Posts Tagged ‘Tom Brady’

Unlike Rocky's desire I do see a rematch from the regular season

Unlike Rocky’s desire I do see a rematch from the regular season

Its one of the great Hollywood lines.

Apollo Creed the heavyweight champion has just been taken the distance by the unknown southpaw Rocky Balboa.

Just as the bell goes at the end of the 15th round Creed turns to Balboa and utters; “Ain’t gonna be no rematch.”

With one of the few breaths left Rocky retorts; “Don’t want one.”

This was of course an exchange of lines from a fictitious movie, where the heavy underdog   finally finds a purpose and emerges a hero.

With the NFC and AFC Championship games starting in less than 24 hours there are two Hollywood scripts that are waiting to grace the silver screen.

For two future Hall of Fame enshrinees it is an opportunity to match Rocky, and take a further step to becoming a World Champion.

Both the Atlanta Falcons tight-end Tony Gonzales and the Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis have huge emotional investment from their fans as Sunday ‘could’ be their last ever NFL game.

Anyone who is not a fan of the final four teams should be having their heart-strings pulled by these two living legends, as they battle through to the Super Bowl complete with teary post-game press conferences and premature confetti.

Problem is some dreams are not meant to come true, and Sunday will be where the analogy of this particular Hollywood boxing film will fade away like a reel of archived 1970’s celluloid.

I just can’t see the Baltimore Ravens stopping the New England Patriots (who will be at home) from returning to the Super Bowl, where I predict they will battle the San Francisco 49ers, fresh after defrosting from a cryogenic freezing process administered in the mid 1990’s. Saying that I must have Sylvester Stallone on the brain as the whole defrosting comparison led me to think of Demolition Man.

I am admittedly making a big hash out of my playoff predictions this season, with my only two highlights being predicting the exact correct score for the Texans v Bengals Wild-card game and the fact that the Falcons would actually advance from the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

So to my predictions – about as scientifically prepared as Bob the Builder with a bunsen burner brewing crystal meth (yes I am watching Breaking Bad – currently just started Season Tw0 in case you were wondering)…

49ers @ Falcons

49ers backs Frank Gore and Lamichael James will grind out the tough yards behind battering ram fullback Bruce Miller. The Falcons will be intent on holding Kapernick to under 75 yards rushing so Gore will want to get 20 carries. If Gore gets over 25 I can see the Niners winning by at least a touchdown. 49ers outside linebackers containing Tony Gonzales. Dialing up too many blitzes will give Tony time to get warmed up so the 49ers will need Ahmad Brooks to remain patient.

49ers to win 31-27 in a game that looks close if you just see the final score but in truth is dominated by the 49ers for the majority of the game. I don’t think Colin Kaepernick will be as dominant as he was against a porous Packers defense, but I do see him passing for three touchdowns.

Ravens @ Patriots

Pats tight-end Aaron Hernandez need to have a big game. As the Boston Mayor informed the media ‘Gonk’ is out, so Hernandez will be asked to form part of the big woven safety blanket that consists of Wes Welker and any Patriots running back named Ridley, Vereen or Woodhead. The Ravens will be determined to get in the grill of Tom Brady to stop him getting into that mesmeric rhythm that has taken him to five previous Super Bowls. The Ravens gave up two special teams touchdowns last week, something that the previous Super Bowl winning Ravens team would not have allowed. I have predicted the Ravens to lose the last two weeks so I feel obliged to do the same again. This time I don’t see the result being as close as last year. I do see the Patriots offense stalling in the red-zone, but my bold prediction is Pats kicker Gotkowski connecting on five field goals.

Patriots to win 29-19 in a game where Tom Brady is rattled but not derailed.

This gives me a 49ers v Patriots Super Bowl. To end on a pugilistic note a knockout game you must agree.

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Gronk wont be playing in the Super Bowl regardless if the Pats win on Sunday

Gronk wont be playing in the Super Bowl regardless if the Pats win on Sunday

Five Super Bowl performances in the last eleven seasons is pretty remarkable, all led by the same quarterback and head coach combination is mind-bending.

Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots franchise stand on the verge of a sixth Super Bowl berth in the last dozen seasons, which if they do succeed means they have represented their conference in 50% of Super Bowls since 2002.

They face a Baltimore Ravens team this weekend in  a rematch of last years AFC Championship, a game the Patriots triumphed 23-20.

The Ravens are now in their third conference championship in five years, hoping that it’s third time lucky.

There are many many storylines and matchups to look out for:

– Can Ray Lewis fire up his team enough or will his final NFL game be a heartbreaking defeat?

– Can the Patriots live without the man-beast Rob Gronkowski?

– Can the Ravens pull-off a third playoff win in a row against a fresher team who will have a huge home field advantage?

– Can the Patriots secondary live with the speed of Torrey Smith – will it be Aqib Talib marking Smith to leave Anquan Boldin to have a big game?

– Will there be a Ravens player do a ‘Lee Evans’ and drop a game winning touchdown?

I have to say I love the way the Pats have taken the two tight-end set into a different stratosphere, which is why it’s such a shame that Rob Gronkowski re-broke his arm last weekend and will next suit up in anger in about six-months. I do expect a big game from the ‘other’ tight-end Aaron Hernandez.

Regardless of Hernandez’s stat-line, or the lack of the Gronk, the Patriots are 60 minutes away from their eighth Super Bowl, and for me a seventh time watching those silver helmets take on an NFC opponent.

When you are a supporter of such a dominant team then you are hoping the Super Bowl performances are never-ending, but when you are a fan of one of the other 31 NFL teams you just hope that there are some new teams losing their Super Bowl virginity.

As a neutral it has been a lot of fun seeing the likes of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals reach (and in the first two cases win) a Super Bowl.

It’s not so much fun watching the same teams keep going back. The irony is not lost that we have the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Championship as I grew up watching Joe Montana and Steve Young win three Super Bowls over a seven year stretch.

I do have very clear memories of the Ravens winning their only previous Super Bowl appearance, and likewise the Falcons somewhat flat performance against the John Elway led Denver Broncos in 1999.

As long as the Patriots are held out of this Super Bowl I really don’t mind who wins out of the 49ers and the Falcons. You have to love the dynamism of Colin Kaepernick and then the emotional high that would be experienced if Tony Gonzales the future Hall of Fame tight-end would get if he could somehow play his last game in the Super Bowl.

Just don’t think I can stomach another two-weeks of hype led by Tom Brady’s face and the grey face of Bill ‘the Emperor’ Belichick.

Come on Ray & Ray you wouldn’t want to let down your international admirers would you?

brigance-crushing-the-opponent-300x283Early this morning I put on the internet radio to listen to ESPN 980 to get the latest playoff gossip.

Didn’t expect to shed a tear whilst feeding my daughter breakfast, but after listening to the story of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and special-teams ace O.J Brigance I had to go and get a tissue.

Brigance has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis otherwise known as motor neuron disease.

This means Brigance cannot use his arms or legs, and cannot speak. He communicates via an electronic voice box.

None of this has meant Brigance has spent time away from football, as he is the director of player development at the Ravens.

It was Brigance who set the tone at Super Bowl XXXV (the only one the Ravens have won) as he recorded the opening tackle of the game as a special teams ace on the Giants kickoff return.

Now Brigance is again setting the tone as the Ravens, led linebacker Ray Lewis, the MVP of that said Super Bowl, are two games away from playing for a second Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Brigance sends team mates email messages and also speaks to the players and coaches during the week and in the locker room.

The vast majority of focus will be on Ray Lewis v Peyton Manning today, but spare a thought for a man who cannot stand, cannot talk, cannot tackle, but CAN inspire a team and a city to a huge playoff upset against the red-hot Denver Broncos.

I do love a good Disney film, where you root for the hero to conquer all evil. OJ Brigance is no cartoon hero, he is a real person, and whilst his vocal cords no longer generate any sound, it is his heart and soul that will scream above all the noise of two sets of fans and the stadium sound system inside Mile High Stadium later today.

Can the Ravens win today – yes they can. Adversity is simply a word.

To find out more about OJ Brigance’s Foundation the Brigance Brigade click here.

The reason I wont be at Wembley on Sunday

I haven’t missed an NFL game at Wembley Stadium since 1987 (Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos) until tomorrow.

Whilst it has been painful to think that a real NFL regular season game is taking place about two hours drive from my doorstep tomorrow I do have a legitimate reason for not attending the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Chicago Bears in England – the birth of our first child Gabriella Ruby Vos.

Gabriella is just over two weeks old, but in terms of due date she arrived almost two weeks early so there was never a chance I was even going to have bought a ticked to the 2011 NFL International game.

For the first time since 2007 I will be watching the two NFL teams that have made it over to this side of the pond from the warmth of our living room, wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

I love the game atmosphere and the fact I am witnessing a game that actually counts, but I never loved the weather in late October – its usually raining at Wembley and it is normally quite nippy.

Watching the game at home will be a new experience – and a much cosier one.

I am gutted that I wont get to see Devin Hester electrify Wembley with his dazzling kickoff and punt return skills, gutted I wont see Julius Peppers attacking Buccs offensive tackles with his super-human wingspan, and gutted I wont see the Bald warrior Brian Urlacher (makes me sound like a Bears fan!).

I hope Tampa come back with winning on their mind as they were pretty awful when they last came over and got embarrassed by Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

My predictions for the game are as follows:

  • Score – Buccs 20-17 Bears
  • Game MVP Earnest Graham the unsung Buccs RB who is the perfect workhorse do-it-all backup and a man who deserves more love.
To all the fans from England, Great Britain, Europe and those coming from the Stars and Stripes I would like to wish you all a great day out in London, which I hope stays dry and sunny.
Raise a glass of ripoff Wembley beer from me and have a great day.
Ill be back in 2012 for the 6th annual NFL International Game – maybe NFL people will even bring the game forward so its a bit warmer – Roger why can’t you do September in London sir?

Ill miss putting on my Art Monk shirt and seeing the Wembley arches.

The road to Super Bowl XLV gets extremely interesting this weekend as we will be whittling down from eight to a fantastic four – with no Thing or man with rubber arms in sight.

Gone are the current AFC and NFC champions, both knocked out in the Wild Card round last week.

Ready to make their 2011 playoff debut are the Patriots, Steelers, Falcons and Bears – the top four seeds in the NFL this season.

Joining them are the survivors from last week, the Packers, the miracle 8-9 Seahawks (still with a losing record despite a playoff win), the J-E-T-S and the Baltimore Ravens.

Without further ado it’s prediction time……

Jets @ Patriots – Following the absolute slaughter of the Jets by the Bellicheck machine known simply as the Pats this should be deemed as a New England walkover. Brady is fresh from a week off, spent combing his hair and applying expensive Hollywood folicle product. Sanchez on the other hand tried his best to lose the game last week according to many NFL hacks, and he was rescued from oblivion by a late Antonio Cromartie kickoff return and some kicking heroics. This game will, I have no doubt, see the Jets madder than hell because they wont take it anymore, and despite all the smoke being blow up the Patriots asses, I have this as a Jets win. Why you may ask? Well firstly the Jets have a quality running game blending the shifty Shonn Greene and the veteran, but so far Super Bowl ring-less Ladanian Tomlinson. IN one of the Pats losses this season Peyton Hillis ran for a devastating 184 yards as the Browns cruised to an upset win. Sanchez has a 3-1 record in the playoffs in only his second NFL season – a remarkable achievement considering he is perceived as inaccurate and lacking big play dynamism. Brady has a lot of weapons, more than the host of a terrorist gun amnesty convention, but he can be rattled. The Pats may have a quality team but I just feel that this is not their time, and for the Jets this is part of the stars aligning. I also cant help but see a vision of Brad Smith, the modern day slash (not the Guns ‘n’ Roses guitarist), doing something special.

Prediction – Jets 23-20 Patriots – MVP the Jets offensive line helping the team rush for 180 yards.

Ravens @ Steelers – If this was a few thousand years ago it would be a prize gladiatorial fight between Spartapolamalu and Spartalewis in the amphitheatre of your nightmares. As it is the 2011 version wont be much different, with blood, sweat, tears and likely some body parts being left on the field at the end of this battle. The Steelers have the experience and the QB with two hand-crafted rings full of Pittsburgh shaped jewels. The Ravens have a mixture of youth (QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice) along with some grizzled veteran wideouts and TE in Anquan Boldin (who faced the Steelers in the Super Bowl two seasons ago) TJ Houshmananzadddehhhahahahaaaahahahahah and the second coming of Todd Heap. The Steelers have in my humble opinion the most underrated starting running back in the NFL Rashard Mendenhall, and possibly the best deep threat wide receiver to play in the league in the last 5 years in the form of Mike Wallace. It’s not rocket science but this game will come down to turnovers – if any team makes three they will not make it past this weekend. Yes I expect a close game, and this time I’ll go with the Ravens in the second AFC upset of the weekend. Providing Ray Rice can chew up the clock, Willis McGahee can vulture two red zone scores and Baltimore can end up with a ground shaking win and a matchup for Rex Ryan’s former team versus his current team in the AFC Championship.

Prediction – Ravens 24-19 Steelers – MVP Willis McGahee two short scores – one late to seal the win.

Packers @ Falcons – There is a lot of love out there for the Green Bay Packers, and a distinct lack of respect for the 13-3 Falcons, who boast a 7-1 home record. Matty Ice has shown he can lead a team to a division crown and the best record in the NFC conference, but still they seem to be underestimated. The Pack have lost 5 games already away from the chilly tundra of Wisconsin, and whilst the Georgia Dome turf may suit them as a pass first team, they will be playing the house of the Clean Birds with no facility to Lambeau Leap. Packers RB James Starks came from nowhere to post gaudy figures against the Eagles, but a repeat performance will be much harder. This will be a big game for Falcons DE John Abraham, who will be sniffing out Aaron Rodgers like a fox after some chicken bones in a bin bag. This will also be time for former Chargers #2 rb to show the world why he is a #1 RB and a quality one at that. The Falcons have the ability to stretch the field with future Canton enshrinee TE Tony Gonzales, and the league’s top wideout Roddy White, but it will be Turner’s ability to keep the Packers honest that will be the biggest factor in this game. The Packers love to use defensive back blitz packages, but the towering Matt Ryan should be able to see them coming and use Gonzales as a perfect outlet en-route to a second consecutive home playoff game next week.

Prediction – Falcons 31-27 Packers – MVP Matt Ryan 255 yards and three touchdown passes.

Seahawks @ Bears – Two division winners facing each other for the second time this season in the Windy City, one with a quarterback who has played in a Super Bowl, and one who’s gun-slinger looks like he has a man’s body with a petulant child’s head on top. The Seahawks are capable of going back to Chicago and taking away a victory, but I am predicting a grizzly bear mauling by Peppers Idonoje and Urlacher come the weekend match-up. This could finally be the game Devin Hester shows up as a starting wide receiver, but we are more likely to see Charlie Whitehurst get a military buzz cut first. The key to the Bears moving up and down the field will be the big play capability of Johnny Knox and the ability for Mike Martz to swallow his pride and give the rock to Matt Forte. The Seahawks will be able to match the Bears offensively, but they will not be able to prevent the Bears D from menacing Hasslebeck all day long. I predicted a Hawks win last week, but this time they will come unstuck, the Bears will be ready with a honey trap. Kick to Hester at your own peril.

Prediction – Bears 27 – 10 Seahawks – MVP Matt Forte – 160 combined yards and 2 touchdowns.

Your thoughts…………………………………….

 

Hernandez landed in the ideal situation

Not one to get excited by watching pre-season NFL football, even I have had wry grin on my face after reading and listening to reports about Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez.

The former Florida Gator is already being targeted by Super Bowl winning QB Tom Brady more than a straw bale circle at an archery contest.

I run two full 55 man roster fantasy leagues, and in both leagues I picked up Hernandez in the rookie drafts.

Man do I feel good about that situation right now.

My prediction for Hernandez’s rookie NFL stats are realistic, I’m going for 40 catches and 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.

I have a gut feeling those inked arms will be making a few highlight reel catches before we even hit October.

Having caught balls from Tim Tebow (in college), adapting to his unique throwing style, Hernandez will now have to reprogram his hands to catch from one of the NFL’s greatest.

I know the Patriots drafted another TE higher than Hernandez in the 2010 Draft, namely Rob Gronkowski, but the style of play in New England is better suited to the multi-dimensional Mr H.

Rumour has it the Patriots will be using a 3 TE set, moving Hernandez around the field, from TE to slot WR to HB/FB.

If that happens my predictions could be exceeded.

With Randy Moss streaking downfield,Wes Welker back fit, and guys like Julian Eldleman looking for targets, there will be plenty of times that Hernandez will be marked by a linebacker or a slow safety. It all adds up for a spectacular rookie season.

If Hernandez translates his pre-season potential into regular season results then he could be looking at more than a pat on the back come January 2011.

What do YOU think of Hernandez’s prospects as a rookie?

13_dan_marino

My god is that Leo Sayer in a Pitt uniform or is it the guy who passed for 5084 yards in 1984? (Pic from SI)

It’s the NFL equivalent of the Holy Grail, it’s a record that has not been touched until last season, and it’s a record owned by a guy who never won a Superbowl.

Yes the annual pilgrimage by 32 NFL quarterbacks to eclipse former Miami Dolphins qb Dan Marino’s single season passing yards record of 5084 (in 1984) has begun in earnest.

The 2009 NFL season has seen passers come out of the blocks faster than Usaine Bolt realising he needs the toilet after some dodgy jerk chicken.

So who are the contenders to Sayers…oops…Marino’s title?

1) Matt Schaub – Houston Texans (9 games played so far, 2653 yards)

Schaub is on pace for 4716 yards, so he is 369 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 52 yards a game.

2) Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Colts (8 games played so far, 2545 yards)

Manning is on pace for 5090 yards, so he is on pace to beat the record by 6 yards.

3) Tom Brady – New England Patriots (8 games played so far, 2364 yards)

Brady is on pace for 4728 yards, so he is 357 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production per game by 45 yards a game.

4) Drew Brees – New Orleans Saints (8 games played so far, 2336 yards)

Brees is on pace for 4672 yards, so he is 412 yards of pace to break the record. This means he needs to improve production by 52 yards a game.

Elsewhere Jay Cutler, Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Tony Romo and Kurt Warner are on pace for over 4000 yards but I think they are not going to be able to drastically improve production to get over the 5000 hump.

So coming into Week 10 the only person who is on pace is Colts Superbowl winning qb Peyton Manning. Miracle Manning has thrown for over 300 yards in 7 out of his 8 contests so far, and to top it off he has won every single encounter.

The Colts have a mega tough second half schedule, with games against the Patriots, Baltimore, Denver and the Jets.

Can Manning do it? Ill say yes. I said Brees could get the record last year, and whilst Brees had the bra off and the skirt hitched up, I see Manning breaking the seal on his pack of extra-large Trojans.