Archive for the ‘2012 NFL Draft’ Category

My sneaky first touchdown bet - rookie Lamichael James

My sneaky first touchdown bet – rookie Lamichael James

I’m not normally a betting man. In fact I only venture into the bookies twice a year, once for the Grand National and once for the Super Bowl.

I have had a few big Super Bowl winning payouts, but really any gambling undertake is simply for fun and I expect to win nothing.

I’ve put on five bets this year with only four that’s can possibly reap rewards.

Most Valuable Player

Michael Crabtree (20-1) 49ers wide receiver. Crabtree is very clearly Colin Kaepernick’s number omen target and Ravens cornerbacks are good but not All Pro standard. Wide receivers have won MVP awards in recent memory, and whilst it’s all about the quarterback, Crabtree has been a true crutch for three months. I have to laugh as I got 20-1 on Friday, just checked online Saturday night and Crabtree is now 16-1 with the same firm.

Ed Reed (66-1) Ravens safety. This is my outside bet for sure. Ray Lewis already has an MVP award, so if the Ravens D pull it out the bag it could be Reed who does the biggest damage. Reed is a turnover monster, and say he gets two interceptions, one being a pick=six then this could be a reality. Unlikely, but hey if you don’t speculate you certainly won’t accumulate.

First Touchdown Scorer

Frank Gore (7-1) 49ers running back or Lamichael James (25-1) 49ers running back. Now sods law says that because I have bet on either the number one or number two San Francisco running back to score first that either the Ravens take the opening kickoff and return it for a touchdown or Colin Kaepernick scores on the ground first himself. The first td scorer really has no true science to it, as there are far too many things that could happen. I have gone 49ers ground game because I rate the 49ers offensive line as one of the top units in the NFL. If the Niners try to establish the run early they will give the rock to Gore, who is capable of 8 carries in a single drive. Rookie James, the former Oregon Duck, has chosen the right time to be injury free and has some major grease in his wheels. Fantasy football fans hate touchdown vultures, those players who come in for the score after the rest of the team has left body parts on the field in an energy sapping drive, arise sir Lamichael James flying through the air like a vulture*/duck* (*=delete as applicable).

Winning margin

Now this may offend any Ravens fans, so apologies in advance, but I have gone for the 49ers to win by 13-18 (7-1). My actual score prediction is 31-17 to the 49ers. My rationale for this score is as follows. I see the first half being cagey with both teams trying to establish the run and get the tight-ends involved to get outside linebackers a bit spooked into contemplating the virtues of prolific blitzing. I have it 17-10 to the 49ers at half-time on the back of a Gore run and something like a Delanie Walker or Bruce Miller catch.

I then have the 49ers defense coming out of the locker room having learnt how to contain the Ravens deep passing, getting an early third quarter Flacco interception. From there 24-10 behind a second Gore run. Flacco to then make it interesting with a big drive of his own ending in an Anquan Boldin score. I then see Kaepernick and the ball control offense putting the nail in the coffin mid-way through the final period with an Anthony Dixon plunge. Flacco to mount a late comeback but turn the ball over again.

OK this is all in my head and about as likely to happen as Alex Smith throwing the winning score in double overtime, but betting is no science, its a bit of fun, and win or lose it always makes my Super Bowl viewing that bit tastier, alongside my big ol’ bowl of toffee popcorn and peanut M and M’s.

Anyone else got any predictions?

 

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luckk¬†Wild Card weekend is akin to being let loose in a Belgian chocolate factory. You get to taste the quality (8 of the NFL’s top 12 teams)and get to gorge (on four NFL games over two-days) but the bonus ball is that you don’t count the calories.

That’s not strictly true as I can pretty much guarantee that any NFL fan watching all 240 minutes of live playoff football will likely dine out on pizza and crisps and a few litres of suds.

All four games this weekend have great¬†story lines¬† from¬†what maybe Ray Lewis’s final NFL contest against a coach who has fought¬†Leukemia to¬†two of the most efficient rookie quarterbacks in NFL history facing each other in a venue that has not hosted a playoff game for 13 seasons.

Let me get straight into it and offer my predictions – with a soupson of insight.

Bengals @ Texans

The Texans sure know how to walk backwards dragging their bruised and battered limbs into the playoffs, having suffered a late regular season collapse, and instead of having a week off, have to face a very respectable Bengals team that have quietly returned to the post-season for a second consecutive year. Arian Foster will want to impress in what is Matt Schaub’s first ever playoff game. Talk is that the Bengals defense has done a very good job, but this game will come down to Houston’s defense shining on a national stage. J.J. Watt is an absolute beast and will get a couple of sacks and a forced fumble.

Texans to win 19-13

Vikings @ Packers

Weird one as the teams only met last week in Minny, with Adrian Petersen running so hard the Packers wished they had gone to a three-day New Year party starting on 29 December. I absolutely loved it when Packers WR Greg Jennings was asked this week if he enjoyed playing at Freezing Lambeau Field and he said that he would rather play in a dome – at last someone who is honest. This game will be heavily influenced by the fact it will be played in Green Bay, that and Aaron Rodgers will be hellbent on making a playoff run after last season’s debacle. Keys here will be Packs ability to establish a running game and Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder’s ability to stay upright. I say this gets ugly as AP fails to establish himself and is held under 100 yards rushing.

Packers to win 37-14

Colts @ Ravens

Forget all the emotional crap about Ray Lewis coming back from an injury to inspire the Ravens to a playoff run. This is not the time for a Ravens revival. People have forgotten how devastating the loss of cornerback Lardarius Webb was earlier in the season. The Colts have defied all the odds, going from 2-14 to 11-5. Andrew Luck (see pic) has slotted into the Indy QB position like a seasoned veteran, and done what other great quarterback have done Рperformed alchemy to turn the rest of the team from base metal into gold. An old Reggie Wayne and a young T.Y Hilton should not be enough to get a team 11 wins, but that is why the guy went #1 in the draft in 2012. Look for the Ravens to hold a lead for the majority of the game only for Luck to get the winning td or final drive that leads to the sealing field goal.

Colts to win 24-20

Seahawks @ Redskins – see my preview here

Stat Attack – my predictions for Wild Card stats leaders

Passing yards – Andrew Luck – Colts

Rushing yards – Alfred Morris – Redskins

Receiving yards – Andre Johnson – Texans

 

 

 

Alf is poised for another big game on Sunday

Alf is poised for another big game on Sunday

Having stayed up until 4.30am on Monday morning and then  being in work for 9.00am I can say that I made a small sacrifice (missed sleep) in order to will the Redskins to their seventh consecutive victory.

The sacrifice made by Alfred Morris the Washington Redskins outstanding rookie running back was far greater as he ground out a whopping 200 yards rushing to help his team win their division for the first time this century.

The reward for such a heroic performance is a home playoff game, the first since 1999, against a talented Seattle Seahawks team.

This is only the second time I think that two rookie quarterbacks have met in the playoffs as Robert Griffin III, the Heisman Trophy winner in 2010 goes head to head with Seattle’s young stud Russell Wilson.

I predicted Wilson to be the offensive rookie of the year, and whilst he will probably lose out to Griffin III he has had a spectacular season that has to be recognised. The Seahawks went 8-0 at home, something that teams with such a fervent home support should achieve, but rarely do.

The Redskins traded the whole farm to get RGIII at pick #2 in the 2012 draft, and despite my reluctance to not get too excited, having watched years of tepid quarterbacking in Washington, this is one man who has lived up to the hype from the moment the season started.

RGIII has run and passed his way to 10 wins in 16 games, not a record Redskins fans are familiar with. His best skill has not been his lightning runs or bullet passes, in my eyes it has been his absolute wizardry with the ball before it is passed, like David Blaine on crack, constantly confusing opponents as he hides the pigskin up his sleeve before breaking for a run, delivering an accurate play action pass or directing Alfred Morris to another 10+ yard gain.

RGIII has also done the one thing that sets him apart from any Redskins quarterback in the last decade by avoiding turnovers. Two lost fumbles and five interceptions in 15 games as a rookie is simply not normal. I can recall rookie quarterbacks committing that many turnovers in a game or two.

Seattle have Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, at lead running back, who managed 1,590 yards rushing, third best in the NFL this season. Problem is that the team he plays against on Sunday possesses the second best rusher in the league, as Alfred Morris will be fired up and ready to rock.

The ‘Hawks offensive line has two Pro Bowl starters in tackle Russel Okung and center Max Unger, whereas the Redskins have one second string Pro Bowler in the form of tackle Trent Williams.

In my opinion the Redskins center Will Montgomery should have got a Pro Bowl shout himself, as he has been a very steady and calming influence on a team that did no more than simply lead the entire NFL in team rushing.

The Seahawks and Redskins are similar in that their least glamorous part of their offenses is their receiving corps. Washington’s top two Pierre Garcon and Santana Moss barely set a 12 pack of birthday candles alight and the Seahawks Sidney Rice and Golden Tate have been average if I was to stretch it. Neither team has had an outstanding tight end performance this season, but both team’s gameplans have meant this position has been more about complex blocking assignments than 40 yard fly patterns.

On the defensive side the Seahawks have a far superior unit, but for some strange reason the Redskins 7 game winning streak has a lot to do with the Washington defense stepping up and delivering killer turnovers.

When Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson intercepted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo with three minutes left, and the team only up by three points, there was a collective exhaling of breath by the home fans that was enough to register as an A grade tropical storm on the Weather Channel’s wind monitoring device.

This game will not be decided by kickers, or by two of the best running teams in the league, this game will come down to one simple fact – whoever commits the fewest turnovers will win the game.

RGIII and Russell Wilson are not your typical rookie fumble-fest turnover machines. They are both coached extremely well and will be determined to show a global audience that they can move on to the next round of the dance.

I just think that home-field advantage will be enough to lift the Redskins to a narrow victory. The Seahawks are 3-5 in games away from the artificial turf and the drizzle. Not to say it won’t be raining in Landover, Maryland on Sunday night, but playing on a churned up grass surface is something that Alf and the ‘Skins are accustomed to.

I’ll say Redskins 27-20 with RGIII rushing for one score and passing for another and Russell Wilson committing an uncharacteristic turnover that will cost the Seahawks a chance to progress.

Look for the Seahawks defense to play hard for 60 minutes, but Coach Shanahan and his son errr Coach Shanahan to be prepared with play action passing and a run game more akin to a meeting of the magic circle than the diesel/counter gap running of the 1980s Redskins.

Also look out for a furry alien at Fed Ex Field – you heard it here first – its time go up into the loft and dig out your Alf dolls. It’s Alf Sunday.

Any thoughts people?

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I tried to watch as much of the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft as I could, but as it started at 1.00am on Friday morning here in England I feel happy in the fact I made it to Ryan Tannehill being picked at #8 overall by the desperate Miami Dolphins.

When I woke up about five hours later I checked out NFL.com and Rotoworld to find out the 24 first-round picks selected that I missed whilst dreaming of Robert Griffin III lifting the Vince Lombardi Trophy some time this decade.

Perhaps the biggest first-round head-scratcher to me was the Cleveland Browns picking the oldest rookie in NFL history at #22.

Yes the Browns managed to, by handing in a single scrap of paper, simultaneously wipe the grin from incumbent quarterback Colt McCoy’s baby face, and also puzzle many Cleveland fans across the world.

Their selection of Brandon Weedon, the 28-year-old (who will be 29 in October) can be arguably seen as a bad move, as the former draft pick of the New York Yankees baseball team (yes I am not going mad) has spent much of his throwing arm’s energy pitching in the minor leagues.

He does have the added advantage of maturity, leadership, experience with one of the biggest sports franchises on the planet and a calm temperament that will equip him well to run an NFL huddle, but he is around 5-6 years older than the rest of his rookie class.

Unlike the Indianapolis Colts and the Washington Redskins who opted for super-stud senior quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III (pictured above) hoping they will still be leading their team in the 2020s, it is unlikely that Weeden will be heading up a Browns team anytime past 2016.

The Browns did the safe thing and moved up to #3 (moving up just one pick) to get the best running-back prospect in the draft with ‘Bama’s Trent Richardson as their first selection.

I was pretty upset that the Cowboys managed to swoop in and draft LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne at #6. The Rams gave up the opportunity to pick at that spot, just like they gave up the chance to pick at #2 (having traded with the Redskins). Fortunately for St Louis they managed to get themselves an LSU alumni for themselves, and most likely someone they did not think would be available at #14.

Their selection, Michael Brockers the defensive tackle, will start from day one. Like cornerback, it is incredibly hard for a defensive tackle to make an immediate impact. Most rookie defensive tackles take at least a year to get into the groove. There are exceptions like the Detroit Lions Ndamukong Suh, but this is rarer that a blood soaked T-bone.

It also chokes me that the New England Patriots managed to avoid trading down again, instead selecting two future NFL starting defensive players, nabbing Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones at #21 and then one of my personal favourites Dont’a Hightower, the 2012 NCAA National Championship winning inside linebacker from the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Jaguars also showed some balls by moving up to #5 to piss-off Rams head-coach Jeff Fisher (who originally held the #6 spot) and draft the best wide-receiver in the 2012 draft class, Justin Blackmon from OSU.

I did like the Lions selection of offensive tackle Riley Reiff the humongous offensive tackle from Iowa. With Matthew Stafford living up to his #1 selection expectation in 2011, Detroit needed to do all they could to make sure he stays standing every week.