Stryper’s latest studio album is achieving huge success worldwide as well as here in America. “No More Hell to Pay” reached 35 on the American Top 200 Billboard Rankings, and 6 on the Top 200 Rock Albums. The latest hit even hit #2 on the Christian Rock 200 Chart.
The new album includes the bands original line up of Michael Sweet (Vocals), Oz Fox (Guitar), Tim Gaines (Bass) and Robert Sweet on Drums. This album is receiving not only positive reviews from the Christian Metal community, but also in the mainstream metal community. Eddie Trunk voted the album #9 in the Top Ten list of 2013 releases.
No More Hell to Pay starts off with the first track “Revelation” which really shows the musical talent of this band. In one of my past blogs, I ranked Michael Sweet in my Top 5 Vocalists of all time. This may seem a bit high but I challenge any true metal fan to listen to his material. His voice is even better today than Thirty years ago…it’s really amazing. Michael Sweet even performed for the legendary band Boston for Nine years, prior to reforming Stryper.
The title track, No More Hell to Pay is iconic in nature as it really drives home the message that we are not doomed to Hell if we as Christians just trust in Jesus Christ. Track 4 is a cover song of Jesus is Just Alright. This song truly shows Oz Fox’s talents on the Guitar. I would put him right up there with the other great glam metal bands of the eighties…Mick Mars, CC Deville, Vivian Campbell and others.
For any music fan that is not familiar with the Band Stryper, I strongly suggest you pick up a new copy of No More Hell to Pay. I would be willing to bet that when you do you will want to hear more of their material. My personal all time favorite is To Hell with the Devil…their best song up until now. The new album is some of their heaviest and tightest material to date. I can’t wait to see them live! Metal Heads…rock on and keep the music ALIVE!!!!!😊
So here we are…three days before Professional Sports most Prestigious Day. It has been awhile for me so bear with me as I get reacclimated to the fantastic world of blogging. One thing I have always enjoyed during my writing career is that there is no right or wrong. What we have in writing is a matter of opinion. Some people use educated analysis when forming an opinion as the proponderance of facts is supplied in order to prove a point. Still, some people chose bias as a way of forming opinion and their way is the only right way. And then there are those people in the middle who neither have facts or a rooting interest. One thing is for sure no matter what category you may fall into. History will be made on Sunday, February 2ND. There will be a winner and loser in the Super Bowl. It may be true that the best team wins. In fact, the better team may lose. Nonetheless, whichever team wins will be the team that makes more plays than the other.
Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II saw the illustrious Green Bay Packers take the first two crowns. Of course, they were the legendary Vince Lombardi’s final games as an NFL coach. There is no coincidence that the title now bears the great name of Vince Lombardi. In Super Bowl III, the great Joe Namath, quarterback of the New York Jets, predicted a victory over the heavily favored Indianapolis Colts. The GREAT Johnny Unitas was on the sideline as backup Morrow would begin the game. After an injury that forced Morrow to leave the game, Johnny U would enter the game trying to lead a come back. The come back would fall gallantly short and Namath’s prophesy came true.
Over the past 42 Years, the Super Bowl has evolved and has bested itself each year as far as the greatest sporting spectacle in Professional Sports. During the past 42 years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowls with a 6-2 record. The Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers are second with 5 wins (San Francisco-5-1/Dallas-5-3). Dallas and Pittsburgh lead the pack with Eight Appearances a piece. The Buffalo Bills have the most consecutive appearances with Four, of course losing all four. The New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, and Minnesota Vikings lead the Super Bowl with a record Four Losses. Buffalo and Minnesota are both 0-4, while Denver is 2-4. In all, 28 (18 Franchises) different teams have appeared in a Super Bowl, including teams that have shifted cities. The Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions are the only four teams to have never appeared in a Super Bowl. The NFC leads the way with 25 Wins to the AFC’s 22 Wins.
The Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers have Eight Appearances in the Super Bowl, which is an NFL record. With the Denver Broncos advancing to the Super Bowl in 2014, this will be their Seventh Appearance. With a win this Sunday, the Broncos will take their Super Bowl record to 3-4. Their first two wins came in their last two Super Bowls behind the arm of Hall of Fame Quarterback John Elway. Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks are playing in their Second Super Bowl. They lost their first Super Bowl to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005. Well, here we are Nine Years later and they will be trying to even their record. As we look at the big dance, let us take a look at how both teams got to this point.
DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, 1st Place AFC WEST, BYE, HOME FIELD)
The Denver Broncos began the 2014 Season with a 9-1 Record and ultimately became the First Seed of the AFC Playoff Teams. The Broncos, were lead by Peyton Manning in only his second season, as he set NFL records with 5,477 Yards Passing, 55 Touchdowns and a 115.1 Quarterback Rating. Denver comes into the Super Bowl with the leagues highest scoring offense, with 7,317 Total Yards and 606 Points Scored, which was good enough for an average of 37.6 Points Per Game, exactly ten points more than the second leading scoring offense of the Philadelphia Eagles, who averaged 27.6. The Broncos also averaged 457 Yards Per Game, an insane number in today’s NFL.
Meanwhile, Denver was less than the middle of the pack with the league’s 19th Ranked Defense. Along with Manning’s incredible passing resume, running back Knowshon Moreno had 1,038 Yards Rushing (12th), and had 10 Rushing Touchdowns. The Broncos prolific offense also featured Demariyus Thomas and Eric Decker with over 85 Receptions, 1,200 Yards Receiving and 11 Touchdowns each. Add Slot Receiver Wes Welker and all-pro Tight End Julius Thomas, and Denver was a recipe for disaster for any Defense. During the regular season, the Broncos faced 6 Playoff Teams, winning each game except for losses to the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots. Of course, they shook that monkey off their back by beating the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship.
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-3, FIRST PLACE NFC WEST, BYE, #1 SEED
The Seattle Seahawks were not a surprise this season, like they were in 2012. The Seahawks boasted the League’s Number One Defense while they were Seventeenth in Offense. The Seahawks were lead by sophomore Quarterback Russell Wilson and Running Back Marshawn Lynch, while boasting a ferocious Defensive Attack. The Seahawks were also led by the TWELTH MAN, the fans in Seattle as they are referred to.
The Seahawks faced Five Playoff Teams but also split wins against both the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, who just missed the playoffs by default. In both of their playoff wins, the Seahawks scored 23 Points and gave up 15 and 17 respectively. So one would say, wow this is a very dangerous team.
Ok, so now I will give my early predictions and the reasons why I feel the way I do. Super Bowl 43 features the Two Number One Seeds in each Conference, the first time this has happened in 20 Years. In 1993-1994, the Super Bowl featured the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills, both Number Ones. This game will also feature the league’s best offense (Denver Broncos) vs the league’s best defense (Seattle Seahawks). So, one would say which can stop each other, two immovable objects. The Broncos Defense was less than spectacular, while the Seahawks Offense was less than average. So, when looking at these two trends, one of these teams have to give.
Peyton Manning, no matter how great of a Quarterback he has been in the regular season, will always be judged by how he performs in this Super Bowl. He is trying to become the first Quarterback to win two Super Bowls with two different franchises. If Manning wins, he goes to 2-1 in Super Bowls and Solidifies himself as one of the greatest passers of all-time. If Manning loses, he becomes another Dan Marino. A Quarterback that has all of the stats, but cannot win the big game. All of the pressure is on Manning in this game.
Secondly, Turnovers will be a huge factor in this game as they always are. Super Bowls are not always pretty as everyones nerves are on high alert. The Seahawks have the better Defense and were better at creating turnovers in the regular season. And also, don’t forget the Special Teams Game. With the Super Bowl traveling to New York (OMG…I am so sorry) I meant New Jersey, this will be the first cold weather Super Bowl in forever. Of course, earlier this week, there was talk of moving the game to another day. However, it looks as if the Game will take place when its supposed to. This factor plays into Seattle’s favor. Seattle is a better suited team for the cold weather. Let’s face it…Peyton Manning will admit that he is no fan of cold weather. However, another Manning, Eli has won two Super Bowls, playing in a predominately cold climate.
Run the Ball. Everyone will be focused on Peyton Manning and the high flying Denver Offense. However, don’t forget that the Broncos can pound the rock. But so can Seattle, with the Number One Bruiser Marshawn Lynch. Lynch is built for this game. Nonetheless, Knowshon Moreno will be going back to his home town so he will have enough to play for. John Fox vs. Pete Carroll. These are two very genius coaches. Fox has never won a Super Bowl and neither has Carroll. However, neither is no stranger to the Big Stage. Fox took the Carolina Panthers to one drive of beating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl years back. Carroll coached USC to all of those National Championships.
As we look to Sunday, there are so many factors and stories, as there is ever year this time. The Super Bowl is the Super Stage. Everyone is on the Pedestal. When one looks at this matchup, you would have to agree with the very low point spread. The Denver Broncos are favored by only two points. They say Defense wins championships. However, Seattle had better put up more than 23 points to beat the Broncos. My gut says the Seahawks eke out an upset. My brain however, says definitely Denver and Peyton. This game will be decided on the field, not on paper or by statistics. So without further a due….
MY EARLY PREDICTION…the 2013 NFL SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS…the DENVER BRONCOS. The Broncos win this game 28-23. The Broncos will not put up more than 30, however they will score just enough to beat the Seahawks in a very close and competitive game. If this was any other team or Quarterback besides Peyton Manning, my bet would be with Seattle. There is no way that I can bet against Manning after the marvelous record setting season that he has produced. Manning wins and retires…just a hunch. Well there ya have it folks, my preview and pick. So as we get closer to Sunday, I look forward to all of your ideas and analysis. Till the next time, this is THE BIRD, signing off. Oh, and on a side note, good luck to all of the participants in the WING BOWL tomorrow back in PHILLY.
Well Folks I was 2 out of 4 on my picks. Thats not too good of start for this year’s Playoffs. However, all of the games were competitive and we even saw the second biggest comeback in the history of the NFL Playoffs. Well there are ten things that I took out of the wild card round.
1) Dome Teams can win in the cold weather. The Saints beat the Eagles at the Linc so that may be the most overrated theory in Football.
2) Home field Advantage and a Division Win does not necessarily mean that the home team will win. Philly, Cincy, and Green Bay all lost at home.
3) The final score is not over until Andy Reid is your coach.
4) Even though the Eagles lost to the Saints, there is a a bright future for this franchise and this team definitely was able to capture the entire Football Community from the depths of the river below the Walt Whitman Bridge.
5) Even good Quarterbacks can struggle in big games and Defense and the Run are still the major keys in winning a playoff game.
6) Andy Dalton is not the answer at Quarterback for the Bengals…they have too much talent around for him to not succeed.
7) Having a good Kicker that can consistently kick the ball into the end zone for a touchback is underrated. Chip, please let Henry stick to Golf.
8) Frank Gore is still the spoon that stirs the 49ers Drink.
9) Andy Reid lived up to his biggest criticism once again as far as Clock Management. Also, the fact that the Chiefs started out 9-0 and are bounced out in the first round shows that its not how you start, but yet how you finish that matters in the NFL.
10) I am so sick of hearing Chris Collinsworth and Al Michaels voices. Please NBC, its time for the changing of the guard.
So the first round of the NFL Playoff’s are in the books. Congratulations to the New Orleans Saints, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, and San Diego Chargers as they live to see another week. Meanwhile, players in Green Bay, Philly, KC, and Cincinnati are packing their stuff from their lockers and its off to the Golf Course. How many days is it till spring training??? Just Kidding. Anyways, the playoffs are off to an exciting start and Im sure there will be much more excitement. Meanwhile, back on the ranch, The Denver Broncos, Seattle Seahawks, Carolina Panthers, and New England Patriots all lie in wait as they study their prey. Stay tuned as later in the week I will have my picks for the Divisional Round. In the meantime, Happy New Year to all of my fans and thanks again to INTHENEUTRALZONE. If you are looking for a good website with a good mix of sports blogs, check it out sometime. Also, I want to thank all of you as my blog has went over 9,000 Views!!! Till next time droogies…ROCK ON AND GET READY FOR WEEK 2 of the NFL’s greatest show.
AFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
DENVER BRONCOS (13-3, AFC WEST CHAMPIONS, HOME FIELD 1st ROUND BYE)
Ok…we will begin with the Denver Broncos. In 2013, the Broncos set all kinds of offensive records. First of all, Peyton Manning ended his season with 5,477 Yards Passing and 55 Touchdowns which both set NFL records. The Broncos amassed 7,317 Total Yards of offense which was 1st in the league, almost 700 yards more than the Philadelphia Eagles who were second. During the season, the Broncos averaged an unheard of 458 Yards Per Game, and a ridiculous 37.9 Points Per Game for 606 Points. Denver only finished 19th in total Defense, but who cares when your team is putting up close to 40 Points a game. The Broncos were first in passing offense and fifteenth in rushing. Peyton Manning has weapons at will in this system so its almost impossible to focus on stopping one player. Look at these incredible stats: Demariyus Thomas-13 touchdowns, Knowshon Moreno-13 Touchdowns, Julius Thomas-12 Touchdowns, Eric Decker-11 Touchdowns, and Wes Welker-10 Touchdowns. D.Thomas and Erick Decker each had over 80 Receptions and over 1,200 Yards Receiving. So, if one were to look at the Broncos going into the playoffs, they have to be the team to beat.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (12-4, AFC EAST CHAMPIONS, FIRST ROUND BYE)
The New England Patriots may have had their quietest 12 Win Season. New England had the 7th Best Overall Ranked Offense and 26th Ranked Defense. Tom Brady once again eclipsed 4,000 Yards Passing as he threw for 4, 343 Yards, 25 touchdowns, 11 Picks, good enough for an 87 Passer Rating. Legarrette Blount and Stevan Ridley each rushed for over 700 Yards a piece giving New England a great 1-2 Punch. However, the Patriots may have been even better had they not lost their all-pro Tight End Steve Gronkowski. Their 4 Losses came to the Jets, Carolina, Miami, and Cincinnati. The Patriots must always be feared at this time of the year, especially at home where they will enjoy at least one home playoff game. Julian Edelman, who took over for Wes Welker had a really good season catching 105 Passes. New England has to always be in the hunt every year at this time so I will not say anything negative about this team.
WILD CARD WEEKEND
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ( 11-5, 2ND AFC WEST, WILD CARD TEAM)
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5, 1ST PLACE AFC NORTH)
This matchup will be the first playoff game of these 2013 NFL Playoffs. The Chiefs started out as the hottest team winning nine straight games, but have come back down to earth lately. Obviously, two of their losses came to the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs have dominated most of the league, but they have lost twice to the Broncos, twice to the Chargers, and once to the Colts, the team they are playing this weekend. The Chiefs rely heavily on the ground game with Jamaal Charles, which is an epiphany for first year coach Andy Reid, who refused to run the ball in Philly. The Chiefs are only 21st in total offense. However, they were the best team at creating turnovers. The Chiefs can be a good team but they will struggle if they cannot win the time of possession. The Colts on the other hand are the quiet beasts of the AFC. They are in the middle of the pack both offensively and defensively. Andrew Luck had a solid sophomore Season and has quieted his critics. Luck had a solid 23 TD Passes and only 9 Picks. He also threw three game winning touchdowns. He had an 87 QBR which was as good as Brady. The Colts have played well against the competition. They have beaten San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, and Kansas City all playoff teams. I feel that the Colts are the dark horse in this years playoffs. Now to my picks. I think the Chiefs have had an excellent year and it was good to see Andy Reid have some success. However, there run will end Saturday in Indy. The Colts have a way of playing big in big games and that trend will continue. The Colts win the game 27-23.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS (9-7, 3RD PLACE AFC WEST, WILD CARD)
CINCINNATI BENGALS (11-5, 1ST PLACE AFC NORTH, HOME PLAYOFF)
So all of the hoopla on the last week of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers crying that they were robbed. Well no matter what the circumstances, the Chargers won five straight games down the stretch and thats ultimately how they made the playoffs. Philip Rivers career has been revived. Rivers threw for over 4,400n Yards, had 32 TD Passes, and a 105.5 Rating. The Chargers are ranked 5th In Total Offense and 23rd in Defense. The Bengals come into this game with a chip on their shoulder though. The Bengals had their own quarterback story with Andy Dalton. Dalton had 33 TD Passes of his own, 4,200 yards. He also threw 20 INT though and has a propensity to turn the ball over in key situations. The Bengals counter with the League’s 3rd Ranked Defense and 10th Ranked Offense. So, the Bengals are one of the more balanced teams in the NFL. Normally I would pick an upset here, but I feel that the Bengals have had enough negativity the past few years. The Bengals win in the cold 20-13. The Chargers are a team that could upset but I do not see this happening in the cold weather. If this game was in San Diego, I may be going the other way.
NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (13-3, 1ST PLACE NFC WEST, HOME FIELD, BYE)
The Seahawks have had a magical season. And their motto all along has been the twelfth man (the fan). Their only three losses came to Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Arizona. Arizona And San Fran are Division Rivals so this is expected in a season. The Colts have beaten five playoff teams. Seattle however, has the best Defense in the league and have only given up over 14 Points Per Game. Their Offense at 17 is in the middle of the pack. However, Russell Wilson has that intangible attribute. He reminds me of a young Donovan McNabb. A ton of talent, not always great but gets the job done. Seattle also relies heavily on Marshawn Lynch who is a beast at Running Back. The Seahawks enter this post season as the team to beat in the NFC.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (12-4, 1ST PLACE NFC SOUTH, BYE)
Many people are shocked that the Panthers even made the playoffs, let alone getting a first round bye. However, the Panthers have been extremely consistent. They were 1-3 and looked to be heading nowhere until they went on an 8 Game Winning Streak. The Panthers have been an all around team. The Panthers have also beat some stiff competition. They beat the Patriots at home. They also went 1-1 against the Saints. They also beat a very stingy 49ers team. Carolina, not surprisingly, comes into the playoffs with the 2nd Ranked Defense behind the Seahawks. They have only given up 15.1 Points per game. They only have the 26th ranked offense but this number is skewed due to stats. Cam Newton has become one of the undisputed leaders on the team. The Panthers will be dangerous and tough to beat.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (11-5, 2ND PLACE NFC SOUTH, WILD CARD)
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (10-6, NFC EAST CHAMPIONS, HOME PLAYOFF)
Wow…who would have saw this coming. I am a die hard Eagles fan and I did not see them winning eight games this year. Chip Kelly has breathed new life into a franchise thats starving for a championship. The emergence of Nick Foles as the starting Quarterback has been an extremely fun process to watch. LeSean McCoy has become the best all around running back in the league. He set team records for rushing yards and all-purpose yardage. He also won the NFL Rushing Title. He id definitely the team MVP. Nick Foles had the best Quarterback Rating in the NFL at 119.2. He had 27 TD Passes/2INT. Foles has become a leader on the field. The turning point for me in the Eagles Season was a few weeks back in a driving snow when the Eagles looked like a machine and the weather did not slow their high powered offense down one bit. The Eagles come into this game against the Saints with the 2nd Ranked Offense, only to Denver. Moreover, even tho their defense has been poor at times, they are giving up an average of less than 20 points in their last nine games. Linebacker Michael Kendricks and Cornerback Brandon Boykin have become stars in front of our eyes. Ok, then we have the Saints. Well two words, Drew Brees. Brees threw for 5,162 Yards and 39 Touchdowns. Brees is a master at picking defenses apart. His Tight End Jimmy Graham could also be the team MVP with 15 TD Receptions. The Saints also bolster an extreme defense and they are very underrated. The way I look at this game is the team that turns the ball over more will be the loser. The game time temperature is supposed to be less than 20 Degrees. This creates a distinct advantage for the Eagles. If the Saints were to win this game, it would be Drew Brees first ever away playoff game. As mentioned, this game will come down to the turnover. The Saints are the better and more experienced team, but the Eagles have shown they can beat adversity. They have also braved the harsh weather in a few games this season, most notably the Lions game and come out on top. My mind says the Saints win this game but my gut says the BIRDS. The Eagles win their first playoff game under Chip Kelly 37-33. High Scoring is a definite.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (11-5, 2ND PLACE NFC WEST, WILD CARD)
GREEN BAY PACKERS (8-7-1, 1ST NFC NORTH CHAMPIONS)
Well this game looks like a dud on paper but these teams always play each other tough. Aaron Rodgers is back, but I think the Niners will pull the upset of the Wild Card Round. Niners win 17-14 at frigid Lambeau.