The best offense will be facing off against the best defense at the Meadowlands? Will Peyton Manning lead his team to victory or will the Seattle defense and running game make the difference…what do you think? Vote and tell us why at the comment section below…
If you’re a football fan then this AFC Championship matchup will bring much happiness to your life. Arguably the 2 greatest quarterbacks to ever throw the pigskin are facing off in what will definitely be a game for the ages. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have built a pretty storied rivalry during their tenures in the NFL. Brady has dominated the head-to-head matchups winning 10 of the 14 battles the two have endured. This game has even more excitement behind it because of how Manning just broke Brady’s single season touchdowns record that he had set back in his near perfect season in 2007 (I imagine that every Giants fan will be chuckling after reading that line). In their one matchup this season, Brady led the Patriots to an impressive 24-point deficit comeback to win 34-31 in OT in what was my favorite game of the season…although I would have preferred to see a different result. Based on the history of their rivalry and Brady’s playoff dominance year in and year out, there is no logical explanation why I should be picking the Broncos to win but here are my 5 reasons why they will.
1. Denver’s receiving core is one of the greatest ever: Denver has assembled a receiving core with talent that hasn’t been seen since the greatest show on turf. With Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas, it is near impossible to double team anyone. Add that in with the fact that the best quarterback ever is throwing to them and I don’t even see how this team lost 3 games this year. With a secondary ranked in the bottom half of the league, the Patriots can expect to see Manning throw for at least 350 yards in this one.
2. Peyton needs this win more than Brady: As a die-hard Jets fan, I find it very hard to write anything positive about Tom Brady, but I’d be lying if I said he wasn’t the best playoff QB I’ve ever seen. When Mo Lewis ended Drew Bledsoe’s career and started the career of a no name kid from Michigan there was no looking back. Tom Brady has proven time and again that he is clutch in every sense of the word. Peyton on the other hand has had record-breaking season after record-breaking season but outside of his one Super Bowl win, he has been a pretty disappointing playoff QB. That won’t be the case this year because Peyton knows this will be one if his final chances to match his little brothers ring total.
3. Home field advantage means a lot: While Brady and the Pats got the best of the Broncos in a big overtime comeback this season, that game was played in Foxborough. This AFC Championship game will be played in the Mile High Stadium. Denver fans are rowdy and will be doing their darndest to get in to Brady and his minions heads. Peyton will have the calming and quieting respect from the fans so he can audible all fucking day if he wants to and when he has that power he is an unstoppable force keeping defenses on their toes. While the temperatures aren’t favorable for Peyton’s reputation, he has recently shown that he can put up Manning-esque numbers even in the worst of weather.
4. Rush defense trumps rush offense: Who would have thought that the Patriots could put up the type of performance they did last week without Brady throwing even one TD? Bill “spy gate” Belicheck has found himself in control of a very solid 3-headed running attack with Lagarrett Blount, Steven Ridley and Shane Vereen giving opposing defenses a lot of different looks. Unfortunately for the Pats, the Broncos have a better than average Rush D that ranked 8th in total yards allowed this year. With the Broncos front 7 and the fact that Peyton will be running up the scoreboard, Brady will be forced to throw a lot more than he probably would like too and unfortunately for him, he does not have nearly the type of offensive weapons that Peyton has at his disposal.
5. Knowshon Moreno is going to go off: This is simple; the Patriots have the 30th ranked rush defense in the NFL and Knowshon Moreno has been showing off his talents that none of us have seen since his years in Georgia. With the amount of spread formations and 4 wide receiver sets that the Broncos offense presents, Moreno will find himself in a very favorable situation quite often. I am expecting Knowshon to go off for over 120 yards in this game and in my mind he will be the ultimate deciding factor for the Broncos to get that W.
With both the Houston Texans and Green Bay Packers both winning, the Sports Debaters have started with a perfect 2-0 record in our playoff predictions. Yesterday’s games were relatively easy to predict while today’s quality matchups are not so cut and dry. I have to admit that while the Packers and Vikings always provide entertaining games, the battles that are happening today are the teams we were really looking forward to watching. I mean out of the two games today there are THREE rookie Quarterbacks starting. That is absolutely unreal! Here are our previews and predictions for the Sunday’s NFL Wild Card games.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens: The first contest of today’s games features two completely different squads. The Colts enter the game as one of the youngest teams in the NFL, while the Ravens boast one of the oldest. Indianapolis’ turn around is nothing short of remarkable as they were the worst team in the the league last year. With the first pick of the draft the Colts chose the heavily sought-after Andrew Luck who they expected to help rebuild their once prominent franchise. Little did they know that he would be able to return them to glory in his rookie campaign. Andrew Luck is starting to look eerily similar to the last quality QB that led the Colts to the Super Bowl not to long ago. The Ravens seem to always be in the AFC Playoffs and their way of getting there is usually the same strategy…DEFENSE! Sunday will mark the last ever home game for arguably the greatest linebacker in NFL history, Ray Lewis. Lewis announced he was retiring after this year, so the Ravens would love nothing more then to reward the dominant force with his second Super Bowl win. We feel that this game is going to come down to how well the Ravens can manage the clock. For Baltimore to be successful, they must be able to ride Ray Rice the entire game. If Flacco is relied on too heavily then the Ravens will sputter. For the Colts to win, they must clamp down on the defensive end and make sure that Rice doesn’t eat them alive. Luck will be able to provide enough offense to give them a win so if the defense plays their part then the Colts will move on. All that being said, we feel that the greatest story in football this year, Chuck Pagano, will have lots of Luck on his side to upset the Ravens in Baltimore.
Prediction: Colts 27 – Ravens 23
Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins: The second matchup on Sunday is without question the most intriguing Wild Card matchup in this year’s playoffs. Two of the most fascinating rookie QB’s in recent memory will face off in what should be a great NFC rivalry for year’s to come. The NFL Draft had the football world buzzing this past year with plenty of potential superstars, but one player that no one was talking about after the draft was the Seahawks Russell Wilson. In the offseason, Seattle went out on the Free Agent market and signed Matt Flynn to a big contract, so everyone thought that Wilson was being drafted to play the role of backup. A few months and a training camp later and Flynn found himself relegated back to his familiar spot on the bench while Russell Wilson proved that he shouldn’t have been overlooked by so many. Wilson plays with a poise that is rare to see in most veterans let alone a rookie who had to fight his way into the starting lineup. Benefiting from Wilson’s beautiful play is Marshawn Lynch who broke out with a career year and deserves way more recognition then he has been receiving. NYBobby and myself were talking about how sick Lynch has been these past few years yet he is never mentioned when people talk about the premiere backs in the NFL. Wilson and Lynch are going to have a hard time finding a grove as they will be playing in a Redskins stadium that hasn’t hosted a playoff game in 13 years. The Washington Redskins season has been quite a roller coaster as they started the season a dismal 3-6 and ended it with 7 straight wins to take the tough NFC East title. We feel that RG3 is the front runner for Rookie of the Year based solely on the fact that he completely redefined the QB position this season. He runs like a Pro Bowl back and throws like a Pro Bowl QB. He manages the clock like a seasoned veteran and he seems to be making everyone around him better. Along with RG3’s masterful play this season, we have witnessed the emergence of Alfred Morris, who looks like he will be a top back for many more years. The back and forth combination of Griffin and Morris has confused the hell out of every opponent in the second half of the season and we are expecting nothing less in this playoff matchup with Seattle. If the stadiums were reversed and the Seahawks had the advantage of their “12th man” then our prediction could have easily been swayed, but with the momentum that the Redskins have as well as Coach Mike Shanahan’s playoff resume, we feel that RG3 will escape this fun contest with his first ever playoff W.
Prediction: Redskins 21 – Seattle 16
Check in next week for our previews and predictions for next weeks playoff matchups and more!
The time has come. Even though we are a New York based site and both the Jets and Giants crapped the bed this year, that doesn’t mean that Sports Debaters interest in the NFL playoffs lessens. The Wild Card Round is upon us and there are some extremely exciting match-ups. Here is our breakdown and predictions for both of Saturday’s Wild-Card games.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Houston Texans: In a rematch of last year’s Wild Card game, the Bengals and Texans will face off in Houston to open this year’s festivities. The Houston Texans were in the drivers seat all season long, and many experts expected them to win the AFC’s home field throughout the playoffs. However, over the past few weeks, they have come back to earth and their loss last week to the Colts forced them into action the opening weekend. The Bengals have played an impressive brand of football the past few weeks, and their Week 16 nail biting win over the Steelers catapulted them into today’s game. Last year, the Texans beat the Bengals 31-10 behind QB T.J. Yates, as starter Matt Schaub went down with an injury heading into the playoffs. This year, Schaub is back and ready to prove himself in the post season for the first time. The Bengal’s Andy Dalton and AJ Green are easily among the best young QB/WR combinations in the NFL and it is a sure bet that they will be a presence in the playoffs for years to come. However, we expect the Texans, behind Arian Foster, J.J. Watt and the rest of the supporting cast to take care of business in front of their home crowd. Prediction: Houston 21- Bengals 17.
Minnesota Packers vs. Green Bay Packers: Anytime two division rivals matchup in the playoffs, players on both teams inevitably bring their best games. In a rematch of a game that was played only a week ago, the Minnesota Vikings beat the Green Bay 37-34 in a thrilling game to clinch a playoff spot. Adrian Peterson came into the game needing 208 yards to break the all-time rushing record one year after tearing up his knee, and he came a mere 9 yards short. In the two games against Green Bay this year, Peterson has put up 210 and 199 yards so we can expect a similar performance in this battle. Unfortunately for the Vikings, there is a well known QB opposing them in the likes of Aaron Rodgers, who has completed 75% of his passes against the Vikes in the past five seasons. Greg Jennings finally looks healthy and he will join forces with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones as the best set of wideouts in the NFL. Although Viking’s QB Christian Ponder threw for three TD’s against the Pack last week, Green Bay’s Charles Woodson will return to action and will surely make life more difficult for the Sophomore QB who is 1-3 in his career against Green Bay. We expect a close, high-scoring game and a lot of Peterson yards but in the end Aaron Rodgers will out-duel Christian Ponder by a margin that even Peterson can’t overcome. Green Bay will make up for last year’s disappointing home loss to the Giants and a 2-4 record in their last 6 playoff games at Lambeau, and move on to the Divisional round next weekend. Final Score: Packers 38- Vikings 28
Check in tomorrow prior to kickoff for our predictions on the Colts vs. Ravens and Seahawks vs. Redskins.
Every year there seems to be one person that emerges from the NFL Draft and represents themselves as a dying franchises savior. This season, there is not only one player, but three, that have completely redefined and revamped franchises that seemed to be slowly deteriorating. Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson have all taken the reigns over their teams and not only improved them but they all turned them into potentially dangerous playoff teams. The great thing about these three superb athletes is that they have all taken a different approach to the new age NFL and made it look extremely easy to succeed in a league that players average only 3 years for an entire career. A lot of people say that it takes time to develop at the professional level, but when you are born with the God given talents that these three players possess, time is no longer a necessity.
Andrew Luck was the first overall pick of the NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts after they finished the season with a league worst 2-14 record. Luck was given the very unpleasant task of filling the shoes of arguably the greatest QB of all time, Peyton Manning. The last time the Colts had the #1 overall pick in the draft was when they took Manning 14 years ago. Manning showed signs of brilliance but the Colts still finished with a less than impressive 3-13 record in his rookie campaign. Luck on the other hand has taken the worst team in the NFL and turned them into a playoff bound 9-5 electrifying squad that has the 8th best passing attack in the league. Andrew set the NFL Rookie record for most passing yards in a single game by torching the Miami Dolphins for 433 earlier this season. More impressively, Luck has already passed the NFL Rookie record for most yards in a season (3,739) set by Manning back in 1998 by already accumulating 3,978 and he is on pace to break the all time rookie mark that Cam Newton set last year when he threw for 4,051. Luck has shown signs of some rookie jitters but all in all he has looked like a seasoned professional and has an unbelievably bright future ahead of him.
Luck Stats: Passing Yards 3,978, 308 completions, 20 Touchdowns passing and 5 Touchdowns rushing
The second overall pick of this past year’s NFL Draft was the Heisman Trophy winning Robert Griffin III. The man they can RG3 has taken the NFL by storm and has redefined how coaches will look at the Quarterback position. He runs as well as any running back (most rushing yards for a rookie QB 748 and counting), he throws as hard and accurate as any Quarterback and he manages a game as well as any coach. He plays the game at the pro level like he has been there for decades yet he has only started 13 games all season. He started the season working out the problems that led the Redskins to the NFL’s second worst record from a year ago and now has them sitting on top of the best division in football, the NFC East. Washington started slow with a 3-6 record, but the emergence and maturation of RG3 has led to the Skins reeling off 5 straight victories and now they have complete control over their own destiny. RG3 has impressed everyone and even though he suffered a little set back a couple of weeks ago when he injured his knee, he is still bound to have an NFL MVP award within a handful of years.
RG3 Stats: Passing Yards 2,902, Rushing Yards 748, 18 Passing Touchdowns to only 4 Interceptions, 6 Rushing TD’s, Best YPC in NFL 6.7
Rarely does the 75th overall pick of the NFL Draft make a big impact on his team in their rookie season, let alone lead them at the QB position to a playoff bound 9-5 record. That is exactly what Russel Wilson has done this season after stealing the starting QB position from the highly touted, waste of money signing, of the Green Bay Packers, Matt Flynn. In the preseason Wilson showed signs of a mobile QB that had the ability to sling the ball down field. He had great command for the game and was a perfect complement to the running attack that Pete Carroll, who I despise by the way, implemented with the ever-talented Marshawn Lynch. While Wilson’s stat line isn’t nearly as impressive as Luck’s or RG3’s, his game management and record sure as hell are. The Seahawks are known as a defensive reliant team yet Wilson has led his team to back to back games that have totaled more than 100 points combined. On top of that, with two games remaining in the season, Wilson has helped lead his team from a 7 win season a year ago to 9 already this year. While I don’t think Wilson will be able to steal the NFL Rookie of the Year away from Luck or RG3, I do feel that he will be a playoff QB for many more years.
Wilson’s Stats: 2,697 Passing Yards on 63% completion percentage, 402 Rushing Yards, 21 Passing Touchdowns
Gamblers rejoice, here are our Week 12 Sports Debater expert picks against the spread. (We are NOT responsible for any money lost) odds courtesy of 5Dimes.eu
|Game Time||Teams||NYBobby||MatthewToddErich||Scher Thing|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) @ Chicago Bears (-6.5)||Bears||Bears||Bears|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Oakland Raiders (+8) @
Cincinnati Bengals (-8)
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Pittsburgh Steelers (-2) @ Cleveland Browns (+2)||Steelers||Steelers||Browns|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Buffalo Bills (+2.5) @ Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)||Colts||Colts||Colts|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Denver Broncos (-10) @ Kansas City Chiefs (+10)||Broncos||Broncos||Chiefs|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Seattle Seahawks (-3) @ Miami Dolphins (+3)||Seahawks||Seahawks||Seahawks|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Atlanta Falcons (-1.5) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+1.5)||Buccaneers||Falcons||Falcons|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Tennessee Titans (-3.5) @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+3.5)||Titans||Titans||Titans|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Baltimore Ravens (0) @ San Diego Chargers (0)||Ravens||Ravens||Ravens|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||San Francisco 49ers (-2) @ New Orleans Saints (+2)||Saints||Saints||49ers|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||St. Louis Rams (+1.5) @ Arizona Cardinals (-1.5)||Cardinals||Cardinals||Rams|
|Sunday, November 25, 2012:||Green Bay Packers (+2.5) @ New York Giants (-2.5)||Giants||Packers||Giants|
|Monday, November 26, 2012:||Carolina Panthers (-2.5) @
Philadelphia Eagles (+2.5)
The Patriots took the Conference crown last season, the Jets and Broncos have stolen the offseason headlines and the Dolphins have shown the world, thanks to HBO, that they still suck. With the NFL season a meager 4 days away, it is time to provide our NFL Preview starting with the AFC. Today, I have broken down everything you need to know about AFC in 2012, including each team’s record, who will make the playoffs and who will come out on top. Read below to find out how your favorite AFC team will finish this season.
1. New England Patriots (12-4): Let’s be honest, the Patriots get six easy wins in their division alone. Therefore if they can manage a 6-4 record against the rest of their schedule, 12 wins is a lock. Brandon Lloyd will help a WR group that is always enhanced by Tom Brady.
2. Buffalo Bills (9-7): Bills started off hot last year and faded as the season went by. Bringing in Mario Williams to bolster a defense to support Ryan Fitzpatrick, Fred Jackson and Stevie Johnson’s ability to put up points. Look for Bills to knock on the playoff door.
3. New York Jets (7-9): What can I say? As a Jets fan I hope I am wrong. Mark Sanchez is going to struggle and take a lot of heat in the process. The Jets set him up to fail by surrounding him with limited weapons and brining in the most popular backup QB in NFL history to breathe down his neck. Defense has potential to be great but will turn on the O real quick when they struggle. Going to be a long season for Rex and company.
4. Miami Dolphins (2-12): The Miami Dolphins will be the worse team in the NFL. Ryan Tannehill will get a lot of experience and take his lumps, but will probably be better for it down the line. The team does not have much to be desired in any phase of the game.
1. Baltimore Ravens (11-5): In a tough AFC North, I expect the Ravens to come out on top. Ray Rice is as consistent a back as we have in the league and their defense always comes to play. The Ravens were a play away from the Super Bowl last year even with Terrell Suggs injury, they will win this divison.
2. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6): The Bengals were a surprise playoff team last season. This year, Andy Dalton and AJ Green have a year under their belt and look for both players to improve on successful rookie campaigns. I wouldn;t be shocked to see the Bengals beat out Baltimore for the NFC North crown, but still have them pegged as a Wild Card Team.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-9): Every time experts pick the Steelers to have a down year, they usually prove all the doubters wrong. However, Big Ben has an injured shoulder to start the year, Mike Wallace has missed more of camp and they have the awful taste of a playoff loss to Tebow in their mouths. Look for a down year in the Steel City.
4. Cleveland Browns (4-12): The Cleveland Browns are in a rebuilding year with rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson leading their offense. I would say it’s about time the Browns rebuild, though it always feels like they are in that phase. They have new ownership, though their owner is a lifelong Steelers fan. Should be a normal year in Cleveland as the Browns are the usual division doormat.
1. Houston Texans (14-2): Houston finally made the playoffs last year, doing so without their starting QB for most of the season. This year, if Matt Schaub, Arian Foster and Andre Johnson can stay healthy, the Texans are the best team in the AFC. Look for the to win this division with ease and secure home field throughout the playoffs.
2. Tennessee Titans (7-9): The Titans are the second best team in their division, which will help them collect wins against the Colts and Jaguars. Outside of those easy 4 wins, the Titans will struggle. All eyes will be on Jake Locker as he is handed the keys to the franchise, but expect some growing pains. If Chris Johnson can regain his 2010 form, the Titans could find themselves at or slightly above .500.
3. Indianapolis Colts (5-11): The Colts were 3-13 in Peyton Manning’s rookie NFL season. I expect Andrew Luck will take his lumps but have a very solid first year. The QB looks poised in the pocket and is able to make all the throws. Look for Indy to improve on last year and feel very good about themselves looking forward.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (3-13): The Jaguars will be battling the Dolphins for the first pick in next year’s draft. There only proven player, Maurice Jones Drew has still not shown up to camp. They have no depth at WR and expect Blaine Gabbert to compete with no help. Don’t see a lot of hope at all for the Jags.
1. Denver Broncos (10-6): Tim Tebow lead the Broncos to the division crown last season. Replace him with Peyton Manning and I don’t see how they don’t repeat. The Broncos defense will help bolster Manning and Eric Decker and Demarius Thomas will actually have the chance to play with a QB who can hit them in the chest with a pass.
2. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6): Kansas City had an awful year least year. Jamal Charles was hurt during the season opener, while Matt Cassell and Eric Berry also missed time due to injuries. Kansas City will bounce back this season and make the playoffs. Look for Peyton Hillis to team up with Charles to give KC the best 1-2 RB combo in the NFL.
3. San Diego Chargers (7-9): It’s hard to remember the last time the Chargers weren’t the AFC West favorite heading into a season. Philip Rivers is still an elite QB but he simply doesn’t have the cast around him that he has before. San Diego will still score with the help of Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal but their lack of defense will cause Norv Turner to lose his job by season’s end.
4. Oakland Raiders (5-11): The Raiders have a new coach, a new owner but too many of the same players. Carson Palmer is another year away from being a competitive QB and I’m not sure there is much left in the tank. If the Raiders have any chance of competing in a tough division, they will need Darren McFadden to lead the league in rushing.
Division Winners: New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos Wildcard Winners: Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs
AFC Championship Game: Houston Texans over the New England Patriots
With two minutes left, things were looking bleak. The Rangers were down 2-1, getting outplayed by Washington and I was losing hope. Washington’s defense was not allowing the Rangers any life, they were blocking shots, clogging up the neutral shot and the Rangers were throwing weak shots at the net which were easily stopped by 22 year old goaltender Braden Holtby. The commentators were talking about how solid the Caps were, talked about how they know how to finish off games and all signs looked like the Rangers were going back to Washington down 3-2 and facing elimination. The Rangers had other ideas.
Tortorella pulled Lundqvist with about 1:30 left in the game, and the Caps did a solid job of killing the man advantage. However, Joel Ward, with just under 30 second left hit Carl Haggelin in the face with a stick, a penalty that turned the game completely around. The Rangers had the 6-4 advantage, threw the puck on net, Callahan and Richards attacked the net and Brad Richards got it through with just under 7 second left. The Garden erupted.
Going into overtime, the Rangers clearly had the momentum, as well as a Power Play, as Ward took a double minor and it carried into to extra frame. The Rangers continued to pressure the Caps, and just under a minute into OT, Mark Staal found the net on a deflected shot. The Rangers sealed an improbable victory, and I sat stunned looking at my television.
A few weeks ago the Rangers ended up losing against Ottawa in Game 5 at home, and although they ended up winning Game 6 on the road and eventually Game 7, that is not a trend that they were trying to repeat. The Capitals are a better team than the Senators, they play stronger defense and have snipers that are just as dangerous as Ottawa. I really felt like tonight was almost a must win for New York, and up until there was 7 seconds left into the game, I was feeling the same way I do when I’m watching the end of a Jets game. However, the Rangers, as they have all season long, showed they have an extreme amount of heart.
When the Rangers won in 1994, they took out the Capitals in the Conference Semi-finals, and then went on to the Conference Finals and had an epic battle with the Devils. As every Ranger (and Devil) fan knows, the Rangers battled through and beat New Jersey in 7 to make it to the Cup. Well, the Rangers and Devils are both one win away each from a 1994 rematch, and for area hockey fans, nothing could be sweeter. Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Mike Richter, Adam Graves and the rest of the ’94 showed the same character that this current team possesses.
I am trying to not get ahead of myself, but the Rangers really have something special going on, and this victory tonight is another game to build on. The Rangers need to go into Washington and take care of the Caps in Game 6, and I think they will. I’ve been telling you all for a while, this is the best show in town and it looks like we have a lot more fun ahead of us in the upcoming weeks!