SEATTLE SUPER SEAHAWKS

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     Super Bowl XVIII reminded us once again that sometimes these games become blowouts.  I cannot remember a team that dominated Sports #1 Event like the Seattle Seahawks did since the 1980 49er and 1970 Steeler Dynasty Teams Did.  In no way am I comparing the Seahawks to those teams as they have much work to do to reach that level.  However, I think every sports fan in America was taken by surprise with the result of Sunday’s Game (Including all Seattle Fans).  Yes, the line was only 2 Points and the Broncos were favored.  How could they not be?  Peyton Manning, Julius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Demariyus Thomas, Knowshon Moreno and all of that offensive talent.  That talent set many NFL records this season.

     Well I guess the old saying Defense wins Championships is really true.  Just like they always say that in Baseball that Pitching wins Championships.  We had an immovable object in this game with the League’s #1 Offense vs. the League’s #1 Defense.  When I look back at all of the previous Super Bowl Champions of years past there truly is one fact that stands out.  The teams that win the Big Dance always have a better than average Defense.  Let us just look at the past few years.  Last year, the Baltimore Ravens had the league’s most vaunted Defense with Ray Lewis and Company.  Before them, both Giants teams that won also had great defenses.  The Patriots teams that won in the past also had great defenses (in spite of their stellar offenses).  The list can go on and on.  The last Offense that I can remember that was on Denver’s level playing in the Super Bowl was the Saint Louis Rams and the Greatest Show on Turf.  However, that Rams team had one of the better defenses as well that season and went unnoticed.  

     The Denver Broncos of 2013 surely set many Offensive Records.  However, the Denver Defense may have been one of the worst ever.  They were ranked at the bottom in almost every category.  So fast forward to the game.  If it was not an omen on that first play from scrimmage when the ball was errantly hiked over Peyton Manning’s head that resulted in a safety, then I don’t know what an omen is.  Then Seattle went ahead 15-0 at halftime and people were like…ok the Broncos can still make a comeback.  I don’t know what coach John Fox said to the troops at halftime…however the players must have been listening to headphones because they came out after the half and let Percy Harvin go 109 yards for a Kickoff Return.  The game was definitely over there.

Seahawks wide receiver Harvin runs for a touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half against the Broncos during the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game in East Rutherford

     The Seattle Seahawks earned this win the old fashioned way.  They played smash mouth Football and totally dominated the line of scrimmage.  Everyone in the media is focusing on how Denver choked and that Peyton Manning can never win the big game.  I seriously do not think anyone is giving Seattle enough credit for what they were able to accomplish, with a sophomore Quarterback no less.  Yes, the Broncos failed to show up.  However, that had more to do with Seattle’s tenacity than a lack of effort from Denver.  Everyone will debate how Peyton Manning is just another Quarterback and thats a debate for another day.  This day needs to be a focus on the Seattle Seahawks and their amazing run to the championship.  I must admit, Im not a Denver fan but I did pick them to win the game.  I was STUNNED!!!

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Ok here we are now, Eli Manning is 2-0 in Super Bowls and Peyton Manning is 1-2.  Does that mean Eli Manning is a better Quarterback than his brother?  Of course not, Football is a team sport.  However, this loss did a lot to damage Peyton’s legacy.  No one will take away what Manning has accomplished and I still rank him in the Top 5 Quarterbacks of all-time.  However, he cannot be #1.  The Seahawks Defense were able to do what no other team did this season.  The Seahawks pressured Manning.  He threw two Interceptions.  He just was not the same player he was all season.  Through all of that, ironically he set a Super Bowl record for completions with 34.  Demariyus Thomas, Peyton’s favorite target in this game also set a record with 13 receptions.  And yes, Julius Thomas dropped quite a few would be first downs.  However, Kudos to Pete Carroll and the Seahawks for an excellent game plan.

IMG_0774 Check out this Tweet from NY’s WFAN.  I think this is perfect of an assessment that has been made regarding Peyton. I am sure there will be many debates in the days to come.  However, I think people need to stop dwelling on the negative (Denver and Peyton Losing) and focus more on the positive  (The Seattle Seahawks are Super Bowl Champions).  Wow, I can’t imagine.  I am an Eagles fan and still waiting for the thrill of winning.  Maybe next year.  Ok, well this was a great day for a Seattle and a dark day for Warren Sapp, who reportedly bet 10,000 Dollars on the Broncos.  Even more crazy, Floyd Mayweather bet 10,000,000 Dollars.  Ten Million Beans.  Oh well, thats why I never bet.  Well, stay tuned as I will be monitoring whats in store in the new year for music.

 

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NFL: THE NEW FLAG LEAGUE

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     On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers were holding a 20-17 lead, late in the Fourth Quarter.  The Saints were facing a crucial 3rd Down and -2 at the 49ers 35 Yard Line with only a few minutes left in the game.  So as Drew Brees dropped back to pass on the third down, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks sacked Brees causing Brees to fumble the ball and San Fran recovered the fumble.  However, the referee called Brooks for a personal foul because it was a blow to the “Head or Neck” area.  At this point, the Saints retained possession and ultimately went on to win the game.  Now according to Mike Florio of ProFootballtalk.com, a league source said that the call was “absolutely the correct call.”  Ok, I am not uneducated to the letters and laws of the game.  I totally agree that there should be protection for Quarterbacks from vicious hits to the head especially in a day where concussions have been so deeply studied and researched.  However, there has to be some kind of middle ground.

     The rule states that no player may hit a Quarterback in the head or neck in a vicious matter.  However, there is some discretion that is given to the referees to make an interpretation if the play was in a vicious manner with an attempt to hurt.  Well, take a look at the replay in real time and you barely realize that Brooks arm makes contact with Drew Brees neck.  Then look at the replay in slow motion and you can see a totally different outlook.  As Brees drops back to pass, Brooks storms through the line and absolutely levels Brees.  As he takes Brees down, his right arm comes across Brees Chest and as Brees falls back, you can see that the momentum of the play makes Brees neck bobble into Brook’s arm.  Seriously take a look at the play numerous times and you can see Brooks who is much taller than Brees arm actually go in a downward motion where his arm actually makes firm contact with Brees chest.  The arm does only contact the neck on the momentum of the downward fall to the ground.

     Ok…now there are two ways of looking at this play.  Under the letter of the law, the call was technically correct.  But in my mind, it was a horrible call.  You have to take a look at the risk/reward factor of playing in the NFL.  Injuries are apart of the game and no matter what the league does to try and limit these injuries, they will always happen.  Also, another problem is the uneven playing field and inconsistancy of these calls.  This game featured Drew Brees, one of the “premier” Quarterbacks in the NFL.  However, what would the call have been if the Quarterback was Christian Ponder of the Minnesota Vikings?  Let’s face the facts here, this play ultimately decided the game.  The 49ers had a win and it was taken away.  This is actually a play that could ruin the 49ers chances of not only winning the Super Bowl, but also even making the playoffs.

     I know this will never happen, but I wonder what Drew Brees would actually say if he was interviewed about this play off the record.  Drew Brees is a constant professional and I am sure that he is an honest God-Fearing Man.  In my opinion, Brees would probably say that it was a close call but it was also a good play at a critical time in the game that actually decided the fate of the outcome.  Now, imagine if the shoe was on the other foot?  What if this play was on Colin Kaepernick and the Saints were winning the game.  Yes, in the Saints minds it would be a totally different light.  Now, this is just the most recent play of this nature that has had these kind of outcomes in big games.  I am in no way stating that there should not be protection of Quarterbacks and any players on the field from being intentionally injured.  Just like the rules regarding running Backs or Wide Receivers from getting tackled at the knees.  Another type of play that has come into the limelight is the horse collar tackle.  Yes, the league has put rules in place to protect many players from certain injuries.  But Please!!!???  This is the NFL folks.  The NFL, the game of MEN.  Injuries are a part of every sport.  When these young talents enter the League, they do so knowing that there is always a chance that they may be injured.  I mean, the Sports World is not above life.  Look at the two Head Coaches that have suffered heart attacks this year…John Fox (Denver) and Gary Kubiak (Houston).  I mean, they say that 70% of heart attacks are caused by stress and what more stressful job is there in the Sports World than being a Head Coach.  A Head Coach of any team in any sport has one duty.  “WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP”, that is it.  WIN<WIN<WIN.  When a sports team does not win, the coach loses their job.

     I will also argue, that if we want to protect the Quarterback then where is the protection for other positional players such as Defensive Lineman (from chop blocks), Offensive Lineman (Knee Tackles), etc.  There needs to be consistent parameters put into place to make the league run as a better system.  There also seems to be a pass interference call on almost every deep ball that is thrown and not caught.  Let’s face it, holding happens on almost every play in the NFL on both sides of the ball.  The point that I am trying to make is that there needs too be rules.  There needs to be systems put into place to protect players from injury.  There is obviously a great deal of time being devoted to the research of head injuries and concussions alike.  Just last week, Tony Dorsett came out and says that he suffers from post traumatic chronic encephalopathy, a degenerative condition caused by head injuries that has been linked to depression and dementia.  Yes, there are serious issues in Today’s NFL.  Ten years ago, the sack that occurred in yesterday’s game would not have been a penalty.  The collarbone is connected to the neck bone.  Watch the video…Brooks actually makes contact to the collarbone which in turn hits the neck bone.  So, as Mike and Mike said on the morning show, the NFL Defenses must now practice “SAFE SACKS” lol.

     In conclusion, the NFL is not going to take the foot off of the pedal in protecting Quarterbacks.  There are going to be more controversial plays to come that may also decide outcomes in important games.  What I think the league must look at though is the letter of the law and does the hit occur with an “Intent to Injure” or was the hit made and then after momentum was the player put at risk.  These hits take place in real time and I think that it has been proven that once a player is throwing their body with all of their might at a moving target, that it is almost impossible to let off the gas.  Ditrty Players are a part of every sport.  There are tons of dirty players in the NHL.  Do I think that Brooks hit was dirty?  Absolutely not.  Do I think that Brooks intended to hurt Brees?  Absolutely not.  Drew Brees is 6 Feet Tall at best and Brooks is 6 Foot Five.  What is the NFL going to do now…institute height restrictions for different games such as they do at theme parks that state a person must be a certain height to attend a ride.  I just think that these calls are a joke and there needs to more parameters to get these calls right.  I think if any one saw that play in slow motion, including the Saints coach, you would have the opinion that the hit was not vicious, did not hit the head, and only hit the neck due to the momentum of the play.  Finally, Brooks did not purposely go at Brees neck.  Well, this has been my rant of the week lolStay tuned for more of The Bird’s Musings…

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NFL’S TOP 10 DEFENSES POST 1990

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     Here we are folks, the moment you have been waiting for.  This is my next installment of Top Ranked NFL Players and Teams Post 1990.  So far, I have covered the Top Quarterbacks, Top Running Backs, Top Wide Receivers and Top Tight Ends.  Now it is time to take a look at my Top 10 Ranked Defenses Post 1990.  When it comes to Defense, there are also parameters just like with the other positions.  However, this is a team unit so many factors will go into coming up with a standout list.  I don’t know about other people, but Defense has always been my favorite side of the ball when it comes to Football.  When we take a look at the Top Defenses of all-time, we think of the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 1972 Miami Dolphins (No Name Defense), the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers (Steel Curtain), the 1970-1974 Minnesota Vikings (Purple People Eaters), 1973 Los Angeles Rams, and the 1977 Atlanta Falcons.  Of course, since the existence of the NFL, there have been many Great Single Season Team Defenses.  This post will focus on the Top 10 Defenses since 1990, the past 23 Years.  I am sure there will always be many debates regarding which of these prior teams were the all-time greats, The 1973 Dolphins had a Perfect Season and won the Super Bowl…so it would be hard not to mention them in conversation as the Top NFL All-Time Defense.  Of course, the 4-6 Defense of the 1985 Bears, a team that went 15-1 and won a Super Bowl, also deserves a lot of votes.  The Steel Curtain and Purple People Eaters will always be ranked at the top as well.  So without further a due, here are my Top 10 Defenses Post 1990.

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(2011 SanFrancisco 49ers Defense)

     The 2011 version of the San Francisco 49ers may very well have been their best unit ever during the Franchise’s long storied career.  First of all, the team compiled a 13-3 Record, won the team’s first Division Title since 2002, and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.  In 2011, Jim Harbaugh took over as the Team’s Coach and immediately there was a change in philosophy.  Although the offense proved to be more than sufficient and better than average, the team’s Defensive Unit carved a niche in the NFL’s record book.

     First of all, the 2011 Defense became the first unit in NFL history to not allow a rushing touchdown through the first Fourteen Games of the Season, a miraculous feat.  The team only allowed three rushing TD’s all season, which was tops in the NFL.  The three touchdowns allowed was the fewest since the NFL adopted the 16 Game Schedule in 1978 and is tied for fifth all-time.  More impressive was their streak of Fifteen Games without allowing a rushing touchdown, which dated back to 2010.  This 15 Game streak is tied with the 1985 Bears for the best all-time in the NFL.  This team boasted 5 Pro-Bowl Players from the Defense, lead by Patrick Willis.  The team set a franchise record for the highest Turnover Differential at (+28).   Maybe the most impressive stat of all was the fact that the team’s Defense did not allow a 100 Yard Rusher all season and set a Franchise Record of 36 Games without allowing a 100 Yard Rushing Game.

     As far as Statistics go, the team compiled 42 Sacks, 23 Interceptions, 24 Fumble Recoveries, and Seven Defensive Touchdowns.  The team ranked 2nd In overall points allowed and 4th in Total Yards.  The Team was 1st overall against the Run and 16th against the Pass.  The team also had 1 Shutout and 12 Games of allowing less than 20 Points.  In the post season, the 49ers Upset the high flying New Orleans Saints and took the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants to overtime, where they lost 20-17.  Who knows, had the ensuing punt return not been muffed by the 49ers, that team may have won the Super Bowl.  Regardless of the ending, this Defensive Unit was top notch and definitely earns a spot in my Top 10.

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(1991 New Orleans Saints)

     In 1991, the New Orleans Saints won their first ever Division Title, and reached the Post Season for the Second Year in a Row.  The 1991 Saints Defensive Unit had 48 Takeaways, which is tied for the most by any team in one season during the entire 1990’s.  That season, statistically they were ranked second only to the Philadelphia Eagles, who also make this list.  The Saints Defense was built around their all-pro Line Backing Core of Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson.  The first three made the Pro-Bowl.

     Line Backer Pat Swilling was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1991 and the Saints Defense allowed a league low 211 Points that season.  The Saints had 50 Sacks, 24 Interceptions, 28 Fumble Recoveries and 2 Defensive Touchdowns.  The Saints were Ranked 1st in Points allowed and second in overall defense behind the Eagles.  They were second against the run and the pass behind the Eagles, who were 1st against both the run an pass.  This marked the first time in history that the top two defenses were 1 and 2 in both categories.

     The 1991 Defensive Unit was built under Defensive Coordinator Steve Sidwell.  NFL films has actually ranked the Line Backer Unit as the best total unit in NFL history.  They allowed less than 20 Points in Twelve of Sixteen Games, and allowed less than 10 in six games, posting Two Shutouts and Four Games where they held a team to only field goals.  Obviously, 1991 was a season of many great Defenses, so unfortunately not every team could make this list.  However, this Saints team made noise and this was the first successful season in team history as far as winning their first Division Title.

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(2008 Pittsburgh Steelers)

     The 2008 Version of the Pittsburgh Steelers culminated in another Super Bowl Title.  The Steelers had the most difficult schedule in the NFL season, which makes what they accomplished even more amazing.  This Steelers Defense did not have the notoriety nor the bravado of big name players but they sure did produce.  The Steelers held opponents to an average of 13.9 Points Per Game, including points given up on Special Teams and Offensive Giveaways.  As mentioned, this Steelers Defense faced Five of the Leagues Top 11 Offenses this season.

     The 2008 Steelers allowed 205 Points, which was First in the NFL.  This Defense had a bend but not break mentality.  They allowed 237 Yards per game and 3.9 Yards per Play, both Tops in the NFL.  James Harrison was voted the NFL Defensive Player of the year and the Steelers Defense sent three players to Hawaii.  As mentioned, the Steelers were ranked number one in fewest points and yards allowed.  They were ranked first against the pass and second against the run.  The team posted 51 Sacks, 20 Interceptions, 22 Fumble Recoveries, and 6 Defensive Touchdowns.

     The Steelers had a decent offense in 2008, but there was no question that their Defense was the backbone of the team.  This Steelers team went 12-4 and won their division.  The season culminated in a Super Bowl Championship and most of the accolades went to the Defense.  They held teams to an incredible Fifteen Games with less than 20 Points and posted 1 Shutout.  This Steelers Defense may not have the fame of the “Steel Curtain” defenses of the seventies, however they spoke with action.

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(2000 Tennessee Titans)

     When the year 2000 in the NFL is analyzed, it’s very easy to overlook the Titans Defense that Season because the 2000 Baltimore Ravens are continually hailed as the best Defense that Season and they even are mentioned in conversation as being the best Defense Ever.  However, Tennessee was no slouch that season.  In fact, they were statistically better than the Ravens as far as yards allowed.  The 2000 Titans went 13-3 and won the Division.  The team entered 2000 as the reigning AFC Champions, having lost in narrow defeat in the Super Bowl to the Saint Louis Rams.  The Titans allowed less than 20 Points in 14 Games and had back to back shutouts to end the regular season.

     The Titans were Second in overall points allowed and First in Yards Allowed.  They were First in Passing Yards allowed as well as Touchdown Passes and Third in Rushing Yards Allowed.  They only gave up 7 Rushing Touchdowns all Season long.  The Defense posted 55 Sacks, 17 Interceptions, 23 Fumble Recoveries and 4 Defensive Touchdowns.  Of course, after an awesome and dominating season, the titans were upset by the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.  Although the Ravens always get all of the accolades for their defense in 2000, we must not forget the Titans who also were a powerhouse in the AFC against all of the High Scoring Offenses.

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(2005 Chicago Bears)

     The 2005 Chicago Bears were built on strong Defense.  Defense has always been the Bears forte and this season was no different.  The Bears went 11-5 after losing three out of their first four games.  Coach Lovie Smith anchored the Defense while also playing Head Coach.  The 2005 Bears gave up 202 Points and were ranked First in Points Allowed while rating second in total yards.  They were Fifth against the Pass and only gave up 10 Passing Touchdowns all Season.  Their Run Defense was ranked 11th, however they were fourth in touchdowns giving up only Nine rushing Touchdowns.

     The Bears, who were lead by All-Pro Middle Linebacker Brian Urlacher, had 41 Sacks, 24 Interceptions, 28 Fumble Recoveries and Four Defensive Touchdowns.  The Defense may not have had the gaudy stats that these other Defenses had, but Chicago had the Leagues 26 Ranked Scoring Offense and 29th Offense in Total Yards.  They also had 17 turnovers, 15 Inside Enemy Territory which put the team at a major disadvantage many times.  However, the team persevered after their poor start and went on a rampage towards the end of the season.

     The 2005 Bears Defense gave up less than 15 Points in 13 Games.  This team also overcame adversity losing a few star players to injury.  This team may not have been as good as the 1985 Bears, but 20 Years later they sure did play with the same type of swagger.  Defensive Back, Nathan Vasher also set an NFL Record with a 108 Yard Return of a missed Field Goal.  They had many special moments that season, which is why they make this list.

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(2006 Baltimore Ravens)

     The 2006 Baltimore Ravens Defense may not be the 2000 version, however they were a close second to that unit in Baltimore Football Lure.  The Defense once again carried a Raven’s team to a Division Title.  They started the season 4-0 and went on to post a 13-3 Record to win the AFC North.  However, they lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Divisional Round, who eventually went on to win the only Super Bowl of Peyton Manning’s career.

     The 2006 Ravens were ranked First in Points and Yards Allowed.  They were sixth against the pass and second against the run.  This offense was much better than the 2000 version, however, they did not set the world on fire either. The Ravens boasted 60 Sacks, 28 Interceptions, 23 Fumble Recoveries, and Seven Defensive Touchdowns and 2 Safeties.  The team was once again lead by their Pro Bowl Middle Linebacker Ray Lewis, who posted a career high in sacks (5) and Interceptions (3).  Safety Ed Reed had 52 Tackles, and Five Interceptions, in which one he returned for a score.

     The Ravens held opponents to less than 20 Points in 13 Games.  They also posted Two Shutouts.  The team was (+17) in turnovers and only allowed 3.9 Yards Per Play.  The 2006 Ravens just hit a wall in the playoffs as they lost to the Colts, despite only giving up Fifteen Points to the Indy Offensive juggernaut.  They actually did not give up a touchdown, only allowing five field goals.  However, their offense was only able to muster 6 Points on two Field Goals of their own.

4)

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(1990 New York Giants)

     In 1990, the New York Giants went 13-3 under Bill Parcells.  The Giants won the NFC East, and dominated the playoffs, ultimately beating the Buffalo Bills in one of the most dramatic Super Bowls ever, 20-19.  During their three playoff games, the Giants did not give up more than 20 points in a game, and held the Bears to 3 Points in the Divisional Round.  This team was dominant, moreover, it was lead by it’s Defense.  This Giants Defense was ranked First in Points Allowed with a team record 211, while Finishing Second in Yards Allowed at 4.6 Yards Per Play.

     The Giants had 30 Sacks, 23 Interceptions, 23 Fumble Recoveries, and two Defensive Touchdowns.  Four Defensive players including Lawrence Taylor and Pepper Johnson went to the Pro Bowl.  Lawrence Taylor lead the team with 10.5 Sacks, and also chipped in an Interception which he returned for a Touchdown. The Giants allowed opponents to score more than 20 Points only twice and were very stingy in the red zone.  During the season, they only gave up 21 Touchdowns, Nine on the Ground and Twelve through the air.  The team’s Defense propelled them to the Super Bowl and was dominant in the playoffs.

3)

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(1991 Philadelphia Eagles)

     People can call me a homer or whatever they like, but I am one of the people that ranks this 91′ Defense, not only in the Top Post 1990, but also the Top All-Time.  You will get no argument from me that the 85 Bears, 72 Dolphins, 76 Steelers, 2000 Ravens, and 2002 Buccaneers are better, but that is it.  I remember the 1991 season like it was yesterday.  The Eagles had high expectations and many picked them to make the Super Bowl.

     During Week #1, the Eagles lost Star Quarterback for the season with a knee injury.  First of all, I will cite the fact that this Defense had the second best Pass Defense ever to the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and only the 2000 Ravens had a better Run Defense.  That season, the Eagles allowed only 3.9 Yards Per Play, when the next best was 4.5.  The Eagles were Fifth in Points allowed but ranked First in Yards, both against the Run and the Pass.  They actually bested the next best team, the 91′ Saints by over 400 Yards Less.  3 Out of their Four Defensive Linemen were all-pro (Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and Clyde Simmons.  Linebacker Seth Joyner and Cornerback Eric Allen also joined them in the Pro Bowl.

     The Eagles only allowed 4 Rushing Touchdowns and 16 Passing Touchdowns.  Ironically, their offense only had 17 Passing Touchdowns all season.  They had the 25th Ranked Offense and were 18th in Points Scored.  What made this Defense stand out was the position they were put in when Randall went down.  Jim McMahon played 11 Games, Jeff Kemp Started Two, and Brad Goebel two.  Goebel had Zero Touchdowns and 6 Interceptions.  Their Running game was also dreadful with a 3.1 Yards Per Carry Average.

     That Eagles Defense recorded 54 Sacks, 26 Interceptions, had 37 Fumble Recoveries and scored 5 Defensive Touchdowns.  Reggie White and Clyde Simmons had double digit sacks (15/13), and Jerome Brown contributed Nine More.  Safety Andre Waters lead the team with 156 Tackles, followed closely by Line Backer Seth Joyner with 110 Tackles and 2 Defensive Touchdowns.  Although this team did not even make the post season, the eye test tells a truer story of this unit.  They were “FEARED” around the league as evidenced by the infamous “House of Pain Game”, where they created Eight Turnovers and held the Houston Oilers to 21 Yards Rushing and Six Points.  The 91 Eagles put up the second best numbers against the run  and the pass in NFL History, so doing so in one season is inconceivable.  Finally, the Eagles played in the toughest Division of the Time (NFC East), while the Bears who most consider the best played in the putrid NFC North.

2)

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(2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

     The 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers shocked the world as well as the NFL when they won the Superbowl, beating the favored Oakland Raiders.  The Bucs were Ranked First in both Points Allowed and Yards.  This Defense gave up a League low 196 Points and only 18 Total Touchdowns.  The Buccaneers were Number One against the pass, actually setting an NFL Record for lowest yards allowed.  Likewise, they were stingy against the run, ranking fifth in yards allowed and second with Eight Rushing Touchdowns allowed.

     The team finished with 43 Sacks, 31 Interceptions, 16 Fumble Recoveries and Six Defensive Touchdowns.  Simeon Rice lead the way with 15.5 Sacks and Warren Sapp was second with 7.5.  They sent six defensive players to the Pro Bowl that year.  Tampa went 12-4 under head coach John Gruden.  This was his first season as their coach.  Ironically, he had coached their Super Bowl oppponent Raiders previously.  They gave up more than 20 points only twice, had two shutouts and dominated the league.  The New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles were the only two teams to really put up points against this stellar defense.

     The reason this team is ranked so high is that they highly contributed to the team’s run and sub sequential Superbowl win.  The Bucs left most of their defensive magic for the playoffs in which they created 13 Turnovers, close to an NFL record in the post season.  They created Five Defensive Turnovers in the SuperBowl, leading them to their first ever championship in team history.  This is yet another team that shined all the more because their offense was atrocious.  For the entire season the Bucs Defense gave up only 2,490 Yards Passing and Ten touchdowns.  Ronde Barber, their cornerback and brother of the Giants Tiki Barber was the lynchpin on Defense and John Lynch brought the pain.

1)

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(2000 Baltimore Ravens)

     The 2000 Ravens, maybe one of the best defenses to ever play the game were special.  They were ranked first in points allowed and second in yards allowed.  The team only gave up an astounding 165 Points.  This was really not a team built on stats, but more so results.

     The Ravens only gave up 970 Yards Rushing, an NFL Record.  They also only gave up Five Rushing Touchdowns to a paltry 2.7 Yards Per Carry Average.  They also recovered 26 Fumbles.  They had Four Shutouts, and only gave up more than 20 Points Once all Season.  Ray Lewis was once again the leader of this team.  The Ravens were also porous on Offense just like the 91′ Eagles and 02’Buccaneers.  Ultimately, the Ravens went to the SuperBowl where they upset the heavily favored New York Giants.  What also made that special was they were the First Wild Card team to win the SuperBowl.  They only gave up a total of 23 Points in Four Playoff Games (Less than 8 Points a Game).  WoW!!  This team was definitely one of the all-time greats and they are hands down Number One on my list Post 1990.

*******Thanks for all of my readers support and a special thanks to INTHENEUTRALZONE.COM for their excellent networking system.  Stay tuned as I will HVAE MY WEEK 8 Picks and Fantasy Starts and Sits.

NFL TOP 20 RUNNING BACKS POST 1990

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Welcome to my next installment of my list of TOP 20 NFL Players at their position post 1990.  These type of lists are always debatable and many times controversial.  During the drafting of my Top 20 Quarterback List…I failed to set certain parameters which raised a few eyebrows.  For example…I did not include Aaron Rodgers on the list because in my parameters he is too new.  The players on this list must have played at least five seasons between 1990-2010.  Please believe me…when all is said and done Aaron Rodgers will be on the Top 20 List of all-time Quarterbacks without a doubt.  However…my lists are made to inspire debate and as I said must meet the parameters.  Likewise…I left Joe Montana off of the Quarterback list due to him playing the final years of his career out from 1990-1994.  John Elway and Dan Marino were on the list for their dominance during most of the Nineties Decades.

Quarterback lists, no matter all-time, fantasy wise, or present day and modern, will always be much easier than a Running Back or Receiver list if not for anything else but the fact that there are less of them…and there are less stars at this position as well.  Some players on this list will also belong on the all-time list.  Some players will be long forgotten now but were known to make huge impacts on the game at one point in time.  Another parameter that I use is Statistics vs Championships.  These categories are not weighted one way more than the other; however, they have to be the main reason for a player making the list.  For example, while doing the Quarterback List I had a really hard time ranking Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.  Although Manning has better career statistics, he has less Championships than Brady.  This was the tie breaker.  Some skeptics will state that you cannot use the Championship Category as a parameter because Football is a “Team” sport.  To these people…I say BULLSHIT.  No matter what…certain star players belong ranked higher than others due to their shear leadership in guiding their teams to Championships.  So…let us begin the controversy and review my Top 20 Ranking.  Remember…this is the TOP 20 Post 1990.

20)  westbrook2BRIAN WESTBROOK (Philadelphia Eagles 2002-2009/San Francisco 49ers 2010)

Brian Westbrook just cracks the TOP 20.  Brian played Nine Seasons where he was a star for the Philadelphia Eagles.  He was drafted in 2002 as a Third Round Pick and went on to have a very productive career with the Eagles.  Statistics: 6,335 Career Rushing Yards, 4.6 Yard Per Carry Average, 41 Rushing Touchdowns, 442 Receptions, 3,940 Receiving Yards, 30 Receiving Touchdowns.  Brian was one of the prototypical running backs like Marshall Faulk that could catch the ball just as well as run it.  Unfortunately, Westbrook never won a Super Bowl as the Eagles lost in 2004, his only trip there.  However, 10,000 Yards From Scrimmage and 71 Touchdowns is no joking matter.

19)   Jerome-Bettis-2Jerome Bettis  (LA/Saint Louis Rams-1993-1995/Pittsburgh Steelers-1996-2005).  Jerome Bettis, nicknamed “THE BUS” cracks the list at number 19.  Jerome Bettis is a One Time Super Bowl Champion, 6x Pro Bowler, 3x All-Pro, Sixth Leading Rusher of all time, and 3x Player of the Year for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Statistics: 13,662 Rushing Yards, 3.9 Yards Per Carry Average, 200 Receptions, 1,449 Receiving Yards, 94 Touchdowns.  Jerome Bettis has the distinction of Winning a Super Bowl in his hometown Detroit and going out on top as he retired after the 2005 Season.

 

18)  jamal-lewis-ravens  Jamal Lewis (Baltimore Ravens- 2000-2006/Cleveland Browns 2007-2009).  Jamal Lewis was the Fifth Player taken in the 2000 Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.  He busted onto the scene and immediately made an impact for the Ravens.  In fact, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in only his second season when they beat the New York Giants in 2001.  Jamal Lewis was named the AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2003.  Lewis had an outstanding season in which he rushed for 2,066 Yards which is the third highest total ever by a Running Back in a season behind Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson.  Lewis also rushed for the single game high of 295 Yards which stood as the record until Adrian Peterson rushed for 296 Yards in 2007.  Statistics: 10,607 Yards Rushing, 4.2 Yards Per Carry Average, 58 Touchdowns.  He finished his career with the Cleveland Browns where he was released in 2010 and consequently retired.

17)  eddie_georgeEddie George (Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans-1996-2003/Dallas Cowboys-2004).  Eddie was the 14th pick in the 1996 Draft by the Houston Oilers.  During his career, George was a 4x Pro-Bowler and he also won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award in 1996.  George was highly recruited as he also won the Heisman Trophy as the best College Player in 1995.  He was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1996 and lead the Tennessee Titans as their starting tailback straight through 2003.  George became only the second NFL Running Back to join the 10,000 Yard Club without missing one game to injury.  The only other back to accomplish this feat was Jim Brown and only Walter Peyton started more consecutive games in a season than George.  He was a true Iron Man in a day of injury riddled running backs.  Statistics:  10,441 Yards Rushing, 3.6 Yards Per Carry Average, 78 Touchdowns.

 

16)  20070213greenactionAhman Green (Seattle Seahawks-1998-1999/Green Bay Packers-2000-2006/Houston Texans-2007-2008/Green Bay Packers-2009).  Ahman Green was one of those Running Backs that had star power, but he did it quietly.  Green was a 4x Pro-Bowler, 2x All-Pro, NFC Offensive Player of the Year in 2003, and lead the league in Rushing in 2003.  Green remains the Green Bay Packers all-time rusher.  Green was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in 1998 and had two years of over 6.0 Yards Per Carry and 4.6 Yards Per Carry.  However, he had a hard time cracking the starting lineup and generating playing time behind Ricky Watters.  Green was trade to the Packers in 2000 where he went onto win 4 Consecutive Pro Bowls.  He also became only the second player besides Bo Jackson to have two runs of over 90 Yards in the same game.  He set the Packers all-time season rushing record with 1,883 in 2003.  Statistics: 9,205 Rushing Yards, 4.5 Yards Per Carry, 60 Touchdowns, 108 Receptions, 1,994 Yards Receiving.

15)  AAGN243~Corey-Dillon-Super-Bowl-XXXIX-looks-For-Room-To-Run-In-Fourth-Quarter-PostersCorey Dillon (Cincinnati Bengals-1997-2003/New England Patriots-2004-2006).  Dillon was drafted by the Bengals in 1997 with the 43rd pick in the draft of the second round.  Corey Dillon was one of the most consistent Running Backs of his time averaging almost 1,000 yards per season for 10 seasons.  He was a 4x Pro-Bowler and he won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots in 2004.  In 2000, Dillon broke the then single-game rushing record of 275 Yards by Walter Peyton, rushing for 278 Yards.  In the 2004 Super Bowl, Dillon had 106 Total Yards and a Touchdown and was one of the main reasons the Pats beat the Eagles.  Statistics: 11,241 Rushing Yards, 4.3 Yards Per Carry Average, 82 Rushing Touchdowns.  Dillon was another Star Running Back that lead a quiet NFL career.

14)  maurice-jones-drew-new-contract-with-jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars-2006-Present).  Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the smallest running backs in the NFL today.  At 5’7″, and 210 LBS., he is what you would call a spark plug.  Drew is a 3x Pro-Bowler, 2x NFL Running Back of the Year, the 2011 Rushing Leader, the Jaguars single season leader in all-purpose yards with 2,250 Yards in 2011.  Jones-Drew has had some injuries, but not withstanding there is no doubt that if he was on a better team, he not only would have better stats, but also probably a Championship.  With his career still in effect, he ranks higher on this list.  Statistics: 7,483 Rushing Yards, 4.6 Yards Per Carry Average, 64 Rushing Touchdowns, 295 Receptions, 2,579 Yards Receiving, 11 Receiving Touchdowns.  Maurice Jones-Drew gave the Jaguars one of the most potent one-two punches of the past decade along with Fred Taylor.

13)  Houston Texans v Jacksonville JaguarsFred Taylor (Jacksonville Jaguars- 1998-2008/New England Patriots-2009-2010).  Taylor was the Ninth Pick of the 1998 Draft.  He is the all-time rushing leader for the Jaguars as well as Attempts.  Taylor is in the same boat as Jones-Drew in that he was a star running back for a bad team.  Statistics: 2,354 Attempts, 11,695 Yards Rushing, 4.0 Yards Per Carry Average, 290 Receptions, 66 Rushing Touchdowns, 8 Receiving Touchdowns.  Taylor is a member of the Jaguars all-pride team with Mark Brunell.

12) Chris-JohnsonChris Johnson (2008-Present Tennessee Titans).  Johnson was the 24th Pick of the Draft by the Titans in 2008.  He is a 4x Pro-Bowler, AP Offensive Player of the Year in 2009, won a rushing title in 2009, NFL RECORD Yards From Scrimmage in a Season-2,509, Single Season 2,000 Yard Club.  Johnson has only been playing for 6 Seasons and has amassed over 7,000 Yards Rushing and 9,000 All Purpose Yards.  He has been injured the past two seasons which is all the more reason why he is this high on the list.  Statistics: 7,054 Yards Rushing, 4.7 Yards Per Carry Average, 44 Rushing Touchdowns, 15 Receiving Touchdowns, 9,054 All Purpose Yards.  If Johnson continues at this pace he could either move up or down on the list…its all up to him.

11)  NFL: SEPT 13 Washington Redskins at NY GiantsClinton Portis (Denver Broncos- 2002-2003/Washington Redskins-2004-2010).  Portis was a second round pick of the Denver Broncos from the Miami Hurricanes.  He was then traded to the Washington Redskins when he fell out of favor in Denver.  Clinton enjoyed a solid NFL Career that saw him make 3 Pro Bowls and win the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2002.  Statistics: 9,923 Rushing Yards, 4.4 Yards Per Carry Average, 75 Touchdowns, 90 Total Touchdowns.

10)  Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars - December 11, 2005Edgerrin James (Indianapolis Colts-1999-2005/Arizona Cardinals-2006-2008/Seahawks-2009).  “EDGE” as he was nicknamed burst onto the NFL scene as the 4th Round Pick of the Colts in 1999.  He is a 4x Pro Bowler, 4x All-Pro, 2x Rushing Champion, Super Bowl Champion, 2008 NFC Champion, 11th All-Time Rusher, NFL 2000’s Decade Team.  He also played college football for Miami just like Portis.  Some critics blasted the Colts for drafting James over Ricky Williams who had won the Heisman Trophy.  He became the Colts All-Time Leading Rusher after 2006 when he won a Super Bowl with them.  The following year he left the team for the NFC.  He again reached the Super Bowl with the Cardinals where they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Statistics: 12,246 Rushing Yards, 4.0 Yards Per Carry Average, 80 Rushing Touchdowns, 101 Total Touchdowns.

9)  tiki-barberTiki Barber (New York Giants 1997-2006).  Tiki Barber was a standout for the Giants from day one of his career.  He was drafted in 1997 in the second round.  Many critics blasted the Giants saying that Barber was too fragile and that he would never last in the NFL.  My…how wrong they were.  Tiki was a 3x Pro Bowler, 3x All-Pro, and he is also the Giants all-time leading rusher.  Statistics: 10,449 Yards Rushing, 4.7 Yards Per Carry Average, 56 Rushing Touchdowns, 586 Receptions, , 5183 Yards Receiving, 12 Receiving Touchdowns.  He is also the Giants all-time receiving player.  During his career, Barber amazed fans and analysts and coaches with his durability.  In his final game as a pro, he rushed for 137 Yards and a Touchdown in a playoff loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.  At the end of the game, Brian Dawkins embraced Barber and called him a “Warrior.”

8)  davis_terrellTerrell Davis (Denver Broncos-1995-2002).  Davis was not like any other Running Backs on this list in that he did not have notoriety coming out of college.  In fact, Davis almost went un drafted as he was taken in the sixth round.  He is a 3x Pro Bowler, 3x All-Pro, 2x Super Bowl Champion, 2x NFL AP Player of the Year, 1998 NFL MVP, and a member of the 2,000 Yard Season Club.  Statistics: 7,607 Yards Rushing, 4.6 Yards Per Carry Average, 169 Receptions, 1,280 Receiving Yards, and 65 Touchdowns.  In Super Bowl XXXII, Davis rushed for 157 Yards and had three touchdowns.  Davis is higher on this list due to his importance in carrying his team to the next level.  His performance also helped Denver break an 0-13 Year Slump by the AFC in Super Bowls.

7)  Ricky-WattersRicky Watters (San Francisco 49ers-1991-1994/Philadelphia Eagles-1995-1997/Seattle Seahawks-1998-2001).  “FOR WHO? FOR WHAT?”  I will never forget that quote…nor will any Philadelphia Eagles fan.  Ricky Watters made that comment after one game when he was asked why he did not stretch out for a pass in an Eagles loss.  Ricky was a 2nd Round Pick of the Niners out of Notre Dame.  During his career, he was a 5x Pro Bowler, 3x All-Pro, and Super Bowl Champion.  Statistics: 10,643 rushing Yards, 4.1 Yards Per Carry Average, 4,248 Receiving Yards, 9.1 Yards Receiving Average, 78 Touchdowns.  Watters was a durable back and he always ran the ball hard.  He was also a good back out of the back field.  He also won a National Championship with Notre Dame.  He is one of two running backs to rush for 1,000 yards with three different teams along with Willis McGahee.  He scored three touchdowns in the 49ers 49-26 Super Bowl win against the San Diego Chargers.

6)  Priest Holmes (Baltimore Ravens-1997-2000/Kansas City  Chiefs-2001-2007).   Priest Holmes was an un drafted free agent that signed with the Ravens in 1997.  Little did anyone know that he would go on to have one of the most successful careers for a running back ever.  He was a 3x Pro-Bowler, Super Bowl Champion, and 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year.  Statistics: 8,172 Yards Rushing, 4.6 Yards Per Carry Average, 89 Touchdowns.  In 2003, Holmes broke Marshal Faulk’s record of 26 Touchdowns with 27, which was subsequently broken by Shaun Alexander with 28 and then Ladainian Tomlinson with 31.  Holmes career was cut short due to a spinal injury.  If Holmes had played a full career, there is no telling what he could have accomplished.

5)  2004088205Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks- 2000-2007/Redskins-2008).  Alexander had a short career like Earl Campbell but that did not stop him from becoming one of the greatest running backs ever.  He put up some ridiculous numbers.  3x Pro Bowler, 2x NFL Offensive Player of the Year, and NFL MVP in 2005.  Statistics: 9,453 Yards Rushing, 4.3 Yards Per Carry Average, 100 Rushing Touchdowns, 10 Receiving Touchdowns.  Alexander never won a Super Bowl but he was the talk of the NFL for a good six seasons.

4 )  ladainian-tomlinsonLadanian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers-2001-2009/New York Jets-2010-2011).  Stats say it all: 13,684 Yards Rushing, 4.3 Yards Per Carry Average, 145 Rushing Touchdowns (Including Single Season Record of 31, and 972 Points scored.  WOW!!!!!  In 2003, he became the first player to rush for 1,000 Yards and have 100 Receptions the same season.  Tomlinson is one of the all time greats as well…hands down.  Adrian Peterson is on pace to break Tomlinson’s records.  He was the sixth fastest player to 8,000 Yards.

3)  SANDERSBarry Sanders (15,269 Yards Rushing, 5.0 Yards Per Carry Average, 109 Touchdowns.  The Numbers speak for themselves.  Barry may have been the best pure running back of all-time.

2)  marshall-faulk-large1Marshall Faulk (12,280 YARDS RUSHING, 4.3 YARDS PER CARRY, 6,875 YARDS RECEIVING, 136 TOUCHDOWNS)

1)  Emmitt_Smith_Dallas_CowboysEmmitt Smith-  Emmitt is the Martin Brodeur of Running Backs.  He has every record that can be held.  Yes…He did play for an awesome offensive line but he also talked the talk and walked the walk.  18,355 Yards Rushing, 164 Rushing Touchdowns, 515 Receptions, 3,224 Yards Receiving, 11 Receiving Touchdowns.  Pro Football Hall Of Fame, 8x Pro Bowler, Career Rushing Yards Leader, Career Touchdown Leader, Career 100 Yard Rushing Games-78, 3x SUPER BOWL CHAMPION, 2x SUPER BOWL MVP, 4x Rushing Leader, Offensive Rookie of the Year.  Emmitt is the best on my list.

*****Honorable Mention- Adrian Peterson (New), Curtis Martin (Longevity), Ricky Williams, Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Charlie Garner, Warrick Dunn, Thomas Jones.

STAY TUNED FOR MY NEXT LIST WHICH WILL BE THE TOP 20 RECEIVERS POST 1990!  THIS HAS BEEN FUN!

 

NFL WEEK#2 THURSDAY NIGHT KICKOFF

Week Number One in the NFL is in the books and the first week was everything and more than was expected. There were many questions that were answered and many questions still remain. One things for sure…the NFL continues to become more competitive and there is much more parity. Any team can beat another team on any given week.

Thursday Night’s NFL Game will feature the New York Jets visiting the New England Patriots in Foxborough. The Jets are 11.5 Point underdogs. Mark Sanchez is scheduled to have season ending surgery. This means that Rookie Geno Smith will be the Field General if this team at quarterback. The Jets were able to pull of an upset on Sunday and looked much better than expected.

However, this is New England we are talking about here. Tom Brady was able to have a workmanlike game his last time around and the Patriots escaped with a close win after a game winning field goal. The Patriots did not look as strong as their usual selves. Aaron Hernandez is in prison. Steven Gronkowski is still injured. So this leaves Danny Amendola and a few other unknown receivers. Amendola may not play…he is listed as doubtful on Sunday.

The Patriots should win this game but crazier things have happened. The Jets will be lead by Geno Smith who had a very good debut this past week. The Jets Rushing Attack is very weak tho, so the Patriots should be able to neutralize the running game and focus on stopping Geno Smith. If The Patriots are able to generate a good pass rush, they should be able to win this game fairly easy.

Now to my pick. The Patriots underperformed on Sunday and the Jets pulled off an upset. This game is at Foxborough where New England continues to dominate year after year. The Jets do not have a multiple threat as far as rushing and passing. So looking at all of these factors I have to go with the Patriots to win big on National Television. I am going to say the Patriots win 24-10 and go to 2-0. Stay tuned for Savage’s Pick and I will have my full Week 2 Picks and Analysis later in the week. To all my fans…have a great day and enjoy the game.

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REVAMPED EAGLES GAME DAY WEEK#1

Here we are folks…the day that all of us Die Hard Eagles fans look forward to every year…Opening Day! There is only one thing that we are and have been looking to more and that is to finally win a Super Bowl! Unfortunately I am not here to tell you they will win one this yet or anytime soon. However, I am here to tell you that as a DIE HARD…Eat, Sleep, Bleed Green…that this team has a chance to be exciting.

Fourteen Years is a long time in any stretch of the word. For the past fourteen years us Eagles fans have had to suffer, cheer, be disappointed, a roller coaster of emotions. Under Andy Reid, this team has enjoyed one of its best runs in history. There will be so many memories for us all. These long lasting memories are burned in our brains.

The first memory coming at the 1998 Draft…when the Eagles took Donovan McNabb with the first pick and a 100 unhappy fans that traveled up the turnpike booed. Wow! Yes I will never forget that. Then I remember it was like week 7 or 8 that season, Donovan McNabb behind Tutor Doug Pederson getting his first game action. There is the Redskins game when he made the triple step and fakes out the Redskins secondary on the way to a first down.

There was 2001.the unprecedented trip to the NFC Championship and a lead at the half against the heavily favored Rams. Then it was Marshall Faulk who ran up and down and our Super Bowl hopes were dashed by the Rams as a fourth down pass slipped through the outstretched of receiver Freddie Mitchell.

Then there was 2002, the year all of the nation really thought that the Eagles were going to win the big one finally. The trip to the second NFC Championship, this time at home. This would be our last moment as Eagles fans in the Vet. Tampa Never has won in Philly during blah blah blah these kinds if conditions…when it’s colder than 40Degrees! We had them guys! We were right there. Duce Staley runs in am Eagles Touchdown early in the first quarter and then that was it. Another chance squandered as Ronde Barber picked off a pass that will live in infamy. The Buccaneers went on to win their first Super Bowl behind Brad Johnson (journey man).

Then the 2003 season…after Brian Westbrook and the magical season that ended in the NFC Championship at the Linc! The once again heavily favored Eagles fell to the soon be Super Bowl bound Carolina Panthers. I will never forget Donovan getting knocked out of that game. The feeling of hopelessness as fans as the Panthers ran for over 200 yards.

The signings of perennial pro bowlers Terrell Owens and Jevon Kearse. That magical run in 2004 where everything the Eagles did turned to gold. That Monday Night game against Dallas when Donovan McNabb went off and had that wild scramble that ended up in a Touchdown. Then the Extreme Cold at the Linc facing the Atlanta Falcons in their fourth straight NFC Championship. The big hits on Michael Vick and Alge Crumpler. The Eagles finally winning the NFC. Brian Dawkins holding that trophy high above his head. And then the Super Bowl…Terrell Owens playing hurt. The almost win and then a win taken away. The mismanagement of the clock. The loss. These are all memories burned in our brains.

Ok…then the McNabb/TO fallout, the disappointment the next few seasons. Then the glimmer of hope in playoff games against the New Orleans Saints. The playoff game against the Arizona Cardinals…another chance to go to a SuperBowl. And finally the last few painful years. Well folks…these memories will last until we finally win the big one.

However, I bring some good news as the Eagles are now under a new regime. It may take a few seasons to get back to excellence, but the Eagles will get there. Mark my words. Chip Kelly turned around an Oregon program that was in a similar situation. The Ducks had been good and then the coach lost the team. Kelly rebuilt the Ducks and they have been a powerhouse ever since. He will do the same with the Eagles.

Don’t expect great things this year. However, there is so much promise and hope that us Eagles fans can hold onto. And it all starts tonight on Monday Night. Just like that Monday night in Washington which seems like eternities ago. The Eagles march into Washington as underdogs. No one really knows what to expect from this team as Kelly did not show much in preseason. However, tonight there will definitely be some offensive excitement! Hopefully this Defense has matured and learns to play within its limits.

Ok…it’s almost GOTIME!!!!! So as we prepare for another Eagles Season…lets do the chant that we can only hope will last deep into January and a trip to the big dance! Until next time…E-A-G-L-E-S!!!! Eagles!!!!!!!

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MAGIC MANNING

Thursday Night Football was delayed close to half an hour. The delay did nothing to stop Peyton Manning from having one of the most prolific Quarterback Performances in NFL History. He tied a league record with Seven Passing Touchdowns, 470 Yards Passing, and 27 Completions. I am sure there have been better Quarterback games as far as all statistics…but don’t forget…it’s not just statistics that matter.

Peyton Manning had an incredible year last season, that ended in disappointing fashion. Manning was the comeback player of the year along with Adrian Peterson after both players missed the past season with injuries. Well, as good as Manning’s season was last year, he has a chance this year to demolish the numbers he put up last year. He may have the most weapons that he ever had. I mean, with Indy he had Marvin Harrison, Edggerin James, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark. However, this year his offense boasts Demariyous Thomas and Eric Decker and Wes Welker. That’s three receivers capable to put up 10 Touchdowns and 1,000 Yards. And now add Tight End Julius Thomas to that mix.

Last night was just the beginning of how good this Denver offense can be. The Icing on the cake would be a trip to the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning finally did win the BIG game with Indy…after years of falling short. This year he has a legitimate chance of winning his second Super Bowl with his second team, which would be Denver’s first since John Elway won back to back in the nineties. Peyton Manning showed Baltimore that he can still put up ridiculous numbers. I think it’s safe to say that Denver’s Defense lost that playoff game last year against the Ravens, not Peyton Manning.

This was just Week #1 in the NFL…however every team must be aware of how dangerous the Denver Bronco’s Offense can be. The Defense can only get better. Well, anyone that has Peyton Manning on their fantasy team has to be smiling from ear to ear. Look out NFL. Until next time…are you ready?!

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FANTASY FOOTBALL: THE THRILL

The year was 1963. The place was New York City’s Milford Plaza Hotel. A limited partner of the Oakland Raiders, Wilfred Winkenbach and Bill Tunnell, the Raiders former public relations manager, along with a reporter Scotty Stirling created what would become the first Fantasy Football League. Who would have known at that time that this interactive virtual reality competition would become such a phenomenon.

Fast forward to 2013. The Internet has transformed Fantasy Football from a Cult Obsession into a mainstream phenomenon. Today an estimated 28 Million People play in some type of Fantasy Football League, and the virtual league garners an estimated 800 Million Dollars in revenue on a yearly basis. Business men, office leagues, Internet leagues, friends, even athletes themselves take part in this growing Icon.

Today, more women than ever are even joining the craze. As more and more people are involved the sport continues to become more popular. There are anywhere from 4 Team Leagues to 12 Team leagues. There are some leagues that become keeper teams where a team is drafted and the owner keeps certain players on a yearly basis and drafts to improve. As far as money goes…the average fee for a league today is $150.00 dollars which goes towards league dues, transactions and such and then the pot is divided however the league commissioner sees fit. There is even a group of Wall Street Titans, an exclusive group that competes for a Million Dollar Pot.

So, the past few weekends heading into this weekend kicks off the new year with the all important Draft. Drafts are done numerous ways in different ways and is the way that team owners build their team. It used to be that running backs were always going in rounds 1 and 2. Today you see more leagues going with the philosophy to draft the best player available. Draft orders are determined a number of ways. The most popular draft creation happens by the “old” picking the name out of the hat.

The part of Fantasy Football that makes this phenomenon so fun is the fact that every Sunday and every week it gives people a chance to enjoy the NFL in a different way…even if their favorite team is not competitive. Yes, the money is lusted for and the ultimate goal is to win the championship, but really there is more to this than those two outcomes. It actually gives people the chance to act like general managers and make transactions to better their teams, just like in real life.

I myself had not played fantasy football for five years until last year. I decided to join my old neighborhood league and figured it would be fun to interact with people that I had not saw in years. It turned out…I had the last pick I’m the draft…#8. I still was able to draft a pretty solid team and I was hoping that Peyton Manning, who I got in the fifth round would come back to old form. Well…true story. I started out 0-3 and came back to come one win away from the championship. Not only did I win a nice chunk of change, but I was able to have fun with my friends.

It was week six. I was 2-4 and things seemed bleak. I told my best friend that I was about to quit the league. Just like in real life…it’s not over until the fat lady sings he said. And he was right. I finished the season 7-6 and made the playoffs. I then came three points from winning the Bowl. So that should be incentive for anyone who ever gets down on their team to stick with it. You never know what can happen.

Well, as people spend the next few days having their drafts, keep in mind that although this virtual competition does require some skill and knowledge, a lot of leagues are affected by the injury bug. Who will be this year’s detrimental injury? Who will be the first player taken in most drafts? Who will be the number one quarterback? These questions and more will be answered this weekend in many homes, sports bars and offices this weekend. Most leagues have the annual draft day party where large amounts of food and alcohol are consumed.

As we head into another year of Fantasy…just remember this is a game and it is supposed to be fun. And as I say goodbye today, I wish everyone good luck in their draft and be smart. Don’t cheat. And just have fun and be safe!!

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