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2013 NFL Predictions: Division Winners, Super Bowl Champs, Individual Awards and League Leaders 8

Posted on August 21, 2013 by Andy Larmand

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It’s almost here, but if you weren’t excited enough about the NFL returning in a couple weeks, here are a few more reasons. It’s time to make some predictions that will inevitably have clear cut outomes and boggle the minds of some while sparking some pretty intense debates. I think I have them all right, though. Here are my picks for all eight division winners, the four Wild Card teams, each conference’s championship matchup, the Super Bowl, league leaders and major award recipients.

AFC East (2): Patriots – Nine straight division titles when the team has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady? Yeah, make it 10 for New England. While they undoubtedly will be transitioning on the field this season, they are still fairly high above the other three teams in the division. Plus, their quarterback never runs into butts.

AFC North (4): Bengals – Get used to hearing “Dalton to Green” and get used to seeing the Bengals in the postseason (even if it is just for one game) for the third straight year. Cleveland will probably finish fourth.

AFC South (3): Colts – The Colts made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012 and it seems to me they are not done improving. Eleven wins last season was good, but I see them hitting at least 12 this year, including making a push to overtake the Texans late in the year with a huge win over them in Week 15.

AFC West (1): Broncos – Obviously. This one will probably be the biggest division win by any team this season. I say 14-2 for Denver with San Diego the closest to them at 7-9. Welker…and Decker…and Thomas might play a role in their success as well. Read the rest of this entry →

Super Bowl Teams Look For Rare Return 1

Posted on July 26, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Joe Flacco and the Ravens hope they will again be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy following the 2013 season.

Joe Flacco and the Ravens hope they will again be hoisting the Lombardi Trophy following the 2013 season.


For millions of Americans it is “Christmas in July” as most NFL Training camps are now open and the start of the regular season is now just six weeks away.

At this point, even for those already betting on the NFL online, it is difficult to predict the future for each of the 32 teams. But as training camps begin there is optimism in all camps that 2013 will be their year to lift the coveted Lombardi Trophy.

Of course, the team that hoisted the trophy a year ago was the Baltimore Ravens. While they signed quarterback Joe Flacco to a lucrative contract, they will be without many of the familiar faces that helped them claim the championship a year ago.

The loss of future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis (retired) and Ed Reed (not resigned and playing for the Houston Texans) will certainly leave a leadership void on defense, but from an on-the-field standpoint there are several other losses that could be more significant. Leading tackler Bernard Pollard, top sacker Chad Kruger and linebacker Darnell Ellerbe are three additional defensive players that must be replaced.  In addition, the trade of wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the 49ers will put added pressure on Flacco and the other receivers on the squad. Read the rest of this entry →

Baltimore Ravens Struggling to Bask in Super Bowl Glow 0

Posted on March 16, 2013 by Dean Hybl
The Baltimore Ravens broke the bank to keep quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Baltimore Ravens broke the bank to keep quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens sure haven’t done a very good job basking in the glow of their remarkable Super Bowl run. They have made some very questionable decisions that have impacted the team both on and off the field.

The Ravens certainly have been busy in the six weeks since defeating the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl XLVII.

In a move that many felt they had to make, but some question as being excessive, they made quarterback Joe Flacco the highest paid quarterback in the NFL. By signing him to a six-year, $120.6 million contract, they have now given a player who in five seasons has spent more time being average than being great a contract higher than that of the quarterbacks generally thought to be the best in the game in Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees.

They say timing in sports is everything and Flacco’s timing was perfect. With his contract expiring, Flacco was marvelous in the playoffs with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in four games as the Ravens rolled to the Super Bowl Championship.

If Flacco can perform like that every week for the next six seasons, then the Ravens have certainly made a good investment. However, Flacco’s own history suggests otherwise. During the 2012 regular season Flacco threw 22 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. He had only five games in the 2012 regular season where he threw a touchdown pass without also throwing an interception. And while Flacco threw three touchdowns with no picks in three straight playoff wins, he had previously accomplished that feat only three times in 80 regular season games.

With his new contract in hand, Flacco in 2013 will be judged in a very different manner than in previous years. In the past, the fact that he has never made a Pro Bowl and that his statistics were very good, but not great, really didn’t matter because the team has always been a winner. Flacco is the only quarterback to win a playoff game in his first five seasons and has a 9-4 career playoff record. Read the rest of this entry →

One Career Ends And Another Is Born: Super Bowl XLVII Storylines 0

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

Ravens receiver Torrey Smith celebrates on the field of the Superdome following Super Bowl XLVII.

The good news? Super Bowl XLVII had just about everything one could have asked for in the final professional football game for 213 days. It featured a pair of brothers facing off against each other, an icon of a generation going out on top, an energizing rookie quarterback, a jaw-dropping halftime show, an intentional safety, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and one 33-minute power outage. Not to mention a furious comeback in the second half that fell just short of making it the greatest Super Bowl ever played.

The bad news? It’s the final football game for 213 days. It was a great one though.

As always, we have a lot to get to in the last edition of the weekly NFL storylines being that this was the final game of the 2012-13 season. I’d just like to thank God for giving me the fingers to type this with. God is so great.

Joe Flacco, Super Bowl XLVII MVP, tied the all-time record with 11 touchdown passes in a single postseason in the first Super Bowl since 2002 without either Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger or Peyton Manning. Only he and Joe Montana have ever accomplished that. All five quarterbacks to ever throw eight-plus touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs have won the Super Bowl. Ray Lewis is going out on top if you haven’t heard. After 12 seasons, Lewis won his second career title. It is the longest span between titles by any player in NFL history. Baltimore has won four straight against the 49ers, outscoring them 103-50. San Francisco lost its first Super Bowl in their history and Baltimore improved to 8-1 all-time as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. They also improved to 2-0 all-time in Super Bowls (won Super Bowl XXXV in 2000). When they won it all in 2000, they were the No. 4 seed as well and the last two Super Bowl champions have been the No. 4 seed in their respective conferences. The previous two meetings between these two teams featured a total of two touchdowns; this one had six.

Baltimore finished the regular season with a record of 10-6. In each of the last three seasons, the eventual Super Bowl champion finished the regular season with no better than 10 wins (Packers with 10 in 2010, Giants with nine last season). The NFC had won three straight Super Bowls before the Ravens win. The last AFC team to win a title before this was the Steelers in 2008. With 65 points being scored in the Super Bowl, the total from this postseason grew to 571, which broke the previous record of 530 set in 1995. No. 2 seeds had been 4-1 in their last five Super Bowl appearances before the 49ers’ loss. With Flacco winning MVP, six of the last seven Super Bowl MVP’s have been quarterbacks. Only Santonio Holmes in 2008 won the award as a non-quarterback. Baltimore became just the second team to ever win a championship after leading the league in penalty yards during the regular season (1974 Steelers). After 19.5 sacks in his first 13 games, Aldon Smith hasn’t recorded one since. In the Super Bowl, he had no sacks and made just two tackles. Six games are the longest he has ever gone without a sack.

No NFL team had ever even reached the Super Bowl after ranking 15th or worse in both total defense and total offense during the regular season. The Ravens were the first and they won it all. Flacco has no interceptions in his last 195 pass attempts. With a second-quarter interception of Colin Kaepernick, Ed Reed tied the all-time record with his ninth career postseason interception. Baltimore improved to 11-5 in road or neutral playoff games in their history, the best win percentage of any NFL franchise. The 49ers had 15 former first-round picks on their roster for the Super Bowl to the Ravens’ eight, but Baltimore beat them anyway. With his first-quarter TD catch, the fourth for him this postseason, Anquan Boldin tied the amount he had in the regular season. Kaepernick was able to set the record for the most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single postseason with 264. He came up just two yards shy of tying the all-time record for rushing yards by a quarterback in the Super Bowl as he finished with 62, but did have the longest ever TD run by a quarterback in the big game with his 15-yarder.

Read the rest of this entry →

Ray Lewis Looks To Finish Career On Winning Note 0

Posted on January 25, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Ray Lewis is focused on winning the Super Bowl, rather than his upcoming retirement.

Ray Lewis is focused on winning the Super Bowl, rather than his upcoming retirement.

Ray Lewis dropped a bombshell on the sports world when he announced that he would be retiring at the end of Baltimore’s playoff run.  As such, every game was potentially Lewis’ last game.  Now there is no doubt that February 3rd will be the last time that Ray Lewis will be playing in the NFL.  However, the middle linebacker is more focused on helping the Ravens win against the 49ers in the upcoming Super Bowl than about his pending retirement

Lewis told reporters that “Honestly, outside of putting my head in the playbook and studying San Fran, I really haven’t thought about anything else.  It’s going to be a great day, period, no matter what happens. And that’s kind of the way I’ve approached it,” he said. “I haven’t even said, ‘Oh man, this is your last game, what do you think?’ I really haven’t. Because I just really am keeping my teammates focused on the real prize.”

This season was Lewis’ 17th and this will be his second Super Bowl.  Lewis’ last trip to the Super Bowl was in Super Bowl XXXV when the Ravens trounced the New York Giants 34-7.  Lewis was the MVP of that Super Bowl with 4 blocked passes, 3 solo tackles, and 2 assists. Read the rest of this entry →

Family Reunion In New Orleans And The Rest Of The Championship Weekend Storylines 0

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

Super Bowl XLVII is set. The Ravens will take on the 49ers in the Superdome.

The good news? The Super Bowl is now less than two weeks away. The bad? It is the last NFL game until next September. On the second-to-last meaningful weekend of football, four teams – three that were there last year – fought for the right to travel to New Orleans and play in Super Bowl XLVII.

The 49ers and the Ravens would come out on top after the Falcons couldn’t hold a big lead and the Patriots couldn’t produce a single point in the second half. What do the two winners have in common? They are coached by a pair of brothers – who will be facing off in the Super Bowl with a pair of quarterbacks who have never been there before.

It wasn’t a good day for the high seeds and home teams as both the Patriots (28-13) and Falcons (28-24) saw their respective seasons come to a close.

For the first time ever, the San Francisco 49ers have reached the Super Bowl as the conference’s No. 2 seed with a comeback from 17 down against the Falcons in Atlanta. They will be making their sixth ever appearance in the big game and are 5-0 so far. Matt Ryan threw for 396 yards while posting a 114.8 passer rating – both franchise playoff records – but his three touchdowns were accompanied by one big interception to Chris Culliver late in the game. His record fell to 34-7 in his career at home. Colin Kaepernick didn’t have nearly the game he had last week as he ran the ball just two times for a total of 21 yards and threw for 233 and a touchdown. Coming into the game, Atlanta had allowed 8.9 yards per rush to quarterbacks in 2012. Kaepernick averaged 10.5 yards on his two carries. His passer rating of 127.7 topped Ryan’s, though, as he helped San Francisco to become the first team to reach consecutive conference championship games with two different starting quarterbacks since the Redskins did it in 1986-87. This was the first time since the Falcons migrated from the NFC West in 2002 that they have fallen to the ‘Niners. They have only won two playoff games in a season once – in 1998 (the only year they made the Super Bowl).

Read the rest of this entry →

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