All Sports Rumors & News >

2012 NFL Conference Championships Primer

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco comes to the line during the third quarter against the Houston Texans at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on January 15, 2012. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

Ravens @ Patriots, 3:00PM ET, Sunday
Call me old fashioned but I think this game will come down to the play of the quarterbacks. Joe Flacco usually doesn’t have to throw for many yards because Baltimore’s defense limits the production of the opposing offense. But what if Tom Brady and Co. is firing on all cylinders this Sunday? What if the Patriots do the unthinkable and draw the Ravens into a shootout? Can Flacco beat Brady in a wildfire?

If the Patriots were smart, they’d use the Chargers’ 34-14 Week 15 beat down of the Ravens as a blueprint to beat Baltimore. In that game, Philip Rivers got the ball out of his hand quickly, attacked Baltimore down field and thus, never allowed the Ravens’ fierce pass rush to get into a rhythm. If Baltimore, which led the league in sacks this season, can’t get to the quarterback then its defense can become ordinary. In their 12 wins this season, the Ravens sacked the quarterback 43 times. In their four losses, they got to the opposing signal caller just five times. Considering New England has one of the better offensive lines in the game, it’s not unfathomable that the Ravens will have trouble defensively this weekend.

Which leads me back to Flacco. Can he be the quarterback that threw for 300 yards and led the Ravens to that great fourth-quarter comeback in Pittsburgh this season? Or will he succumb to the pressure of trying to go toe-to-toe with Brady? Nobody will confuse New England’s defense with San Francisco’s but the Patriots did harass Tim Tebow last weekend. If they’re able to take away Ray Rice and Torrey Smith like Houston did last week, will Flacco step up?

Baltimore has often been a match up problem for New England. But the Patriots seem hell bent on getting back to the Super Bowl so it’s probably safe to say that the Ravens will get New England’s best effort this weekend.

New York Giants QB Eli Manning (10) cranks back to throw a long pass against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on November 13, 2011. The 49ers defeated the Giants 27-20. UPI/Terry Schmitt

Giants @ 49ers, 6:30PM ET, Sunday
With all due respect to the other contenders still left in the playoff field, the Giants are probably the most complete team remaining. The Patriots have the better offense and the 49ers have the better defense, but the Giants aren’t far off in either category. They also have a better quarterback in Eli Manning than the Ravens have in Joe Flacco, the latter of which has been highly inconsistent this season.

But the question is whether or not the Giants have started to read their own press clippings. As I’ve written before on this site, the G-Men are the perfect underdog. When their backs are pressed firmly against the wall and they believe that it’s them against the world, they beat teams like the Packers and Patriots (multiple times, in fact). When they’re well aware that they’re the favorite, they’re liable to lose to inferior opponents like Washington, Seattle or a Michael Vick-less Philadelphia team. The Giants are just weird that way.

That said, New York has very few weaknesses. They finished dead last in rushing during the regular season but the duo of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs looks much more potent now that at any time this year. When he protects the football, Eli is tough to beat and he has a trio of wide receivers in Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Mario Manningham that can win individual matchups in coverage. If the defense has a weakness, it’s in the secondary but the pass rush is so good that it masks the holes in the backfield. Yes, the Giants are a complete team.

But let’s pay a little respect to the 49ers, who knocked off a team in the Saints that many people believed was unstoppable. Led by Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Carlos Rogers and rookie Aldon Smith, the Niners don’t have many weaknesses defensively (if any). And while they don’t have as many weapons offensively as the Giants do, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis have proven that they can take over games this season.

The Niners also have home field advantage and have already beaten the Giants once this season (27-20 in Week 10). So again, if the Giants think they’re going to breeze in and out of San Francisco on its way to Indianapolis, they better pause to re-focus. They’ll have to earn what they get this weekend.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @TheScoresReport. You can also follow TSR editor Gerardo Orlando @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom, and you can follow TSR editor Anthony Stalter @AnthonyStalter.

From our partners
Picture of the Day

Picture of the Day

Enjoy a daily photo from Bullz-Eye.com of one of their beautiful models.

Online Dating Guide

Improve your game today!

You've got to brush up on your game to get the girl! Find your hookups with this online dating guide.

Sexy Girls and Cars

Check out this slideshow of hot babes and cool cars.

NFL Week 16 ROY Power Rankings

Lots of rookies this year keep reminding us why they were drafted so high, making this a very difficult race to predict. But we’ll try our best……

1. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills—He hasn’t had an interception in a few weeks, but he’s still tied with Asante Samuel and Darren Sharper for the NFL lead with 9.

2. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos—He leads all rookies with 897 rushing yards, with an outside chance of reaching 1000 yards Sunday against the Chiefs.

3. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams—Yes, he plays for the Rams, and yes, a good linebacker who doesn’t rack up a ton of sacks isn’t one of those sexy picks for MVP or Rookie of the Year. But Laurinaitis’ 102 solo tackles ranks behind only Patrick Willis, Jon Beason and Curtis Lofton.

4. Hakeem Nicks, New York Giants—46 catches for 795 yards and 6 scores is a good stat line for any receiver. But when you consider how big a question mark the Giants were at the position, this rookie has stepped up nicely and immediately contributed.

5. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings—He’s battled migraines recently, but this explosive game-changer is a dual threat as a receiver and as a kick returner.

Honorable mention: Johnny Knox, Bears; Ryan Succop, Chiefs; Beanie Wells, Cardinals; Jeremy Maclin, Eagles; Brian Cushing, Texans; LeSean McCoy, Eagles; Michael Oher, Ravens

NFL Week 12 ROY Power Rankings

Percy Harvin keeps gaining momentum and votes here with every TD catch from Brett Favre. But it’s still a pretty wide-open race here for NFL rookie of the year.

1. Percy Harvin, Minnesota Vikings—Against the Bears, Harvin had another outstanding game—6 catches for 101 yards and a TD. Brett Favre might have more weapons than he’s ever had before, but none of them are more dangerous than this rookie.

2. Knowshon Moreno, Denver Broncos—In the last three games, Moreno has averaged almost 6 yards a carry. And if you noticed the moves he was busting against the Giants, you know he deserves to be high up on this list.

3. Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills—He’s now gone three games without a pick, but still has 8 of them.

4. James Laurinaitis, St. Louis Rams—His 75 solo tackles not only rank at the top for any rookie, but that ranks Laurinaitis fourth in the NFL right behind Curtis Lofton, Jon Beason and Patrick Willis. Damn.

5. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles—Brian Westbrook has some mighty big shoes to fill, but so far McCoy is filling them.

Honorable mention: Hakeem Nicks, Giants; Johnny Knox, Bears; Ryan Succop, Chiefs; Michael Oher, Ravens; Matthew Stafford, Lions; Beanie Wells, Cardinals; Jeremy Maclin, Eagles; Brian Cushing, Texans

2009 NFL All-Spectator Team: All Pros, No Playoffs

Granted, guys like Peyton Manning, Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu had wonderful seasons. But don’t they already get plenty of love? With our third-annual NFL All-Spectator Team, we want to shine the spotlight on the players that had great seasons, but for one reason or another, missed the postseason.

So there won’t be any Steelers, Cardinals, Eagles or Ravens on this team. Nor any Giants, Panthers, Vikings or Falcons. They’ve had their opportunity to shine. We’ll recognize those great players that spent the postseason on their couch, or maybe on a beach somewhere. After all, it’s not their fault that they’re on a mediocre (or a crappy) team, is it?

Hell, we’ll even honor a couple of Detroit Lions – how’s that for spreading the love around?

Check out our 2008 and 2007 All-Spectator squads.

OFFENSE

QB: Drew Brees (NO)
5,069 yards, 34 TDs, 17 INTs, 96.2 QB rating
For the second straight season, Brees is our choice at QB. On one hand, it’s a nice honor because it means he’s consistently productive, but we’re sure he’d rather be guiding the Saints into the playoffs. Brees improved his numbers across the board, and almost broke Dan Marino’s single-season yardage record; he averaged 317 passing yards per game! He posted the second-highest QB rating of his career and even turned someone named Lance Moore into a fantasy star. For this, he was named AP Offensive Player of the Year, a well-deserved honor.

RB: Matt Forte (CHI)
1,238 rushing yards, 63 rec., 477 receiving yards, 12 total TD
It was a tough call between Forte and Thomas Jones, but with 1,715 total yards, the rookie gets the nod. Some draft pundits questioned his ability to be an every down back, but didn’t have any problems taking over as the Bears’ RB1. He caught an eye-popping 63 catches and was (by far) the Bears’ best offensive weapon. It’s scary to think what he could do if Chicago had another playmaker in the passing game that would keep defenses from stacking the line against the run.

FB: Earnest Graham (TB)
563 rushing yards; 23 rec., 174 rec. yards; 4 total TD
Were there better fullbacks that we could have chosen? Yeah, especially considering Graham isn’t technically even a fullback. But we chose Graham (who missed the last six games of the year with an ankle injury) because of his unselfishness this season. He volunteered to move to fullback when the Bucs were in need of a power blocker and he never griped about losing his feature back role. When he went down with a season ending injury in Week 11, Tampa clearly missed his power running style over the past two months of the season and even more so, they missed his leadership.

WR: Andre Johnson (HOU)
115 rec., 1575 yards, 8 TD
All AJ did was lead the NFL in catches and yards, anchoring one of the league’s best offenses in the process. He posted 9+ catches eight times and went over 100 yards in each of those games. This included success against the very best competition; he racked up 11 catches for 207 yards and a TD against the Titans, who have one of the top pass defenses in the league. A big day for AJ usually meant a Texans win; Houston was 6-2 in games where Johnson went off.

WR: Brandon Marshall (DEN)
104 rec., 1265 yards, 6 TD
Marshall missed the first game of the season due to suspension, but he made up for it the next week, posting an amazing 18 catches for 166 yards and a score against the Chargers. He was one of the most consistent wideouts over the rest of the season, catching no fewer than four passes in 12 of the next 14 games. Surprisingly, he only caught six touchdowns, but with the third-most catches and seventh-most yards in the league, his stats are plenty impressive.

TE: Tony Gonzalez (KC)
96 rec., 1058 yards, 10 TD
Gonzo makes his second-straight appearance on our All-Spectator Team. Jason Witten may have earned this spot if not for a midseason injury that hindered his production, but Gonzalez was every bit the top TE in the league this season. He was 12th in the league in yards and tied for 4th in catches. What’s most impressive about Gonzo’s season is that, at 32, he turned in what was arguably his third-best season of his illustrious 12-year, Hall of Fame career.

OT: Ryan Clady (DEN)
The Broncos might have produced one of the worst collapses of any team in NFL history by surrendering a four game lead over the Chargers with only four games remaining in the season, but Clady deserves praise for his exceptional play this year. The rookie gave up just a half sack and helped anchor the left tackle position for an offensive line that tied the Titans for fewest sacks allowed in the NFL (12). He’s the type of player the Broncos can build their O-line around and he was clearly a Pro Bowl snub.

OT: Joe Thomas (CLE)
Did Thomas take a slight step back this season? Yes. Even some in Cleveland’s organization will admit it. But offensive linemen aren’t immune to having sophomore slumps and even though his production might have dipped a little, Thomas was still one of the best tackles in the AFC and worthy of his Pro Bowl roster spot. He was also part of a Browns’ offensive line that finished eighth in sacks allowed. Some are going to wonder where Jason Peters’ (Bills) name is, but don’t strain your eyes looking too long because he didn’t make the cut. Peters gave up more sacks (11.5 sacks in just 13 games) this year than any starting left tackle in the league.

OG: Leonard Davis (DAL)
Two years ago, the Cardinals gave up on Davis because they didn’t feel he was consistent or dominant enough to be their cornerstone left tackle. Not that they were wrong, but they might regret giving up on him with the way he’s excelled since the Cowboys moved him to right guard after signing him to a seven-year, $49.6 million contract in March of 2007. Davis had another outstanding year and some believe that he was the most dominant right guard in the NFL this season. The Saints’ Jahri Evans (who made our honorable mention list) got a starting look for our guard positions, but in the end we couldn’t pass up pairing Davis with Alan Faneca.

OG: Alan Faneca (NYJ)
The Steelers didn’t want to pony up to pay a 32-year old guard with plenty of mileage on his body, but the Jets signed the veteran to a five-year, $40 million contract and it’s safe to say that Faneca was worth the money. After breakout seasons as rookies in 2006, the play of left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold dropped in 2007. But the addition of Faneca turned out to be the shot in the arm that the two youngsters needed. Faneca’s presence also helped running back Thomas Jones bounce back after a rough 2007 campaign, as he rushed for 1,312 yards this season.

C: Dan Koppen (NE)
Whether it was because of a down year or the inexperience of quarterback Matt Cassel, the Patriots’ offensive line was brutal in pass protection this season. They gave up 48 sacks despite returning all five starters from their Super Bowl team. Regardless, the Patriots still had the fifth best offense in the NFL and were the sixth best running team. At the center (no pun intended) of their success was Koppen, who continues to be a quiet leader on a team filled with exceptional players. Cassel’s success this season had a lot to do with having a veteran center setting the line protection every play and guiding the young signal caller along the way.


Read the rest after the jump...

Patrick Willis + Playboy Party = Love?

SPORTSbyBROOKS.com fills us in on 49er linebacker Patrick Willis’s new hobby, which is blogging for Playboy.com.

Patrick WillisOne such blogger is 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. In his latest entry, Willis describes Playboy’s New Year’s Eve party at Hugh Hefner’s mansion. After telling us something we already knew, that Bill Maher and Jon Lovitz were at the party bottom-feeding jacuzzi algae, Willis got down to some details about his party hookup.

You know how my Aston Martin is my “wow” car. Well, I did meet one girl in particular that was “wow!” I think she’s appeared in Playboy, and she was real pretty, a mix between Carmen Electra and Pamela Anderson. So we’ll call her “Carm-ela,” lol! She walked by me and I went, Oh, my god! It was a little intimidating speaking to her at first. You know, I’m kind of reserved off the field. But when we got to talking, she admitted that she told her girlfriends, “Who’s that sexy guy in the tuxedo?” So I’m like “Wow!” I was tooting my horn after she said that. I didn’t need to look no further. When we were dancing a little, she admitted she was shy, too. But I threw it down a little bit like James Brown on the dance floor.

She had the total package and not too many girls get me interested like that right away. We were chatting quite a bit but I don’t like to ask too many personal questions upfront, because sometimes you find out more than what you wanted to. Sometimes, it’s better to go along with the flow, uncovering her character. We talked about music, what she was into, what she liked to do. For me, it’s about getting to know someone for them, not for their accomplishments or what they’ve done or who they know and stuff. I got her number and so far, staying in touch, she seems to be cool. I’m a single guy and if this continues to go and it works into the equation, I might not be single no more, lol!

We’ll have to see.

Well I’ll be! I had no idea “shy” was posing in a porn mag, approaching random men at parties at the Playboy Mansion and then telling them they’re hot.

What a shrinking violet. Sounds like Pat’s got a real winner!

Of course, he still has to wait to “uncover her character”. (Among other things.)

What a great way to end the week, reading about a NFL linebacker who gets invited to the Playboy Mansion on NYE. And then he picks off a random hottie easier than a Dan Orlovsky screen pass.

Willis: So, uh, I hope I’m not being too personal here but…have you had many partners?

Playboy hottie: Well let’s just say I’ve had more partners than you had tackles your rookie year, Patrick.

Willis: Peace.

Related Posts