Poignant Observations from a Sports Insider and Fan

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sports Bytes - January 24, 2011

NFL Conference Championships Results

Pittsburgh over New York - The Steelers looked and played like a better-prepared team. New York's offensive line blocked poorly throughout the game, not only failing to generate more than 70 yards rushing, but also nearly getting QB Mark Sanchez killed in the first half when he was blindsided by Ike Taylor. The resulting fumble recovery and TD proved to be the game-winning score. New York's defense missed many tackles in the first half, as evidenced by Pittsburgh's 166 yards rushing, and they provided only a minimal pass rush. Even the Jets' coaching staff appeared out-to-lunch at times, particularly in the fourth quarter when Sanchez could be seen pleading with his sideline to relay the plays more quickly . . . On the other hand, Ben Roethlisberger and his offense clicked from the opening kickoff, covering 92 yards and chewing-up 9:06 on the clock. By halftime the Steelers domination of the line of scrimmage resulted in a substantial 24-3 lead. So dominating were the Steelers that it appeared as if the game would degenerate into a laugher, but instead the Jets showed their character and turned it into a nail-biter for Pittsburgh fans by scoring 19 unanswered points . . .

Green Bay over Chicago - Bears' fans must have felt as if they had been transported back into the 1980s and were being forced to re-live Mike Ditka's dismal QB carousel, which featured such legendary slingers as Doug Flutie, Mike Tomczak, Steve Fuller, etc . . . What else could they think after watching Jay Cutler compile a laughable 31.8 rating after completing just 6 of his 14 passes for 80 yards and an INT? Cutler played so poorly before leaving the game in the third quarter with a knee injury that he was serenaded with boos by his hometown fans . . . Give the Bears' defense credit for keeping their club in the game despite the offenses' poor play, which included three turnovers. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers also played poorly, throwing two INTs while completing 17 of his 30 passes for 244 yards . . . The difference in the game was Green Bay's defense, which held the Bears to only 83 yards rushing and prevented them from converting on third down in 12 of 13 attempts. Green Bay's defense also forced three turnovers, one of which was an interception return for a TD by 337 lb defensive lineman BJ Raji . . .

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Need a PR Specialist? Perhaps my 13 years of PR experience can satisfy those needs. I have publicized world champions such as Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and mega-events like Lewis-Tyson and De la Hoya-Vargas. Contact Donald Tremblay (The Rain Maker) at 718-664-3405 or at dtremblay@earthlink.net. For more info about me visit my
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Sports Bytes - January 21, 2011

NFL Conference Championships Predictions

New York over Pittsburgh - The discipline displayed by the Jets last week was exceptional. They did not commit a turnover and were penalized only three times. Both their offensive and defensive lines controlled the line of scrimmage, and the secondary shut down Brady and his receiving corp. Conversely, Pittsburgh was sloppy in the first half of last week's showdown against the Ravens. They turned the ball over twice and entered the locker room at halftime trailing 21-7. By game's end they had been penalized nine times for nearly 100 yards. It's doubtful the Jets will let Pittsburgh off the hook should Big Ben and company commit the number of miscues they did last week.

I am picking the Jets to win a close game Sunday; however, there is one intangible that does disturb me. I have heard many Jets fans this week proclaim that "last week was our Super Bowl." I don't believe the Jets players feel that way, but I do wonder if they can sustain the intensity that they brought to last week's game. If they can't, Gang Green's season will be over.

Green Bay over Chicago - Although I've grown tired of hearing the "experts" ridiculously praise the Packers' offense as the latest and greatest unstoppable machine, I cannot pick the Bears to win Sunday's game. I am not a fan of Jay Cutler and I don't believe he will put enough points on the board to lead Chicago to the "Big Dance." I expect the Bears defense to keep Aaron Rodgers in check for most of the game, but then for the Packers QB to break out in the final period and end the Bears' season. Green Bay should win by more than a TD . . .

I almost choked on my oatmeal this morning when I read that the Yankees were in serious discussions with Carl Pavano's agent about Pavano returning to NY. Luckily, Pavano re-signed with the Twins . . . What's next, Ed Whitson as pitching coach? . . .

Are the Yanks just spending money for the sake of doing something . . . anything? Yesterday they signed Andruw Jones to a one-year contract reportedly worth $2 million. Great. Just what NY needs, another hitter who hits his weight--Jones batted only .230 last year with the White Sox--and who will be of no use come playoff time when the Yanks need to manufacture runs . . .

I'm willing to bet that the earth below Philadelphia's Citizen Bank Park did not shift when the Mets announced that they had signed Scott Hairston (.210 BA last season) and Chris Young (pitched only four games last season because of injury) . . .

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Need a PR Specialist? Perhaps my 13 years of PR experience can satisfy those needs. I have publicized world champions such as Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and mega-events like Lewis-Tyson and De la Hoya-Vargas. Contact Donald Tremblay (The Rain Maker) at 718-664-3405 or at dtremblay@earthlink.net. For more info about me visit my
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Sports Bytes - January 17, 2011

NFL Divisional Playoff Results

Two great games; two terrible ones. On to the Conference Championships

New York over New England (28-21): Wow. Without a doubt the most-disciplined and most-professional game I have ever seen the Jets play. Their defense was exceptional, sacking Brady five times and forcing him to throw his first INT in his last 335 attempts. Brady finished the day with 16 incompletions and a dismal 89 rating. On offense Mark Sanchez sizzled, tossing three TDs for 194 yards without turning the ball over. WR Jerome Cotchery caught five passes for 96 yards, while RBs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for a combined 119 yards and a TD. It was an incredibly proficient upset worthy of the praise they will now receive. Here are a few other thoughts about the game:

  • As a Giants fan the last thing you'll normally see me do is cheer for the Jets, but after listening to the "experts" dismiss the Jets as not worthy of the Pats, even I found myself wanting Rex Ryan and his crew to rub their naysayers' noses in it. For ex., at halftime with the Jets ahead 14-3, CBS studio analyst Boomer Esiason was so busy trying to convince viewers that we would see a different Tom Brady in the second half that he completely ignored how dominating the Jets were in the first half and never even considered that they were capable of continuing their superior play. It was as if Esiason found it inconceivable that he could be wrong . . .
  • Shannon Sharpe usually annoys me during his NFL Today monologues. He's generally unfunny. He 's often unintelligible because he speaks too quickly. And he inundates viewers with street slang and sports jargon. Nevertheless, that being said, I must admit that he did make me laugh at halftime of the Jets-Pats game when he likened Seahawks DB Lawyer Milloy's useless pursuit of Bears tight end Greg Olsen to What's Happening's Rerun haplessly running after a fruit truck during the sitcom's ending credits . . .
  • I guess Bill Belichick never read King Lear. If he had he would have learned that "Pride Goeth Before a Fall." For what other reason than pride did Belichick forego a 51-yard field goal and instead attempt a 4th-and-13 with his team trailing by 10 points (21-11) and only 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter? Instead of attempting the kick and possibly cutting the Pats deficit to one score, Belichick tried to "show-up" the Jets and prove that he had little fear of losing the game. How'd that work out for you, Bill? . . .

Pittsburgh over Baltimore (31-24): Do you get the feeling that if Ben Roethlisberger were competing against the Ravens at darts, figure skating, or even mountain climbing that he would always find a way to win? Despite jumping out to a 21-7 halftime lead Baltimore was still unable to defeat their arch-enemy Big Ben (226 yards and 2 TDs). Joe Flacco threw for a dismal 125 yards passing while his offense turned the ball over three times and two of his premier wide receivers--Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh-dropped game-changing passes. The Steelers, on the other hand, received big contributions from numerous players besides Roethlisberger. Rashard Mendenhall rushed for two TDs, while WR Antonio Brown compiled 75 yards receiving--58 yards of which came on a David Tyree-like catch with under three minutes remaining in the game. Brown caught the pass against his helmet before running out of bounds at the Ravens four yard line. Several plays later the Steelers scored the game-winning TD to go ahead 31-24 . . . Why is the Pittsburgh Steelers organization possibly the best franchise in football? Because it doesn't seem to matter who the players or coaches are. No matter who the organization plugs into its system, the personnel succeed and keep the team among the league's elites nearly every season. It is truly impressive . . .

Green Bay over Atlanta (48-21): "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Evidently Falcons def coordinator Brian Van Gorder doesn't agree with Benjamin Franklin's assessment; otherwise, why would he continue to rush Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers with only three defenders despite his secondary's inability to shut-down the Packers' passing attack? You would think that after Rodgers' first dozen completions Van Gorder would have changed tactics and blitzed the Packers' QB with everyone on Atlanta's roster. But instead Van Gorder continued to drop eight men into zone coverage and watch Rodgers inflict more damage on Atlanta than General Sherman did on his "March to the Sea" during the Civil War. Rodgers completed 31 of 36 passed for 366 yards and three TDs. According to ESPN, "Rogers' had the second-highest completion percentage in a 300-yard passing game in NFL postseason history." It was a pathetic coaching job by Van Gorder. But let's not only blame the Falcons defense for this embarrassment because the offense was just as, well, offensive:

  • The Falcons turned the ball over four times. QB Matt Ryan was responsible for two of those turnovers, one of which was an INT late in the first half that was returned by DB Tramon Williams for a 70 yard TD. Ryan was sacked five times and was limited to only 186 yards passing. RB Michael Turner, the NFC's leading rusher during the regular season, was held to just 10 rushes for 39 yards . . .
  • The Packers ran 21 more plays than did the Falcons (69-48), and they outgained Atlanta in total yardage 442-194 . . .
  • The sole highlight of the game for Atlanta was Eric Weems' 102-yard kickoff return TD in the second quarter . . .

Chicago over Seattle (35-24): Now those are the Seattle Seahawks we were expecting. Bears QB Jay Cutler scored four TDs (two passing and two rushing), and by the third-quarter Chicago was leading 28-0. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck responded with three TDs of his own, but it was too little, too late. Chicago outrushed Seattle 176 yards to 34 yards, and they also outgained the Seahawks in total yardage 437-276. The final score may say it was only an 11 point Chicago victory, but the game wasn't that close. The Bears dominated from the opening drive . . .

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Need a PR Specialist? Perhaps my 13 years of PR experience can satisfy those needs. I have publicized world champions such as Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and mega-events like Lewis-Tyson and De la Hoya-Vargas. Contact Donald Tremblay (The Rain Maker) at 718-664-3405 or at dtremblay@earthlink.net. For more info about me visit my
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Sports Bytes - January 14, 2011

NFL Divisional Playoff Predictions

Fierce rivalries in the AFC; some new and unexpected faces in the NFC

New England over New York: It's difficult to imagine the Pats losing at home to their hated-rivals the Jets. MVP-favorite Tom Brady and his offense scored 518 points this season and led the NFL in points scored per game (32.4). New England only turned the ball over 10 times during the regular season and finished with a +28 turnover differential. To limit New England's explosive offense, the Jets will need a pass rush-the Achilles Heel of the Jets defense--and they will need to tackle well to limit Wes Welker and Deion Branch from piling-on yards after the catch. On the other side of the ball, although the Patriots defense ranked 8th in points allowed, they also ranked a dismal 25th in yards allowed per game (366.5). The Jets will need to capitalize on the Pats "bend but not break" defense by controlling the clock and keeping the "Marlboro Man" off the field. If Mark Sanchez and company do this, they can win. However, I don't see it. The Jets are a solid club, but it appears they will need to play an almost perfect game to emerge victorious . . .

Pittsburgh over Baltimore: Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger has had Baltimore's number recently, and there's no reason to believe it will be any different on Saturday--especially since Pittsburgh's Heinz Field is hosting the showdown. When Roethlisberger has played the Steelers have won the last six meetings between the two AFC North rivals. Twice the Steelers have bounced the Ravens from the playoffs. Ravens QB Joe Flacco is inconsistent and has turned the ball over in big games, such as in Week 13 when safety Troy Polamalu stripped him of the football with under four minutes remaining in the game. Roethlisberger converted the turnover into a game-winning nine-yard TD pass to Isaac Redman. Expect a game dominated by strong defense and punishing hits. This is the most brutal rivalry in the sport and the number of players who will be helped off the field will attest to it. Or as Steelers DL Chris Hoke stated, " "The team that wins this game is going to be the most violent team, the team that is most physical" . . .

Atlanta over Green Bay: Yes, I am picking the Falcons to win, but I could just as easily have picked the Packers. Both teams' defenses are among the league's best at keeping their opponents off the scoreboard (Packers-2nd in NFL at 15 points surrendered per game; Falcons-5th in NFL at 18 points surrendered per game). Both offenses can score points (Falcons-5th in NFL in points scored per game at 25.9; Packers-10th in NFL in points scored per game at 24.2). So why am I selecting Atlanta? First, because they are playing at home. Second, because they don't sabotage themselves with mistakes. They produced the third-fewest turnovers of any team in the league this season, and they were also the league's least penalized team. Finally, I favor Atlanta because of the number of miscues Green Bay committed in last week's victory over Philadelphia. Dropped passes on offense; busted coverages on defense that nearly allowed Philadelphia to mount an incredible fourth-quarter comeback. A better team would have capitalized on Green Bay's errors and sent them home . . .

Chicago over Seattle: I came very close to picking Seattle this week. I still believe the Bears may be the most overrated team that qualified for the postseason, and after the Seahawks inspiring victory over the Saints last week it is not inconceivable that they could send Chicago packing as well. Jay Cutler is more than capable of tossing a few interceptions, especially when faced with a potent pass rush, such as the one responsible for sacking him six times when Seattle defeated Chicago in Week 6. So if I have these criticisms of the Bears, why am I picking them to win? First because of the weather. I expect the Seahawks offense to stall in the cold. Seattle may have run well last week against a Saints defense that ranked 16th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (112.3), but don't expect the same success on Sunday when they face the Bears' 2nd ranked rushing defense in the NFL (90.1 yards allowed per game). Expect the lack of a Seattle running game to force Pete Carroll to rely on Matt Hassellback's arm, which will result in several key INTs . . .

Congrats to John Fox who was named the Denver Broncos head coach . . .

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Need a PR Specialist? Perhaps my 13 years of PR experience can satisfy those needs. I have publicized world champions such as Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and mega-events like Lewis-Tyson and De la Hoya-Vargas. Contact Donald Tremblay (The Rain Maker) at 718-664-3405 or at dtremblay@earthlink.net. For more info about me visit my
LinkedIn Profile.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sports Bytes - January 10, 2011

NFL Wildcard Week Results

A mixed bag this weekend. I lost both Saturday games, but won both Sunday games.

Seattle over New Orleans - Wow. I knew the Saints had flaws, but I never saw this coming. Seattle QB Matt Hasselback throws four TDs; RB Marshawn Lynch rushes for 131 yards and seals Seattle's upset victory with perhaps the greatest single run in NFL postseason history; and tight end John Carlson--who scored only one touchdown the entire regular season--hauls in two TDs. Truly amazing . . . New Orleans' defense deserves a flogging after Saturday's Pop Warner-quality performance, surrendering 415 total yards to a team ranked 19th in the NFL in passing yards and 31st in rushing yards. The height of its ineptitude is best symbolized by Marshawn Lynch's highlight-reel, 67-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter that put the final dagger in New Orleans season. At least six--and arguably as many as nine--Saints defenders should have wrapped-up Lynch, but instead simply frisked him as he rumbled downfield. "Who Dat?" No. It's more like "Who Didn't?"--as in who didn't tackle Lynch . . . Lynch's stiff-arm of Tracy Porter was hands-down the greatest stiff-arm I have ever seen on any level of football . . .

New York over Indianapolis - Great win for the Jets. New York's defensive schemes force Peyton Manning to play conservatively, and its excellent open-field tackling limits the Colts "yards after the catch". LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene combine for an effective 152 yards rushing and two TDs, and Mark Sanchez completes several important passes on the team's game-winning drive . . . Two plays decided the game in my view:

  • With only :59 left in the game Jets kick-returner Antonio Cromartie returns the kickoff 47 yards to put New York near midfield to start its final drive. Because of the tremendous return, instead of needing 50 yards to move into Folk's range, which is about what the Jets would have needed had they started from their own 20-yard line, they only need 20 yards to reach that same goal.
  • With only :29 remaining in the game and the Jets facing a 2nd-and-8 from the Colts 32-yard line, Colts head coach Jim Caldwell inexplicably calls a timeout. If Caldwell instead allows the clock to run, the Jets would have been forced to stop the clock by either spiking the ball or using their last timeout. Spiking the ball would have left NY with a 3rd-and-8 and would have moved the Colts to within one play of forcing the field goal. At that point Nick Folk would have had to kick a much more difficult 49-yarder instead of his eventual 32-yarder. If instead of spiking the ball the Jets decide to use their final timeout, they successfully stop the clock and can still even run another play or two. However, because they are then out of timeouts they cannot risk getting tackled inbounds, so their play selection is limited which helps the Colts defense. By Caldwell calling the timeout when he did, he not only gave Sanchez time to consult with Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer, he also allowed NY to salvage their final timeout, making a tackle inbounds irrelevant. It was a rookie mistake made by a man who is not a rookie coach . . .

Baltimore over Kansas City - The Raiders would have better represented the AFC West than did the Kansas City Chiefs. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel threw three INTs, was sacked three times, and threw for a paltry 70 yards. RB Jamaal Charles rushed for 82 yards (41 of which came on his TD run) but he also fumbled once and was stopped on a 4th-and-1 in the third quarter . . . Kansas City's loss was its seventh-straight playoff loss . . . Ravens QB Joe Flacco fumbled once, but also threw for 265 yards and two TDs. Tight end Todd Heap had a career day, catching 10 passes for 108 yards . . . Next up: Baltimore versus Pittsburgh. This rivalry is so sadistic that I don't know whether to smile or cringe when thinking about next week's showdown . . .

Green Bay over Philadelphia - The Eagles are like sciatic nerve pain: they never go away. Just when it looked as if Green Bay might pull-away in the third quarter after an 11-play, 80 yard TD drive that chewed-up over 6:00 minutes and increased the Packers lead to 11 points, the Eagles stormed back in the fourth quarter and moved to within 27 yards of mounting another astonishing comeback. QB Michael Vick had a good game, but not a great one. He threw a TD pass and tallied 292 yards through the air; however, he only rushed for 33 yards; was sacked three times and bounced off the turf several other times; and with :33 remaining in the game he tossed the interception that ended the Eagles season. (In fairness to Vick, Eagles receivers did drop five of his passes.) K David Akers, one of the game's best, blew two makeable field goals (41 yards and 34 yards) that proved to be the difference in the game . . . Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was solid with 18 completions for 180 yards and three TDs; however, his third-quarter fumble was converted into a TD by Philadelphia. RB James Starks had a breakout game, rushing for 123 yards on 23 carries . . . Green Bay should have entered the locker room at halftime ahead by more than 14-3, however WR James Jones dropped a perfectly thrown pass from Rodgers that probably would have resulted in a 63-yard TD . . .

Christina-Taylor Green, the nine-year-old girl murdered by the gunman who opened fire at Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords event in Arizona, was the granddaughter of former major league pitcher and manager Dallas Green. Green managed the Philadelphia Phillies to their first-ever World Series Championship in 1980. Our condolences go out to Dallas and his family . . .

The list of finalists for the NFL Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 is pretty impressive:

  • Marshall Faulk
  • Jerome Bettis
  • Deion Sanders
  • Curtis Martin
  • Andre Reed
  • Chris Carter
  • Tim Brown
  • Dermontti Dawson
  • Richard Dent
  • Charles Haley
  • Chris Dolema
  • Cortez Kennedy
  • Shannon Sharpe

Oh, and NFL Films' Ed Sabol is also up for induction . . . He gets my vote . . .

Honestly. The "Fight Hunger Bowl"? Are you kidding me? . . .

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Need a PR Specialist? Perhaps my 13 years of PR experience can satisfy those needs. I have publicized world champions such as Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield, and mega-events like Lewis-Tyson and De la Hoya-Vargas. Contact Donald Tremblay (The Rain Maker) at 718-664-3405 or at dtremblay@earthlink.net. For more info about me visit my
LinkedIn Profile.