Posts tagged “NFL

Week 13 NFL Power Rankings: Four teams clinch playoff spots


BY SEAN SCHOONOVER, Couchsideshow.com NFL blogger 

There are four weeks left of the 2012 NFL season; and Houston, New England, Denver and Atlanta have all claimed their spots in the postseason, with wins in week 13. With those four already in the playoffs there are now eight open playoff spots still to be redeemed. With that, here are your week fourteen NFL power rankings:

(Last week’s ranking), Team, (record)

  1. (1) Houston Texans (11-1)- The Texans wrapped up a playoff spot last week with a win over the Titans 24-10, but they have not secured the AFC South crown, yet. Their next matchup against the New England Patriots provides a lot of implication for the Texans securing that division crown as well as home field advantage in the playoffs.
  2. (2)Atlanta Falcons (11-1)- The falcons defense stepped up last Thursday night intercepting Drew Brees five times en-route to a 23-13 victory over the Saints. With the win Atlanta secured the NFC South title and can now put their sights onto home field advantage which can be awarded this weekend with a win over Carolina and losses by Chicago, Green Bay and San Francisco.
  3. (4) New England Patriots (9-3) – the Patriots win streak is now to 6, with a tough win over the Dolphins 23-16. The Patriots clinched the AFC East with the win. However, they now are fighting for the number 1 seed in the AFC, which will be put to the test Monday night against the (11-1) Houston Texans.

Click here to see the rest of Couch Side’s NFL Power Rankings


Week 13 NFL Power Rankings: 49ers offense provides boost


BY SEAN SCHOONOVER, Couchsideshow.com NFL blogger 

We are now three quarters of the way through the 2012 NFL season; five weeks now remain and things are getting interesting as teams hit the home stretch. Division races are starting to clear up, but wild card races in both conferences are still highly contested. With that here are your week thirteen NFL power rankings:

(Last week’s ranking), Team, (record)

1. (1) Houston Texans (10-1)- The Texans won their second overtime game in five days, beating the Lions 34-31 on Thursday. Their defense the last two weeks has proven to be very vulnerable, especially in the passing game, but Matt Schaub and the Texans offense have overcame their deficits, putting up superb numbers in both weeks.

2. (2)Atlanta Falcons (10-1)-The Falcons won another close one, ousting the Buccaneers 24-23 on Sunday. Julio Jones proved to be the difference catching six passes for 147 yards and a touchdown; showing that when healthy he is almost unstoppable.

3. (5) San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1) – With Colin Kaepernick making his second straight start, he and the Niners provided a dominant performance downing the Saints 31-21. The question now is will that performance earn him the starting spot over Alex Smith for the remainder of the season.

To see who else made Sean’s top 10 NFL teams after week 13, please visit: http://couchsideshow.wordpress.com/power-rankings/nfl/


Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings Have High Expectations


BY MICHAEL RATH, Feedcrossing.com syndication 

Quarterback Christian Ponder is entering his second season in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings. Ponder had a sub-par year last season as he played in 11 games throwing 13 touchdowns and 13 picks. However, this year, Ponder is coming in with lofty goals for himself.

Earlier in training camp, Ponder mentioned to the media that it was his goal and the Vikings goal to score every time they had possession.  What has he done so far this preseason?  He has put the Vikings in position to score every time he has been in as they have scored four out of the five times he has been in.  The only time they did not score was when rookie Blair Walsh missed a field goal.  How about that for living up to a goal?

While this will obviously not keep up for the rest of the year, and it is a small sample size, it is a great start.  However, Ponder made another statement.  According to a blog by Mike Wobschall and NFL.com, Ponder said, “We want 75 percent completions on first and second downs.  That’s the number we’re shooing for.  Obviously, we were in a lot of third-and-long situations a year ago, and we want to get out of that.”  This obviously is a lofty, lofty goal. (more…)


Bears RB Forte needs to sign soon


BY CHICAGO BEARS ADDICT, Feedcrossing.com syndication

The Chicago Bears have made an offer to running back Matt Forte, but he hasn’t signed it, yet. Photo by: SquaredB / Flickr

“Da Man” is of course the do it all running back of the Chicago Bears, Matt Forte. The still unsigned Forte seems to be serious about not signing the contract that is on the table from the Chicago Bears, and the Bears are quite content to stand pat on their offer. There’s also the little 7+ million dollar franchise tag that is awaiting Forte’s approval. When neither side is willing to budge in a negotiation, the side with the least leverage and the most to lose has no choice but to cave. Forte has no leverage and everything to lose. The only play in this situation is to sign the long term contract the Bears are offering.

Whether you side with the player or the team, you have to look at the negotiation from a business standpoint. The revamped Bears offense will be just fine without Matt Forte. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery will help out the passing game. Offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates are set to install a more Jay Cutler friendly offense. And Michael Bush (a starting quality back) was brought in as running back insurance. If the Bears were to play without Forte in 2012, they’d be OK. From a financial point of view, if Forte were to hold out the 2012 season he wouldn’t be OK. Matt Forte needs the Bears far more than the Bears need Forte. (more…)


Draft Recap: How do the 2012 rookies rank in fantasy football?


BY GREG BROSH, Feedcrossing.com syndication

It’s never too early to start thinking about Fantasy Football, after all drafts will start happening in just a couple of months so here’s a little preview of who everyone will be scrambling to land out of the rookies this year.

With the 2012 NFL Draft wrapped up and experts grading out all 32 teams’ picks, it’s time to dive right back into Fantasy Football for the 2012 season and see where the new guys rank. This is definitely a list that Dynasty Football owners will want to take a look at since most rookie-only drafts will be taking place within the next several weeks to months.

QUARTERBACKS

1. Robert Griffin III – Washington Redskins
2. Andrew Luck – Indianapolis Colts
3. Brandon Weedon – Cleveland Browns
4. Ryan Tannehill – Miami Dolphins
5. Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks
6. Ryan Lindley – Arizona Cardinals
7. Brock Osweiler – Denver Broncos
8. B.J. Coleman – Green Bay Packers
9. Kirk Cousins – Washington Redskins
10. Nick Foles – Philadelphia Eagles

SUMMARY

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. Photo by: Mike Davis / Flickr

I really like Griffin’s potential as a QB2 in larger redraft leagues this year. With better coaching, better players around him and his ability to run, he could be a strong sleeper option in leagues that allow two starting fantasy quarterbacks. Luck should have success right out of the gate. But with an iffy backfield and Reggie Wayne as the lone veteran weapon in the offense (Austin Collie is right behind him), Luck will take a bit longer to truly succeed. Either way, both are going to be the top two quarterbacks taken in all dynasty leagues. Whether or not Colt McCoy is still a Brown by training camp is irrelevant. The job will be Weedon’s to lose. Tannehill is going to find it rough going in Miami and could be a boom-or-bust prospect. After the top four, it’s anyone’s call. Wilson and Lindley could find success entering quarterback stables that are on shaky ground. Everyone else will be backups or third stringers for the time being. The Redskins are believed to have drafted Cousins for the sole purpose of trading him for future picks. (more…)


Couch Side Podcast — Episode 13: NFL Draft Recap


After one week off, Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul return to review the 2012 NFL Draft. The gang also discusses Lamar Odom possibly leaving reality TV, the NHL playoffs and Hideki Matsui’s signing with the Tampa Bay Rays. Special guest this week is Heidi Pierce.

Click here to stream/download Couch Side Episode 12  via iTunes

Click here to stream Couch Side Episode 12: NFL Mock Draft via our host site, TalkShoe

Click here to download Couch Side Episode 12: NFL via our host site, TalkShoe


LaMichael James’ Role In The NFL


BY JASON HARTZOG, Feedcrossing.com syndication

Despite having a handful of running backs already on their roster, the San Francisco 49ers selected Oregon running back LaMichael James with the 61st pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. Photo by: Neon Tommy / Flickr

With the 61st pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers were proud to select LaMichael James, running back, Oregon.

The 49ers are now stacked at the running back position. They have recently signed Brandon Jacobs this offseason and they still have a stud in Frank Gore. Running backs Anthony Dixon and Kendall Hunter are also on the roster. I look at LaMichael as an upgrade to what Kendall Hunter brought to the table. He is a smaller back with a ton of speed. But James brings a lot more than just speed to the table.

LaMichael knows what it is like to play for a winning program … and produce. His years at the University of Oregon were very kind to him. He ran for 1,500+ yards in all three years to help the Ducks win the Pac-12 conference (formally known as Pac-10) each year. In his final season, he had four 200 yard games that helped him record a college career high of 1,805 rushing yards. This was done even after missing two games in the middle of the season due to a dislocated elbow. In his second game back from the injury he looked like he was back to his old self as he ran for 156 yards and a touchdown after being limited to just 13 carries in his first game back.

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Detroit Lions sign Boise St. QB Kellen Moore


BY CHRIS EDWARDS, Feedcrossing.com syndication

Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore may not have been slected in the 2012 NFL Draft, but he was signed by a team shortly afterward. Photo by: Jake Putnam / Flickr

The Detroit Lions went into the NFL draft with no immediate need for a quarterback, but with no third stringer on the roster they could afford to take a late round flyer or sign an undrafted free agent. The Lions took the latter route and signed Boise State signal caller Kellen Moore.

While Moore was disappointed, but not surprised that he wasn’t drafted he is excited for the opportunity to get a shot with the Lions.

“I’m excited, I’m getting my chance in the NFL and that is all that matters,” Moore told NFLDraftScout.com after his agent, David Dunn, reached an agreement with the Lions. 

“We had a lot of contact, a lot of teams, I really don’t even know how many teams, but a lot,” Moore said. “I like our decision. I am eager to get back there.” 

I guess that’s all you can ask for is a chance. In a league where size and arm strength define potential NFL quarterbacks no one looks at the fact that Moore is a winner. He went 50-3 at Boise State and was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in NCAA history (His pass efficiency rating of 168.98 ranks third in NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision history).

I’m not saying he’s going to be a stud but Moore could be a good developmental quarterback backing up Matthew Stafford and Shaun Hill.

Be sure to check out other great articles at just sports & just us .

NFL Draft: What ‘Best Player Available’ Actually Means


BY MM And P, Feedcrossing.com syndicated blog

We’re now in April and only weeks away from the NFL Draft, probably the most anticipated offseason event for NFL fans around the league. I have been taking a look at draft prospects for the Bears in my “Prospecting for Gold” series and there has been plenty of daily discussion around the blog about this guy and that guy. One of the biggest trends is the phrase ‘Best Player Available” (BPA) getting thrown around. The Bears are indeed in a position to take the BPA, and for some fans this is a foreign concept after the Jerry Angelo regime. I see people throw it out connected with a player, such as “Bears need to go Stephen Hill or BPA at 19″ well, it doesn’t quite work like that. I just wanted to go through exactly who the BPA are and break down which directions the Bears could go with BPA at 19 in the draft later this month.

Best player available is a pretty straightforward concept; take the best player, regardless of position on the board with your pick. It can be something the fans go nuts for, or it could be something that is, at the time, seen as a head-scratcher. One example is back in 2001 the Indianapolis Colts took Reggie Wayne when they already had Marvin Harrisonin his prime. The move worked out well and they had one of the best receiving tandems in the league for several years following. (more…)


In 2009, the Saints came marching in


New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton will be suspended for the entire 2012 NFL season for allegedly knowning and hiding a "bounty program" that gave players bonuses for injuring their opposition. Photo by: Alysha Jordan / Flickr

BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Led by cannon armed passing aficionado Drew Brees, the New Orleans Saints’ high-powered offensive aerial assault lit up the highlight reels and posed a significant threat to even the most talented defensive secondaries. The “who dat” Saints racked up an impressive 13-3 regular season record and entered the playoffs with unrelenting momentum and confidence. They went on to beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV, earning the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.

Yet the Saints success was much sweeter then just their championship.

They singlehandedly helped revitalize the world-weary city of New Orleans and bring it from the depths of despair into a new era of optimism. Many Saints players were active members in the community, and could be seen helping clean up Hurricane Katrina’s devastation. The team was much more than a successful sporting franchise to New Orleans: it was a beacon of hope and renewal, and gave the citizens an emotional outlet to heap their hopes and dreams upon. At the helm of this revolution was the illustrious young coach Sean Payton, a man who represented every positive quality an individual could ever ask for.

Now, after the recent revelations of the Saints bounty system, Payton has been suspended for the entire 2012 season. All the pride and glory has been swept away. The gaudy images of the Saints hoisting the championship trophy seem warped and distorted, a distant memory that is slowly eroding before our very eyes. (more…)


Fans’ views: Manning, Tebow thoughts throughout the day


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning agreed to a five-year, $96 million contract with the Denver Broncos on Tuesday morning. Photo by: Angie Six / Flickr

Throughout Tuesday morning, after Peyton Manning signed a $96 million deal with the Denver Broncos, tons of people have been lighting up FaceBook with heaps of opinion on Manning coming in and Tim Tebow about to be on his way out.

Being that most of my friends on FB are from Wyoming, a lot of them are Broncos fans and say it’s time to win. And of course, with a skilled veteran as their new man under center, they’ve forgotten that’s exactly what Tebow helped them do last season. I have been a Tebow fan since about half way through his senior year of high school becuase I am — above all — a Florida Gator fan. And this treatment, this disregard for a guy who guided the Broncos to the playoffs last year sickens me.

I understand it’s one thing to be happy about Peyton Manning coming into town, but it’s another to forget the past and the man who somewhat was responsible for turning the Broncos around last year. So a lot of people have asked me what I think about Tebow. I’ve also had to put some of these haters in check. Here is a few of my FaceBook conversations and wall posts (excuse the grammar) since the Manning deal went down:

• The latest: I’m wearing a Tebow jersey today. A Florida Tebow jersey. And I just want to say to all the Broncos fans, congrats on getting your guy, but don’t drag Tebow through the mud. He got a pretty pathetic team into the playoffs and then literally had his best game of his NFL career in a victory against the AFC champions. Show some appreciation instead of saying oh now we’re going to the Super Bowl. He’s just one player. And the Donkeys don’t compare to the Colts teams that Peyton had. Let’s not forget, too. Little brother has more rings, and Peyton has lost more under pressure in the Playoffs than he has won. Broncos fans and NFL fans alike make fun of his relationship with God, and now they act like Peyton Manning IS God. Give me a break.

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Couch Side Podcast Episode Eight: Free Agent Frenzy


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

After about a month away from the microphone, Couch Side hosts Wade McMillin and Craig Paul are back for another sports-packed podcast. This week’s episode is all about NFL Free Agency, the NBA Trade Deadline, Chipper Jones, Syracuse basketball and Greg Oden. Click Below to Listen to the Couch Side Show podcast, now on iTunes. Don’t forget to subscribe.

Click here to listen to Couch Side via Talk Show

Listen to Couch Side via iTunes


Backup Brady Quinn rips “year of the Tebow”


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

Denver Broncos backup quarterback Brady Quinn ripped teammate Tim Tebow today in an interview for the March edition of GQ magazine. Photo by: Jeffrey Beall / Flickr

It’s hard for Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to stay out of the news.

It’s also difficult for Tebow’s teammates to do the same, especially when they’re constantly being asked about the former Florida star. One Bronco, backup quarterback Brady Quinn, was the latest of Tebow’s teammates to conduct an interview about his colleague. Like any interview where the basis is about Tebow, Quinn could have either jumped on his teammate’s bandwagon or jumped off of it. Needless to say — because you’ve probably guessed it by now — Quinn chose to rip Tebow instead of give him any sort of credit. 

Quinn was asked to touch on several topics from if Tebow gained his success by luck to if he thought Tebow’s prayers were too over the top. Quinn had a lot to say and one thing was certain: he really doesn’t like Tebow. Now, from a selfish perspective, you can’t blame Quinn for feeling this way. But what gives any professional athlete the right to tarnish their teammates publicly? It was extremely unprofessional when Tebow’s own coach, John Fox, did it and it’s just as bad when the backup QB decides to rip the starter through the press. What image ae the Broncos trying to portray?

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Couch Side Episode 5: Super Bowl Preview


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

In this week’s episode, Craig and Wade give you an inside look into Sunday’s big game. Super Bowl 46 takes over the show as the hosts preview the Giants’ and Patriots’ offenses, defenses and the intangibles. Also, the show uses some famous voices in its bumpers. If you can guess who each person is at each segment break, you can win a prize. Send your guesses through our mailbag or straight to wademcmillin@gmail.com. Click below to listen to the Couch Side Show podact.

Download this podcasts and others here: Download Couch Side


Cundiff costs Ravens Super Bowl bid


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

You can call him the master of the miss, the sultan of shank or a klutz in the clutch.

Call him what you will, but if you were the New England Patriots on Sunday, you had better show Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff some mad respect. The nine-year, undrafted kicker completely shanked a 32-yard field goal with 11 seconds remaining in the AFC Championship game Sunday in Foxboro, Mass. The botched chip shop would have forced overtime between the Patriots and Ravens, but instead it sent New England to its seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history. The Patriots won the game 23-20 and will now face the New York Giants on Feb. 5 for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.

The kick will undoubtedly go down in history as what could have been for the Baltimore Ravens. If Cundiff would have been able to make a kick that most kickers can nail in their sleep, Baltimore would’ve at least had a shot at upsetting one of the greatest teams football has ever seen. But as we all know by now, Cundiff missed, eliminating his team from the 2011-2012 NFL Playoffs.

Now I have heard of Billy Cundiff since he entered the league in 2002 with the Dallas Cowboys. But the former pro bowler’s missed kick made me want to learn more about him. Obvious questions prompted me to do some research. As I started to stare at Cundiff’s statistics, the first one I had to look at is how accurate the guy is between the 30- and 40-yard line. To my surprise, he’s 76 percent for his carreer. Not the best, but also, not the worst. But he has been at his best from that distance in the past two season. During that span, he was well over 80 percent and a top 10 kicker from that distance. Actually, Cundiff has been one of the league’s best for the past two years and earned a pro bowl nod last season for his kicking abilities.

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Defense guides 49ers, Giants to NFC championship


BY STAYSON ISOBE, couchsideshow.com writer

The old adage is defense wins championships.

Finally after a regular season that was dominated by explosive offenses and record-breaking performances, the two teams headed to the NFC Championship proved that a defense that will smack you in the mouth still prevails in this league. Both the 49ers and the Giants seemed to face an uphill battle coming into the weekend, faced with the task of attempting to slow down two of the NFL’s most unstoppable offensive attacks. The Packers and Saints, led by the league’s top two MVP candidates in Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, were the two highest scoring teams during the regular season and two of the top three in total offense with the other being the Patriots.

Patrick Willis and the San Francisco 49ers defense stepped up against the New Orleans Saints in the NFC divisional round of the NFL playoffs. Photo by: Rajiv Patel

Brees was the orchestrator of New Orleans’ attack, breaking Dan Marino’s 27-year single season passing yards mark this season, and was coming off a postseason record in regulation of 466 yards last week against the Lions. Rodgers on the other hand, showed pinpoint accuracy throughout the season as evidenced in his 45-6 touchdown to interception ratio, leading the Packers to the top seed in the NFC with a 15-1 record.

But on this weekend, neither would advance to the NFC title game. Instead, the 49ers and the Giants ramped up their defense and slowed down these two offensive assaults enough to make a statement. The two teams combined to force nine turnovers and produced seven total sacks of Rodgers and Brees.

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Constant Jets news grows annoying


BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and his team are making the news a lot lately even during the NFL playoffs. Photo by: cool13902008 / Flickr

If the New York Jets didn’t give you enough to handle during the regular season, the team is already stealing even more headlines days before the divisional round of the NFL playoffs.

During wildcard week, two national stories surfaced about the Jets. And just yesterday two more hit the homepages of our favorite websites and the front pages of our sports sections. Now there’s no question that New York gets its fair share of ink. After all, the Jets are a historic franchise that demands success. But I can’t remember reading about New York almost everyday when Chad Pennington was at the helm, throwing passes to Santana Moss.

That’s because New York is the new Hollywood of the NFL and the Jets — not the Giants — are the team under the spotlight. And if you’re a common NFL fan, who doesn’t particularly care for the Jets, tough luck because you’re going to here about them. It does get tiring and news about the green and white is usually blown way out of proportion. So here’s the latest Jets headlines and translations of what they actually mean:

THE LATEST: JETS NAME SPARANO OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

• The skinny: The headline says it all. The Jets hired former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano, who couldn’t finish out the season without being fired, as their new offensive coordinator. Sparano replaces Brian Shottenheimer and takes over a dismal offense that failed to make it to the playoffs.

• Translation: Shottenheimer actually had two years left on his contract and because he couldn’t put up with all the egos within the team, I think he chose to leave. A lot of people blamed him for New York’s offense being 25th in the league and for Mark Sanchez not being developed as much as he should be in his third NFL season. So the Jets go with Sparano. He used to get a lot of attention during his coaching days in Dallas and for sort of turning around the Jets, so he should fit right in. A perfect fit.

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Couch Side Episode 3: NFL playoff preview (divisional round)


BY Couchsideshow.com staff

In this week’s episode, the gang recaps the NFL Wildcard round playoff game and looks ahead to the divisional games. The hosts also discuss the BCS national championship. Also, in quick snippets, Craig and Wade chat about Hue Jackson, Paul Westphal, the Washington Wizzards, Prince Fielder and Peyton Manning. Click below to listen to the Couch Side Podcast

Listen to Couch Side


Patrick Peterson emerges as top defensive back in first season


BY BRETT MURDOCK, Couchsideshow.com contributor

After being named college football's defensive player of the year, former LSU tiger Patrick Peterson quickly found success in his first year in the NFL.

The Arizona Cardinals made the right decision in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Instead of trying for a quick fix with their quarterback issues, the Redbirds went the defensive route, electing to take defensive back Patrick Peterson with the No. 5 overall pick. And the rookie has yet to make them regret that decision.

But first, why did the Cardinals decide to go with Peterson over the multitude of prospects that could have also helped them immediately? Simply put, its because Peterson is a freak of nature — in a good way. Listed as cornerback, he has a safety’s build at 6-foot-0 and 219 pounds and cornerback’s athleticism, possessing a 4.34 40-yard dash time and a 39 inch vertical. He was widely regarded as the best athlete in the draft, and many had him going first overall. When he fell to No. 5, Arizona did not have much of a choice.

Peterson compiled an impressive career as an LSU Tiger, playing every game of his collegiate career. The Florida native recorded seven interceptions, four in his junior year, and returned two punts for touchdowns. He spent only three years in Baton Rouge but his final year was stellar and earned him the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and an All-American nod. Peterson also received the Thorpe (best defensive back) and Bednarik (best defensive player) awards for his performance.

But, when he got to the big time, his process was halted by an ugly, heated standoff between NFL players and owners, thus reducing the amount of time Peterson would have to get used to the professional level. But the cornerback never seemed to miss a beat, adapting to Ray Horton’s defensive schemes quickly and earning a starting nod come opening day, where he made a grand debut by returning a punt 89 yards for the eventual game winning touchdown to beat the Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers.

Peterson would not stop there. The rookie returned three more punts for touchdowns, including a 99-yarder in overtime against the Rams to give the Cards their second win of the year. The four return touchdowns tied an NFL record for a season and he nearly got a fifth in the final game of the year against the Seahawks.

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Megatron finally cementing himself as top NFL wideout


BY TREVOR GOULD, Couchsideshow.com writer

Detroit Lions star Calvin Johnson is emerging as the NFL’s best wide receiver. Photo by: DonkerDink.Flickr

At 6-foot-5, 230-pounds, and boasting a 4.35 40-yard dash and 44 inch vertical leap, Calvin Johnson has always been a man amongst boys.

Ever since being selected No. 2 overall by the Detroit Lions in the 2007 NFL Draft, the wide receiver known as “Megatron” has made opposing cornerbacks look like small children, compiling 5,628 yards receiving and 48 touchdowns since entering the league. For years he was the only legitimate offensive threat on a horrendous Lions offense that consistently ranked in the bottom half of total team offense every year. Johnson’s progression has been further hounded by minor injuries that plagued his first few seasons. Yet as the Lions emerge into relevance for the first time in over a decade, a healthy Calvin Johnson is reaping the benefits and establishing himself as the premier wideout in the NFL.

With one game left to play in the 2011 NFL regular season, Calvin has amassed 85 receptions, totaling a career-best 1,437 receiving yards with a league leading 15 touchdowns. In addition, he is 2nd in the league with 25 25-plus yard receptions and 1st in receptions of 40-plus yards with nine. Much of Johnson’s impressive production can be attributed to his stellar rapport with gunslinger Matthew Stafford, who has finally proved he can stay healthy over the course of a full season. Other offensive weapons include veteran wide receiver Nate Burleson, rookie burner Titus Young, promising tight end Brandon Pettigrew,
and the running back trio of Jahvid Best, Maurice Morris, and Kevin Smith (too bad they all keep getting injured). Now that the Lions offense contains other playmaking weapons, defenses cannot key in solely on Calvin, which has allowed him to take his game to a higher level.

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Fantasy football recap: Studs & Duds


BY DEREK BARSNESS, Couchsideshow.com writer

If you are fortunate enough to still be contending in a fantasy football league, chances are you had a little bit of good fortune this season.

For some managers, the benefit of a healthy team with minimal injuries is a recipe for smooth sailing into the league championship.  For others, it could be the result of drafting a sleeper or combing the free agents throughout the season.  Here’s a look at some of this year’s fantasy sleeper studs that likely have you playing in the championship and a few duds that may have ruined your season early.

STUDS

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was surprisingly a sleeper in most fantasy football drafts. Photo by: PDA Photo/Flickr

• Cam Newton: The rookie has had a sensational fantasy season.  Passing for over 3700 yards and running for another 600.  He has nearly as many rushing touchdowns (13) as passing (17).  Outside of a small percentage of leagues, Newton was drafted near the end of most drafts or picked up on the waivers after week 1. Just to show how good of a bargain Newton has been this season, take a look at these stats from a quarterback drafted in substantially higher rounds. 3900 yards passing and 30 total TDs (29 passing, 1 rushing).  Any guesses? Anyone? Bueller? These stats belong to none other than Tony Romo.  So Newton owners, you got your money’s worth.

 • Fred Jackson: Before going down in week 10 with a broken leg, Jackson had amassed over 900 yards rushing, 39 catches for over 400 yards receiving, and 6 TDs.  These are solid numbers for any back, especially if your league is PPR.

 • Rob Gronkowski: Are you kidding me? Gronk and his partner in crime Aaron Hernandez both have the capabilities to put up solid fantasy numbers.  The trouble that most fantasy owners saw in Gronk is whether or not he would be Brady’s go to guy on short yardage downs, or if Hernandez would get priority.  This scared most owners away from taking either him or Hernandez.  But those lucky enough to have gambled on Gronk saw huge dividends in over 1100 yards and 15 TDs.  These are much better numbers than the highly valued Antonio Gates who has just 600 yards and 6 TDs this season.  In our auction draft Gronkowski went for $5, Gates for $29.

 • Victor Cruz: The NFL sophomore out of UMass has put up great numbers for many fantasy owners.  His almost 1200 yards and 7 TDs put him in the top 10 in points scored for WRs, just behind Roddy White and AHEAD of Larry Fitzgerald.

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NFL playoff picture: Chiefs & Eagles


Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Kyle Orton will probably have to defeat his former team, the Denver Broncos, for the Chiefs to have any shot at making the playoffs this season. Photo by: Jeffrey Beall/Flickr

BY WADE MCMILLIN, Couchsideshow.com editor

There is always a handful of NFL teams with mediocre records that have high hopes to make the playoffs each season.

Most of the time, it’s teams with a .500 winning percentage (8-8 overall) or with one win over the .500 mark (9-7) that find the final spots in the playoffs. This season, there are 10 teams that could potentially post barely respectable records and still get in. With two weeks left, five squads from the AFC and NFC, respectively, are still in the hunt. It will make for an exciting finale to a season that was almost cancelled because of the lockout. The playoffs are where the excitement is at, but with so many teams on the bubble, the end of the 2011 season should be action packed.

I will be concentrating on the playoff hopes for the two worst teams of the 10 squads that could be playoff bound. With 6-8 records, it doesn’t seem like the Kansas City Chiefs or Philadelphia Eagles will be able to punch their cards into the wildcard round of the NFL postseason. The Chiefs and Eagles should be able to give others searching for that No. 8 spot a run for their money, though.

Here’s a look at what Philadelphia and Kansas City will have to do in order for the squads to make the playoffs:

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Tebow makes the Broncos relevant again


BY DEREK BARSNESS, couchsideshow.com writer

Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is making his team relative once again. Photo by Jeffrey Biell/Flickr

As a once longtime Denver Bronco fan, my love for the team dwindled during the past few years.

Maybe it was going from the glory days of Elway to Brian Griese or Jake “The Snake” Plummer that was the catalyst for the loss in passion.  Then again, maybe it was just a spark in interest in fantasy football, a hobby that can cause any diehard fan to abandon their own team without remorse.  Call me a fair weather fan, but without Elway, the Broncos just aren’t interesting.

While the Broncos didn’t completely fall off the map, the team was never built for deep runs into the playoffs.  After an ugly loss in the 2005 AFC Championship, everyone knew Plummer wasn’t the answer, but a young gunslinger from Vanderbilt, Jay Cuter, was thought to be the perfect fit.  Garnering praise from scouts and many fans as the next Elway himself, Denver drafted “Baby Face” Cutler with the 11th pick in the 2006 draft.  Sure he wouldn’t be able to run the naked boot as good as Plummer, but the arm strength was a fair trade in qualities.  After Cutler nabbed the starting spot late in his rookie season, fans were practically booking flights and hotels to Super Bowl destinations for the upcoming seasons.

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Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


In the premiere of the sports podcast, Couch Side, hosts Wade McMillin and Jordan Wheeler explore NFL playoff hopes for teams in the tightest divisions; debate if players are still loyal in the NBA; and react to Albert Pujols’ monster contract. Click below to beginning listening to Couch Side.

Couch Side Episode 1: The Pilot


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