cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/06/2013 01:39 AM

Freeney can't wait to get after Manning

June 5, 2013

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Dwight Freeney has already visualized sacking Peyton Manning.

Freeney and Manning were teammates with the Indianapolis Colts for 10 seasons, but the pass rusher could never hit the quarterback in practice.

Now he can get after Manning all he wants, twice a season.

Freeney, who went through his first practice with the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday, will face Manning and the AFC West rival Broncos on Nov. 10 at San Diego and Dec. 12 at Denver.

``I mean, it will be no different than how it was in practice but then I actually get to make contact,'' Freeney said. ``There's no red jersey, there's no halo, there's no I can't do this, I can't do that. It's just go after him. I've seen him more than anybody probably has seen him.''

Freeney said there was some interest from the Broncos after the Colts decided not to re-sign him, but that the Chargers afforded a better opportunity.

Freeney and Manning were teammates with the Colts from 2002-2011, although Manning missed the entire 2011 season due to a series of neck surgeries.

``Ten years of hearing him in the huddle in practice, going against him in practice every single day, not being able to hit him, is something for me,'' Freeney said. ``As a D-lineman, or rush man or linebacker, one of the things you really take pride in is hitting the QB. You kind of want to hit them all, whether they're on your team or not. For me, it's going to be interesting. It's going to be fun. Hopefully, I'll get some good opportunities this year.''

Freeney agreed to a two-year contract with the Chargers on May 18, literally as he was boarding a jet for a European vacation. The deal could be worth $13.35 million.

The deal to bring Freeney to the Chargers came four days after outside linebacker Melvin Ingram tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in a padless practice. It also helped cushion the loss of outside linebackers Antwan Barnes and Shaun Phillips to free agency.

Freeney is 33 and entering his 12th season.

He was Indianapolis' career sacks leader with 107 1/2. After recording 13 1/2 sacks in 2009, his totals declined each of the past three years. He had five in 2012.

Freeney, a seven-time Pro Bowler, never seemed comfortable after moving from a 4-3 defensive end, where he spent his first 10 NFL seasons, to a 3-4 outside linebacker. The Chargers run a 3-4 defense.

Freeney said San Diego defensive coordinator John Pagano, the younger brother of Colts coach Chuck Pagano, told him there wasn't anything he did last year that was considered bad.

Freeney said he liked the sound of what John Pagano plans to do with him.

``I think the biggest thing was that, he was going to allow me to do a little bit of what I do,'' said Freeney, who will be used as an edge rusher on the right side. ``It wasn't, `Dwight, here, we're going to take you and put you in this thing and do things that you're not used to doing.' He said, `You know what, we're going to put you in place to make plays, in familiar places, so that you're comfortable and you can just ball out.'''

For Freeney, that means ``just being comfortable getting after the quarterback, getting after the running back, forward penetration. Not a lot of times am I going to be in reverse, you know, backpedaling, going away from the guy with the ball but I'm sure there will be times when I have to do it. Hopefully the blitz will get there. I'm going to have fun with it.''

Freeney was the 11th overall selection in the 2002 draft. During his time with the Colts, he combined with Robert Mathis to form one of the most fearsome pass-rush tandems in the league. His 44 forced fumbles are the most by any NFL player since 2002 and he was one of 13 players in Colts' history to participate in more than 100 victories.

Freeney led the NFL with 16 sacks in 2004.

Freeney said he thinks he has a lot left.

``We'll see what happens, but I feel good and I'm glad to be here.''

Chargers rookie general manager Tom Telesco was with the Colts before being hired by San Diego in January.

Freeney and the Chargers will play host to the Colts in a Monday night game on Oct. 14.

Also Wednesday, the Chargers signed first-round draft pick D.J. Fluker to a four-year contract. The right tackle was the last of San Diego's draft picks to sign.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/06/2013 01:42 AM

Coaching Hot Seat

June 5, 2013

In a sense, every college football coach is on the hot seat. But there's no question that entering every gridiron campaign, some mentors are in more trouble than others. And, in a handicapping sense, it's always a good idea to know which coaches are sitting on the "hottest" of seats, as history has shown that it has been worthwhile to identify such potential trouble spots as early as possible in anticipation of possible meltdowns and strings of point-spread losses that often result.

Following is an early look at those coaches who look to be in the most danger entering this fall...

Lane Kiffin, Southern Cal...Add this tidbit to the trail of destruction Lake Kiffin has left in his wake throughout his coaching career; some Pac-12 insiders suggest that Kiffin actually had more than a bit to do with the dismissal of Southern Cal basketball coach Kevin O'Neill last January. Not directly, mind you, but the chain of events that led to the ouster of O'Neill in January might have indeed included controversies surrounding Kiffin and the support he had received from now-embattled AD Pat Haden. Many well-heeled Trojan boosters had seen all they needed last season from Kiffin, whose supposed national title-contending squad instead dropped off the national radar in November, allowed a school-worst 62 points vs. Oregon, lost to old and nasty rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, watched QB Matt Barkley's potential Heisman Trophy campaign go up in smoke, and ended up humiliating itself at the Sun Bowl when losing to a .500 Georgia Tech side to finish a dubious 7-6. Along the way were more curious incidents involving Kiffin and rumors of internal discord that surfaced after the bowl loss, part of an embarrassing adventure to El Paso. More than a few Trojan cigars were demanding action be taken by Haden, whose public pronouncement of "150%" support for Kiffin in early November was coming back to bite him hard. Enough so, according to various sources, that Haden was likely motivated to hit the eject button early at midseason on O'Neill, who was widely expected to get his pink slip anyway once the hoop season concludes. By jettisoning O'Neill just as the criticism of Kiffin was reaching its loudest, however, Haden at least temporarily quieted his growing legion of critics who suspected he didn't have the nerve to make a bold move befitting a top-flight AD. Whatever reprieve given Haden (and Kiffin) is expected to be short-lived, however; Haden will not be able to throw his new basketball coach Andy Enfield under a similar bus to deflect criticism any criticism directed at Kiffin this fall. Now Barkley is gone and a new QB must be groomed (heir apparent Max Wittek didn't get any pulses racing when subbing for a hurt Barkley last year) and the Trojans must quickly rediscover the swagger they lost a year ago. True, Kiffin has been operating with scholarship reductions dating to the Reggie Bush-related penalties from 2010, and a more-forgiving Pac-12 schedule (no Oregon or Washington this season) might help this fall, but the program needs to rebound quickly from last year's fiasco and for Kiffin to at least stay away from more unwanted controversies for Haden to justify staying the current course.

Bobby Hauck, UNLV...Talk about a predicament! You've compiled a 6-32 record in your first three seasons on the job, and your team has yet to win a road game during that span of time. The AD who hired you, maybe the only person in your corner in the entire city of Las Vegas, issues a must-win edict (at least a 6-6 record and a bowl bid) for your upcoming fourth season. Then, just after spring practice, that AD resigns under pressure, partly due to a reported dust-up with the school president who demanded an immediate upgrade in the football program and a dismissal of the coach if things didn't turn around by the third game of the season. According to some well-placed Mountain West sources, none of the above is fiction at UNLV, with the characters involved being HC Bobby Hauck, former AD Jim Livengood, and school prexy Neil Smatresk. While no one in the region doubts the magnitude of the rebuilding job Hauck inherited from predecessor Mike Sanford in 2010, and the signs of some palpable progress being made throughout the 2012 campaign, the Rebels collapsed once more at the end of last season, with humiliating road losses at Colorado State and Hawaii capping Hauck's third straight 2-win effort. Another slow start from UNLV could put Hauck in lame-duck status or a candidate for dismissal before Columbus Day, in which case the Rebel season could go up in a mushroom cloud as the remaining staff sends out feelers for future employment and the players themselves wonder about scholarship renewals with a new regime on the way. For Hauck to survive, the defense must plug its many leaks, promising soph QB Nick Sherry and sr. RB Tim Cornett cannot succumb to injury, and every break that has gone against UNLV the past quarter-century must turn around in a hurry. Given the specifics of this dire situation, Hauck appears the coach most likely to not make it to end of the regular season.

Mack Brown, Texas...A 22-16 record over the past three seasons and a growing collection of lopsided losses to eternal rival Oklahoma (the last of those by a 63-21 wipeout margin last October) are usually not the stuff of stability for a Longhorns football coach. So it's no wonder that a growing legion of Texas-exes are starting to believe that Brown is past his sell-by date, especially since the crowning glory of his 16-season tenure in Austin (the Vince Young-led 2005 national title) is looking a lot further back in the rear-view mirror these days. In Brown's defense, the Horns did show some signs of recovery last season, improving to 9-4, but this is Texas, where standards are awfully high and where sorts such as Fred Akers, David McWilliams, and John Mackovic have been dismissed for less. Making matters more complicated for Brown is that an annual haul of top-rated recruits has not delivered as expected. Some of the recent slump since the 2009 season BCS title game vs. Alabama can be blamed on QB problems post-Colt McCoy, though jr. David Ash performed with some flair last season and appears poised for a potential breakout this fall. If he doesn't, however, the pressure ratches up exponentially on Brown. But as most Big 12 insiders are quick to remind us, Mack will have a built-in safety blanket at Austin as long as AD DeLoss Dodds stays on the job. At 73, however, Dodds would seem to be looking at retirement sooner rather than later. Their relationship likely keeps Brown safe as long as the Horns stay above .500 and continue to qualify for bowls, but a popular belief among many in the region is that whenever Dodds rides off into the sunset, Brown rides with him.

Gary Pinkel, Missouri...Pinkel's career mark with the Tigers is nothing to sneeze at, as he's 12 wins from being the all-time school leader in coaching victories. But many in Columbia are wondering if Pinkel is going to stick around long enough at Faurot Field to set the mark. That's because Mizzou's move to the SEC started off more than a bit bumpy last season, made to look even worse by comparison to Texas A&M, which also made the switch (with a new head coach and frosh Heisman winner) from the Big 12 but flourished in its new and supposedly more-treacherous environs. Another round of beatings this fall might convince Tiger backers that Pinkel is not the guy to lead Mizzou on this new and difficult SEC adventure. A forgiving non-conference slate gives Pinkel a chance to gain some momentum this fall before SEC actions swings into gear, but keeping QB James Franklin in one piece and improvements on defense will be necessary for the Tigers to get back into the postseason mix. This season looks like a referendum on Pinkel, and anything less than a bowl invitation likely puts his 13-season tenure in jeopardy.

Kirk Ferentz, Iowa...Ferentz is signed thru 2020 in Iowa City, but the natives are nonetheless getting increasingly restless as the Hawkeyes have slipped to a 19-19 mark over the past three seasons and just 10-14 vs. mostly-modest Big Ten opposition during that span. Off-field issues and missing a bowl game last year have added to the angst among Iowa backers. Which has contributed to an growing belief among many Hawkeyes supporters that the program has already hit its apex for Ferentz, who was been able to keep his Iowa teams at least in Big Ten contention and in the bowl mix for most of his tenure. Not last year, however, with offensive problems looking acute in a 4-8 debacle, prompting Ferentz to answer critics by making several adjustments on his coaching staff. Ferentz, who in past years has often been the subject of interest from elsewhere (including the NFL) but has always remained loyal to Iowa, has not yet endured consecutive sub-.500 seasons with the Hawkeyes. But that could change, and soon. Expect the heat to turn up significantly if Iowa doesn't go "bowling" again this fall.

Mike Leach, Washington State...After Leach became the highest-paid employee in the history of the school last fall, Wazzu backers had reason to expect more than a 3-9 record that marked a regression from the end of the troubled Paul Wulff regime that preceded Leach's hire. Making matters more complicated for Leach were a series of negative storylines and accusations (many of those unproven ones from deposed WR Marquess Wilson) that offered unneeded distractions from the actions on the field. Which on their own were bad enough, with little resemblance to the Leach "Air Raids" that terrorized foes in his previous high-profile (and controversial) tenure at Texas Tech...or, for that matter, the last year of the Wulff regime in 2011. Along the way, Leach's besieged QBs endured a nation's-worst 57 sacks, the running game gained inches per carry, and the defense wasn't much good, either. With everything having gone so unexpectedly pear-shaped in the Palouse, some Pac-12 sources wondered if Leach might get the quick hook if the Cougs didn't rally for a dramatic Apple Cup win over rival U-Dub in the regular-season finale. The off-field distractions were responsible for much of that conjecture last season, and Leach must avoid similar controversies this fall. Although Leach's defense lacked playmakers last season, it was a surprise to see the offense stumble so badly. A repeat of 2012 would seem unlikely, especially if jr. QB Conner Halliday can stay healthy, but anything resembling last year's mess could put Leach in the soup.

Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech...Believe it or not, Beamer's name has been on this list before, and near the top of it, in fact, back in 1993. That was Beamer's seventh season on the job, and at the time, the Hokies had yet to qualify for a bowl game on his watch. But '93 was a breakthrough campaign, as QB Maurice DeShazo led VPI to the postseason and a rousing Independence Bowl win over Indiana, and the Hokies had taken flight, with a bowl streak that remains intact today. Although it took a narrow season-ending win over disappointing Virginia to keep the streak alive a year ago in a terribly-disappointing campaign at Blacksburg, causing many Hokie backers to wonder if the old coach and alum might be past his sell-by date, especially with few hints of the old "Beamer Ball" (defensive and special teams opportunism) anywhere to be seen last fall. Now, the pressure will be on those old Beamer staples, as well as much-hyped QB Logan Thomas, to deliver this fall. At the least, expect some public discussion about the future of d.c. Bud Foster, long considered Beamer's heir apparent but as of yet not aligned with any official successor plan at VPI. If the Hokies continue to flounder as they did a year ago, the eventual transition to Foster might become more problematic, too, and Bud might be more tempted than usual to seek employment elsewhere (he's been rumored for several jobs in recent years, including North Carolina's opening after 2011). Some in the region suspect that Beamer might want to stay through what would be his 30th season in 2016; if that is indeed the case, don't be surprised if VPI at least announces some successor plan with Foster.

Mike London, Virginia...After what seemed a breakthrough campaign in 2011 and a Chick-Fil-A Bowl berth vs. Auburn, UVa took several steps backward last fall when slumping to an ugly 4-8 mark. The pressure thus mounts on London, now in his fourth year, to stop the bleeding ASAP. His answer is a return to his preferred power-football style which will require a lot more from his infantry than its 129 ypg (and 96th ranking nationally) from a year ago. To that end, London has revamped his coaching staff, especially on the offensive end where several former FBS head coaches (including ex-NC State HC Tom O'Brien and ex-Colorado State HC Steve Fairchild) are now on staff. Unfortunately, both of last year's QBs have left the program; Michael Rocco transferred to Richmond and former Alabama transfer QB Phillip Sims, in contention for the starting job in spring, subsequently became academically ineligible, likely leaving the job to soph David Watford. There is some encouragement, however, as another respected assistant, Jon Tenuta, takes over a defense that on paper looks to be menacing, especially with seven starters (including the entire secondary) in the fold. But ACC sources almost all suggest that another bowl miss puts London in the crosshairs.

Charlie Weis, Kansas...Kansas is getting what it deserves with Weis, whose Notre Dame tenure ended in shambles, as did his brief stint as o.c. with the NFL Kansas City Chiefs and even more-desultory one-year run as o.c. at Florida, where HC Will Muschamp was relieved that Weis was able to escape Gainesville and become the Jayhawks' problem instead. After showing little patience for predecessor Turner Gill, the Weis hire was the brainchild of new AD Sheahon Zenger, who was rewarded with a 1-11 record (only win vs. FCS South Dakota State) in Weis' debut season that had many wondering why the plug had to be pulled so quickly on predecessor Gill. Now, Weis is banking hopes for a resurgence on BYU transfer QB Jake Heaps, who started some games for the Cougs as a frosh in 2011 before getting beaten out for the job by journeyman Riley nelson, and deciding to transfer thereafter. A bevy of juco transfers has also been enlisted for a hopeful quick fix, but this was not supposed to be the plan in Lawrence. Moreover, Weis' reputation as an offensive genius has taken quite a battering since his long-ago days as Bill Belichick's o.c. with the Super Bowl Patriots a decade ago, and the "D" didn't exactly respond to ex-Dallas Cowboys HC and d.c. Dave Campo in 2012, ranking 113th nationally. The memory of BCS-level teams in the not-so-long-ago Mark Mangino regime look a lot further back in the rear-view mirror these days. Can Weis survive another winless Big 12 season? And can AD Zenger survive another debacle with his hand-picked coach?

Tim Beckman, Illinois...The honeymoon period for new head coaches is not as long as it used to be; the aforementioned Turner Gill only got two years in Kansas, and he's not the only one who has been given a lot less rope by win-hungry fans and ADs in recent years. The next such example could be Beckman, who arrived in Champaign-Urbana amid much fanfare last season after a successful run at Toledo, but immediately had Illini fans wishing for a return to the Ron Zook years after an ugly 2-10 collapse that featured a complete meltdown on the offensive end and a winless mark in the Big Ten. Now, there are more than a few Illinois backers who wonder if Beckman is up to the job. The hope this season is that new o.c. and former Western Michigan HC Bill Cubit can straighten out the attack that floundered badly with co-coordinators Chris Beatty and Billy Gonzalez last season (both are no longer with the program). For Cubit to succeed he'll have to coax something more than inconsistency from forth-year starting QB Nathan Scheelhaase (learning his third different offensive system in four season), and the defense is also in rebuild mode after finishing a poor 93rd in scoring (32.1 ppg). Mostly, however, improvements need to happen fast with a desultory strike (out) force that ranked an awful 119th in scoring and total offense in 2012. Otherwise, more Illini backers will begin to suspect that Beckman isn't up to the job. After all, even Zook was able to get the Illini into minor-bowl territory during the later years of his tenure.

Randy Edsall, Maryland...The Terps have had egg on their face ever since the ham-handed handling of Ralph Friedgen's dismissal (engineered by new AD Kevin Anderson) following a successful 2010 campaign. Hired away from an impressive run at UConn that featured a Big East title and BCS berth (Fiesta) in 2010, Randy Edsall's College Park adventure has resulted in a 6-18 nightmare the past two seasons. Although the specifics of each campaign differed (mass defections gutting the 2011 team, eventual firing of both coordinators, and injuries that decimated the QB position wrecking 2012), no Terp backers are happy, and Edsall has to begin showing some progress this season as Maryland prepares for a move to the Big Ten in 2014. Keeping QB C.J. Brown healthy, and the ongoing improvement of homerun soph WR Stefon Diggs, would go a long way to solving many of the recent offensive woes, and the "D" performed with some flair for d.c. Brian Stewart (ex-Dallas Cowboys) last season. Still, a winning record and bowl berth are minimum expectations this season.

Others on the hot seat: Paul Pasqualoni, UConn; Jeff Quinn, Buffalo, Don Treadwell, Miami-Ohio; Ron English, Eastern Michigan; Doc Holliday, Marshall.; Kevin Wilson, Indiana.

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:38 AM

NFC West Outlook

June 13, 2013

The Hall of Fame Game to open the NFL preseason is just around the corner, less than two months away. The NFL draft, free agency, and injury reports from mini-camps steal the spotlight in the summer but the April release of 2013 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 this season, a division that made a lot of noise in the NFC last season with the 49ers and Seahawks both among the final four in the conference.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals were 4-0 to start the 2012 season including wins over Seattle and New England. Arizona won just once the rest of the way, finishing 5-11 and featuring the second worst point production in the NFL. The collapse led to a coaching change with Bruce Arians taking over for Ken Whisenhunt despite Whisenhunt taking the Cardinals to their first ever Super Bowl just a few years prior. The quarterback situation has been a huge problem for the Cardinals in recent years and veteran Carson Palmer was acquired to address that need but there are still many question marks for this team.

Arizona will be the clear 4th place team in this division in most predictions with a lot of stability with the three other franchises. Arizona will face daunting travel this season with a 750 mile trip to San Francisco as the shortest journey of the season and the Cardinals will play four games in the Eastern Time zone including two of those games on the second of back-to-back road game sets. Drawing Philadelphia and Detroit with the 4th place schedule does not appear to be a great advantage for Arizona and with all four NFC South teams on the slate it will not be easy to improve on a 3-9 NFC mark from last season given how tough this division will be. The Cardinals along with the rest of the NFC West will face the four AFC South teams and even though that includes two 2012 playoff teams that is a relatively favorable draw and will present games with Jacksonville and Tennessee, though the Cardinals have the misfortune of both of those games being on the road. Arizona was just 1-7 on the road last season and this year the road schedule will provide the easier opportunities for wins as none of the five out of division road games will come against a team that had a winning record last season.

That means a challenging home slate however with Carolina, Atlanta, Indianapolis, and Houston visiting Glendale. Arizona will open with three of the first four games of the season on the road and even through none of the first five opponents made the playoffs last season it will be a tough way to start the season for a team in transition. There are some positive pieces left behind on this roster but overall it does not appear that a quick turnaround season will be possible for the Cardinals through this schedule unless this team is ready for day 1 and can take advantage of a somewhat softer September slate on the road.

Arizona Cardinals 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .520
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (five home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 13,691
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 1 (one Thursday)

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl last season and this team should be one of the favorites in the NFC in 2013. The 49ers will face an unbelievable amount of travel miles but they do face only seven true road games with a game in London. San Francisco will also play the key division road games with Seattle and St. Louis early in the year, getting the home games in the second time around which is generally considered more favorable. There are tough games ahead with both Green Bay and Washington as part of the 1st place schedule along with all four NFC South teams on the slate but the Falcons and Packers both have to travel to San Francisco. Five of the seven games against 2012 playoff teams will be at home so while there are some very tough games ahead for this team, most of the toughest games are at home.

The schedule will open with a bang however with four of the first five opponents being playoff teams from last year and the one foe that was not is a short week Thursday night road game against St. Louis, a team that handled the 49ers well last season. San Francisco could definitely face a rough start to the season including games with Green Bay and Seattle in the first two weeks and with a still young quarterback that has never opened the season as a starter, there could be some early trouble. San Francisco does have a softer slate in the middle of the season but there are three games in the Eastern Time zone and the final three home games of the season will be challenging with division games with St. Louis and Seattle and then a big NFC Championship rematch with Atlanta in the second to last game of the regular season.

Overall the road schedule is favorable in terms of the caliber of opponents and even though the travel to London is substantial, the 49ers will face a Jacksonville team that they will be heavily favored over. It will not be shocking to see the 49ers take a few early losses but this is a team that could provide value in the middle of the season and still deserves to be considered among the elite teams in the league, though matching the records of the past two seasons is not a given and this will not be an easy division to win.

San Francisco 49ers 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .520
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (five home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 19,428 (includes 5,354 miles for a game in London)
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2 (includes a neutral site game in London)
Primetime Games: 5 (one Thursday, two Sunday night, two Monday)

Seattle Seahawks: Seattle ended up as one of the top statistical teams in the NFL last season and the Seahawks were very close to making it to the NFC Championship game led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. The race in this division is expected to come down to Seattle and San Francisco and while the Seahawks snag a schedule with a slightly lower 2012 win percentage than San Francisco, it is likely a tougher overall slate. Seattle will play a very difficult set of road games and historically the Seahawks are not the same team on the road, including going just 3-5 last season while a perfect 8-0 at home. Seattle faces four 2012 playoff teams on the road but also draws tough road games against the Panthers, Rams, and Giants and the toughest games from the NFC South and AFC South draws will be on the road. Seattle also has to play three separate sets of back-to-back road games which can be especially daunting considering there are no short trips from Seattle. In each of those three instances the second of the two games is the longer trip and could be a spot to fade the Seahawks.

Seattle opens the home schedule with its biggest game, hosting the 49ers and the home slate from there on is pretty favorable with Minnesota as the only winning team from 2012 faced in the final seven home games of the season. Another perfect record at home is very possible for this squad but even matching the 3-5 mark on the road from last season would be a solid accomplishment. Seattle certainly has the potential to meet last year’s 11-5 mark and considering this team was +167 in point differential last year the sky is the limit. The road slate is challenging however and if San Francisco can withstand its first month gauntlet the 49ers may be in a better position to take the division title again, forcing Seattle to another road-heavy path in the playoffs should they get there.

Seattle Seahawks 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .516
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 6 (two home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 17,548
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 4 (one Thursday, one Sunday night, two Monday)

St. Louis Rams: While the Rams face long travel for all three division venues their central location does provide an edge in this division, facing far less travel overall than the other three foes. St. Louis was a bit of a surprise team last season with a 7-8-1 mark following up a league-worst 2-14 mark in 2011. One thing most forget that in this division that produced two of the final four teams left standing in the NFC, the Rams featured the best division record going 4-1-1, getting wins against both Seattle and San Francisco at home. The Rams were much less impressive statistically and incredibly this team won four times without scoring 20 points last season as the defense was sharp at times but overall not consistent.

St. Louis is a team that some will view as a possible breakthrough team in 2013 but the schedule is not overly favorable, particularly with a very tough road slate. Five of eight road games are against 2012 playoff teams and games at Dallas and at Carolina are not exactly cupcakes. Drawing Dallas and Chicago in the 3rd place draw illustrates how tough and deep the NFC is right now and the Rams have not displayed an overly tough home field edge, going just 4-4 last year. The big home game with San Francisco will come on a short week after two marquee road games and the home game with Seattle also comes after back-to-back road games which will make it tough to deliver a division sweep at home again this season. The Rams play three sets of back-to-back road games this season which will be a great challenge and they also play the top two AFC South teams Houston and Indianapolis on the road.

St. Louis does have a few favorable early season home games with Arizona, Jacksonville, and Tennessee visiting but overall this is a very tough schedule that is tied for the second toughest in the NFL according to 2012 win percentage. The Rams look like a competitive team that is capable of a few upsets but it will not be easy to take another step forward this season and finishing around .500 is likely the destination for the Rams. The early season schedule with four brutal road games and home contests with the 49ers and Seahawks in the first eight weeks may make a slow start likely and a step back season certainly a possibility if there are any unforeseen setbacks with injuries.

St. Louis Rams 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .539
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (two home, five away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,698
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 2 (one Thursday, one Monday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:41 AM

AFC South Outlook

May 18, 2013

The NFL draft is still the focus this time of the year but the recently released 2013 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the AFC South this season. This division will likely be considered the weakest in the NFL by many but with fairly favorable schedules all around the records may not reflect that. These teams will all face a lot of travel miles which could take a toll on the results as Houston looks for a third straight division title.

Houston Texans: Based on win percentage from last season the Texans have the sixth weakest schedule in the NFL and the second weakest of any division champion from 2012. Houston faces long travel with every road game being at least 795 miles away but that is a problem for Houston every year given how far spread out this division is. Houston will play all three division road games in the final four weeks of the season and the final two home games are hosting New England and Denver for a very tough finish to the season. Houston will also have a tough start to the season with a brutal early set of games with Baltimore, Seattle, and San Francisco consecutively starting in week 3. Houston will play seven games against teams that won at least 10 games last season as the overall strength of schedule is brought down with two games against Jacksonville, a team that went 2-14 last season.

Houston also draws all four AFC West teams along with the rest of the division. Houston will play two games in the Pacific Time zone and four games in the Eastern Time zone so there are some challenges with this slate and the travel. While there are several games where the Texans will play as heavy favorites it will likely be a more difficult slate than the team faced last season even with the division as a whole looking like one of the lighter groups in the league. Houston still should be considered the favorite in this division and they have a schedule that is very similar to what Indianapolis faces but the difference between those two teams last season was much greater than the one-game difference in the standings indicated. Houston was 115 points superior in point-differential compared with the Colts last season and the Texans were 6-2 in road games, a record they could certainly repeat with this year's road slate, even with some tough games early in the year.

Houston Texans 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .473
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (four home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 9,654
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1
Primetime Games: 4 (one Thursday, Two Sunday night, One Monday)

Indianapolis Colts: After the Colts went 11-5 last season for a great turnaround behind rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, there will be many projecting a division championship this season. By 2012 winning percentage the Colts have the third weakest schedule in the NFL and there are only six games against 2012 playoff teams. There is some significant travel on this slate however with three road trips to the western part of the country in addition to long trips to Jacksonville and Houston. The AFC South plays the AFC West teams which is certainly an advantage and the Colts draw Denver at home in what will obviously be a game that captures the nation's attention with Peyton Manning returning. The second place schedule brings tougher than they might sound games with Miami and Cincinnati however, compared with the fourth place slate the Colts dealt with last season in the turnaround.

The coaching staff also loses Bruce Arians who led Indianapolis for most of last season while Chuck Pagano battled leukemia. That storyline certainly helped to bring the team together last season and not having that focus could be a possibility this year. Indianapolis was 11-5 despite being -30 in point differential last season as this was a team that won nine games by seven points or less and this was not a particularly impressive statistical team. Luck was asked to do a lot last season and while he delivered in some big 4th quarter moments his overall numbers were not efficient and he could face a sophomore slump with the league having a whole off-season to break down his film. This division draws the very tough set of NFC West teams and the Colts will have a tough time going 7-1 at home again having to host teams like Seattle and Denver just in the first half of the season. The Colts are a good candidate to start strong however with home games the first two weeks and losing teams from 2012 in three of the first four games. The schedule in the middle of the season looks daunting and a slight step backward is likely in 2013 as this team was fortunate to win 11 games last year.

Indianapolis Colts 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .461
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 6 (three home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,977
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 4 (one Thursday, two Sunday night, one Monday)

Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars will certainly be spending some time in the air this season with several incredibly long trips adding to the challenges for a team with a new coaching staff, an unsettled quarterback situation, and coming off an ugly 2-14 season. Jacksonville opens the season with four of the first six games on the road with three of those six games in the western part of the country and all four games as a part of two back-to-back road trips. Jacksonville has winnable games in the first two weeks with Kansas City and then a trip to Oakland but it will be a great challenge in the next six games leading up to a week 9 bye. Jacksonville gives up a home game to play in London where they will face the 49ers and the only break in that scheduling is that San Francisco must make significantly further travel.

There are some opportunities in the second half of the schedule, playing Tennessee twice, as well as games with Arizona, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Even with the loss of the home game and the long travel this is a schedule that a contending team would envy with nine games against teams that had a losing record last season. Three of the final four games of the season are also at home and while the Jaguars are not expected to be in the playoff mix this is a team that could finish with some positive momentum. If the Jaguars fail to win in the first two weeks however things could get very ugly for this squad and by midseason placing a call to the Tim Tebow camp to sell some tickets might be a reasonable idea. It would not be a surprise if the Jaguars improve by several games this season however as there are a lot of games where Jacksonville should feel like they can win even for a team in transition.

Jacksonville Jaguars 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .508
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (two home, four away, one neutral)
Miles Traveled for 9 road/neutral games: 15,748 (includes 3,996 miles to London)
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 1 (one Thursday)

Tennessee Titans: The Titans started out last season 1-4 to finish up 6-10 overall with no wins over teams that made the playoffs. This will be a critical third year for head coach Mike Munchak as well as quarterback Jake Locker as this team needs a rebound season. This is a division where a quick turnaround is possible as the Colts proved last year and Tennessee may be a candidate to take a positive step this season. The Titans do have a tough start to the season with back-to-back road games in Pittsburgh and Houston to open the year but then there are three straight home games against losing teams from 2012. Long trips to Seattle, Oakland, and Denver will be on this slate and the Titans have to play three straight road games late in the year with two of those games out west.

The Titans have five home games against losing teams from 2012 and getting to play four games against teams that made a coaching change could also provide opportunities. Having to play the Steelers and the Jets as part of the third place draw is less favorable than most years but overall this is a slate where the Titans can have some success. Improving in the division will likely make of break the team however after Tennessee went 1-5 in division games last season. The Titans will likely need to find a way to at least split with the Texans and Colts to have a shot at making a move upward this season. The early stretch of home games will be critical for the Titans as they host the Chargers, Jets, and Chiefs in succession starting in week 3. They need to win those games to offset very tough games in the rest of the first half schedule to make sure that the season does not turn into a disastrous one.

Tennessee Titans 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .488
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (three home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,477
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3 (including a back-to-back-to-back set)
Primetime Games: 1 (one Thursday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:42 AM

NFC North Outlook

April 27, 2013

The NFL draft gets all the attention this week, but the recent release of the 2013 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 Minnesota Vikings made a big splash in the first round of the draft, but a daunting travel schedule is ahead for Minnesota this season. The Bears may have the most favorable schedule in the group, but a team in transition may not be able to take advantage. The schedule should point to a rise for the Lions and perhaps a small drop for the Packers in the NFC North, but time will tell if there will be enough of an impact to shake up the standings.

Chicago Bears: The Bears were 10-6 last season, but with another late-season collapse a bold coaching change was made. 57-year old CFL veteran Marc Trestman was certainly not a hire that many fell in love with and while he will inherit a team that can compete right away, there also will be elevated expectations for a first-year coach and a first-time NFL head coach, especially one that has been away from the NFL for almost a decade. Few 10-win teams get a 3rd-place schedule the following year, so the opportunity for the Bears to have early success is there. The 3rd-place games bring the Saints and the Rams and those are games Chicago will probably need to take if the playoffs are to be a reality as the NFC North draws the NFC East and AFC North teams for a rather difficult overall slate ahead.

Chicago will play four of the first six games at home, which could be very helpful for a team in transition. They will host 2012 playoff teams in the first two weeks, but Cincinnati and Minnesota are not as fearsome as some of the other playoff caliber teams in the league. The Bears are saddled with three separate sets of back-to-back road games this season, but compared with the rest of the division, Chicago has a favorable slate of road games with only one game outside of the division against a team that made the playoffs last season. Chicago also gets to play its Monday night game with Green Bay coming off a bye week and with a favorable late-season slate, another collapse is not likely this season. Chicago closes the season hosting Green Bay, but has Dallas, Cleveland, and Philadelphia in the three weeks prior to the finale. Chicago will not play a single game outside of the Eastern and Central time zones as the travel miles are among the lowest in the league. Overall, the Bears have the most favorable schedule in the NFC North and while repeating a double-digit win season in a coaching transition is a difficult task, Chicago has a good shot to move back into a playoff position this year if they can get off to another strong start.

Chicago Bears 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .502
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (four home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 3,476
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 3 (one Thursday, two Mondays)

Detroit Lions: With three 10-win teams from 2012 in the NFC North, the Lions are facing one of the toughest schedules in the league based strictly on last year’s results. After breaking into the playoffs in 2011, the Lions suffered a huge decline last season with a 4-12 record including losing each of the final eight games of the season. Despite being 4-12, the Lions were only outscored by an average of just four points per game and this is a talented team that could be a strong candidate for a rebound season. Given the climate in the locker room and the general sense of immaturity on the roster and starting with head coach Jim Schwartz, a scenario on the other end of the spectrum is certainly a possibility as well. Detroit failed to win a single game within the division last season, so that will be an obvious area where the Lions need to improve. Ford Field also saw the Lions go just 2-6 in home games despite an offense that was very productive, scoring over 23 points per game on average.

By finishing fourth in the division last year, the Lions are the only NFC North team that has Arizona and Tampa Bay on its schedule and that is certainly an advantage given the overall depth of the NFC and the teams that the rest of the division has to face in those match-ups. Detroit does have three sets of consecutive road games on the schedule this year and the Lions could know early how the season will turn out having to play four of the first six games of the season on the road. The late-season schedule is challenging with the Ravens, Giants, and Vikings in the final three weeks, but the Lions do get a bye week before their road meeting with the Bears and the three division home games come in relatively favorable spots on the schedule. Both of the big primetime games for the Lions will also be at home. The Lions certainly look like a team that should improve on last season’s ugly record, but whether they will improve enough to buy this coaching staff another season remains questionable in a very tough division.

Detroit Lions 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .539
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (four home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 5,125
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 2 (one Thanksgiving, one Monday)

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings bolstered their roster with three first round picks and coming off a surprising 10-6 season and a trip to the playoffs, Minnesota might look like a team on the rise. The Vikings will be dealt one of the tougher schedules in the NFL, as they will play just seven home games by virtue of facing Pittsburgh in London. The road schedule is truly difficult as after the opening game at Detroit, Minnesota’s remaining seven road games will all be against teams that finished 8-8 or better last season. In the AFC North, draw the Vikings have road games against Baltimore and Cincinnati, the top two teams from that division last season and they will also have to play at Seattle in the second place NFC draw. There are winnable home games outside of the division with Cleveland, Carolina, and Philadelphia all visiting the Metrodome, but an early Week 5 bye could add to a challenging second half of the season schedule. Minnesota also plays its two biggest division road games, at Chicago, and at Green Bay in the second of back-to-back road games this season.

The Vikings open up with back-to-back road games in the division at Detroit and at Chicago and in late November, they have a brutal set of road games at Seattle and at Green Bay in back-to-back weeks. The home meeting with Green Bay will be a big Sunday night game for the Vikings, but it comes on the heels of a Monday night game in New York, giving the Vikings long travel and a short week for one of the biggest games of the season, while the Packers get to host the Browns leading up to that game. Minnesota went 4-2 in the NFC North last season and it will likely take a similar mark for Minnesota to flirt with the postseason again. With Chicago in a coaching transition and Detroit coming off a dreadful season, it is possible for Minnesota to maintain its place but the Vikings were a team that snuck out several narrow wins last season to sneak into the playoffs and a step-back season is probably a more likely scenario with this slate.

Minnesota Vikings 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .516
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 6 (two home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 11,365 (includes 4,280 to London)
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 3 (one Thursday, one Sunday night, one Monday)

Green Bay Packers: The Packers will be the favorites to win the NFC North for the third straight season this year and Green Bay will likely be one of the popular picks to win the Super Bowl again. The Packers stumbled to an 11-5 finish last season and ending up in the #3 spot in the NFC playoff picture proved to be too difficult as Green Bay saw an early playoff exit for the second year in a row. Green Bay was the highest-scoring team in this division last season but in the playoffs the defense showed glaring concerns with an embarrassing loss at San Francisco to end the season. Green Bay will open the season where they left off with a Week 1 match-up at Candlestick Park, a contest they lost in during the opening week last season as well. Having to play San Francisco as well as Atlanta with the first-place schedule is certainly a challenge for the Packers and overall it is not an easy slate for the green and gold. The first four road games of the season will all be against 2012 playoff teams and Green Bay will only play one road game against a team that had a losing record last season, the division game at Detroit in early December.

In the AFC North draw, the Packers get road games against the Super Bowl champion Ravens as well as the Bengals and the Packers will also have to play a road game against another recent nemesis, the New York Giants. The Packers have gone 15-1 at home the last two seasons and that is a run that could continue with a relatively favorable home slate, though there are just four games against losing teams from 2012 on the schedule the whole season. Green Bay will not have to play consecutive road games at any point in the season which is a favorable break in the schedule, especially compared with the rest of the division but the closing schedule is tough with a gauntlet of big national games with Atlanta, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Chicago as the final four opponents. The Packers also will play four road games in the Eastern Time zone as well as the opener in the Pacific Time zone for some lengthy trips. Green Bay will have its work cut out for it this season and the door may be open for a surprise in the NFC North, although none of the other three teams appear poised to make that leap.

Green Bay Packers 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .533
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 7 (three home, four away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 6,785
Back-to-Back road game sets: 0
Primetime Games: 5 (one Thanksgiving, three Sunday night, one Monday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:44 AM

NFC South Outlook

June 12, 2013

The Hall of Fame Game to open the NFL preseason is just around the corner, less than two months away. The NFL draft and injury reports from mini-camps steal the spotlight in the summer, but the April release of the 2013 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 this season. Atlanta ran away with this division last season, but all four teams look like potential playoff teams this season.

Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta had the best record in the NFL last season along with Denver and while the Falcons finally did win a playoff game, they will be remembered more for blowing a substantial lead in the NFC Championship game. All three NFC South opponents went just 7-9 last year, but all three Atlanta regular season losses came within the division. The NFC South figures to again be a very competitive division race after all four teams went 3-3 in the division last season. The Falcons alternated home and road games the entire way through last season en route to a great record and the top seed in the NFC, but this year they will face two sets of back-to-back road games and a couple of long trips late in the season with games in Phoenix, Toronto, Green Bay, and San Francisco. Being the only team in the NFC South that has to play Green Bay is certainly a disadvantage and the South will face off with the NFC West, meaning games with both Seattle and San Francisco. The AFC East draw does look promising at this point and the Falcons will face New England at home early in the season for a Week 4 Sunday night game.

The Falcons will only play two road games against teams that made the playoffs last season, but they are both late in the year in difficult circumstances. The final four weeks of the schedule are very difficult overall for the Falcons, so it is unlikely that this team will coast to a top seed in the conference this season. Atlanta also has an early Week 6 bye week which could magnify the difficulty of the December slate. The end results of the season for the Falcons will likely come down to the division games as they will not likely be able to produce a 10-0 mark outside of the division again with this schedule. Another 3-3 season in this division might mean missing the playoffs this year as the Falcons will play four games outside of the division against teams that would be considered in the top elite tier of the league. All signs point to a drop in record for Atlanta this season with a much tougher schedule in a division where there may not be much separation between the top and the bottom. Atlanta would still be a championship contender if they get into the playoffs but it will be a tougher regular season path.

Atlanta Falcons 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .504
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (three home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,317
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2 (includes a neutral site game in Toronto)
Primetime Games: 5 (one Thursday, two Sunday night, two Monday)

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers were a popular pick to make a big rise last season after a strong finish to the 2011 season in Cam Newton’s rookie year. Carolina opened the year 1-6 for a great disappointment, but with wins in the final four games of the season, Carolina did finish 7-9 to improve by one game from the previous season. In year three for Newton and head coach Ron Rivera, the expectations will be higher this season and a push towards the playoff might be needed to avoid some big changes. Carolina has been dealt the most difficult schedule in the league according win percentage from last year as they catch a tough break, technically finishing in 2nd place in the NFC South last season and drawing the Vikings and the Giants as opposed to the 3rd and 4th place teams that New Orleans and Tampa Bay will face.

Carolina does draw an early Week 4 bye week which does not look ideal, but it will split up a tough early schedule with three of the first five on the road and the two home games coming against the Seahawks and Giants. While Carolina is capable of a big step forward season, this is a squad that could again struggle early in the year and see the tide turn against itself internally. November will also be a brutal month for the Panthers with games against Atlanta, San Francisco, and New England in consecutive weeks. The Panthers will play five straight games against teams that did not make the playoffs last season after that, but it is far from an easy stretch as two of the games will be against New Orleans, a team that will be ready for Carolina after the Panthers took both games last season. Carolina will likely be an exciting team that can compete with anyone and will be capable of upsets, but another mediocre season is probably the most likely result with a difficult schedule and a division that is not getting any easier.

Carolina Panthers 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .543
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 6 (three home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,996
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1
Primetime Games: 2 (one Thursday, one Monday)

New Orleans Saints: The Saints had a brutal off-season prior to last season and it showed with a 0-4 start to the year. The Saints were competitive the rest of the way and put up huge offensive numbers, but the defense allowed historic yardage numbers. New Orleans has made a lot of roster and administrative changes, but it should be a much smoother start to the season in 2013 with head coach Sean Payton back on the sidelines. The Saints also draw a reasonable starting schedule with only two games against 2012 playoff teams in the first 10 weeks of the season. There are some tough games on this schedule including road games at New England and at Seattle, but the third-place draw brings in Dallas and Chicago and the AFC East draw presents opportunities for wins. New Orleans is just two years removed from a 13-3 season, so this is a team that is capable of a quick turnaround back to the upper echelon of the NFC and while this is far from an easy schedule it might play out better than the slates that the chief division foes will face.

There are three sets of back-to-back road games on the schedule, including a brutal trip from Atlanta to Seattle in back-to-back weeks, but that difficulty is minimized a bit with the first game coming on a Thursday and the second game coming on a Monday. Overall, the road schedule is very difficult for the Saints as only one opponent finished worse than 7-9 last year. The Saints could get some early season momentum as they have perhaps the most favorable first half schedule in this division and they also have the latest bye week in the division. No slate in the NFC South is easy this season and ultimately New Orleans will need to improve in the divison, starting off with a huge opening game with Atlanta at home that could dictate the direction of the season. Overall, the Saints look like a serious threat to be in the playoff mix if they have a strong first month and can get quickly acclimated to the new defensive scheme.

New Orleans Saints 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .539
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 9,052
Back-to-Back road game sets: 3
Primetime Games: 4 (one Thursday, one Sunday night, two Monday)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The Buccaneers made an early splash last season starting out 6-4, before losing five of the final six games of the season to fall to 7-9. Getting to 7-9 and a three-way tie in the bottom of the NFC South may prove to be a big advantage this season, as Tampa Bay earned the fourth-place schedule for the 2013 season through ‘losing’ the tiebreakers. That advantage is pronounced given the draws of Philadelphia and Detroit versus the teams the rest of the division has to face from the NFC North and NFC East. Tampa Bay will play a team that finished with a losing record last season in six of eight home games this season and while the road schedule is more difficult, five of the eight games will be against teams that had losing records in 2012. By last season’s records, Tampa Bay has by far the weakest schedule in this division, but they will need to keep pace with this strong group of teams as it will not be easy to go 3-3 in the division again like last season when they caught a few teams by surprise early in the year. Tampa Bay does draw both New England and Seattle on the road for long trips and difficult environments, but getting a more favorable set of home games as a result should pay dividends.

Tampa Bay made very aggressive moves to address issues in the secondary this offseason and in this division with three explosive offensive attacks that should be money well spent as an improved pass defense would be very beneficial. Tampa Bay was just -5 in point differential last season, as this was a team that scored more than 24 points per game. Seven of last year’s nine losses came by eight points or less, so this is a team with a serious dark horse possibility in the NFC picture. This should be the most favorable schedule in this group of teams in the NFC South, far from a sure sign of success, but the opportunity will be there for the Buccaneers to make some noise this season and play itself into the playoff mix. That said with all four teams looking viable, someone will fall short of those goals and the Buccaneers certainly have less stability in key spots than the other teams that play in this division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .500
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 9,587
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 2 (one Thursday, one Monday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:45 AM

AFC West Outlook

June 5, 2013

The Hall of Fame Game to open the NFL preseason is just two months away! The NFL draft and injury reports from mini-camps steal the spotlight in the summer, but the April release of 2013 schedule can be a more telling factor in how a team will fare next season. Take a look at the four teams in the AFC West this season. This division appears to be Denver's to lose, but there always seems to be a few surprises in the NFL each season.

Denver Broncos: After starting the 2012 season at 2-3, Denver rattled off 11 consecutive wins to close the regular season, tying Atlanta for the best record in the NFL. The only record that mattered was 0-1 however, as Denver was knocked out of the playoffs at home in a wild overtime game at home against the eventual Super Bowl champion Ravens. Usually first-place teams are dealt a difficult schedule the following year, but Denver has the lowest 2012 win percentage for its 2013 opponents in the entire NFL. That simplified approach to determining strength of schedule has many faults, but Denver certainly resides in a division that presents a great advantage over most of the other contenders in the NFL. San Diego and Kansas City are both going through coaching changes, while the Raiders are still a young team in flux with a second-year head coach. None of those three teams has had a winning record in either of the past two seasons. Denver went 6-0 last season in its division games with an average margin of victory of 17.5 points and the Broncos will likely be heavy favorites in each matchup again, as five of those six games will be in the second half of the season.

Denver again opens with a couple of big games right off the bat, opening the NFL season by hosting Baltimore and then traveling to New York in Week 2, facing the last two Super Bowl champions in the first two weeks of the season. Things soften considerably from there with early season meetings against two more teams in transition, Philadelphia and Jacksonville, with both of those games at home. In drawing the NFC East and the AFC South teams, there is significant travel ahead for the Broncos and two huge games with Indianapolis and New England will both be on the road. The Broncos close the season with four of the final six games of the season on the road, but it seems unlikely that Denver will be stuck in a tight division race barring a serious injury issues. It might make it tough to wrap up a protected top-2 seed if the Broncos should be caught in a tight race as games late in the year on the road might be difficult, even in this division. Overall, Denver fans should be thrilled with this slate, but a lot of things still have to go right to have back-to-back 13-3 seasons.

Denver Broncos 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .430
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (two home, three away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 9,849
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 5 (two Thursday, Two Sunday night, One Monday)

Kansas City Chiefs: It was a disastrous and tragic season for the Chiefs on and off the field last season, but with veteran coach Andy Reid taking over and still plenty of holdover talent, Kansas City will be a candidate for a significant improvement. After going just 2-14 last season, there is nowhere to go but up and the Chiefs have a schedule that will afford many opportunities to find wins. In only one of the first nine games of the season will the Chiefs face a 2012 playoff team and they will face fellow teams in coaching transitions in two of the first three weeks. Kansas City also has five of the first eight games at home, which could afford an opportunity for a promising start to the season. Kansas City incredibly went 0-12 against the AFC last season and 0-6 within this division and had a bevy of other unflattering numbers including not leading in regulation at any point in the first eight games of last season. The Chiefs also had 37 turnovers last season, a simply astounding number and with the Chiefs losing five games by 10 points or less, it was a big factor that greatly impacted the season.

Adding Alex Smith and improving the offensive line should help in that regard and the schedule will present opportunities especially early in the year. The late-season schedule is much more difficult with two games against Denver in the span of three weeks as well as both games with San Diego late in the year. The Chiefs also must face Washington and Indianapolis in December, so Kansas City will likely need to get its wins early in the year to make a big leap in the standings. Ultimately the results for the Chiefs will depend on improving within the division and being able to get wins against Oakland and San Diego after going 0-4 in those games last season. With a reasonable slate, it is hard not to imaging the Chiefs showing an improved record this season, but a potential promising start could likely fade late in the year.

Kansas City Chiefs 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .473
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (three home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,977
Back-to-Back road game sets: 1
Primetime Games: 1 (one Thursday)

Oakland Raiders: Oakland has significant travel ahead with two trips across the country to New York as well as trips to the Midwest. The Raiders will also face two sets of back-to-back road games with long travel in the span of five weeks. Oakland will only face five games against 2012 playoff teams all season and only three of those games are out of the division. Being the third-place team from this division last season features the disadvantage of playing the Steelers and Jets, perhaps a less favorable duo than second-place San Diego will face and the long travel particularly in the second half of the season could take a toll on this squad.

Oakland opens up with very tough games early in the season with 2012 playoff teams in three of the first four weeks of the season, although with home games with Jacksonville and San Diego as well as a trip to Kansas City in the first six weeks of the season, it would not be a shock to see the Raiders at 3-3 entering an early Week 7 bye week. If the Raiders do not have that kind of a start, it could be another rough season as the schedule is challenging in the middle before closing with five of the final six games of the season against teams that did not make the playoffs last season. The home meeting with Denver in Week 17 could also be an opportunity for a win as the Broncos have a good chance to be locked into a playoff spot and potentially resting players at that point in the season. Oakland won just four games last season, but this was an 8-8 team in both 2010 and 2011 and getting back into that range might be a possibility especially with two teams in this division going through a coaching transition, leaving the Raiders as one of the more stable teams in the group, though that may not last.

Oakland Raiders 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .469
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 5 (three away, two home)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 15,298
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 2 (one Thursday, one Monday)

San Diego Chargers: After several years in a row of seemingly underachieving, the Chargers finally pulled the plug on the Norv Turner era. San Diego will go through a major transition this season, but in this division, the opportunity may be there to avoid a big step back. San Diego was even in point differential last season despite finishing just 7-9 and the Chargers had very good defensive numbers last season. Five of the nine losses came by seven points or less and the Chargers played two close games with division champion Denver despite losing both of those games. The Chargers went just 3-5 at home last season so that is a big area of concern and an easy way to find improvement, through San Diego will have a challenging home slate this season featuring four 2012 playoff teams plus the Cowboys and Giants. That does mean that San Diego will also have a very weak road schedule and the Chargers will get to play six of the first seven road games of the season against teams that had losing records last season before a Thursday night road finale late in the season at Denver.

San Diego does play two sets of back-to-back road games and those games could be made trickier by the first leg being in the east coast in both instances, making for taxing travel. San Diego will open the season Monday night at home against Houston and then face a short week with a long trip to Philadelphia so a slow start would not be a surprise for this team, even if the schedule grades out favorably on paper. San Diego will have the potential to close the year strong with four of the final five games of the season at home although several teams will be thrilled to visit San Diego in December to escape cold conditions at home. San Diego has not been that far from being a playoff caliber team in recent seasons, but the big changes coupled with a schedule that starts out tougher than it finishes could spell more disappointment in Southern California.

San Diego Chargers 2013 Schedule Numbers:
2013 Opponents Win Percentage in 2012: .457
Games vs. 2012 Playoff Teams: 6 (four home, two away)
Miles Traveled for 8 road/neutral games: 8,477
Back-to-Back road game sets: 2
Primetime Games: 3 (one Thursday, two Monday)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:50 AM

2013 ACC Preview

June 9, 2013

Sure, Tobacco Road is a path most recognized and well traveled by its basketball brethren. However, the ACC has more than held it’s own on the gridiron of late.

Looking back, in its eight years as a 12-member league, the ACC has sent 64 teams to a bowl game, topped only by the SEC (69) in that span.

And after leading the nation with the most players selected in the first-round of the NFL Draft (30) from 2007-2010, 15 of the top 60 players in the 2011 draft either chewed, puffed or spit some form of tobacco. It was more of the same in 2012 when 15 of the first 100 players selected called the ACC home. And this season the six ACC players selected in the first round was second only to the SEC, increasing the ACC’s tally to 51-first-rounders plucked by the NFL since 2005.

New to the loop in 2013 are Pittsburgh and Syracuse, who join former Big East squads Boston College, Miami Florida and Virginia Tech in this burgeoning conference.

This season figures to be the ‘Year of the Quarterback’ in the ACC with no less than five QB’s owning more than 6,000 career passing yards.

While life is good in the ACC these days they will battle the nation’s toughest non-conference opponent agenda this season. And, much like the tobacco products produced in this region, this year’s non-ACC schedule of games comes with a WARNING: the 56 non-conference BCS AQ foes on tap this season owned a salty .558 win percentage last season.

Wagering on those games could be dangerous to your wealth.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated ‘Play On’ and ‘Play Against’ Best Bets follow each team’s preview.

Atlantic Division

After an initial two-year tenure with Temple, Eagles head coach Steve Addazio has worked his way up the food chain to take over a free-falling Eagles’ program that has regressed in the win column each of the last five years. The good news for Addazio is that the cupboard is not bare with 16 starters back on both sides of the ball, including all four linebackers and QB Chase Rettig who tossed for 3,065 yards and 17 TDs last season. While Rettig will be working with his 4th OC in as many years, the good news is this year it’s Ryan Day, a former OC with the Eagles. “He is one of the bright minds and best young coaches in the country,” said former Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

Stat You Will Like: Off their worst record since 1978, four of BC’s losses last year were by single-digits, including one in overtime.

PLAY ON: vs. Wake Forest (9/6)

CLEMSON (*6/6)
Off their fourth 11-win season in school history, highlighted with a statement-making win over LSU in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, the Tigers became the favorite to win the ACC in 2013 when star QB Tajh Boyd decided to skip the NFL draft. Along with Sammy Watkins, arguably the best wide receiver in college football, they each are legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates, leading a Chad Morris offense that has improved dramatically each of his first two years with Clemson. And speaking of heavyweight tandems, OC Morris (1.3M) and DC Brent Venables (800K) combine to haul down over $2 million dollars per year. It’s Venables’ turn to ratchet up the defense, one that has regressed each and every season under head coach Dabo Swinney. Katie bar the door should that happen.

Stat You Will Like: The Tigers are 7-0 ATS at home versus an opponent off a SUATS loss under Swinney.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. South Carolina (11/30)

If, as they say, the price of success is often measured after the fact, then the Seminoles paid a heavy cost after their first 12-win season this millennium in 2012. For openers a school record eleven players were selected in this year’s NFL draft - more than Miami and Florida combined -including QB EJ Manuel, 25-6 as a starter and only the 2nd quarterback in NCAA history (West Virginia’s Pat White was the first) to go 4-0 in bowl games in his career. Then to make matters worse, backup QB Clint Trickett transferred to White’s alma mater. Additionally, they need to replace nearly the entire front seven from the nations 2nd ranked defense, not to mention that six assistant coaches left for new jobs. To say this is a team in transition would be a dramatic understatement. The sign above Jimbo Fisher’s office says it all… Gone Fishin’.

Stat You Will Like: The Seminoles have registered 36 winning seasons in a row and have appeared in 31 straight bowl games, tops in the nation.

PLAY ON: vs. NC State (10/26)

A marked 120 YPG defensive improvement was squandered last season when QB Perry Hills went down with an ACL after seven games. As a result the Terps lost their final five games of the 2012 campaign. The good news is that not only is Hills back but also QB C.J. Brown, the 2011 starter who sat out the entire 2012 season with an ACL, as well. They will have plenty of targets with WR Stefon Diggs returning after an electrifying freshmen season along with JUCO transfer WR Deon Long, a 1st-team all JUCO receiver with 100 receptions last season. Adding to the mix is RB Brandon Ross who led the team in rushing as a freshman last year. Yes, the Terrapins appear to be coming out of their shell.

Stat You Will Like: Randy Edsall played and coached at Syracuse. His wife, Eileen, is in the Syracuse Hall Of Fame as a basketball and volleyball player.

PLAY ON: vs. NC State (11/30)

NC STATE (5/5)
New head coach Dave Doeren, former boss at Northern Illinois, assumes the reins and he’s as excited as can be. “I didn’t take any short cuts to get here. I’ve been coaching 17 years at the college level and I’ve lined the field and driven the bus… I was a GA twice. I’ve coached high school. I’ve been a 1-AA non-scholarship coach. I’ve been a co-coordinator, a recruiting co-coordinator… and I’m now standing here in the ACC and I’m jacked up about it,” exclaims Doeren. Unfortunately he inherits a green team returning just 5 starters on each side of the ball, with only 3 players having made starts in each of the last 3 years. Relief comes in the form of having only 4 road games.

Stat You Will Like: Doeren is 9-1-1 ATS vs. opponents off a pointspread win of 7 or more points.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Wake Forest (10/5)

An original Big East member, Syracuse makes its move to the ACC along with former partner Pittsburgh as the transformation of the next super-conferences is officially under way. The Orange arrives in a new neighborhood with new head coach Scott Shafer, the defensive coordinator for Syracuse over the last four seasons under former HC Doug Marrone. In addition to losing four members from last year’s coaching staff, Shafer also loses QB Ryan Nassib, who started every game the past three years, and top WR Alec Lemon, the Big East’s leader in receptions last season. Instead, Shafer will concentrate heavily on getting the football to his top two returning RB’s Jerome Smith (1,171 rushing yards) and Prince-Tyson Gulley (617 rushing yards). Yes, there’s a dramatic new look to the Cuse.

Stat You Will Like: Center Macky MacPherson, a Rimington award candidate, is the grandson of Dick MacPherson, the legendary Syracuse coach.

PLAY ON: at Northwestern (9/7)

With losses in its final three games of the season last year, Wake Forest has failed to field a winning team since 2008. Look for that to change in 2013 behind a veteran team loaded with playing experience. Head coach Jim Grobe, who is just five wins shy of becoming the winningest coach in Demon Deacons’ history since “Peahead” Walker (1937-50), welcomes a squad that features an offense of players totaling 146 combined starts and a defense with 158 starts. Leading the charge is QB Tanner Price (34 starts) who completed 228 of 410 passes for 2,300 yards and 12 TD’s last season. With his favorite target and top two running backs returning, look for the slumber to come to a sudden halt this campaign.

Stat You Will Like: The Deacons have been dreadful during the final six games of the season, going 5-29 SU the last four years.

PLAY ON: vs. NC State (10/5)

Coastal Division

DUKE (9/5)
David Cutcliffe, the reigning ACC Coach of the Year, has led the Devils to 21 wins in his five years at Duke. That’s 11 more than the program totaled in the previous eight years. The good news this season is the offensive line lost just one starter for the 2nd straight year, and the top six RB’s return. The bad news is QB Sean Renfree and WR Conner Vernon are both departed. Vernon is the ACC all-time leader in pass receptions and receiving yards. The tandem hooked up for 20 TD’s, the primary reason the Devils tallied a school record 410 points last season. Anxious to hit the field after making its first bowl appearance last year since 1994, our best guess is Duke will have a devil of a time mirroring last year’s success.

Stat You Will Like: 21 players made the ACC all-academics team last season, the most in the conference. Second most was Clemson with 6.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. NC State (11/9)

Team Theme: WHAT A RUSH
For the 2nd year in a row Paul Johnson will field an offensive line led by 4 returning starters – this group helped set a school rushing record of 6,175 yards on the ground last season. Opponents know what they are up against as this overland juggernaut has rushed for more yards than any FBS team since 2008. All 7 losses last year for the Wreck came against bowl eligible opponents. Adding to the task of making it to a bowl game for the 17th straight season (only three teams have longer streaks) is the fact that 10 opponents on this year’s schedule won 6 or more games last season. New defensive coordinator Ted Roof, an ex-alum and former head coach at Duke, was DC with Penn State last year and also with 2008 national champion Auburn. The Yellow Jackets have the second best record in Coastal Division since 2005 (42-22).

Stat You Will Like: The Yellow Jackets have finished .500 or better 18 straight years in the ACC, the longest stretch in the nation.

PLAY ON: vs. Georgia (11/30)

The Canes made forward strides in season two under Al Golden, mainly behind an offense that improved 62 net YPG, and a turnover margin that went from -4 to +7. And with only four winning foes on this year’s schedule, the 20 returning starters that dominate this year’s roster are anxious to put a self-imposed two-year bowl ban behind them and regain a bit of gleam from the glory days of years past. QB Stephen Morris, fresh off breaking Bernie Kosar’s school record for total offense last year, leads the charge. Super-soph RB Duke Johnson broke Clinton Portis’ 13-year school freshman rushing record with 947 yards and 10 TD’s as well. With 21 freshmen having seen action last year, the rush is on.

Stat You Will Like: Miami’s last conference championship was in 2003 in the Big East.

PLAY ON: as a dog vs. Florida (9/7)

When Larry Fedora accepted the UNC job last season he did so knowing the Tar Heels were on probation from the Butch Davis years and not eligible to go bowling. Nonetheless, he led Big Blue to its first winning record in ACC play since 2004 while also managing to beat Virginia Tech at home for the first time since 1938. Best of all last year’s 8-win effort was accomplished while playing 28 freshmen, tying LSU and TCU for most combined first-year players to see action. Quarterback Bryn Renner, ranked 2nd in pass efficiency (160.3) last season among active players, returns after throwing for 3,356 yards on 67% completions. The healing process is under way.

Stat You Will Like: Fedora is 7-0 ATS in his career versus a .714 or less opponent off back-to-back wins.

PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. NC State (11/2)

After being hired as its fourth coach in 13 years last season, it appeared Paul Chryst was the next head on the chopping block after a 0-2 start, punctuated by a season-opening home loss to (yikes) Youngstown State. However, the football gods answered his prayers when the Panthers went on to win 6 of their next 10 games and land a bowl berth again Ole Miss. Gone is 4-year starting QB Tino Sunseri, likely to be replaced by former Rutgers signal caller Tom Savage, a senior who was a scholarship player at Arizona in 2011 but did not play. Also graduated is star RB Ray Graham who rushed for 3,271 yards in four seasons, second at Pitt only to Tony Dorsett. In his first season in the ACC, Chryst will once again be a regular at the local house of worship.

Stat You Will Like: The Panthers are 0-6-1 SU and 0-7 ATS away versus ACC opponents, and 0-6 ATS as a single-digit dog versus the ACC.

PLAY ON: at Syracuse (11/23)

The Cavaliers saw their win total slashed in half last season despite posting comparable stats from an 8-win effort in 2011. With 14 starters back, this year’s squad could fly under the radar and improve on all fronts. The loss, however, of former 5-star high school recruit QB Phillip Sims to academic suspension hurts. Sims, a transfer from Alabama’s 2011 national championship team, played in all 12 games last season, starting four times. The Cavs will be put to the test against 8 bowl teams and 2 others who were bowl eligible. Mike London’s three basic tenets delivered to his players (Go to class; Show class; Treat people with respect and dignity) are paying dividends. In his 4th year at the helm, and with 8 home games, it’s now time for this team to fulfill their coach’s lofty expectations.

Stat You Will Like: 6 of Virginia’s 16 wins under London have been by 3 or less points.

PLAY ON: vs. Maryland (10/12)

The Hokies were the nation’s only team with 10 or more wins the previous eight seasons, and 8 or more wins the last 14 years – until 2012. That’s when the whole thing nearly went to hell in a handbag. Were it not for a pair of 3-point wins in the last game of the season and in the Russell Athletic Bowl, the Hokies would have endured their first losing season since 1992. With the attack falling off dramatically, Frank Beamer brings in three new offensive assistants, including an OC and QB coach. They will be hands on in hopes of better grooming 6’6”, 255-lb senior QB Logan Thomas for the NFL, who endured an inconsistent campaign last year after a breakout season in 2011. Like General MacArthur, they shall return.

Stat You Will Like: The Hokies are 13-1 SU in the state of North Carolina during the regular season since joining the ACC in 2004 (only loss last year at UNC).

PLAY AGAINST: as a dog vs. Miami Florida (11/8)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 01:53 AM

2013 AAC Preview

June 3, 2013

A bad day at the office is nothing compared to the bad year the Big East has been forced to endure.

Losing foundation blocks Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC was just the start. The conference officially began to fall apart at the seams when West Virginia bailed out and left for the Big 12 last year.

TCU then reneged and did a u-turn, that on the heels of the announcement that Louisville and Rutgers were headed out as well, with the Cardinals off the ACC and the Scarlet Knight to the Big Ten next year.

To top it off the once powerful Big East Basketball Conference made like a shrinking violet and instead became the Catholic 7.

Yeah, it's safe to say the Big East had a bad year.

New kids on the block this football season include Houston, Memphis, SMU and UCF. In addition, next year they will take in East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa, while Navy will join forces in 2015.

Hence, by the time the 2015 football season arrives the conference that started playing football in 1991 will be comprised of 12 teams, only two of who (Rutgers and Temple) were original members. And starting July 1st this season they officially will become known as the American Athletic Conference.

From that point forward they will look to stand tall and forever be known as… THE AMERICAN.

Truth be told, the new moniker is in place for one simple reason: so as not to confuse the AAC with the ACC.

Lost in the turmoil is the fact that the Big East was the only FBS conference that had seen each of its members play in at least one bowl game the past three seasons, and the only league which saw each team with at least one bowl win the last five years.

Then there was 2011, when every Big East team won at least five games last season - the first time since 1905 that an existing Bowl Subdivision conference had every member finish with at least five wins.

And let's not forget the conference also owned the best postseason record (46-29, .613) of any Bowl Subdivision conference since the inception of the BCS in 1998, including a stellar 10-3 SUATS mark against the powerful SEC.

So where did it all go wrong?

Blame is on the newest disease to enter the world of college athletics: expansion.

And for that we can thank the cable networks for killing the golden goose.

Note: Numbers following team name represent the amount of returning starters on offense and defense, with an asterisk (*) designating a returning quarterback. Potential designated 'Play On' and 'Play Against' Best Bets follow each team's preview.

A day after promising Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt that he would return to coach the Red Raiders in 2013, Tommy Tuberville agreed to a $2.2M per year contract with Cincinnati. That goes hand in hand with former 5-star quarterback recruit Gunner Kiel coming to Cincinnati. Kiel originally committed to Indiana, switched to LSU and eventually went to Notre Dame for one season before bailing out and coming aboard with Tuberville in Cincinnati. The good news for the Bearcats is that regardless of who is behind center (6th-year senior Brendon Kay and senior Munchie Legaux are also in the mix), they will be well protected by the best offensive line in the Big East, one that returns intact after allowing just 15 sacks in 2012. Also on the positive side, UC opens the Tuberville era against eight straight teams that ended the 2012 season with a losing record.

Stat You Will Like: The Bearcats will face five foes that will be playing with a week of rest this season, tying Memphis for the most in the FBS in 2013.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. SMU (11/9)

The Huskies failed to regain their bite in a 'mission' season in 2012 when a season-ending loss to home Cincinnati kept them home for the holidays for a 2nd straight year. The biggest downfall was the shoddy showing at home at Rentschler Field where a 3-3 effort paled in comparison to the Huskies' 46-18 all-time overall mark here, including 8-0 SU and ATS off back-to-back losses. Even stranger, head coach Paul Pasqualoni, the Big East career leader with 117 wins (including 67 in conference play) has seen the home team log a 109-70-1 SU and 100-71-5 ATS mark in his career. If the defense once again holds up its end of the bargain, and behind an experienced offense, the Huskies could do well switching from a missionary to the doggie position in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: The Huskies are 8-0 SU and ATS at Rentschler Field when playing off back-to-back losses.

PLAY ON: vs. Cincinnati (10/19) - *Key

HOUSTON (*9/5)
After beating Penn State, 30-14, in the 2011 Ticket City Bowl in his first game on the sidelines for the Cougars, Tony Levine proceeded to pee his pants in his first start of the season last year when he laid a Texas-sized egg in a 30-13 loss to Texas State as a 34.5-point home favorite! It didn't go much better thereafter as the Cougars' offense and defense each slipped over 100 YPG on the season en route to a precipitous 5-win campaign. Not unexpectedly, a new OC and DC were promptly hired. An experienced group of 43 juniors and seniors will dot this year's roster, as 21 letter-winners (including eight who received all-conference honors) return with a combined 303 career starts: 181 on offense and 122 on defense. As they move to the Big East, it's time this group sheds the Pampers.

Stat You Will Like: The Cougars' 48,315 total yards of offense is tops in the nation since 2006.

PLAY ON: vs. SMU (11/29) - *Key

Claiming back-to-back Big East titles the last 2 seasons, including an 11-win campaign for the 4th time in school history last year, the Cardinals are indeed the team to beat in the conference in 2013. Led by Big East Offensive Player of the Year QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville won back-to-back games against ranked teams for the first time ever in 2012. Bridgewater welcomes back his top three receivers - all of whom caught 40 or more passes last year - plus 9 starters on defense. Thus the question begs: is their room for improvement or is a crash-and-burn in order? We say that knowing the last Big East team to win 11 games (Cincinnati) went 4-8 SU and 4-7 ATS the next season in 2010. You may call it paranoia. We call it precautious. However, given the neighborhood in which they reside, along with a soft Charmin-like schedule, don't be surprised to see this team in another BCS bowl.

Stat You Will Like: Strong has coached in 23 bowl games in his collegiate career.

PLAY ON: vs. Connecticut (11/8) - *Key

MEMPHIS (*8/8)
Team Theme: CODE: BCS
The Tigers made huge strides under first-year head coach Justin Fuente last season, doubling their 2011 win-total while winning each of its final three games of the 2012 season. After ranking next-to-last in rushing yards in 2011, the Tigers nearly doubled that total last year. With 16 starters back this campaign, including QB Jacob Karam, excitement resonates with Memphis moving up to the Big East conference this season. "We have taken a step forward but we have to understand when you take a step forward, you don't take a break. We will play bigger, more physical teams," said Fuente. His demand of 'Tiger Code': 1. Fundamentally Sound, 2. Physically Fit, 3. Mentally Tough - will be put to the test in 2013.

Stat You Will Like: The Tigers' 3 Interceptions thrown last year were the fewest in school history.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Houston (10/12)

RUTGERS (*7/5)
When Kyle Flood led his troops onto the field against Kent State last season he was in select company. That's because since 1990 there were a total of only 13 first-year Division-1 coaches to open a season 7-0 heading into Game Eight. Not only did Flood become the first to lose straight-up as a favorite (-13.5) in this role, his perfect start ended in a disappointing 2-4 finish. To make matters worse, a school-record seven players were drafted into the NFL, including three by the New England Patriots. The good news is six of the seven home games this year will be against teams that ended the 2012 season with a losing record.

Stat You Will Like: Rutgers is 51-4 SU in games in which it outrushes its opponent.

PLAY ON: vs. Louisville (10/10)

SMU (*6/6)
After a head-scratching 1-11 debut with the Mustangs in 2008, SMU head coach June Jones has led his charges to bowl games each year since, setting a school-record in the process. QB Garrett Gilbert, former high school player of the year, returns after throwing for 2,952 yards on 53% completions with 15 TDs and 15 INTs. To his credit his numbers increased with alarming precision over the second-half of the season when the Ponies rallied from a 2-4 start to close the campaign with a 5-2 flurry. One of six teams to leave CUSA for the Big East, the heat will be on early this season with SMU taking on teams coming off winning campaigns in each of its first five games of the season.

Stat You Will Like: June Jones is 6-0 ATS as a 'dog of less than 18 points versus undefeated opposition.

PLAY ON: vs. TCU (9/28)

TEMPLE (*8/6)
When Matt Rhule decided to vacate his position as OL coach with the NY Giants and accept the head coaching position at Temple, he became the 3rd new head coach for the Owls in the last four years. A former 6-year assistant at the school, including the last three seasons under Al Golden, Rhule is a disciplinarian and will command the respect of his team. He inherits a veteran squad that sank like the Titanic in its debut in a BCS conference last year. After opening the Big East season with a pair of wins, Temple lost its next five conference games en route to a 4-win season, thus making them a 'mission team' in 2013. Thus, we're betting they win more than the one game they did 'In The Stats' last season. It's our rule.

Stat You Will Like: Temple won 26 games the previous three seasons prior to last year.


UCF (*6/5)
With nary a revenge game on this year's schedule, head coach George O'Leary will need to dig deep into his bag of tricks to keep his team inspired. After all, the Knights won their fourth CUSA Eastern division title last season with just eight years in the league. Plenty of talent returns with no less than six all-conference performers back in 2013, led by QB Blake Bortles who tossed for over 3,000 yards last year. Bortles is joined by five of his top six wide receivers. Meanwhile former Miami RB Storm Johnson is anxious for a breakout season after gaining over 500 yards in a backup role behind departed star RB Latavious Murray (1106 yards and 15 TDs). Lots of talent here with little motivation. No thanks.

Stat You Will Like: The Knights ranked 16th in FBS turnover margin last season.


USF (5/7)
When South Florida hired Skip Holtz in 2010 he went on record as saying, "We can win conference championships here. We can win national championships here." But it did not happen. The Bulls dismissed Skip Holtz and hired Willie Taggart as its new head coach last winter following the worst season in the program's 16-year history. The bottom line was turnovers (-19 net) along with Injuries that decimated the Bulls last season when they lost quarterback B. J. Daniels, #3 on the Big East's career total yardage list. By the end of the season tight end and emergency backup QB Evan Landi was taking snaps. Taggart was a prep standout at Bradenton Manatee High School and returns home after having taken the Western Kentucky program from 0-20 to its first bowl appearance in 2012. The Bulls are in good hands.

Stat You Will Like: USF has lost 14 of its past 16 contests against Big East opponents and were 5-16 overall in league play under Holtz.

PLAY AGAINST: vs. Connecticut (10/12)

Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs:
cnotes Posts:32938 Followers:38
06/14/2013 05:49 PM

NFL Games of the Year: Giants road weary vs. Eagles in Week 8

Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Jesse Schule gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.

NFL Week 8: New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles (Pick)

Past History: Philadelphia is 3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS since 2010.

Early look at the Giants: With a win total of 10, the Giants are expected to improve on a disappointing 9-7 season in 2012. The Giants will be coming off a Monday night game against Minnesota, playing on short rest. They also have a road-heavy schedule in the first half, playing five of eight away from New York.

Early look at the Eagles: The Eagles have a new coach and Chip Kelly has his work cut out for him. He hasn't made a lot of changes on offense, opting to keep Michael Vick at quarterback, but he's given the defense quite an overhaul.

Where this line will move: This will be the second meeting between these teams, and the result of the first meeting will likely have an impact on the line for this game. If Vick can stay healthy and the Eagles can string together a few wins, they might find themselves favorites by game day.
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Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: