The Learning Curve ….

By Tophatal

There seems to be a disconnect in the world of sports at present with so many stories now ongoing. The NFL provided fans with its usual litany of events which have blotted the horizon. Off the field, the saga of Adrian Peterson has taken center-stage.The league hierarchy has seen fit to pursue the Minnesota Vikings’ running back and his refusal to meet with the league to discuss their ongoing issues as to what they believe fitting a punishment. Adrian Peterson plead his case within the legal system in the state of Texas, where Peterson and the District Attorney’s Office agreed to a plea deal. The running back has already sat out nine of the Vikings’ ten games this season , leading to their miserable standing within the NFC Northand conference.

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Coming off a road loss to the Chicago Bears,dropped the Minnesota Vikings to a 4-6 recordwithin their division, with little to suggest Mike Zimmer and his coaching staff have any idea how to take theteam out of their present rut. The league’s handling of the Peterson saga has left many wondering how Roger Goodell’s inconsistency in dealing with player misconduct can be so incomprehensible. This whole saga along with the Ray Rice episode casts a dark image over the NFL and the league’s continuous misguidance and the statements now coming from their head office. Rice is in the midst of an arbitration hearing where he seeks his reinstatement back into the league may well be the last straw for the commissioner, as he seeks to resurrect his own standing among the fans. Goodell is still backed by the team owners, but one more misstep by the commissioner could lead to calls for his ouster by at least one senior franchise owner , if they feel the NFL’s image has been dragged further into the dust.

The Vikings’ fate now lies in their own hands with their being no sign of an imminent return of their Pro Bowl running back , well at least not by week twelve of the NFL season. In their upcoming game the Minnesota Vikings will play host to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has been on a blistering pace this season as he and his teammates seek to sow up the NFC North with a number of the leading competitors suddenly falling by the wayside. Green Bay for its part , took care of the Philadelphia Eagles with a robust 53-20 victory , inflicting the Eagles with their biggest loss of the season. Somehow , I get the feeling Chip Kelly and his team have yet to learn the meaning of the word defense , let alone playing conservative football. The “gung-ho” attitude seems to be prevalent with the Eagles.

Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles will certainly get their chance to hop back into the saddle when they face a disappointing Tennessee Titans’ team in week twelve of a home game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on the 23rd November, 2014,. With Nick Foles currently sidelined due to injury Mark Sanchez will continue in the role as the team’s starting quarterback.

The Oakland Raiders’ (0-10) season continues to no avail with the team on a ten-game losing streak, showing no signs of life as the season has progressed. Raiders’ head coach Tony Sparano could very well in the throes of his last gasp of coaching the franchise, with team owner Mark Davis and GM Reggie McKenzie likely to make the decision to fire their head coach at the end of the season. The futility shown by the team has been comparable to the Detroit Lions’ season of 2008 when during their sixteen-game schedule, the Lions failed to win a game.If there is fault to be apportioned , concerning the ineptitude of the Raiders , then it rests squarely on the shoulders of both Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis , as they have repeatedly squandered the opportunities offered to make this franchise competitive. It is hard to believe the last time the Oakland Raiders won a divisional title , the AFC West or made the postseason came in 2002, the year in which they also won the AFC championship , only to then lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Superbowl. In the aftermath of the postseason appearance, things have steadily gone downhill for the franchise, with their fans simply reliving the past of a bygone era of the Raiders.

It is difficult to suggest there are any bright spots to be found on this current Raiders’ roster. Quarterback Derek Carr has struggled to maintain a presence for the team. Defensively , the Oakland Raiders find themselves in a familiar position and with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver struggling to get this secondary going it has become abundantly clear to understand the many reasons why the Raiders have been so inept, without also pointing an accusing finger at Tony Sparano and offensive coordinator Greg Olson .

Darren McFadden , Maurice Jones-Drew, Andre Holmes , Denarius Moore , Sio Moore , Khalil Mack and the veteran Charles Woodson have floundered for the Raiders over the course of this season. When the Raiders play host to the Kansas City Chiefs at the O.Coliseum in a Thursday night game , there will be a great deal riding on the contest. Oakland will be seeking to gain their first win of the season, while Andy Reid and the Chiefs will be looking to get a leg up on the Denver Broncos , as these two teams fight it out for divisional supremacy within the AFC West. I would dare say, the San Diego Chargers (6-4) have no wish to be left out of the equation, as they remain a game behind both the Broncos and Chiefs for the divisional lead.

The Arizona Cardinals (9-1) keep on winning even with the sidelined Carson Palmer not being able to contribute a great deal to the team’s success this season. Head coach Bruce Arians, I believe is a justified front-runner to win the NFL Coach of the Year Award , but a great deal may well be predicated upon whether or not he can lead this team to their first divisional title(NFC West) since 2009 . You can either make the assumption the Cardinals are doing it all with “smoking mirrors” or state the San Francisco 49ers (6-4) and Seattle Seahawks(6-4) have been very inconsistent. The fact of the matter remains neither 49ers or the Seahawks have been able to match the consistency of the divisional rival , all season long.

Inasmuch, as the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks were dominant last season within the NFC West and the NFC as a whole, this season , both teams have played “second fiddle ” to the upstart Cardinals, who are a mere two gamesaway from clinching themselves a postseason berth within the conference. Peter Carroll and Jim Harbaugh can only hope Arizona slips up over the remainder of their schedule , allowing either of their teams an entrance into the postseason. Arizona will hope to inch closer to that goal when they play the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field on Sunday afternoon in one of the best games scheduled during week twelve of this season.

Nothing in life is ever deemed to be fair, unless you happen to be privileged, by way of social status and wealth. The same might be said of the NFL seedings as the postseason beckons. Unfortunately, the league hierarchy under NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has never seen fit to revamp the system in order to allow teams with a better record than a divisional winner to be given a higher seeding. Looking at the prospect likely to unfold within the NFC South and we could very well see a team with a sub .500 record make their way into the postseason and at the same time deny another franchise a higher ranking (seeding) a berth. Granted, the wildcard entrants allows the the next four teams below the top two seeds within a conference , their chance of advancing further . I cannot help but wonder, how a number of these teams are likely to feel, should a 7-9 or 8-8 team from within the NFC South make it to the playoffs ! To say the the quality of football seen within the division where the Atlanta Falcons (4-6), Carolina Panthers (3-7), New Orleans Saints(4-6) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) reside gives credence to the fact the NFL is urgently in need of a dearth of talent as well as several really good head coaches would be an understatement. All four teams do not possess a winning record and for head coaches, Mike Smith , Ron Rivera , Sean Payton and Lovie Smith , this might be the worst season of their collective careers as a head coaches within the NFL .

The Buccaneers coming off their second win on the season , defeating the lowly Washington Redskins embodied the sheer ineptitude seen all season long within the NFC South. Perhaps, the lone bright spot on the Buccaneers’ season has been the play of their rookie wide receiverMike Evans who provided a scintillating display of speed and maturity beyond his years. How the Buccaneers go about resurrecting their season will be determined by the mindset instilled into the team by head coach Lovie Smith.

Smith will take the Buccaneers on the road to Soldier Field in Chicago , Illinois to face his former team the Chicago Bears whose season now seems to be spiraling out of control , with quarterback Jay Cutler being harangued from all quarters for his lack of leadership and dire performances this season. Marc Trestman might now be emerging as one of the leading candidates among the coaches whose heads are likely to be on the ” chopping block”. Trestman and GM Phil Emery could very well be on the outs once this season is over. Lovie Smith was fired in his last season with the Bears , having narrowly missed the postseason in 2012. A winning record (10-6) that year seemed to be lost on the Bears’ front office and the admirable effort made by Lovie Smith and his coaching staff that season. All signs now seem to be point to the fact the Chicago Bears may well seek to trade Jay Cutler rather than retain his services . His tenure with the Bears has seen more lows than highs and it must be said his contract with the team has not proven to be a prudent investment.

There is no denying Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Synder has continued swinging for the fences , making audacious moves either via free agency or through the NFL Draft. Having acquired both Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins in the now heralded quarterback class of 2012. Things now seem to have taken a turn for the worst with neither Griffin or Cousins being able to perform adequately for the team this season. Injuries asides, with both quarterbacks having been sidelined at some point during their schedule. Jay Gruden’s faith in third string quarterback Colt McCoy was short-lived in spite of the player leading the Redskins to two of their three victories on the season. Neither side of the Washington Redskins’ offense seems to be clicking . On the wrong side of a lopsided defeat suffered at the hands of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, has embodied the Redskins’ season and justifiably shows why they remain at the bottom of the NFC East.

Washington will head West to face the San Francisco 49ers and Colin Kaepernick, as the host team looks to keep abreast with the Seattle Seahaws while still trailing the Arizona Cardinals by three games within the NFC West. This particular division was orginally viewed as a two-horse race between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks but this season along come the Cardinals to upset the applecart and turn everyone’s world upside down . There is a reality beginning to set in, either the Seahawks or Forty Niners could quite possibly miss the postseason if things continue as they are. In a recent discussion with an acquaintance , he made the statement that he felt San Francisco were still capable of notching double-digit wins and still make the postseason . Given the inconsistency shown by the team , their possible failure in missing the NFL’s end of season showcase spectacle, could come back to to haunt Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff.

Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seawhawks are the defending Superbowl champions and their quest to make a successful defense of their title doesn’t yet appear to be in jeopardy , but there has to be a cause for concern for a team which has been sporadic with their performances over the course of the season. Russell Wilson has continued with his progress and now seems to be on his way to joining the elite players at the position within the NFL . Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington will be the ” place to be” as the red hot ticket game of the day on Sunday when the Seahawks host the Arizona Cardinals and it will be interesting to see how opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Drew Stanton will fare in this highly anticipated contest with their being so much at stake for both teams.

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Picture gallery.

With the NFL season almost three-quarters of the way through its schedule, what do you feel has been the most disappointing event to have taken place during the year ? Also , which teams are likely to make a spirited push to gain a postseason berth as the schedule now becomes more suspenseful for the fans and the franchises with so much at stake ? It has been a learning experience not only for the rookie head coaches in the NFL this season but also for the rookies and sophomore players seeking to make their presence felt in the league. Simply chime in with your comments on this and anything else you believe relevant to this article and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has always been appreciated !

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Picture and slideshow gallery below.
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(1) Minnesota Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson pictured here , has been reportedly suspended without pay for the rest of the season as the league hierarchy continues with their own investigation and possible further disciplinary action against the player for conduct detrimental to the league. Peterson reached a plea agreement with the State Attorney’s Office in Texas, after his being charged with child abuse . It was not the first time the player had been investigated for such an action. However, this latest incident was the first , in which law enforcement and Texas Dept of Child Welfare saw fit to file charges against Peterson . The league’s handling of this matter has come in for a great deal of criticism , with much of it being leveled at Commissioner Roger Goodell . Getty Images / Hugh Parker …

(2) Matt Forte (22) of the Chicago Bears runs past Sharrif Floyd (73) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Bears defeated the Minnesota Vikings 21-13. Getty Images/ David Banks …

(3) Jay Cutler (6) of the Chicago Bears tries to score on a run but is stopped by Xavier Rhodes (29) of the Minnesota Vikings during the third quarter on November 16, 2014 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. Speculation has began mounting the Bears will seek to trade the quarterback after a troubled season with the franchise. GM Phil Emery has not issued a public statement on the matter but there appears to be mounting speculation a trade is likely . Cutler is still owed $16.5 million of his original $126.7 million deal signed in 2012 of which $54 million was guaranteed . Getty Images /David Banks …

(4) In the foreground Oakland Raiders interim head coach Tony Sparano and the team’s GM Reggie McKenzie . The Raiders are off to a dismal start this season , having gone win-less and they are now 0-10 , still seeking their first victory of the season . McKenzie and team owner , Mark Davis recently traveled to San Antonio to visit with local politicians , with a view to gauging their interest in having the franchise relocate to the city . No details were imparted by the franchise and the NFL have not made their thoughts known on the issue , where league approval would be sought before such a move could take place. AP Photo/ Philip Davis …

(5) Arizona Cardinals’ quarterback Drew Stanton (5) attempts a pass during a game against the St Louis Rams . With Carson Palmer still sidelined, Stanton has been inserted into the lineup stepping up from his backup role on the roster . The Cardinals have the best record (9-1) in the NFC and the league overall. Arizona seeks to upset the apple cart by dethroning the Seattle Seahawks the NFC West champions for this season . AP Photo / Matthew Osgood ….

(6) Washington Redskins’ quarterbacks Robert Griffin III(10) , Kirk Cousins (8) and Colt McCoy (16) . McCoy has accounted for two of the team’s three wins this season, but for some apparent reason Jay Gruden does not appear to have any implicit faith in the third-string quarterback . This off-season there is likely to be a major upheaval of the playing roster with a number of players being traded or simply waived . GM Bruce Allen and Gruden will be left to make the decisions but there is likely to be a great deal of input from team owner , Dan Snyder . Getty Images / Matthew Robbins .. .

(7) A.J. Green (18) of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass as Rafael Bush (25) of the New Orleans Saints defends during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Cincinnati defeated the Saints 27-10 in the contest . Getty Images / Kevin C Cox …

(8) Drew Brees (9) of the New Orleans Saints calls an audible during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 16, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Getty Images / Kevin C Cox

(9) Wide receiver Mike Evans (13) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is tackled by corner-back Bashaud Breeland (26) of the Washington Redskins late in the third quarter at FedExField on November 16, 2014 in Landover, Maryland. The Buccaneers beat the Redskins 27-7 in a lopsided game . Getty Images / Patrick McDermott ….

(10) Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers meets his opposite number Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks center-field after a game between the two teams. This season both the Forty-Niners and Seahawks are having to play catch-up to the Arizona Cardinals who lead the NFC West by a three-game margin heading into week twelve of the NFL season. AP Photo / Mark Harris

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tophatal … 11/17/2014

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Where’s the soap ?

The 0-10 Raiders have been the butt of so many jokes this season , but here’s a butt and two boobs , I for one am not laughing at ! Round and juicy , and pleasing to the eye.