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Tag Archives: Falcons
Your Top Stories
1. Six of the seven expected coaching vacancies this offseason have been filled. Both Leslie Frazier of the Vikings and Jason Garrett of the Cowboys managed to shed their “interim” tags at the end of the regular season. From the college ranks, coveted Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh signed a five year deal to coach the San Francisco 49ers. On the coordinator front, the San Diego Chargers’ Defensive Coordinator, Ron Rivera, agreed to become the coach of the Carolina Panthers, and the St. Louis Rams’ Offensive Coordinator, Pat Shurmur, will become the new head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Finally, former Carolina coach John Fox agreed to become the new head coach for the Denver Broncos. That leaves the Oakland Raiders as the only current head coaching vacancy in the league.
2. This week we have a pair of unpleasant off-the-field tidbits for you. First, former Giants’ linebacker Lawrence Taylor plead guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute this week. As part of his plea bargain, Taylor will serve six years probation and must register as a sex offender. Taylor caught with a sixteen-year-old prostitute in May after the girl’s uncle alerted police. Taylor asserts that he did not know the prostitute was underage and that she told him she was nineteen. In other crime tangentially related to football news, Brett Favre’s sister, Brandi Favre, was arrested on Tuesday as part of a methamphetamine bust in Mississippi. She is currently out on bail, and facing charges manufacturing methamphetamine and generating hazardous waste. Her next court appearance will be on February 8th.
3. The Steelers received a visit from a familiar face yesterday, as Bill Cowher returned to watch the team practice for the first time since resigning as Pittsburgh’s head coach in 2007. Cowher became an analyst for CBS, and it was in this capacity that he watched the Steelers practice for their game against the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday. During the visit, Cowher interviewed many of his former players, including Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, and Hines Ward. Cowher, who currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, was seen hugging and shaking hands with many of the Pittsburgh players during the trip.
The Playoff Picture
Your final standings/seedings:
1. New England Patriots (14-2)
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4)
3. Indianapolis Colts (10-6)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6)
5. Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
6. New York Jets at (11-5)
My apologies for the mixup two weeks ago. I did not realize that the Colts could jump to the third seed with a win and a Chiefs’ loss. That’s not bad for a team that was 6-6 a month ago, though that’ll be little consolation now. The AFC playoff picture was exactly what we thought it would be, aside from Indy’s switch with Kansas City.
1. Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
2. Chicago Bears (11-5)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-6)
4. Seattle Seahawks (7-9)
5. New Orleans Saints (11-5)
6. Green Bay Packers (10-6)
Again, pretty much what we expected from the NFC, with the only mild surprise being that the Seahawks managed to become the first sub-.500 team to not only make the postseason, but win a playoff game. It’s a bit notable that the three teams with nothing really to play for in Week Seventeen: Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans, all lost in their final week of the regular season. We saw what that lack of momentum did for the Eagles and Saints; we’ll see if the Bears can do better.
Head of the Pack
Your final statistical leaders in:
1. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –4710 yards
2. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) – 4700 yards
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 4620 yards
Phillip Rivers jumped from third to first in Week Seventeen to become the 2010 NFL Passing leader.
1. Arian Foster (Houston) – 1616 yards
2. Jamal Charles (Kansas City) – 1467 yards
3. Michael Turner (Atlanta) – 1371
A little bit of a surprise here with Michael Turner jumping back into the top three in the final week of the season, but Arian Foster is the 2010 NFL Rushing Leader by a good 159 yards.
1. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 1448 yards
2. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 1389 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 1355 yards
There were no changes from Week Sixteen to Week Seventeen, and Brandon Lloyd is the 2010 Receiving Leader.
1. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 16.0
2. Tamba Hali (Kansas City) – 15.0
T-3. Cameron Wake (Miami) – 14.0
T-3. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 14.0
A bit of surprise here with DeMarcus Ware jumping ahead in the final week to become the 2010 Sack Leader, and with Tamba Hali pulling into second place.
Four Big Match Ups
1. Baltimore at Pittsburgh, Saturday, 4:30 P.M. EST on CBS – I have said all year that I’m not sure who the Pittsburgh Steelers have been this season. Most teams that make it to 12-4 either start rolling early and stumble at the end when there’s not much on the line, or perform consistently well with a few aberrant stumbles here and there. The Steelers, on the other hand, arrived at this record in a pretty unusual way. They started out strong, winning five of their first six games and seemed like they might even run away with the division. Then, the Steelers seemed to struggle a bit in the middle of the year, losing by double digits to New Orleans and New England. While they still managed to win at this time, they were just barely eking out victories over bad teams. Finally, they seemed to pick things up at the end, winning four of their last five games, and absolutely crushing the weaker squads in their division. If ever there’s a time to keep up that momentum, it’s now. Mike Tomlin and Big Ben are hoping to roll onto the field with the team that dominated at the beginning and end of the season, not the one that struggled in the middle. The Ravens, on the other hand, are looking to once and for all step out of the shadow of Pittsburgh in the AFC North. The two teams entered the postseason tied at 12-4, but the Steelers got the division and the bye, thanks to the tiebreaker, dropping the Ravens from a potential second seed down to the fifth seed. How did Baltimore respond? With a thirty-point beat down of the AFC West champion’s from Kansas City The Ravens looked like a team possessed as they absolutely manhandled the Chiefs. The Ravens will look to continue that type of play against their division rivals, and pave their way to the AFC Championship game. This game is my pick for the best matchup of the weekend.
2. Green Bay at Atlanta, Saturday, 8 P.M. EST on FOX – The Packers have won their last three games in a row, beating a playoff contender in the New York Giants, and a pair of division winners in the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, they’ll try to defeat their third NFC division champ in a month and unseat the Atlanta Falcons. Aaron Rodgers on offense and Clay Matthews on defense have led these Packers into the playoffs and seem to have the momentum going into this game. That said, the Atlanta Falcons have won nine of their last ten games, will be setting up shop in the Georgia Dome, and have had an extra week to rest and prepare for their opponents. Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been far and away the top team in the NFC this year, and they’ll look to continue their great season all the way to the NFC Championship game. Expect a great fight between two great teams.
3. Seattle at Chicago, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – A great many of us thought, and some still think, that the Seattle Seahawks had no business making the playoffs. Even among those of us who thought they deserved the berth, most expected the high-powered New Orleans Saints to completely steamroll a Seattle team that couldn’t even manage a winning record. Well, in a weekend of upsets, Seattle pulled off the biggest of the weekend, and one of the biggest in NFL history, as they hung on to beat New Orleans 41-36. The Seahawks have pulled off a lot of firsts this year. They were the first sub-.500 team to make the playoffs and also the first sub-.500 teams to win a playoff game. Now, can they become the first sub-.500 team to make it to the NFC Championship game? Not if the Bears can help it. Chicago is coming off a bye week. They’re rested, and looking to enter the game fired up against Seattle. With Jay Cutler, Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher, and Devin Hester taking the field, expect the big names of Chicago to look to make an impact in the team’s first playoff game in four years. I expect this to be a much better game than the records portend, and the kick-return battle between Hester and Leon Washington should be worth the price of admission on its own.
4. NY Jets at New England, 4:30 P.M. EST on FOX – It’s Jets-Pats, baby. How much more is there to say? In our second divisional matchup of the weekend, two of the biggest teams from this season will square off for a third time. At the Meadowlands, the Jets got a huge two-touchdown victory over the Patriots in Week Two, and looked to have the fast track to the top of the AFC East. Then, in lucky Week Thirteen, the Pats returned the favor and then some, as they absolutely demolished New York in a 45-3 drubbing at home. Now the Jets will return to Foxboro with both teams’ seasons on the line. New York initially seemed to be reeling from that New England game, but then they appeared to have righted the ship at the end of the season, winning two of their last three match ups, including an important victory over the second-seeded Steelers. The Patriots, on the other hand, have won their last eight games in a row, and scored no fewer than thirty-one points in each outing. This matchup between the top seed and the sixth seed in the AFC has the potential to be a back and forth affair or a blowout. As fans of good football, let’s hope for the former.
Your Top Stories
1. Rex Ryan might be giving the term “football” new meaning this week. Deadspin uncovered four videos of a woman who appears to be Ryan’s wife, Michelle, showing off her clod-hoppers in a series of foot-fetish videos. The videos were uploaded to youtube by a user named “ihaveprettyfeet” who shares several biographical details in common with Michelle. In one video, the camera man who sounds strikingly like Ryan converses with the woman about her feet. The fine folks at Deadspin guess that this video was made a few years ago while Ryan was an assistant coach in Baltimore. When asked about the videos, Ryan said it was a “personal matter” and refused to comment. The NFL agreed, saying it would not be investigating. So did Jets management, with New York GM Mike Tannenbaum and owner Woody Johnson indicating that Ryan has their “full support.” You can be sure our crack news team will be keeping their toes in the water on this one.
2. Indianapolis receiver Austin Collie is out for the season after suffering a concussion in the Colts’ game against the Jaguars last week. It was his second concussion of the year, and enough for Indy to put him on IR, ending his season. Collie has been banged up all year, missing five games completely and missing significant parts of three others after he was knocked out of the game. Despite this, Collie managed to lead the Colts in touchdown receptions with eight, and the loss will deprive Manning of one of his favorite targets over the past two years. Coach Jim Caldwell said, “From a medical standpoint, we are concerned more so about his health than anything else.” Collie’s injury comes in the wake of a number of other significant personnel losses suffered by the Colts, including Dallas Clark, Anthony Gonzales, Joseph Addai, and Bob Sanders.
3. Some quarterback quick-hits for you in our third news item of the week. The Broncos indicated that Tim Tebow will be starting the team’s remaining games against Houston and San Diego. Kyle Orton, the team’s starting quarterback for the majority of the year, expressed his displeasure, saying, “I don’t know if I’ll be here next year. We’ll just have to wait and see what shakes out with the organization.” The 49ers are remaining quiet as to which Smith will be starting for them this week – Troy or Alex. An NFL Network report indicated that Troy would start. Alex has gone 1-8 this year, while Troy has won three of five games in relief. Mark Sanchez has been limited in practice due to a sore shoulder, but said he expects to play in the Jets’ game against Chicago this week. Brett Favre might still play despite his concussion last week against the Bears, but the Vikings, and Joe Webb, are preparing as though he will miss the game. Finally, Aaron Rodgers returned to practice with the Packers this week, and he is expected to start against the Giants on Sunday despite having suffered his second concussion this year.
The Playoff Picture
If the playoffs were held today…
1. New England Patriots (12-2)+
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10-4)+
3. Kansas City Chiefs (9-5)
4. Indianapolis Colts (8-6)
5. Baltimore Ravens (10-4)
6. New York Jets at (10-4)
With the San Diego Chargers and the Jacksonville Jaguars knocking on the door at 8-6.
Despite the lack of teams clinching by this point relative to prior seasons, the AFC playoff picture has remained remarkably stable, with only the Colts’ do-si-do with the Jags changing the order from last week. With two weeks to go, the only big questions are: Can the Steelers hold off the Ravens? Can the Chiefs hold off the Chargers? And who will come out on top in the fight between Indy and Jacksonville for the AFC South?
1. Atlanta Falcons (12-2)+
2. Chicago Bears (10-4)*
3. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4)
4. St. Louis Rams (6-8)
5. New Orleans Saints (10-4)
6. New York Giants (9-5)
With the Green Bay Packers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers knocking on the door at 8-6, and the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers still holding onto a chance to win the NFC West at 6-8 and 5-9 respectively.
Again, the NFC playoff picture has been pretty solid consistent despite a lack of mathematical certainty, and it looks to stay that way over the last two weeks of the season. The big questions are: Can the Eagles hold onto their lead in the East over the Giants? Will one of the Bays, be it Green or Tampa, be able to sneak into a Wildcard spot? And what miserable team will back its way into winning the NFC West?
+ = Clinched Playoff Berth
* = Clinched Division
Head of the Pack
Your statistical leaders in:
1. Peyton Manning (Indianapolis) – 4257 yards
2. Phillip Rivers (San Diego) –4141 yards
3. Drew Brees (New Orleans) – 4122 yards
With Manning jumping to number one.
1. Arian Foster (Houston) – 1345 yards
2. Maurice Jones-Drew – 1324 yards
3. Jamal Charles (Kansas City) – 1303 yards
With no changes for the second week in a row.
1. Roddy White (Atlanta) – 1284 yards
2. Brandon Lloyd (Denver) – 1264 yards
3. Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis) – 1247 yards
With Lloyd and Wayne switching places from last week.
1. Cameron Wake (Miami) – 14.0
2. Clay Matthews (Green Bay) – 13.0
T-3. John Abraham (Atlanta) – 12.0
T-3. Jason Babin (Tennessee) – 12.0
T-3. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas) – 12.0
With Shaun Phillips and Tamba Hali falling out of the top three.
Three Big Match Ups
1. NY Jets at Chicago, 1 P.M. EST on CBS – What makes this game intriguing is that the Jets have a lot more to play for than Chicago. With last week’s win, the Bears clinched the NFC North. If Chicago can win out, or if they can get a little help from the Eagles, they can also secure a first round bye. But thanks to the woeful NFC West, even if the Bears don’t win another game this season, the worst that happens is a home playoff game against the sixth seed. The heavy lifting is pretty much over for Jay Cutler & Co. until the postseason. What makes this interesting is the fact that this is a group who haven’t been to the playoffs, let alone clinched a berth before the end of the season, in four years. Whether Mike Martz can get his crew fired up and ready to play or whether his team will come out flat with so much locked up will say a lot about these Bears. The Jets, on the other hand, are still fighting for their playoff lives after having previously held the best record in the league. How the mighty have fallen. New York still controls their own destiny, and if they can win this game, they’re in the playoffs. Even if they lose, they still have their chances with the underachieving Bills on the schedule for their regular season finale, but the AFC Wildcard race is coming to a head and the Jets need to build momentum as they head toward the playoffs. Last week’s win against the likely second-seeded Steelers should help give the Jets their swagger back, but Rex Ryan’s group still needs to firmly erase the memories of their beat down in New England and their close loss to Miami. What kind of game Chicago plays and what kind of team New York puts on the field will give us a good view of what to expect from both sides in the postseason.
2. NY Giants at Green Bay, 4:15 P.M. EST on FOX – This is essentially a playoff game between the presumptive second place finishers in the NFC East and the NFC North. The stakes are the highest for Green Bay. The Packers control their own destiny, and if they can win out, they will go to the playoff thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker with New York and the strength of victory tiebreaker with Tampa Bay. If, however, the Pack loses this game, they’re officially eliminated from playoff contention and a promising season will go down the drain. With Aaron Rodgers returning after his second concussion of the year, it’s do or die in Green Bay. The Giants are suffering a bit themselves. After giving up a 31-10 lead over Philadelphia Eagles last week, a disastrous fourth quarter and a special teams bungle to end all bungles for New York all but dashed their hopes for winning the NFC East. A win for the Giants would give them a playoff berth thanks to a strength of victory tiebreaker over the Bucs, but the big question going into this game is – how much of a hangover will the G-men be nursing as they walk into Lambeau? This game could lock down a major part of the rough and tumble wildcard race in the NFC. The Packers need the win to get to the big dance, but the Giants need the win to prove to themselves that the Philly game was a fluke and that they won’t fade in the heat. Expect a playoff atmosphere and a great game.
3. New Orleans at Atlanta, Monday, 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – It’s rare for two teams this good to be playing in the same division. The Falcons look nigh unstoppable, having not lost a game since the middle of October and stringing together eight wins in a row in the mean time. A victory would be huge for Atlanta, giving them not only the NFC South, but home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Falcons are flying high, and nothing would cap their regular season better than defeating their division rivals to ensure that the road to the Superbowl goes through Atlanta in front of the home crowd. The defending Superbowl champion Saints, however, are no slouches themselves. While New Orleans, at two games back, would need a great deal of help to unseat the Falcons at the top of the NFC South, they would be at least tied for first in six of the seven other divisions in the league. New Orleans is still smarting from last week’s loss to Baltimore, but they have won six of their last seven games, and a win here would clinch them a playoff berth. These are two of the best teams not just in the NFC South, or the NFC, but the league. Expect them both to shine in front of a national audience on Monday Night.
Your Top Stories
1. Denver Broncos wide receiver Kenny McKinley committed suicide on Monday. One of McKinley’s friends discovered the body on Monday afternoon after running an errand with McKinley’s son. Authorities indicated that McKinley died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Denver coach Josh McDaniels expressed great sadness at McKinley’s passing, adding that no one within the Broncos organization was aware of McKinley’s depression. Denver will observe a moment of silence before their game on Sunday in honor of McKinley. He was 23.
2. Braylon Edwards, wide receiver for the New York Jets, was arrested today for driving while intoxicated. New York police stopped Edwards due to the fact that his SUV’s windows were too tinted to see through, and they detected a strong scent of alcohol coming from the car. Police administered a breath test, and found that Edwards had a blood alcohol content of .16, twice the legal limit. This crime may be a violation of Edwards probation that stemmed from a misdemeanor aggravated assault charge in Cleveland after he punched a friend of LeBron James. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum said that Edwards will be active for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins, though he indicated that whether or not he plays will be up to Jets coach Rex Ryan.
3. A pair of quarterback controversies captured the imagination of the league this week. First and foremost, Eagles coach Andy Reid announced that Michael Vick would start in place of Kevin Kolb. Kolb was named the starter coming out of preseason, but a concussion suffered in the Eagles’ first game of the season gave Vick an opportunity to take the field, and he shined in relief. As recently as yesterday, Reid had indicated that Kolb would return to the starting job as soon as he fully recovered from his concussion, but today he did an about-face, saying that “[w]hen someone is playing at the level Michael Vick is playing, you have to give him an opportunity.” Additionally, Jimmy Clausen will make his first NFL start this Sunday in place of the flagging Matt Moore. The former Nortre Dame quarterback will start for the Carolina Panthers in the hopes of digging them out of an 0-2 hole.
Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs
New Orleans Saints
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For those of you keeping track, that’s eight undefeated teams still standing after the first two weeks of the season. In 2009 there were nine at this point in the season and in 2008 there were ten.
2008 Detroit Lions Memorial Winless Teams
San Francisco 49ers
St. Louis Rams
Just to keep things even, we also have eight winless teams after the first two weeks of the season. It was also even in 2009 when there were nine winless teams in week three.
Three Big Match Ups
1. Atlanta at New Orleans, 1 P.M. EST on FOX – The defending Superbowl champs have pulled out two hard fought wins in the first two weeks of the season. With the game tied and a minute and a half left in the game, Drew Brees led the Saints down the field and gave Garrett Hartley the opportunity to kick the game-winning field goal. Both the 49ers and the Vikings gave New Orleans a big fight, but each time, the champs responded and got the win. This week, the Saints will face their first division opponent, without running back Reggie Bush, and attempt to establish themselves in the NFC South this season. The Falcons, meanwhile, have played a pair of impressive games of their own. Despite a close, heartbreaking loss to the Steelers in week one, the Falcons absolutely thrashed the Arizona Cardinals by a score of 41-7. Matt Ryan threw for 225 yards, three touchdowns, and completed 66% of his passes. Now, Ryan and the rampaging Atlanta offense will take aim at the Saints and attempt to unseat their division rivals to prove themselves the class of the NFC South.
2. NY Jets at Miami, 8:20 P.M. EST on NBC – The New York Jets narrowly avoided going winless through the first two weeks of the season by coming from behind to beat the New England Patriots in one of the most exciting games of the weekend. While Mark Sanchez looked sluggish and disoriented last weekend, he came alive in week two, playing efficient football and making the tough throws when necessary. Though there’s no way to know how much the issue with Braylon Edwards will serve as a distraction, the Jets appear to have found their legs (and that includes L.T.) and will seek to notch another win in the AFC East. The Dolphins, meanwhile, have quietly amassed a 2-0 record to start the season, with a solid win over the Buffalo Bills and a close, grind-it-out win against the Vikings. The Miami defense managed to hold Adrian Peterson out of the endzone when Minnesota was on the one-yard line with the game was on the line. The Fins are currently on top and the AFC East, and a win over the division rival Jets would cement their position there.
3. Green Bay at Chicago, Monday, 8:30 P.M. EST on ESPN – This matchup can boast not only a division rivalry, but a pair of undefeated teams squaring off in the national spotlight. The Packers were early favorites to contend in the NFC and have lived up to the billing. Aaron Rodgers has firmly stepped into the big shoes left by Brett Favre and led the Pack to a strong win over the Eagles and a thirty-four point shellacking of the Bills. Green Bay appears to be firing on all cylinders and will look to make it three wins in a row to start the season. The Bears, meanwhile, have had a narrower margin of victory, but their record is exactly the same as Green Bay’s and the cherry on top would be beating the Packers to claim sole possession of first place in the NFC North. With a controversial win over Detroit and a big victory on the road against Dallas, Chicago is a force to be reckoned with and will look to show their mettle against a division rival.