cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:21 AM

NFC East Preview

June 5, 2014

The NFL draft gets all the attention in the spring but the recent release of the 2014 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the NFC East in this schedule preview. The East is one of the highest profile divisions in the league but it has not been a strong division top to bottom for several years. Each of the four teams has a division title in the last five seasons but no team has repeated as division champion since 2004.

Dallas Cowboys: Despite consistent mediocrity in recent seasons, expectations and interest are always sky-high for the Cowboys. This off-season, the team did not appear to make major upgrades, in fact losing one of its biggest stars as DeMarcus Ware signed with Denver. The Cowboys also avoided the high profile drafting of Johnny Manziel, but there have been some positive additions in free agency led by Henry Melton. If Dallas is to breakthrough to the playoffs in 2014, they will need a strong start as the schedule opens with great difficulty. Dallas opens the season at home against San Francisco before heading on back-to-back road games to Nashville and St. Louis, facing two teams that could provide tough tests this season as improved squads. The next two home games come against New Orleans and Houston before the Cowboys head to Seattle. Getting through that run at 3-3 would be a positive step for Dallas before the middle of the season that features several division games. Overexposed is a word that often comes to mind with Dallas and the Cowboys will play six national TV games including four consecutive TV games in the late season schedule.

Dallas faces six 2013 playoff teams, but four of those games will be at home for a somewhat favorable draw. The East faces an AFC South division that could be the weakest in the AFC, but Dallas and the rest of the East will play the stacked NFC West, featuring both of last season’s NFC Championship representatives. The second place draw for the Cowboys brings in challenging games with the Saints and Bears as well to make up a difficult overall slate. Dallas plays Jacksonville in London in November as the Cowboys will only play seven true road games for an advantage, but the lengthy travel late in the season could be taxing. Getting the bye week before big division games with the Giants and Eagles could be beneficial. The first six weeks could make or break the Dallas season and as usual the Cowboys should be interesting and competitive enough to stay relevant, though contending for a championship seems like a stretch.

Dallas Cowboys 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .488 (18/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 6 (four home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games (includes London): 13,642
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 6 (1 Thursday night, 1 Thanksgiving, 3 Sunday night, 1 Monday night)

New York Giants: After going just 9-7 with a point differential of +88 in 2012, the Giants looked like a team poised to deliver a stronger season in 2013. New York wound up 7-9 last season with disastrous numbers on defense and big issues with turnovers on offense. New York started the season 0-6 and rallied to win seven of the final 10 games of the season including putting together a competitive season within the division. The Giants draw a third place schedule in 2014, which means drawing the Lions and Falcons, potentially a dangerous grouping with both of those teams also being big disappointments in 2013 and potentially poised to rebound. One thing to note on the schedule that plays in favor of the Giants is that New York will play a team with a new coaching staff in three of the first four weeks of the season, seemingly a big advantage compared with the rest of the division given the relative stability of the Giants organization in recent years. New York only plays one 2013 playoff team in the first eight weeks of the season, so New York is almost certain to get off to a much better start this year.

The season for New York will face its biggest challenge in November playing the Colts, Seahawks, and 49ers in consecutive games, although that daunting stretch is preceded by a bye week and two of the three games as well as a game with the Cowboys in Week 12 will be at home. New York will only play two games on the road against teams that had a winning record in 2013 and only the finale at home against the Eagles among the final six games comes against a winning team from last season. All in all, New York has what looks like the best schedule in the NFC East, facing the 7th weakest schedule in the league in terms of 2013 win percentage and facing the fewest travel miles in the division. It is worth noting that New York seemingly had a favorable schedule entering the 2013 season as well with a favorable second place draw, but that obviously played out poorly.

New York Giants 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .465 (26/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (three home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,193
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 5 (1 Thursday, 2 Sunday night, 2 Monday night)

Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles wound up winning the NFC East last season in a great bounce back season, led by Chip Kelly making a successful jump to the NFL. Philadelphia found a quarterback with efficient play from Nick Foles and the unique wrinkles in the offense proved difficult for many opponents. Philadelphia benefitted from facing three awful defensive teams in the division last season though two losses came in the division. The Eagles were the second highest scoring team in the NFC last season behind only Chicago, but the Eagles were only +60 in point differential as the defense had several problematic games in an inconsistent season. In 2014, the Eagles draw a first place schedule which means pulling Carolina and a facing a trip to Green Bay with those games coming in consecutive weeks in November. The Eagles have a very tough road schedule overall with only one road game outside of the division coming against a losing team from 2013 and that game is at Houston, a team many expect to be very competitive moving forward.

The Eagles do get to avoid traveling to Seattle this season, but they play at San Francisco and also have likely the tougher of the road game possibilities in the AFC South draw playing at Indianapolis and at Houston. After a an early Week 7 bye, the Eagles play three of the next four games on the road in what could be the most important stretch of the season outside of the division games. Philadelphia has four of its six division games in the final five weeks of the season as the success or failure of the season will likely be decided in December. It will be interesting to see if opponents are better prepared for the Eagles in 2014 with a season of film on the offense, but despite some challenges in the schedule, the Eagles only play five games against 2013 playoff teams and this looks like a division that will not require an amazing record to win.

Philadelphia Eagles 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .479 (20/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 10,247
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 6 (1 Thursday, 1 Saturday, 2 Sunday night, 2 Monday night)

Washington Redskins: After the great breakthrough season in 2012 led by then-rookie Robert Griffin III, the Redskins crashed last season falling to just 3-13 for the worst record in the NFC. The #2 draft pick slot for Washington went to the Rams, so there was no reward for the awful season in which the team was outscored by 144 points. Washington went 0-6 in the division and 1-11 vs. the NFC last season and while the opportunity to improve will be there, a worst-to-first scenario similar to what has played out in this division the last two seasons seems unlikely. Washington made a coaching change with Jay Gruden taking over and the early season schedule should be manageable for a team in transition. Washington opens at Houston, the only team with a worse record in 2013 and another team in transition and then Washington will host Jacksonville in Week 2, so a promising start is possible. Washington will only play two 2013 playoff teams in the first 11 weeks of the schedule, so it would not be a shock if Washington topped last season’s win total by that point before a challenging closing slate.

Washington’s final three road games include trips to San Francisco and Indianapolis in back-to-back weeks and the final two home games will be big division tests against Philadelphia and Dallas. The fourth place draw provides games with Tampa Bay and Minnesota, two teams that are also going through a coaching transition and those games will surround a Week 10 bye. With a fairly average schedule, Washington seems likely to improve on the ugly numbers from 2013 and the first few weeks should be very telling on whether or not Washington can return to being a playoff contender or whether the transition could take some time. Given the tough games later in the season, starting 2-0 might be critical for the Redskins and they have the opening draw to make it happen, facing teams with questionable quarterback situations in the first two weeks.

Washington Redskins 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .490 (17/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 9,956
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 3 (1 Thursday, 1 Saturday, 2 Monday night)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:22 AM

NFC North Preview

June 5, 2014

The NFL draft gets all the attention in the spring but the recent release of the 2014 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the NFC North in this schedule preview. The North was a disappointing division in 2013 with the Packers taking the title despite just an 8-7-1 record and only the 7-9 Lions featuring a positive point differential. This was after the division produced three 10-win teams in 2012. Green Bay is the favorite to win a fourth consecutive division title in 2014 but all four teams can make a case for improvement.

Chicago Bears: The plan to bring in an offensive-minded coach with former CFL coach Marc Trestman certainly worked as Chicago was the highest scoring team in the NFC last season. A team with a reputation for playing great defense struggled to an 8-8 mark while allowing nearly 30 points per game. While the Bears fell from 10-6 in 2012 to 8-8, they were in control of their playoff fate in the final week, losing to the Packers on a late touchdown. Along with the rest of the NFC North, Chicago faces the four AFC East teams and the four NFC South teams and Chicago will have to play Dallas and San Francisco in the second place schedule draw. Chicago has a tough road schedule in 2014 with games at San Francisco, at Carolina, and at New England and before a Week 9 bye, the Bears will play five road games.

Chicago could find a stronger finish in 2014 as the Bears are at home in five of the final seven games of the season with only one of those final seven games coming against a 2013 playoff team. Both games with the Packers will complete by Week 10 for Chicago and the Bears catch Green Bay in potentially favorable situations as the Packers play in Chicago as the second of two back-to-back division games on the road and the bye week will precede Chicago’s trip to Lambeau Field. The Bears will be in the spotlight with six national TV games this season including two primetime games in the first three weeks of the season as well as three consecutive national TV games late in the year. The Bears have made some moves to address the league’s worst run defense from 2013 and there could be more stability on the team if the key injuries from 2013 are avoided, though the case can be made that the Bears were a worse team last season with Jay Cutler at quarterback. After a hot 3-0 start last season faded, the Bears might have a slower start in 2014, but a favorable late season slate could push the Bears into the postseason mix in what should be a tight division race yet again.

Chicago Bears 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .496 (15/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 6 (two home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 6,306
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 6 (1 Thursday night, 1 Thanksgiving, 2 Sunday night, 2 Monday night)

Detroit Lions: The Lions had all signs pointing to a big turnaround in 2013 and while Detroit did improve by three wins from a 4-12 season in 2012, this was a team that sat at 6-3 with the division lead before collapsing with losses in six of the final seven games. The slide cost Jim Schwartz his job and after being passed over by some of the higher profile coaching candidates, the Lions hired Jim Caldwell, the former Colts head coach and more recently the offensive coordinator of the 2012 Super Bowl champion Ravens. The Lions have a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball, but another transition season is ahead and Caldwell is the eighth Lions head coach since the team last won a division title in 1993. Detroit draws a third place schedule in 2014, which means games with the Giants and Cardinals, not exactly weak opponents and Detroit draws a daunting road schedule despite only having to play seven true road games with a London date in Week 8 vs. Atlanta.

The four non-division road games for the Lions come against teams that were 42-22 last season. Detroit also has two challenging back-to-back road game sets in the second half of the season having to play at Arizona and then at New England the next week for taxing travel and then closing the season on the road in Chicago and then Green Bay in potentially treacherous weather for an indoor team. The first half schedule looks slightly more favorable for the Lions, but for a team in a coaching transition, getting off to a hot start may be difficult. As usual, the Lions will likely have a handful of games where they look like a legitimate contender, but getting consistent performances with this schedule in a transition season could be a great challenge. Another late season slide seems likely for the Lions with a tough path in November and December.

Detroit Lions 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .492 (16/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games (includes London): 9,286
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 2 (1 Thanksgiving, 1 Monday night)

Green Bay Packers: The Packers barely snuck into the playoffs despite facing one of the weaker schedules in the league last season. Aaron Rodgers did miss several games as the Packers bounced through three different back-up quarterbacks, but ultimately Green Bay finished with a negative point differential despite the division title. Injuries were costly for Green Bay on both sides of the ball last season and better results could be on the way with improved health, but there were glaring issues on the team defensively last season. Despite what ultimately was a pretty mediocre campaign in 2013, the Packers draw a first place schedule which means they are the only team to play Seattle, where they open the season. They also host Philadelphia in between division games in November. Green Bay gets to play 2013 division winners New England and Carolina at home which could be a big advantage and overall the Packers have a fairly favorable schedule with only two road games against 2013 playoff teams. Four of the first six games of the season will be on the road and Green Bay has long trips to Seattle, Miami, New Orleans, Buffalo, and Tampa Bay this season.

The Packers will play all three teams in the division in the first five weeks including the big road tests at Detroit and Chicago and even if the Packers don’t win in Seattle, they should be able to get off to a fairly strong start to the season in the first half slate. Green Bay plays teams that finished a combined 21-43 last season in the final four weeks of the season, so swooping in to steal the division title again is certainly a possibility for the Packers as the Lions and Bears both face tough closing slates. In a division with two new head coaches and a second-year head coach, the Packers have by far the most stability of the group and while the schedule rates slightly more difficult than the rest of the division, overall the timing of games should play out favorably for Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .504 (13/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (three home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 7,783
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 5 (2 Thursday, 2 Sunday night, 1 Monday night)

Minnesota Vikings: The rise to 10-6 in 2012 certainly felt like a fluke for the Vikings and not surprisingly, Minnesota fell backwards last season, finishing 4-12 while allowing 480 points, the most in the league. The Vikings started 1-7 last season before competing relatively well down the stretch, going 2-0-1 in the final three division games and beating NFC East champion Philadelphia and playing close games with Dallas and Baltimore. Minnesota appears set to go with veteran Matt Cassel at quarterback, although the Vikings traded up to get Teddy Bridgewater late in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. Minnesota’s rough 2013 season led to a coaching change and defensive-minded Mike Zimmer takes over after great success in transforming the Cincinnati defense in recent years. The Vikings still have a great running game and a solid run defense returning from last season, but in a division with three high-profile quarterbacks, it has been tough for Minnesota to keep up. The Vikings had a very difficult schedule last season and there are challenges ahead in 2014, mainly getting used to playing outside as the Vikings will play at TCF Bank Stadium for two seasons on the campus of the University of Minnesota while a new stadium is built in downtown Minneapolis. Four of the final six games of the season will be at home for Minnesota and there certainly could be some challenging cold weather games and the fan support could be diminished moving from the loud Metrodome into a smaller college stadium.

The fourth place draw of St. Louis and Washington does not feature a typical pair of last place squads, but the Vikings do at least avoid the NFC West powers and Minnesota only plays one road game outside of the division against a 2013 playoff team, though it is a challenging game at New Orleans. The Vikings play the Patriots, Saints, and Packers in the first five weeks, a very tough early draw for a team in transition with quarterback questions. If Minnesota can avoid a disastrous start like they had last season, the rest of the schedule is relatively favorable. Minnesota plays teams that were a combined 28-52 from Week 6 to 11 with a bye week mixed in as Minnesota would have a chance to stay in contention if they can steal a game or two in the tough first month. The final two road games are at Detroit and at Miami, not exactly overly threatening venues and the Vikings do not have to play any west coast games. The Vikings are probably a year away from seriously contending for the postseason, but this is likely to be an improved team compared with 2013 based on the schedule alone.

Minnesota Vikings 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .477 (21/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (three home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 7,684
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 1 (1 Thursday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:23 AM

NFC South Preview

June 10, 2014

The NFL draft gets all the attention in the spring but the recent release of the 2014 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the NFC South in this schedule preview. The South featured two playoff teams in 2014 with a big rise for the Panthers and a big fall for Atlanta. This should be a competitive division again as in the 12-year history of the division there has never been a repeat champion with all four teams taking three titles each.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons went 13-3 in the 2012, falling just short of the Super Bowl in a tough NFC championship loss to the 49ers. With a much tougher schedule and some key injuries, the Falcons took a big fall in the standings last year, going just 4-12 in 2013 and winding up as one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL. Atlanta was the worst rushing offense in the NFL last season and one of the worst defensive teams, particularly against the run. Seven losses for the Falcons came by seven or fewer points last season, including each of the first four losses of the season, so Atlanta was not far from being a much more competitive team in 2013. The Falcons did not win a game by more than eight points, however, getting an overtime win and a one-point win among the season’s four victories.

Heading into 2014, Atlanta has been limited in free agency with several highly paid veterans on the roster and Atlanta draws a third place schedule as they ‘won’ the tiebreaker with Tampa Bay, who also finished 4-12 last season. With the entire South playing the NFC North, the difference is playing the Giants and Cardinals instead of the Redskins and Rams. The NFC South plays the solid AFC North teams meaning four fairly tough games and the Falcons have the Bengals and Ravens on the road, likely the more difficult of the draws. Atlanta will also play at Green Bay late in the season and the Falcons only have seven home games in 2014, surrendering a home date to play the Lions in London. In addition to the long travel overseas, Atlanta will play three sets of back-to-back away games on the year with substantial travel overall this season. Getting off to a good start will be critical for the Falcons, but with the Saints and Bengals in the first two weeks, that could be a challenge and the Falcons also have a daunting closing schedule playing Arizona, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, and Carolina in the final five weeks. It will be tough for Atlanta to be as bad as it was in 2013, but a huge improvement also seems unlikely with this slate.

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .512 (11/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 6 (two home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 9 road/neutral games (includes London): 9,452
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 2 (1 Thursday Night, 1 Monday Night)

Carolina Panthers: 2013 was the breakthrough season for the Carolina Panthers with head coach Ron Rivera and quarterback Cam Newton delivering a division title after some serious struggles the previous two seasons. The Panthers were 7-1 at home last season and 5-1 in the division, but they lost at home in the playoffs against San Francisco. The first place schedule does mean that the Panthers have to play the Seahawks, but that game will be in Charlotte this season. That matchup will come in a grueling mid-season run of tough games as Carolina has a very challenging early season schedule. The Panthers will play nine consecutive games against teams that won at last seven games last season starting in Week 2, and the toughest stretch features back-to-back road games at Cincinnati and at Green Bay, followed by home games with Seattle and New Orleans and then a Monday night game in Philadelphia. It would not be a surprise if the Panthers had as many losses as all of last season by mid-season as most of the big games come in the early part of the schedule. That does mean that five of the final six games of the season will come against teams that had a losing record last season.

Carolina has the latest possible bye week coming in Week 12, which could add to the toll of the early season schedule and the Panthers were a team that won five games by four or fewer points last season, something that will be difficult to replicate. That included narrow wins over the 49ers, Patriots, and Saints late in the season and Carolina will need more big wins against marquee opposition to contend for the playoffs again in 2014. Four of Carolina’s six games against 2013 playoff teams will be on the road but Carolina does not have long travel miles ahead with no west coast games on the schedule. The Panthers should be a competitive team but a few bounces may fall the other way this season and the tough early slate might send the Panthers back to being closer to a .500 team.

Carolina Panthers 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .473 (22/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 6 (two home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 5,159
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 3 (1 Thursday Night, 1 Sunday Night, 1 Monday Night)

New Orleans Saints: In what felt like a transition season with the Saints getting head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines and with Rob Ryan taking over the defense, the Saints managed to go 11-5 and earn a Wild Card spot. Despite a challenging travel situation, New Orleans won in Philadelphia on the road in the playoffs before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champions in Seattle. New Orleans was the only team in the NFC to go 8-0 at home last season and getting back to the top of the division and earning home field advantage will be a priority if the Saints have another Super Bowl run left in the Drew Brees era. In terms of 2013 win percentage, New Orleans will face the weakest schedule of the four teams in the NFC South and the Saints will only play one road game against a 2013 playoff team, playing division rival Carolina in Charlotte in a mid-season Thursday night game. That game comes in a tough situation following up a Sunday night tilt with the Packers, but the home date in the series with Panthers will be a favorable situation for the Saints as it will be the second of back-to-back road games for Carolina.

New Orleans will not play a team that had a winning record in 2013 until Week 8 as the Saints should be in position to get off to a great start and emerge as one of the teams to beat in 2014. New Orleans does open with three of the first four games on the road, but they get to catch Cleveland and Minnesota in the first three weeks, teams with coaching transitions that could feature some growing pains early in the season. Four of the first six games of the season for the Saints will come against a new coaching staff, a huge advantage over the rest of the division that will play most of those teams later in the schedule. The Saints have an early Week 6 bye, which may not be ideal for an older team, but New Orleans also only plays one 2013 playoff team in the final six weeks of the season. The meat of the schedule starts in late October with consecutive games against Green Bay, Carolina, San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Baltimore, although only the division game against the Panthers in that run will be on the road. With its toughest games at home and one of the best home field edges in the league, this slate lines up well for the Saints to return to prominence in the NFC. New Orleans also only plays back-to-back road games once and that run comes in the first two weeks of the season when the team might be in a better position to handle it. Overall, the Saints have one of the better looking schedules among all of the expected NFC contenders.

New Orleans Saints 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .469 (23/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 5 (four home, one away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 6,571
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1
Primetime Games: 5 (1 Thursday Night, 2 Sunday Night, 2 Monday Night)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Given that Lovie Smith is a veteran coach that featured a strong track record despite his firing two seasons ago, many expect Tampa Bay to be the team with a new coaching staff that could deliver success right away. The Buccaneers have a talented receiving corps and made some big moves in free agency, but there are still questions on what was a terrible defensive team against the pass last year and with the quarterback situation led by Mike Glennon and the least productive passing offense in the NFL from 2013. There were many distractions last season in a 0-8 start to the season for the Buccaneers, but several of the losses came in tight defeats against high quality teams. The Buccaneers only won once on the road last season, but most of the toughest games out of the division in 2014 will come at home.

Tampa Bay will have to play three straight road games from Week 3 to Week 5 for a daunting travel run in early in the season and the closing slate is tough as well with the Panthers, Packers, and Saints in the final three weeks. Tampa Bay also plays four road games in five weeks late in the season including some potential cold weather games in November. The Buccaneers will know where they stand early with a division game against each team in the first five weeks with two of those games coming on the road. If Tampa Bay can survive a fairly tough six-game run to start the season before a Week 7 bye, they could emerge as a serious playoff contender. After the bye week, the Buccaneers play four straight games against teams that combined to go 16-47-1 last season before a fairly daunting closing schedule. Tampa Bay will be considered a sleeper for the playoffs with this schedule and at the very least improvement by multiple wins over last season seems very possible in 2014.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .484 (19/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 6 (four home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 7,110
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3 (including a back-to-back-to-back)
Primetime Games: 1 (1 Thursday Night)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:24 AM

NFC West Preview

June 12, 2014

The NFL draft gets all the attention in the spring but the recent release of the 2014 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the NFC West in this schedule preview. The West was the toughest division in the NFL last season with the four teams going 42-22 combined and the division producing both NFC finalists. The schedules will be challenging across the board in 2014 for the West and it seems inevitable that at least one of the teams in this division will fall from last season’s pace.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals went from 5-11 to 10-6 and just missing the playoffs last season led by Bruce Arians in his first season in Glendale and the acquisition of veteran quarterback Carson Palmer. Arizona was +55 in point differential last season with five wins by seven or fewer points but the defense was fierce, led by one of the best run stopping units in the NFL. The Cardinals went just 2-4 in division games and improving that mark will be the key for the Cardinals moving up in this stacked division. Arizona will be the rare 10-win team getting a third place schedule, which means drawing Atlanta and Detroit as the West will play all four NFC East teams. The division also draws a very tough AFC West with three of those four opponents being 2013 playoff teams as overall the division will feature challenging schedules. Arizona has to play eight games against 2013 playoff teams and like every team in this division, the Cardinals will face over 10,000 travel miles while facing a top eight schedule in terms of 2013 win percentage. By a small margin, Arizona has the weakest schedule in the NFC West in terms of 2013 win percentage and Arizona will get five of the eight games against 2013 playoff teams at home.

Arizona will need to carry over its late season momentum from last year into the start of the season as the schedule is a bit front-loaded and back-loaded for the Cardinals with what appear to be the best opportunities in the middle of the season. Home games with San Diego and San Francisco early in the season will be critical and the Cardinals will only face one winning team from 2013 in the first four road games, though that game is against the AFC champion Broncos. Arizona also has home games with Washington, St. Louis, and Detroit in the middle of the season before a tough final month slate. The Cardinals play division foes in each of the final three weeks with two of those three games on the road. Arizona plays both games with Seattle in the final six weeks of the season while also playing four of the final six overall on the road with some substantial travel. With an early Week 4 bye, the late season tough schedule and taxing travel could take a toll on the Cardinals. Arizona is not likely to fall off the map in 2014, but a small step back seems possible unless they can turn things around in the division games.

Arizona Cardinals 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .547 (8/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 8 (five home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 10,852
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1
Primetime Games: 3 (1 Thursday Night, 1 Sunday Night, 1 Monday Night

San Francisco 49ers: With three consecutive NFC championship appearances, the 49ers have certainly established themselves as one of the top teams in the NFL and a team that is a Super Bowl threat every season. San Francisco struggled to run the ball effectively last season, but despite an ugly 1-2 start to the season, the 49ers rallied to win 11 of the last 13 games of the regular season and took Seattle down to the wire in the NFC championship after beating Green Bay and Carolina in the playoffs. Last season, San Francisco had to face a first place schedule and this season, the 49ers get a second place draw, which means avoiding Green Bay but having to play New Orleans. San Francisco has tough road games at Dallas, at Denver, and at New Orleans outside of the already tough division road games, but the 49ers will play the fewest 2013 playoff teams in the division with just seven of those games, including only three on the road. The 49ers face substantial travel this season and will play three separate sets of back-to-back road games while also getting three short week games with the primetime schedule. San Francisco will play Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday night games on the season.

Unlike the rest of the division, the 49ers draw a more favorable Week 8 bye that should provide a more centrally placed break. The biggest current rivalry in the league will be saved for late in the season as the games with Seattle are in Weeks 13 and 15 and the game in Seattle comes in a second straight road game, though the previous road game is just in Oakland. San Francisco will have an adjustment this season with the new stadium in Santa Clara and the early season home games are challenging with Chicago, Philadelphia, and Kansas City coming into town in the first five weeks. San Francisco looks like an elite team again, but this is a very tough schedule and there is little margin for error in this division with four legitimate playoff contenders.

San Francisco 49ers 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .563 (4/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 7 (four home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 11,969
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 5 (1 Thursday Night, 1 Saturday Night, 2 Sunday Night, 1 Monday Night)

Seattle Seahawks: The Super Bowl champions were mostly dominant last season finishing with a 13-3 record and a point differential of +186. Seattle has featured one of the best defenses in the NFL and the offense was very impressive at times last season, though not with the same consistency as the defense. Seattle benefitted from a weaker schedule last season with a second place draw and the Seahawks were able to coast late in the season after an 11-1 start, eventually dropping two games late in the season but still earning the top seed in the NFC. Seattle won twice in overtime last season and had three other wins by seven or fewer points and trading the AFC South for the AFC West will upgrade the challenge in 2014. Seattle also draws Carolina and Green Bay in the first place draw and Seattle will play eight games in 2014 against 2013 playoff teams. Seattle has incredibly long travel this season going over 16,000 miles for eight road games, more miles than most of the teams heading to London this season will face. Three east coast games are ahead for the Seahawks, plus two Central Time games and Seattle has two sets of back-to-back road games with the second of the two games out east in both cases.

The Seahawks will need to avoid a Super Bowl hangover in September with a brutal opening trio of games with Green Bay, San Diego, and Denver in the first three weeks before an early Week 4 bye. The schedule softens a bit in October and early November but starting in mid-November, the Seahawks will play six straight games against teams that won at least 10 games in 2013 including both games with San Francisco and road games in Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Arizona. Seattle will close with division games in the final three weeks and this season the division race may still be up in the air in December with all four teams looking viable. Seattle did not actually have the best record in the division last season, going 4-2 while the 49ers went 5-1, so there is no margin for error and with the taxing travel schedule it would not be a surprise if the Seahawks slipped a game or two from last season despite still looking like a serious threat to repeat. Seattle has won six of the last 10 NFC West titles and if they win the division again in 2014, it will not likely be in convincing fashion.

Seattle Seahawks 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .561 (6/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 8 (five home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 16,028
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 4 (2 Thursday Night, 1 Sunday Night, 1 Monday Night)

St. Louis Rams: This is a talented Rams team that has been building nicely in two seasons under Jeff Fisher and if St. Louis played in any other division, they might be considered one of the favorites. As it stands, St. Louis will have to try to move up in a division where they went 1-5 last season, while going 6-4 against the rest of the league. St. Louis was also just 2-6 on the road last season and the Rams were only -16 in point differential in a 7-9 campaign where they played with a back-up quarterback much of the way. While St. Louis was very competitive last season, they did not lose a lot of close games with only one defeat by fewer than seven points as this was an inconsistent team. The Rams also did not win close games with only one win decided by fewer than 10 points and an average margin of victory of more than 16 points in the seven wins. St. Louis should be a candidate to start the season strong with two games against teams that had losing records and with new coaching staffs this season in the first two weeks. A 2-0 start is paramount for the Rams this season if they hope to contend for a playoff spot. The Rams then host Dallas in Week 3 before an early Week 4 bye.

St. Louis will then embark on an absolutely brutal stretch of games in October and early November playing seven of eight games against 2013 playoff teams with the lone exception in that run being a game at Arizona who went 10-6 last season. That game comes in a third straight road game for the Rams as well. While the final game of the season for St. Louis is at Seattle, there are winnable games in Weeks 13-16 with three of those four games coming at home, but surviving the mid-season gauntlet will be a great challenge. St. Louis is talented enough to steal some of those games with upsets, but for a team that was incredibly inconsistent last season, it is not clear if the Rams are ready to take a step forward this season and the schedule is not doing the team any favors. Five of the eight road games for St. Louis are against 2013 playoff teams and despite being one of the most centrally located franchises in the league, the Rams have over 10,000 travel miles ahead. A lot of folks are buyers on the Rams this season for good reason but they will need to start strong and find a way to stay positive and fresh through a very tough slate to have a chance at the playoffs or a first division title since 2003.

St. Louis Rams 2014 Schedule Numbers:
2014 Opponents Win Percentage in 2013: .564 (3/32)
Games vs. 2013 Playoff Teams: 8 (three home, five away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 10,575
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1 back-to-back-to-back
Primetime Games: 2 (1 Thursday Night, 1 Monday Night)


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:27 AM

NFL Rookie Odds and Props

May 18, 2014


The 2014 NFL Draft is in the books and the three names you heard the most were Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel and Michael Sam.

The defensive end Clowney was the taken first overall by the Houston Texans. Manziel was a first-round selection as well, with Cleveland selecting the quarterback with its 22nd selection.

Sam was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. The 249th selection by the Rams also became the league’s first openly gay player.

Even though the NFL regular season doesn’t begin until September, bettors at Sportsbook.ag has offered up proposition wagers on the aforementioned trio.

Sportsbook.ag also posted Rookie of the Year odds as well.

2014 NFL Rookie Props

Johnny Manziel - Total Games Started in the 2014 Regular Season

OVER 8.5 (-125)
UNDER 8.5 (-115)

Jadeveon Clowney - Total Sacks in the 2014 Regular Season

OVER 8.5 (+105)
UNDER 8.5 (-145)

Will Michael Sam be on the Rams 53 man roster for Game 1 of the 2014 Regular Season?

Yes +160
No -220

Odds to win 2014 AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year

Sammy Watkins 4/1
Mike Evans 6/1
Odell Beckham Jr 8/1
Johnny Manziel 8/1
Jordan Matthews 10/1
Eric Ebron 10/1
Brandin Cooks 12/1
Kelvin Benjamin 15/1
Cody Latimer 15/1
Blake Bortles 18/1
Jace Amaro 20/1
Teddy Bridgewater 20/1
Derek Carr 20/1
Marqise Lee 20/1
Austin Seferian Jenkins 20/1
Greg Robinson 25/1
Paul Richardson 25/1
Jeremy Hill 30/1
Jake Matthews 40/1
Zack Martin 50/1
Taylor Lewan 50/1
Jawuan James 75/1

Odds to win 2014 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year

Jadeveon Clowney 2/1
Khalil Mack 4/1
Aaron Donald 8/1
Ryan Shazier 8/1
Anthony Barr 10/1
Justin Gilbert 15/1
Kyle Fuller 15/1
Dee Ford 15/1
CJ Mosley 15/1
Darqueze Dennard 20/1
Ha Ha Clinton Dix 25/1
Bradley Roby 25/1
Calvin Pryor 25/1
Marcus Smith 30/1
Timmy Jernigan 30/1
Jason Verrett 30/1
Rashade Hageman 30/1
Kyle Van Noy 30/1
Stephon Tuitt 30/1
Demarcus Lawrence 40/1
Deone Bucannon 40/1
Dominique Easley 40/1
Jimmie Ward 40/1


Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 01:30 AM

Falcons to be featured on Hard Knocks

June 12, 2014


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons have announced they will be featured on HBO Sports' documentary series Hard Knocks this summer.

The five-part weekly series debuts Aug. 5 and concludes Sept. 2.

The annual show gives fans an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at the daily lives and routines of players and coaches as they prepare for the upcoming NFL season.

Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank says the team is ''excited about the opportunity to give our fans a behind the scenes look at what it takes to prepare an NFL team for the rigors of a 16-game regular season and beyond.''

Hard Knocks is now its ninth season.

Other teams previously featured on the award-winning reality series include the Ravens, Chiefs, Jets and Dolphins. The Cowboys and Bengals have each been featured twice.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/13/2014 12:10 PM

Concussions push Scheffler to retire

June 11, 2014


Tony Scheffler is retiring from the NFL.

Scheffler told The Associated Press on Wednesday he made the choice because he had three concussions over the past four years.

He had 258 receptions for 3,207 yards and 22 touchdowns in his eight-year career. The Detroit Lions released Scheffler in October. He later had workouts with Chicago and Kansas City and says there was ''moderate'' interest in him as a free agent this offseason.

Denver drafted him in the second round in 2006 out of Western Michigan and traded him four years later to Detroit.

Scheffler says his plans include becoming a real estate agent and assistant football coach at the high school in his hometown of Chelsea, Michigan.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
thehitman Posts:2053 Followers:4
06/13/2014 06:23 PM

Great stuff, as always, C. Thanks alot. Bases driving me nuts, some of this brings me back to sanity

Never, ever criticize someone until you have walked a mile in their shoes........for at that point they will be a mile away. And you'll have their shoes !
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/23/2014 02:58 AM

Ex-Pat Hernandez taken for hospital visit

June 22, 2014


DARTMOUTH, Mass. (AP) - Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was briefly taken from a jail to a hospital this weekend for an undisclosed problem, a Massachusetts sheriff said.

Hernandez was brought to St. Luke's Hospital in New Bedford Saturday and was back at the Bristol County jail in Dartmouth about an hour later, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said Sunday.

Hodgson said he can't disclose what happened because of medical privacy laws.

Hernandez, a Bristol, Connecticut, native, has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in connection with the killings of two men in Boston in 2012 and the killing of another man found near Hernandez's home in North Attleborough, Massachusetts.

The hospital visit, first reported by WBZ-TV in Boston, came a day after his attorneys said in a transfer request that Hernandez should be moved to a jail closer to Boston because communication with his attorneys and his personal safety are being compromised.

Boston-based attorneys Michael Fee and James Sultan complained their client has dealt with ''bizarre and unprecedented'' restrictions in his communications with his lawyers. Hernandez cannot always speak privately over the phone and in-person visits are limited to a specially-designated visitation room at the prison, they said.

The lawyers also suggested Hernandez's safety is at risk now that he faces criminal charges for allegedly threatening to kill a prison guard and his family, and in an alleged jail altercation with another inmate. Hernandez has pleaded not guilty.

Hernandez is set to appear in court in Boston this week in the 2012 drive-by shooting that killed Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.

Hernandez has pleaded not guilty to all three killings.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:23650 Followers:32
06/23/2014 03:00 AM

Retirement not on Peyton's radar

June 20, 2014



ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - Peyton Manning flew to New York this spring to pay his respects to Derek Jeter and David Letterman, two much-admired superstars in the middle of their long goodbyes.

''I'm sad to see some of these guys retiring,'' the Broncos quarterback said at the time. ''I'm not far behind.''

Yet retirement really isn't on Manning's radar as he prepares for his 17th NFL season, his third in Denver. Coming off the best two-year stretch of his career, Manning is keeping tacklers, tedium and time itself at bay.

At 38, Manning said he'll keep playing as long as he's still productive and loves the game.

That passion and productivity were on full display last season when he won his fifth MVP award and set single-season records by passing for 55 touchdowns and more than 5,500 yards.

There are no signs of his affection or efficiency ebbing anytime soon, either.

''You see it in how he prepares every day,'' center Manny Ramirez said. ''We're here in the offseason and he's still putting the same amount of focus as he does in-season, preparing, trying to get better every day, trying to pick apart the defenses.''

''I still enjoy the work and preparation,'' said Manning, who lost wide receiver Eric Decker to the Jets but gained coveted free agent Emmanuel Sanders and prized rookie Cody Latimer.

That turnover actually helps keep Manning young at heart, coach John Fox suggested.

''There's so much change in the NFL nowadays that I think that keeps the juices flowing, whether that's getting Emmanuel Sanders up to speed or last year, Wes Welker. Anytime you put a new cog in there, that's an adjustment,'' Fox said. ''I think he takes pride in that and he attacks that. He seems to me to be having a great time.''

Manning would like to play out his contract, which runs through 2016. Yet, while he's not pondering retirement, he said in an interview with The Associated Press that he has certainly contemplated what it will be like.

''Sometimes I sort of kick back and I pause and I think what sorts of things would I miss the most if I wasn't playing,'' Manning said.

The answer hits him like one of those teeth-rattling sacks by Robert Mathis.

''Being in the huddle,'' Manning said. ''That's what I missed most when I was injured, I'll say that. I mean, there's no other type of unity or bond that I think any other job can provide. I know there are meetings, there are video conferences. But that huddle, because of where it takes place: it's often on the road, in the middle of the field, in front of 80,000 people, it's unique.''

It's what excites him even at an age when many quarterbacks have retired to the broadcast booth or are hitting the links instead of the weights.

''When you don't play football anymore, you can broadcast, you can coach, you can be in management, whatever, but you are not allowed to go into the huddle anymore,'' Manning said. ''That huddle is just for players. You can go into the locker room after the game and you can speak to the team, but I think any retired player would probably tell you they miss the huddle.''

The way Manning has guided the Broncos to a 28-8 record over the last two years belies how far he had fallen when he was forced to sit out the 2011 season in Indianapolis and even had to look in a mirror to relearn his release point after a series of neck surgeries weakened his throwing arm to the point he could hardly grip, much less throw, a football.

Manning's reboot has turned into a blessing.

''Yeah, although I have to say, some guys might need a year off to whatever, relight to fire, whatever it may be. I didn't need a year off to remind me of how much I love football,'' Manning said. ''But when you have it, it sure does reinforce what you kind of always thought, that I do love it.''

Working with play-caller Adam Gase and new teammates has revitalized Manning.

''Sometimes it, the monotonous routine, the boredom, that pushes guys out, not the physical part of it,'' Manning said. ''And I have been stimulated the past two years working with Adam and working with different teammates, so it does sort of keep the bounce in you, I think.''

Manning doesn't view himself so much as a 17-year NFL veteran but as Denver's third-year quarterback.

''I really feel because it's a new team, post-injury, it's kind of a new me. That's how I have to look at it,'' Manning said. ''I'm a different player from before I was injured. I'm not saying better, worse, whatever, just a different player. And so what I can compare myself most accurately to is my first season here in Denver and kind of how I am physically and how I am with my teammates and with Adam and so it's helped to have now two years to build off that baseline.''

He no longer feels like a visitor in his own locker room.

''And I like going into that huddle,'' Manning said. ''I like the guys that I get to work with. I like lifting weights, working with Wes Welker, doing a set of bench press with Jacob Tamme, I like working with the guys that I play with and I still like learning. I like being challenged by Adam every day to be a better football player. There are a lot of things that I still enjoy about it.

''And I look forward to driving over here every day. I think as soon as you go, `Golly, I do not want to go over there today,' that's when you've got to get out.''

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: