Colts will win Superbowl…and Manning impressed me

First off, I would like to say how much Peyton Manning impressed me yesterday. I’m not talking about his play or the fact that he put his team on his shoulders after throwing an interception to Samuel for a TD that put his team down 21-3 in the first half and completed the largest comeback in AFC Title game history (because no one should be impressed that Peyton Manning was able to do it) but with the way he handled himself during the post game press conference after the most emotional and meaningful game of his career. During the press conference, Peyton was understandably asked if this game was retribution for him, if this victory against the Patriots in the AFC Title game was his revenge or vindication against Brady and Belichick. Everyone would have understood if he said yes and proceeded to explain how the giant monkey that had lived on his back for the last 4 years had been lifted but Manning was PERFECT.

“I don’t get into monkeys and vindication,” he said. “I don’t play that card. I know how hard I worked this season, I know how hard I worked this week.”

Thats just one of the perfect lines Manning uttered yesterday and it exemplifies just how great a person he is. Refusing to be labeled despite the fact that he had been labeled for the last 4 years and for the last 72 hours especially…he spent most of the time criticizing himself for his interception and complementing his teammates for a job well done. No monkey, no vindication, no revenge…Peyton made no excuses, gave no explanations. He’s just plain great.

Now I cannot imagine any circumstance where the Colts could possibly lose the Superbowl to the Chicago Bears. The amount of momentum the Colts and especially Peyton Manning are entering the Superbowl with is overwhelming and reminds me of a certain Red Sox team just a couple of years ago. When the Red Sox came back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees, they had so much momentum that the World Series was merely a formality. That is how I imagine this Superbowl will go. Despite the fact that the leagues best offense will face the leagues best defense, I just find it hard to imagine Peyton Manning getting to the big game (especially considering the record setting way he did it) and coming up short.

Colts win and I guarantee no matter what his stats are (although chances are they’ll be pretty good) Peyton Manning takes home the Superbowl MVP.

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Is this the Colts’ year?

The Colts have made it to another AFC Final…unfortunately for them, so have the Patriots. To be honest, I thought the Colts were going to be eliminated in the first round of this years playoffs and when they weren’t, I attributed it to…well come on, it was just the first round. Then I thought they were definitely going to lose in the second round to the Ravens but they didn’t and now, I find myself becoming more of a believer by the second. The last couple of years, the Colts have entered the playoffs by blowing through the regular season and leaving nothing left for the playoffs. They come in as favorites to win it all but can’t seem to even make it to the big game for reasons that are probably beyond any of our comprehension (no offense).

But this year is different.

The Colts came into this year’s playoffs having completely self destructed the second half of their season, or so the media would have you believe. They come in with so many defensive issues that I’ve heard people completely dismiss them as Superbowl contenders (umm…ya, I’m talking about myself) despite the fact that they have the second best QB (but most talented) in the league (in case you were wondering, Brady is #1). The Colts are fooling us all into thinking that they are not title contenders because they want to finally be the underdog. Less pressure is better but the Colts have taken it to a whole new level. Despite all of this, I STILL think they will lose to the Patriots come this weekend because it looks like the PAts have some of that old playoff magic still with them…that interception to a fumble to a recovery reminded me of the tuck play a couple of years ago.

Fool me once Manning, shame on me…Fool me twice, shame on you.

Titans ALMOST make the playoffs…

I have to mention this simply because of how disappointed I am that the Titans didn’t win their game against the Patriots yesterday. The Tennessee Titans were one of the MANY teams still vying for a playoff berth yesterday afternoon although the odds of them claiming that last playoff spot were far greater than most teams. The Titans needed the Broncos, Bengals and Jaguars (all teams that were fighting for playoff spots as well) to lose as well as winning their game against the Patriots. They were written off as a 60-1 underdog to make the playoffs. 60-1! That’s less than a 7 percent chance!

Well, Sunday came and went and heres what happened.

First, the Steelers vs. Bengals game:

Thanks to a Willie Parker TD during the second quarter, the Steelers led the Bengals for pretty much the entire game until the 4th quarter came around and both teams started to light up the eachothers endzones like it was the fourth of July. The Bengals were down 7-3 until Chris Henry caught a 66 yard TD pass from Palmer to take the lead 10-7. Willie Parker scored with seven and a half minutes remaining to retake the lead but then with just 2:47 left, Palmer and Stewart connected on a 5 yard TD pass to give the Bengals the lead and what looked like the game. The Bengals were sitting pretty and were probably looking forward to a playoff spot and a nice post game party, that is until the Steelers marched down the field like the Bengals had replaced their starting defense with some of their cheerleaders and Jeff Reed kicked a 35 yard field goal to tie the game with just over a minute to go. Graham missed his kick for the Bengals and the game went to overtime. The Steelers won the toss and on their first possesion, Big Ben connected with Santonio Holmes for a 67 yard TD pass. Game Over…23-17.

Second, the Chiefs vs. Jaguars game:

This game was an absolute firefight as both teams seem to score at will. A combined three TD’s in the Second Quarter and a combined four TD’s in the Third Quarter made this game very unpredictable and extremely entertaining. The Chiefs took the lead early in the game and never surrendered it as every time the Jags scored they answered back with a score of their own. Going into the Fourth Quarter, the Chiefs were up 35-23 and the Jaguars could only muster a single TD in an attempt to save their season. It wasn’t good enough. 35-30.

Third, the 49ers vs. Broncos game:

This game was really the one that gave me no hope before the start of Sunday’s games. The Denver Broncos just needed to win their game to ensure they make the playoffs and all they had to do it against was the lowly 49ers. The Broncos took an early 13-0 lead on a pair of Jason Elam field goals and a Champ Bailey (my pick for Defensive Player of the Year) 70 yard interception return for a TD. Going into halftime the Broncos were up 13-3 and looked to have a comfortable lead over San Fran…but the 49ers would not be taken for granted. In the Third Quarter, Smith threw a 32 yard TD pass to Moran Norris (who?) and Walt Harris scored on a 28 yard interception to give the 49ers their first lead of the game. Going into the Fourth it was 17-16…for the 49ers. In the Fourth, a pair of Nedney field goals gave San Francisco a seven point lead with just over 6 minutes remaining but the Broncos refused to let their dreams of a wild card berth die on New Years eve. In a four and a half minute drive, Jay Cutler marched his team 80 yards down field on just 10 plays and with only a minute and a half left, connected with Tony Scheffler for a nine yard TD pass to tie the game and send it into overtime. Unfortunately for the Broncos, that is where they fell short. After a very long overtime period where both teams failed to score, Joe Nedney kicked a 36 yard field goal with under two minutes left to win it for the 49ers and end the Broncos season. 26-23.

The Titans game actually happened before the Broncos game so I knew they were eliminated well before the Broncos game finished but the fact that pretty much everything that the Titans needed to happen (besides for them winning of course) actually happened is still pretty unbelievable. As for the Titans game…

Titans vs. Patriots game:

The Titans went into this game knowing they needed a lot of help to make the playoffs but for any of that to matter, they needed to win their game first. Vince Young had led his team to four Fourth Quarter comebacks in their last four games and that was very comforting considering they trailed the Pats going into the Fourth. One of the most entertaining parts of the game was actually watching the battle between PacMan Jones (the Titans punt returner) and Todd Sauerbrun (the Patriots punter). After PacMan returned a punt 81 yards for a TD with just 30 seconds left before halftime to put the Titans back in the game, Sauerbrun began to punt the ball several different ways in an attempt to remove PacMan’s return skills from the game…and it worked. With PacMan unable to return the ball the way the titans needed him to, the entire game was put on Vince Young’s shoulders, and he delivered…for a couple of minutes. With a minute and half remaining in the Third Quarter and the Titans down by 11, Vince Young rallied his team down the field and on a broken play, made an absolutely unbelievable 28 yard run into the endzone by breaking tackles and dodging flying Patriots to restore hope to the Titan faithful. That hope didn’t last long. Key mistakes by the Titans and Vince Young gave the Patriots the ball and they capitalized by scoring two consecutive TDs to restore their huge lead. There would be no Fourth Quarter comeback and the Titans dreams of a playoff berth remained just that…a dream. 40-23

I can’t help but wonder what could have been if only the Titans had won that game. A 60-1 underdog with perhaps the slimmest shot of making it to the NFL Playoffs in NFL History could have made it if not for just one game. The Titans got all the help they needed but couldn’t take care of the one game they had control over.

Happy New Year, Vince.

NFL Season Summary

As the NFL season comes to an end, I can’t help but imagine what next season has in store for us football fans. This season has provided us with plenty to talk about and it looks like half the teams in the NFL will have a chance to make the playoffs come next week. I have thoroughly enjoyed the excitement and entertainment that the NFL has provided all of us with this year and I think its about time I summarize this years NFL season with a couple of awards. It may be a week early but hey…just means I’ll be the only one with awards out in time for the holiday season. So lets get started.

THE UNDERACHIEVERS

[1] Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) – I consider the Steelers underachievers for one reason and one reason only and that is because they are the defending Super bowl champs and they will most likely miss the playoffs this season. Pittsburgh’s season isn’t all that surprising to me considering they made the playoffs last year as a wildcard and this year they will just barely fall short but anytime the defending Superbowl champs fail to make the playoffs the following season, you have gotta chalk them up as underachievers because you can be sure their fans have.

[2] Cincinnati Bengals (8-6) – How can an 8-6 team on the verge of making the playoffs as a wildcard be considered a disappointment? Very easily, considering experts pick you to easily win your division and challenge for the best record in football as well as a trip to the Superbowl all while boasting one of the best and most explosive offenses in the entire NFL…and you do none of them.

[3] Indianapolis Colts (11-4) – How can an 11-4 team on the verge of finishing their season tied with the fourth best record in football be considered a disappointment? Trust me, Colts fans are not going to forgive their team for their recent collapse so neither will I. The Colts have lost 3 of their last 4 games and although that ain’t too bad, considering the losses were to teams like the Titans, the Texans (who beat them today for the first time in franchise history) and an absolute blowout by the Jaguars just two weeks ago, the Colts look tired and finished. That defense needs to be completely rebuilt. They’ll be lucky to get by the first round.

[4] New York Giants (7-8) – This is a team many picked to make it to the Superbowl but they won’t even make it to the playoffs. The Giants have had a rough season (right Plaxico?) and considering this is Tiki Barber’s last year and the Giants don’t have another RB, I’d say they are kinda lucky to have a chance to get a replacement in the draft. Better luck next year.

[5] Carolina Panthers (7-8) – It’s definitely a disappointing season when your team could be 11-4 instead of 7-8 had they just held on in the 4th quarter in four games this year. Well it’s better to give then to receive and the Panthers have demonstrated the Holiday spirit all season long.

[6] Miami Dolphins (6-8) – Can anyone remember at the start of the season when people were talking about Cullpeppers comeback year and a potential trip to the Superbowl for the Dolphins? Anyone? Guess nobody wants to admit it because EVERYBODY predicted it. Makes me wish I had started writing earlier because I had Cullpepper as my fantasy QB last year and when the Dolphins got him I was saying what a mistake it was and how the team will go nowhere with him. Maybe Joey Harrington can be the answer…ok, definitely not.

[7] Chicago Bears Offense (13-2) – The Bears offense deserves very little credit if any credit at all for the Bears 13 wins this season. Grossman has had an on and off year (where he has mostly been off) and the Bears defense has bailed this team out on more than just a few occasions. In fact, I wonder who scored more points…the Bears offense or their defense? Either way, Grossman has got to play better.

THE OVERACHIEVERS

[1] New Orleans Saints (10-5) – This team came together in the darkest of times and gave a city as well as a nation something to cheer about. This team was playing for more than themselves or their city or even their fans, they were playing for an entire country’s hopes and dreams and they did so with class, dignity and a passion that can only be described as incredible. Congratulations and thank you.

[2] Tennessee Titans (8-7) – The Tennessee Titans along with their spectacular rookie QB Vince Young have been one of the most pleasant surprises this season. The Titans have definitely overachieved this year finishing with at least a .500 record and amazing wins against teams like the Colts, Giants, Eagles, Jaguars and Bills and have the possibility of making the playoffs with a little luck (I can dream, can’t I?). Vince Young has been magnificent and PacMan Jones deserves A LOT of credit as well.

[3] New York Jets (8-6) – What are the Jets doing with a winning record and a serious shot at making the playoffs? Don’t ask me but I’ll bet it has something to do with Laveranues Coles’ 1000 yards receiving and 6 TD’s and maybe a little something to do with their team leader and starting QB Chad Pennington coming back and playing 14 games this season. Just a hunch.

[4] Baltimore Ravens (12-3) – The Ravens’ defense is back in full force and look like the team they were back when they won the Superbowl against the Giants…only this time they are younger and faster and have a MUCH better offense (McNair, Heap, Lewis…). Everyone knows how great a QB McNair is but I think we failed to realize what a great leader he truly is.

[5] Tony Romo (6-2) – 2440 yards, 16 TD’s, 10 INT’s and a 98.4 QB Rating. His stats scream overachiever and the Cowboys couldn’t be happier…after all, where would they be without him?

[6] Chicago Bears Defense (13-2) – How can a team have a spot on both lists? Their offense is that bad and their defense is that good. Like I said before, the Bears defense had to play both roles of defending and scoring on more than a few occasions and gave this team wins they did not deserve. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Arizona Cardinals.

MVP

Drew Brees – Tomlinson will no doubt win Offensive Player of the Year and he absolutely deserves it after the incredible season he has had this year however he should not win the MVP. Drew Brees has been the best offensive QB this year and has thrown for over 4200 yards, 25 TD’s, 11 INT’s, a 65.6% completion percentage and a 98.2 QB Rating on a team without a real number one receiver. But that is not why he should win. Brees has transformed rookie wideout Marques Colston into a pro bowl receiver with 1000 yards and 7 TD’s. But that is not why he should win. Brees has elevated his play and the play of everyone around him (including Colston, Bush, Mcallister…) and brought a team that went 3-13 last year to a 10-5 record and a division win…and that is only part of why he should win. Hurricane Katrina left the city of New Orleans and its people devastated and without hope after it completely destroyed everything they had known and loved. Throughout the NFL season, the Saints have truly become Saints for their city as well as their entire country as they restored hope and happiness across a country that had seen more than its fair share of disasters in the last couple of years. New Orleans is the real MVP of the NFL and their MVP is Drew Brees.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

LT: 1626 yards rushing and 28 TD’s, 484 yards receiving and 3 TD’s, 2 TD passes. Anyone disagree?

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Champ Bailey: This is a bit of a biased pick considering I’m watching the Bengals-Broncos game right now and Bailey just picked off Palmer but I think its the most legitimate pick I can make. 75 Tackles and 8 INT’s not including todays is pretty good and considering he is the best defensive back in the league and can shutdown absolutely anyone…ya, I’d say he deserves it.

FUNNIEST PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Chad Johnson (aka Ocho Cinco): This pick is more because of what he did last year (like making a list of everyone who was going to cover him and ticking off who could and who couldn’t do their job against him or like when he proposed to the cheerleader as a TD celebration) than what he has done this year, mostly because of the league’s new restrictions. This year, Chad’s antics included cutting his hair into a yellow mohawk (looks even weirder than it sounds) and then a few weeks later promising to cut it off if he didn’t score in a game (I think it was just an excuse to shave it off). Can’t wait to see what he’ll have in store for us next year.

MOST WARRANTED SUSPENSION

Shawne Merriman: I’m sorry but there is no room in professional sports for steroids. No exceptions.

MOST UNSPORTSMANLIKE PLAY

Albert Haynesworth: Everyone probably expecting Terrell Owens (and he would be a legitimate choice) but we cannot forget that Albert Haynesworth stepped on an opposing player’s head, tearing his face open and requiring many stitches. No room for this in professional sports either.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Vince Young, QB: Easy choice considering his team is 8-7 and he is the reason why.

BEST COACH

Bill Belichick: Every year, only three constants on the New England Patriots remain the same, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and their winning record. What more can I say other than that Bill is the best coach in the NFL.

Happy Holidays

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Has TO taken ALL the headlines?

I am going to make this short and sweet…well maybe not so sweet (and maybe not so short either). Terrell Owens continues to provide us with someone we love (and I mean LOVE) to hate this NFL season and I think we should all thank him because without him and his antics (his most recent being him spitting on DeAngelo Hall during a game Saturday night) we might have actually spent more time talking about more compelling and entertaining stories such as (in no particular order):

[1] Tomlinson breaking Alexander’s TD record.

[2] The Steelers collapse just a year after winning the Superbowl.

[3] Vick no longer being considered an elite QB in the NFL.

[4] Vince Young being hailed as Rookie of the Year after starting his NFL career 7-4 despite having awful passing stats (I love him but 1700+ passing, 10 TDs, 11 INTs and a 65.7 QB Rating!!!).

[5] Dallas’ resurgence thanks to Tony Romo replacing a statue that looked an awful lot like Drew Bledsoe.

[6] Drew Brees being the best QB in the NFL this year! (4000+ yards, 25 TDs, 10 INTs and a 101.2 QB Rating)

[7] Giants going from projected Superbowl favorites to a potential wild card…if they’re lucky.

[8] Tiki RETIRING!?!?

[9] Reggie Bush and Mario Williams…Wait, Mario Who?

[10] Absolutely no one noticing how Chad Johnson pushed his game into overdrive after the Bengals looked like they were out of it and pretty much single handedly (with some help from TJ) brought them back to respectability and a potential wild card spot (765 yards receiving and 5 TDs in his last 5 games and the Bengals went 4-1 in that span).

[11] Carolina just plain being bad, just really bad.

[12] Dolphins’ rollercoaster of a season and Joey Harrington’s resurgence. I know I cant believe I said it either.

[13] Patriots winning their Division…again.

[14] Detroit Lions being the best 2-12 team in the league. Roy Williams can at least be proud of that, right?

[15] People actually saying Manning may never get to the Super Bowl despite the fact that the Colts are 10-3 and have won their division for a fourth straight year.

[16] Mcnabb getting injured…again.

So thanks Terrell because without you, we might have actually paid more attention to more serious and interesting stories surrounding the NFL this season but hey, I guess you spitting on a guy is kinda cool too. Although I must admit that I did enjoy watching Michael Irvin defend you and even select you as a Gamebreaker every week on NFL Sunday Countdown. It quickly became my Sunday morning ritual; wake up, watch Irvin defend you, watch you completely embarrass yourself by dropping a pass or saying/doing something completely immature and detrimental to your team, then wait till next Sunday to see how Michael would defend you. It was pretty entertaining.


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EA Sports vs. 2K Sports

The makings of the war for complete sports video game supremacy has been in the works for a long time. EA has had a serious stranglehold over the market for a very long time but with the rise of 2K and the slow but obvious decline of EA, the war is finally here. 2K seems to have finally ammassed a large enough market share of the sports video game industry to make their first real push into EA’s territory. So the question is, who will win?

EA has been here for far too long to be pushed out in one single blow. They own way too much of the market and have too devoted and loyal a fan base to be seriously hurt by 2K or anyone for that matter. Described as “the evil empire”, Electronics Arts has dominated the sports video game industry with titles in every sport including Madden, NBA Live, NHL and many others. They spend more money than anyone to develop and fine tune their games in order to ensure that their titles are the best available however, recent titles from EA have been less than perfect and have raised many questions concerning EA’s attention to detail. A number of bugs as well as a lack of original and innovative ideas have left their games open to a number of bad reviews. EA has avoided criticism for many years thanks in part to great game development but also thanks to a lack of competition. 2K’s arrival to the forefront of the sports video game industry has given EA’s games something to be compared to and the comaprisons have drawn mixed reviews. While some feel that the combined effect of EA’s loyal following and their practically unlimited supply of money is just too big a hump for 2K to overcome, others feel that 2K’s innovative ideas and different approach to the sports simulation concept (they are much more of a simulation while EA is more arcade) has already brought them this far and can only bring them further. EA released NBA Live 07 way before it was ready and was criticized for the many bugs and lagy online gameplay that plagues the game while NBA 2K7, although suffering from poorer graphics, benefits from its many different gameplay modes (including Street Mode) and all around better performance and was rewarded with better reviews. 2K’s games have begun to outperform EA’s and that is a serious threat to EA’s “monopoly”.

So the question is clear…which company will prevail?
Not really a fair question since chances are both will survive and most likely thrive in this lucrative industry.

So the real question is…where does your loyalty lie, EA or 2K?


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LT

“He is the greatest runningback to ever wear an NFL jersey”

Thats how San Diego Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer described his all star runningback during the post game press conference after the Chargers had defeated the Denver Broncos, 48-20 Sunday afternoon. LaDainian Tomlinson had his seventh consecutive multi-touchdown performance this week, scoring 3 TDs en route to breaking Shaun Alexander’s record of 28 from just one year ago. By the way, the Chargers have won 7 straight…coincidence?…don’t think so. LT is also on pace to break Paul Hornung’s single season scoring record of 176 points that has lasted for over 4 decades. Tomlinson currently has 174 points with 3 games remaining, ensuring that the record will definately be broken barring any unforseen circumstances.

Schottenheimer brought up a very interesting question. How great is LT? When history looks back on all the great NFL runningbacks of the last century, where will LaDainian’s rightful place be? Tomlinson is the best NFL back of his generation and deserves to be honored as such. He combines breakaway speed, a big/strong frame, great hands and agility with an understanding of the game that very few in the NFL can match. His career statistics (so far) are unprecedented. Through 6 seasons and 92 games, LT has racked up 8788 yards rushing, a 4.4 yds/carry avg and 98 touchdowns. He has also caught the ball 394 times for 2871 yards and 11 touchdowns while throwing for 126 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is leading the Chargers to a division title, a first round bye in the playoffs and a potential trip to the superbowl by displaying unbelievably great talent and even better leadership. He is piling up the statisitcs and breaking all the records and hes doing it without running his mouth to the media or tarnishing his image in the most ridiculous and obscene ways…and you have got too respect him for it.

I can only hope that when history looks back on LT, he will not only be remembered for his unbelievale accomplishments on the field but for the respect and admiration he drew from his fans and peers while doing it.

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