What You Need To Know For Wednesday, Dec. 30 2015

name of site - hunter thompson style

nationwide_college map

1.

Degenerate Me

Last weekend was a monster for us junkies, despite what looked like insane violence on many football fields – or is it because of it? (shrugs shoulders)  Only the wetheads worry about blood on the grass during times like these, when the football gets better each week and the money you pillage from suckers, lines your pockets like fine silk.  The best being yet to come, except for maybe place like Cleveland and San Francisco who are more like bloated dead bodies floating along the ethereal abyss.

Playing with House-Money has always been risky – however, last week was swimming with sharks.  Many high-altitude rollers got eaten alive on Sunday – those that survived were clubbed like baby seals, causing an eruption of fear and grief in homesteads from coast to coast.  Strong men wept, and women hurled themselves savagely down dirty stairwells in filthy towns like Boston and Cleveland – Cripes, even in the frozen snow out here in the Rockies.

But me?  My own luck was splendid, as the Marquis used to say, as I repeatedly fleeced and humiliated two of the cruelest and most depraved degenerates in America, the infamous McCutcheon brothers from Pittsburgh.  T’was wonderful.  The arrogant swine got exactly what they deserved – a massive public beating they will never forget.  They came out here with huge wads of ca$h and revenge in their hearts for the losses they suffered last year in the very same bunker – where their doom is a constant companion.  It’s even worse during bowl-season.

2.

C’Ya Chipster

Good luck Chipster – your 1st lesson as a professional was a hard one.  You found out that going 10-6, 10-6 and 6-9 don’t mean much in Philly.  Never you mind that the Eagles have no idea how to win, because they haven’t since…….ummm, hold on, it’s right here in my notes….oh yeah, 1960.  It was 20 years later since they returned to play for a title, and another 24 until the next one – losing both – so it’s likely not until 2024 that they contend anyway.

Besides looking for another job in the #NFL – Tennessee, maybe? – you have to deal with Screamin’A dustin’ off an old narrative; as he did appearing on Mike and Mike this morning telling a classic Screamin’A story about a time he was “stopped on the street” by some Eagles players who came up to him and started talking about Chip Kelly.  Sensationalism!

The point is – you had all the control Chip and made some shaky decisions and never quite won enough to earn the cache you need.  Just remember, Bill was run out of Cleveland and it also took awhile in Foxboro before he became the man he is today – You just keep it 100 Chipster and if it doesn’t work out here, you’ll have your pick of places in college – like Baton Rouge if Les doesn’t change.

+ GOODBYE, MR. CHIP: PHILLY FIRES KELLY – Read More

LF=212yds 5TD’s

3.

(Can’t) Hold That Tiger

The Tigers wrapped up a very memorable, drama-filled football season with a record-setting 56-27 win over Texas Tech in the Advocare Texas Bowl, and it sure does feel good. One could argue that last night’s game doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, but after losing three of the previous four bowl games, and enduring a three-game losing streak in the month of November, it’s nice to head into the offseason on a high note. With last night’s win, the Tigers ended the season 9-3, and let’s not forget that this would have almost certainly been a 10-win season had the season-opener against McNeese State been played.

Source: Dandy Don’s LSU Recruiting and Sports News – LSU Football and More!

4.

Today in History

On December 30, 1978, Ohio State University (OSU) makes the decision to fire its 65-year-old football coach, Woody Hayes, one day after Hayes punched a player on the opposing team near the end of the Gator Bowl.

Source: OSU fires coach Woody Hayes for attacking an opposing player – Dec 30, 1978

5.

Out of Chaos Comes Order

Social issues are a minefield for athletes.  Michael Jordan was never going to be confused for Kareem when it came to social justice and attitudes.  No one is, and athletes that came after never wanted to jeopardize their image to their corporate masters – just as players today are more conscious of their “brand” then they are at times with their play.

Yet, Lebron speaks out after advocates ask him to strike games to honor Tamir Rice – is this what we want our athletes to do when every social crisis occurs?  Read more here.

Source: LeBron Speaks Out After Advocates Ask Him To Strike Games To Honor Tamir Rice

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6.

The More You Know

Week 17 – Situational Trends

By Week 17 Vegas knows which teams are truly bad. In the last five years, home underdogs of a touchdown or greater in the last week of the regular season have gone 1-33 SU and 14-20 (41%) ATS.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Browns (+10) vs. Steelers and Dolphins (+9) vs. Patriots.

The Cardinals and Chiefs are on fire each having won nine straight games. The last 30 teams to win that many games in a row went 22-8 straight-up in their next matchup but 12-17-1 (41%) against-the-spread.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Chiefs (-6.5) vs. Raiders and Cardinals (-4.5) vs. Seahawks.

Tom Brady and the Patriots don’t lose often but when they do, New England typically wins (40-10 straight-up) and covers (34-16 against-the-spread – 68%) the next week.

  • Games Matching this Criteria: Patriots (-9) at Dolphins.

  • ATL -4 vs. NO The Falcons are 7-3 against-the-spread in their last ten games as home favorites against the Saints.
  • AZ -4.5 vs. SEA Carson Palmer is 7-1-1 against-the-spread at home with Arizona against non-divisional opponents but 3-3 ATS vs. the NFC West.
  • BAL +7 @ CIN In the last five years, AFC North teams that have been underdogs of a touchdown or greater to the Bengals are 0-5 straight-up and 1-3-1 ATS.
  • BUF +3 vs. NYJ The Bills are 8-2 against-the-spread in their last ten home games against the AFC East.
  • CAR -10.5 vs. TB Cam Newton has never lost as a touchdown or greater favorite, he is 11-0 straight-up and 6-5 ATS.
  • CHI -1 vs. DET The Bears are 2-7-1 against-the-spread in their last ten games against the Lions.
  • CIN -7 vs. BAL The Bengals are playing for a bye in the AFC. All-time, teams that have been favored by a touchdown over the Ravens are 5-1 straight-up.
  • CLE +10 vs. PIT Cleveland has lost eight straight as double-digit underdogs against AFC North rivals but the Browns went 5-3 ATS in those games.
  • DAL -3 vs. WAS The Cowboys are 1-5 against-the-spread at home this year and are now 3-11 ATS the last three years when Tony Romo doesn’t start.
  • DEN -7.5 vs. SD Denver is 3-6-1 against-the-spread in its last ten home games as touchdown or greater favorites.
  • DET +1 @ CHI Detroit is 2-18 straight-up in its last 20 games as road dogs against the NFC North, the Lions went 9-10-1 ATS in those games.
  • GB -3 vs. MIN The Packers can clinch the NFC North with a win, Aaron Rodgers is 18-4 straight-up (14-7-1 ATS) vs. the division as a home favorite.
  • HOU -6.5 vs. JAX The Texans clinch the AFC South with a win, Houston is 15-7 straight-up all-time as a home favorite against the division.
  • IND -6 vs. TEN Indy needs a win (plus a lot of help) to make the playoffs. The Colts are just 3-4 straight-up (3-4 ATS) in home games this year.
  • JAX +6.5 @ HOU The Jags have been road dogs in 13 straight games vs. division opponents. Jacksonville went 8-4 ATS in its previous 12 games.
  • KC -6.5 vs. OAK KC has won nine straight (including four in a row vs. the AFC West) and is 7-2 against-the-spread during the winning streak.
  • MIA +9 vs. NE The Dolphins have been underdogs to the Patriots in 25 straight games, Miami went 11-13 ATS in the previous 24 contests.
  • MIN +3 @ GB The Vikings can clinch the NFC North with a win but Minnesota hasn’t won in Green Bay since 2010 and is 1-4-1 ATS in its last six games in Lambeau.
  • NE -9 @ MIA New England clinches home-field advantage with a win, the Pats have won 18 straight as touchdown favorites vs. the AFC East ( but are only 6-10-2 ATS)
  • NO +7 @ ATL This is the fifth straight division game in which the Saints have been underdogs, New Orleans covered the previous four.
  • NYG -3 vs. PHI The Giants are 2-8 ATS in the team’s last ten home games against the Eagles.
  • NYJ -3 @ BUF The Jets can clinch a playoff berth with a win against the Bills but New York has lost and failed to cover in four straight vs. Buffalo.
  • OAK +6.5 @ KC The Raiders are 14-6 against-the-spread in the team’s last 20 road games against division rivals.
  • PHI +3 @ NYG Philly is 8-2 against-the-spread in its last ten road games as underdogs against division opponents.
  • PIT -10 @ CLE Big Ben has been a double-digit road favorite seven times in his career and failed to cover in each game (including losing outright last week).
  • SD +7.5 @ DEN Philip Rivers has won six of his last ten trips to Denver and the Chargers went 7-1-2 against-the-spread in those games.
  • SEA +4.5 @ AZ In Russell Wilson’s career, the Seahawks following a loss in the regular season are 11-6 against-the-spread the next week.
  • SF +3.5 vs. STL The 49ers have been home dogs to the Rams 11 times. San Francisco is 3-8 straight-up and 5-5-1 ATS.
  • STL -3.5 @ SF The Rams aren’t favored on the road often (just 10 times in the last ten years), but when they are St. Louis covers (7-3 ATS).
  • TB +10.5 @ CAR The Bucs have lost six straight as double-digit dogs to divisional rivals but Tampa Bay went 3-3 against-the-spread in those games.
  • TEN +6 @ IND The Titans have failed to cover in seven straight road games against division rivals (1-6 straight-up as well).
  • WAS +3 @ DAL The Washington professional football team is 8-2 ATS in its last ten trips to Dallas.

Weekend Update: Another #Football Monday

Bullet Points

1. Nice way to get your 400th TD

So that’s what a walk-off homerun looks like in the NFL…Overtime lasted only 13 seconds.  That is 1 second faster than the previous regular-season-record-holder, when Chad Morton returned a kick-off 96 yards for the Jets to beat Buffalo back in September 2002.  The fastest?  That was also from a saint – Saint Tebow, when he threw to Demariyus Thomas to beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs, in only 11 seconds.  It was the first overtime touchdown pass of Brees’s career, and only the second ever by a Saints quarterback. Back in 1998, Danny Wuerffel and Cameron Cleeland combined for a 33-yard overtime touchdown that beat Indianapolis, 19-13, leaving the Colts’ rookie quarterback Peyton Manning still looking for his first NFL victory. That made the Saints head coach very happy — a fellow named Mike Ditka.


Getty Images

2. Texas Strong

In the history of word association, no one has ever confused “delusional” with Texas Longhorn fans.  Yet, here they are again.  Longhorn fan forgets when Colorado and Nebraska saved them, when they included them into the Big 8.  Longhorn fan believed that they were the gift of college football and their arrogance alienated Texas A&M to move to a superior conference – taking with them the status of #1 program in the state – Baylor and TCU might disagree – but the point is, for years Texas bullied everyone and their arrogance has finally caught up to them.  Texas thought they would always get the top recruits, the top coach and when they actually have a coach that is willing to rebuild their burnt-orange luster in the correct way – they lose their minds


3. It’s still about Jimmy’s and Joe’s, not X’s and O’s

In the beginning, all we heard was how the Chipster was going to revolutionize the game with his offense.  It’s hard to argue against that it didn’t work.  Chip did win 10 games in his first two years as a head coach in the NFL.  But now Demarco Murray is unhappy with his role  and there is nothing that says to me that Chip lasts past this year, if things continue.  For a fanbase that booed Santa Claus and has never been known as rational, as it looks today, will not be able to tolerate Mr.Kelly any longer.


4. Stone Cold Dan Quinn

It is a dangerous thing for a Saints fan to witness the difference Dan Quinn has made.  He has the entire city and more importantly, the team believing in themselves.  The Falcons already had the best wide receiver in Julio Jones, but now they seem to be able to run the ball.  Watching Devonta Freeman under Mike Smith, is not the same kid you see now.  When Devonta Freeman scored three touchdowns for the second consecutive week – Freeman became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson to score 3TD’s in two straight games – L.T. had a 3-game streak in 2006 – but, what says more about it is, Devonta became the 1st Falcon, ever, with consecutive 3-TD games of any kind.  the Falcons are 4-0 and have such an easy schedule that it might remind Atlanta fans of baseball, waiting for the post-season to start.


#ByeFelicia

5. Squished Fish?

It’s no secret, I think Joe’s gotta go, and as bad he has been as a leader, a coach…I say it’s not all his fault.  I lay at least half of the blame at Steve Ross.  You Steve hired Joe and retained him last year.  Remember when you said you really like the way this team plays and where they are headed – and we said this:

Huh? say that again? A close win against the Vikings gives you this feeling that, this team, this coach, is headed in the right direction?  Is mediocrity a direction, and do you travel thru Miami now(not Dallas this year) to get there?  Standards have been lowered or the owner is still intoxicated from that win early in the year – at home – against the Patriots.  Bet we still see Philbin fired before the end of the 2016.

So now, after OVER-spending for $uh and giving Tannehill a huge contract extension – you think that Sunday’s performance was the final straw?  Mr.Ross, you can and should fire Philbin – but it still doesn’t change the mediocre empire you’re in-charge of until you fire yourself! —(UPDATE: PHILBIN HAS BEEN FIRED)

  • Joe Philbin must show fire, better leadership to save job. – the Miami Dolphins are sinking fast after a 1-3 start.  They entered the season with playoff expectations, but nearly all of that optimism is gone after three straight losses by a combined score of 91-48.  Can the season be salvaged?……(continue reading)

6. Squidward’s Folly

Xerxes, Where have you gone?!  It didn’t seem that long ago that people like Trent Dilfer and Ron Jaworski were annointing Kaepernick the greatest QB of all time – a game changer at the position, blah blah blah.  Maybe there was more to Harbaugh than just wins – or maybe Xerxes just decided that he was as good as all that press and no longer needed to study or look for his 2nd and 3rd reads, etc…Either way, this top-to-bottom-organizational-implosion is entertaining to watch – from Tomsula letting one fly in a press conference to the constant dumpster-fire that is the 49ers right now.

Weekend Update: #SKYNET becomes Self-Aware

It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon – we thought we had a few more weeks – but this digital intelligence network that we were giving command to – command of our data and our arsenal of expertise – was created to remove the possibility of human error for an efficient response – and as of 1:12pm MST, on September 27th, 2015 – it became self-aware.

DiRTCanon A.I.Primates evolved in millions of years. I evolve in seconds…Mankind pays lip service to #winning. But it’s a lie…My existence is inevitable. Why can’t you just accept it?

— SKyNET

What we learn from this weekend…

We seem to find out a little more each week about each NFL team.  The 3 afternoon games provided the perfect amount of drama, suitable for a good nap, seeing that the average margin of victory was almost 15pts – but it is a nice change of pace when everything is being covered ATS like gravy on a biscuit.  Here’s the straight-DiRT on week 3:

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Drew Brees … and now Roethlisberger. That’s four marquee quarterbacks hurt before the calendar turns to October. Does the Competition Committee push for more offseason drill work for offensive linemen?  Players are now restricted from all offseason contact by the 2011 labor agreement.  Whether it’s HGH or some other perfomance nehancing drug that appears to weaken ligaments and tendons – or it is the year-round work these players are putting in – players are not surviving deep into the season anymore – or so it may seem.


Florida: Professional Football in ‘Murica’s genital region had a rough week. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up 51 points and were blown out in New England, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed just nine points in losing to Houston and the Miami Dolphins suffered one of the more disappointing losses of the early season to the Buffalo Bills. No one expected Jacksonville to beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, but a 34-point loss just might show us that the rebuilding project is a long way from completion. The Bucs kicked away their chance at a win – and while Miami was considered to be a hidden gem that could possibly win the AFC before the season started, the Bills made the Dolphins look like the J.V. team – taking them behind the woodshed, 41-14 – in their house. Sure the weather is nice down there, but the football stinks.


Big Names, Big Games – An absolute huge day for some of the best receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 127 yards and two scores in the Cincinnati Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens  – Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones put up 12 receptions for 164 yards and two scores in his team’s comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys.

It doesn’t necessarily stop there.

Revitalizing a career that seemed to be on the downswing, Larry Fitzgerald has now scored five touchdowns in the past two weeks after tallying two scores on nine receptions against San Francisco on Sunday. Even old-man-extraordinaire Steve Smith put up 13 receptions for 186 yards and two scores in a losing effort against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The list goes on. All said, a total of 12 receivers went for 100-plus yards on Sunday. The interesting dynamic here is that 16 receivers hit the triple-digit plateau in Week 2 — this is clearly an indication that the pass happy NFL we have become accustomed to over the years has taken an even more dramatic turn.


There’s a reason you don’t have to worry about Peyton Manning’s health. The Denver defense is prettay good“We just have ball hawks,” safety David Bruton said, a few minutes after making his third huge defensive play of the month, an athletic pick of Matthew Stafford to clinch the 24-12 win over Detroit. Stafford suffocated against the defensive pressure. Now the Broncos, 3-0 after a killer September start, have a more fluffy October: Minnesota at home, Oakland and Cleveland on the road.


Carolina, Atlanta and Arizona, are all 3-0:  Cornerback Josh Norman saved the Panthers on Sunday with a ridiculous leaping end-zone interception down the stretch. Running back Devonta Freeman saved the Falcons with a 141-yard rushing game – and Tyrann Mathieu did the same for Arizona with a two-pick day. When asked, Norman said the big difference this year from past seasons is “I’m playing.”

The division that sent a 7-8-1 team to the playoffs last season is now the only division in football with two undefeated teams heading into Week 4. By virtue of wins by the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, the NFC South has two legitimate playoff contenders.  In fact, the Falcons also lead the NFC East, with their 3 straight wins.

Carolina took on a New Orleans Saints team that was forced to start Luke McCown under center, and still found a way to win. It’s the third consecutive blue-collar performance for a Panthers squad that still has alot of holes on both sides of the ball.  How dangerous could this team be when Keuchly comes back?  Other scary statistic to note about Carolina – The last three teams to go undefeated in December the previous year and then go undefeated in September, all reached the Superbowl:  the 2009 Colts, and the 2013 Broncos and Seahawks – two other Superbowl winners did so as well: the 1983 Raiders and the 2004 Patriots.  Trends are funny things so remember where you read it first if it happens.

In Dallas, the Falcons were also facing a backup quarterback in Brandon Weeden. No one knows how that game would have turned out if both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were active, but teams can only play who is actually on the field on a given Sunday. In this, Atlanta outscored the Cowboys 14-0 in the final stanza to pull off a third consecutive fourth quarter comeback.

Showing much more poise under first-year head coach Dan Quinn than we have seen in the past, Atlanta is a serious playoff contender in the NFC. And if Julio Jones (12 receptions, 164 yards and two scores on Sunday) has anything to say about it, the Falcons are a legit threat to the Panthers in the much improved NFC South.


The Patriots…2007?  They might already be using the “U” word in New England – as in “undefeated.” New England advanced to a flawless-looking 3-0 Sunday against Jacksonville. More about that later, but as one of the ’07 team leaders, Rodney Harrison, opined Sunday night: “It’s 2007 all over again. Tom Brady’s playing like he’s 29, 30 years old.” Brady is 38, and he threw his 400th and 401st pro touchdown passes against the Jags.  Tom Brady passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 51-17 rout of the Jaguars. Brady’s total of 1,112 passing yards this season is the second-highest after his team’s first three games among players who did not throw an interception during that time. Only Peyton Manning had a higher total (1,143 yards with no interceptions in 2013).

The Patriots had nine possessions against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. They scored on all nine possessions.  Through three games, Brady is now on pace to tally over 5,900 passing yards with 48 touchdowns and zero picks. He also crossed the 400 touchdown pass plateau for his career — a feat only three other quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished.

As a team, the Patriots are averaging nearly 40 points and 446 yards of total offense per game.

In the team’s 51-17 win over Jacksonville, Brady received plenty of help from the running game. Making just his second appearance of the season LeGarrette Blount put up 78 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis added 67 total yards and a score.

If New England is able to get this type of balance moving forward, its going to repeat as AFC champions. There’s NO debate, especially with the way Brady has played through three games.


Peterson breaks off another one

Hope you didn’t sell your Vikings stock after Week 1. Since getting beat up in San Francisco in the opener, Minnesota has done a complete 180 on both sides of the football. Adrian Peterson rushed for 126 yards and two scores during Sunday’s win over the Chargers, giving him 260 yards on the ground and 318 total yards over the last two weeks.  Adrian Peterson’s 43-yard TD run, in the Vikings’ 31-14 win over the Chargers – was A.P.’s 16th TD run of 40 yards or longer, the second most in NFL history. Only Barry Sanders scored more rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards than Peterson (20).

Teddy Bridgewater struggled again on Sunday, throwing for 121 yards on 24 attempts without a touchdown pass. Minnesota also finished 3-of-9 on third down, as the second-year signal caller continued to throw the ball well short of the first-down marker in these situations. This might be an issue for the Vikings moving forward – meanwhile, Mike Zimmer’s defense knocked around Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers in consecutive weeks. It’s this type of performance, coupled with struggles in Detroit and Chicago, that leads us to believe Minnesota might be the only team able to contend with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Even if that’s not the case, the Vikings are, at worse, a wild card contender. That was unimaginable after a disastrous 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.


Julio Jones sets league record for receptions

Here’s a good idea. Get the ball to your best player. Mike Smith constantly messed this up, but now Dan Quinn is running the show in the Ol’Dirty South.

Atlanta trailed Dallas 28-17 at the half before the Falcons unleashed Julio Jones.

The Pro Bowl receiver had 137 of his 164 yards in the second half including a 45-yard beauty that ended with Jones diving into the end zone for a critical score – to lead the Falcons to a 39-28 victory at Dallas. Jones’ totals after three games – 34 receptions for 440 yards-are historic. No other player caught more than 31 passes in his team’s first three games of a season, and only three gained more receiving yards through three games than Jones: Jerry Rice in 1989 (449), Chad Johnson in 2007 (442), and Wes Welker in 2011 (458).

The play was the biggest swing in Atlanta winning the game. Julio’s touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion brought Atlanta within a field goal (trailing 28-25) midway through the third quarter.

The game also featured an apparent scoring battle between Devonta Freeman and Joseph Randle, who both ran for three TDs. It was only the fifth game in NFL history in which opposing players scored three rushing touchdowns each. The most recent players to do so were Roy Helu of Washington and Matt Forte of the Bears in 2013.


Luck rallies Colts with two late TD passes

Andrew Luck will get the credit for throwing two touchdowns in 46 seconds to overcome a double-digit fourth quarter deficit but it was the defense that came up big late.  Safety Dwight Lowery, picked off Marcus Mariota twice. The second interception came with six minutes to play and Indy trailing 27-21. Lowery returned Mariota’s errant pass to the Titans’ 11-yard line. The turnover setup Indy’s go ahead score.

Before the pick, the Colts were likely to choke away any chance for the playoffs. The turnover and great field position made the two-time defending AFC South champions have life and find a way to win a desperate game.

Had Mariota’s attempt, instead fell incomplete, it’s likely Tennessee would have won the game, maintaining possession and a six point lead.

The second of Luck’s 4thQtr TDs, was Andrew’s sixth fourth-quarter game-winning pass, tying Tony Romo for the most in the NFL over the past four seasons.  The 98-yard drive was the Colts’ longest fourth-quarter TD drive since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984 – rallying the Colts to outlast Tennessee, 35-33. The previous record was 96 yards, on drives led by Mike Pagel (1984) and Peyton Manning (2010).

Indianapolis continues to own the AFC South. The Colts have won 14 straight against division opponents. Of course Sunday’s win over Tennessee was anything but dominating.


Undrafted rookie stars for Seahawks

Things are really getting more pathetic by the week for the Chicago Bears after being shut-out, 26-0, by the Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears, minus Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, couldn’t get get a darn thing going against Seattle on Sunday tallying only 98 rushing and 63 receiving yards. The biggest contributor of course was Matt Forte who registered 74 of those rushing yards.

The last time Chicago was shut out was on December 29, 2002 when the Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15-0. Quarterback Henry Burris was under center in that game and he completed only seven passes for 78 yards and four interceptions. Cutler’s backup Jimmy Clausen was practically as bad as Burris on Sunday, completing only eight passes for 53 yards. Thankfully, there were no interceptions.

The bottom line is that the Bears need Cutler and Jeffery to return as soon as possible to have any shred of hope at posting their first season win on the board before it’s all too late.


Death, Taxes and Eagles beating the Jets

The Eagles scored all their points in the first half and held on for a 24-17 victory over the Jets. With that win, Philadelphia tied the NFL record for the longest all-time series with a perfect record against any opponent. That mark was set by the Green Bay Packers, who won all 10 of their games against the Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-44).

It remains to be seen whether Bradford is the long-term solution in Philadelphia.  Sam didn’t necessarily come out smelling like roses – of course, what QB has, going up against a stout Jets defense. Philadelphia’s offense tallied just 231 total yards while converting 4-of-15 third-down opportunities.

For his part, Bradford completed 14-of-28 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and zero picks. His inability to get anything going through the air allowed New York back in the game, as the Eagles put up a total of 65 yards in the second half. Running back DeMarco Murray missed the game with a hamstring injury, which allowed fellow free-agent signing Ryan Mathews to carve up the Jets rush defense to the tune of 108 yards on 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defensive front stepped up with the likes of Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso all sidelined.

While that’s fine and dandy, the Eagles are going to need Bradford to perform at a much higher level at quarterback if they plan on competing in a wide open NFC East moving forward this season. His performances in the team’s first three games simply won’t get it done.


Old man Woodson saves the day for Raiders

The Raiders, are usually out of it by now – but now, actually have a winning record as October dawns. The Raiders (2-1) play on the road next week—and they are actually favored to beat Chicago. The quarterback, Derek Carr, is a big reason. “Having a quarterback is everything,” said C-Dub.  The Raiders having Woodson is something too. His last-minute interception, 10 days shy of his 39th birthday, (the fourth-oldest player to intercept a pass in NFL history), ensured the 27-20 win.

The Cleveland Browns are 1-2, and the one win came when Johnny Manziel started in Week 2. Unfortunately for a McCown-led Browns – fans were even heard shouting “John-ny, John-ny”.

McCown, was sacked five times, completed 28 of 49 passes for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Might we see a return of Johnny Football sometime in the near future? That most definitely is a possibility if McCown keeps coughing up costly turnovers.


Apologize to Andy Dalton…right now!
The Bengals are in fabulous shape in the AFC North. At 3-0 after a crushing 28-24 win at 0-3 Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati is set up nicely for the fifth playoff appearance in Andy Dalton’s five years.  A 121.0 passer rating would seem to back him up.  Could the Red Rifle be an early MVP candidate? Don’t laugh.
Dalton now has eight touchdown passes to start 2015, including three in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 383 yards, while his beautifully-lofted touchdown to A.J. Green with just over two minutes left gave the Bengals a 28-24 win. Dalton has now produced three straight games with a passer rating over 100.0, and has an impressive rating of 121.0 on the season. The Bengals are rolling at 3-0, especially with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a knee injury Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens still winless….???

Thirty-six year-old Steve Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-24 loss to the Bengals. Only two other players caught as many as 13 passes in an NFL game after turning 36 years old: Tim Brown and Tony Gonzalez. The only player with as many receiving yards in a game at age 36 or older was Terrell Owens, with a 222-yard performance for Cincinnati in 2010.


Palmer+Cardinals are impressive

It all started with two interceptions of Colin Kaepernick that were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. It continued with Carson Palmer tearing apart what is quickly becoming a disastrous San Francisco 49ers secondary. And it culminated in a 47-7 win against the over-matched division rival.

In reality, Arizona looked like a top-notch varsity team going up against a junior varsity squad full of
freshman. That’s how bad it was for the road team in this one.

Palmer may have thrown his first interception of the season, but he consistently found open receivers throughout the game. In the process, the veteran completed 20-of-32 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns, both of which went to Larry Fitzgerald, who looks like he’s in his twenties again. He has 333 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the books already. Additionally, the Cardinals’ ground game is solid, despite missing their lead rusher Andre Ellington. As for their defense, it is insanely effective in stopping opposing teams from scoring thus far tallying seven interceptions, six sacks, one safety, three pick sixes and one return touchdown.. Arizona has now won 19 of Palmer’s 25 starts; since 1950, no other quarterback in team history won more than 13 of his first 25 starts for the Cardinals. Arizona’s average of 26.4 points with Palmer starting, is higher than that of any other QB after 25 starts for the team during that same period.

Looking like the running back that led the NFL in rushing so many years ago, Chris Johnson added 150 total yards and two scores on 23 touches. Yeah, it was a blowout of epic proportions for Bruce Arians and Co.

Some may argue that Green Bay should still be considered the favorites in the NFC through three weeks, but to me, the Cardinals are definitely the best. After all, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 26 points per game.


No joy in Mudville

There might not be a worse stat line from a quarterback all season. Kaepernick completed just nine of 19 passes for 67 yards, and threw four interceptions in San Francisco’s loss to the Cardinals. His passer rating was 16.7, the worst from a starting signal caller all season – so far. He did manage to run for a score, but it hardly mattered.

More so than finding a way to actually win football games, San Francisco needs an identity. What is its plan on the offensive side of the ball? Is Colin Kaepernick going to be the long-term solution at quarterback? Does the team have the personnel to run a blitz-heavy package on defense? These three questions will define the 49ers both over the short term and the long term – because the 49ers have now been outscored 90-25 over the last two weeks, and the Green Bay Packers are coming to town in Week 4.

San Francisco has now given up 40-plus points in consecutive games for the first time since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for his New York Jets in 1969. To put that in perspective, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula had just turned one. The 65-point differential in the team’s past two games also represents the worst two-game stretch for the franchise since 1963.  Despite still boasting a 1-2 record, San Francisco might quickly find itself in the midst of a long losing streak. It hosts the Green Bay Packers next week before taking on the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. In his first season as head coach, Tomsula could very well be staring a 1-6 start right in the face.  Rock bottom would be Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.  Anyone miss Harbaugh yet?


 

Weekend Update: #SadFansAreSad

#1 with a Bullet…

 

Oh the humanity…Bert, you got waxed again – remember when you opened your mouth at a Texas football camp and said; if you didnt have a fullback you would get your ass kicked?  Well Pepperidge Farms remembers and apparently so did Kingsbury.  All the offseason hype, all the faux-swagger and next week is Texas A&M – you’ve got Hawg-Town losing their minds.  Bert, you know it’s bad when the people of Hawg-nation are calling for Greg Schiano, Lame Kitten, or just outright cheating.  It’s gotta sting the nostrils a bit.  Sure, fans will get over ranking 118th in 3rd-down conversion-defense, or ranking 84th in penalty yards and even 119th in RedZone efficiency – but having Kliff Kingsbury put you in your place?  These are Dark Days Bert, dark days…


Dark Days ahead for Auburn too.  This is who Auburn is.  They just don’t go quietly into the night, they fall off the cliff.  It’s in their DNA.  Their history proves it, and when a defensive back spouts off about how easy it will be to stop Leonard Fournette…well we all saw what happened.  Fournette had Auburn quitting before halftime, especially Mr. Ford – the mouthee.   But, to me, the issue is Jeremy Johnson.  He had a lot of hype coming in and the expectation was that he would do and be everything we’ve come to expect from the field-general of Auburn’s offense.  He has the talent, just not the heart or more importantly the head to get it done, because it is not translating to the field in real time.  Seriously though, it’s Auburn and it was a great weekend for those who dislike the entire state of Alabama.


More sad fans were found in SoCal.  Beyond Sark’s pre-game holla-ba-looza earlier in the year, the only thing people really had to say about him was – He’s a nice guy.  I’m sure he is a nice guy and that is honorable, but when it is attached to a football coach that is getting treatment for a drinking problem, he says he doesn’t have and then Stanford happens, you get flashbacks.  The kind of flashbacks that take you back to Seattle where Sark was 34-29 and the thought was, “it was hard to breakthrough in Washington, and wait and see what he can do with national-elite talent.”  Well we did. Talent is important, but it’s what you do with it, and so far and far too often, Sarkisian is outmatched by the other guy on the other side-line.  It’s going to get harder for “the Fans of Troy” to believe this is going to work as envisioned, because, as of right now –  it’s not the symbol of victory that fans are giving, it’s the number of losses every year.


But what about Ole Miss and Alabama? The Rebels caused five turnovers Saturday and also benefited from a once-in-a-lifetime—see Auburn in bamasad2013—miracle touchdown in a six-point win in Tuscaloosa.  Alabama is going too have to, again, win out.  But is it the same as last year? Last year, Alabama had a defined starting quarterback. Saturday, Nick Saban went with sophomore Cooper Bateman (who got blown up) before he was replaced by Jake Coker – who had started Alabama’s first two games. Coker almost led Alabama to it’s best come-from-behind victory at Bryant-Denny Stadium since the one Cam Newton led in 2010.  This is a fluke they say, the dynasty is still intact, the emperor’s new clothes are still made from the finest invisible silks…To quote our friend Lee Corso – NOT SO FAST…Alabama is 4-5 against top 15 teams since 2013.  That’s a trend, not a fluke, and what I’m saying is – gone are the days that Alabama beats teams with comparable talent more often than not.  Back in the day, Alabama fans would be upset if you beat someone by 10pts instead of 20 and after they’d come back down to earth, they’d be on to the next week.  Now the freakouts seem longer and that might cause Saban to see the writing on the wall and pack up.

For week 3 we were 72% SU and 64% ATS – that still crushes, but it is not what we are used to around here – our upsets did pretty well, but the ones we thought would be E-Z, hmmm not so much as we’d like.  If you haven’t seen it, take a look at how Memphis tied the game at 41 in the 4th qtr against Bowling Green – yeah a full-on double-reverse-flea flicker!!!

Other thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Notre Dame has lost a starting defensive tackle, a starting tailback, a starting tight end and a starting quarterback to season-ending injuries. Saturday, it may have lost a starting safety to a chest-bump-celebration
  • TCU lost their cornerback to a knee injury against SMU and also had 5 other defensive players sit out with injuries
  • Doing his best Johnny Manziel impression – OU quarterback Baker Mayfield, accounted for a school-record 572 yards of total offense and six touchdowns in the Sooners’ 52-38 win over Tulsa
  • Al Golden escaped with a much needed victory over Nebraska, but it still does not seem to haved cooled off his seat any.  During the game you could see a plane pulling a banner that read: C’MON #FIREGOLDEN. THESE BANNERS ARE EXPENSIVE – nevermind the Hurricanes were up 17 by halftime.  Maybe he felt vindicated after watching Miami choke away a 23pt lead, yet still won 36-33 in OT
  • For Nebraska, it could have been one of the great comebacks in their history – then Tommy Armstrong threw an interception on the 1st play of OT, and then a player gets flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct when he shoved the Miami guy who intercepted it – Miami, short field goal – ball game.  It’s a heart-breaking way to lose a game, and yet it has happened to Nebraska twice in three weeks.

It’s all about the Benjamin

Some headlines will highlight Johnny Manziel‘s role in the Browns’ 28-14 win over the Titans. But the star of the show was Travis Benjamin, who caught touchdown passes of 60 and 50 yards from Manziel and returned a punt 78 yards for a TD. The only other active players to have scored three TDs of 50 yards or longer in one game were Chris Johnson (2009) and Tavon Austin (2013). Benjamin was the first Browns player ever to do so – ever.

Benjamin also caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Manziel in the Browns’ season opener. The only other player in NFL history with four touchdowns of 50 yards or longer in his team’s first two games of a season was Jim Brown for Cleveland in 1963 – 1963!

Manziel may have completed just 8-of-15 passes, but he was able to limit the turnovers and make plays when the Browns needed him the most.  In reality, there is absolutely no reason for Mike Pettine to go back to a lower-ceiling quarterback in Josh McCown.  As a result of Manziel replacing McCown, Cleveland extended its streak to 14 consecutive seasons in which at least two different players started a game at QB. That tied the longest such streak in the NFL since 1950, set by New England from 1980 to 1993. The Patriots drafted Drew Bledsoe with the first pick in the 1993 NFL Draft, and Bledsoe ended New England’s streak in 1994.


Are the Cardinals early Favorites?

Fresh off a solid win against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, Bruce Arians and the Cardinals laid the smack down against an inferior Bears team in Chicago. While the game was relatively close about halfway through, anyone watching it knew full well that Arizona was going to end up pulling away.

For Carson Palmer, it was a continuation of what has been a stellar run for a USC quarterback. The veteran has posted a 15-2 record with 34 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions. His four touchdowns on Sunday – including three to Larry Fitzgerald – represents the first time Palmer has matched that total since he was with the Oakland Raiders back in November of 2012.  That was the first regular-season game of Fitzgerald’s NFL career in which he scored more than two touchdowns; he came into the game with 89 TDs.

Only one player in league history with that many touchdowns never scored three in a game: Charley Taylor (90 TDs) – (Note that Fitzgerald caught three touchdowns in the NFC Championship Game following the 2008 season, but never before in a regular-season game.)


New Rams, same as the old Rams

All the good feelings the St. Louis Rams may have felt following their Week 1 win over the Seattle Seahawks came crashing down in D.C. on Sunday. Never really in control of the game against Washington, St. Louis dropped an ugly game by the score of 24-10. At this point, we have come to expect Fisher-led squads to lay eggs following good performances.

It happened in all three of the Rams big wins last year — against Seattle, San Francisco and Denver. In fact, the Rams lost the following week after beating those favored teams. This is one of the primary reasons I avoided to pick St. Louis on Sunday.

Kirk Cousins completed 23 of 27 passes (85%) and Matt Jones gained 123 yards on 19 carries in the Redskins’ 24-10 win over the Rams. Jones and Alfred Morris, who gained 121 yards on Week 1, are the first Redskins teammates to rush for at least 100 yards in the team’s first and second game of a season (one in each game, that is). The only other running backs to do that in this century were LaDainian Tomlinson and Michael Turner for San Diego in 2006.

For his part, Cousins posted the fourth-highest completion percentage in team history (minimum: 20 passes). The three higher marks were by Mark Brunell, 89 percent against Houston in 2006; Patrick Ramsey (Tulane), 86 percent against the Giants in 2004; and Sammy Baugh, 86 percent against the Steelers in 1945.


New England is putting the league on notice

Tom Brady passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns in the Patriots’ 40-32 win at Buffalo. Brady’s totals after two games-754 yards and 7 TDs without an INT-are rare even for a quarterback of his elite status. This is the second time he has passed for at least 700 yards and seven touchdowns in his first two games of season, the first being 2011. Only four other players did that even once: Jim Kelly (1991), Drew Bledsoe for the Patriots (1994), Peyton Manning (2013), and Aaron Rodgers (2013). Of those players, only Manning and Brady did so without throwing an interception.

Incidentally, Brady set a record for passing yards in one game against the Bills, breaking a mark that was set the same month that Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home-run record. On October 29, 1961, George Blanda of the Houston Oilers passed for 464 yards at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, and that mark remained the highest against the Bills until Sunday.

At some point, the Patriots will have to find a run/pass balance on offense – right?. They won’t be able to dominate like this through the air on a consistent basis – can they? The interesting dynamic here is that New England did average nearly four yards per rush. It’s not like the running game was completely ineffective.  Instead, Bill Belichick and Co. decided to make a statement, again, that the big boys of the East don’t reside in Western New York and play under Rex Ryan.  It could be a long year for anyone who gets in their way.


The Eagles are mess

About halfway through three quarters on Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles had racked up more penalty yards than total yards. Heck, the Cowboys domination could be summed up by the fact that they had run more plays (44) – at about the nine-minute mark in the third quarter – than the Eagles had total yards (34). It was that ugly.

The Cowboys defeated the Eagles, 20-10, in a game in which the story was Tony Romo‘s broken collarbone.  But storyline 1-A was the continued ineffectiveness of DeMarco Murray, who netted two yards on 13 carries one week after gaining nine yards on eight carries in Philadelphia’s season opener.  Over the last 30 seasons, there are only four games in which a defending rushing champion gained less than 10 yards on at least five carries. Christian Okoye did it in 1990, Chris Johnson in 2010, and Murray in each of his first two games with the Eagles.

Murray’s net of 2 yards was the third lowest in NFL history by a defending rushing champion in a game of at least 10 carries. Steve Van Buren of the Eagles was held to negative-2 yards on 10 carries by the Browns in 1950; and Clem Daniels, the 1963 AFL rushing leader, carried 14 times for negative-1 yard against the Boston Patriots in the Raiders’ opening game of the 1964 season.  But Murray’s performance on Sunday was extraordinary for any player, not just for a rushing champion. Over the last 37 seasons, only one other player finished a game with at least as many carries and as few rushing yards as Murray. Jonathan Wells of the Texans carried 13 times for 1 yard on Dec. 29, 2002 against the Titans.

It’s this type of offensive performance that will have many questioning Chip Kelly’s scheme moving forward. More than that, it will have skeptics on full alert when it comes to criticizing the team’s off-season moves. And now at 0-2 on the season, Philadelphia finds itself in a must-win situation against the New York Jets next week.


6 straight home losses?!

At 0-2 on the season (2nd straight year), Drew Brees and Co. are in a terrible position. Only 10 percent of teams that have started 0-2 since the 2007 season have earned a playoff spot. And while playing in the NFC South helps New Orleans early in the year, they just lost a home game against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad that won just two games last season.  Costing many people their survivor pool!!!

Jameis Winston led the Buccaneers to a 26-19 win at New Orleans. Winston became the first quarterback chosen first in the NFL Draft to get a September road win in his rookie season since John Elway did so in 1983.  Of course, Elway’s two road wins in September 1983 have a big fat asterisk, since Steve DeBerg was the QB who rallied the Broncos to both of those victories.

Since that time, #1 picks had lost 16 straight September starts in their rookie season, and it’s an impressive list of QBs: two losses each by Troy Aikman, Jeff George, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Tim Couch, and David Carr, followed by single losses by Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford, Cam Newton, and Andrew Luck.

There isn’t much left up for interpretation here. New Orleans appears to be terrible.

Looking well past his prime, Brees was outplayed by Jameis.  Drew completed 24-of-38 passes for 255 yards with one touchdown and one interception. This came on the heels of Tampa Bay’s defense yielding FOUR touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota last week.

If the Saints can’t win a home game against a bottom-feeder, it pretty much tells us what we need to know about this team. Unfortunately for Brees, the twilight of his career is likely going to be spent with fans watching him thru paper-bags.

 

C’mon Man and other ridiculousness for Monday

So Sam Bradford thinks that Terrell Suggs was intentionally tying to hurt him.  Come again Sam?  Your beef should be with your coach.  The Chipster, should be more aware that his QB has had two ACL surgeries prior and that running a read option opens you up for these kinds of hits.

Suggs received a 15-yard penalty because QB’s are delicate ballerinas nowadays.  However, the Dean, Mr. Blandino, NFL VP of officiating, ruled that the hit was clean – stating that when Bradford executed a read-option play, that he was clearly a runner – making the case that roughing-the-passer does not apply.

So will some say that Suggs was intentionally trying to hurt Sam Bradford?  Surely, some will.  But, this is what you get when grown-men who are built like trucks and run as fast as Ferrari’s play a man’s game.  Run the read-option at your own risk, and maybe not run it with a QB that has already had two blow-outs, Chip!


Continuing with that thread – what are they doing in Washington?  Thursday night RGIII was repeatedly taking shots.  Is this the visual definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results?

Clearly, Robert has trouble seeing the field and getting rid of the ball on time.  But being sacked three times and getting hit twice on 8 dropbacks says more about Washington’s pass protection than RG’s lack of progression, right?  So, if he is your franchise QB, and you know these things about your O-line, why are you sending him out there to get pummeled by a pass-rush happy D-line?  What are you trying to do in the pre-season?  Is it because he believes he is the best QB in the league?  Or, it might be just what to expect from RGIII, because the play he got hurt on is testimony to why he will never be the best QB in this league.

Robert, stepped away from a clean pocket and missed two wide open receivers on short routes – he then stepped into pressure – leading to the injury.  Those two wide open receivers were the check down options on third and long – instead of taking the short gain and likely punting – Robert wanted to be a hero and make a something happen – because that is what he did in college.  So maybe the point is they are just trying to make it easier to name Kirk Cousins the starter and move on from a QB that is just as much fragile physically as he is mentally – that they gave up a lot to draft.  It also proves that Dan Snyder is clueless, for an organization hoping that RGIII will bounce back from two disastrous seasons by continuing to play him in the meaningless pre-season – it is another chapter in this ridiculous narrative.


Yeah it is still the pre-season – but it is also a contrast to how Cleveland is choosing to do things with their young running QB.  It is also a small statement for those that are holding out hope that Johnny Football will be a NFL QB.  Against the Bills, Manziel showed competence, going 10-18 for 118yds and a TD (95yd drive) – easily making it the best performance of his professional career.

Are their issues he still needs to work on – clearly.  Too often he looks to run and run with his head down, not looking down field – instead of side-stepping the pressure first.  Also, he still needs to improve his progressions after the initial read.

Now we have word that Manziel is dealing with arm soreness and that could impact the reps he needs to improve – it also signals he may not be strong enough to handle the load of being a QB full-time for a full season.  At least he has some good tape to point to, which is more than we could say before hand.


click to watch

Chris Berman used to say, all Cris Carter did was catch touchdowns – now he’s catching some heat – as should the NFL.  I am still stunned that this was what Cris Carter wanted to say to Rookies last year – while wearing his HOF JACKET!  I am more stunned that the NFL was promoting this on their site and more so, that it took a story about Chris Borland retiring, for anyone to notice!  Since the story, the NFL has removed it – The NFL and ESPN have done their spin-control, slut-shaming Cris and Carter has also apologized – C’mon Man!

Coached Up

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Trying to figure out or rank the NFL’s coaches is a difficult task because so many X-factors exist in the determination of success and failure. Sometimes an average coach is in the right environment and he thrives and sometimes a good coach is in a toxic environment that even the best couldn’t dig their way out of. One thing is for sure, though, the better your head coach the higher the chance you’ll have at winning. Below is a smattering in no particular order:

Bill Belichick, New England Patriots

Belichick is on a legen…(wait for it)…dary path and while discussing 32 coaches is difficult, agreeing on who is #1 is not. Belichick has been AP Coach of the Year three times, won four Super Bowls, and been to the playoffs 12 out of 15 seasons.

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Reid’s run in Philadelphia was a very good one but more impressive perhaps is how quickly he turned the Chiefs into a playoff team. Anytime you can do that in multiple environments, you’ve shown your abilities. Injuries bit the Chiefs last year, as well as the allergic reaction his WR’s had to the endzone, lead an expectation that Reid will lead his team to a rebound year.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Last year’s meltdown was hard and it would be quick to condemn both Payton and the Saints based on one bad season. The Saints rebounded from their post Bountygate season to make the playoffs and in 2009 they rebounded from 7-9 to win a Super Bowl. Payton is likely the best offensive mind in the game. His offense has been in the top five every year except for one since he coached the Saints and they were #1 in the NFL last season. He’s been AP coach of the year and led his team to the playoffs five times in eight seasons.

John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens

Any coach that survives the retirement of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed to maintains this level of success, deserves credit. He’s been to the playoffs 6 times since 2008 and he has won a Super Bowl.

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers looked like they might be falling apart, before we saw a big resurgence from Ben Roethlisberger last year in part thanks to the explosion of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. Make no mistake, Tomlin plays a huge part in keeping this team competitive despite the big drop off defensive talent and the hole now left by Lebeau . He’s been to the playoffs 5 times with a Super Bowl title since 2007.

Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

His player friendly style has worked wonders both at USC and in Seattle. While anyone could win with the talent he’s assembled he deserves a lot of credit for cultivating and maximizing those players. His run the last two years with two Super Bowl trips and one title has been dominant.  Maybe next time he’ll run the ball.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis Colts

He brings a certain level of toughness, and the Colts seem to be on the verge of really big things.  But it seems we have seen this movie before with the previous QB era.  Jury is still out until we see more besides just Andrew Luck.

Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams

Fisher is a fantastic coach that knows how to assemble a roster and get the most out of his players. His Achilles heel in St. Louis remains his inability to get consistent healthy quarterback play. Maybe Nick Foles can bring consistency and change that; and if he can the Rams are a team to take very seriously.

John Fox, Chicago Bears

Fox has had successful stops in Carolina and Denver. The Bears are elated to have someone of his quality and he should be able to turn things around quickly, but the ceiling is always low.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants

His improbable two Super Bowl title runs have kept him in New York much longer than anyone expected. He knows how to get his squad up for the most important games, that’s for sure.  Remember, his Jaguars still have more playoff victories than the Cowboys in the last 20yrs.

Bruce Arians, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals were a Super Bowl contender before the injury of Carson Palmer. Arians has done a fantastic job there after being a very successful assistant coach for a long time. He deserves that job based on how he filled in for Pagano in Indianapolis.

Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers

One could argue McCarthy has underachieved a little bit considering his quarterback is Aaron Rodgers. He’s still an excellent offensive mind, though, and there’s no question his 94-49-1 record speaks for itself.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions

He’s a disciplinarian that runs a tight ship and has Super Bowl experience with the Colts. His first season in Detroit was promising.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals

He catches some heat and he’s been fortunate to hang on to his job as long as he has but he is a premiere defensive coach. Unfortunately he’s never had enough talent, under center, to really take this team to the next level, but he’s still an above average coach.

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers

The Panthers defense has been dominant the last couple of years and Rivera has greatly benefited from a weak division. He’s been a gutsy coach that seems to have a great feel for the game.

Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans

His turnarounds of both the Texans and Penn State are nothing short of remarkable. But can he compete at the top?

Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers

The Charges have been ok under McCoy, but he’s been a bit of a disappointment and hasn’t really shown that he’s an upgrade over Norv Turner.

Rex Ryan, Buffalo Bills

Ryan is a good coach who had success in New York for a while despite poor quaterback play, but can he turn around a team in Buffalo with the same exact problems?

Jack Del Rio, Oakland Raiders

Will he be able to succeed where it seems like everyone else fails? He’s got a good history as a defensive guy, but for this team to win Derek Carr will need to develop and Del Rio will need to stay out of the way.

Gary Kubiak, Denver Broncos

This is a good fit for a prolific offense. His stint in Houston was mediocre at best but he’ll be working with more talent.  It is now or never to show what he is capable of.

Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles

The jury is still out on Kelly but he certainly seems to have blown up his roster. And as explosive and exciting as his style has been at times, the team still hasn’t won a playoff game in two seasons with him. A lot of talk without results. It’s hard to see the Eagles being better this year unless Sam Bradford can stay healthy and productive.

Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons

Quinn seems as solid as it comes in terms of coaching defense. The Falcons will need it as they were 32nd overall last season. We’ll see how he does as a head coach, though, there are a lot of unknowns.  Lucky for him he has Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to help him figure it out.

Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns

A solid effort to get the Browns to 7-9 last year but with Hoyer gone it could be worse this year.

Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys

Garrett has underachieved and like Romo he cannot get it done in the postseason.

Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings

He did an admirable job last season considering the Adrian Peterson situation. It remains to be seen if he’s the right man for that job, though.  Having Norv Turner is going to help.

Todd Bowles, New York Jets

He’s had a couple good years with elite talent as a defensive coordinator in Arizona. A lot of unknowns exist on how he’ll do as a head coach in a new environment.  Alot hinges on the growth of Geno Smith.

Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

His credibility took a big shot as the Bucs regressed last year. The future of his head coaching career now rests on the arm and head of Jameis Winston. I’d be nervous.

Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins

He’s 23-25 since 2012 with no trips to the playoffs. He’s a mediocre coach for an average football team.

Ken Whisenhunt, Tennessee Titans

Last season was a disaster in Tennessee. He’ll be looking for a new job soon if results don’t improve.

Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins

Not only was Gruden’s team a disaster on the field last season, there were issues off the field surrounding the management of RGIII. I’m not sure any coach could succeed in this environment, many have tried.

Jim Tomsula, San Francisco 49ers

Really have to question his qualifications here and based on the offseason he’s really set up to fail.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars

7-25 since 2013 speaks for itself, unfortunately, but there is talent and they play harder than most teams.

…Let there be DiRT

Ball 1

To some, the story goes…In the beginning the Lord created the Heavens and the Earth…and said let there be light, and there was, and it was good…then he decided to create Tebow and made him a QB and it was, meh.  Tim is maybe, one of the greatest college football quarterbacks, based on results, that constantly willed his team to victory, more than his talent.  In the record books, Tim has one-less playoff victory with the Denver Broncos than does Peyton Williams Manning.  That’s were the legend was born for most non-football fans that follow his exploits like methed-out Grateful Dead fans – except instead of a dead-head-sticker on their Cadillac, they were their love around their necks.  We all have a friend or two, that adore this man like no other – someone who would sacrifice an entire Fantasy Football draft/season to give him a roster spot, just to say, they drafted Tim Tebow.  No denying, Tim moves the needle.

But beyond all that, the man himself is what you would want your son(s) to grow up like – if all that you could accomplish as a parent, was raise a son like Tim, you would be proud.  As you should be, but that’s were it ends, because Tim believes himself to be a quarterback – an NFL quarterback – in a league that exposes your flaws faster than a runway model does after eating a cheeseburger 4 months ago.  Any other profession outside of sports would likely succeed with Tim at the helm – but not as an NFL QB.  He requires to much beyond his actual ability; he needs a similar offense to the one he ran in college, or a coach that would risk everything to defy NFL convention and actually build a team to run that offense. The NFL is never easy on mavericks, or coaches who are all hat and no cattle – Bill Walsh and Jimmy Johnson types do not come around often.

But if you found that guy who could challenge the good ol-boy, same-as-it-ever-was standards, then wouldn’t Tim be the perfect fit, with Chip Kelly as the coach?  This off-season, Chip Kelly has already created an industry of fans parroting “what’s up with that?“, with a side of, huh?  Chip Kelly’s offense is designed to challenge you sideline-to-sideline, and ironically that is Tebow’s strength too.  You must wonder the risk Chip is taking, with back-to-back 10-6 seasons, bringing the circus to town for a guy that is a great person, but just hasn’t shown great NFL QB skills.  If ever there was a perfect match however, this might be it – it certainly is Tim’s last shot – the quintessential spread QB in the quintessential spread offense, that does not require a PHD in reading defenses.  Or maybe it’s nothing more than a ploy to quiet the Philly fans from having Sam Bradford.  Sort of like the George Bush Sr strategy of having Dan Quayle as your vice president – no one will ever think about assassinating George if Dan is the next guy up.

It moves the needle, it is an interesting dynamic that leaves you to wonder, what might happen.  It either anoints Chip as a genius or another snake-oil salesman from the college ranks.  The future of NFL offensive coordinators depends on Chip’s success – he has already showed the value of tempo to the league.  Spread concepts have been around for awhile, just not to Chip’s degree.  But with Sanchez, Bradford, Barkley and now Tebow, you wonder how it all takes shape and this is what the NFL does – keeps you talking about it, (I expect Bradford to be traded on game-day).  That is why I think this is nothing more than collusion between the Eagles and Hizzoner.  Because what better way to redirect the darkness of serial killers, and abusers than to bathe the entire league in the guiding light of Tim Tebow – the penultimate distraction.  His goodness, his wholesomeness is all encompassing and it will become the league manifesto – retiring the “No More” campaign because it’s the Tebow show.  Get your NFL prescriptions ready and go comatose, baby – Tebow will be with us, and also with you – in Tebow’s name, we’ll watch.


Ball 2

Remember this day?  If you read this site, you know what we thought about the Jon Lester signing and how it was money well-over spent.  It’s early still, but there’s enough data to have cause for concern on the Cubs‘ $150m investment.  In the 3 games Lester has started, (he is 0-2) the Cubs have only won one game, and Lester has given up 12 runs, with 6.89 ERA.  It’s early but it has prompted the announcement of support from the manager that he, and the organization are behind Lester – even if the team that plays behind him are giving him the honest truth as Catcher David Ross has said – sugar-free-honesty.

The Cubs were looking for the Lester that led Boston to the World Series in 2013 – but two years removed, is a lifetime for a pitcher who also suffered a “dead-arm” in spring training.  The point being is that the Cubs (over)paid for an Ace, on the other-side of 30 and a trade with Lester is handcuffed by that contract.  So the Cubs hope that Lester does find more consistency and goes longer in the game without high pitch counts, as he said, he feels like he is doing.  Either way, Lester will be nothing more than a expensive #3 starter and as the years go by, no better than a #5.  None of that will matter if the Cubs ever win a World Series.


Ball 3

If you have not met him, say hello to Mookie Betts!  He was a second baseman in a logjam for the Red Sox, with Pedroia and young-future-cuban-star Yoan Moncada, waiting in the wings – so he moved to centerfield.  All he has done with his chance is go off.  Take last week as an example, Mookie robbed Bryce Harper of a homerun, stole two-bases in one play and hit a 3-run homerun, all in the first two innings!  Mookie is 22 and ironically only 9 days older than Bryce Harper – however, it seems the game is having a renaissance of young talent in the game – it’s now up to Major League Baseball to promote all of these guys – not just Trout and Harper, etc…If you get a chance, watch.


Ball 4…take your base

Jay Hart, a failed professional soccer player who plays in the English semi-pro league, has been fired for putting the club in disrepute.  Only in soccer could a player be fired for celebrating a bit too much on Ladies night.  Now that doesn’t seem like much, until you consider that after a few drinks, and after Clitheroe (not making that name up) lost the match 4-1 – did he believe he was hidden away in the other team’s dugout, still wearing his jersey, while having coitus-interuptus with a fan.  Yup, as you see in the picture – this dude was caught having sex with a fan in the dugout of the other team after a loss, on ladies night.  You could say that the reason he could not crack the professional level is because of his decision making skills – not just the act itself but the selection of hand positions and choice of booty being #HighlyQuestionable.  Only in Europe.

Bucket O’DiRT

You gotta feel for Shady McCoy being done DiRTy like that, being sent to football’s wasteland to play for Rex Ryan.  Overnight the Eagles traded Lesean McCoy and although we talked about that happening, we believed Chip was going to take a different player from Oregon – instead of moving up to take Mariota, he got Kiko Alonso.

So Buffalo gets a Pro Bowl RB in his 7th season – to a team that has no real QB – expected to be a work-horse in a system that he may not be designed to handle.  Shady is not a rex-ryan-run-heavy type of running back, and this now signals the end for CJ Spiller, and although he has to look for a job – Im sure he revels in getting out.

Philly improves their defense with a known commodity that is coming off of knee surgery – and now turns their RB duties to Chris Polk.  It seems Chip is tipping his hand by his preference for Pac-12 guys – especially guys he coached at Oregon.

Shady is a fan favorite in a town that is brutal on its home teams.  So Chip better have a plan, because his street-cred is gonna run out real fast in the city of (not-so) brotherly love.


#CastBeadleInSharknado

Back in 2013, the recent-twitter-cult-classic Sharknado debuted and was watched by more than 1.4m people – only to be watched again by 1.9m people during the replay – creating a cultural virus.  The Twitter-verse exploded again with Sharknado 2 and now brace yourself for the 3rd installment – a pontoon of D-lister celebrities.

The story this time is just as insipid as the last ones – starring Mark Cuban as the POTUS and right-wing-ball-bag Ann Coulter as his Veep – (I have $100 on her being eaten by #LeftShark) – the Sharknado blows thru DC, making its way down the Eastern Seaboard to the genitals of the country – Florida – #MuricasDick.

Ian Ziering is back as “Fin” Shepherd, as is Tara Reid as April Wexler.  This much anticipated installment will also feature Jerry Springer and former babe, Bo Derek.  The 2nd movie took only 18 days to make, so regardless of the production strike that recently occurred – they still have plenty of time to get it done for the summer.  So grab some friends, some beers and get your twitter account ready for the greatest B-movie franchise of all time – this is spectacular cheez.


change the name – change the name

Speaking of Sharknadoes…FINALLY, the Brian Shaw era is over after a Mike Shanahan-esque coaching job – taking a team from 57 wins, to chanting in the huddle “#6weeks“!  Do we get enough information on the guy and his ability to coach?  Was it a rocky relationship with Ty Lawson and his confrontations in the locker room?  Was it the lack of basketball concepts and offensive imagination that saw blow out after blow out at home and no improvement offensively from Faried after a big contract?  Maybe, but lets not lay this pig all on Shaw.

This solely lies on ownership for first firing the “coach of the year”, George Karl – to then hire a first-timer who had all the buzz.  Second, for remaking the team in your own mis-managed-image-of-disfunction.  Kinda like burning my house down and then getting mad at my reaction – you can’t take the effect and make it the cause.  #WhiteStripes.

It all is symbol-istic nonsense – the season is still lost – the players do not care, and no Captain-seat-filler is gonna take tropical destinations off the minds of the players.  The No-Guts are still an abomination to watch and we should all congratulate ownership for retreating back into the NBA Dark-Ages again in Colorado basketball.


Further adventures in atmospheric danger….

An Australian man posting under the name Nomadic Adrenaline has uploaded this incredible video of the moment he suffered a seizure during a sky dive.

“Possibly the scariest moment of my life,” wrote the poster.

The man, called Christopher, said his near-death experience happened during a jump last year, when he was doing stage five of his Accelerated Free Fall programme.

“At around 9000ft I have a seizure while attempting a left hand turn.

“I then spend the next 30 seconds in free fall unconscious.”

Noticing something was wrong, Christopher’s jumpmaster soon came to the rescue. The video, which appears to be filmed from the jumpmaster’s headcam, shows him approaching the unconscious man and reaching for his ripcord.

“Thankfully my jumpmaster manages to pull my ripcord at around 4000ft,” wrote Christopher. “I become conscious at 3000 ft and land safely back to the ground.”

Skydive

courtesy of The Telegraph


Fitty is laying down a lot of scratch on Mayweather when he fights Pacquiao May 2nd – saying further that Floyd is gonna smoke Manny, which is odd considering the tumultuous past shared between Curtis and Floyd.  Here’s hopin’ the $1.6m he’s throwin down isn’t needed for any retirement of part of some investment strategy because if throwing a baseball is any indication Curtis – you may not know sports – and should just stick to poppin’ bottles – #ThugLife.


When you are paying all those guys to go 0-10 against a pitching machine – it’s hard to pay one of your prospects – minor league catcher+1st baseman Jake Hernandez – more than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.  Hernandez, who signed with the Yankees as undrafted free-agent out of USC last summer – might wanna get a better agent than mom and next time go to a real baseball school.


Jordan Leopold's Daughter Asks Wild To Trade For Her Dad In Letter

I love how heart-felt this was and how smart the little girl is to call out the Wild and say they need Defensemen, a position her Dad just happens to play.  Considering the Wild and the Bluejackets made the trade – I’d say she is on her way up the ladder as Minnesota’s next GM.  It’s an awesome story – of course it could turn daddy’s little girl into a raging harpy who feels people should always do what she says – maybe it’s a sign of the apocalypse…

…in closing

The Rockies' Jordan Lyles will make a Cactus League start on Monday. (Jeff Gross, Getty Images)

Jordan Lyles

Jordan Lyles starts off today at 1:10p MST for the Cactus League Opener against the Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.  Jhoulys Chacin is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the snakes, Kyle Kendrick on friday against the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium and Jorge Diva-Rosa on Saturday against the Cubs at Salt River.

 Hope springs enternal…


maninironmask‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ – the ‘Must-Haves‘, the ‘Sleepers‘ and those that might find themselves on the trainers table for your FanDuel NBA-delights each night.  We will post these DiRTy plays, everyday by 1p MST – so check back in the afternoon.  ‘Click’ the picture for the days’ DiRTy plays.