SUPER BOWL PREVIEW: IN MY OWN WORDS

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I love having Thursday Night Football. I remember when we didn’t even have Sunday Night or Thursday Night Football. That is ancient history now. Anyways…here we are already…Thursday Night Week #7.
Thursday Night Football keeps us sports diehards interested as well as entertained. It also keeps Fantasy Football Owners busy, especially when the Bye Weeks arrive. Week #6 was another crazy week in the NFL. The Patriots last minute win, Jacksonville making Manning look human, Seattle’s Dominance, and many more unexpected moments.

So…let us take a look at Tonight’s Matchup

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(5-1, First Place Division)
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(3-3, Third Place Division)
Arizona is 5.5 Point Underdogs to the Seattle Seahawks at home. Arizona is coming off a 32-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, while the Seattle Seahawks beat the tough Tennessee Titans to take the Division Lead. Arizona has played tough on Defense, but their offense remains inconsistent. Carson Palmer is the Quarterback but he has not shown well. The Cardinals also lack any kind of Running Back.
On the other hand, Seattle comes into this game as the most dynamic on offense and defense. They are ranked close to the top on both sides and Marahawn Lynch is running over people. Russell Wilson has picked up where he left off last year. Seattle seems to be an early favorite to go far in the NFC playoffs. Arizona at 3-3 is still very much in this. However, I see the Seahawks winning this game on National TV in easy fashion. My pick…Seattle 24- Arizona 17.

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Stay tuned as I will have the rest of my Week #7 Picks as well as my next installment of Top Positional Players/Teams Post 1990. The next will be the Top 10 Defenses post 1990. We know the 85 Bears, 72 Dolphins, and the Steel Curtain Steelers were some of the best all-time, but there are also some very good defenses that have played since 1990. This should be an interesting piece. Enjoy your Thursday Night Folks…And I will See you Soon.

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THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

Ok…It’s been a hectic week and we are already at the Thursday Night Game. The San Francisco 49ers are 3.5 Point Favorites. The Rams have been better than expected. The Niners have had their asses handed to them the past two weeks. Just found some up to date info that Vernon Davis, who’s Injured, will be a game time decision. Also, Patrick Willis and Nhamdi Asghamua may also miss the game. The Niners have allowed 24 points in eight of its last nine games. They have allowed 140 Yards rushing a game and six rushing Touchdowns this season. Last year their Defense only gave up Six Rushing Touchdowns and only 3 in 2011. So, this game is really a snake in the whole. The 49ers have a must win game tonight so Frank Gore will be important as will the defense. I am taking the 49ers to win 23-17. Stay tuned for THE SAV and his pick. Be back soon!

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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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PHILLIES BETRAY MANUEL

On Friday the Phillies organization once again showed why they used to be the laughingstock of the National League for all of those seasons. In a low class move, even lower than a New York Yankee minute, the Phillies cut ties with Charlie Manuel. They just tossed the winningest coach in Team history, only the second manager to bring this city a World Series Title, and a loyal ambassador for this team to the curb.
Charlie Manuel’s contract was up at the end of the season anyway and it was assumed that the team would be parting ways with “Uncle Charlie.” So instead of loyalty, the team chose to belittle this good man. What a slap in the face to get rid of a coach that tried his heart out to get these players to perform on the field. They couldn’t even let him finish out this season. That would have been the right thing to do…but since when has this team ever done anything the right way.
Although the team thinks that they are making Charlie a scapegoat for this team…the fans know better. These fans are not dumb. Yes we have been spoiled by winning over these past seven years. Yes this team has clearly underachieved. However, I put very little of this on Manuel. In fact, if they has another manager this team may have packed it in even earlier.
Injuries have cost this team dearly the past few years. But the ultimate truth is that it’s Star Players have not performed. Do not forget, that 2008 team that won the World Series was actually Pat Gillick’s team. Gillick virtually built that team by scratch…so Amaro inherited a playoff team with a chance to become a dynasty. Instead, the Phillies have become everything but a dynasty and have slowly deteriorated. This is not Manuel. Amaro has ruined this team.
Amaro has basically ripped apart the teams farm system by trading away most of their top prospects. Another Phillies prospect Travis D’arnaurd just made his Major League debut for the New York Mets today. Amaro has made a few bold moves bringing in Roy Halladay, trading for Cliff Lee twice as well as Roy Oswalt at the trade deadlines. However, he has completely wiped out their youth and all of their veterans have gotten old quick.
Ryan Howard is a shell of what he used to be. Chase Utley still has something left but he is definitely not close to the leader that he used to be. He is not the same caliber player as he has aged and suffered numerous injuries. Jimmy Rollins has also aged and is doing more harm than help to this lineup.
In Conclusion, the Phillies made a very class move by firing Charlie instead of letting him finish out the season. The wrong guy was fired! Ruben Amaro deserves to be fired tomorrow. He has ruined this team and there is no quick fix in sight. This team has just got old. Their window of success has vanished. Sorry Charlie. The move that the Phillies made does not represent what the majority of fans in this city have as an opinion. If a poll was taken, it’s almost a given that the number one enemy on the list is Amaro.
The Phillies have betrayed the one man that made this team a winner. The one man that always had his players backs. It’s sickening to see it go down like this. And all of this talk of Ryne Sandberg becoming the next manager…that is a joke in my mind. This team needs a fresh new leader, a new set of eyes, and a new General Manager. Look out Ruben…KARMA is a bitch and KARMA is coming for you.
You can run but you cannot hide Ruben. You have singlehandedly ruined this team. You have destroyed the good feeling that the fans bring to the ballpark everyday. It’s totally unfair to let Manuel go now. This was an absolute joke and I’m sure their are many angry fans! Like if you feel that the Phillies were scumbags for this move and others to come!

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AROD’s LEGACY DESTROID

In light of the recent Major League Baseball scandal, there are a few things that should be reflected upon. First of all, the Biogenesis Clinic that was busted is the largest of its kind in the Professional Sports Arena. According to several sources, Bud Selig is prepared to impose a lifetime ban on Alex Rodriguez “AROD” for his participation in the drug ring and his use of various performance enhancing drugs during a two year period beginning in late 2009.

Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers has already been suspended for 50 games and after further investigation, Major League Baseball is on the verge of suspending approximately 20 more players for 50 or more games including the lifetime ban of AROD. To me…the suspensions are the best punishment I have saw in any sports as far as the punishment fitting the “crime.” It is very likely that Alex and his agents will appeal the suspension but we will deal with that another time.

What we will focus on is the fact that one of the most dominant players, both offensively and defensively at his position will likely see his Hall of Fame career demolished all in the name of cheating!!! During AROD’s 19 year career…he has put up mind boggling numbers…In 2,524 games he has a .300 Average, 647 Home Runs (Good Enough for Fifth in the All-Time list), 2901 Hits, 1898 Runs Scored, 1950 RBI’s, and 1217 walks…while posting a .560 Slugging Percentage. These numbers are SICK if you look at the other all-time greats that have played the game.

As a 37 Year Old Sports Die Hard, AROD has played in as many seasons as half of my life. During my era, he is probably one of the most prolific hitters that I have ever saw. He received the largest contract in Sports History at 10 Years and $275 Million Dollars by the cash cow Skankees…I mean Yankees. Now this 38 Year old role model is watching his career deteriorate right before his eyes. His legacy has now been destroyed.

This is embarrassing for Major League Baseball to have one of its Markee Faces go down in a bunch of flames. However, it is also great to see that the League is taking the utmost drastic measures to punish these CHEATERS! I cannot say that I am shocked. Most people have suspected Alex of using drugs for a long time now and this just confirms all of our suspicions. I must say…I don’t care if the New York Yankees have to still pay this guy the rest of his contract…that’s what they get for signing controversial players! I’m just glad that this time around, the league has policies and that these players cannot escape like the Barry Bond’s, Roger Clemmens, Mark McGwires of the league! This is a blemish on the league but its also a positive step to setting an example. Good Job MLB!

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