Monthly Archives: December 2012

Predicting the New NFL Head Coaches in 2013

Black Monday or as black people would call it “Monday” has hit and (as of now) seven head coaches have been fired.  The Cardinals, Chargers, Browns, Bills, Bears, Eagles, and Chiefs have all relieved their head coaches of their duties.  The Jets, Panthers, and Jaguars could all potentially have open head coaching spots in the coming days as well.  I will now predict (incorrectly) who should be the successors for these teams.

Buffalo Bills:  The Bills are in a tough position seeing as they have to be in the same division as the New England Patriots.  The only way to beat this team is to outscore them.  Chan Gailey was outmatched and signing Ryan Fitzpatrick to a long-term deal ultimately led to his demise.  The Bills are talented on offense with a spread offense and one of the most exciting running backs in the league with CJ Spiller.  Atlanta Falcons Offensive Coordinator, Dirk Koetter, runs a spread offense with the Falcons and would benefit with having a guy like Spiller in the backfield.  The Bills could go with a defensive coach, but they will have to put up points in that division.

Chicago Bears:  Chicago won 10 games and still missed the playoffs after starting 7-1.  Injuries, a terrible offensive line, the least creative offensive play-calling in the NFL and Jay Cutler being Jay Cutler  led to their downfall.  The Bears should hire 49ers Offensive Coordinator, Greg Roman.  Roman runs one of the most creative offenses in the NFL, and will make this offense better in the running game and can create ways to get Brandon Marshall and their dynamic running backs the ball.

Arizona Cardinals:  Arizona is in shambles.  They have an awful offensive line, they started four QBs this year and don’t have a developmental guy or an established starter unless you believe in Kevin Kolb (-__-) and they are in arguably the hardest division in the NFL with the 49ers and Seahawks at the top, and the up-and-coming Rams coming up the rear.  The Cardinals do have a good defense and a likely successor in Defensive Coordinator, Ray Horton.  Horton allows the Cardinals to keep their defense in tact, but also do not have to start over from the ground up.  He will need a complete overhaul and an inspired hire on the offensive side of the ball.  Good luck, Ray.

San Diego Chargers:  The Chargers were a year too late on this one, but they finally gave the axe to Norv Turner and GM AJ Smith.  San Diego must rebuild their offensive line (we’re seeing a trend here) and figure out what is wrong with Philip Rivers.  What better coach to do that then Colts Offensive Coordinator/Interim Head Coach Bruce Arians?  Arians took over for Chuck Pagano after he was diagnosed with Leukemia and proceeded to lead this team to the #5 seed in the AFC after being the worst team in the NFL last year.  Arians also is the favorite to win Coach of the Year.  Any time you can hire the Coach of the Year that can build an offense behind a QB that has a lackluster offensive line, it is an absolute coup.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns are another team that is attractive to a prospective coach.  The Browns have a lot of skilled players, a sound defense, and a new owner that is willing to spend money to win.  They need a coach that can develop Brandon Weeden.  New Browns CEO Jeffrey Lurie goes back to the well and hired former Eagles Head Coach, Andy Reid.  Reid is arguably the second or third best coach on the market and just overstayed his welcome with the Eagles.  The Browns want to make a splash and the NFC North isn’t as good as it has been the best decade.

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have one of the most talented rosters on paper in the NFL, but games aren’t played on paper…sorry Philly!  Some bad QB and O-line play, and the defense giving up halfway through the year didn’t help a struggling coach who just lost his son in Training Camp.  The Eagles needed a culture change and new coach to get back on track in a very competitive division.  The Eagles go out and go after the biggest name in college and hire Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly.  Kelly has a lot of question marks coming into the NFL, but with the success of the Read-Option this past year, it gives Kelly more power to run his kind of offense.  The Eagles have talent all over on offense and will get back a lot of their injured players next year.  If Kelly’s offense works in the NFL, the Eagles could be dangerous next year.

Kansas City Chiefs:  Despite being the worst team in the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs job is an attractive job.  The Chiefs have talent at almost every position, an established RB, pass rushers and a secondary to build around along with the #1 pick.  Chiefs GM, Scott Pioli, needs to get this team a starting QB and a Head Coach that can nurture a QB and be creative with the run game.  A recent Head Coach that has been able to do this was Jim Harbaugh, so a logical choice for the Chiefs is to hire Harbaugh’s successor, Stanford Head Coach David Shaw.

If the Panthers decide to can Ron Rivera, I think Chip Kelly fits their offense and Cam Newton to a T and that offense would be scary.

Do you agree or disagree with my predictions?  Let me know in the comments.

– Lance Cartelli

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Casually Ginger’s Top 10 Films + TV Shows of 2012

 

It’s been a crazy year in Film, the year of the Comic Book Movies with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider Man and the end of The Dark Knight Trilogy.  We also saw a freed slave kill a buncha white people, an animated teddy bear come to life, Liam Neeson was badass again punching throats and killing wolves in Taken 2 and The Grey, respectively.  Minds were blown in Cloud Atlas, being a wallflower was somehow cool, and odds were ever in our favor.  What made my top 10 films and television shows?  Check it out below!

2012 Top 10 Films:

10. Safety Not Guaranteed

9. Cloud Atlas

8. The Hunger Games

7. End of Watch

6. Ted

5. Argo

4. Silver Linings Playbook

3. Django Unchained

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

1. The Dark Knight Rises

Honorable Mentions: The Avengers, The Grey, 21 Jump Street, Lincoln, 

2012 TV Shows:

10. The Walking Dead

9. Shameless

8. Community

7. Parks and Recreation

6. Sons of Anarchy

5. The New Girl

4. Justified

3. Homeland

2. The Newsroom

1. Game of Thrones

Honorable Mentions: The League, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dexter, Workaholics, ESPNs 30 for 30

Agree/Disagree with me?  Comment away loyal readers!

– Lance Cartelli

Levi Martinez: A Very Cowboy Christmas

Why hello to the loyal fan base of Casually Ginger it’s been awhile since…Well let’s be honest…Your favorite blogger posted and for that, I must apologize.

Now it would be easy to blame all the hectic events in my life that have transpired over the past few months but let’s put that all aside, after all it is the holiday season. Normally during this time I’m happy to be home amongst the very people I call my family. However this year I can’t hope but to have a little extra optimism for my Dallas Cowboys. Yes, the very same franchise that has deprived me of post-season contention for the better part of the last decade and a half. However, this year when one could clearly make a thousand arguments as to why the Cowboys shouldn’t even been a hot topic they have done just that – surprised the football nation.

After Sean Lee, Bruce Carter and the rest of the interior defense went on Injured Reserve, I was like, “Well looks like its time to start focusing on draft day for 2013”.  I am man enough to admit the fact that I had lost hope on my team, thrown in the towel, if you may, but to my disbelief with what seems like the cast from the Replacements the Cowboys have rallied to win 5 of the last 6 games**. Tony Romo, the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys — nay — “My Quarterback” has done the unthinkable, WIN in December against the Eagles, Bengals and Steelers.

**[Editors Note:  We have — ON RECORD — that a self-proclaimed Dallas Cowboy fan gave up on his team midway through the season.  You cannot get much more bandwagon-y then that.  AND IT’S ALL ON RECORD!]

There will be a multitude of variables that will undeniably be said as to why the Cowboys have found a new life when all others have discounted them. Was it the terrible incident of Josh Brent (nose tackle) driving home intoxicated with his best friend another cowboys practice squad player Jerry Brown and killing him? Or was it Dez Bryant and Demarcus Ware two highly talented players, each with various injuries (broken finger, bruised elbow, etc) pushing through the pain as to not let their teammates down?  We may never know, but one thing is for certain when the Cowboys take the field against the New Orleans Saints I know what I will be thankful for…besides the well being of my family and friends. Yes, I will be thankful for the Dallas Cowboys instilling hope in me yet again and why not when this world is out to knock you down, people constantly telling you you’re not good enough well to them I say but one thing HOW BOUT DEM COWBOYS.

Alas my fellow readers,

Maor Gaffer Levi

The 49ers Make a Statement + Week 16 Picks

For two and half quarters on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers looked like the best team in the NFL.  For one quarter they looked like every other defense that Tom Brady has carved up in his illustrious career.  And for the final half of the 4th quarter the 49ers did just enough to hang on to defeat the New England Patriots 41-34 in an epic battle to clinch back-to-back playoff appearances for the once storied franchise.

The New England Patriots were arguably the hottest team in the NFL, winning seven straight games, lost for the first time at home in 21 games, and had also won 21 straight in the second half of the season at home.  Snapping all of these ridiculous streaks with a second year quarterback that has started only five games in his career, the 49ers made a statement that the NFC goes through San Francisco.

What we saw on Sunday — in the most entertaining football game of the year — is that neither of these teams will go quietly into the night.  The 49ers came out swinging – the defense was dominant, the offense was explosive, and the 49ers were up 31-3.  The Patriots could’ve packed it in and said good game, but they came storming back with 28 straight points in about a quarter.  Resiliency like this is a sign of a great team.  After tying it up at 31, the 49ers got a great kick return from rookie LaMichael James and on the next play scored a 38 yard touchdown from Colin Kaepernick to Michael Crabtree, a blooming connection in recent weeks.  Both these teams showed that no matter what kind of adversity they will face in the coming weeks and in the playoffs, they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.  This was a Super Bowl Preview.

But it won’t be easy for either team.  New England is now the #3 seed in the AFC and will probably have to face the Denver Broncos in the second round and potentially the Houston Texans in the AFC Championship.  New England will have to win both games on the road if everything holds form.  The 49ers are currently the second seed in the NFC but the Green Bay Packers are breathing down their neck just 1/2 game behind them thanks to the 49ers tie with the St. Louis Rams.  The 49ers also have to travel to Seattle to play a hot Seahawks team in the toughest place to play in the NFL.  A showdown with the Packers in the second round of the playoffs is looming ahead and depending how the season plays out it could very well be in Lambeau Field.

Either way the playoffs that being in a few weeks have some incredible match-ups potentially in the 2nd round and beyond.

Week 16 Picks:

Atlanta Falcons @ Detroit Lions – The Lions were just beatdown by the awful Arizona Cardinals and this week they have to take on the team with the best record in the NFC, after coming off a 34-0 shutout of the defending champs.  It’s pretty simple.

New Orleans Saints @ Dallas Cowboys – We are entering “Tony Romo Destroys His Team in Heartbreaking and Dramatic Fashion” Time, but it is one week too soon.  Cowboys pull out a victory at home against the Saints.

Tennessee Titans @ Green Bay Packers–  The Titans needed Mark Sanchez to be Mark Sanchez just to escape with a victory over the Jets.  I don’t think they will be so lucky against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs – Andrew Luck vs. Brady Quinn.  That’s all that needs to be said.

Buffalo Bills @ Miami Dolphins –

San Diego Chargers @ New York Jets – I think the whole world — now that we are still alive — is thankful that this game was flexed out of primetime.  I don’t think Chargers and Jets fans can take another primetime embarrassment.

Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles – The Redskins are fighting to keep control of the NFC East and are eyeing a showdown next week with the Cowboys.  This is a classic trap game, but the Eagles mailed it in weeks ago.  RGIII and company handle their business.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers – The Bengals and the “Red Rifle” go into Pittsburgh and defeat the Steelers making all Gingers proud.  It really is the end of the world.

St. Louis Rams @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tampa Bay got destroyed last week verse the Saints, but their stout run defense makes Sam Bradford beat them and he can’t.  Bucs win and stay alive.

Oakland Raiders @ Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton has been dominating the past few weeks and is single handedly saving people’s fantasy football teams, but he can’t save his own team.  Thankfully — for him — he’s playing the Raiders.

New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars – I think the Pats are a little angry about last week, Jacksonville I’m sorry.

Minnesotta Vikings @ Houston Texans – The Texans will overload the box to stop the run and dare Christian Ponder to beat them, I like those odds for the Texans.  AP will still go off for a big day.

Cleveland Browns @ Denver Broncos – The Broncos got a gift last week as the 49ers beat the Patriots and ascended the Broncos into the #2 seed with their sites set on a 1st round bye.  The Browns won’t be able to stop Peyton Manning.

Chicago Bears @ Arizona Cardinals – Let’s see…Arizona Cardinals have the worst QB position in the NFL (Sorry Jets) and they are facing a defense that is based on turnovers.  Bears end their losing streak and remain in the playoff picture.

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens – The Giants have been playing awful, they can’t rush the passer and Eli Manning isn’t helping either.  This seems about the time the Giants win every single game for the rest of the season. Ugh.

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks – The 49ers must go into the toughest place to play in the NFL, Seattle, and defeat a team that has scored 50+ points in back-to-back weeks after their defense was on the field for 95 (!) plays last week.  Oh yeah, it doesn’t look like Justin Smith will play either. The Seahawks might be without their top two corners and need to win to stay alive in the NFC West.  This will be a blood bath but I have to go with the team that just beat the Patriots on the road.

– Lance Cartelli

Ryan Pedersen: Chargers Officially Eliminated From the Playoffs; Future Cloudy

This week’s beat down loss to the Carolina Panthers officially put the nail in the coffin for the San Diego Chargers 2012 season as far as any relevancy or respect. The lone highlights of the game, besides former Bolt Mike Tolbert dancing away to two touchdowns, was Antonio Gates touchdown tying Lance Alworth for career touchdowns, a feat well deserved in what was a gloomy afternoon.

Officially the lowest attendance since 2004 at the Q and most of the Charger fans left once it was 21-0 by the end of the 1st quarter. From beginning to the end sad times for sure this season, there was absolutely no energy in the crowd minus a few Panthers fans there.

So where do they go from here? At this rate, it’s time for guys who haven’t shined all year to prove themselves the next two games for free agency. Half or more of this team will be dismantled by seasons end, which includes a new head coach and general manager. Some key questions will include what to do with Ryan “Broken Clavicle King” Mathews and struggling Philip Rivers with his turnstile O-Line. The next two opponents in the Jets and Raiders, along with the Chargers are just fighting for jobs next season. (EDIT: Greg McElroy will start Sunday instead of Mark Sanchez via ESPN every five minutes Tuesday.)

Sad to say, but I expected a 7-9 season back in August for the Chargers but I just couldn’t get excited about this roster and there wasn’t a bonafide star on this team. Things could get worse than 9 losses and right now your looking at the seventh pick in the first round come April.

In years past you the Chargers had Vincent Jackson or LaDainian Tomlinson, something fans can attach to as one of the NFL’s best players, they just need to find that one or more players again.

Game Ball: Antonio Gates- One of the best Tight End’s ever and ties Lance Alworth for TD’s all time. Not bad for the undrafted former college basketball player.

Honorable Mention: Former Chargers: Panthers RB Mike Tolbert shined with 2 TD’s.

Dolt of the game/year: 2012 San Diego Chargers. This season had little expectation, but now the windows have closed and no one has any idea where this franchise is going besides maybe Los Angeles. Is this team just a year fix? Two years? Three? Maybe more?

– Ryan Pedersen

Ryan Pedersen: Steel Alive (Mathematically); Chargers Earn First Win in a Month

No O-line? Yeah, it’s a loss. I’ll just take my 4-9. Haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1995? Okay, I get it. Missing Donald Butler and Atari Bigby? Alright! LEAVE ME ALONE (whow that got heated) you probably had this down as a loss too, huh? So did I. Chargers, for the first time, win a regular season game at Pittsburgh 34-24 as the Steelers stunningly laid flat for Big Ben’s return at Heinz Field.

All week long, the Chargers were in the spotlight with reports from San Diego Union-Tribune Bea Writer Kevin Acee naming unknown sources that Owner Dean Spanos, planned to fire both head coach Norv Turner and General Manager A.J. Smith by seasons end.

I mean how awkward is that? You think you might be fired going into the end of the season and playing a Steeler team looking to build a wild card lead to the playoffs not to mention arguably getting their best player back from injury. Well, why play hard right? It’s over. It’s done. Apparently the Chargers were good at focusing on blocking out those distractions and fan critics and yet again played well for their coach after yet another firing media threat.

Maybe Kevin Acee can be hired by the Bolts to be some sort of fire coordinator? Norv Turner somehow finds a way to win in December and now Charger fans have tightened their seat belts a little tighter. Oh, and I believe Norv Turner got a game ball from Dean Spanos after the game, maybe a early send off Christmas present?

Of course, a loss this weekend to Superman Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (plenty of seats available) will end the playoff chances officially for the Chargers. Pretty much a miracle of 2008 proportions but better on top of winning out would have to happen for the Chargers to make the playoffs. But most important, Norv and A.J. are still leaving.. Right? This win Sunday against Pittsburgh was the best game the Chargers had all year, but just too late, again.

Game Ball: Chargers O-Line (seriously, these guys didn’t even know each others names this week)

Honorable Mention: Chargers Defense: All season they have done their job to keep them in games. Corey Luiget: Playing his tail off still after learning of his Illinois teammate and Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown passing away the day before.

Dolt of the Game: Steelers: You really just let a 4-8 team walk all over you at home?

Charger fans have any “Chill Pills” left for Steeler Nation?

– Ryan Pedersen

Jim Harbaugh on Saved by the Bell! The 11 Reasons Why This is the Greatest Video of the 90s

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We live in the generation of the Internet.  YouTube videos, cat memes, hilarious GIFs, and people complaining about trivial things on Facebook and Twitter #firstworldproblems, while taking selfies of themselves on Instagram.  If you’ve been searching the internet for as long as I have you tend to think you’ve seen it all.  That nothing that ever comes up on Reddit will ever surprise you.  Well, think again, I give you the greatest video ever.  Jim Harbaugh on “Saved by the Bell”…No, not the original “Saved by the Bell” with our favorite characters Zach Morris, AC Slater, Lisa Turtle, Screech, Mr. Belding, and the girl from “Striptease”, but the lesser known but still corny as all hell — “Saved by the Bell: The New Class” that gives us mainstays Screech and Mr. Belding.

The video is embedded below.  Start at 14:59 (unless you want to watch the greatness that is this episode in full) and see the most amazing cameo of cheesy 90s television of ALL-TIME!

  1. [14:59] Jim Harbaugh IS Screech’s Cousin! and Screech even says they look “like twins”.  I don’t know much about Jim other than that I have a huge man crush on him and he’s one of the greatest coaches in the league, but knowing that he is at least in “Saved by the Bell” Family with Screech is like finding out your super hot girlfriend loves watching you play video games and thinks that watching SportsCenter is a good way to spend a Tuesday night. 
  2. [15:24] Jim Harbaughs intro.  He walks into the after-school hangout “The Max”, which makes me incredibly jealous.  Every place I’ve gone to school hasn’t had a super cool hangout like “The Max” where everyone goes to have a burger and a soda.  If this was real life these kids would be in the parking lot of their High School smoking weed or trying to get their older sibling to buy them a six pack of Smirnoff Ice.
  3. [15:26]  Huge applause for Jim Harbaugh (Obviously, even I’m giving him a standing ovation).  The one thing that sticks out to me is that in the almost two years that Harbaugh has been Head Coach of the 49ers he’s worn one thing. Seeing Harbaugh in anything other than his sideline apparel is like seing a cartoon character not wear the same outfit they always wear in every single show.
  4. [15:43] Harbaugh drops the killer line, “Screech is that you?  I couldn’t recognize you over all those muscles”.  An absolute classic and as you can tell from previous commercials, Harbaugh’s comedic timing is immaculate.
  5. [15:56] Harbaugh has heard of this High School football player who looks like Soulja Boy!  This has to be the highlight of this kids life especially after he did his football dance at the 2-yard line.
  6. [16:01] Jim Harbaugh the Coach comes out and boy is it a good look for him.  He eloquently says, “You know, people think I’m a hero because I can throw a football”.  No Jim, YOU ARE a hero because you resurrected Alex Smith’s career and brought this team out of a 9-year depression, but I digress.
  7. [16:32]  Screech has the audacity to pull a “Jim Harbaugh” and slap Jim on the back.  Harbaugh may not have liked it, but he did not break the 4th wall (The Golden Rule of Acting – Someone get this man an Oscar or at least a Daytime Emmy!).
  8. [16:52] Boom! Jim Harbaugh is absolutely killing it.  Two classic lines in one appearance?  He may have missed his calling after weird guy does an awful cheer, Harbaugh says, “Cheerleading sure has changed since my day”.
  9. [18:56] Harbaugh triumphantly returns to save the day, this time wearing a brown blazer.  It’s so dapper, I want to be just like him.
  10. [19:15] Jim brings it home, giving us not only comedy from earlier, but a little bit of emotion to really drive home his message.  “Being a hero isn’t about what you do out there on the field,” he says. “It’s about who you are in here [heart]. It’s about helping your friends, your school and your community.”  I have no doubt in my mind that Jim came up with his own lines, I’m sure he could even make the great speech from “Any Given Sunday” even better. 
  11. [19:55]  I wouldn’t say Jim is a guy that holds grudges, but he definitely forgives but does not forget.  He gives Screech the “Handshake” and slaps him on the back ala San Francisco vs. Detroit.  See Schwartz he does it to everyone, stop overreacting!

I’ve learned so much from this timeless video and I hope you have to.  First off, Jim Harbaugh is a phenomenal actor that not only has comedic timing but really brings his message home.  He also is just an aggressive handshaker and back-patter and that if you ever come in contact with him (May God allow this to happen to every single one of you) just be prepared.  Finally, that no matter how long the Internet lasts — probably until the “Matrix” or “Terminator” happens — it just keeps on giving.

– Lance Cartelli

Ryan Pedersen: Chargers Lose 4th Straight; Bengals Stay Alive

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After the game Sunday Head Coach Norv Turner said the following, “I think there are a lot of guys that are playing about as good as they can play right now.” That about says it all about this season. The A.J. Smith “Duct Tape” job from last year has just rolled over into this season. Now the Chargers (or what some people called them now the San Diego 4th & 29ers) are 4-8 after falling to the Cincinnati Bengals 20-13 with only one win in the last eight weeks. This team and coach don’t know how to win and 4-12 is looking like a strong possibility.

In the final drive of the game the Chargers had two time outs with only less than 20 yards to get into the end zone and they went for the home run on almost every play. That shows that the Chargers have no trust in the run game and luckily, Danario Alexander was there in some places to move this offense. The Chargers just look lost this year and don’t have enough firepower to fight back; once they are pushed they are shoved. The offense is abysmal, defense can only score for you so much and special teams have Chris Carr returning punts, this guy was jobless about a month ago. Judging by the crowd Sunday I think the fair weather will return once they see a new head coach on the Chargers sideline.

Next Sunday, yet another early game for the Bolts as they head to three rivers in Pittsburgh at Heinz Field. San Diego haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 1994 and have never won a regular season game in Pittsburgh. Dean Spanos probably wishes the Rooney’s would move the game to SD then maybe the Steeler nation would give him a sellout.

Game Ball: DeMorrio Williams: His 2nd pick six of the season (Was cut in KC to make room for Javon Belcher). Cory Lynch: Did a decent job filling in for injury prone Atari Bigby.

Honorable Mention: Kansas City Chiefs: To go out there after losing a teammate to murder-suicide the day before a game and win, shows character.

Dolt of the game: Chargers Offense: Two field goals, one TD the last two games. Ryan
Mathews only has one TD this season (nine carries, 24 yards vs CIN). Dirt nap.

– Ryan Pederse

Kyle McCarthy: The Weekend That Was In Sports

Hello, hello everyone! This is Kyle McCarthy here. Lancer has entrusted me with a recap of the last week or so in sports, so here it comes! Let’s go ahead and start with the most recent week in college football!

NCAA Football

I’ll leave the BCS talk alone for just a minute and reflect upon the Conference Championship weekend that just occurred.

In the most exciting game of the weekend, the Alabama Crimson Tide pulled out a close victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. I actually thought this was Georgia’s year to overtake the Tide because of their stud freshmen running backs and very stingy defense. The final score ended up being 32-28 in favor of the Tide; some may do a double-take after reading this score because the SEC is known for their defense. But this was a great game for any type of football fan. Georgia actually had an 11 point lead with 6:31 left in the third quarter, but Alabama has been there before and responded quickly with two touchdowns in a row. The final minute may have been the most exciting, if Georgia had one timeout left they may be the team in the national championship. Aaron Murray had a pass that was tipped and caught by a teammate at the six yard line, and with the first down yards away and no timeouts, all the Bulldogs could do was watch as time expired and the Crimson Tide began their celebration.

In the other Championship games my UCLA Bruins came close but ended up losing to the very good Stanford Cardinals in the Pac 12 Championship game 27-24. Stanford’s victory gives them their first Rose Bowl berth in over 10 years. Their opponent will be the Big 10 Champion Wisconsin Badgers. Although the Badgers have five losses, this will be their third consecutive Rose Bowl appearance representing the Big 10. Kansas State beat the Texas Longhorns to clinch the Big 12 division. Florida State defeated Georgia Tech to clinch the ACC championship. And lastly Northern Illinois University beat Kent State in double OT to clinch the MAC Championship. Some of you may be wondering why I even mentioned Northern Illinois, and here is the reason why…

After defeating Kent State, Northern Illinois jumped high enough in the BCS to earn a spot in the Orange bowl against Florida State. ESPN analysts faces were classic upon the news, and of course twitter blew up as well. I personally root for the underdog in a lot of circumstances, but this is absurd. To say that a team like Northern Illinois deserves a spot in a BCS bowl game over other deserving teams like Georgia, LSU and even Oklahoma is ludicrous (I rarely use that word)! Thank God a college football playoff is in the works because the BCS system is flawed and this is another prime example of it. As I discussed earlier the Rose bowl will be played between the Stanford Cardinals and Wisconsin Badgers. The Florida Gators will play the Louisville Cardinals in the Sugar Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl will feature Kansas State taking on the Oregon Ducks. Keep in mind these were the number one and two ranked teams in the country just a couple weeks ago! And lastly the BCS National Championship game will feature the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish against the second ranked Alabama Crimson Tide for bragging rights as the best team in the nation. Luckily, most (if not all) could agree that these are the two best teams in the nation and deserve the right to do battle for supremacy in college football.

With the upcoming Heisman trophy I thought I would share my top candidates and ultimate prediction for the prestigious trophy. I really feel there isn’t a run-away candidate this year which could make the race much closer than people think. I see this as a three person race. First you have Manti Te’O of Notre Dame. This guy is exciting to watch and very deserving of the award. What helps Manti is that his team is number one in the nation, and regardless of what anyone says, your team’s record does play a big factor in how people vote. As a linebacker Manti has seven interceptions on the year, for a linebacker, or any college player that is incredible! I have seen him play in a few games this year and he just has an instinct for being at the right place at the right time. What works against him is that he is a defensive player. Voters tend to show much more love for offensive players, no defensive player has won the award since Charles Woodson in 1997. The next candidate for the award is Collin Klein, quarterback of the Kansas State Wildcats. Collin had a very strong year. He threw 15 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions, but also added 22 rushing touchdowns to his resume. Having a total of 37 touchdowns definitely means you should be in the conversation for the Heisman. Working against Collin is that he lost against an unranked Baylor team, which ultimately cost his team a shot in the National Title game, and a TD to Interception ratio of just over 2:1. My last candidate is someone that came out of nowhere and is in my opinion, the front runner for the award. Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football as he has been come to be known, had a record-breaking year. Johnny Football totaled over 4600 total yards, breaking the SEC record for total yardage, AS A FRESHMEN!! Not only did he break the past records of other Heisman winners Cam Newton and Tim Tebow, but he did it as A FRESHMEN, in the SEC, and in two fewer games. This guy is exciting as it comes in college football today, and with him under center Texas A&M has a bright future. His Heisman moment had to be when he went into Alabama and beat the Crimson Tide, great game! The only thing working against Johnny here is that he is ironically what makes him so intriguing, HE’S A FRESHMEN! For whatever reason some voters won’t vote for him just because of this. I find this downright stupid, and feel that a person’s tenure ship in college shouldn’t factor into their eligibility for an award. All three great candidates, but here is my prediction of how I would vote, and how I think it will realistically play out…

My Vote: WINNER- Johnny “Football” Manziel, second- Manti Te’O, third- Collin Klein

How it will turn out: WINNER- Johnny “Football” Manziel, second- Collin Klein, third- Manti Te’O

NFL

With the playoffs inching closer and closer, each and every game becomes much more important for each team, here is a re-cap of each game.

Falcons Defeat Saints 23-13: The Falcons defense did enough to stop Drew Brees’ legendary consecutive TD streak at 54. The defense played so well that they also forced Brees into a career high 5 interceptions. This was a big win for the Falcons as they close in on the number 1 seed in the NFC.

Bills Defeat Jaguars 34-18: The Bills win to move to 5-7 on the year and keep their small playoff chances alive. Big day on the ground by Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.

Seahawks Defeat Bears 23-17: It took the Seahawks an OT period to do it, but they got the job done nonetheless. Russell Wilson threw 2 touchdowns and no interceptions to lead the Hawks by the Bears. The loss puts the Seahawks in great position for a wild card berth, while also taking away the division lead the Bears had over the Packers.

Packers Defeat Vikings 23-14: With this win, the Packers are right back where everyone thought they’d be, the top team in their division. Adrian Petersen had a big day on the ground with over 200 yards, but not enough to provide the Vikes with a W.

Colts Defeat Lions 35-33: What a game this was. The legend of the young Andrew Luck continues. Luck threw a game-winning walk-off TD pass to Donnie Avery to win the game and further prove why there was so much hype about him coming into the year. This makes the Colts now 8-4 on the season, who would have predicted this???

Texans Defeat Titans 24-10: The Texans continue to roll and defeated the Titans by a couple touchdowns. The win secured a playoff spot for the Texans.

Chiefs Defeat Panthers 27-21: In a game some didn’t think would be played, the Chiefs, who were the emotional favorite after the murder-suicide of one of their young linebackers, beat the Panthers. Truly a tragic story. Not much to say, but glad that at least for a little while residents of Kansas City were able to think of something other than the tragedy that just occurred.

Patriots Defeat Dolphins 23-16: The Patriots clinch their 4h straight AFC East title with their win over the Dolphins. The Patriots are known for finishing the second half very strong, and they held true to that by keeping with that trend. They will be a force in the AFC playoffs like they have been for years now.

Rams Defeat 49ers 16-13: In one of the more controversial decisions, Jim Harbaugh decided to give the starting nod to second-year QB Colin Kaepernick over their previous starter Alex Smith. I don’t agree with the move because I don’t think someone should lose their starting position to injury. Not only this but Smith led them to nearly a Super Bowl last year and leads the NFL this year with a 70 percent completion percentage. Regardless, these teams tied the last time and nearly did again. The Rams scored their only TD of the game on a fumble/bad pitch by Kaepernick after Janorris Jenkins scooped it up and fell into the end zone. The 49ers had their shot in OT with David Akers but he missed a field goal, then the Rams drove downfield and trusted their rookie kicker Greg “Legatron” Zeurlein, and he delivered.

Jets Defeat Cardinals 7-6: No highlights for this game. Sanchez threw 3 interceptions and was replaced. Only highlight is that TebowTime may be quickly approaching in New York.

Broncos Defeat Buccaneers 31-23: The strong MVP type year for Peyton Manning continues. Manning threw 3 TD’s and this win helped clinch the AFC West for the second year for the Broncos.

Bengals Defeat Chargers 20-13: The Chargers have done it again! They let a 4th quarter lead go and end up losing the game. Just like so many games before, the Chargers let me down. By the time I went to voice my frustration on twitter, “#FireNorv” and “#FireAJ” were already trending. I wish I could say that I was more optimistic coming into the year. But this is what Charger fans have come to expect under leadership by Norv Turner and AJ Smith. I would be embarrassed to have Norv coach another game. IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE!!

Browns Defeat Raiders 20-17: Unless you are a Browns or Raiders fan you probably didn’t watch or care about  this game. Since I am neither, that’s it.

Steelers Defeat Ravens 23-20: In one of the more surprising games of the day, the Steelers went into Baltimore and beat the Ravens without Big Ben, and had their third string QB Charlie Batch play a great game in leading them to the win. A win for the Ravens would have secured a playoff spot. Furthering my point that Joe Flacco IS NOT an elite QB. Regardless of how much Flacco thinks he is.

Cowboys Defeat Eagles 38-33: Romo set the all-time Cowboys TD mark by beating their classic division rival. The Eagles may be the only more disappointing team other than the Chargers and Lions. It appears that Andy Reid’s days are numbered in Philly.

NBA

Not a whole lot to comment on with the NBA right now. Playoffs are too far away and no big trades have happened yet. Here are my rankings of the Top 5 in the league right now!

  1. San Antonio Spurs- Despite putting out a bunch of scrubs on Thursday night against the defending champion Heat, in Miami, they almost won! This just shows how deep and well-coached the Spurs are. They will be a tough out in the playoffs
  2. Memphis Grizzlies- Another deep team in the same division playing very well. The only reason they aren’t number 1 in my rankings is because they just lost to the Spurs on Saturday. Somehow they lost OJ Mayo and appear to be a much better team. Just like the Spurs, the Grizz will be a tough team to beat in the playoffs this year.
  3. Miami Heat- The defending champs have played solid to start the year. They have the best player in the game today and should dominate the Eastern conference just like the last couple years.
  4. Oklahoma City Thunder- They made a big splash to start the season by trading away James Harden when he refused their extension offer. The trade for Kevin Martin is working out well so far and the Thunder have an impressive 14-4 record.
  5. New York Knicks- Rounding out the top 5 are the Knicks. They have been one of the more surprising teams to date. Without their $20 mill/year star Amare Stoudemire they are off to an impressive 12-4 start. They have beaten several good teams and appear to have finally righted the ship in NY. Melo is playing at an MVP level to start the year.

Out of my top 5, and if I did a top 10 they’d be out of my top 10 is my favorite professional team, the Los Angeles Lakers. I don’t think I have ever been more excited for a season to start than this one. The additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash put huge expectations on a team that has a “championship or bust” mentality every year regardless. After 17 games the Lakers hold an 8-9 record. This is a record even though the team has had about two-thirds of their games at home to start the year. This is a record though of a Lakers team without their top two point guards in Steve Nash and Steve Blake who are both out with injuries. The tip of the iceberg came last night when they lost to Dwight’s former team, the Orlando Magic, at home. I couldn’t name more than 3 players on the Magic to be honest. Yet, the Lakers let a bunch of no-namers come in and embarrass Lakers fans. Where do they go from here? Sure the offense will be much more efficient once Nash comes back, but it appears to be their defense which is struggling. Do we trade Pau Gasol? One of the top power forwards in the league and great passer? I’ve been a big Pau critic for a while, because I don’t think he plays to his potential a lot of the time. But the trade rumors I hear for him I don’t think make sense. Josh Smith’s name is talked about a lot, he would be an upgrade defensively, but to play the 4 in D’Antoni’s offense when he doesn’t have a consistent jumpshot, I say no. I think it ultimately is up to D’Antoni and Kobe. They need to get the team to play hard each and every night like it’s the championship. A prime example is last Thursday when the Spurs play the Heat without their starting five (Duncan, Ginobli, Parker and Green sent home, and Leonard is still hurt) and nearly won in Miami. That is a team that regardless of who is on the floor gives you everything they have every single night. Who they play doesn’t matter, and I think the Lakers have a bit of cockiness in several of these games they’ve blown. And it has cost them. Only time will tell, but I think they can turn it around!

– Kyle McCarthy

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