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Rodgers Has A Day, Manuel Shocks Panthers: Week 2 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 18, 2013 by Andy Larmand

Week 1 had a lot, but Week 2 might have it beat. There was everything from a weather delay (those 49ers) to four last-second wins, of course some interesting quirks mixed in and who could forget about the Manning Bowl. Here are your Week 2 NFL headlines.

Aaron Rodgers was the top performer in Week 2.

Aaron Rodgers was the top performer in Week 2.

Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass in his 50th consecutive game as the Patriots beat the Jets, 13-10, to open the week on Thursday Night Football, but was also below a 50-percent completion rate for the first time since 2009. He now sits just four behind the all-time record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. New England forced four turnovers and now have at least one in 29 straight games, the longest since the Eagles did that between 2003-04. The win gave the Pats 12 straight victories over division opponents, which is the longest current streak in the league, according to Elias. The only other time the Patriots began a season 2-0 with both wins by three points or less was in 1999. They won this one despite having more punts (11) than first downs (9) – the first time that has happened in the Bill Belichick era. Julian Edelman had 13 catches, but just 78 yards. That is the third-fewest yards in a 13-catch game in the Super Bowl Era. Brady improved to 6-0 in his career in games played on a Thursday.

Cordarrelle Patterson tied a team record with a 105-yard kickoff return for a touchdown as the Vikings fell to 0-2 with a 31-30 loss to the BearsAdrian Peterson had 100 rushing yards and has just 193 through two games. He had only 144 last year, however. After doing so nine times last season, the Bears scored their first defensive touchdown of 2013 with an interception return from Tim Jennings in the win. Their 10 defensive touchdowns since the start of last year are the most in the league. Devin Hester had 249 kick return yards in the win, setting a new franchise record. Jay Cutler hit Martellus Bennett on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in one of four games to be decided in the final seconds. Bennett became the fourth player in Bears’ history to catch a touchdown in each of his first two games with the team.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 335 yards in the first half alone as the Packers got out to a 24-0 lead and topped the Redskins, 38-20. Rodgers finished the game 34-of-42 with a career-high 480 yards – tying the Packers’ record. In so doing, he became the first NFL quarterback to record 480 yards passing and throw four touchdowns with no interceptions since Y.A. Tittle in 1962. James Starks had 132 yards rushing and became Green Bay’s first 100-yard rusher since 2010.  They won their eighth straight home game and their 21st of 22. Washington fell behind 24-0 after two quarters and have now been outscored 50-7 in the first half this season. The Pack now rank second in the NFL with 66 points scored. The Broncos, who are first, have scored 66 points in the second half. Read the rest of this entry →

Manning And Boldin Star; Kelly And Reid Undefeated: Week 1 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 11, 2013 by Andy Larmand
Lucky Seven: Peyton Manning had a night for the ages to open the season.

Lucky Seven: Peyton Manning had a night for the ages to open the season.

After seven long months of OTA’s and talking about Tim Tebow, football returned this Thursday under the lights in Denver, Colorado. And this time the lights stayed on for the whole game. The season got started with one of the best players of this generation reminding us all that he can still get it done, included a first for a veteran wide receiver, the extension of a couple of Opening Day streaks, one milestone coaching victory and a first for a Lions‘ player since the days of Barry Sanders. Here are all the important notes, interesting accomplishments and head-scratching statistics from Week 1 of the brand new season.

Peyton Manning tied the all-time single-game record with seven touchdown passes in the Broncos‘ 49-27 win over the defending champion Ravens Thursday night. He became the first quarterback to throw seven TD passes in a game since Joe Kapp in 1969. It was the 74th time in his career he has thrown three or more touchdown passes in a game – the most all-time. Denver’s 22-point win was the largest ever opening-week win by a team against a defending Super Bowl champ.

The Falcons lost their first ever season opener against the Saints as they fell, 23-17, after blowing a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Atlanta had been 6-0 all-time against New Orleans to open the season. In the loss, however, Tony Gonzalez became just the third player to record a touchdown catch in 17 different seasons, joining Jerry Rice (19) and Irving Fryar, who also did it 17 times.

With two against the BillsTom Brady has now thrown at least one touchdown pass in 49 consecutive games for the Patriots – five shy of tying Drew Brees for the all-time record. He also improved to 21-2 in his career against Buffalo. New England won its 10th straight opener and they forced at least one turnover in their 28th straight game.

The Bucs fell to 0-7 all-time in road games against the Jets as New York pulled out the 18-17 win on a last-second field goal. Tampa committed 13 penalties in the game, leading to five New York first downs and helped put them in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Rookie Geno Smith helped lead the Jets with a 76.0 QBR in the fourth quarter.

Marc Trestman joined Chip Kelly and Andy Reid in winning their debuts with new teams.

Marc Trestman joined Chip Kelly and Andy Reid in winning their debuts with new teams.

A.J. Green hauled in nine passes for 162 yards to break Chad Johnson‘s franchise record for receiving yards in a season opener, but the Bengals fell to the Bears in Marc Trestman‘s debut, 24-21.Bears kicker, Robbie Gould, set a Soldier Field record with a 58-yard field goal in the win.

Seattle and Carolina combined for just 19 points in the Seahawks‘ 12-7 win. Cam Newton put up career lows in total yards (163) and passing yards (125) for the Panthers in the loss. Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards, despite managing just the 12 points and it was the first 300-yard game of his career.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for just 191 yards as the Steelers mustered just nine points and fell to the Titans, 16-9. It was the fifth time since 2011 that Big Ben threw for less than 200 yards in a game. Though this was Pittsburgh’s first loss in a home opener since 2002, Roethlisberger did go over the career 30,000-yard passing mark on the day. Pittsburgh got on the board three seconds into the game after it was ruled that Tennessee kick returner, Darius Reynaud, fielded the opening kickoff before the goal line and then took a knee in the endzone. The safety tied the fastest score in any game since the merger.

The Browns lost their ninth straight season opener, 23-10, at the hands of the Dolphins. Nine straight is the longest active streak in the league. The teams combined for just 67 rushing yards and the Browns were just 1-for-14 on third down. Brandon Weeden set a new career-high for pass attempts in a game with 53, but threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.

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Five Fearless Predictions for the 2013 NFL Season 3

Posted on September 08, 2013 by Dean Hybl
After coming close a year ago, Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers will look to return to the Super Bowl.

After coming close a year ago, Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers will look to return to the Super Bowl.

The 2013 NFL season started with a bang as one of the all-time greats, Peyton Manning, matched an NFL record with 7 touchdown passes against the defending Super Bowl Champions.

With that as a prelude, expect the rest of the 2013 season to be exciting and perhaps filled with more records and amazing performances.

Below are five “Fearless Predictions” of things I expect to see in 2013:

A Step Back For Rookie Quarterbacks
There was a time in NFL history when quarterbacks were expected to spend multiple years learning the league and the system of their specific team before being thrust into the starting lineup.

However, over the past decade that practice has given way to higher immediate expectations for rookie quarterbacks and the expectation that a quarterback should be ready to play right away.

In 2008 rookie quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan each led their teams to the playoffs and the following campaign Mark Sanchez took the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game.

The last two seasons have been especially fertile for rookie quarterbacks. In 2011 Cam Newton set a new rookie record for passing yards and Andy Dalton led the Bengals to the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry →

Who Will Be 2013’s Surprise Teams in the NFL? 16

Posted on July 28, 2013 by Dean Hybl
With head coach Sean Payton back on board, Drew Brees and the Saints will look to return to the top of the standings in 2013.

With head coach Sean Payton back on board, Drew Brees and the Saints will look to return to the top of the standings in 2013.

Every season one thing you can count on in the NFL is that there will be teams that you expect to do well that will struggle and there will be teams that are expected to be bad, but will make a run toward the playoffs.

In the world of online football betting, everyone is trying to figure out which teams will be the surprise teams for the upcoming season because as all who do follow the NFL are aware from past history that there will be some.

Last season four teams that had posted losing records the previous season made the playoffs and there are many seasons when five or more such teams have made the leap.

As we look toward 2013, the question is which teams can do what the Colts, Seahawks, Redskins and Vikings did last season? Here is a look at some of the top contenders to rise from the ashes:

New Orleans Saints – 2012 Record: 7-9

It may not really be fair to include the Saints on this list. After all, they were 13-3 in 2011 and played the 2012 season with their head coach suspended and under the cloud of “Bountygate”.

With Sean Payton back on the sidelines and Bountygate now a distant memory, it would be of little surprise if the Saints are back in the playoff hunt in 2013.

Another distraction entering the 2012 season was the contract status of quarterback Drew Brees and with that no longer an issue, you can expect him to be back to his Pro Bowl best.

The Saints had a generally quiet off-season with their biggest acquisition being new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. He will have a tough task making the New Orleans defense a playoff caliber unit as they allowed the most yards and second most points in the league last year.

While the offense will certainly be potent and probably good enough to get New Orleans back above .500, the defense must be better if the Saints want to make a deep playoff run.

Kansas City Chiefs – 2012 Record: 2-14

Following a 7-9 campaign in 2011 the Chiefs were a popular pick to take the next step in 2012. Unfortunately for them, the next step proved to be over a cliff as they posted the worst record in the NFL. Read the rest of this entry →

30 Years Ago: Tragedy Ends the Life of Rising NFL Star Joe Delaney 2

Posted on June 29, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Joe Delaney was a rising star when he died while trying to save others on June 29, 1983.

Joe Delaney was a rising star when he died while trying to save others on June 29, 1983.

It was 30 years ago, June 29, 1983, when the sports world lost a true hero and budding star with the tragic death of Kansas City Chiefs running back Joe Delaney.

What should have been a fun summer day spent at an area amusement park in Monroe, Louisiana, instead turned tragic as three young boys were drowning in a water hole that had been left by recent construction. Though he could not swim, the 24-year-old NFL star quickly jumped in to try and save the boys. Two of the boys made it to shore, though one later died, while Delaney and one of the boys drowned.

It was a tragic and sudden end to what had been a mercurial rise from obscurity to NFL stardom for Delaney.

After playing primarily receiver at Haughton High School in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, Delaney received some Division I interest, but ended up at Division I-AA Northwestern State. He quickly was moved to running back and twice earned All-American honors.

In a 1978 game against Nicholls State, Delaney rushed for 299 yards, including an NCAA record 263 yards in the second half. He finished his career with 3,047 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns and had his jersey retired after his final game for the Demons. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1997.

Likely because he didn’t play against top-level college competition at Northwestern State, Delaney slipped into the second round of the 1981 draft before being selected with the 41st pick by the Kansas City Chiefs.

As a rookie, Delaney proved to be the best weapon on a team that posted a 9-7 record under the guidance of future Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy.

Delaney was known for his good deeds and was a team and fan favorite with the Chiefs.

Delaney was known for his good deeds and was a team and fan favorite with the Chiefs.

After gaining a combined total of 211 yards on the ground during the first four games of his rookie season, Delaney reeled off three straight 100+ yard games, including 149 yards in a victory over Denver.

Delaney later rushed for 117 yards in a two-point loss to San Diego and 193 yards in a victory over the Houston Oilers as the Chiefs raced to an 8-4 record and looked like a playoff contender.

However, they were derailed by the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day and Delaney struggled with injuries the next two weeks as they lost three straight games. He rushed for only 136 yards in his final three games and missed the season finale (a 10-6 win) against the Minnesota Vikings.

Despite the tough finish, Delaney still completed his rookie year ranked 10th in the NFL with 1,121 yards rushing and was a first team All-AFC and Pro Bowl selection.

Delaney’s second NFL season was not as successful as he never was able to find a running rhythm during the strike-shortened season. He suffered a detached retina that limited his playing time and he rushed for only 380 yards in eight games.

Tragically, Delaney would never have another season to regain his rookie form.

After his death, more than 3,000 people attended his memorial service on July 4, 1983. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizens Award by President Reagan and later received the NCAA Medal of Valor.

It would be seven seasons before the Chiefs would have another 1,000 yard runner (Christian Okoye in 1989).

Though his number has not been worn by a Kansas City player since his death, Delaney’s number 37 has not been officially retired by the Chiefs. It would be a fitting tribute and remembrance 30 years after his death for the Chiefs to rectify this oversight.

Because Delaney definitely deserves to be remembered both for his greatness on the field and for his selflessness off the gridiron.

Season In Review: 32 Storylines From The 2012 NFL Regular Season 0

Posted on January 03, 2013 by Andy Larmand

It’s been a good one and I’m sure I speak for everybody when I say we’re all sad to see it go, but the 2012 NFL season has provided us with exciting finishes, triumphant record-breaking performances, comebacks, winning streaks, losing streaks and of course, replacement officials. Disappointments, pleasant surprises, rookies leading their teams to the playoffs and unspeakable tragedy have all left their marks on the past 17 weeks as well.

Here are 32 of the biggest stories – one about each team – from the 2012 regular season of NFL football.

Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Flew into a wall: Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley watches as Janoris Jenkins (left) scoots into the endzone, returning another Arizona pass for a touchdown.

Arizona Cardinals (5-11, 4th in NFC West): Normally, when you lose nine games in a row, that’s the biggest story of the year. That was not the case for the Arizona Cardinals this year, however. Following the rib injury to starting quarterback Kevin Kolb in Week 6, things went from bad to worse in the desert as the Cards spiraled from a 4-0 first place team all the way to the bottom of the NFC West. Arizona’s quarterbacks, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer, were three big reasons why. In that time frame, they combined to go 1-9 and throw 18 interceptions to just three touchdowns. A five-game stretch even resulted in Lindley throwing more touchdowns to opposing teams via interception returns (four) than he threw to his own receivers (zero). A few of the trio’s passing highs included 74, 72 and 64 yards. It probably didn’t help that All-Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald had just 20 catches for 213 yards and no touchdowns in the final seven games of the season. Either they will trust that Kolb will return healthy next season or one would think they spend their first-round pick this spring on a competent quarterback. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired by the team on ‘Black Monday.’

Atlanta Falcons (13-3, 1st in NFC South): The Falcons went 13-3 in 2012 and locked up their second straight No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but that’s not really news – at least not until they actually do something in the playoffs. Matt Ryan improved his home record to 33-4 in five NFL seasons, but that wasn’t even the biggest thing, in my opinion. For the sixth consecutive season, Roddy White played in all 16 games (hasn’t missed a game in his eight-year career) and put up what would seem like Pro Bowl worthy numbers. He did not make it, however, but teammate Julio Jones did. White had 13 more catches and 153 more yards than Jones on the season. Interesting. In fact, White has finished out of the top 10 in receiving yards just once in the last six seasons (2009). In the last six seasons, he has ended up ninth, eighth, second, 13th, fourth and eighth in the NFL in receiving. He has gone to just three Pro Bowls, however, including one due to an injury of another player. The biggest story out of Atlanta this season may just be the fact that one of the most productive receivers in the league from year to year was snubbed from the Pro Bowl after once again bringing that consistent level of exceptional play. Should he be mad? Yes.

Baltimore Ravens (10-6, 1st in AFC North): It was kind of a tale of two seasons for the AFC North champion Ravens. They began the year 9-2 and were in the driver’s seat in the division as well as in good position in the hunt for a first-round bye. Then came injuries, however. Already without Pro Bowl defensive lineman Terrell Suggs, All-Pro Ray Lewis tore his triceps in Week 6 and was out for the rest of the regular season. In Week 7 against Houston, Suggs would return. Their success in the last few seasons shows the importance of those two players to the team. As if the Lewis wasn’t bad enough, cornerback Lardarius Webb tore his ACL in the same game and he, too, was lost for the year. Lewis is slated to make his return this weekend, but without these three players all on the field in the second half of the year, Baltimore went from a 9-2 team to one with an average 10-6 record. Should they face an early exit in the playoffs, these injuries will have likely given them their death sentence as the up-and-down offense can’t really be counted on.

Buffalo Bills (6-10, 4th in AFC East): As one of the most disappointing teams of 2012, the Buffalo Bills were projected by some to be contenders in the AFC East and perhaps even make the playoffs. That illusion was quickly lost, however, after the team began the year with a 3-6 start, including a 48-28 loss to the Jets on Opening Day. They finished 6-10 at the bottom of the division for the fifth straight year. Buffalo has missed the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons. Of the six teams that they did beat on the year (the Chiefs, Browns, Cardinals, Dolphins, Jaguars and Jets), not one of them had a winning record. In fact, they had a combined record of 27-69. The defense, which was supposed to be solid with the addition of Mario Williams and Marcell Dareus in his second year, gave up 45-plus points four times on the season as the Bills finished 31st in the league in rush yards against, allowing 145.8 per game. C.J. Spiller did have a solid season as he finished eighth in the league with 1,244 rushing yards, but a knee injury to Fred Jackson really ended up hurting the offense, which finished 19th in the league in total yards. Buffalo fired head coach Chan Gailey on Monday.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL in tackles this season, but the Panthers still finished below .500.

Carolina Panthers (7-9, 2nd in NFC South): For the third straight year the Panthers finished under .500, but for the second straight year they had a dynamic rookie on the field with them. As the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft, linebacker Luke Kuechly not only led the team in tackles, but he led the entire league. He finished the season with 164 while also picking off two passes, recovering three fumbles and deflecting eight passes for the 10th-ranked defense in Carolina. He was not selected to the Pro Bowl, however. Kuechly was so impressive that he may have even slightly overshadowed the sophomore season of Cam Newton, who was just the third quarterback ever to lead his team in rushing yards in a season. With the two of them as their foundation, the future looks bright in Carolina if they can build around them. They could return to the playoffs as early as next year for the first time since 2008.

Chicago Bears (10-6, 3rd in NFC North): You can have a good beginning. And you can have a good end. But if you don’t have a good middle, most of the time, success is not on the horizon. The Chicago Bears found this out the hard way in 2012 as they became just the second team since 1990 (out of 53) to miss the playoffs after starting a season 7-1. Unfortunately for them, they lost five of their next six before finishing the season with two straight wins, but by then, it was too late. Jay Cutler‘s injury had a bit to do with it, but ultimately the offense they put out on the field could not get it done in the second half of the year as they averaged just 17.3 points per game in the final eight weeks of the season. Chicago has now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons with their only playoff run ending in the NFC Championship Game to the eventual champion Packers two years ago. Head coach Lovie Smith was fired on Monday in a very surprising move that could ultimately result in more bad than good for the team.

Cincinnati Bengals (10-6, 2nd in AFC North): The Bengals are going to the playoffs for the seconds straight year behind their talented second-year playmakers Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Green really made a leap in his second year as he finished 10th in the league in receiving yards (1,350), tied for fourth in receiving touchdowns (11) and seventh in receptions (97) while making his first trip to the Pro Bowl. He even had a stretch early in the season in which he caught a touchdown pass in nine consecutive games. His 84.4 yards per game also cracked the top 10 in the league. As the team’s biggest name on the offense, Green continued to put up monster numbers even when drawing the best coverage schemes from opposing defenses. His 164 targets in 2012 were tied for fifth in the league behind five of the best receivers of this generation. Green came up seven catches shy of breaking the record for the most receptions by a player in his first two NFL seasons as Cincy opted to rest most of its starters in their season finale. He has a chance to be the most productive receiver in Ohio since Chad Johnson.

Cleveland Browns (5-11, 4th in AFC North): In a backfield that featured two rookie starters in quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson, the Cleveland Browns were not able to avoid a second straight last place finish in the AFC North, but did win one more game than they did last year (four) if that’s any consolation. Richardson broke Jim Brown‘s franchise record for most rushing yards in a season by a rookie with 950 and also scored 12 total touchdowns. He started every game he appeared in and went over 100 yards three times before being forced to miss the team’s final game with an ankle injury. Weeden also missed the season finale with a shoulder injury. In 15 games at quarterback, he was 297-of-517 passing for 3,385 yards and threw 14 touchdowns. If both of them can come back healthy next year and the Browns can put some other pieces of the puzzle together, they look to be able to contend in the tough AFC North in 2013. Head coach Pat Shurmur and GM Tom Heckert were both fired by the team on Monday.

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