Tit for tat …

With the weekend results now in within the NFL the constant there appears to be with regard to the postseason , has been the fact any showdown between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady will draw the nation to their television sets.

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Granted, when the New England Patriots play as the guests of the Denver Broncos , this game will be the marquee match-up of the conference championship games being played next weekend. Regular season and postseason meeting between these two prolific quarterbacks have become drama and a thrill ride ever since these two players entered the league. It would not be remiss to suggest the NFC championship game between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers will be taking a backseat to the AFC championship game. There Carson Palmer will seeking to create an upset with the elimination of the Panthers, but I believe with the season had by Cam Newton we are likely to see Newton and the Panthers make their first appearance in the Superbowl !

Back to the AFC contest and the expectations for Broncos’ head coach Gary Kubiak , his coaching staff and in particular Peyton Manning. Kubiak succeeded John Fox and now having taken the team to the brink of another Superbowl appearance , the thought has to be ,can Manning guide the team to another Superbowl victory, which would be the second of his illustrious career ? As the Denver Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlem seeks to overcome his medical issues the debilitating illness of early onsets of dementia , it has to be said beyond the drama off the field , there will be a great deal of drama on the field when this game kicks off.

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(1) Tom Brady (12) of the New England Patriots has another postseason meeting with Peyton Manning (18) when the two teams meet in the AFC championship game this upcoming weekend. Brady has met Manning on several occasions during the postseason and regular season with a favorable record overall. AP Photo/ Matt Wilson

 

An exceptional season for the Carolina Panthers coming within earshot of only the second unbeaten season in NFL history , since the inception of the sixteen-game regular season schedule. The Panthers’ lone defeat came at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons , where Panther’ head coach Ron Rivera rested several of his starters during the waning during the second half of the game , leading to their 15-1 record . It was perhaps in the Panthers’ best interest to have lost the game and concentrate on the ultimate goal of the postseason and a Superbowl victory. Getting past the Arizona Cardinals will prove to be a tough task, but not an impossible one for the best team in the NFL. It is a game where the two opposing head coaches Bruce Arians and Ron River a will have show all of their acumen , once this contest gets a full head of steam.

With the recent announcement by wide receiver Reggie Wayne , it is intent to retire from the NFL , this Hall of Fame bound player steps away from the game and he has to be recognized as one of the best players of his era at the wide receivers’ position. His career stats place him in the upper echelons of his contemporaries, as well as his peers . His relationship with former teammate Peyton Manning is well-respected by both players and among their contemporaries. Wayne was unable to find a permanent team during this past season and now with his career having wound down , there is no need for him to assess where he ranks among his peers.

If one of Reggie Wayne’s contemporaries Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions has seriously mulled retirement , then one has to consider his position and the fact his talents have been wasted with the Lions over the past five years. The struggles of the franchise have been well-chronicled and the brunt of this malaise has to borne out by Ford family as the owners of the Lions and the clear ineptitude shown by the front office as well as the list of head coaches to have held the position over the last decade. Who can forget their 0-16 season, where the team at the time , from week to week sank to new levels of ineptitude. .

I have long been a admirer of Calvin Johnson and his retiring from the game I would have to say , would come as a complete surprise ! Johnson’s angst is understandable , where another season of incompetence was there for everyone to see with the team’s failure this season in the NFC North and the lack of real progress seen with Matt Stafford. I believe Stafford to be overrated , with his continued failings there for everyone to see ! Calvin Johnson is not due to become a free agent until 2020 , but with the continued disillusion of the wide receiver there might well be a chance the front office might well relent and possibly trade the player , knowing they would be able to obtain a slew of players in return. It remains to be seen if GM Bob Quinn would believe such a deal to be in the Lions’ best interests. For the moment Jim Caldwell’s job appears to be safe as the head coach of the team and there is no apprehension on my part in believing another year of this team failing to make the postseason and Caldwell would be relieved of his position. For the moment Jim Caldwell’s job appears to be safe as the head coach of the team and there is no apprehension on my part in believing another year of this team failing to make the postseason and Caldwell would be relieved of his position !

Eight wins in two seasons and Lovie Smith’s coaching career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tenure with the franchise came to an abrupt end, after the decision was made to fire the head coach. Needless to say, the finger-pointing began with blames being apportioned right across the board. Idiotic praised, was heaped upon the shoulders of the team’s top , draft choice and the number one overall pick from this past season’s draft as Jameis Winston’s rookie season was an inauspicious one . A 6-10 season summed up the incompetence seen , even if Winston threw for over 3,000 yards and had a five-touchdown performance game for the Buccaneers . The only player on the team to have truly made an impact was running back Doug Martin who amassed over 1.200 rushing yards to finish among the top-ten rushers in the league for this past season..

Lovie Smith’s firing has led to the promotion of offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter , who in his formal acceptance of the position stated , he would seek to improve the Buccaneers’ performance of the franchise . I believe it will be a tough task for a rookie head coach whose head could be on the chopping block.. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers seem to have a revolving door with regard to the head coaches of the franchise over the eight seasons . Needless to say, GM Jason Licht’s position could come under a great deal of scrutiny during the upcoming season should the Buccaneers fail to contend. The only way is up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as this franchise seeks to reinvent themselves once again . Can it get any worse for this NFC South based franchise, whose only lasting moment of glory was their Superbowl victory over the Oakland Raiders ? This has been the only thing the Buccaneers’ fans have been able to cling unto for just over a decade. There is likely to be a big reassessment of the Buccaneers’ roster by the front office with several players likely to be jettisoned this off-season.

Other than the NBA , MLB and the NFL there are few sports in North America where a $20 million a year salary seems to be the norm. Within baseball , this stat is very much the norm , as too with basketball as well as football . Leading the way among the players with this classification are those with their guaranteed contracts , salaries and the fact a number of them have failed to live up to perceived expectations . With millions being paid out annually in salary commitments , it begs the question how can the NFL continue with their antitrust tax exempt status while teams at the drop of a hat, pending league approval , leaves a municipality in something of a rut ? Stadiums have been built for these professional franchises , whose owners are among some of the richest individuals in America.

With the recent announcement that the league hierarchy had granted their approval for the relocation of the St Louis Rams whose billionaire owner , Stanley Kroenke is the sixty-fourth richest individual listed on Forbes’ 400 list. Kroenke’s estimated $7.4 billion dwarfs many of his contemporaries within the league and the fact his franchise and the San Diego Chargers have been granted their relocation wish to move to the greater Los Angeles area.

Stanley Kroenke purchased a large tract of land in the city of Industry , California hoping to develop the acreage , with a stadium as well as commercial development, covering retail and entertainment concerns . The proposed stadium however is unlikely to be private-financed , with the belief , Kroenke and the league seeking the financing of the venture, coming by way of public funding (bond issue) jointly by the cities of Industry and Los Angeles . This proposal may well sit well with fans of the Rams, who would have yearned to see the NFL brought back to the greater Los Angeles area , but beyond that, their concerns on the impact to the infrastructure of the cities in question as well as the ongoing budgetary woes for both municipalities, isn’t within their sphere of thinking.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will continue to wax on lyrically concerning how competitive the league has become , its growing impact from an economic standpoint , which seems to be the only issue the commissioner can point to as a sign of positive growth. . Elsewhere, under his leadership, he remains an abysmal failure on a litany of issues encompassing the NFL . .Issues which the league has failed to address with any degree of their outcomes being long last ing much less being morally correct. .

As the NFL postseason comes into view what if anything are you hoping to see from the games being played this upcoming weekend ?

Tophatal …..

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Not on my watch …

Not on my watch

Well,the NFL regular season came to an end and teams seemingly squandered their chance at a postseason berth . With the wildcard round underway , the participants provided the fans with a great deal of excitement and disappointment and nowhere was this more prevalent than the games which saw the demise of both the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings . Both teams entered the postseason as divisional champions and were perhaps widely expected to make their way to the divisional round of the postseason. It was not to be for the Marvin Lewis coached Bengals as they completely fell apart in their astounding loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Cincinnati’s defensive player Vontaze Burfict imploded showing his wrath , denigrating officials , his head coach as well as opposing players on the Steelers’ roster. As to what this suggests about the Cincinnati Bengals , can best be summed up by simply stating this was a team completely out of control , with the coaching staff showing little, if any experience in their coaching acumen.

For Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings their loss might well as have been as dramatic as anything seen in the NFL over the past eight seasons in NFL postseason history. The continued knock against the Vikings will be the fact they are not as competitive as many believe them to be. It might well have been a complete fluke the team actually won the NFC North , but herein lies the issue for the franchise, Teddy Bridgewater the Vikings’ junior rookie quarterback still remains a work in progress , while the defense though steady , have yet to reach the level of consistency expected of a perennial championship contender. Adrian Peterson a year removed from his suspension , came back with something of vengeance , but he proved that a player of his caliber cannot do it all by himself. At this stage of Peterson’s career , I am not thoroughly convince Minnesota remains the best place for him to round out his career or the franchise gives him his best chance of winning a Superbowl !

With the Cincinnati Bengals and Minnesota Vikings now bowing out of the postseason, it’s now onto the divisional round of the NFL postseason where the match-ups become all the more intriguing.

The top seeds within the AFC and NFC will enter postseason play with the Carolina Panthers led by Cam Newton facing the Seattle Seahawks , while the Green Bay Packers will be the guests of the Arizona Cardinals. In the AFC Peyton Manning makes a welcome return to postseason play , while the idiot Brock Osweiler supporters, can simply shut the hell up with their idiocy of Osweiler being the immediate future for the Broncos. The backup quarterback in the last of his regular season performances proved himself to be barely adequate in his role , but many believed him to be the answer to the Broncos’ prayers. Denver will face the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field in Denver, Colorado on Saturday afternoon. The other AFC contest will feature defending Superbowl champions the New England Patriots facing the Kansas City Chiefs , with Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick seeking to win his fifth Superbowl title as a head coach. Belichick and Tom Brady should they win the title , can also use the spectacle as a poke in the eye of the NFL hierarchy for their ham-fisted approach in seeking to punish the player and franchise for their alleged actions in the Deflate-Gate Affair. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league hierarchy are still hoping to punish the player albeit , after their suspension of Brady was overturned in a US Federal Court Judicial process. Goodell is adamant the quarterback is guilty of the allegations, but the league’s own evidence supporting the charges are circumstantial and held very little merit.

When your teams’ season can only be viewed as a disaster , then there isn’t a great which can be done to appease your fans other than to uproot your franchise and move elsewhere. With the recent announcement that the NFL has granted their wish to see both the San Diego Chargers and St Louis Rams back in the city of Los Angeles. The one question I have to ask, will the league seek to make their feasibility study on the issue public or will we simply have to take their word this is in the best interests of both teams as well as the city of Los Angeles along with their residents ? This much is abundantly clear, the taxpayers are on the hook for this whole process from a financial standpoint. The NFL as constituted , is seen as a not for profit business, but repeatedly , all Roger Goodell has sought to address throughout his tenure , has been the rise in revenues, the profitability of the teams and the league’s growing expansion around the globe. Never let it be said , the league hierarchy actually cares about the fans , much less the players, who are essentially overpaid subjugated slaves.

For the moment it would appear the St Louis Rams are a definite go with their return to Los Angeles set for 2016, but the San Diego Chargers have not yet made their thoughts known on the league’s approval. Alex Spanos and his family as the owners of the Chargers will likely move , with arrangements being made for a venue to be made available for the team’s home games in 2016. Where this now leaves the Oakland Raiders and their long-held ambitions to also make a return to Los Angeles is just about anyone’s guess at this juncture. As to the thoughts the Raiders would be a playing a greater part in determining the AFC West title. Well that came and went with the absurdity of the team’s performances on the field of play last season !

In what has to be seen as one of the best national title games in recent College Football history , as Alabama rolled past the Clemson Tigers , with both teams putting on an exhilarating display of football. Nick Saban claimed his fifth title as a collegiate head coach , while Alabama (Crimson Tide) won their fourth title in the past eight years . The Crimson Tide will round out their year as the national champions , ranked number one again and have to be seen as a prohibitive favorite for the national title next season. DeShaun Watson and Derrick Henry solidified their respective positions as two of the best players in College Football during 2015,

The Golden State Warriors’ indomitable start to the season and their continued dominance has placed this team among the most consistent seen in recent NBA history. In the absence of Steve Kerr , Luke Walton is proving himself to be of considerable worth to the franchise as the team’s head coach. In all likelihood , Walton could very well end up being a head coach with a team at the start of next season. All signs now seem to be pointing to this and it only seems a matter of time before it all becomes a reality. Steph Curry , Draymond Green and Klay Thompson are the primary reasons why the Warriors have been so good this season. As to the nay-saying idiots seeking to detract from Thompson’s play this season , perhaps they need to be reminded this is a team game and solely about individual glory?

Golden State in their most recent contest took care of the Miami Heat with consummate ease getting by their Eastern Conference opponents on their way to an eight-point victory . The Warriors next game will see them on the road when they face the Denver Nuggets in a Western Conference road contest . Golden State is well on its way to nothing up their fortieth win of the season, leading their closest rivals by a considerable margin in the wins’ tally .

While the Golden State Warriors have remained dominant the same cannot be said for the Brooklyn Nets , who in mid-season have decided to rid themselves of head coach Lionel Hollins and general manager Billy King, The upheaval within the front office with King’s dismissal was not unexpected bu the firing of Hollins , may well have caught everyone by surprise. While there may well be justification for the coach’s dismissal , a great deal of the blame must rest on the shoulders of the team’s billionaire Russian entrepreneur , mogul and owner Mikhail Prokhovorov. The owner gave cart-blanche for King to try and outspend their rivals in assembling a high priced roster which was all to no avail repeatedly over the past five seasons. The fact, the current roster bears no likeness to the roster fielded during the 2012-13 season , should give you an indication as to how far things have come with this franchise and the present predicament they now find themselves in .

Tony Brown is now the interim head coach of Brooklyn Nets and I believe it is unlikely he will be given the position on a full-time basis. Rumors are now already in motion , with the front office seeking to gauge the interest of Kentucky Wildcats’ head coach John Calipari. Calipari does have NBA experience having been a former head coach of the Nets , but I believe he is far too comfortable in his role and clearly doesn’t want to deal with the bloated egos of the players at the professional level. Besides, he’s the coach of one of the most envied and wildly known programs in all of Men’s College Basketball.

Over their last fifteen games played the Brooklyn Nets have labored during the time-span in question.The Nets’ last victory came by way of a win over the Boston Celtics on the 2nd January, a span of six games , during which the Nets posted an anemic 1-5 record. Tony Brown will now prepare the Brooklyn Nets for a Wednesday night game against conference rivals the New York Knicks which will be played at the Barclays Center , Brooklyn, New York. Considering the intense rivalry between these two teams over the past three seasons this contest should tell us a great deal about the directions the two clubs are heading in .

For the New York Knicks this season has been something of an indifferent year , with the team having its struggles, but suddenly showing some signs of life. Derek Fisher might well be finally coming into his own as an NBA coach . The Knicks find themselves in second place within the Atlantic Division behind the Toronto Raptors(24-15) and with the team playing some credible basketball.

Sitting mid-table within the Eastern Conference , the New York Knicks might well be considered a playoff contender , but I feel the team is still a long way off from where they need to be ! How the Knicks fare over the remainder of the season will be predicated on the mindset of the team.

Pat Riley , now a senior executive with the Miami Heat has an association with the well-known NBA franchises., with his first professional mark coming as a player with the New York Knicks , also as a head coach with the New York Knicks , finally to be followed with the Heat. Having been the architect of all three champions successes for the Miami Heat., you can well understand why his success has left an indelible mark with all three NBA franchises. This season for the Miami Heat , without LeBron James having left the team after their last title , the franchise now finds it self at a crossroads. Their two elder statesmen Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade are now in the twilight of their respective careers. Amare’ Stoudemire is proving to be nothing more than a stop-gap measure, even if his salary is deemed minimal . Yet , there might be nothing more Pat Riley would like to prove to his detractors, than to win another title without four-time League MVP LeBron James . His departure from the Heat might not have created a great deal of anger, but in some circles it was deemed James felt he was ill-served by Riley’s unwillingness to bolster the roster .

Erik Spoelstra as the Miami Heat head coach along with the coaching staff have worked diligently to have the team playing with a great deal of resolve, This can be seen with the play of several of the Heat’s youngsters on the playing staff, while the veterans also continue to show they have what it takes. Whether not the Heat has what it takes to beat the best in the East , we will have to take under advisement. Miami over their last eight games have been fairly competitive , but the feeling remains consistency , year-long will be the key for the team. In their last contest the Miami Heat fell to the Golden State Warriors in a 111-103 loss, with the defending champions showing why they continue to have the better of the Eastern Conference. Miami will be on the court Wednesday night when they face the Los Angeles Clippers led by Blake Griffin and Chris Paul .

How bad can an NBA franchise be and why does the NBA hierarchy allow teams to intentionally tank their seasons , while the fans are actually being defrauded ? Oblivious to this all, are some of the idiot fans and analysts who subscribe to the belief a team will be able to resurrect their fortunes by way of the NBA Draft . It doesn’t appear to be working out for the Philadelphia 76ers as their season continues to implode before our very eyes.

Joshua Harris as owner of the 76ers has been extremely negligent from a business and competitive standpoint , concerning the franchise over the past six seasons. Brett Brown and the coaching staff remain completely out of their depth. The firing of Sam Hinkie as the general manager will not cure what ails this franchise and I seriously doubt the hiring of Jerry Colangelo to head the franchise’s Basketball Operations will lead to an immediate turnaround in the short or long-term ! Key players such as the Sixers’ last two first round picks , I certainly don’t believe will be sticking around to play for an noncompetitive organization. Harris for his part, has sought to apportion blame elsewhere for the team’s continued woes, when he has been just as complicit in the debacle as the players and coaching staff in recent years.

Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid have yet to make their mark for the Sixers and in all likelihood both players will continue to struggle with the franchise. If the coaching staff is unable to get the best out of these two young players then the chances of Philadelphia getting better anytime soon will not be happening for the foreseeable future. Free agents will be unwilling to come to a franchise where there is no track record of recent success. Cap space availability now and next season doesn’t portend to anything meaningful. Granted, with the acumen of Jerry Colangelo , anything is possible , but as I have stated before the damage has already been done , due to the negligence shown by Joshua Harris.

At no point during their season have the Philadelphia 76ers been able to put together a winning streak of two games or more and considering their record it is easy to understand the reasons why !

Statistically , beyond the lack of coaching acumen shown by Philadelphia 76ers, the fact there seems to be some sort of pleasure being gleamed from the ineptitude indicated , there is no way the NBA hierarchy can continue to suborn this type of incompetency and believe it best serves the interests of the league . It is an insult to the fans of the game and if nothing else indicates the league’s top executives are just profit-driven and not much more beyond that ! The Sixers for their part , can continue to be among the least supported teams in the league alongside being its worst .

Do you believe professional sports’ hierarchies have an obligation to ensure the fans are provided with the best product available or just there to simply make money for their teams ?

Tophatal ……..

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” As We Enter” … Nas & Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley

 

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning …

I love the smell of Napalm in the morning !

Well, in the  aftermath a tumultuous  NFL season we now know the twelve teams   to have made the NFL postseason. The New Denver Broncos and New England Patriots are the two top-seeds within the AFC, leaving the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals as the top seeded contenders within the NFC.

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Results   emanating   from Sunday’s games left us in no doubt who the top teams were within the    conferences after the two hundred and fifty-six games played. As usual with the postseason approaching , speculation will be raised to the possible coaching carousel likely to take place. There is the likelihood we might well have seen the last game coached by Tom Coughlin   as the head coach of the  New York Giants   after the team’s rather embarrassing loss to divisional rivals the Philadelphia Eagles.

With Chip Kelly’s abrupt firing by the Eagles’ front office , the number of coaches terminated this season are numbered at four , with the recent dismissals of Mike Pettine with the Cleveland Browns and Jim Tomsula with the San Francisco 49ers . As abysmal a season had by each of the teams in question , they were not the franchises with the worst record in the NFL during the 2015 regular season schedule . That accolade belonged to none other than the Tennessee Titans (3-13) a mark which was also shared with the Brown. What this might suggest about both teams can be best summed by their results over the course of the season and their statistical play throughout.

With the top two teams in each conference having a bye in the wildcard round of the postseason , teams seeded three through six will begin the playoffs with the scheduled games due. Those match-ups are likely to prove very intriguing with perhaps the best of the bunch being the NFC contest , which pits the Seattle Seahawks against the Minnesota Vikings . The two opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson of the Seahawks and Teddy Bridgewater of the Vikings, will provide the fans to see two of the more productive passers within the NFC this season.

Though we have not yet reached the midway point of the NBA season there can be no denying which team has been the best in the league at this point of the schedule. Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors have set a blistering pace leaving others in their wake . Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr , in his absence has seen his understudy Luke Walton guide the team with a great deal of coaching acumen , leading a number of analysts to believe, Walton will likely be pursued by a number of teams at the end of the season, once the customary firings begin to take place. There are likely to be at least six teams seeking the former player’s services, but I do believe he will be reluctant to leave, unless his desired destination is with a franchise where there is a more than reasonable chance of success.

Coming off another victory , Curry and his teammates will next take to the court to face the Charlotte Hornets at the Oracle Arena , Oakland, California on Monday, 4th January . This should prove be an easy win for the Warriors against an Eastern Conference opponent given the team’s record against the conference and their record at home . The Hornets for their part will be looking to keep apace within their conference as well as against a Western Conference opponent where the team has had relatively little success this season.

The Los Angles Lakers (8-27) and the Philadelphia 76ers (3-33) have combined for eleven regular season wins at this point of the season , having played roughly thirty-five games. It would be fair to suggest both teams could very well end up with what would be franchise lows in terms of regular season victories. There also appears to a remote possibility the Sixers are well on their of equaling the NBA league-low number for regular season wins, a mark held by 1973 Philadelphia 76ers .Wins have been have been very difficult to come by for this Brett Brown coached Sixers’ team . Philadelphia’s last victory came on the 30th December when they defeated the Sacramento Kings by the score of 110-105. The team’s next game will be a home contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday evening.

For Byron Scott and the Los Angeles Lakers , their season has been one of sheer ineptitude with only sparing glimpses of Kobe Bryant at his best among the players on the Lakers’ roster. It is hard to envisage where the Lakers now go from here , as GM Mitch Kupchak and team owner Jim Buss have very few alternatives with regard to the depth on the roster. Capable perhaps of only playing for their self-respect, the Los Angeles Lakers do not appear to have a short-term, much less a long-term strategy once Kobe Bryant has played his last game for the franchise. Bryant made it official , this would indeed be his last year with the Lakers , formally announcing his retirement for the end of this season. Unlikely to be a major player in the free agency market , salary dumping or otherwise, Kupchak can only seek to assess the current crop of Los Angeles Lakers’ players and go from there with regard to rebuilding the roster. With a game coming up against the Golden State Warriors , which will be on the road , it will be interesting to see how the team will fare against a conference opponent , the reigning NBA champions .

The College Basketball season is now in full swing and with the teams gearing up towards ‘March Madness’ ,and it has been an interesting season , which has meandered its way through a slew of games. Seated atop of the rankings are the Kansas Jayhawks (12-1) under head coach Bill Self and his Jayhawks’ team . Wayne Selden , Perry Ellis and Frank Mason are the leading scorers for the Jayhawks , but a great deal of praise this season has been heaped upon Ben Simmons of the LSU Tigers . Simmons is considered to be a consensus first round lottery pick and the likely number one choice of the team privileged to have the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft . Judging by his game that is not without merit for a player whose all-round skill-set has been compared to has been compared to four-time NBA League MVP and Cleveland Cavaliers’ player LeBron James . Great praise indeed, but I believe it to be way too premature to be making such comparisons ! The LSU Tigers have an upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Bill Self and his Kansas Jayhawks will have pride of place when they tip off against the Oklahoma Sooners in a battle of top-ten ranked teams.

We know the SEC to be the best conference in College Basketball and there can be no questioning of that very fact. The programs within the conference, speaks volumes as to the quality of play witnessed each year. Florida are now going it alone without Billy Donovan going as the head coach of the program. His successor Mike White is being asked to fill a big pair shoes after the considerable success achieved by Donovan during his reign. Florida is off to an inauspicious start to their season and their most recent game was an exhilarating victory over the Georgia Bulldogs with a fourteen-point 77-63 win . White and the Gators will be on the road to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a contest which should bring out the best in both teams.

I have to admit in recent years I have grown tired of the sport of boxing ! It remains corrupt , devoid of real leadership at the international level and most notably without any real transparency by way of leadership here in North America. The USBA which is affiliated to the IBF remains a constant joke, like many of the international counterparts which now hold sway over the sport internationally. Consider the fact there is no undisputed champion in any of weight categories and it is easy to understand why this sport is dying on its knees and close to being in need to resuscitation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao may well have brought back a certain amount of excitement in what was Mayweather’s last professional bout which saw close out his career with an unbeaten 49-0 record. In reality however, this fight was five years too late and simply lacked the excitement the fans truly hoped for . Lackluster, would be too soft a word to describe the title fight , where both fighters walked away with an estimated $300 million to split between them , Mayweather taking the larger slice of the purse before taking into account another $200 million in television rights from the overseas sales and merchandising revenues grossed.

From my own perspective , I believe Floyd Mayweather will make a return to the ring to push his record to 50-0 . Mayweather has not really fought anyone of consequence in the past four years and even though his resume’ boasts and unbeaten record , along with multiple title defenses , one could suggest the record might well stand the test of time , but it truly lacks the hyperbole many believe it deserves.

Several boxers at the welterweight and light middleweight division would undoubtedly like to head into the ring and got toe-to-toe with Floyd Mayweather, but herein lies the caveat with the unbeaten fighter. He cherry-picks his opponents and simply added insult to injury , when he chose Andre Berto , to push his record to 49-0 . Berto was certainly undeserving of a title shot and the fact he was not high enough within the welterweight category clearly indicated the titleholder wanted a “patsy ” in the opposite corner for his last professional bout.

It has been ten years since the heavyweight category last had an undisputed champion with the last titleholder of the titles being British fighter Lennox Lewis. Since Lewis’ retirement from the ring there have several claimants to the differing established belts as recognized by the four main international governing bodies. Unfortunately, the entities in question have failed to give the fans what they yearned , a unified and undisputed champion. Siblings Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko for years, each held claim to one version of the title but refused to defend their versions against each , seeking to unify the division. With Vitali having retired it was left to Wladimir to reign supreme over the division , which in many ways he had done with a string of successful defenses, against less than credible opponents.

Yet in what was believed to a bout where he was considered to be a clear-cut favorite , he fell to the boxing skills of Tyson Fury of Great Britain in what some considered to be one of the biggest upsets in recent boxing history. The bout itself was far from being an instant classic but what it lacked in drama was made up for with the passion shown by the challenger as he wrestled away the title from the Ukrainian champion. However, in what one could only deem as farcical the IBF (International Boxing Federation) has seen fit to strip Tyson Fury of the belt he legitimately won in the ring. The explanation if it is to be believed, smacks of stupidity on the part of the governing body and from the former titleholder , Wladimir Klitschko , who was said to be not only upset with the decision rendered by the judges in a fight he lost in a unanimous decision, but also by the fact Fury sought not to grant him an immediate rematch within ninety days. If boxing has a flaw , then it is one of its own self-importance and indulgence , where the fighters themselves lack as much credibility as the various governing bodies which preside over the sport.

Boxing has lost a great deal of credibility around the globe, albeit , if there are claims it remains the one pugilistic and combative art form every fight fan yearns for . I am not so sure those claims are any longer legitimate and can be proven. While boxing has seen a marked decline , the rapid rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) now under the banner of the UFC , seems to be giving fans something they really yearn for. UFC has brought legitimacy and business acumen to a sport which has now become the fastest growing participant sport across the globe. Many of the fighters within the UFC stable of MMA stars are fast becoming recognized names as well Hollywood action stars and crossover celebrities. Suffice to say, the UFC hierarchy under Dana White has struck box-office gold , even if White is considered to be a dictatorial executive.

Ronda Rousey’s shocking and surprising loss to Holly Holm may well prove to be a welcome change for the sport and actually shape the direction and open even more opportunities for women who might see an interest in entering the genre. Rousey created a buzz needed when many felt MMA had lost some of its appeal. Now with her defeat, her drive and eagerness to reclaim her Bantamweight title could be the best thing to happen to Women’s MMA as well as the UFC in general.

In recent months several champions have seen their reigns come to an end within the UFC and added new honorees within the sport. It could well be seen as a good thing for MMA and its viability long-term if the excitement created can be maintained . Certainly , Dana White is taking a new approach of growing the UFC brand globally as well as expanding across North America , with the executive’s biggest wish being to see the sport be granted the license to promote and stage events in New York State.

For some strange reason the State Legislature of New York State sees no need to grant a license and continues to show their disapproval of a sport they deem barbaric. Last I looked, with the issues stemming from the NFL and how that particular league hierarchy has dealt with the issues of chronic head trauma , I would have to say the New York State Athletic Commission has been oblivious to the idiocy of Paul Tagliabue and his successor Roger Goodell , who have somehow chosen to remain in the dark ages as to the deniability of the damages caused from years of brutal head to head helmet contract driven by the physicality of football within the NFL. The league itself , still seeks to challenge the multi-billion dollar settlement obtained by retired by players in a Federal Appeals Court ruling , while also seeking reinstate their four—game suspension of Tom Brady for his alleged involvement in Deflate-Gate. Begs the question, at what point will both the New York State Athletic Commission and the NFL hierarchy actually wake up and smell the coffee , much less the napalm ?

Sports in general as always is in need of a good shakeup , be it at the competitive level or among its hierarchical leadership structure. One thing for sure, without real change , things tend to stagnate and show signs of recession rather than real growth or excitement.

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Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Revenge is a dish, best served cold … Dominance, on the other hand, can take shape in different forms and guises, dependent upon one’s view …

Well the NFL season is now over and the fallout from an unbelievable end to the Superbowl (SBLVIX) still has not subsided five days after the event. Seattle Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll has staunchly defended offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell and has suggested the decision in many respects, was Bevell’s alone and that he agreed with the coordinator’s take and final call. My question remains, if Marshawn Lynch throughout much of the game gave the New England Patriots a great deal more than they could handle, why would the Seahawks seek to change course at such a pivotal moment in the game ? Lynch, during this contest, scored a touchdown on a short yardage gain after a reception, yet this actually escaped both Carroll’s and Bevell’s notice ? Call me naive, but the head coach’s post-game explanation given during his interview, smacks of sheer stupidity and utter nonsense !

New England ascends back to the top of the NFL world, and simply cementing their dominance of this league, as a ” true dynasty, one of the most discussed, if not one of the most alienating also, in the world of professional team sports across the North American landscape over the past twenty-five years.

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Five months into the NBA season and the talk in recent weeks has been the unbelievable play of the Atlanta Hawks and their ongoing dominance within the NBA. In the month of January, Mike Budenholzer’s vastly improved team went a staggering 17-0 , unbeaten for the entire calendar month of their scheduled games. Consider the fact, the Chicago Bulls’ team of their championship winning season of 1995-96, where they went 72-10, setting an NBA franchise record for wins in a season. The team coached by Phil Jackson was never able to achieve that feat with a roster which boasted Michael Jordan , Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman among the starting lineup , which was also well-served by several role players who contributed greatly to the Bulls’ success of that season.

There is a great deal to be said, for the days of dominance once had by the Chicago Bulls, as for years the franchise was waylaid by the fact the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics held center-stage within the Eastern Conference, while the Los Angeles Lakers were simply extending the glare of the Showtime Lakers’ extravaganza. During that time, the Chicago Bulls grew to overcome their fears and went about beginning their historic run, which rang in a new era and perhaps the most popular reign in NBA history, most certainly from a fan and global standpoint. Michael Jordan reigned supreme, as the most dominant player in the NBA and one of most recognized athletes on the face of the planet . With it, came the wealth and acclaim, few athletes today can match. LeBron James , currently, the best player in the NBA and rightfully so, the latest NBA star, seen as the heir-apparent to Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant’s era of supremacy is slowly winding down and with it, the Los Angeles Lakers’ most recent chapter of NBA dominance. .

As good as the Atlanta Hawks appear to be and what they have achieved has been fascinating . The true test for any NBA franchise can be judged by what they have been able to do during the NBA Playoffs. For Atlanta the type of success sought, has been fleeting for an organization still seeking acceptance as an elite franchise in the NBA. This might be the season, in which the Hawks can finally stake that claim , if they make the NBA Playoffs and then go on a prolonged run, all the way to the NBA Finals.

The Atlanta Hawks’ exceptional month of January has heightened expectations for the month of February, even with the upcoming All Star Game Weekend fast approaching. Between now and then, it will be interesting to see how this team fares as it is being led by Paul Millsap , Al Horford , Jeff Teague, DeMarre Carroll , Kyle Korver and John Jenkins . Needless to say this has been a collective effort from the Hawks’ players over the course of the season . They have been able to eke out their victories on the road as well as at home against divisional , conference and Western Conference opponents .

Having gone 9-1 in their last ten games the Atlanta Hawks are as sure a bet, as you can get, for them to make the NBA Playoffs, where if things were to remain as they are, their first round opponents would be the Miami Heat , last eat season’s losing NBA Finalists . It would be definitely be an enticing first-round contest to survey , with the Heat seen as an opponent , good enough to cause an upset.

I believe the Atlanta Hawks are good enough to make a solid run through to the end of the season , winning their division outright and making the NBA Playoffs. Where they then go from there, is anyone’s guess, because during the postseason, it then becomes about the teams and their players standing tall , excelling at critical points of a game. Recent signs show the Hawks are not yet at the standard required for them to be seen as a credible contender to win it all .

If ever there was a sign to indicate , Phil Jackson erred in the hiring of Derek Fisher to succeed Mike Woodson as the head coach of the New York Knicks. Then look no further than what has been achieved by Steve Ker, the successor to Mark Jackson as head coach of the Golden State Warriors . The Knicks continue on their season of sheer ineptitude while the Warriors have not only slain the dragon, but chopped off its head. Leading me to believe, Jackson’s ego has gotten the better of him at this stage of his career.

Golden State behind the solid play of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have led the team to the best record the Western Conference and along the way lead the Pacific Division by healthy 7 1/2 game margin over the Los Angeles Clippers. Coming off a fourteen-point victory over the Dallas Mavericks it is becoming hard to envisage any team within the Western Conference actually challenging the dominance of the Warriors over the remainder of this season.

To comprehend how the guile and tenacity shown by Golden State this season, has been such a success, you simply have to look at the margin of victory in their games where they overpower an opponent. Next up for the Warriors will be a cross-conference game against the Atlanta Hawks on the road, where the team has been very good. It’s pretty much safe to suggest, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson will be looking have their division and conference sewn up by no later than mid-March . It gives Kerr the opportunity needed, to rest a number of his front-line starters, while assessing what his bench players are able to do before the end of the season on the 15th April, 2015

Defending NBA champions the San Antonio Spurs have slowly plodded along while the elder statesmen on the team have sought to gain some semblance of consistency to their season. Tim Duncan , Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker have been the mainstays of the franchise’s successes and one of the reasons why they have been a perennial playoff team and contender for the NBA title. Seventeen straight NBA Playoff appearances and yet when fans, tend to talk about dynasties and dominance, rarely has the name of the San Antonio Spurs been mentioned in the same sentence as the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls or the Motown Bad Boys of Detroit under the coaching acumen of Chuck Daly, as he engineered the success of the Detroit Pistons. I suppose not playing in what is deemed to be a major-market, has a tendency of taking the gloss off a team’s achievements. While many, were surprised the Spurs were able to get past the highly favored Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals. It should not have come as any great surprise,if the suggestion was made, LeBron James and his teammates were simply complacent and went into the postseason foray, with the expectation of simply waltzing through through a seven-game series, merely based on having defeated San Antonio in the previous season’s Finals Series.

San Antonio now has a competent lineup beyond their Big Three of Duncan , Ginobli and Parker now joined by last season’s Finals’ MVP of Kawhi Leonard , it must be said the team does have have a formidable lineup , which I believe to be among the best in the NBA for a starting five, without delving into the contributions from the bench. It would also be remiss to not take into account the coaching staff of Gregg Popovich, a staff which includes the NBA’s only lead female assistant, former WNBA player Becky Hammon. As to whether or not this league will ever have its very first female head coach remains to be seen , but I am sure, it is something Hammon will seek to achieve !

With only the Cleveland Cavaliers , Memphis Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks over their last ten games having a better record, it indicates at present, how competitive the NBA happens to be. San Antonio’s thirteen-point victory at home over the Miami Heat was indicative of what we know to be the frailties of a weak Eastern Conference as another franchise drops a game to a Western Conference foe. The Spurs’ next game takes them North of the border to face the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. For both teams this should prove to be a fascinating contest as they seek to maintain their momentum in the run-up to the All Star Break .

A ninety million dollar ($90 million) payroll doesn’t appear to have aided the Brooklyn Nets this season as the team struggles to make sense of their failures at this point of the NBA schedule. It would be fair to suggest the Nets have been a major disappointment for their fans and the NBA alike. Personally, I believe the team to be lacking in leadership with Kevin Garnett and Deron Williams being overpaid and offering the franchise absolutely nothing on all levels at this stage of their respective careers.

For Nets’ head coach Lionel Hollins and his coaching staff at a loss for an explanation,while GM Billy King and team owner, Mikhail Prokhorov wondering if changes will have to be made before or at the trade deadline, if the franchise is to make some sense of their season. In their last ten games the Brooklyn Nets are a paltry 5-5 , simply mirroring what they represent as a team, to the NBA fans at large, being average and representing mediocrity !

Saturday night, the Brooklyn Nets will take to the court to face conference rivals the Washington Wizards at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC. This will be game, between two teams of similar ambitions, seeking to make their presence felt within the conference as well their respective divisions could very well make or break their seasons from hereon-in. The All Star festivities to be staged at the Barclays Center, home to the Brooklyn Nets will provide a timely respite for the teams as they take stock and then prepare for the second half of the season. This will be the point where executives and team owners look to make some major deals and naturally shed players for salary cap reasons.

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As the first half of this NBA season comes to a close, which team or teams have been the biggest surprise in your opinion ? During the second half of the schedule which franchise and players will play a decisive role of making a playoff push within each conference ? Also, of the teams in the league (NBA) over the past two decades, which do you believe is the most deserving to be thought of as a dynasty ? Simply leave a comment or comments as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site, as it has always been appreciated ! Thank you !

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(1) Marshawn Lynch (24) of the Seattle Seahawks completes a catch against Tyler Gaffney (31) of the New England Patriots in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Rob Carr

(2) Marshawn Lynch(24) of the Seattle Seahawks runs with the ball against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. Getty Images North America / Jamie Squire

(3) John Wall of the Washington Wizards handles the ball against the Brooklyn Nets during the game on February 7, 2015 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC. NBAE/Getty Images/ Ned Dishman

(4) David Lee of the Golden State Warriors goes to the basket against Travis Wear(6) of the New York Knicks on February 7, 2015 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Getty Images / Nathaniel S Butler

(5) Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans on February 7, 2015 at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Getty Images / Mike Hamilton

(6) Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks drives against Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors on February 6, 2015 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images / Scott Cunningham

(7) Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs shoots against the Miami Heat on February 6, 2015 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. Getty Images North America / D. Clarke Evans

(8) Becky Hammon , left , is seen here with San Antonio Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich . Hammon is the first full-time lead assistant head coach with any franchise in the NBA . The NBA might just be the most progressive of any of the four main professional team sports , with Michele Roberts also recently being named the Executive Director of the NBPA (Players’ Union) . Popovich believes Hammon due to her vast experience as a former WNBA player and now an assistant coach , could become the first female head coach in the NBA . AP Photo /Gary Ross
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NFL What ? NFL Who ? Is this League being ran by fools ?

NFL What ? NFL Who ? Is this League being ran by fools ?

The NFL regular season wound down with its usual aplomb , with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seemingly, not wanting to apologize for his poor lack of judgment or the fact his league is still in disarray both on and off the field of play. Just when you thought it was safe to dip your toes back into the water , there is news emanating where St Louis Rams principle owner , Stanley Kroenke is seeking an executive board on possibly relocating the franchise to the greater Los Angeles area. What is it with this continued fascination, in bringing an NFL franchise back to the city of Angels, where the municipality itself has its ongoing financial woes, with their being no signs the city council can deal with its deficit or any of the other matters affecting the City of Los Angeles ?

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Stanley Kroenke with the exception of Seattle Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen might be the wealthiest owner in the NFL and his fortune far exceeds that of Washington Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder . The St Louis Rams for their part, had a poor season barely offering any resolve and a fourth place finish in the NFC West was a clear reflection of the team just happened to represent under Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff.

Stanley Kroenke’s fixation might well have more to do with the fact he believes the Rams can no longer be self-sustainable in a mid to small-market such as the greater St Louis , Missouri ,area, and were it not for his wealth and the fact his marriage to Ann Walton-Kroenke (Walton family , daughter of the late patriarch , Sam Walton founder of Walmart) and all of the visibility her name provides, is in a position to perhaps persuade the league hierarchy might well be time have a franchise back in Los Angeles. However, there has to be a caveat in the midst of this all, if Kroenke believes he can pull of such a coup, without the assistance of the assistance of the city or Los Angeles County or at the state level. It has been one of Roger Goodell’s main goals to have an NFL franchise back in the nation’s second largest ad-market , purely from the economical standpoint and the income derived from such a move.

At a time when revenues are on the rise within the league, much of it coming by the television deals, with expiring contracts being renegotiated as well as several cable broadcasters entering the fray , it seems only feasible that the commissioner wants to not only maximize his league’s exposure, but also profit financially from that exposure. Of even greater importance has to be the funding for a stadium to house the St Louis Rams on a permanent basis , as repeatedly different entrepreneurs and investors have tried to formulate a plan for a stadium to be built with a mix of private and public funding. To date, nothing concrete has materialized with these efforts and the list of names involved in these endeavors have read like a who’s who of commercial real estate or venture capital world within the state of California , with their being political backing, but no real evidence of success or actually getting anything off the ground. Like I have always maintained the state of California remains a law unto itself without outsized egos and even greater stupidity to be found at just about every level of government and within their business world , in spite of claims to the contrary. Has anyone heard from Ed Roski lately and his ambitious plans to bring professional football back to the greater Los Angeles area ? I thought not !

The rapid fall from grace for the Pittsburgh Steelers was in evidence as they fell to the Baltimore Ravens. Now one could be forgiven into thinking Ben Roethlisberger , James Harrison and Troy Polamalu had the leadership and experience necessary to lead the team and their making a deep run in the postseason was all to no avail as the Ravens swept aside their divisional rivals with clinical ease. John Harbaugh could be unto something with his claims , the team’s quarterback Joe Flacco is the best passer in the NFL during the postseason. Granted, Flacco during the 2012 postseason was simply sensational as he led the Baltimore Ravens to their second Superbowl victory in the franchise’s history and the player’s playoff record record would even bring a smile to the face of Tony Romo , who has repeatedly become the face of postseason futility among the league’s more prominent active quarterbacks with playoff experience.

Flacco will get the chance to try and prove the claims of Jim Harbaugh are justified, when the Baltimore Ravens meet the New England Patriots in the divisional round of this season’s postseason schedule. With an AFC championship berth at stake for the winner, this game could prove to be be one of the highlights of the round if not the entire postseason, itself. For the Patriots this will be the first time the team led by Tom Brady enters the fray, as he seeks to win his fourth Superbowl. Brady in conjunction with head coach Bill Belichick are currently the most successful coaching quarterback active tandem in NFL history. If this is meant to the season, which offers the franchise its best chance to add to its tally , of three postseason triumphs, then this game could prove to be defining point of the Patriots’ season.

While there are mounting questions concerning the direction of the Washington Redskins their future and the travails of quarterbacks’ Kirk Cousins and Robert Griffin III. It must be said , beyond the removal of Bruce Allenas the general manager and the disappointment of the Redskins’ season , you simply cannot deny the ” writing was on the wall” was on the wall for the franchise and the futility shown over the past two seasons. Hard to imagine how Cousins and Griffin having been in the same draft class as Andrew Luck Andrew Luck , have seen their stock fall so far , while Luck’s ascent to becoming an elite quarterback has seen a rapid rise in the fortunes of the Indianapolis Colts after the departure of Peyton Manning from the AFC South South based team.

Indianapolis in their divisional round game played at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, India, last weekend, summarily left no one in any doubt about their pedigree, as they took apart the Cincinnati Bengals and cast doubts on the Bengals’ long-term future concerning the makeup of their roster. Marvin Lewis must be at a loss for words having seen his team perform so poorly . It was not as if this were the first playoff run for Lewis’ team, led by quarterback Andy Dalton who has made consecutive playoff runs for the franchise in his still young career.

Andrew Luck will now avail himself another chance to match wits with his predecessor , Peyton Manning, as the ‘Master’ and Pupil take to the field .

As great a regular season as the Arizona Cardinals were able to put together, during their wildcard game against the Carolina Panthers, Bruce Arians’ team became a ” Paper Tiger” ripped to shreds by a Panthers’ team looking to make up for lost time. I am not sure Cam Newton will have as much ease in dealing with the Seattle Seahawks in their upcoming game at Century Link Field in Seattle, Washington , on Sunday afternoon . As defending Superbowl champions the Seahawks will be looking to make a statement and cast any doubts they are the best team in the NFC and the entire NFL.

We’re ” America’s Team ” , we’re America’s Team and we aim to prove it. If that proclamation were not so asinine, it would be believable when applied to the Dallas Cowboys . Jerry Jones believes he has finally crafted a team capable of winning a Superbowl. Having engineered a come from behind victory over a complacent Detroit Lions’ team , Tony Romo will take his supporting cast on the road to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin,. It’s now or never for the Cowboys, because if this team fails , there will roars of laughter belittling the team and the organization for their ongoing ineptitude over the past decade. The Cowboys have a chance, but if they allow the Packers to take an early lead, I certainly cannot see the visitors pulling off another postseason victory behind the skill-set of Romo , it’s just not within him pull off back-to-back victories for Dallas. I may well be wrong,but I doubt it !

It will be interesting to see how the events unfold this weekend within the NFL and which teams will rise to the occassion.

Not quite the ” Last Man Standing” , but College Football’s long-awaited Playoff Format ,at last, has its final pairing. Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks after their trouncing of Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles , will now have the privilege of taking on Ohio State (Buckyes) , coached by two-time national championship winning head coach Urban Meyer . in the national championship game and the inaugural contest of the newly instigated system. Love it or hate , it is now here to stay, even though it is likely to be tinkered at some point in the future, as the empaneled body seeks to make this format more equitable for all. Meanwhile, what would the postseason format be, without its customary slate of meaningless postseason Bowl Games ? Let’s just say, tweaked or not, there was still plenty of food left on table, including the scraps left for the dog. In other words, everyone got a meal and hearty one at that, by way of the financial benefits of these Bowl Contests.

This is likely to be more about which team desires the win the most and whether not Buckeyes’ third-string quarterback Cardale Jones is ready once again step up to the plate after a solid game in defeating the number one ranked Alabama (Crimson Tide).

Mariota will be hoping to cement his legacy after a stellar career with the Ducks as well as being this year’s recipient of the Heisman Trophy . If he can bow out with a national championship to his resume’ then the sky is the limit for a player like to be taken in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. As to ESPN’s College Football analyst and draft guru , Mel Kiper and his assessment of Mariota, not being the prototypical NFL quarterback, with the required talent for the NFL, has about as much credence, as perhaps one of his most infamous claims ____ of which he stated, Akili Smith would go on to have a long successful NFL career while being a perennial Pro Bowl player. Smith’s career statistics/ a are paper thin and about as appealing as Kiper’s neatly coiffured hair . I can only surmise, Mel Kiper and Donald Trump might share the same hair stylist and barber ?

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Throughout the NFL season, which teams do you believe provided the fans with the least and most excitement ? Also , with the College Football national championship game set for Monday 12th January,2015 , do you believe Marcus Mariota can round out his season with a national championship title ? Or will Urban Meyer add a third national title to his coaching resume’ ?

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(1) St Louis Rams’ head coach Jeff Fisher ,left, is seen here with team owner Stanely Kroenke center and GM Les Snead at the Edward Jones Dome Stadium in St Louis , Missouri, prior to a regular season game. Kroenke is said to be seriously contemplating the relocation of the NFL franchise back to the greater Los Angeles area , but he must first seek board approval for such a move . Kroenke is unwilling to discuss to discuss his plans his publicly , but he may well already have broad-based support for the move, without having to be totally reliant upon a vote from the executives within the organization . All that would be then required for the move, would be the seal of approval from the Board of Governors of the NFL and Roger Goodell’s blessing. AP Photo/ Phil Jones

(2) Billionaire commercial real estate developer Ed Roski whose plans for an NFL stadium to be built in the greater Los Angeles area never quite took of because of bureaucratic red-tape and a failure to obtain the financial backing and widespread support from interested parties from the city of Los Angeles, the city of Industry , Los Angeles County and at the state level. It is not known if Roski is now on board with Stanley Kroenke’s own ongoing effort to have a state of the art venue built for the St Louis Rams . Getty Images / Mike Cooper

(3) Head coach Mike Tomlin ,left , of the Pittsburgh Steelers meets head coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens after the Ravens defeated the Steelers 30-17 in their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images North America / Gregory Shamus

(4) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers meets Joe Flacco (5) of the Baltimore Ravens after the Ravens defeated the Steelers 30-17 in their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Justin K Aller

(5) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers scrambles against the Baltimore Ravens during their AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 3, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images / Jamie Squire

(6) Tom Brady (12) hands off the ball to Shane Vereen (34) of the New England Patriots during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Getty Images / Jared Wickenham

(7) Andrew Luck (12) of the Indianapolis Colts begins his snap count during a game played against the Minnesota Vikings . Luck is widely considered to be the best quarterback drafted into the NFL since 2008 . The Colts’ quarterback was the number one overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft , considered to be one better quarterback draft classes of the past decade . AP Photo / Phil Carr

(8) Marcus Mariota (8) of Oregon and Cardale Jones (12) of Ohio State will square as the opposing quarterbacks in the national championship .game being played on the 12th January , 2015 at the AT&T Stadium , in Arlington, Texas . AP Photo / Phil Miller

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Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well ….

” Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well ” Quote by William Shakespeare

As the NFL regular season meets its timely demise, the one thing we can take out of these scheduled l games was the fact , like in seasons past ….what you see is what you get. None of this asinine insinuation of their being parity in the NFL has any foundation at all . It comes down to hard work , effort , talent and coaching. This season there was very little of that to be witnessed by the majority of the teams. Even franchises thought to be major contenders at the start of the year , simply flamed out like a damp squib, while but a few surprised , perhaps none more so than the Arizona Cardinals (11-5) who made the NFC West something of a competitive division throughout much of the season , but failing in the end to follow up their fast start , by closing out the deal with a divisional win . Bruce Arians’ Cardinals enter into the postseason as a wildcard entrant with a very competitive game on their hands this upcoming weekend.

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The Arizona Cardinals will travel cross-country to face an over-achieving Carolina Panthers’ (7-8-1) team who somehow fought and then systematically clawed their way to an undeserving NFC South divisional title . Ron Rivera and his players made a successful defense of their title, but it was far from being impressive considering the fact , in 2013 the team had double-digit wins while also claiming one of the best records in the NFC for the year. This season proved to be a complete anathema with all four teams finishing within the division with sub.500 records and the Panthers being privileged to be the divisional representative in the postseason . Say what you will, but mediocrity still plays a vital part in the NFL today and always will in spite of claims to the contrary and the ongoing idiotic suggestion of parity .

Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers make welcome return to the postseason , but these are not the Steelers’ teams of old , albeit , Ben Roethliseberger is playing well , but nowhere near the level when he led the franchise to their most recent postseason triumphs . In knocking off the Cincinnati Bengals , Pittsburgh booked their ticket to the postseason, while also capturing the AFC North title. Roethlisberger will be looking to make this Steelers’ team competitive, even if they are looked upon as under-dogs within the conference and a legitimate contender for the Superbowl . If Pittsburgh can find any semblance of consistency then they are likely give any AFC team considerable problems during the postseason foray.

With all three teams from the state of California failing to make the NFL’s end of the regular season showcase. One has to ask, what now becomes of the Oakland Raiders (3-13), San Diego Chargers(9-7) and the San Francisco 49ers (8-8)? Niners’ head coach Jim Harbaugh is most certainly out, with the beleaguered head coach having agreed in principle to part ways with the franchise. There were every growing signs Harbaugh had lost control of the team and the players’ confidence in him, never mind the organization’s lack of accountability in dealing with several off the field issues during the season. It has all led up to this crisis and placed CEO Jed Yorke and GM Trent Baalke in a position, where they were either going fire the coach , but with his choosing to part ways of his own volition , it now leaves them to pursue a candidate to their liking and hopefully someone who can regain the stature they feel is befitting of their franchise.

A meaningless win for the Forty Niners over the Arizona Cardinals was simply more salt in the wound for the organization , knowing this was a season which went unfulfilled. There were few positives on this team and the likelihood will be, some drastic changes will be made to the roster during the off-season. I am not so sure what needs to be said about the San Diego Chargers and the travails of Philip Rivers . Since his entry into the NFL he has been one of the most productive quarterbacks in the league, but yet he has been unable to give the franchise or should I say, this organization has failed to supply him with the complementary weaponry to get the job done of availing themselves a Superbowl victory. All that was needed in the Chargers’ final game of the season, was a victory over the Kansas City Chiefs , but instead, the visitors chose to give their worst performance of the season with Rivers contributing to the Chargers’ defeat and their being abruptly thrown out of the postseason.

It has never pained me to say this but ” the Oakland Raiders are simply sh#t and not worth the time of day ., much less being mentioned as an NFL franchise ! I don’t believe I can put it anymore succinctly than that at this juncture . As for this idiotic belief , Jon Gruden is likely to return to the organization for a second go-around, is almost absurd as believing Donald Trump has the wherewithal to become the GOP candidate for the Presidency in 2016. Then again, if a smooth-talking Senator from Chicago , Illinois can twice (2008 and 2012) pull the wool over the eyes of a befuddled electorate, then just about anything is possible within reason, wouldn’t you agree ? Gruden signed a lucrative contract extension with ESPN to fill us in with his customary useless diatribe and insights into the NFL. Personally. the less I see of the NFL analyst on the air, the better off I feel about the the league in general, as I believe his insight on the game, offers me no more meaningful information than can be found in a piece of legislative statute, drawn up by a lobbyist, that one of the Congress’s lame @ss legislators, will place their signature on, calling it their own and a meaningful piece of legislation. The Raiders were in the hunt to have the worst record in the NFL this season , until the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose to enter the fray and exhibit the type of incompetence often seen from silent era of movie making and those comedic classics produced by Max Sennett that evolved around ” The Keystone Cops” .

Genuine pratfalls or not , the Buccaneers have now defined and refined incompetence to a new “art form” within the NFL , with their apathetic fans as usual at a loss with anything meaningful to say about the continuing woes of the team and organization in general. Buccaneers’ GM Jason Licht remains as clueless in person as he does when first introduced as the lead front office executive in charge of player personnel decisions for the franchise. Lovie Smith has brought in and instilled the type of home-grown stupidity into the Buccaneers’ roster that you would perhaps more associate with an episode of the the ” Jerry Springer ” Show . ” Who’s my baby Daddy ” ? The Buccaneers were just about everybody”s bit#h during the regular season and their record was a clear reflection of that fact.

The fact the Oakland and Tampa will be in the top-five of the 2015 NFL Draft order shouldn’t really come as surprise to anyone . What may well come as a surprise , is the fact the Raiders are seriously contemplating Tony Sparano remain as the team’s head coach and making it a permanent position . Damn , here was I thinking the revolving door and turn-style of either recycled head coaches or less than qualified candidates would be part of the Raiders’ off-season as they began their interviewing process , but at the end of the day, we are dealing with the Oakland Raiders and nothing they seem to do has anything to do with logic let alone acual common sense. I hear, there is even talk of building the franchise around the talents of Derek Carr ? LOL,LOL,LOL !!! If Carr hopes to be a resounding success in the NFL, then here are a few pointers for the player , play a great deal better than you have been and for Christ’s sake take no advice from an elder sibling, David Carr , whose career in the NFL and the fact he was an overall number one draft pick is a sound reason why you cannot always base an assessment of a player on what others might think or the fact Mel Kiper’s lips have been firmly pressed against an agents’ sphincter or the players’ butt-hole as an insightful premise as what we ought to expect from a player.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers it is once again back to the drawing board, as the franchise seeks to regain some semblance of respectability , if not success. The lone bright spot on the roster from the season which has just ended was the play of their rookie wide receiver Mike Evans who excelled for for the franchise in his first professional season in the league. It’s safe to suggest the Buccaneers have a solid receiver in Evans and a very good talent with running back Doug Martin who had himself a career-day in the team’s narrow three-point loss to the New Orleans Saints (7-9).

Unfortunately, there are no leaders to be found on this current Buccaneers’ roster, and in large part, that has not been the case since the days, when Tony Dungy was the head coach of this franchise. Players such as Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and Jon Lynch played with a great deal of pride and honor , when they took to the field for the team. I do not believe that to be the case with this current lineup and that is strange, when you consider, Lovie Smith is a disciple of the Dungy approach to coaching and the players being held accountable. Then again I shouldn’t be at all surprised by the morass and incompetence shown by team, when I consider the fact , Smith coached the Chicago Bears where during his final two years with the franchise, we all witnessed the less than favorable playing traits of Jay Cutler . If Smith could not corral and handle a prima-donna such as Cutler, why would anyone be of the belief he would be able to instill any type of discipline into a roster where Gerald McCoy and Vincent Jackson have practically been “no shows ” this season and as alleged veterans in the NFL, have shown about as much propensity to lead by example as a shy child being asked to read in font of the class by a teacher , on their first day at school.

McCoy and Jackson are among the highest paid players on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and have have been stealing money under false pretense by way of their respective salaries . Whatever changes are likely to be made during the off-season you can be assured there will be upheavals made as the front office decides to rebuild the roster and several elements of the coaching staff . It has been part of the Buccaneers’ procedural process during each year of undoubted failure , in a season which allegedly, promised a great deal of hope.

OK, so the Dallas Cowboys (12-4) are back in the postseason for the first time since 2009 where the team’s showing ended with a divisional round loss to the Minnesota Vikings . Cowboys’ owner and GM Jerry Jones finally has something to shout out loud about, as the team far exceeded expectations which may have been set at the start of the season. The Cowboys won the <a href=http://nfl.com/standings?sort=por won the NFC East, because the Philadelphia Eagles(10-6) under the coaching acumen of Chip Kelly, has no compunction to play defense , something often witnessed during his years with Oregon as the program’s head coach. Prolific offenses seems to be the only thing known to Kelly and within his playbook.

Philadelphia for its part, was simply hoping the Cowboys would falter in their game against the hapless Washington Redskins(4-12) , whose season has been one repeated disaster after the other, with Jay Gruden unsure what to make of his starting quarterbacks this season. Dallas simply blew the Redskins out of the water with a 44-17 victory in a contest where Dez Bryant and DeMarco Murrayshattered the franchise’s single season records for receiving touchdowns , for rushing yardsrespectively and all-purpose yards. Though the Eagles came away with a somewhat easy victory over the New York Giants (6-10) .

It is stunning to face the fact, the Philadelphia Eagles failed to make the postseason when they had the division and postseason berth within their grasp. Questions need to be asked and answered, as to whether or not this team possesses the competitive or mental mindset to get the job done . The answer , based on the occurrences of this season would have to be a resounding …….. no , because clearly, Chip Kelly feels there is no need to change the way the team plays , specifically with their defense being so inconsistent, bordering on ineptitude.

As great a season as the Dallas Cowboys had for the year,I am far from convinced the team will be good enough to make deep run in the postseason ! Add in the fact Tony Romo’s playoff- record leaves a great deal to be desired. A wildcard contest against the Detroit Lions at AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington , Texas on the 4th January , 2015 will provide the Cowboys’ fans their first chance to see the team in playoff game in five years. Whether or not the players can get past this first hurdle will greatly be dependent upon on the preparation of Jason Garrett and his coaching staff. The winner will then have the privilege of facing the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round of the postseason.

The New York Jets'(4-12) failures thisseason have been well-chronicled and the mere fact that the front office seems to on the cusp of firing head coach Rex Ryan and GM John Idzik should come as no great surprise. At no point during their regular season schedule were the Jets able to muster back-to-back wins. It’s safe to say, as Ryan continually backed his incumbent starting quarterback , Geno Smith , the greater the pressure became for him to revert to the use of the team’s veteran and backup Michael Vick when Smith’s play came into question during 2014. Not that Vick’s play was any more convincing, leading many to now believe his days in the NFL are likely numbered. Strong arm and a great running threat? Well, those days are long gone and his play overall, never led to any meaningful victories for either the Atlanta Falcons Philadelphia Eagles or New York Jets over the course of his career. As for Smith, work in progress or not, momentary flashes of glimpses of brilliance are not what the Jets require, it his consistently winning games and showing leadership than his propensity for fumbling the ball and throwing interceptions.

It will be interesting to see what now transpires within the Jets’ organization, as they gauge where and when their season began to spiral completely out of control. My question remains , if John Idzik was the architect behind the building of a Superbowl winning roster, with last season’s champions the Seattle Seahawks , then how is it he and Ryan’s coaching staffwere not able to assemble a competitive roster for this season ?

Credible candidates for the regular season League MVP ? Cast your net wide, but to my mind there are but four strong nominees for the league’s highest invdividual regular season honor ! Granted, everyone seems to be jumping on the JJ Watt bandwagon, but how can anyone feel Watt is so deserving of the award when the Houston Texans (9-7)barely above.500 never really challenged the Indianapolis Colts (11-5) for divisional supremacy within the AFC South or the very fact the team failed to make it into the postseason ? Granted , Watt did have an exceptional year as a defensive player and rightfully or wrongfully he can be considered for the award , but to my mind he has been the best Defensive Player in the league this season , but being the best player in the NFL this year ? There are are other candidates far more worthy than Watt !

I believe the Texans’ defensive end (Watt) to be the best player on the roster this season. Yet , that in-of-itself should be by no means the sole requirement for him to be simply be handed the prize unanimously in a number of adjudicators’ eyes. Has he been the best player in the NFL this season ? Consistency might suggest Watt has been, but I consider the play of Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Peyton Manning, DeMarco Murray and Tom Brady to have been just as credible. When these awards are handed out during the NFL’s annual awards’ ceremony , it will be interesting to see who the recipient award will be and whether not it a unanimous or majority vote balloted in the player’s favor. Your thoughts on this specific matter ?

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Picture gallery .

With the NFL postseason about to get underway this weekend, what event during the regular season caught your attention and which teams during the league’s postseason foray do you believe will rise to the occasion and win it all ? Chime in with a comment on the subject matter as you see fit and thanks as always for the continued support of this site as it has been greatly appreciated ! With the New Year beckoning, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and Prosperous New Year !

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Picture and slideshow details below.

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(1) Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers avoids the tackle from Calais Campbell (93) of the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. The Forty Niners would go on to defeat the Cardinals 20-17 , with the contest being Jim Harbaugh’s last game in charge as the head coach of the team. Getty Images Ezra Shaw …

(2) Frank Gore (21) of the San Francisco 49ers runs with the ball against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images / Ezra Shaw ….

(3) Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and owner Jed York talk at midfield during warm ups against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. Getty Images /Don Feria …

(4) Head coach Rex Ryan , left, of the New York Jets speaks with head coach Joe Philbin of the Miami Dolphins during pregame workouts before the Jets met the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. It was announced today that Ryan and GM John Idzik had been fired by team owner Woody Johnson as the franchise seeks to move on after a thoroughly disappointing season. Getty Images / Mike Ehrmann …

(5) Mike Evans (13) of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers runs after a reception in the first half of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Tampa, Florida. The Saints defeated the Bucs 23-20 . Getty Images North America / Joe Robbins …

(6) Blake Bortles (5) of the Jacksonville Jaguars is sacked by J.J. Watt (99) of the Houston Texans in the first quarter in a NFL game on December 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Getty Images / Bob Levey …

(7) J.J. Watt (99) of the Houston Texans celebrates sacking Blake Bortles (5) of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter in a NFL game on December 28, 2014 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. Getty Images /Bob Levey …

(8) Quarterback Russell Wilson (3) of the Seattle Seahawks throws a pass against the St. Louis Rams at Century-Link Field on December 28, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. Getty Images / Johnathan Ferrey …

(9) Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback , Russell Wilson is seen here raising the Lombardi Trophy after the team’s lopsided victory over the Denver Broncos in last season’s Superbowl . The Seahawks enter the postseason as the number one seed in the NFC and a strong contender to repeat as the defending champions . Wilson is also considered a leading contender for League MVP after a stellar season for the team. Also pictured are Michael Strahan to the left of the quarterback, with Seahawks’ head coach Pete Carroll to Wilson’s rear . AP Photo/ Mike Thomas …
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Tophatal ….

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This wasn’t the way it was meant to be , but I’ll take it

This wasn’t the way it was meant to be , but I’ll take it

By Tophatal ….. 01/08/2013

There’s something to be said for teams playing themselves into contention as the postseason approaches , and one could also attest to the fact that a team without a veteran presence on it , will tend to come up short in the initial round of the NFL playoffs . Clearly, that was the case, when the Baltimore Ravens played hosts to the Indianapolis Colts , led by their rookie sensation , Andrew Luck . And against the backdrop of the stories that surrounded the franchise over the course of the season , it seemed that nothing was about to go right for the team.

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it was revealed before the Sunday afternoon kickoff, that Colts’ assistant head coach, Bruce Arians had suddenly taken ill , having collapsed in his hotel room , suffering from dizziness and nausea . Considering, the health issues that befell Chuck Pagano earlier on , with his recovery from Hodgkin’s Lymphoma , having undergone several rounds of debilitating chemotherapy .One has to wonder, if this was simply a rather unjust way of getting back at the Colts after their on-field success this season?

From 2-14 in 2011 , to double-digit wins and a postseason berth in 2012 , to alongside the exhilarating play of Andrew Luck and his teammates . What no one would be in doubt with , was that Ravens’ veteran linebacker , Ray Lewis was not about to let this game be his final swan song with the Baltimore Ravens . Over his illustrious career, Lewis has racked up accolades, the way, Warren Buffett has seen his wealth grow immensely . Lewis has the respect of his peers, past and present , as well a great many number of fans across the NFL landscape. And while he made the formal announcement stating that this would be his last season in the NFL , I seriously doubt that Ray Lewis’ wish was to ride off into the sunset, with a postseason loss to the upstart Indianapolis Colts .

The Colts did their leveled best to keep this game close , but errant plays , missed opportunities , and as I alluded to , the lack postseason experience , with only a few such veterans on the roster who could provide a minutiae of what was sought , Indianapolis would in the end come up short , on the wrong side of a 24-9 loss to their AFC counterparts .

As a New England Patriots’ (12-4) fan, simply knowing that they had garnered a top two seeding in the AFC was enough of respite knowing that the team’s defense still remains a work in progress, this late into the season . Now, far be it, for me to suggest, that Bill Belichick , a defensive “guru” , simply does know what he is doing , but at times there does seem to be a reason to his madness and that of his coaching staff . As to what that might be , only the venerable head coach and his staff would clearly know what that might be .

All season long , the deficiencies in the Patriots’ defense were highlighted , with their inconsistent play , albeit that came away victorious in many of those games . Charged with making the defense a great deal stealthier , well that has been placed in the hands of Matt Patricia , while the offense is left in the hands of Josh McDaniels. While the defense has its ongoing woes, the offense of the Patriot has simply been clicking on all cylinders . Leading the way for the Patriots is the franchise’s three-time winning Superbowl quarterback and league MVP , Tom Brady , who simply goes through the motions during the regular season, but once the postseason comes around , he simply becomes a cold-hearted assassin .

The Patriots will host the Houston Texans . This will be the second successive season, in which the Texans have made the postseason . For Texans’ quarterback, Matt Schaub , he will be given the chance to redeem himself after the team’s lopsided 42-14 defeat in week fourteen to their venerable AFC East counterparts. And much of the hype that surrounded the Texans during the early part of the season wasn’t at all justified , as the team came into the final five games of the regular season , going 2-3 in those scheduled match-ups . Hardly, what one consider to be noteworthy for a franchise with Superbowl aspirations. And though one can’t really put much store in one game , I do feel however, if you gauge that by looking at the series between the two combatants , it can at times provide us with something of an indicator , as to how these games can go !

The Houston Texans have proven to be a formidable force this season , and as one of the three best teams </u in the AFC from a record and offensive standpoint , it is easy to understand why the team was seen and remains as such, one of the favorites within the conference for the Superbowl. Running backs , Arian Foster , Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead , should be able to provide the fans in attendance at Gillette Stadium , in Foxborough , Massachusetts with a great spectacle in terms of a running game . A stern test of both defenses will be part of the recipe , in what is hoped to be a scintillating game . If there is a victor to come out of this match-up , then it will be all predicated upon time of possession , and whomever controls the ball in that specific category will come away the winner , in this divisional round duel.

I don’t know that there will be a more highly anticipated game this upcoming weekend , than the prospective match-up between the Seattle Seahawks and the Atlanta Falcons ! For a seventh round draft pick (2012 NFL Draft) , Russell Wilson might just prove to be the invaluable and prophetic player taken that late in the NFL Draft over the past decade , since Tom Brady as was drafted by the Patriots a sixth rounder in the 2000 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots . As we know Brady’s career has been illuminated by his on-field accomplishments , his career earnings , estimated wealth , conservatively said to be between $75 million to $120 million , and the fact that he and Peyton Manning might just be the most marketable players in the NFL, and that is with the idiocy that surrounds the “marketing” of Tim Tebow , as one of the “up and coming faces “ within the NFL ! Affability as a sales’ tool when it comes to consumer branding and marketing amongst heterosexual males , might just rank up there alongside using Clay Aiken as the next spokesperson for Louis Vuitton. It just doesn’t work .

In a game that will see Matt Ryan , of the Atlanta Falcons , once again try to get off the “Schneid” in terms of garnering his first postseason victory in what will be his fourth attempt indicates the struggles the player has in terms of his postseason performances . Ryan , forever the consummate professional is a great regular season performer , yet all of his troubles tend to arise in the postseason. As to whether or not he will be able to lead the Atlanta Falcons past a self-confident and driven Seahawks’ team , well that remains to be seen .

Russell Wilson’s accomplishments this season have simply been extraordinary, and the very fact that he joined Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin as the only rookies to have taken their respective franchises into the playoffs in their very first season, speaks volumes as their play. What cannot be denied in 2012 , and it is that we may well have seen the best year amongst NFL rookie quarterbacks in well over a decade .

Whether or not he wins Comeback Player of the Year or adds to his tally of four League MVP’s , there is no denying that Peyton Manning had an astonishing season in 2012 . He led the Denver Broncos to a conference best 13-3 record , and the fact that they steamrolled their way to the AFC West divisional title , simply indicates to me that the , Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders , and San Diego Chargers , are in all likelihood , going to be playing catch-up to the Broncos for quite a few years to come !

And for the Broncos they now have a home date with the Baltimore Ravens , to be played at Sports Authority Field , in Denver , Colorado ,. The two teams met earlier in the season , in week fifteen , with the Colts coming away with a 34-17 victory over their conference rivals . It was very much a game , that pivoted around the proficiency of both offenses and defenses during a great deal of the scheduled match-up between these two teams. For quarterbacks Peyton Manning and the Ravens’ Joe Flacco , this should be an event , that will provide us with an aerial assault , as well as , a great deal of productivity on the ground , by way of a running game from both the Colts and the Ravens.

Getting beyond the travails of Alex Smith , for whom consistency has been worrisome , considering over the course of his career, it wasn’t until 2011 that we saw some growth , maturity and leadership from the seven-year veteran quarterback, drafted out of Utah State as the # overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft. With Smith’s regression in 2012 , it has been his backup Colin Kaepernick , who has stepped to the fore to take this Niners’ team into the postseason. Head coach Jim Harbaugh , had shown all the faith he had in Smith , but once the player became injured , he was left with the backup , Colin Kaepernick. He has grasped that opportunity and relished being the incumbent starting quarterback . On Saturday , we will get the chance to see Kaepernick make his first postseason start and assuage his progress as player within the ranks ranks of the NFL .

The prospective match-up between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers , in a game to be played at Candlestick Park , in San Francisco , California, should prove to be eventful , with an all too weary Packers’ team seeking not to be duped into that false sense of security . And with Packers’ quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, looking to further cement his legacy , after another exemplary season . This game has all the makings of becoming an instantaneous classic, in more ways than one .

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Picture gallery.

What , if anything , has been the most surprising to you , in terms of the playoff games that have taken place ? And in the divisional round of the postseason , what do you hope to see from the teams participating at that juncture? Chime in, on this, and anything else you believe to be pertinent to the subject matter .

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Picture and slideshow details below .
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(1) Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis celebrates after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Indianapolis Colts Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. Lewis has said he will retire at the end of the season, and the Ravens won 24-9 . AP Photo/Gail Burton …

(2) Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) runs with the ball and gets away from Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (50) , for a 47 yard gain , during the first half of an NFL wild card playoff football game Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, in Baltimore. AP Photo/Patrick Semansky …

(3) New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski faces reporters in the team’s locker room at Gillette Stadium following NFL football practice in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. The Patriots host the Houston Texans on Sunday in an AFC divisional playoff game . AP Photo/Steven Senne …

(4) Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) reacts to throwing an interception to Cincinnati Bengals’ Leon Hall during the second quarter of an NFL wild card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, in Houston. Left is Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins . AP Photo/Dave Einsel …

(5) Denver Broncos coach John Fox , left, and quarterback Peyton Manning (18) watch from the sidelines against the Kansas City Chiefs in the fourth quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012, in Denver. Denver won 38-3 . AP Photo/Joe Mahoney ….

(6) Head coach Jim Harbaugh talks to Colin Kaepernick (7) of the San Francisco 49ers in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears at Candlestick Park on November 19, 2012 in San Francisco, California. Getty Images North America / Thomas W Henderson …

(7) Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson waves as he leaves the field after an NFL wild card playoff football game against the Washington Redskins in Landover, Md., Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013. The Seahawks defeated the Redskins 24-14 . AP Photo/Matt Slocum …

(8) Five quarterbacks who failed to deliver in 2012 by way of a playoff berth for their respective teams . From left to right , Eli Manning , Tony Romo , Ben Roethlisberger , Philip Rivers , and Jay Cutler . All are hoping to rebound in 2013 . …. @ copyrighted material all rights reserved …

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Wale & … Gucci Mane “Pretty Girls”

I’m Not One For Conspiracy Theories But What The F##k ………

I’m Not One For Conspiracy Theories But What The F##k ………

By tophatal …..

So in the aftermath of the fallout of the NFL wildcard round of the playoffs as we summarily saw the Pittsburgh Steelers get upended by the Denver Broncos in what can be best described as the thrilling end to a rather innocuous game in terms of its execution. Tim Tebow lived up to the hype and a great deal more but it would remiss to suggest that this was all about the quarterback without the play of his teammates .

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With the game going into overtime and tied at 23-23 apiece it was felt that this matchup was ripe for the picking for the Steelers . Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ailing and visually in pain the player simply couldn’t get into a rhythm whereby his team could ever really be described as being in with a chance of derailing the Broncos . Strangely enough for me what might have been the most telling site within this game was to see Troy Polamalu simply lower his head as if he knew that the inevitable was about to happen. The Steelers’ defense was simply awry as somehow they simply couldn’t get the better of the Denver Broncos’ offense.

In the first play of overtime with the Denver Broncos having possession Tim Tebow excited the crowd with a 80 yard touchdown strike to Demaryius Thomas that ended the game and sent over 70,000 raucous Broncos’ fans into sheer delight and ecstasy . Needless to say , questions will be asked of Dick LeBeau and Mike Tomlin as to the blown coverage as Thomas scampered into the end-zone at Mile High Stadium untouched . A compelling way to end the game with a 29-23 victory for the Broncos and a chance to make this season of the unexpected seem like a dramatic feature of the highest order . Thrills , spills and anything else that you would care to use an adjective . Needless to say for seasoned veterans such as Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey . ………… two players who are inevitably Canton bound to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame . This may well provide another footnote in their celebrated careers and whether or not this would could well be the finale one would only expect to be scripted by a screenwriter in Hollywood .

Not so long ago I felt that Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan might well have been one of the up and coming stars within the NFL . Certainly the Falcons’ front office led by GM Rich McKay thought so and clearly coach Mike Smith hitched his wagon to the young player. Well if Saturday’s game was anything to suggest that perception can be misleading than the Falcons’ woefully inept performance in being annihilated 24-2 by the New York Giants . The Giants’ defense much like the Great Wall of China could not be assaulted or penetrated and let’s just say that Osi Umennyiora , Jason Pierre Paul and Justin Tuck the fulcrum to that defensive corps simply ate up anything that came their way . The sole productivity by way of their offensive output was a mere two points from a “safety ” . From thereon-in it was simply one way traffic as the Giants laid a can of whup ass on the Falcons . So much for the possible calls for Tom Coughlin to be fired should the team’s season have imploded as it had done in the two years previously.

I’m all for offense during a game but what the hell ? Over 1,000 yards came way of the game between the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints . Two of the league’s best this season in Drew Brees and Matt Stafford lit up statistical charts and left the fans in awe of their prowess . And if that weren’t enough the points tally was a mere 73 points with Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson showing us why he might just be the most explosive wide receiver currently playing in the NFL . Johnson’s output , 211 yards and 2 touchdowns was all that he could muster but with both teams playing some high-octane football in front of a sold out crowd and national audience of millions this was a game for everyone to think that this is what the NFL postseason is meant to be about .

The Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans , Louisiana was alive and kicking . With Brees and the Saints coming off their 48-25 victory the New Orleans Saints now face the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the playoffs .

Anyone who witnessed the mauling that the Cincinnati Bengals were subjected to in their 31-10 loss at the hands of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium in Houston , Texas , will know that Marvin Lewis’ team was simply never in the game to begin with . There seemed to be nothing going right for a young Bengals’ team at its core that was were outmatched by a Texans’ team that simply yearned the victory more. In doing so it garnered Gary Kubiak’s players their first very playoff win in Texans’ history and garners the Houston Texans a match-up against second seed the Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Suffice to say that when the game gets set to be played at M&T Stadium in Baltimore , Maryland there will be a vociferous crowd cheering on both teams .

T J Yates the Texans’ young quarterback has guided this team without being asked to do too much by the coaching staff . He has simply played to his strengths without turning the ball over and placing the team inextricable situations . It is hard to believe that he would be the player to take this team in the postseason rather than starting quarterback Matt Schaub or his backup Matt Leinart . But such are the vagaries of the game within the NFL that when a player is entrusted with the goal of leadership and is being asked to bear a burden it is at times like this we get to see the character of that player and whether or not they are ultimately capable of leadership at the highest level. The one thing is now clear Yates will be a highly sought after player once this postseason has ended . Free agent or not his stature around the league will rise but I get the feeling that the Houston Texans’ front office will be reluctant to let this young quarterback slip through their fingers ! And you sought of get the feeling that the player will be richly rewarded financially by way of a renewed contract down the line .

For Marvin Lewis and the Bengals it’s back to the drawing board as they look to the future by assessing the strengths and weaknesses on this current roster . With the sudden drop off in form of the Pittsburgh Steelers and with them having something of an roster at their core , one gets the feeling that this just might be the time for the Cincinnati Bengals to take that next step up if they are now to be thought of as legitimate contenders not just within the AFC North but also within the AFC as a whole .

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OK so the NFL regular season ended with the customary bang but perhaps as usual the coaching carousel as we tend to know it began . The firings of Jack Del Rio , Raheem Morris , Steve Spagnuolo , Todd Haley and Tony Sparano ….. all came with the expectation that the team owners and general managers involved will go about seeking to hire candidates who are like minded in their thoughts about success.

Here within the Tampa Bay locale the firing of Raheem Morris wasn’t totally unexpected but what now appears to be all the more comical , is the complete idiocy now being shown by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ front office . GM Mark Dominik was graceful in his praise of the coach but herein lies my take on the situation. If Morris deserving of being shown the door then how the hell is jt that Dominik comes out of this all unscathed ? Last I looked , it was the general manager and coach who assembled this roster with the hope that the team would prove to be a profound success . Instead the Buccaneers lost ten successive games to end their season with a 4-12 record within the NFC South .

Would it be too strong a word …. ” stupid” do to suggest that if the Buccaneers are intent on paying Raheem Morris the remainder of his contract ($2.5 million) while still owing Morris’ predecessor Jon Gruden $5 million . I would now like to know if the Glazer family in their largesse are intent in paying out this type of money to their two most recent coaches then how is it that they have shown no intent over the course of Morris’ tenure to pay for top line free agents to bolser this roster ? Or are they simply intent on assessing the fortunes of their other sporting interest Manchester United of the English Premiership League (EPL [soccer]) ? I mean you are currently the owners of two sporting franchises with an estimated worth of $2.35 billion . One of which is known the world over and just happens to one of the most profitable professional sports’ franchises on the planet . Jerry Jones must now be pissing in his pants that his Dallas Cowboys do not sit atop that particular financial gravy train . Don’t worry Jerry , your Cowboys are doing very well with regard to that criteria alongside the New York Yankees , albeit that the team won’t be hosting an NFL playoff game anytime soon . Too much time has been spent by your head coach “icing” the kicker . Enough said on that particular subject matter for now !

To suggest that the Buccaneers under achieved this season would be very much like asking whether or not Josh Freeman was a complete disappointment ? If your answer is yes then you clearly see that quarterback as well as teammates simply were not up to the task of playing with any zeal whatsoever . All of the asinine suggestions that the roster was filled with young players keen to learn show their growth , clearly over the course of this season that simply didn’t happen . And for the likes of Ronde Barber , Kellen Winslow and Davin Joseph , if they can’t be vocal in demanding more of their teammates while their coach offers many of the idiotic sound bytes that the fans were privy to , then the Buccaneers were clearly deserving of their fate .

The interview process for the vacant position with the Tampa Bay map Buccaneers with a number of candidates meeting with Mark Dominik while the general manager assesses their qualities and what they may well bring to the organization. Mike Sherman , Brian Billick and Brad Childress are amongst the number of applicants interviewed so far. On perusing that none too impressive list I am wondering what it is that front office is said to be looking for ? They hired a complete novice in Morris, merely from the fact that they felt that he might have been in the running for another coaching position with another NFL franchise rather than initially going after a much more recognized coach . Name recognition means something nowadays in the NFL I believe amongst the coaching fraternity, but clearly the Buccaneers are now simply about doing things on the cheap . Obviously that wasn’t the case with Gruden because the former coach was able to wield his power in conjunction with then general manager Bruce Allen . As to Morris’ successor I am not so sure how much free rein he will be given over the personnel decisions concerning the coaching staff and players. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a cause-celebre` in terms of their grandiose ideas of self-worth as the Glazer family have seemingly pulled the wool over the fans within the locale . For the millions that they have corralled out of the community there has been little to suggest that the Glazers have the real intent of pursuing real success with the franchise even if it still remains a money-maker for the family . That in of-itself may well soothe their mindset but the fans are being shortchanged by their audacity. .

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Picture gallery for your perusal .

What are your expectations over the remainder of the NFL postseason ? And where do you see the hiring process going in terms of a successor to Raheem Morris for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ? Just leave a comment as to your thoughts on the points raised within this piece ?

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Picture and slide show for your perusal .

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(1) Demaryius Thomas (88) of the Denver Broncos makes a pass reception and fights off Ike Taylor (24) of the Pittsburgh Steelers to go 80 yards for the game winning touchdown on the first play of overtime at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 29-23 in their AFC Wild Card Playoff game. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …

(2) (2) Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin talks with reporters at the Steelers headquarters on Monday, Jan. 9, 2012 in Pittsburgh. The Steelers were eliminated from the NFL football playoffs in a 29-23 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos. AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar …..

(3) Quarterback Tim Tebow (15) of the Denver Broncos celebrates his second quarter rushing touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Steelers 29-23 in overtime. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images …

(4) Ben Roethlisberger (7) of the Pittsburgh Steelers dives for the ball after losing it against Von Miller (58) of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on January 8, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images … ……

(5) EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – JANUARY 08: Victor Cruz (80) of the New York Giants makes a reception against Dominique Franks (24) of the Atlanta Falcons during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images …

(6) Matt Ryan (2) of the Atlanta Falcons rolls out of the pocket as he looks to pass against the New York Giants during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game at MetLife Stadium on January 8, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images …

(7) Photographers gather around New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) and Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) following a 45-28 Saints win in an NFL wild card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Bill Haber ….

(8) Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a second half touchdown as New Orleans Saints cornerback Patrick Robinson (21) defends an NFL wild card playoff football game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in New Orleans. AP Photo/Gerald Herbert ….

(9) HOUSTON, TX – JANUARY 07: Running back Arian Foster (23) of the Houston Texans runs the ball in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images ….

(10) (10) Running back Arian Foster (23) of the Houston Texans congratulates quarterback T.J. Yates (13) of the Houston Texans after the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas.The Texans defeated the Bengals 31-10. Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images ………

(11) Quarterback T.J. Yates (13) of the Houston Texans calls signals out at the line of scrimmage behind center Chris Myers (55) against the Cincinnati Bengals defense during their 2012 AFC Wild Card Playoff game at Reliant Stadium on January 7, 2012 in Houston, Texas. Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images ……

(12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers co-chairman Joel Glazer speaks to reporters during an NFL news conference announcing that the Buccaneers have relieved head coach Raheem Morris of his duties on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. AP Photo/Brian Blanco …..

(13) (13) Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik speaks to reporters during an NFL news conference announcing that the Buccaneers have relieved head coach Raheem Morris of his duties on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco ……

(14) Head coach Raheem Morris of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks at the scoreboard during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on December 17, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. According to reports January 2, 2012, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fired head coach Raheem Morris. Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images ………
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