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Giants rout the Redskins; what to look for in Sunday’s game

CORRECTED VERSION: New York Giants v Washington Redskins

Was anyone in New York watching the Giants-Redskins game last night? NY is, and always will be, a baseball town and last night all the attention was on Derek Jeter and his storybook ending at Yankee Stadium. It was a great story that will continue to fill headlines; much congratulations to Jeter, a class act and the model for not only being a professional athlete, but juggling world-class girlfriends. But this will be about football and there was a game last night. The Giants took advantage of Washington’s turnovers and routed their division rival last night. How many fantasy football games around the world did Kirk Cousins ruin last night? Six total turnovers for Washington but Cousins, accounting for five, threw four interceptions and also fumbled the ball in a nightmare game for the Redskins quarterback. It seemed like every time I looked up at my television, it was either an interception by Cousins or Eli Manning throwing a touchdown pass to TE Larry Donnell. Manning had five total TDs (one rush) and his favorite target was the young, relatively unknown, tight end Donnell who accounted for three scores. Donnell flourishes in the Giants style of offense and all of a sudden, the G-men have looked impressive for a couple games straight. The Giants have picked up steam and with two big games against the Eagles and Cowboys in October, next month could very well determine how much success they have. Washington is looking less impressive, still in the hunt but their last two losses have been against division rivals. With a sole win coming against the Jaguars, the feeling around the nation’s capital for their football team is looking pretty bleak right now.

It’s one thing to have six teams on bye (why not four every time?) but it’s another thing to have four of the best 5 or 6 teams in the league on bye, depending on how high one rates the Cardinals. I like them and along with Arizona, we have Seattle, Denver, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Cleveland on bye week. Good luck to everyone in starting less-than-stellar players on their fantasy teams this week. So technically, if you wanted to avoid divorce from your wife or breaking up with your girlfriend, this Sunday would be the ideal day to not watch football for an entire day. I’m not in that camp because this weekend, we have the Panthers going to Baltimore and facing the wrath of Steve Smith. Why would you focus on any other game for the noon slate? Luckily my Cowboys are playing at night so i’ll be able to focus on Ravens-Panthers. But there are other interesting games, even if they don’t jump off the page immediately. Normally Bears-Packers is a great watch but Green Bay has been underwhelming and many are wondering what is wrong with the Packers. Can they bounce back? The Dolpins and Raiders are in England. What a treat for the British, huh? The Eagles are in San Francisco in the late afternoon games and i’m very interested in this game. Can the 49ers bounce back? How will Philadelphia deal with their lack of running game and injuries? Should be a good one. Things end in my neck of the woods as the Saints are in “JerryWorld” to take on the Cowboys. Can the Saints continue their momentum after their first win of the season last week? Remember, last year the Saints embarrassed the Cowboys in the night game with the number of first downs they were able to record. I’m nervous but expect it to be a competitive game this time.

Just because I feel so strongly about this subject, i’d like to claim my full support to Bill Simmons. #FreeSimmons

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2014 NFL season preview: NFC East

8-29

In the Super Bowl era, the NFC East is the most successful division, accumulating 12 titles in the past 43 years. But in the past decade it’s only been the Giants who have tasted glory, winning two Super Bowls since 2007 with the Eagles also tasting a bit of success in the postseason. Other than that, this division has been very underwhelming. Right now the debate is whether or not this is the worst division in the league. The defenses are among the worst in the league but can more than team overcome their shortcomings and advance into the playoffs?

Philadelphia Eagles: Teams don’t repeat as champions in this division. Although, the last team to do so was Philadelphia but that was a decade ago. Does this team have a good shot to hold the division crown? Well they are a good team but it’s also because the division is so terrible that the consensus is that, yes, the Eagles will repeat. I’m in the same camp. Defense was their biggest issue last season but with a new coordinator and some nice acquisitions, we could see a vast improvement in their defensive numbers. Of course, this team revolves around the offense that Chip Kelly designs and there’s no doubt that Nick Foles and LeSean McCoy have potential to be the biggest QB-RB combo in the league. McCoy could repeat as the rushing title champion. Schedule is a bit tough but this team has all the tools to win the division once again.

Washington Redskins: Headlines over the name of their franchise have been swirling around them for pretty much the entire offseason. If changes aren’t made quickly, the attention will only continue to increase as the season progresses. Whatever one’s stance is on the issue, it’s evident that changes should be made if only to avoid the negative press. Anyways, this team’s season will rely heavily, more than most teams, on the health of their quarterback. Will we see 2012 RG3 once again? Adding DeSean Jackson as a big-play receiver should help but more will hinge on Griffin’s decisions when it comes to his body. And unless their secondary improves in a big way, Washington will have to score plenty of points in order to win games. This team has below-.500 written all over them.

Dallas Cowboys: As much as I have tried since first posting on this website, it’s nearly impossible for me to be completely objective about this team. The Cowboys took me on an emotional roller coaster last season and I have a feeling it’s going to be more of the same this season. Jerry Jones is still the owner and Jason Garrett is still the head coach. I like the bolstering off the offensive line, especially with Romo’s back issues, but I would’ve been more satisfied is they addressed the terrible defense a bit better. The Cowboys did excellent against the division last season (5-1) but this time things won’t be as fortunate. The schedule is a toss up with the NFC West opponents being somewhat balanced out with the AFC opponents. Serious chance of Dallas finishing 8-8 for the fourth straight season.

New York Giants: Can anyone predict what’s going to happen with the Giants this season? After Eli Manning’s abysmal season in 2013 (27 INTs) and their issues all over field, the Giants are looking to bounce back in a big way. They certainly made the moves during the offseason to address their issues but it’s going to take time for that many players to adjust to a new team and system. The offensive line was among the worst last season to go along with their less-than-stellar running game. Can Manning carry the offense despite losing some of his weapons? If the defense wants to make an impact, it’s going to have to do it with their improved secondary because their defensive front doesn’t look like it’s going to make much damage. Much like the rest of the division, most likely a mediocre season.

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Previewing the final week in the NFL regular season

12-27

For most of the season I was complaining about Thursday games and their lack of quality but I must admit, I’ve missed them since they’ve been gone. Or maybe i’m just slowly realizing that football is coming to an end sooner than later. At least the regular season is. Only one more week of regular season football but i’m hoping that it’s a good one. There’s a lot on the line for several teams. Division titles and playoff positions are still going to be decided. Most of the attention will be on the NFC as only three teams (Sea, Car and SF) have secured their spot in the postseason. We’ll get to them in the next paragraph because first we have to discuss the AFC and it’s second wild card spot. Let’s just assume that the Patriots and Broncos won’t slip up this weekend, each facing inferior opponents, to give up their top spots. The Ravens are fighting to land the wild card spot and are playing in Cincy this weekend, who is trying to stay in their position as a 3rd seed. Here’s the sneaky fact: Baltimore doesn’t need to win this weekend to make the playoffs. Of course they’re still going to try and win their game because the Dolphins, Chargers and even the Steelers all have chances of snatching up their spot. On a more personal note, i’d much rather see either Phil Rivers in the playoffs more than any of the other quarterbacks in contention. But the odds are stacked against San Diego and i’m afraid that they’re stacked a little too high. If I were a betting man (i’m not…that much) then I would probably put my money on the Dolphins mostly because they have the most favorable opponent and are in the best position when it comes to tie breakers. Then I think about their game last weekend and how they got shut out in Buffalo. I also think about how unpredictable this season has been. My money is still on the Dolphins but I fully expect anything and everything to happen with that 6th seed in the AFC.

So what’s going on in the NFC this Sunday? One almost has to feel bad for the Cardinals and their fanbase. A playoff caliber team competing in the best division in football. Does everyone realize that Arizona would be leading and/or tied for first place in four other divisions but because they’re in the NFC West, they’re in 3rd place and on the outside looking in? They would also be within one game of leading every other division remaining that’s not the AFC West. Then again, if the Cowboys were to somehow make the playoffs, I would not give up their spot to the Cardinals just because they have the better record. Arizona still has a shot but it would need to beat the 49ers (still with a lot at stake) and also need the Saints to lose against a mediocre Buccaneers team. There could be a lot shuffling between the top two spots in the conference along with the Niners but with Seahawks and Panthers both facing less than stellar teams, I don’t see much happening. Then come the biggest games of the day. At least, in terms of the attention that both games are getting and what’s at stake. First the Packers are Chicago to decide who wins the NFC North and who goes to the playoffs. News broke yesterday and Aaron Rodgers is in fact going to start on Sunday. Scary thought for Chicago and scary for anyone facing the Packers going forward, should they make the playoffs. I expect the Packers to win the game on Sunday mostly because Rodgers makes that much a difference for Green Bay. As does Tony Romo for the Cowboys. But unfortunately for Cowboys like myself around the country, it was confirmed about an hour ago that Romo did undergo (successfulback surgery and will miss Sunday’s do-or-die game against the Eagles for the division title. I’m hoping the Cowboys play with heart against an Eagles team that looked unstoppable last weekend but I expect Philadelphia to come out on top after Sunday night’s game ends.

Enjoy the action packed Sunday everyone because it will be while before we have all the teams playing again.

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NFL division/playoff races in tight battle with two weeks left

12-19

It’s getting to the time of the NFL season where the experts begin to use phrases like “crunch time” or that every single game is a “MUST win” even though technically it’s not a must win unless your team will be mathematically out of the postseason. So for many teams (yes, including my Cowboys) what they do these last two weeks will significantly alter their position or lack of position in January. You know, the playoffs in the NFL or when “the real season” begins. First things are first, let’s take a look at the teams that have either clinched their divisions or have a good enough record to clinch a definite spot.

The AFC is a little more simple because the top 3 seeds have clinched the division (Texans, Broncos and Patriots in order) and I don’t see the seeding changing because even though Houston has the toughest schedule, I don’t see them slipping up knowing that both Denver and New England are hot on their heels with two very easy games for each team. Now, the Colts aren’t going to win the AFC South but they have clinched a spot and it’s pretty incredible that this team can go from 1st pick in the entire draft to participating in the postseason in the same year. Something else that’s incredible is that the Ravens, in a complete tailspin, actually clinched a playoff even thought they’ve lost 3 straight games. So it’s up to the Bengals whether they would like to take the division, which could come down to the final game this season but first they’d have to defeat the Steelers this weekend. The Steelers have been up and down since the Big Ben injury but they’ve proven that they can get it done when it matters most and they have the easiest remaining schedule of the three AFC North contenders.

The NFC gets a little more complicated because there are only 2 teams that have clinched their division (Falcons and Packers) and one team that has a spot (49ers) but there are still 6 teams in contention with the NFC East still completely wide open. Teams not named the Eagles in the NFC East are all tied at 8-6 and conventional thinking would have most people leaning toward the Redskins. The Giants do have the easier schedule (at Ravens, Eagles) but they don’t control their own destiny and for that reason alone, they’re the least likely to win the division. My gut feeling is that the NFC East is going to come down to the Redskins-Cowboys games in the final week but it’s also going to depend what happens with Seattle/Minnesota/Chicago for the wildcard. The Bears are in completely disarray and if ever they needed two easy games to save their season, it’s now. Despite a grueling final two games, i’m not going to pick against the Vikings because Adrian Peterson is their RB, enough said.

Let’s all take a minute to thank whatever higher powers you believe in and say thank you that Thursday night games are finally over. I love the NFL but the every single Thursday game was mediocre at best because it was painfully (for the players, literally) obvious that it’s impossible to play at full capacity with only 3 days rest. Thanksgiving is a tradition but every single week, no. Just toss in a random Friday or Saturday games. Speaking of Saturday, this week the Falcons try to move closer to the best record in the NFC as they take on the Lions who are only playing for Megatron’s record breaking performance (only 182 yards being Rice) so keep an eye out for that if you watch the game.

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