NFL Divisional Playoff Picture

NFL Divisional Playoffs

Wild Card Recap

Last week the NFL Wild Card games were played. The Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in a low scoring matchup resulting in a final score of 19-13. The Green Bay Packers defeated the Minnesota Vikings by two touchdowns for a final score of 24-10. The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Washington Redskins by a final score of 24-14 and, in a highly anticipated matchup, the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Indianapolis Colts with a convincing 24-9 victory. For the Ravens game in particular, the anticipation was not because it was playoffs or that the teams matched well. Instead, the excitement surrounding the game was a result of an announcement that came in the days leading up to the game.

Ray Lewis Announces Retirement

Ray Lewis is perhaps one of the most valuable defensive players of all time. As linebacker, Lewis has played in 17 NFL seasons – all as a Baltimore Raven. Although he does not pay close attention nor concern himself too much with his own individual stats, they are impossible to ignore. Drafted first round in 1996, Lewis eventually went on to help his team win Super Bowl XXXV, earning the MVP award for the game. In addition to that one standout accomplishment, Lewis notably racked up over fifteen hundred solo tackles, 19 forced fumbles, over 40 sacks and 31 interceptions, which resulted in greater than 300 return yards and three touchdowns. There is no doubt that Lewis earned his paycheck each and every game he stepped out on the field and his pick as Defensive Player of the Year, twice.

Incredibly, while perfecting his own game, Lewis also served as a role model and leader for his teammates – playing an important role in their development, also helping them become better athletes, mentally tough and emotionally & physically prepared for each game. His leadership qualities surely were considered when selected for the Pro Bowl more than a dozen times and when named seven-time First-Team All-Pro.

After returning from an injury related absence this season, Lewis announced at the close of the regular season that he would not be returning for the following season. While the news came abruptly and seemingly prematurely, Lewis’ explanation for the timing of his announcement actually made perfect sense. To put it simply, Lewis eluded to the fact that he has had a great NFL career, has done as much as he could in the league, and his calling is now to be with his family – a supporting father to his kids. As for the timing of his announcement, he decided that the fans that have supported him for 17 years deserved to know what was going on so that when they came to the games they had full awareness of what was at stake. From a stakeholder perspective, it actually might have been one of the classiest decisions ever made by an NFL player. The idea that fans now know that this is their last opportunity to see Ray Lewis play definitely inhibits anyone from feeling cheated by an announcement following the end of the playoff season. It also eliminates any speculation that the announcement is merely a media stunt to capture more attention. Analyzed from every angle, the more you ponder Lewis’ decision, the more it makes perfect sense and, undoubtedly, the more you can’t help but feel a little bit compelled to root for the Ravens, just because Lewis is a likable guy and wildly entertaining on the field.

Divisional Playoff Scenarios

• Baltimore Ravens vs Denver Broncos

The Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos on Saturday 1/12 at 4:30pm. What a story it would be if the Raven’s advanced and went on to win the Super Bowl the year Ray Lewis announced his retirement heading into playoffs. One thing is for sure, the stage is set for the Raven’s to capture the spotlight and, having made it beyond round 1, all eyes will be this game. While having little to do with the actual play of the game, the emotional matchup here is Lewis’ retirement vs Peyton Manning’s return. It’s interesting to see which headline will turn more heads and capture more hearts as the world decides who they will root for in this game. It seems logical that the player leaving will have the edge and perhaps steal the victory since, more often than not, the player representing the uniform for the potential last time tends to play harder and generate a stronger reaction from teammates than the guy that has staged a comeback. All statistical odds aside, the winning team ought to be the one playing with more heart that day. If I were a gambling man, I’d put my money on Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens.

• Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers

This game between the Green Bay Packeres and the San Francisco 49ers kicks off at 8pm on Saturday and is destined to be a great matchup as both Aaron Rodgers, of the Packers, and Colin Kaepernick, of the 49ers, are definitive threats in the passing game. The game is anticipated to be a shootout, however, the team that masters the running game will likely come out on top. Experienced running back, Frank Gore, will lead the charge for the 49ers while quarterback, Kaepernick, will likely be the difference maker if he can successfully advance the ground game through a few carries himself. The 49ers aren’t at full strength on defense though and leave room for Green Bay Packers quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, to exploit the secondary. However, there are a few holes in Green Bay’s game as well and it’ll be up to the Niners defense to do their job in finding them in order for the team to come out on top.

• Seattle Seahawks vs Atlanta Falcons

The Seattle Seahawks face off against the Atlanta Falcons at 1pm on Sunday afternoon. Matt Ryan leads the charge for the Falcons in a game that they are favored in by analysts heading into the weekend. The Falcons are desperate for a playoff win and despite the Seahawks excellent running back, Marshawn Lynch, this playoff matchup is slated to be the first playoff game win for the Falcons in, what will be, their fourth attempt.

• Houston Texans vs New England Patriots

In the last matchup of the weekend, the Houston Texans take on the New England Patriots on Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm. Similar to the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers game, the Texans / Patriots matchup is likely to be decided by the quarterbacks. Veteran Tom Brady will be poised and on target as he most always is. It’ll be up to the relatively inexperienced Matt Schaub to hold his own if he hopes to keep the Texans afloat come Sunday. The New York Giants have notably knocked off the Patriots in Super Bowl matchups, including one instance when the Patriots were playing perfect football. They found success in the attack, drawing up an aggressive offensive strike while apply constant pressure to the typically patient Tom Brady. Houston will have to apply the same strategy if they hope to beat New England. Therefore, look for the Texans to come out swinging with big offensive plays and a highly aggressive defense. As long as they can consistently get close to Tom Brady and move him out of the pocket, they will be sure to increase their odds of victory. However, relentless pressure on the quarterback will leave them susceptible to the deep threat if they cannot get hands in Brady’s face. They will have to be in position to make contact with Brady within a 3-5 second count if they don’t want to get burned for extra yardage. The Texans should also hope that their defensive linemen and linebackers are in top-notch shape in order to maintain the stamina they will need to keep that kind of pass rush active for the entire duration of the game. If they tucker out with 15 minutes to go, Brady will be sure to capitalize and no lead is safe at that point.

Advertisements

Former NFL Linebacker, Junior Seau Has Passed Away

Junior Seau was only 43.

Reports are breaking that former NFL linebacker, Junior Seau was found dead in his California home today by his housekeeper. Cops have also told TMZ that they’re investigating a shooting, if not a suicide.

The 43 year old linebacker, who retired in 2009 after playing in seven games for the Patriots that season was a 12 time pro bowler who played for the San Diego Chargers, the Miami Dolphins, and the New England Patriots.

Now this isn’t the first time that Seau has made headlines before with the thought of suicide. As back in 2010, Seau who earlier in the day was arrested for hitting his 25 year old girlfriend drove his car off of a cliff sending sending himself to the hospital. Seau told police that it was not a suicide act and that he just fell asleep behind the wheel.

Sources told TMZ that earlier before he was found dead in his home, that Seau, sent text messages to his three children and ex-wife saying, “Love you.”

While there has been no official word yet on what Seau’s death is being marked as, according to sources, it does appear to be a suicide judging by the angle of the bullet.

“Everyone at the Chargers is in complete shock and disbelief right now. We ask everyone to stop what they’re doing and send their prayers to Junior and his family,” the team said in a statement.

As for Chargers team President, Dan Spanos, “I can’t put into words how I’m feeling right now. I’m shocked and devastated. Junior was my friend. We all lost a friend today. Junior was an icon in our community. He transcended the game. He wasn’t just a football player, he was so much more. He was loved by everyone in our family, our organization and throughout the NFL. This is just such a tragic loss. One of the worst things I could ever imagine. My prayers go out to Junior’s family. It’s heartbreaking.”

Chargers head coach, Norv Turner who spent time briefly in San Diego as well as in Miami with Seau had this to say, “I have no words to describe the passing of Junior Seau. It is a sad, sad day not only for me, but for the whole sports community. I worked with Junior here and later in Miami. I can tell you no one had more character and true leadership ability than Junior. He brought passion to the game of football that was unmatched. His commitment to charitable causes in the community was inspiring. It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter

Peyton Manning To Sign With The Tennessee Titans

Peyton Manning will sign with the Tennessee Titans within the next couple of days.

With all the recent moves that NFL teams have been making from the Miami Dolphins trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears. To the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing wide receiver Vincent Jackson, there’s still one name, one player that has yet make his name headlined and that’s Peyton Manning.

Just one week after being released by the only NFL team that he’s ever played on since being drafted by the Colts in 1998, Peyton Manning after holding a joint press conference with owner Jim Irsay had this to say about free agency.

“I have no idea who wants me, what team wants me, how this process works,” Manning told a group of reporters in South Florida. “I don’t know if it’s like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me.”

Well Manning would find out soon enough that the 11 time Pro Bowler was wanted as 12 teams immediately showed interest such as the Arizona Cardinals, the Seattle Seahawks, the Washington Redskins, the Miami Dolphins, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Jets.

However after showing interest in Manning several of those teams listed above began to become destinations not suitable for him. For instance, the New York Jets. After saying that they wanted Manning and how would they ever be able to pass up on an opportunity of signing Manning they instead went out and gave quarterback Mark Sanchez a new contract.

As for the Redskins sources close to Manning’s camp would say that he wasn’t showing interest and didn’t want to go to the Redskins mainly because he didn’t want to play in the same division as his brother, quarterback Eli Manning of the New York Giants.

Sticking with the NFC teams, Manning who was shown interest by the Seattle Seahawks opted not to go to their interview, scratching them off of his list.

After scratching those off the list, Manning who would visit with the Denver Broncos for what everyone speculated to be the “landing spot” for Manning, has fallen apart over the last couple of days due to different reasons.

So with the Arizona Cardinals, the Miami Dolphins, and the new contender, the Tennessee Titans now in the mix, the landing spot for Manning becomes interesting.

However it won’t be Arizona. After several rumors and petitions for Manning to sign made by players and fans, Manning just has no true interest in signing there as the main reason is he doesn’t want to go to an NFC team. His reasoning, both he and his brother have a dream of one day playing in a Super Bowl against each other. So knowing that, obviously any NFC team would be out of the question for Manning.

Now Manning did say that he would consider NFC teams, but two things, he used the word “consider” and he said it before he knew teams were interested in him. It’s kind of like telling the girl that asked you to prom that you’ll “most likely go with her” but you’re only telling her that so she doesn’t go find another prom date. And if no one else wants to go with you then you’ll just settle with her.

Next up was the Miami Dolphins a landing spot that many made the “spot” for Manning to go. From the websites, billboards, and the fans chanting his name, Miami seemed like place for Manning. However, despite LeBron James publicly announcing in an interview for Manning to come to Miami and despite Manning working out with Reggie Wayne in Miami, Miami won’t be the spot for Manning.

Reason: The Dolphins organization never really showed “true” interest in Manning as it was always the fans showing the majority of it. Also too, the Dolphins today traded away wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the Chicago Bears for draft picks. Now after the trade, it looked like Manning to Miami seemed very likely as the Dolphins were trading away Marshall to fill space for Wayne and obviously Manning. However, later Tuesday night Reggie Wayne would re-sign with the Indianapolis Colts which then ended any chance of Manning going to Miami.

Now while it’s not officially done, Peyton Manning just like he decided when he had to choose a college is going to Tennessee. Heck, he practically foreshadowed it when he told reporters, “I don’t know if it’s like college recruiting where you go take visits. I mean, this is all so new to me.”

Though it only makes sense, he obviously likes Tennessee I mean why else would he have selected them over his fathers alma mater, Ole Miss. Now while his college selection that he made 17 years ago may seem irrelevant, in the end it really doesn’t as he likes Tennessee. Another reasoning why Manning will sign with the Titans is not only are the Titans an AFC team, so Manning still can play his brother in a Super Bowl but, their in the same division as the Colts. Now while Manning isn’t really the type of guy to “seek payback” but who wouldn’t want some type of revenge on someone who he (Manning) devoted 14 hard years too?

So while it’s not official yet, within the next couple of days expect Manning to sign with the Tennessee Titans.

“I want Manning,” Titans owner Bud Adams told The Tennessean Sunday. “I’d love to see him in Titan blue after watching him so many years with the Colts. … I want him. I am ready to do what it takes to get him aboard, and I think he’d be the guy to get us into the playoffs.”

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter

New Orleans Saints Bounty System: My Reaction

The New Orleans Saints are just playing football though the extra money, I guess that's just the team having fun.

After news broke last week that New Orleans Saints assistant coach Greg Williams was in charge of a Bounty Program which had a Bounty Pool of up to $50,000 in it, people began putting The Saints off as not too “Saintly.” Many began calling them “dirty,” “cheaters,” “embarrassments,” to the game, and other things along those lines.

However, I disagree with all of them. Personally, these bounties that were put out against quarterback’s Brett Favre and Kurt Warner (Which are just rumors) are a good thing. Now people would say do you honestly think that hurting another player or knocking him out of the game for money is a good thing? And my answer would be yes, that’s the NFL.

And I bet you that at least a handful of those people that are outraging against the Saints and saying “how dare they!” are the same people that sat in those stands or sat at home and cheered as Dallas Cowboys Michael Irvin laid there on the field helplessly.

Irvin called it a “Bounty Bowl” when they played the Eagles, but did anyone put a stop to that? No, they didn’t and everyone continued on as if nothing happened because it’s football.

So let me ask you a question, do you honestly think that Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus didn’t want to hurt anyone? What about Detroit Lions corner-back, Dick “Night Train” Lane? Or four time Super Bowl Champion linebacker, Bill Romanowski? The answer was yes, they didn’t care.

“I felt I could take myself to a place where other guys weren’t willing to go because come Sunday after a game, I already started hating the next opponent. I started hating the guy I was going to go against,” says Romanowski. “I hated the coaches. I hated their fans. I hated their family. You name it. And by the time I got onto that field come Sunday, watch out because there was rage.”

Romanowski was known as the NFL’s “hit man” as every tackle that he made he was going for a knockout.

You heard him he hated his opponent and in a game of hard hitting and a ton of contact can you really blame him? So players are putting out bounties on players, so what. I can guarantee you that if you went in a locker room with Butkus, Lane, Romanowski, or anyone of the great defensive players to play in the NFL that they would be doing the same thing. The only difference is they wouldn’t do it for money; they would do it because they wanted too.

And that’s the only real concern that I have with this bounty system is, is that players should not have to be bribed by money to go out and hurt someone, knock someone out, or tackle them, they should just want to do it.

With that being said, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell don’t suspend or fine these players and coaches for wanting to play the game of football. Suspend or fine them for cheating the game of football and what I mean by cheating, is the extra money that they put on the table to hurt or knockout the opposing players also known as football.

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter

San Francisco 49ers Punt Returner Kyle Williams Receives Death Threats

Picture of WIlliams's fumble in overtime.

Over the past the past eight seasons for the San Francisco 49ers franchise they experienced all sorts of ways of losing; some big losses, some close ones, an occasional win, and well you know the rest.

However this season for the San Francisco 49ers has been much different, much different in the fact that not only did they go 13-3, but they made the playoffs. Then to make it even better they made it out of the first round defeating the New Orleans Saints 36-32 and made it to the NFC Championship game with a chance to go to the Super Bowl. Then those chances would be even more alive as in overtime they would stop the New York Giants, giving them the ball back. Except, things went back to their old ways as punt returner, Kyle Williams would fumble the punt giving the ball back to the Giants and a  ticket to the Super Bowl XLVI to New York as well.

“Everyone in here told me to keep my head up and told me it’s not on me,” Williams said. “It’s just one of those things. You hate to be the last guy that had the ball, to give it up that way and to lose a game of this magnitude.”

Hate was definitely something that 49ers fans would take from Williams’s response after the game as fans, spectators, and to whom ever they may concern sent tweets, letters, and even death threats to Kyle Williams due to both of his costly fumbles in both overtime as well as the one earlier in the fourth quarter.

One of the hateful remarks read, “I hope you, you’re wife, kids, and family die, you deserve it.”

Williams’s dad would tell ESPN that his son Kyle was playing in the game with an injured shoulder as well as telling them, “I’m used to the years of criticism and threats on my life from time to time, but I have to hear about threats on your son’s life while you’re watching TV and it certainly makes you question our culture of sports as it stands,” Kenny Williams said Monday. “I told his mother on the way out exactly what was coming. That’s the nature of the beast.”

Even though it may be natural as Williams’s father, Kenny implied the question still comes up and that’s, is it right? Is it right, to threaten a man or woman’s life due to the fact that they made a wrong play or two. Now I understand that it was the NFC Championship game and that without those two fumbles the 49ers may have went to the Super Bowl, but threatening to kill Williams because of it? That’s just not right.

Not right, that teammate David Akers intervened as he tweeted on “ppl need to get a grip! Leave Kyle alone!”

“I’m irritated with the way people are treating him, absolutely,” Akers said. “I think it’s ridiculous. You know, get a grip on what life’s about. He went out and he put his soul out there. That’s what he does. He was not trying to do anything other than make an incredible play for this team. He had a great kickoff return. Mistakes happen. We all make mistakes. But when you’re out there truly battling to do the best you can, my hat goes off to him, to anybody that does that.”

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter

Will Tebow Time Happen In Pittsburgh?

Tebow time, will it happen?

Today at 4:30 Eastern Time the Denver Broncos will play in the first playoff game under quarterback Tim Tebow. Since the Broncos made the switch from quarterback Kyle Orton to Tebow the Broncos have been pretty good as they have won seven games and lost four under Tebow this season.

Now despite losing to the Kansas City Chiefs and former quarterback Kyle Orton who was claimed off of waivers 7-3 last week, the Broncos due to an Oakland Raiders loss clinched the AFC West and would go onto the playoffs. As for who they would face, the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now everyone would most likely think that “Tebow Time” will come to an end today as the Steelers, ranked first in yards allowed in the NFL with 4,348 yards against opposing offenses would really shake Tebow. Then you calculate that in Tebow’s last three games he has been completely awful, turning the ball over seven times, three of those turnovers coming from fumbles.

However, if you look, the Pittsburgh Steelers have the least most takeaways in the NFL with 15 and they have given the ball away 28 times. As for the Broncos they have been on fire as in their last three games they have forced opposing offenses to turn the ball over nine times.

Taking that in, you then add in the factor that Steelers leading rusher, Rashard Mendenhall will be out of this game due to a torn ACL. Then, Ben Roethlisberger is still nursing an ankle injury. So adding those two factors in and then looking at a Broncos defense who has came up clutch before by forcing a turnover or two to help out Tebow and the offense may do it again.

Now you can call me crazy, but Tim Tebow out of Florida University will beat the Pittsburgh Steelers today on January 8th, 2012 and here’s why. Week 15, he played the New England Patriots, one of the best if not the best team in the AFC so we don’t count that in.

Week 16, the Buffalo Bills it was a cold game that Tebow wasn’t always used too as playing in Florida the weather was much different. However Tebow didn’t do that bad until the end when he was faced at such a deficit that he was put in by his defense, which resulted in multiple interceptions. All it was was that he panicked.

Week 17, they just looked out of sync on offense. As for the defense they looked great allowing only one touchdown and despite the 7-3 loss to the Chiefs, I think that it was good that it happened. It was good because it put the Broncos backs against the wall and as the underdogs again, a place that they have seemed to strive at as last time they were in that similar position they won seven straight.

So now the Broncos will host a team that has sometimes struggled to put a team away as 7 of their 12 wins have been very close as have two of their losses. For any other team this may not be a problem for the Steelers, but facing the Broncos it should be as this season they have had six fourth quarter comebacks all lead by Tim Tebow.

Another factor that will be added in is there won’t be as many Steelers fans as not only is it a home game for the Broncos, but because Broncos fans were blocking Steelers fans from purchasing tickets at the stadium by forming human walls, blocking fans from purchasing online or through the phone by looking at area codes and zip codes, and any other way to prevent Steelers fans from coming.

So get on your knee and bow your head boys and girls, because it’s Tebow Time and it’s about to take place yet again in Denver.

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter

Will Tim Tebow Be A Pro Bowler?

Tim Tebow a Pro Bowler?

Each year the NFL has its famous Pro Bowl game from Hawaii where it showcases the best football players in the world from both the AFC and the NFC. The two conferences compete to see which one is the best. However not every great player is selected as usually only three players from each position are selected from each conference to play in the game.

Now as the NFL is leading up to the decision of choosing their pro bowl rosters, there have been questions of if Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will be selected? The answer, yes.

7-2 as a starter and his Broncos are in first place in the AFC West. He has six fourth quarter comebacks this season and he’s brought so much attention for one player since…ever. Tebow has performed so well this season that people have made a thing called “tebowing” which is when you get down on a knee and start praying, even if everyone else around you is doing something completely different.

He has the sixth best passer rating in the AFC and the best passer rating in the NFL in the fourth quarter. Now while he’s not one of the top passers in the NFL, he is one of the top runners in the NFL as he leads all quarterbacks in rushing with 610 yards.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of great quarterbacks in the NFL and there’s a lot of great quarterbacks in the AFC but this season putting Tebow’s great accomplishments aside, making the AFC Pro Bowl team as a quarterback is pretty easy. Indianapolis Colts quarterback, Peyton Manning has been injured all season, Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is out for the season, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel who was a Pro Bowler last year has been awful this season, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez has been awful, and there were two rookie starting quarterbacks (Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert).

Though don’t get me wrong as I’m not saying Tebow is the best or am I saying that he’s a lock for the Pro Bowl just yet as something needs to happen first, and here’s what it is. Putting all injuries aside, the three AFC quarterbacks should be New England’s Tom Brady, San Diego’s Phillip Rivers, and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger as the third selection.

However, Roethlisberger has been banged up as of late and will most likely sit for the rest of the season which means if the Steelers go far in the playoffs then he most likely won’t play in the Pro Bowl which would mean they would need a sub who would be Tim Tebow.

Now I know, that there’s a lot of “tebow mania” out there and people like ESPN’s Skip Bayless aka Baseless would say that Tim Tebow is a lock for the Pro Bowl, but in all reality if you look at he’s not. Now don’t get me wrong Tebow’s a great player but he’s not Tom Brady, Phillip Rivers, or Ben Roethlisberger.

Saying that, Tebow did finish third among AFC quarterbacks in voting from the fans, but that’s not the final decision as coaches and players still have to cast their votes as well. This is also another reason why fan’s votes shouldn’t count in selecting players in All-Star games as this voting for Tebow is turning into the NBA’s Yao Ming dilemma.

Follow xOrtiz4x on Twitter