Archives for: 2009, week 01

01/11/09

NFL's Top 3 Sacked in Playoffs!

Permalink 06:26:26 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

NFL's top 3 Playoff seeds were elimated this weekend!

The biggest upset was Arizona's (9-7) victory over NFC #2 seed Carolina Panthers (12-4) on Saturday. Arizona's 33-13 blowout stunned a Carolina team which had not lost a single home game all season. Many thought the Panthers were the NFC's toughest team heading into post-season play. They crumbled early and often. Cards took advantage of turnovers and blew the game wide open.

Baltimore won a defensive battle in Tennessee and knocked off AFC's #1 seeded Titans 13-10 on a late Matt Stover game winning field goal. I can't consider this game much of an upset beyond a lower seed knocking out a higher seed. Baltimore's defense is one of NFL's top ranked units. Tennessee was also injury riddled before and during the game. Ravens are one of AFC's best and they took advantage opportunities in key situations.

Today, it was the World Champions time to fall. Arch rival Philadelphia bested the Giants 23-11 in blustery conditions at the Meadowlands. The Giants blew this game. Terrible play calling which relied on an ineffective passing game over a strong running attack which could have devoured Philly's small defensive line if they only ran up the middle more often. The Giants were physically and emotionally beaten long before two late game 4th and short failures ended their chances of repeating. New York could have buried Philadelphia in the first half. Time and time again the Giants were in Eagles territory is walked away without points. Eventually, chances evaporated and turnovers killed drives while defensive failures on Philly 3rd downs lost the field position wars. Mix in two missed field goals and it was an ugly ending to a great season by New York.

Three road teams won this weekend with San Diego playing in Pittsburgh as I type.

That's why games are played on the field and not on stat sheets or tv studios. No commentators gave Arizona any chance to win even though the Cards offense is one of the best when clicking. In New York, theory was if Giants contain Westbrook then victory was in hand. Giants limited Westbrook to 46 total yards and lost by 12. Tennessee fans figured the key to winning was a solid ground game. Titans were effective but gave up on the running attack. Red zone passing plays (interception, fumble) doomed their once great season... as did no flags thrown on a key 3rd down late in the game when Baltimore clearly let the play clock expire. Pittsburgh has their hands full today too. SD has never won in Pittsburgh during the regular season (0-13). However, when it comes to Playoff football, SD has never lost in Pittsburgh (2-0).

Next weekend AFC/NFC Championship Games will determine who plays in the big game. As of now, AFC rep holds a big advantage. The same was said last year when everyone outside of New York favored the Patriots.

01/10/09

NFL Year End Awards by All World All Sports

Permalink 09:50:55 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

2008 NFL regular season was one for the books. Cinderella stories (Dolphins, Titans), Favre follies in New York, Chargers improbable season after disasterous beginning, Broncos late season choke and Shanahan firing, winless Detroit, Cowboys miss out, Cardinals win division, Brady injured during opening minutes of '08, last minute heroics, successful rookie head coaches and much more...

It's time for 2008 All World All Sports Football Awards

Team of the Year: (tie) Tennessee Titans (13-3), Miami Dolphins (11-5)
Coach of the Year: Tony Sparano, Miami
Offensive Player of the Year: Michael Turner, RB - Atlanta
Defensive Player of the Year: James Harrison, LB - Pittsburgh
Special Teams Player of the Year: Steven Gostkowski, PK - New England
Comeback Player of the Year: Chad Pennington, Miami
All Time NFL Futility Record: Detroit Lions "0-16"
Most Disappointing Team of 2008: Dallas Cowboys

01/09/09

NBA Game Fixing Swept Under the Rug?

Permalink 04:33:41 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

Former NBA ref Tim Donaghy's admission of guilt for his role of NBA game fixing has been neatly and quietly swept under the rug. When this story 1st broke, many of us sports fans were in a mild state of disbelief. But, not too much.

Games being fixed by those in trouble with illegal gambling operations is nothing new to sporting communities large and small. The most notorious case involved baseball's Chicago White Sox throwing the 1919 World Series. Many notable players & colleges have been accused or proven guilty of illegal wagering.

NBA's Donaghy case makes it hard to believe only one referee determined games via questionable foul calls. To any fair thinking individual, Donaghy could not have acted alone. If this is so, and with the NBA already bloodied by this incident, why is Commissioner Stern emphatically turning a blind eye to a possible larger problem which will only come back to bite the league at a later date? No thorough league investigation into this matter has ever been made public (to my knowledge, if one ever existed).

NBA has also turned it's back, at least publicly, on the games Donaghy was supposed to have interfered with while calling fraudulent fouls. Everything was swept under the rug. Fans keep lining up at the turnstiles across NBA cities so what's so hard about getting to the bottom of something as serious as game fixing?

Sports survive scandals. Fans continue to fill stadiums and arena's nationwide even while scandals are fresh and happening. Take a look at baseball. How many scandals from illegals drugs, owner collusion, steroids, juiced baseballs, betting etc has baseball survived? Every single one!

I'm not one for conspiracy theories, however this appears to be a clunker of the highest magnitude. NBA officials work in groups. They often room together, travel together, socialize.. it isn't too far fetched to think Donaghy didn't act alone.

Furthermore, he's on record via testimony and with the FBI stating he did not act alone. Yet, NBA Commish Stern was way too quick brushing off Donaghy's story as a desparate indivual just looking for a better sentencing deal therefore his statements should not be taken at face value.

Stern is either a fool, coverup artist, or has not desire to dig deeper into what could be a very unpleasant truth. Dismissing allegations so serious without due scrutiny is as silly as our country blaming Bush for the state of our economy when the U.S. Congress is completely culpable due to their lack of oversight, and in some cases, conspired with banking executives or received illegal campaign contributions.

Since when did investigative journalism stop short of digging deeper into stories? I guess we live in an era of 24 hour news cycles often passed on as infomercials instead of news. Whether it's politics or sports, media types rarely go the extra mile except to substitute opinions for fact or slanted coverage of a topic to suit individual misguided ideologies.

What surprises me most in this NBA saga is the subtle quietness displayed by team owners and head coaches during this mini-scandal. Owners pay millions to their players. Coaches bust their butt's for victory with grueling practices. Why remain silenced? Players have remained quiet too which might be a good thing since NBA is quick to hand out fines to free thinking individuals.

The blog world went haywire over this subject when it was fresh. Time to wake up the dead... perhaps it's time to highlight Donaghy's officiating partners?

The NBA should not get a free pass on this one.

01/06/09

NFL Divisional Playoffs - Heavy Hitting Classics in the Making!

Permalink 09:00:00 pm, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

(Countdown to Super Bowl XLIII)

If you thought last weekend's NFL Wild Card Playoffs were great to watch... then just wait for what's in store this weekend. NFL season marches on full speed ahead towards the Super Bowl. 3 of 4 matchups feature six teams which define heavy hitting big play defenses. After back to back seasons with Manning's quarterbacking their teams to Bowl victories, many had hoped to see them go head to head this year. SD knocked off older brother Peyton. Eli remains attempting to lead his Giants to consecutive crowns.

Saturday

Baltimore Ravens (11-5) @ Tennessee Titans (13-3): Baltimore is a very dangerous club. Their defense is playing extremely well shutting down opponents with pounding hits and superb pass coverage. On any given Sunday, their D might outscore foes offenses! An efficient offense controls the clock and field position. Tennessee has played very well this year. They made a run at undefeated history and ended up with an NFL best 13 wins. Their defense has played well. On offense, it's a 2 headed monster rushing attack of Chris Johnson (1228 yds) and LenDale White (15 td) which will make or break the Titans. Tough task rushing against one of the toughest D units. Titans will not survive without running effectively and there's a big problem. Center Mawae could be out due to injury.. this spells trouble for rushing and pass protection. Kerry Collins is efficient but will not be able to evade swarming Ravens. I'm having flashes picturing Collins with a deer in the headlights expression... while wearing a big red bullseye... getting creamed all afternoon. Titans defense must play big time football to survive Baltimore.
Ravens win battle of field goals, 22-13.

Arizona Cardinals (9-7) @ Carolina Panthers (11-5): So much for defenses. On paper this game is all about offense. Cardinals QB Warner is no stranger to Playoff football. 4583 yards and 30 td passes led his team to NFC West crown and first ever Cards Playoff win in Arizona! A big weapon could be missing in WR Boldin. However, Warner still has top notch receivers in Fitzgerald and Breaston. Edgerrin James is Cards featured Playoff back after a turbulent season. His clutch runs helped pave the way for victory vs Atlanta. Defense played inspired football and deserves credit for last week's win. I give Az's D little chance at shutting down Carolina's attack but don't be surprised if they're able to do just enough. Panthers offense can be explosive. QB Jake Delhomme is a big gamer. WR Steve Smith can handle double teams better than any other NFL receiver. RB DeAngelo Williams (1515 yds, 18 td) continues to amaze. He scored 16 td's in final 8 games including 2 games with 4 each. He seems to find every inch of daylight. Panthers defense plays bend but don't break style. Their hands will be full defending against red birds.
This game will be a shootout unless weather interferes. Carolina survives slugfest, 44-34.

Sunday

Philadelphia Eagles (10-6-1) @ New York Giants (12-4): These teams hate each other. NFC East rivals will come out swinging on defense while trying to stir it up on offense. QB Donovan McNabb is the Playoffs hottest signal caller. Not long ago, Philly fans were ready to run him out of town. He's been lazer sharp in recent weeks but inconsistent WR's usually spasm out and drop too many between the digit passes. Drops could be deadly vs a Giants team making a living capitalizing on others mistakes. Eagles key is Westbrook. If he's able to run wild around NY defenders then Philly might pull off an upset at the Meadowlands. Defensive coordinator Johnson will be blitzing on every down and will have his DB's trying to rough up a Burress-less Giants crew. His scheme worked wonders in Week 14 which was a decisive turning point in Philly's season. Eagles are NFC's hottest team. They seem eerily familiar to the Champs from one year ago (Giants). Giants had a stellar season until stumbling down the stretch after losing Plaxico Burress to gun charges leading to team suspension. NY's WR's will be hit often within 5 yards and must fight through what should be a very aggressive plan of defense by Eagles. Defense will be ready to play and know the Eagles well enough to formulate a big game D plan. On offense, questions still surrounding pounding RB Jacobs health. Offensive line is the key to Giants success for running and passing game. For most of this season, Giants OL hammered defensive lines creating great running lanes and gave Eli just enough time to step up in the pocket. '08 was a confidence filled year for Manning and he's primed to get the job done vs the Eagles. TE Boss is often the forgotten man and will be open all day of his number is called. NY's Offensive & Defensive Coordinators being considered for Head Coaching positions... hopefully, this is not a lockerroom or practice field distraction!
Giants to win classic NFC East heavy hitting game in 20 degree weather.. go down as NFC game of the year, 26-24.

San Diego Chargers (8-8) @ Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4): SD is AFC's hottest team right now. Forget their 8-8 record, they're playing like 14-2. QB Philip Rivers was left off AFC Pro Bowl Roster. Ironic, he was just named AP Offensive Player of the Year! Rivers will be under intense pressure by Steelers pass rush. Trick for him is not forcing throws as Steelers D is excellent at disguising coverage and plays the leagues best zone/man to man. RB LT is out of this one which is probably better for SD. LT is one of the games greatest backs but Pittsburgh knows how to defense him. Introduce little spark plug Sproles ... just what the Chargers need to give Pitt's D pause... and possibly fits. One false step or over-pursuit could spring this guy for a Bolt TD. TE Gates will have all sorts of trouble finding a seem unless Sproles running freezes LB's. WR's can expect to be hit on nearly every snap. SD D will have to win field position wars so offense can play on shorter field. As for Pittsburgh, QB Ben Roethlisberger was a bit off this season until 4th quarter football where his play often won games late. He suffered a concussion and is one hit away from seeing stars again. Steelers running game is key to open up passing attack. Pitt's WR's will find plenty of daylight in cold temp's. Steelers beat Chargers Week 11 in NFL's 1st ever 11-10 game.
Even though SD is on a hot streak, I'm thinking this one goes to Pittsburgh. Heinz Field will be loud providing a great home field advantage. Steelers 24-20.

01/05/09

Bowl Championship Series: Florida vs Oklahoma Battle for #1

Permalink 12:01:23 am, Categories: All World All Sports Blogs  

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by Digger

(Bowl Championship Series)

2008-09 NCAA Football Championship will be won Thursday night. Miami is home to the Hurricanes, but it'll be Gator country when Florida (12-1) battles Oklahoma (12-1) to decide which team is crowned national champion.

Head Coach Urban Meyer has perfected Florida's attack led by former Heismann Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Gators are tough to defend and their exciting brand of football will be on display for the nation Thursday.

Oklahoma Sooners didn't get here by accident. Roaming the sidelines for the Sooners is Bob Stoops. Sophomore QB Sam Bradford was awarded this seasons' Heisman Trophy Award. Florida will have their hands full trying to contain Oklahoma's high powered offense.

South Florida's weather forecast calls for a clear night. Homefield advantage will be huge. I'm expecting Florida's offense to be all systems go. UF will need to play flawlessly on offense. Oklahoma will test Gators defense at every opportunity. Both teams styles are hard to defend and both QB's soften up D's with regularity. Disguising defensive schemes will be a key element for both D coordinators. OU's defense is based on speed and group persuit. Bend but don't break Gators defense will face its' biggest challenge. Turnovers could be the turning point or momentum shifter. Whichever team coughs up the ball could be in for a long night. As with most big games in all sports, mistakes doom teams.

Florida Gators to win National Championship, 43-36 over Oklahoma.