It doesn't show signs of stopping, yet the game continues to be played. Of course in your home in front of the television, watching professional football players run around in eight inches of snow is entertaining, but the NFL is not all about entertainment. Players are cold. Refs are cold. Fans at the games are cold! Are these conditions really appropriate to have an NFL game played in? The answer cannot be simply stated without a little observation using the cost/benefit analysis.
Last week in the NFL, there were several games played while hundreds of thousands of flakes pelted the players both on and off the field. Slippery and frosty, the icy fields made for some wacky plays. Despite the cold weather, Ben Roethlisberger played very well against the Miami Dolphins. In Washington, the Kansas City Chiefs stormed into the freezing city and blew out the Redskins in some bitter conditions. During a wacky game between Baltimore and Minnesota in which the teams went back and forth in the last few minutes, snow glazed the entire field.
However, none of these stadiums compared to the arguably blizzard conditions, literally, in Philadelphia. The wind was so bad, that only one extra point was attempted to be kicked the entire game, and it was blocked! At the end of the game, the field was covered in eight inches of snow! In these particular situations, one must wonder why anyone would want to play or go to watch a game with weather like this.
While seeing snow fly up everywhere after every step is entertaining, the players out on the field definitely do not appreciate it. The snow causes wacky plays which fans love. Center to quarterback exchanges are in jeopardy. Two-point conversions are attempted after almost every touchdown! Also, with all the snow, you never know whether or not a defensive player is going to trip and fall thus allowing a big play! With these conditions, games are just plainly more exciting!
Unfortunately, there are also many negative affects to this weather. First of all, the wind, snow, or sleet can cause problems with the technical aspect of the NFL. For example, fans watching the Lions and Eagles came on their TV on Sunday might have found it difficult to see exactly what was going on. Next, the fact that the weather affects the players' approach to the game can make it more exciting, but it can also have the opposite effect. If you are a fan that enjoys watching shootout games with gun slinging quarterbacks, you might be disappointed to find that a majority of the game is runs up the middle because the snow and wind affects passes. Maybe you are anticipating watching a quarterback play, but he does badly because he has difficulty handling snaps. Lastly, and most obviously, is the fact that everybody is cold. If you go to a game, you are not expecting to come back from the bathroom at half time to find your seat covered in snow. You also better dress warmly, because it is not going to be pleasant if you are freezing for the entire three hours you are there.
Players in the NFL are trained to play in severe weather conditions, and it was quite obvious last week. Fans were given several opportunities to watch professional players battle in harsh winds and stinging ice. These games are indisputably interesting. This can be a positive or negative factor. It seems reasonable, when you find yourself in this predicament, to delay, or even reschedule these games.
There is quarterback controversy all over the National Football League. Often, these battles begin in the offseason and then carry into the regular season. Normally, when teams are facing a quarterback controversy, it gets ugly. A coach can either look at this scenario as the glass half empty, or is it full? The manager of a team can look at the two quarterbacks he has battling for the starting job on his roster and think to himself, "Which is more talented?" or "Which throws more interceptions and will not score in the red zone as often as the other?" No matter what the case, they are left with an option. The teams that are facing this fateful decision include Minnesota, Oakland, and a couple others. Here are all the battles in detail and how they will turn out.
First, Mike Glennon replaces Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay. The rookie has looked solid so far in the one game he has played. It is not appropriate to judge a quarterback, especially a rookie quarterback, after only one game. Josh Freeman led the Bucs to 0-3, but with Mike Glennon, they are still winless. It is improbable that Freeman will become a starter again this year, but like Matt Cassel, he should try to find another job somewhere else.
Speaking of Matt Cassel, that brings us to our second quarterback controversy in the NFC. The Vikings' Christian Ponder, like Freeman, caused Minnesota to play through the first three weeks without a win. That is why Matt Cassel, the 2-14 Chiefs quarterback from the year before, had to step in. He came out victorious in his first week as a starter wearing a purple jersey, but when you have to put in a quarterback like Cassel, you know things are not moving along so well in your town.
Now we go down to Texas where, not the Cowboys, but the Texans are strangely enough in a difficult situation with their starter, Matt Schaub. Schaub led his Houston team into the postseason last year, but now he does not look like the same quarterback. After three straight weeks with interceptions returned for touchdowns, some people, including his own team, are questioning his ability to be the leader of this talented Texans offense. If Schaub can have a solid week, he will probably silent this talk for the most part, but so far, he is yet to have a week like so.
The Raiders are in a position in which they are looking at too mediocre quarterbacks. Matt Flynn has really had only one game that had teams even really wanting considering him as a starter. Terrelle Pryor's mobile abilities make him a tough opponent for Flynn. Matt should take advantage of the fact that Pryor is injure and use this time to prove that he deserves the starting job for the Raiders. In the end, unfortunately, Pryor's injury will lose him his job.
Every one of these controversies will make coaches skeptical over something they do not want to be skeptical about. None of these quarterbacks have performed at the level their fans and their coaches are expecting them too. Maybe, with some luck, these quarterbacks will start to perform more efficiently and start heading their team in the right direction.
Unfortunately for several cities, there are a few teams in the NFL this year that have the record 0-3 to start 2013. However, some teams are in the situation where if two or three plays turn out differently, they could almost have a winning record. Some that are coming off good years are disappointing while others are coming off bad years and are simply playing as expected. Nevertheless, they are all 0-3, but that does not mean that some winless teams have played a bit less expected, or startling, than others. Here is something called the "startled rankings." It is a scale from one to five where the higher the number given to a team, the more baffling it is that they are winless. Now, for how surprising a winless record is for a team and why.
First, the Jaguars. Coming off two consecutive ugly seasons, Jacksonville continued to ignore the desperate need for a solid quarterback in the offseason. Their defense was not exactly horrendous and their wide receivers were good. Inevitably, though, there is absolutely no way you can win without a quarterback. This year's 0-3 start has come with no gasps: 1 out of 5
Secondly, are the swashbucklers, also known as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Josh Freeman has shown signs of accuracy, leadership, and what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. He has not produced at a high enough standard as well. Doug Martin is one of the only bright spots on this team, and you cannot depend solely on a running back for wins. Hopefully rookie quarterback Mike Glennon can help them, because with the way Josh Freeman is playing, you are not going to be getting too many more wins: 2 out of 5
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings had a tremendous year in 2012 to say the least, and is having another solid year so far, but if you have heard it once, you have heard it a million times, you are not going to win without a quarterback. Christian Ponder helped taking his team to the playoffs, but Peterson did a lot of work as well. Disregarding Jared Allen and Adrian Peterson, the entire team is mediocre. So, though they made it to the playoffs, they will not be there again until they get a new quarterback. This year, though many might disagree, 0-3 should be nothing out of the ordinary for Minnesota: 2 out of 5
It is a strange thought that only two years ago, the New York Giants were World Champions. Now, they have been embarrassed every second they were on the field in the three weeks that have been played. It is flustering when you are shut out for sixty minutes in an entire NFL game. It is even more so when it happens while you are on the same field as the Carolina Panthers. Peter King, one of the most well known NFL experts, had the Panthers placing last in the NFC, so to not only be beat or crushed, but to not be able to score on that team, you know that you are getting ready for a long season. You cannot really say you did not see this coming either. The Giants really do not look like an NFL team right now: 3 out of 5
After a disappointing 2013 year where the Bears just missed the postseason, Chicago will be back with a new head coach. Marc Trestman will now be calling the shots on the Bears' sideline. This quarterback specialist has a reputation for winning and will be able to help Jay Cutler.
Trestman has a large amount of NFL experience including being a quarterback coach with Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit, Arizona, Oakland, and Miami. He was also offensive coordinator with San Francisco. However, all of his NFL participation was either in the early 2000's or before.
Since that time he has mostly coached the Montreal Alouettes. Does the team sound familiar? Probably not. That is because Montreal plays in the eight-team Canadian Football League (CFL).
There are a lot of rule differences between the NFL and the CFL. For example, instead of eleven players on the football field, teamsare allowed to have twelve. That causes a huge change in the offensive playbook. However, the same amount of players are required at the line of scrimmage. The extra player is in the backfield. If you turn on a CFL game you are probably not going to see an empty backfield.
Did you know that in the CFL, the game can end with a score "1-0"? In the NFL, a missed field goal would result in the other team taking possession of the ball at the place where the play was started. In the CFL a missed field goal can turn into a one-point drive if the football reaches the back of the end zone. For this reason, field-goal kick returns are practiced and are common in Canadian Football.
The biggest reason there is much more passing in the CFL is that instead of four downs, Canadian quarterbacks have only three downs to work with! That means these teams cannot afford many short running plays that do not gain a decent amount of yardage.
Another reason CFL teams pass more is the rules for motion at the snap. Wide receivers in the Canadian leagues can actually run toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. These receivers can get a convenient running head start on the defensive player covering them.
The Canadian end zone is also ten yards deeper giving teams much more route running flexibility in the red zone.
Trestman and his staff will have to adapt to the NFL rules. Fortunately, Trestman does have some past NFL experience, so the Bears should be ready to play hard and have a great season!
Due to the recent signing of Victor Cruz with the Giants, Eli Manning now knows who his main target will be in 2013. With that in mind, fantasy football players should keep an eye on the Giants' top wide receiver that is looking to rack up some decent stats this year.
Even though Calvin Johnson is the number one choice for that position this year, Cruz could make a decent backup on fantasy rosters if the Lions get into some trouble this year.
The fact that New York did not make the playoffs last year did not seem to affect Cruz's stats that significantly. With ten touchdowns and 1,092 receiving yards in eighty-six receptions, Cruz made a spot for himself in the category of the better receivers in the NFL.
Of course, players should also realize that the Giants are going up against theDallas defense in Week One, so it will be a tough matchup.
So who do you have on board for your season? There are a lot of great offensive options for the 2013 season, but if your roster ever needs a revival, just remember that Manning and Cruz are always a reliable pair.
As a Lions fan, it is difficult to say that I enjoyed watching my team for most of the year. However, there are a few plays that can be appreciated and can allow Detroit fans to be proud. Unfortunately, there are also many meltdowns which also lead to, although unpleasant, memorable plays. Here are my most memorable plays from the 2013 NFL season.
3. Stafford Throws Game Winning Touchdown Pass Against Seattle. This game determined whether or not Detroit could still hope for the playoffs. Of course, the Lions did not make the postseason, but it was still an exciting game ending with an exciting play. On 3rd & Goal with the game tied and regulation almost over, Matthew Stafford took the snap and quickly gunned the ball over to Titus Young who made the reception as he fell down. The Lions took the lead leaving too little time for the Seahawks to score again.
2. Andrew Luck's Final Play Touchdown Pass Against Detroit. As earlier stated, not all of these plays are pleasant to think about. Although it was already a lost season, and the Lions would have received a lower draft pick if they had won the game, it was still painful as a Detroit fan to see your team dominate the entire game, and then lose on literally the final play. It was a 4th & 10 with four seconds on the clock. A field goal was not going to help the Colts, so they had to go for it. Luck was able to scramble out of the pocket and toss it to a wide open receiver who walked into the end zone for a touchdown. It looked like the Lions were going to win most of the game, but they found a way to blow it.
1. Stafford Throws Game Winning Touchdown on Opening Day. This play is so memorable for me personally because it was the first game I had ever gone to and I was sitting only a few rows behind the Lion's endzone. I could not have asked for it to be a better game. I really wanted the Lions to win since it was the first game I was actually at, so it was a little scary having it come so close. But the greater good prevailed, and my friends and I were ecstatic at the end. Of course, the exciting opening day led to a disappointing season, but it was still a game I will never forget.
The 2013 NFL Draft is nearing and there is definitely some great talent that could be on your team's roster. Here are my predictions on the first round picks!
1. Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs did a fantastic job by getting Alex Smith from the 49ers for a second round pick. Not only did they get rid of their quarterback problem, but they also saved their first round pick to improve on other needs. Their offensive line was definitely lacking, and with explosive Jamaal Charles at running back, a fairly good Dwayne Bowe catching passes, and now Alex Smith, getting an offensive lineman would complete their offense.
Eric Fisher (OT)
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars are actually in a good position, believe it or not. With young wide receivers that will improve in the coming years and a defense that can easily be turned around, the one thing they inevitably need is a quarterback. In a draft short on young quarterbacks (and Alex Smith gone) I believe the Jaguars will take a surprising route.
Matt Barkley (QB)
3. Oakland Raiders: The Raiders put arguably the worst outside pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Carson Palmer will do for now. What needs to be cleaned up is the defensive end position, especially in a draft with so many available.
Ezekiel Ansah (DE)
4. Philadelphia Eagles: Everything fell apart for the Eagles last year. They simply could not get anything going on either side of the ball. With so many needs, I believe they will draft a linebacker who will make explosive plays on defense.
Jarvis Jones (LB)
5. Detroit Lions: The Lions have a decent quarterback and the best receiver in the NFL. They have Reggie Bush now, but they lack the blocking to get a dangerous running game going. However, with the eighteenth ranked defense, they should work on the defensive side of the ball, particularly defensive end, with Kyle Vanden Bosch being cut and Cliff Avril leaving Detroit.
Dion Jordan (DE)
6. Cleveland Browns: Rookies Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden made a sufficient duo on the offensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, with Sheldon Brown hitting free agency, the Browns will be lacking a cornerback, which is a spot where they did not have much talent in the first place. Get the best cornerback in the draft.
Dee Milliner (CB)
7. Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals have a solid, underrated defense, a top receiver, and an okay running game now with Rashard Mendenhall. A quarterback is one piece they are missing. If they pick up one of the best quarterbacks in the draft (although there are not many of them) they very well may be in the playoffs this year.
Geno Smith (QB)
8. Buffalo Bills: Steve Johnson was able to get over 1,000 receiving yards this year, and C.J. Spiller gave a performance well worth an applause. Creating a frightening defense would be great for the Bills. Start by drafting a defensive tackle.
Sheldon Richardson (DT)
9. New York Jets: Sanchez has not come to the point where he is out of reach of being rescued. He needs more resources to work with. Like the Bills, I believe the Jets should get a receiver, except the Jets will not create any duo. They will simply be putting some good talent into that position.
Tavon Austin (WR)
10. Tennessee Titans: Dee Milliner is probably at the top of Tennessee's draft board. Unfortunately for them, by the time the tenth pick comes around, he will probably be gone. There are other cornerback alternatives though!
Desmond Trufant (CB)
11. San Diego Chargers: Like many other teams, the Chargers offensive line is lacking. Because of the variety of offensive linemen in this year's draft, expect them to pick up one of them in the first round.
Chance Warmack (G)
12. Miami Dolphins: Once again, there are as many offensive linemen in this draft as there are defensive ends. The Dolphins need a player with talent in each position on their roster. In the first round, however, I believe they will pick a defensive end.
Damontre Moore (DE)
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Bucs' secondary was scorched this year after Tampa Bay traded away Aqib Talib and lost Eric Wright due to injury and suspension. To make sure that does not happen again, they should help their secondary, but not if the best two cornerbacks are already drafted. Not to worry. There is plenty of talent elsewhere.
Lane Johnson (OT)
14. Carolina Panthers: The Panthers lone bright spot on defense this year was Luke Keuchly. If they put some other dangerous defensive playmakers around him, Carolina might become one of the better teams in the NFL. They can start by drafting a safety in a league that is starting to depend on safeties more and more.
Kenny Vaccaro (S)
15. New Orleans Saints: With Sean Payton's suspension over, it is likely that Drew Brees will not throw as many interceptions. With a solid running back and multiple receiving weapons for Brees, the offense should not be near the top of the priority list for the Saints in this year's draft. What should be their concern is their struggling secondary. Although the best two cornerbacks are likely to be already drafted at this point, there are still others.
Xavier Rhodes (CB)
16. St. Louis Rams: Rams coach Jeff Fisher has defended his quarterback, Sam Bradford, multiple times by stating they need a better offensive line. More blocking up the middle will give Bradford more time in the pocket. Why pass up the opportunity to pick up a guy who can play center, guard, and tackle?
Jonathan Cooper (C, G, OT)
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: With linebacker James Harrison not coming back to play another year with the Steelers due to the lack of ability to stay healthy and salary, Pittsburgh is also likely to start looking for a linebacker in the draft. My prediction for their selection may surprise you, but after he handled the interviewers at the combine, I believe he deserves a second chance.
Manti T'eo (LB)
18. Dallas Cowboys: As I stated earlier, the safety position is becoming more vital in the NFL. For this reason, I am going to assume the Cowboys have Kenny Vaccaro on their wish list. But if he is gone by this time, they will have to go with another safety.
Matt Elam (S)
19. New York Giants: It is unfortunate that the former Super Bowl champions did not qualify for the playoffs this year. They had the offense and several playmakers on defense. But those players were not enough to have a consistent defense for the Giants. General manager Jerry Reese loves putting good pass-rushers out on the field, and with Osi Umenyiora entering free agency and Justin Tuck having a down year, expect Reese to put another one out on the line.
Barkevious Mingo (DE)
20. Chicago Bears: The Bears, I think, will have a great bounce back year after just missing the playoffs in 2012 due to a second-half meltdown. To make their playoff run longer, they should draft an offensive lineman to give Jay Cutler more time in the pocket. This would make Chicago's deep pass play threat larger. This would also mean that Jay Cutler would not have to scramble as much, which has led to injury several times.
D.J. Fluker (OT)
21. Cincinnati Bengals: The Bengals have a solid quarterback, another top receiver, and can squeeze some yards out of BenJarvus Green-Ellis when they want to. To get a middle linebacker would be a good strategy for Cincinnati. By improving their defense, they will get to the playoffs for a third straight year, and perhaps even win a game in there.
Kevin Reddick (LB)
22. St. Louis Rams: Oh look! The Rams get another pick! Well, the linebacker position has been a problem. It would not be logical to pick another offensive lineman, which is one of their big problems, so fix your other big problem.
Alec Olgetree (LB)
23. Minnesota Vikings: Percy Harvin will not be back with the Vikings, and even if he stayed, they have inconsistent receivers to play behind him. Minnesota should draft a wide receiver with good hands.
Keenan Allen (WR)
24. Indianapolis Colts: The Colts did surprisingly well this year, considering they had the No. 1 pick last year. To make themselves even better, they should draft a good cornerback to cover the opposing team's best receiver. It seems as if Indianapolis's option is obvious.
Jonathan Banks (CB)
25. Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawk's defense played tremendously well this year, but they lacked a pass-rusher that could make offensive coordinators go, "So how are we going to stop him today?" That can easily be fixed by drafting the best defensive tackle available.
Sharrif Floyd (DT)
26. Green Bay Packers: I do not think that the decision of cutting Charles Woodson helped the team at all. In fact, I think it actually hurt the team a lot. Now that Woodson is gone, the Packers will need to find a way to replace him. But the fact that they pick twenty-sixth will not give them many players to work with in the draft. Try to get a tight-end since Jermichael Finley might not stay.
Tyler Eifert (TE)
27. Houston Texans: Four players who play the middle linebacker position for the Texans are all questionable as starters for various reasons. There are a few linebackers available in this year's draft, and fortunately for the Texans, one of them should still be around.
Kevin Minter (LB)
28. Denver Broncos: Running back is a good way for the Broncos to go. Denver's starting running back, Willis McGahee is reaching the end of his career, and he needs to pack his bags. There is a possibility that a running back will not be picked in this year's draft by this pick, so the Broncos might get the best one available if they decide to go that route.
Eddie Lacy (RB)
29. New England Patriots: The Patriots have a very good chance of getting a decent defensive tackle. That is fortunate for them since they did not have much of an interior pass rush last year. Get a defensive tackle and improve your defense while leaving Tom Brady to do his magic on the other side of the ball.
Star Lotulelei (DT)
30. Atlanta Falcons: Matt Ryan has put himself in the position where he is fighting to get into the category of elite. Michael Turner was cut, but I would not worry about the running game. The passing game has Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez. Enough said there. Defensively, the Falcons could pick up an end to improve their team.
Datone Jones (DE)
31. San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers trading Alex Smith for a second round pick was a great move. Now with three picks in the first two rounds and a history of nailing the draft the last two years, expect San Francisco to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity. Strong, athletic, and monstrous. These are the words that describe the defensive end they should take to put on the line with Justin and Aldon Smith backed up by Patrick Willis.
Margus Hunt (DE)
32. Baltimore Ravens: Finally, the pick of the Super Bowl champions, the Baltimore Ravens. Putting an outside linebacker who can cover receivers in a 3-4 defense would be a smart strategy, especially because Baltimore was on the lower side of pass defense rankings and legendary Ray Lewis is retiring.
Bjorn Werner (LB)
Well, the 2012-2013 thrilling NFL season has officially come to an end now that the scoreboard of the Super Bowl has read three zero's. I would now finally like to express my opinion on who should be given what annual awards. From Comeback Player of the Year to Super Bowl MVP, all the awards will be a title for a certain player to possess.
First of all, I would like to hand out the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. This particular achievement has received a large amount of debating. After all, three rookie quarterbacks all reached extremely high objectives. Both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III have broken rookie quarterback records, while Russell Wilson carried a 7-9 team deep into the playoffs, deepest out of all rookie QB's. While Andrew Luck broke Cam Newton's record, which was set, surprisingly, last year, for rookie passing yards, he lacks the dual threat of passing and running which both Russell Wilson and RGIII contain. When these two quarterbacks clashed in the wild card round back in January, Wilson came out on top. However, RGIII was playing with an injury, and a huge brace. His leadership skills, enthusiasm, and ability to play with injuries have persuaded me to announce him as Offensive Rookie of the Year.
It would only be appropriate to declare the Defensive Rookie of the Year after RGIII has received his award. Defensive players are often over looked, especially when they play on teams with disappointing seasons like the Carolina Panthers. However, Luke Kuechly cannot help but stand out. This linebacker was only able to get one sack onto his stat sheet, but he put up an incredible 164 tackles with two interceptions and three fumble returns adding up to thirty-one return yards! A decent portion of football fans probably would not recognize the name Luke Kuechly if you asked them, but I believe he deserves this award.
Offensive Player of the Year goes to Calvin Johnson simply because I believe he deserves recognition for what he has done this season. He is a great role-model and example of why you should never give up, even when everything seems lost. Battling the Madden Curse on a 4-12 team while fellow receivers were benched or injured, he has shown remarkable receiving skills, strength, confidence, and why he is called Megatron.
J.J. Watt is a strong threat on the field, and this year's Defensive Player of the Year. He ended the year with a jaw-dropping 20.5 sacks, eighty-one combined tackles, and four forced fumbles. Let's not forget to mention his one blocked field goal and four defended passes. Bringing his team to the divisional round of the playoffs, J.J. Watt certainly deserves this title.
Comeback Player of the Year has received about as much argument, if not more than, as the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The two contenders are obviously Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. To determine who should receive this award, we must look at three statistics. Number one: Who put up the best personal stats? Peyton Manning's 4,659 yards and thirty-seven touchdowns giving him an 105.8 rating at the end of the year is certainly impressive, but it does not equal Adrian Peterson coming nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single season rushing yards record. Peterson wins this category. Next, number two: Who brought their team the farthest this year? Although Peterson brought his team to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, Manning fell only just short of reaching his fourth AFC Championship game. Manning wins this area of the award. Finally, number three: Who came back from the more serious injury? Now, do not get me wrong; a torn ACL and MCL are extremely serious, but neck surgery is huge! Not only did it keep Manning out for an entire season, but it made it questionable whether or not he was going to play football ever again. Broncos quarterback, Peyton Manning, wins this category along with the Comeback Player of the Year award.
We only have two awards left to give out, and the first out of the two is the Super Bowl MVP. Joe Flacco played amazingly in that game, but I believe the award should be given to someone who will be remembered for what he did in that game. Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a TD and caught a fifty-six yard TD reception. It was his only catch of the game, but it was an exciting one as he fell over as he made the catch, quickly stood up, and jukes out two San Francisco defender to run into the end zone. With a total of 164 yards and fourteen points in America's biggest game of the year, he now has the bragging rights of Super Bowl XLVII MVP.
Finally, for the National Football League MVP. Surprisingly, this man is not a quarterback, but that is why I believe he deserves the award. In a league that is becoming more and more pass dependant each year, Adrian Peterson has become the difference between life and death on his team and has brought back life to the running game's existence. Christian Ponder (2,935 yards, eighteen TD's, and thirteen interceptions) and his Vikings would have not been able to reach the playoffs this year if it were not for the Comeback Player of the Year award nominee, All Day. Expect Adrian Peterson and Minnesota to be back next year, better than ever, and hungry for more than another Wild Card loss.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
Jim Harbaugh has done an excellent job with the San Francisco 49ers to say the least. His first year with this team which had significant, but unproven talent, he lead them to NFC Championship. Unfortunately for Harbaugh, the 49ers lost to the New York Giants. This year, not only has he taken his team back to the Championship, but he has also delivered them a Super Bowl appearance! This, of course, may lead to a title.
San Francisco has many weapons in all aspects of the game. On defense, they have playmakers like Aldon Smith and Justin Smith. Among some of the other well known defensive players on the 49ers are Patrick Willis, Tramaine Brock, Tarell Brown, and Donte Whitner.
The 49er's offense has been one of the more unique stories of 2012. After Alex Smith suffered a concussion against the St. Louis Rams, backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the field, and stole the starting quarterback position from Smith. After setting records in a playoff game against the Green Bay Packers for quarterback rushing yards, then beating the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship game, he is on the way to his first career Super Bowl. Last year, one of San Francisco's weak parts of their team was the wide receiver position. After signing Randy Moss, the legendary, aging receiver, and picking up Michael Crabtree, wide receivers became one of their strengths. With guys like tight end Vernon Davis, and running back Frank Gore, their offense has become electric and one of the best, if not, the best, in the NFL.
While Jim Haurbaugh's team is not known for its Special Teams they have earned some attention, negative and positive. Their kicker, David Akers, has missed eleven field goals from forty to forty-nine yards, and has only made seven of his eighteen attempts all year. He has missed four out of six field goal attempts from beyond fifty yards, but one of the two that he made ties the NFL record for the longest field goal ever made, sixty-three yards. His teammate, Andy Lee, is one of the best punters in the NFL. Although their Special Teams has taken a lot of heat for some significant errors, especially Kyle William's punt return fumble in the NFC Championship game last year, they have proven they are Super Bowl worthy.
With so many weapons on this team, including the coaching staff, this team holds a decent chance at winning a Super Bowl this year, and I believe they will be one of the more feared teams in years to come.
After years of the Madden Curse's terrifying reign, its streak has finally come to an end. In a disappointing 4-12 ending for his team, Detroit Lions elite wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, has not only had a terrific season the year he was voted onto the cover of Madden, but he has also broken Jerry Rice's single season receiving yards record. Making a name for himself, Johnson has added to the record books.
Johnson, also known as Megatron, was out for a few plays after getting hit in the head, but returned shortly after. Unfortunately, he also suffered a minor knee injury that bothered him the majority of the year later on and once missed a whole week of practice. However, that next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars he almost reached the 200 receiving yards mark. He may have suffered a few injuries early, but Megatron did not let it stop him.
Calvin Johnson will go down in history most well-known for breaking Jerry Rice's single season receiving yards record, but he completed several other accomplishments in his team's unfortunate 2012 year. The NFL record for most consecutive 100 receiving yard games also belongs to Johnson. Megatron holds the record for most consecutive games with ten or more reception. NFL Hall of Famer, Michael Irvin, ties Johnson for the most 100 receiving yard games in a single season.
Calvin Johnson is the most athletic, amazing, spectacular and the best wide receiver that plays in the NFL right now to say the least.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
The four Wild Card spots are still nowhere near to being claimed. All eight teams that are projected to be in the hunt for one of those four spots are playing hard so that their seasons are not cut shorter than their expectations would like. Although some teams have fewer chances than others, they will all make sure they play their best in the coming weeks.
The Chargers have made a surprise appearance in the "in the hunt" category with an underdog win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they have the least amount of chance. I do not think they will make the Playoffs, even if they continue to win the rest of their games.
The Steelers who are a 6th seed have the same record as the 7th seed Cincinnati Bengals. The two divisional opponents will settle their 2012 rivalry when they face each other in two weeks. Inevitably, this game will define both teams' seasons, and I believe the Bengals will come out on top to play in 2013 during the playoffs.
Everything went right for the Green Bay Packers last week. Their divisional opponent with the closest record to them, the Chicago Bears, lost to the Minnesota Vikings while Green Bay picked up another late win. The Bears' grip on the playoffs has been loosened in the last two weeks after being demoted from the top of the NFC North to only the 6th seed playoff spot.
Coming off a nail-biter win against the Baltimore Ravens, the NFC's 7th seed team, the Washington Redskins, intend to take that spot away from the Bears. Next week, Chicago plays their divisional opponent, the Green Bay Packers, who they lost to earlier this season.
However, right behind Washington, are two teams, the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings, who have the same record as the Redskins.
Washington has already beaten the Cowboys, but the two teams are schedule to play again in Week 17. The Vikings' recent win over the Bears probably gives Minnesota the best chance for the wildcard spot out of all three NFC teams with a 7-6 record. In order to get to that wild card spot, they must play the Houston Texans, who have the best record in the NFL currently, and the Green Bay Packers. They also play the St. Louis Rams, the fourth and final team projected as "in the hunt" for an NFC Wild Card spot.
At this point, the playoffs can be reached by several teams. My predictions for the playoff teams are as follows:
1st seed: Atlanta Falcons
2nd seed: San Francisco 49ers
3rd seed: New York Giants
4th seed: Green Bay Packers
5th seed: Seattle Seahawks
6th seed: Washington Redskins
1st seed: Houston Texans
2nd seed: Denver Broncos
3rd seed: New England Patriots
4th seed: Baltimore Ravens
5th seed: Indianapolis Colts
6th seed: Cincinnati Bengals
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
Many teams in the NFL have not gotten off to the greatest start, but if they make a couple adjustments, they could be playoff contenders.
The New England Patriots are still close to winning their conference, sitting at the top with a 5-3 record, but bad decisions have cost them the three tight games that they lost and allowed a nail biter to evolve against bitter rivals the New York Jets. I think that they should pass the ball more with an elite quarterback like Tom Brady, instead of attempting to improve their running game.
The same goes for the Detroit Lions. They are sitting at the bottom of the NFC North with a 3-4 record. All of their opponents have at least five wins. Their quarterback, like Tom Brady, threw for over 5,000 passing yards last season. Their running game has been very productive, but it has not been enough. Last year they took over 70% of their snaps out of the shotgun. This year, the percentage has not been nearly that high. Last week when the Lions played their game against the Seattle Seahawks, I noticed that they were taking a lot of the snaps out of the shotgun. Stafford threw his first two touchdown passes in the first half this season, a third touchdown in the fourth quarter, ran one in for a touchdown, and threw for over 350 yards. The Lions should take more shotgun snaps.
The Baltimore Ravens have a record of 5-2, but four of their five wins have been by a touchdown or less. Plus, the recent performance against the Houston Texans proved that they are desperately missing linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Ladarius Webb, who are both out for the season with injuries.
The Kansas City Chiefs may be the worst team in the NFL right now. They are 1-7, and have committed around 30 turnovers. Nearly 20 of those turnovers were from Matt Cassel, who has thrown eleven interceptions and fumbled the ball eight times. If they want to start winning against teams other than the Saints, then they need to start holding onto the ball.
Speaking of the Saints, they are another team in need for some huge changes. After trading away their first two draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, they only selected one defensive back in the fifth round to support their weak secondary. While Drew Brees is continuing to make history in the record books, the other side of the Saints playing has not been nearly as effective. Even when the failure of their secondary has continued to hurt them week after week, they chose to do nothing at the trading deadline to improve it. The Saints need a better secondary if they want to do well this year.
The Carolina Panthers, who ironically have their only win against the Saints, are also doing terribly. Cam Newton, who put up records for most passing yards and touchdowns ever thrown by a rookie quarterback, is not doing that well. With the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints, and the Carolina Panthers all in the NFC South doing so badly this year, the undefeated Atlanta Falcons look like they have already clinched the playoffs, and it is only half way through the year!
Although a lot of these teams are doing well, there is always room for improvement.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
Ray Lewis is one of the best linebackers of all time, and it is heart-breaking to see him leave the field for the rest of this 2012 season -- and possibly forever. However, his memory will remain within the NFL. Lewis once said that he wanted to live long after his records have fallen. Well, his leadership skills and determination might very well allow that.
Ray Lewis was certainly a fantastic player, but perhaps even more importantly, he urged and encouraged his team to continue to play to their maximum ability each and every game. That is why my favorite moment is not before, but after a loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, which determined who would go to the Super Bowl. Lewis knew that it was not the end, so he made sure that his teammates did not leave the stadium with their heads hanging.
He's an inspiration to us all!
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
"It ain't about one play, it ain't about nothing. This year, we did what we were supposed to do. We fought as a team. There will be one Super Bowl champ this year. That's it! So the way we feel, somebody's gonna feel like that tomorrow! Somebody's gonna feel like that in the week! That's a fact! And the fact is, we gotta come back and go to work to make sure we finish it next time! That's all we gotta do! You hear me, man? I'm tellin' you, man! Don't ever... don't ever drop your head when it comes to a loss, 'cause there's too much pain outside of this that people are really going through! This right here makes us strong! Let's understand who we are as a team! Let's understand who we are as men! Let's make somebody smile as we walk out of here. We got an opportunity to keep goin', man! Let's be strong as a team. Let's be who we are. Ravens on three. ONE, TWO, THREE! RAVENS!"
A lot of rookies have hit the headlines of the NFL this year, including quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, along with running back Trent Richardson and two other quarterbacks Russel Wilson and Brandon Weeden. So far RGIII has been making fantasy football players who added him to their roster happy. Andrew Luck has gotten off to a slow start, but that is not strange for rookie quarterbacks.
However, one partially-rookie player who has not gotten much recognition is running back Mikel Leshoure. The Detroit Lions drafted him last year and were pleased with their pick until he was injured in training camp and missed the whole 2011 season.
They had high expectations for him coming into this year. Unfortunately, he was suspended for the first two games of the regular season. Luckily for the Lions, their running game held up until he was finally available. Leshoure ran for 100 yards in his first ever official NFL game, and instantly appeared as a recommended option for NFL RUSH Fantasy players.
The Lions, sitting at 1-3, are in for a long season, so it will not be a pleasant start to Leshoure's career, but he has a bright future ahead of him.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
If I could play a position in the NFL, it would be general manager of a team.
My football skills on the field are lacking, making me someone who would not be a very good player. However, my leadership skills and football knowledge would make me a good director. I would prefer to not be a coach because I am not the best at play calling, but I would definitely like to socialize with all of our coaches and coordinators to get their perspectives on the shape of our team. Other traits that general managers require are signing contracts in the offseason, making good decisions during the draft, directing free agency and making trades.
I believe if I got the opportunity and had the time, I could shape a bad team into a playoff contender. A large part of that is making sure all fans, coaches and players are satisfied with the team and their payment. Investments in the quality of several things involving performance, such as our stadium, football gear, and practice fields should always be in the mind of an NFL manager.
In my opinion, if I had the chance to lead a team under my standards, my skill would make me perfect for the job.
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
I was able to see -- in person! -- the Detroit Lions Week 1 football game on Sunday at Ford Field. The experience was thrilling, and I was able to notice several details while I was there, both fortunate and disappointing.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford had over 300 yards, and his favorite target, Calvin Johnson, was able to get over 100 yards in the 60 minutes that they played. However, Stafford threw three interceptions in the first half and got the Lions off to a bumpy start.
Luckily, the defense came out strong. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Cliff Avril were all able to force sacks on Sam Bradford. Suh also made a one-handed tackle on Steven Jackson in the backfield. Corey Williams forced a fumble as well. Though they let the St. Louis Rams score 20 points, the defense restricted any explosive plays.
Kevin Smith was the star player of the game. With Jahvid Best injured and Mikel Leshoure suspended, he was the spotlight running back for the game. After his performance, I have hope that the Lions will have a good running game this year. He had 62 rushing yards and 29 yards in the air. His last play of the game was a touchdown pass to put the Lions up by four points with 10 seconds left in the game. He was also the player of the game.
Stafford seemed a bit jittery in the first half, but he was able to screw his head on for the rest of the game. The defense and the running game looks fantastic. The Lions might have a great season ahead of them!
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
Everybody has been anticipating the beginning of the 2012 NFL season for some time now. Finally, it is close! Several teams look to improve upon this last season, and others hope to have a similar one.
The St. Louis Rams are among the teams hoping to end up with a better year. In 2011, the Rams were predicted to dominate with a 10-6 record. However, after winning all of their pre-season games, the Rams ended up with only two wins.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost made it to the playoffs in 2010 with ten wins. However, to the Bucs’ disappointment, a 10-6 record was not enough. That was not the case in 2011 -- they ended up with only four wins, missing even having a shot at the playoffs.
The Detroit Lions coach, Jim Schwartz, joined the team after the Lions went 0-16 in 2008. Ever since then, their record has improved each year. The Lions made it to the playoffs last year with a 10-6 record and lost in the first round to the Saints. This year, Detroit is hoping to have yet another record improvement and perhaps go even further in the playoffs.
The Green Bay Packers nearly became only the second team all-time to have a perfect record. However after a near flawless regular season, the New York Giants beat them in their first playoff game and then went on to win the Super Bowl. With a quarterback that holds the No. 1 spot in the Top 100 Players of 2011 and many other key players, they look to dominate this year.
Every team in the NFL sets goals and hopes to do better than they did last year. That is why every football fan, including me, is looking forward to the beginning of this year!
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter
NFLRUSH Kid Reporter