Monday, May 9, 2016

2011 NBA Finals Game 3

The Miami Heat seem to be playing this series with lots of intensity and desire, they look like the best team in the NBA at times but it seems like once they get a lead and get comfortable with themselves they let their foot off the gas and the Mavs take advantage of that… fortunately for Miami they were able to make a big defensive stand in the final seconds of game 3 to hold off the Mavs and take a two games to one advantage in the 2011 NBA Finals. In tonight’s game the Heat jumped out to another big lead and like in the last game Dallas came back and a few times had the lead before giving it up themselves.

They were led by their leader and best player Dirk Nowitzki he had 34 points and 11 rebounds but it was not enough as Dwyane Wade lead Miami with 29 points and 11 rebounds and LeBron James had 17 points and 9 assists and Chris Bosh also chipped in with 18 points and he hit the biggest shot of the series so far when he hit a jumped from the baseline off of a pass from James with 39.6 seconds left in the game. Dallas had one last chance to tie or win the game with a 3 pointer after a miss shot by the heat they went to Nowitzki and he tried to get Udonis Haslem to bite on a pump fake but Haslem was able to play some good defense and for Dirk into a fall away jump shot the hit the rim and bounced up in the air as time expired and the Heat took a 2 games to 1 advantage in the 2011 NBA Finals.

The next game is Tuesday again in Dallas and I’m sure that the Mavericks will come out fired up and so will all of their fans as they try to even up the series at 2 but I’m sure Miami will come out looking to take a commanding 3 games to 1 advantage and take one more step closer to becoming NBA champions.

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2011 NFL Draft: Biggest Steals

Who are the biggest steals in the 2011 NFL draft? Which players will rise above their draft spot to become a potential household name? NFL general managers have to feel as if they are playing the lottery sometimes. There are scouting reports, combines and all kinds of college video to sort through before coming up with an educated guess. But who really knows how the 2011 NFL draft will play out on the field as opposed to paper.

While it’s safe to say there aren’t any guarantees when it comes to high draft picks, I have narrowed down a few of the sleepers who might just be the biggest steals of the 2011 NFL draft. Will these guys be huge finds? Or will they just somehow fit the needs of a particular team? Either way, I think these five guys are huge “gets” for NFL teams wanting a late first round steal.

1) Ryan Mallett/Arkansas Quarterback
Mallett probably couldn’t be called a “sleeper” because he played in the SEC against many of the other power schools. Mallett is an incredibly strong-armed quarterback who has the capacity to be a future NFL Hall of Famer. So why is he slipping down to the teens in the 2011 NFL mock drafts? The odd thing about the NFL draft is that teams draft for a slot they need. If a team on the board doesn’t need a quarterback, they might just pass over a player despite the potential talent. Quarterbacks have slipped before in the draft(as did Jay Cutler a few years ago when Denver picked him up in the teens)–but that doesn’t mean Mallett won’t be a huge force on the football field for one lucky NFL team.

2) Mark Ingram/Alabama Running Back
Former SEC running backs tend to do just fine in the NFL. Can you imagine a former Heisman winner slipping to a late first round selection. That means a team like Green Bay, New England, Indianapolis or even New Orleans might have an opportunity to nab him or trade up a bit. Ingram steal has a lot of juice left in the tank. The guy had a few injuries-but I think he’s still one of the best options in the draft as far as running back is concerned.

3) Adrian Clayborn/Iowa Defensive End
Some thought Adrian Clayborn was the best of the Defensive End prospects entering the past football season. So why has his stock dropped? Clayborn still has the tools to be an instant starter with a solid impact in the NFL-but he might get drafted late in the first round or even second round if some of the 2011 NFL Mock drafts are correct. The fact that he has slipped has to be a little frightening for some teams–but the eternal optimists who pick up Clayborn will be rewarded with a rock solid defensive starter and a 2011 NFL draft steal.

4) Drake Nevis/LSU Defensive Tackle
How can a guy who can make such an impact be picked so low in the draft? Drake Nevis will provide answers to any questions about his ability in the 2011-2012 season. Nevis a guy who might need to be double teamed on occasion because of his athletic ability. Typical of an SEC defender, Nevis will make it tough on opponents who run the ball his way. Nevis has been projected as a low first round pick which means he’ll most likely end up at a team that’s already pretty solid.

5) Gabe Carimi/Wisconsin Offensive Tackle
Is Gabe Carimi going to slip out of the first round? If so, hire me as a general manager and I’ll make sure this future offensive lineman Hall of Famer gets on a team that desperately needs him. Carimi, like Nevis and Clayborn, could potentially go to teams that are already pretty loaded. That means he may have time to mature and become a legitimate NFL lineman. I don’t think the guy needs a lot of time. His stint at Wisconsin against some tough Big Ten defensive lineman is all the proof I need to say this guy is legit. Carimi could be a Jeff Van Note type and last a few decades. He’s that good of a steal. Why is he not rated higher in many 2011 NFL mock drafts? Maybe some analysts or general managers believe the O-Line just isn’t that much of a priority. But how can you ignore it if you are trying to secure the building blocks for your franchise. It’s where everything starts.

That’s my list of top five steals in the upcoming 2011 NFL draft. There will be 2011 NFL mock drafts that point towards many other ideas concerning these specific players and perhaps some will even move up the chart in the next few weeks. I feel each of these players is a lock to be something special in the NFL if put in the right situation. I think they’re all great “steals” and teams who draft them certainly won’t regret it.

2011 Mock Draft, Bleacher Report, Brian DiTullio

Tags:2011 NFL Draft: Biggest Steals

2011 NCAA College Football Rankings Week 12

With Stanford and Boise State both losing yesterday (11/12/11), there are only three unbeaten teams remaining (out of 120) in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The following are the Top Ten teams, and why they deserve their ranking:

1. LSU, 10 wins and 0 losses (10-0). It can be argued that the Tigers have played the toughest schedule in the nation, with victories over six different Top 25 teams (as ranked when they played), including both Oregon and Alabama.

2. Oklahoma State, 10-0. The Cowboys have beaten three Top 25 opponents. OSU only beat Texas A&M by one point, and went to overtime against Kansas State, but they remain one of only three unbeaten teams in the FBS.

3. Alabama, 9-1. The Crimson Tide’s only loss was a week ago to #1 LSU by a final score of 9 to 6. Playing in the SEC, Alabama has beaten three teams ranked in the Top 25, including Arkansas.

4. Oregon, 9-1. Like Alabama, the Ducks only loss was to #1 LSU. That was in the first week of the season and on a neutral field. Last night the Oregon Ducks crushed the previously unbeaten Stanford Cardinal by a score of 53 to 30. Arizona State is the only other opponent ranked in the Top 25 when they played Oregon.

5. Houston, 10-0. Many will argue Houston has not played a tough enough schedule for this ranking, but the Cougars are the third and final unbeaten FBS team. Statistically Houston ranks ahead of the #2 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in passing yards (#1 vs #2 in the FBS), points scored (#1 vs #2), rushing yards (#44 vs #45), and points allowed (#41 vs #62). The Houston Cougars may get a chance to beat a Top 25 team, the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, in the Conference USA Championship Game on December 3rd.

6. Arkansas, 9-1. The Razorbacks have victories over three Top 25 opponents, and have only lost to #3 Alabama. A win November 25th, over #1 LSU, could create a three-way tie (LSU, Alabama, and Arkansas) in the SEC West Division. Yes, it’s true, three of my top six are from the SEC West.

7. Oklahoma, 9-1. The Sooners have also beaten three Top 25 teams. However, Oklahoma lost to unranked Texas Tech when the Sooners were ranked #1. Ouch! A win December 3rd over #2 Oklahoma State could get the Sooners to the BCS National Championship Game.

8. Clemson, 9-1. The Clemson Tigers have wins over three Top 25 opponents, but lost a week ago to Georgia Tech.

9. Virginia Tech, 9-1. The Hokies only loss was to #8 Clemson, have beaten one Top 25 opponent, and beat Georgia Tech yesterday by a score of 37 to 26. Clemson and Virginia Tech may play each other again, December 3rd, in the ACC Championship Game.

10. Boise State, 9-1. Rounding out the Top 10, the Broncos were beaten yesterday, 36-35, by TCU (now a Top 25 team). Boise State beat the Georgia Bulldogs this season, a team that still has an outside chance to be the SEC Champion.


Tags:2011 NCAA College Football Rankings Week 12

2011 National League West Preview

The 2010 National League West winner represented their division very well, as they went on to win the World Series. This year, the San Francisco will have a tough time repeating as champs, but they still have the pitching to do it. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies will be in the mix as the San Diego Padres will slide back down with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

1st – San Francisco Giants – The Giants have one of the best rotations in the game with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner. Heck, even Barry Zito might earn some of his money this year. The bullpen is top notch with Brian Wilson and his beard closing out games and giving amazing interviews. Seriously, the guy is legendary. Offensively, they proved they can score runs when it matters. With Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, and Freddy Sanchez, they should be able to giving their pitching staff just enough to get another division crown. They did add Miguel Tejada, but his best days are long gone.

2nd Colorado Rockies – The Rockies have Troy Tulowitzki under contract until he’s something like 62. I’m just kidding, they only have him signed until 2020 with an option in 2021. Along with Carlos Gonzalez, these two give the Rockies a solid middle of the lineup, and Todd Helton keeps on ticking, providing a decent bat at first base. Ubaldo Jimenez started off 2010 on fire, but cooled down during the second half. Colorado also has Jorge De La Rosa and Aaron Cook after Jimenez, which isn’t too bad of a top three. The bullpen is solid with Huston Street closing and it doesn’t hurt to have Matt Lindstrom, another closer, at the back end of games.

3rd – Los Angeles Dodgers – The Don Mattingly era is now official in LA as he takes over for the legendary Joe Torre. The Dodgers have some good pitching with Clayton Kershaw, Jon Garland, Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsly. If Jonathan Broxton can forget about his 2010, the bullpen will be fine as LA also has Hong-Chih Kuo who had a great 2010. The Dodgers offense is decent with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Rafael Furcal. The fact they have Jay Gibbons on their team is slightly concerning though….

4th – San Diego Padres – Their run in 2010 was great, but should have ended with them in the playoffs. Instead, they went 12-16 in September, killing any chance of a playoff appearance. The Padres will miss Adrian Gonzalez, but they now have Brad Hawpe, Jason Bartlett, Ryan Ludwick, and Cameron Maybin driving in the runs this year. Mat Latos had a solid 2010, but his inning total from last year was a huge jump from the previous year for him. Aaron Harang is average at best, but the Padres bullpen with Heath Bell and Chad Qualls should be decent.

5th – Arizona Diamondbacks – Arizona should be able to score, but so will opposing offenses. Their rotation consists of Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy, and, well I’ll just stop right there. J.J. Putz should be their closer this year, and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s good or bad. Chris Young, Justin Upton, Stephen Drew and Kelly Johnson can put up some runs, but they will definitely miss Mark Reynolds, even if he did strike out 200 times a year.

Tags:2011 National League West Preview

2011 NBA Draft: A Running Account

Just got home, put the pizza down and grabbed a chicken wing. Turned on laptop and ESPN. Let the draft begin.

7:30 p.m.: Turn on ESPN and find out that the draft is being held in Newark, New Jersey’s Prudential Building not Madison Square Garden. I’ve been to Newark and New York. Newark is not New York.

7:39 p.m.: The Cleveland Cavaliers have done it. With the first pick they have drafted Duke University guard Kyrie Irving. He is the man who will save the economy of Cleveland which Lebron James ruined by ‘taking his talent’s to South Beach.’ At least that’s what we are told James did. Didn’t he? Good luck to Kyrie Irving.

7:45 p.m. : As expected the Minnesota Timberwolves select forward Derrick Williams with the number two pick. The man has an NBA game. He will join Minnesota’s first draft pick from last year Ricky Rubio who finally signed with the team after playing the past season in Spain. Sign Orlando center Dwight Howard next year and the Timberwolves will have the NBA’s next “Big Three.”

7:50 p.m.: The NFL needs to take some tips from the NBA. Five minutes is all you need to make a pick after months of scouting. Enes Kanter goes to the Utah Jazz with the third pick. He is a center from Turkey by way of John Calipari and the University of Kentucky. What do you know? A one and done who never even played in college and get’s drafted number three. ESPN’s Mark Jones tells Kanter it’s been a long time coming. Uh…..yeah. Ok.

7:56 p.m. : The Cavaliers get their next savior in forward Tristan Thompson of Texas. He’s the man who is going to rebound all of the shots that Kyrie Irving misses.

8:00 p.m. : A commercial break gets me to thinking. A lot of Republicans getting drafted this year. All conservatively dressed so far.

8:02 p-.m. : The Toronto Raptors draft some guy named Jonas Valanciunas from Lithuania. Never heard of him. Ahhhhh, but I have heard of Sarunas Jasikevicius.

8:07 p.m. : The home team Washington Wizards have just drafted Jan Vesely a forward out of the Czech Republic. He gives us the first excitement of the night by kissing this beautiful blonde. The ESPN talking heads say that Vesely will win a dunk contest. The Wizards already have a dunker. His name is Javale McGee. Let’s let Vesely win the Wizards dunk contest before sending him to the NBA’s version.

8:11 p.m. : Where is the outcry? Another foreign born player is drafted. Another American out of a job. Bismarck Biyombo of the Dem. Republic of the Congo goes to the Charlotte Hornets. ESPN says he can’t score. What? Isn’t that the key to winning basketball games? From the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Isn’t that where Crusader Rabbit and Rags found the ‘Apes of Rags’ in the old Saturday morning cartoon? No wait, that was the Belchin’ Congo.

Give Commissioner David Stern credit. The man is doing a heck of a job pronouncing these names.

8:17 p.m. : The Detroit Pistons get the message. They draft an American. Brandon Knight of Kentucky. He’s the guy who took over for last year’s number one pick John Wall. Knight already has done one thing that Wall did not. He played in the Final Four.

8:23 p.m. : The man who may be the best player in the draft was just picked. The Charlotte Hornets draft guard Kemba Walker of the NCAA National Champion Connecticut Huskies. Though not very big, he’s tough. And he knows how to handle pressure.

8:28 p.m. : The top ten is set. The Milwaukee Bucks select Jimmer Fredette of Brigham Young just as ESPN’s Jon Barry said they would. Too bad the Los Angeles Lakers couldn’t get him. And too bad the late Chick Hearn is no longer around. Every time that Fredette dunked for the Lakers, Hearn could have said, “Jaaaaam by Jimmer!”

8:35 p.m. : O.k. who is Klay Thompson? He was just drafted by the Golden State Warriors. And who is the bald guy he just hugged? Oh, that’s Mychal Thompson. The man who was drafted number one in 1978 by the Portland Trailblazers. One of my favorites, because he was traded to the Lakers later and helped them to three NBA titles. Klay is his son. The funny thing is that if Thompson were playing today, he’d still be the number one pick. But today’s players are supposedly so much better than the old guys were.

8:41 p.m. : Alec Burks of Colorado goes to the Jazz with the 12th pick to join Enes Kanter. Say hello to the new version of John Stockton and Karl Malone.

8:48 p.m. : The Phoenix Suns draft Markieff Morris of Kansas. I have never known anyone with the name of Markieff, but I like it. He has a twin brother named Marcus who also played for Kansas. Marcus. What a boring name. Now the question is, “Who will be Tiki Barber and who will be Ronde?”

8:55 p.m. : Well what do you know? Marcus Morris just got drafted by the Houston Rockets. By the way, what are the chances of having twins who both grow to be 6′ 8″ tall? About the same as picking the winning ticket in the lottery twice. And their mother knows it.

9:00 p.m. : The Indiana Pacers select Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State. ESPN’s Jay Bilas says that Leonard can’t shoot. Can anybody in this draft shoot? After all the game is called basketball. And since every draft from here to eternity will be filled with players who can’t shoot is the day of the 50-49 triple overtime game on the horizon?

9:05 p.m. : I’m waiting for University of Maryland center Jordan Williams to be drafted. There is no other reason to watch. And I’ve actually seen him put the ball in the basket. Actually, I’m waiting for Duke guard Nolan Smith to be drafted also. Especially since all I’ve heard from my fellow University of Maryland fans is how great he is and how recently retired head coach Gary Williams should have given his right arm to bring him to College Park.

9:08 p.m. : The Philadelphia 76ers go back overseas as they draft Nikola Vuravic. Nobody at The Prudential Center cares because the New York Knicks have the next pick.

9:12 p.m. : The Knicks select………………..Iman Shumpert of Georgia Tech?!!! A guard. He is not at The Prudential Center. Good thing, because the fans give him the Bronx cheer. Of course, ESPN has to interview the expert on New York basketball Spike Lee. After all the E in ESPN stands for Entertainment. Give Lee, credit. He is not a fair weather fan.

9:17 p.m. : The home boys are on the clock again. The Wizards select forward Chris Singleton of Florida State. The last player left in the Green Room. He is the 18th pick overall and no one even knew he was in the room until Stewart Scott mentioned it. Heck, I didn’t even know there was a Green Room.

9:22 p.m. : Charlotte has another pick. They take Tobias Harris of Tennessee. Actually they made the pick for the Bucks who have the draft rights to the 19th pick.

9:26 p.m. : The Spurs propose a trade of guard George Hill to Indiana for the rights to Kawhi Leonard. Why trade a guy who can score for one who can’t? Well the Spurs have four more championships than I so they get the benefit of the doubt.

9:28 p.m. : The Timberwolves select Donatas Motiejunas of Lithuania. Fran Fraschilla actually says something we hardly ever hear in the draft. He doesn’t like the player. Wait a minute. I thought everyone was an all-star on draft day.

9:33 p.m. : I’m getting tired. I hope that Jordan Williams and Nolan Smith get drafted soon. Jay Bilas doesn’t even have them as the top ten best available at the moment.

9:35 p.m. : Wish number one. Nolan Smith is drafted by the Portland Trailblazers.

9:42 p.m. : A touching moment. Newark local boy Kenneth Faried of Morehead State is drafted by the Denver Nuggets. He gets a good cheer from the fans. These are the stories that I like not the ones about those who fall short.

9:48 p.m. : Commissioner Stern finally struggles! He has trouble pronouncing Nikola Mirotic of Montenegro who is drafted by the Houston Rockets. ESPN’s Ric Bucher says that Mirotic may be traded to the Timberwolves. Fran Frischilla says it doesn’t matter who gets Mirotic, they won’t be able to sign him for five years! What?!! The only people whom I would give credit for making this pick or trade are Red Auerbach and Jerry West.

9:52 p.m. : The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the clock. They select Reggie Jackson of Boston College. Now he can score.They won’t name a candy bar after him like “Mr. October” Reggie Jackson (when the Reggie bar came out candy bars cost 20 cents. Reggie bars were 25. We always said that Reggie got the nickle), but he’ll make the team and play.

9:58 p.m. : The Boston Celtics select Marshon Brooks of Providence. He scored 52 against Notre Dame this past season. He can forget about doing that with the Celtics. Let’s just say that he is going from wide reciever to defensive back and he will like it or sit.

10:02 p.m. : Jordan Hamilton of the University of Texas goes to the Dallas Mavericks. He gets to stay in state and play for the world’s champions. I could live with that.

10:04 p.m. : Apparently Marshon Brooks just got a reprieve. It is rumored he will be traded to the New Jersey Nets. Now they will let him shoot.

10:07 p.m. : The Prudential Center is so empty Stewart Scott’s voice is echoing throughout the building. Commissioner Stern announces that JuJuan Johnson of Purdue has just been drafted by the Nets. He is the player that Boston wants for Marshon Brooks. Johnson sounds more like a Celtic type player.

10:11 p.m. : The Chicago Bulls are making this pick for the Minnesota Timberwolves. We never did this on the playground. You had to be your own owner and general manager and make your own picks. Next thing you know NBA teams will get “next” instead of having a draft.

10:13 p.m. : All of this for guard Norris Cole of Cleveland State? That’s who Chicago picked for the Timberwolves. Maybe these teams should trade scouts instead of players.

10:17 p.m. : The Spurs select Cory Jones of Texas with the 29th pick. The first round is almost over. Someone please draft Jordan Williams!

10:20 p.m. : Commissioner Stern is booed as he announces the Chicago Bulls pick. Unlike NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he thanks the fans. Stern is no dummy. He’s in New Jersey. The home state of Tony Soprano. You take your booing and like it. Stern announces that the Bulls select Jimmy Butler of Marquette, says the first round is over, introduces NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver and exits stage right.

10:24 p.m. : The first round is over. Everybody won. No one lost. I am going to close my eyes and wait for the name Jordan Williams to be called. Jay Bilas has finally moved him into the top ten available.

10:41 p.m : The Nets select Jordan Williams. He went right around where everyone projected him to. Early second round. The 36th pick overall. Would like to say I’m happy for him, but he is going to New Jersey.

And I’m going to bed. Whatever happens now happens without me. No matter how amazing it is.

Tags:2011 NBA Draft: A Running Account

2011 NFL Awards

MVP- Drew Brees

It could go either way when it comes to the MVP award Aaron Rodgers set the single season quarterback rating this season. While Drew Brees set the new single season passing yard record. Brees altogether put up a better season, throwing for 46 TD’s, 5476 yards, and a 71.2 completion percentage. It’s very close race for MVP but I personally believe Drew Brees has earned it.

Offensive Player of the Year- Calvin Johnson

Johnson was the only receiver this season to average over a hundred yards. Johnson had close to 1700 yards and caught 16 TD’s. This award could go to a number of players but I think Johnson has put up the most impressive numbers.

Defensive Player of the Year- Terrell Suggs

There some other players such as Jared Allen or DeMarcus Ware that have put up better numbers this season, but Suggs anchored the Ravens defense and made big plays in big games when they needed him. In fact Suggs played an important role in the Ravens sweeping the Steelers this season, he had 3 sacks in the first game and got an interception in the second game. Suggs had to take up a lot of the defensive load when Ray Lewis was out for a 4 game stretch. Suggs has made plays for the Ravens when they needed it this season there aren’t many players that deserve the award as much as him.

Coach of the Year- Jim Harbaugh

There is no question in my mind who the coach of the year is, Jim Harbaugh. He led the 49ers to a 13-3 record when their previous record was 6-10. Harbaugh led the 49ers to a #2 seed and their first playoff appearance since 2002. It’s pretty amazing what changes the 49ers have made in one season that has led them back to playoff glory and how Jim Harbaugh has impacted this team.

Offensive Rookie of the Year- Andy Dalton

Most will have Cam Newton receiving this award but I think Dalton deserves it. Dalton in his rookie season has led his team to nine wins and a playoff berth. Dalton has shown some good rookie numbers throwing for 20 TD’s and over 3300 yards. I’ll take wins over stats any day, that’s why I think Dalton edges out Cam Newton.

Defensive Rookie of the Year- Von Miller

This year when you think Broncos of course you think Tim Tebow, but the defense has quietly been doing a great job especially Von Miller. Miller racked up 11.5 sacks and 50 tackles. Close runner-up scarcely known Aldon Smith put up some fantastic numbers as well, 15 sacks and even a safety.

Tags:2011 NFL Awards

2011 NFL Playoffs Bracket -- Schedule and Game Times

It took until the end of the night and close to the last minute of the last football game of the regular season to set the finalized bracket and schedule for the first round of the 2011 NFL playoffs, but when all was said and done, the Seattle Seahawks had won the game, the NFC West Division, and held the dubious distinction of team with the worst record in history to get into the NFL playoffs. But they were in, setting up the NFC side of the playoffs bracket (which can be found in printable format at and their shot at the Super Bowl.

Earlier in the day, the other three teams in the Wild Card hunt won, which put the Green Bay Packers in the playoffs, leaving disappointed New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers teams and fans sitting at home with 10-6 records (which makes the Seattle entry even more ignoble, considering their record of 7-9). The AFC side of the playoffs bracket had been set earlier in the day when the Jacksonville Jaguars lost their last game, taking off any pressure the Indianapolis Colts would have had to win (but they did anyway) to get the AFC South division title. And so it begins again in its 2011 edition: The NFL playoffs and the road to Super Bowl XLV…

The NFL playoffs are scheduled to begin on Saturday, Jan. 8, with the Wild Card round. It will begin where the regular season ended — in Seattle (4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT). As ridiculous as it might sound, the 7-9 Seahawks, the NFC West Division champions, will host the 11-5 defending Super Bowl champ New Orleans Saints. The Saints were the first Wild Card in when the Atlanta Falcons defeated the Carolina Panthers in the last regular season game, winning the AFC South and a first playoff week bye (and the NFC’s best record of 13-3).

Saturday’s second game of the schedule will shift to the AFC side of the bracket and match up the Wild Card New York Jets (11-5) with last year’s Super Bowl contenders and this season’s AFC South champs, the Indianapolis Colts (8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT), who finished the regular season with a record of 10-6. This is a rematch of the AFC Championship Game that sent the Colts to Super Bowl XLIV to meet the New Orleans Saints and their march toward destiny.

The Sunday, Jan. 9, games are a little earlier and the AFC leads off. The 12-4 Baltimore Ravens will be in Kansas City at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT to take on the AFC West Division champs, the Chiefs, who won their division with a 10-6 overall record. Baltimore enters the game with arguably one of the best teams in the NFL and are a Wild Card, much like the Saints in the NFC, simply because they share a division with an equally powerful team, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who got the Wild Card week bye.

Sunday’s second Wild Card match-up pits the 10-6 Green Bay Packers against the NFC East winners, the also 10-6 Philadelphia Eagles. The schedule puts these two teams in the City of Brotherly Love at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.

The first playoff byes in the AFC will be enjoyed by the New England Patriots, AFC East Division champs and the NFL’s winningest team (14-2); and the Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4), winners of the AFC North Division. The Patriots will play the lowest-seeded team to advance to Division playoffs, while the Steelers take on the highest.

The NFC bye-side of the bracket will see the AFC South Division champion Atlanta Falcons awaiting the lowest-seeded winner of the Wild Card weekend, while the Chicago Bears, winners of the NFC North with an 11-5 record, await the highest seed to advance to the Division Playoffs.

And then 12 teams will be eight as the field thins out on the road to Dallas and Super Bowl XLV…

AFC Playoff Brackets (seeds designated by #)

Saturday, Jan. 8

#6 New York Jets (11-5) vs. #3 Indianapolis Colts (10-6) — 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT

Sunday, Jan. 9

#5 Baltimore Ravens (12-4) vs. #4 Kansas City Chiefs (10-6) — 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT

#1 New England Patriots (14-2) — bye week, will play the lowest seed left in bracket next weekend.

#2 Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4) — bye week, will play the highest seed left in bracket next weekend.

NFC Playoff Brackets (seeds designated by #)

Saturday, Jan. 8

#5 New Orleans Saints (11-5) vs. #4 Seattle Seahawks — 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT

Sunday, Jan. 9

#6 Green Bay Packers (10-6) vs. #3 Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) — 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT

#1 Atlanta Falcons (13-3) — bye week, will play the lowest seed left in bracket next weekend.

#2 Chicago Bears (11-5) — bye week, will play the highest seed left in bracket next weekend.



“Playoff Bracket,”

Tags:2011 NFL Playoffs Bracket – Schedule and Game Times

2011 NFL Draft Order Complete After Green Bay Wins Super Bowl

The 2011 NFL Draft order is finally set after the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl. In the 2011 NFL Draft order, Green Bay will now select last at the end of each round, the honor given to the team that wins the championship each year.

For at least a few months, they won’t care at all, as Aaron Rodgers and his crew celebrate yet another title for the best football fans in the game. It’s not like that team needs anyone added to the roster, as the depth will only increase when their injured players return.

Making the NFL Playoffs is a sure-fire way to get a worse pick in the following draft, and that’s what happened to teams like the Seattle Seahawks. They could have had a top 10 selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, but beating the St. Louis Rams to win the NFC West and then beating the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs dropped their first selection all the way down to No. 25 in the first round. It got much worse for Green Bay as well, because they came into the playoffs as a 10-6 wild card team, but now have to pick last in each round.

The Carolina Panthers are now officially on the clock for the Draft, and they have to decide if they are going after one of the great defensive ends available in the draft. Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck could have been the obvious choice at No. 1 overall, but he decided to return to school for his senior year.

In recent mock draft developments, quarterbacks have also plummeted in value, sending the likes of Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett right out of the first round. That could mean one of the terrible teams from 2010 could get a blue chip prospect at one of their key positions, and can then turn around and draft a quarterback in the second round.

The New England Patriots are set up well in the draft, with the 17th overall selection they got from a trade with the Oakland Raiders and their own pick at No. 28 overall. Then they also have the first pick of the second round, giving them three of the first 33 picks at this point. That should allow for a very nice influx of talent again in 2011, potentially making them the early favorites to come out of the AFC next year. It might not be a stretch to predict that it could be New England vs. Green Bay in the 2012 Super Bowl. All of that is contingent on the NFL lockout getting settled, and a season taking place.

Official 2011 NFL Draft Order

1. Carolina Panthers (2-14)

2. Denver Broncos (4-12)

3. Buffalo Bills (4-12)

4. Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)

5. Arizona Cardinals (5-11)

6. Cleveland Browns (5-11)

7. San Francisco 49ers (6-10)

8. Tennessee Titans (6-10)

9. Dallas Cowboys (6-10)

10. Washington Redskins (6-10)

11. Houston Texans (6-10)

12. Minnesota Vikings (6-10)

13. Detroit Lions (6-10)

14. St. Louis Rams (7-9)

15. Miami Dolphins (7-9)

16. Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8)

17. Oakland Raiders (New England Owns Pick) (8-8)

18. San Diego Chargers (9-7)

19. New York Giants (10-6)

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-6)

21. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)*

22. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)*

23. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)*

24. New Orleans Saints (11-5)*

25. SeattleSeahawks (7-9)*

26. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)*

27. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)*

28. New England Patriots (14-2)*

29. New York Jets (11-5)*

30. Chicago Bears (11-5)*

31. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)*

32. Green Bay Packers (10-6)*

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Tags:2011 NFL Draft Order Complete After Green Bay Wins Super Bowl

2011 NFL Mock Draft, Without Andrew Luck

This is version 2.0 of my 2011 NFL mock draft (you can find the original version here). Andrew Luck’s somewhat surprising decision to return to Stanford for his senior season has dramatically shaken the 2011 NFL draft, and there’s now not a consensus first pick, let alone a consensus top five. Here’s a preview of how the first round is likely to unfold for the 2011 NFL draft.

1. Carolina Panthers – Da’Quan Bowers – DE – Clemson University

The questions surrounding this draft begin with the very first pick. Carolina let it be known that they would have taken Luck if he had entered the draft. The two next best players are defensive, Da’Quan Bowers and Nick Fairley. I think the general consensus is that Da’Quan Bowers has a higher ceiling of potential. However, that’s not to suggest Fairley is in any way the “safe pick,” as he really only shined his senior year.

Complicating matters even further is the question of what defensive scheme Da’Quan Bowers fits best in. In the end, I think the Panthers will opt for the player with the greatest promise and take Bowers over Fairley.

2. Denver Broncos – Nick Fairley – DT – Auburn University

Since the firing of Josh McDaniels, there was never any question about whether the Broncos would go with defense or offense with their top draft pick. Denver has been one of the most lop sided teams in the league when it comes to what side of the ball they devoted their attention to. The hiring of John Fox made this even more clear. Fox is a defensively oriented coach, and the Carolina team that he took to the Super Bowl was strongest along the defensive line. If Carolina passes on Fairley and Denver opts to keep this pick, I think Fairley is the easy choice.

However, I think it’s highly likely that the Denver Broncos end up trading down. Their defense has strong needs at virtually every position. If they could successfully trade out of the #2 slot and up with a pair of first rounders, one mid and one late, they’d be able to address multiple needs (adding Kyle Orton in to a trade may help make this happen). I wouldn’t be surprised if, at the end of the first day, the Broncos wound up with something like Rahim Moore, the safety from UCLA, and Cameron Heyward, the defensive lineman from Ohio State.

3. Buffalo Bills – AJ Green – WR – University of Georgia

The Buffalo Bills had the league’s worst defense against the run last year, while their pass defense was solid. They definitely need some help on the defensive line, but with Bowers and Fairley off the board, anyone else would be a reach at this spot. Somebody like Robert Quinn from North Carolina might be possible, as would Marcell Dareus from Alabama. In the end, though, I think the Bills go with the most dynamic playmaker available and take AJ Green, the wide receiver from Georgia.

The Bills may have found their quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Pairing Green with third year standout Steve Johnson could give the Bills a dynamic aerial game.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – Patrick Peterson – CB – Louisiana State University

Cincinnati was fair to middling against the pass last season, but Patrick Peterson is simply too talented to pass up at this position. He has all the makings of a dynamic shut down corner. The gap between Peterson and Prince Amukamara, the next best cornerback in the draft, may be narrowing. But in the end, expect Peterson to come out looking like the stronger candidate.

I don’t think Cincinnati is willing to give up on Carson Palmer yet, and though they may feel tantalized by some of the first round quarterback prospects, the need at QB isn’t strong enough and there’s simply too much talent at other positions to reach on a quarterback prospect.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Blaine Gabbert – QB – University of Missouri

Though the Cincinnati Bengals might be a bit reticent to pull the trigger on a high quarterback selection, the Arizona Cardinals certainly won’t be. There’s not a team in the league with more pressing quarterback needs than Arizona. Ironically, of all the teams at the top of the draft, they may be the least bothered by Andrew Luck’s decision not to declare. The Cardinals never would have had a shot at Luck any way, while the Broncos, Bills and Bengals were left feeling like their draft position had dropped down a notch.

With Luck out of the picture, Blaine Gabbert is emerging as the top quarterback prospect, but you can take a look at some of the other top quarterback prospects here. Cam Newton’s showing in the BCS championship pushed him out of the top 10, and may have pushed him out of the first round. He’s this year’s version of Tim Tebow, an exemplary college QB whose game may not translate well to the next level.

6. Cleveland Browns – Robert Quinn – DE – University of North Carolina

Robert Quinn’s draft stock has been rising and falling with as much volatility as a hedge fund. A lot of mock drafts done six months ago had Robert Quinn going number one. Intuition tells me that he’s going to wow people at the combine and his stock will rise again. Cleveland’s defensive line is lackluster, to say the least.

If they don’t go with Quinn, they may draft according to a “best player available” philosophy, and that might dictate somebody like Prince Amukamura. If by some twist of draft fate AJ Green slips through the first five picks, I don’t think he will make it past the Browns. Their leading received last year, Benjamin Watson, managed just 763 receiving yards. And the Browns would surely love to provide a new weapon to developing quarterback Colt McCoy.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Nate Solder – OT – University of Colorado

This might be the most controversial pick in my top ten. With the exception of the Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers are as desperate for new quarterback blood as anyone in the league. New coach Jim Harbaugh, fresh from his experience with Andrew Luck, may be fantasizing about drafting and grooming a top quarterback prospect. If Gabbert’s still available at seven, I think the 49ers will jump on him.

But the problem with the 49ers quarterback play isn’t entirely the fault of the quarterbacks–too many times the offensive line’s protection collapsed quickly and didn’t give Alex Smith enough time. For that reason, I think it’s possible that the 49ers might take the best offensive lineman available, and though he may be a reach at the seventh pick, the best lineman is undoubtedly Nate Solder. After bolstering the talent on the offensive line, Harbaugh might find his quarterback in the second round with a player like Pat Devlin from the University of Delaware.

8. Tennessee Titans – Julio Jones – WR – University of Alabama

The Tennessee Titans have a great rushing game anchored by Chris Johnson and Javon Ringer, but the receiving core is rather weak once you look past Kenny Britt. With the departure of Vince Young, expect the Titans to shift the offensive balance back toward passing a bit. Julio Jones makes a lot of sense with the eighth pick. AJ Green will be long gone by this point, and Jones is the consensus second best wide receiver in the 2011 NFL draft class.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Von Miller – OLB – Texas A&M University

Brandon Williams has been a bit of a disappointment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cowboys stayed close to home and chose Von Miller, the outside linebacker from Texas A&M. Dallas is a difficult team to get a handle on, as their 6-10 record in the 2010 season was a bit of a head scratcher. Their quarterback position is embroiled in controversy, but Romo’s heir apparent isn’t available here. Miller’s a solid, reasonable choice at this point in the draft.

10. Washington Redskins – Jake Locker – QB – University of Washington

At one point, Jake Locker was at the top of most draft nuts’ lists. But he had a lackluster senior season at Washington and his stock has fallen. The Redskins need a quarterback to groom for the future. Mike Shanahan has a history of pulling the trigger on a QB in the first round (Jay Cutler). Gabbert will probably be gone and Newton has played himself out of the top of the draft, leaving Jake Locker and Ryan Mallett from the University of Arkansas.

Why take Locker over Mallett? My theory is that Shanahan has learned from the Jay Cutler experiment and will be valuing emotional maturity and decision making ability in his next quarterback project. Locker is as emotionally balanced as they come. Mallett has great physical qualities, but his decision making is more suspect. Locker’s problems at Washington were due more to the lack of talent on the rest of the Huskies roster.

Tags:2011 NFL Mock Draft, Without Andrew Luck

2011 NFL Draft: Nick Fairley Will Have a Better NFL Career Than Cam Newton

Cam Newton may have grabbed most of the publicity from the University of Auburn’s NCAA Championship run and the 2011 NFL draft, but DT Nick Fairley will most likely have the better career in the NFL.

Drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 13th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Fairley will team up with Ndamukong Suh to bring “Double Trouble” to the NFC North.

Fairley has been frequently described as a lazy, cheap shot artist who stepped up his game only in high-profile moments last year.

Pointed out by TheOrangeCrush “Those are very strong accusations, which you’d think would be backed by a pile of tape. After reviewing a slate of Fairley’s 2010 contests, it’s quite clear that the metrics do not concur with most of these damaging descriptions.”

It was researched and in the eight game breakdown (at Mississippi State, vs. Clemson, vs. South Carolina, at Kentucky, vs. Arkansas, vs. LSU, at Ole Miss and vs. Georgia), Fairley was in the game for 427 out of 544 plays, or 78.5 percent of the time.

This is an amazing percentage for a defensive tackle at 299 pounds.

The study also takes in account the games where Auburn was up by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and decided to play subs.

It was researched that there were 18 of those plays which would increase the percentage to 81.1 percent.

Fairley became one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the nation for a reason.

He matched his previous season total of 1.5 sacks in Auburn’s first game of the year, setting the stage for a season in which he recorded 11.5 sacks, tied for seventh most among FBS players and was a consensus first-team All-America selection. He also won the Lombardi Award as the best lineman or linebacker in the nation.

He capped the season by earning defensive MVP honors in the BCS National Championship Game, recording five tackles (including 3.0 for a loss).

His former teammate Cam Newton now sits in Carolina and may be without star wide receiver Steve Smith.

The Panthers averaged an NFL-low 12.2 points last season and finished with a 2-14 record.

On the other side the Detroit Lions continue to be full of promise and now have one of the best interior defensive lines in all of football.

Tags:2011 NFL Draft: Nick Fairley Will Have a Better NFL Career Than Cam Newton

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