they still have Drew Brees, and the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. I thought that would be motivation enough to contend for the division title and try to become the first team to make the Super Bowl a true home game. Unfortunately, they are 2-5, and their defense looks anything but super. Next on the list is the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is having a rough season, and the team is only 1-6. They won 6 games last year, and in the offseason, Ryan Kalil took out a full page ad in the newspaper guaranteeing a super bowl for this team. Nice try Ryan, but you tricked yourself and your fans into thinking your team could get it done this year. Instead, they are among the lowest scoring and most disappointing teams in the NFL.

Good thing there are still 9 weeks left before the regular season ends. Every team still has a chance to change their fortune.

NFL Week 4: Playoff odds and replacement refs

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Five. That’s the number of teams since 1990 that have made the playoffs after starting the season 0-3. It’s been 21 years with only 5 success stories. Not good for fans of the New Orleans Saints or Cleveland Browns. Saints fans have to be extremely disappointed with the start to their season, especially considering that the Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year. So the trend may continue that no team has both played in the Super Bowl and acted as the host city in the same year. I guess Sean Payton really was earning his paycheck! Good news for fans is that those are the only two teams without a win this season, so fans of the other 30 teams have been able to celebrate at least one notch in the “W” column.

Parity. The flip side of this coin is that there are only 3 teams that remain undefeated. 75% of teams who started the season 3-0 have gone on to make the playoffs. Fans of the Atlanta Falcons, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Texans have to be pleased with those odds. We’re only three weeks into the season, so no one is eliminated yet, but the numbers don’t lie. There are 27 teams with 1 or 2 wins, which supports the notion that parity is alive and well in the NFL.

On a separate note, it’s good to see the referees and the league have settled their differences. As a die hard fan, I would watch the NFL regardless of who the refs the game, but living in a household with a Packer fan has been borderline unbearable this week…

NFL season kickoff

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

All of the predictions and preseason statistics are out the window now that the ball is in the air and the NFL season is underway. One of the major story lines of the preseason was the use of the replacement refs. I’ll be the first to admit I like seeing Ed “Hercules” Hochuli calling games, but realistically, the refs shouldn’t be a part of the outcome. In boxing, the saying goes “the ref did a great job if you didn’t notice him in the ring.” I feel much the same about football. With the exception of giving the Seattle Seahawks an extra time out last Sunday, I really didn’t notice the replacement refs too much. So that’s a plus for the NFL, but could be troublesome for the referees who are looking for leverage in their negotiations.

So that just leaves me with football to recap. After one week, teams that won shouldn’t get carried away and think Super Bowl, but teams that lost shouldn’t go out and burn their new Nike NFL jersey either. There is plenty of optimism for fans of the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and the Atlanta Falcons. Those teams won convincingly and have fans excited for the season. The next bunch of teams got the victory, but the jury is stil out. Those teams include the Philadelphia Eagles, Detroit Lions, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccanneers, and the Denver Broncos just to name a few. Of the losers, fans of the Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and New Orleans Saints have to be scratching their heads. What went so wrong that they started off 0-1? What if they lose this weekend and start the season 0-2? Since 1990, teams that start the season 0-2 make the playoffs less than 14% of the time. That’s a massive mountain to climb, which means that there are a number of teams that will be essentially playing for their season this weekend.

Best of luck to every team this weekend. I just want to see good football (and a Bears win). Regardless of who you cheer for, we’ll keep you up to date on what’s going on this season, as well as offer you the best selection of fashionable fan gear around. If you don’t believe me, click here to shop your NFL team and see for yourself.

Help! I’ve Fallen and Can’t Get Up

Thursday, October 21st, 2010
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) is assisted by an unidentified NFL official after being tackled in the second half by the Washington Redskins defense during their NFL football game in Landover, Maryland October 10, 2010. Rogers suffered a head concussion on his last pass of the game and will have to be medically cleared before his next start against the Miami Dolphins on October 17. Photo taken October 10.  REUTERS/Larry Downing  (UNITED STATES)

Every year it seems like the NFL has a new injury situation to deal with. Last year, it was turf toe. This year, it is clearly the concussion. Some players get their “bell rung” and bounce right back, while others, like the Chicago Bears Hunter Hillenmeyer, are lost for the season. In light of last weekend’s games, when more than a half dozen players went out with concussions, the NFL (sometimes nicknamed “No Fun League”) levied heavy fines for helmet to helmet contact. James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers was fined a whopping $75,000 for a hit to Cleveland Browns receiver Mohamed Massaquoi. As a result, Harrison even went as far as to contemplate retirement, and was excused from practice on Wednesday. The Atlanta Falcons cornerback, Dunta Robinson, had the most replayed hit of the weekend, laying out the Philadelphia Eagles star wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Both Robinson and Jackson may potentially miss time due to the violent collision. Going forward, the NFL has vowed to suspend players for violent contact hits and helmet to helmet collisions. Baltimore Ravens all pro Ray Lewis, has even expressed concern that the NFL game will be “diluted very quickly.”

Players keep getting bigger, stronger, and faster, but there haven’t been any improvements to the helmet or other protective equipment to offset these things. This year, the NFL roled out new policies surrounding concussions to better protect the injured player. Now, a player with a concussion must pass a series of tests and be cleared by two separate physicians in order to be cleared to play again.

The question the NFL has to ask itself is whether concussions are here to stay, or the game needs to change in order to avoid some of these injuries. This is a mess the NFL has created by glorifying the big hit. The media plays a part in it too, by highlighting these hits on TV replays. Let’s face the fact that part of the attraction to the NFL is the violence. If they somehow remove that from the equation, I fear the league may lose some stars and some appeal.

The Weekend: A Prequel

Friday, December 4th, 2009

It’s been an interesting week in the sports world. The boxing match we’ve eagerly awaited, Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr., finally looks set. The return of “The Answer” is no longer in question. And the best athlete at his position in the world made headlines for a vehicular incident…

Shame on you, Adrian Peterson, for driving 109 mph in a 55-mph zone.

What? You thought I was going somewhere else with that…

And now, a look ahead to a glorious weekend of sports.

Conference Championship Saturday

The only championship games in college football’s Football Bowl Subdivision* that actually make sense began Thursday with the Civil War and hit full stride Saturday.

*I wrote that out instead of typing its initials (FBS) purely for you to see how ridiculous-sounding that name is.

BCS berths are still at-large for many conferences. But that doesn’t mean these games will be close. Georgia Tech, Cincinnati and Texas are all expected to hoist trophies without a fight.

Meanwhile, the rest of college football looks ahead to the match-up fans and experts have anticipated all season…

Wisconsin vs. Hawaii.

What? That doesn’t excite you? Fine.

How about the first time we’ve seen the no. 1 and 2 ranked BCS teams match-up outside the BCS championship?

Florida vs. Alabama serves as a de facto semifinal (barring unforeseen computer calculations). The winner most certainly stakes its claim as the favorite to exit the Rose Bowl, January 7th, as champion.

Will Tim Tebow leave another footprint in his quest to be the greatest quarterback in college football history? Can RB Mark Ingram make his final case for the Heisman? Who wins the Urban Meyer and Nick Saban coaching battle? What measures will CBS take to protect against a potential Verne Lundquist head explosion after Tebow scores his second touchdown?

Some answers I can wait for. But others – or other – leave me giddy.

NFL Week 13

A number of match-ups this week have significant playoff implications…and here are my thoughts:

I’m interested to see how the banged-up Atlanta Falcons (sans Matt Ryan and Michael Turner) host an Eagles team missing two big-play weapons of their own (DeSean Jackson and Brian Westbrook).

Speaking of which…has anyone noticed how seemingly contagious concussions have become? It’s nearly reached Swine Flu status.

Will Chris Johnson’s prediction (from 0-6 to 10-6) hold against the undefeated Indianapolis Colts? The Tennessee Titans have run off five straight wins since inserting Vince Young. And CJ remains on pace to break a historic record (Eric Dickerson’s 2,105 single-season rush yards) as quietly as anyone…ever.

Houston Texans v. Jacksonville Jaguars. Ehh.

The Dallas Cowboys look to avenge an early season embarrassment against the current embarrassment that is the New York Giants. Winners of one of their previous six, this is the Giants last chance to resurrect their season. The players and teams hate each other – no really – they actually don’t like each other. And as a Cowboys fan, I hate the Giants. So it should be exciting. For me at least.

At 5-6, the Miami Dolphins are playing for their playoff lives against a suddenly-human New England Patriots. The Pats ‘cloak of invisibility’ is long gone – especially on the defensive side of the ball. So why is it still so hard for me to pick against them? They even go out-flexed this week…

…by the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. Two forty-something quarterbacks may go head-to-head this week. (I realize Kurt Warner isn’t 40 yet, but you’ve heard of “dog years?” I propose for every concussion sustained, a year is added to your age in “NFL-years”…making Warner somewhere around 52).

Anyways, this is the week the Vikings go down. Why? Because they play a legit team. Consider this: the combined record of the nine teams they’ve defeated is 39-71. Pretty staggering. It’s not that I don’t think they are good. I just don’t think they are that good.

So there are some appetizers for your football platter this weekend. And remember, with the holidays coming up, if you fall in love with the player’s wear on the sidelines, you can always buy that stuff here – at FansEdge.

What? I still have to pay the bills.