Today, I Am A Patroits & Falcons Fan!

Yep, I admit it.  Today I am a New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons fan…but for all the right reasons.

First, lets start with the reason why I am an Atlanta Falcons fan:

Falcons Helmet

The Arizona Cardinals visit Atlanta to take on the Falcons.  Most people would see a 9-2 coming to play a 4-7 team as pretty much game not worth watching.

However, with no team in the NFC South having a winning record (Falcons and New Orleans Saints lead the division with 4-7 records), the Falcons desperately need a win to take control of the division.

Which would do a huge favor to the 8-4 Seattle Seahawks who are peaking just at the right moment to make a run at taking the NFC West crown for the second year in a row.

The Cardinals are exposed.  Carson Palmer is out for the season and MSU alum Drew Stanton, performing admirably in his place, doesn’t have quite the accuracy and game experience that Palmer brings.

Also questionable is Larry Fitzgerald who will be a game-time decision.  And while Fitzgerald may no longer be the number one receiver for the Cards, there is no question that he indeed is the heart and soul of the team.

I need to mention that this game is going to be a tough one for my wife Nancy.  She is a huge New Orleans fan but is also very supportive of the Seahawks.  But she has such a great disposition about life, regardless of the outcome, she’ll see it as a win.

Now on to why I am a New  England Patriots fan:

Patriots Helmet

Let me point out right now that I have never like Tom Brady ever since he played for those arrogant assholes, the University of Michigan Wolverines.  Being a Michigan State fan, about the only time I root for the Wolverines is when they play those clowns from Ohio State University…so I was sad to see OSU spank U of M 41-28 yesterday.

But today, I will root for Brady and the Patriots as they visit (think of ESPN’s Chris Berman when you read this) the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field.

Our Detroit Lions have an opportunity to go 3-0 over the next 3 games with 2 home games against the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Minnesota Vikings and a road game against the hapless Chicago Bears, heading to Lambeau at 11-4.

Green Bay has a tougher schedule, starting with today’s game against New England…but not as tough as one would have hoped.

I can see the Packers going 2-2 over the next 4 games with losses against the Patriots (a rare home loss indeed) and a loss against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo, depending on which Bills team shows up.

That would give the Packers a 10-5 record with the Lions coming to town…with the Lions in the drivers seat.

But it starts today with the Patriots putting together a great defensive and offensive game plan to beat the Packers in Lambeau.

Go Falcons and Go Patriots!

 

Seahawks – 24, 49rs – 13: Must Win Game for Seahawks

It’s time to see if the team meeting the Seahawks had prior to the Arizona Cardinal game will travel well.

These Seahawks had a team meeting which I am sure a lot of things were said that needed to be said.  I’ve been in some of those and while some feelings may have gotten hurt, the majority of time, it worked.  A meeting like that is tough for everyone but in the end, it builds trust and gets the focus back on doing your job rather than placing blame on each other.

It was a good thing to do prior to a home game…and while it was an important home game, that trust and confidence in each other is going to be put to a very difficult test down in San Francisco.  And I have a strong feeling that the Seahawks are going to pass it.

This team is built around the run.  The Seahawks have Marshawn Lynch who doesn’t seem to have a stop button on the field.  Get him the ball and have the road graders up front clear a path…and if it’s not cleared completely…that’s OK, Beast Mode will clear it on his own.

Outside of Lynch, the Seahawks really don’t have a star player that can take over a game when needed.  Sure, Russell Wilson has proven many a time that he can get the Hawks down the field but where is that receiver that he can count on?  Don’t get me wrong, I think Baldwin and Kearse are good receivers….but neither of those guys really scare anyone.

But there is a great chemistry on this team…they play for each other which is going to carry them far.

The defense, which defines the Seahawks, need to step up big.  And they should be able to with them being as healthy as they have ever been.

I think that early on, we need to have Kam Chancellor make a big hit on someone to set the tone.  To send a message that this is going to be a war and there will be no easy gains.

So I see this game being close most of the game but Lynch will bust off a couple of great runs in the fourth quarter to seal it.  Lynch will rush for at least 125 and have 2-3 touchdowns on the day.

I wouldn’t want to be the team that is facing the Seahawks when they have their backs against the wall…but if there was ever a team that could match them, it’s these 49rs.

Gonna be a bash fest…but Hawks win, 24, 13.

Detroit Lions – 45, Chicago Bears – 13: Lions Need Big Win

Lions Bears Score

Yes, I am going out on a limb.  But the Lions need a win and they need a win that will give them confidence.

What the Lions need, and this goes for us fans as well, is to forget any history…forget the 3 come from behind wins, forget the dismal outing against the Cardinals and Patriots and just go out and kick some Chicago ass.

A big win in this fashion does a lot of things to a team.  It tells them they can play with the big boys.  It shows they have amnesia when it comes to previous games…and most important of all, they can believe in themselves and start trusting each other and just play football.

My philosophy, if I were the head coach (and its probably a good reason I’m not) is I would preach to these guys that this game is the most important game they are going to play…and when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come to Ford Field on December 7th, that will be the most important game…and so on.  They need to learn to take on what’s in front of them, forget what happen and take care of business.

So what if Matt Stafford had one of his worst passing days last week…throw the freaking ball to Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate and send a message to the Bears secondary that we have the best receivers and we don’t care who you got covering them…we’re throwing to them.

Don’t give a rip  that Bush has been injured the last 2 games…set up a fake end around and hit him with a screen pass and let him go nuts.  Give Joique Bell the ball and let him pound away at the Bears defense.

As for our defense, forget about last week and get after the QB.  Sack 4 or 5 times and hit him often enough that he gets happy feet.

Get a spy on Matt Forte and hang on until the rest of the D gets there to pile on…wear him down so he becomes less effective later on in the game.

Brandon Marshall?  Make no changes in the secondary…keep those focused on taking away the inside slants and force Cutler to go to his 3rd and 4th options…because if he does that, he’ll being saying “hello” a lot to Nadmukong Suh, Ezekiel Ansah and Andre Fluellen a lot.

Happy Thanksgiving to all Lions Fans, wherever you are…you too Bears fans but I’m still hoping for a big Lions win.

Lions Should Be Ashamed – There Is Hope Though

Ashamed Lion

That was pathetic.

Lions may not have been able to beat the Patriots in Foxboro…but they could have at least made them a little nervous.

But no, the Lions vaunted defense tucked their tails between their legs, looked to U of M alumni Tom Brady and said “Thank you sir!  May I please have another?”  And Brady was more than willing to keep hammering the Lions defense all day long.

And what of the offense?  Lions Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi reduced the number of plays by 20%…and by the looks of they way the Lions offense played, they reduced their effort by about 20% as well.

Despite this demoralizing loss and the fact they gave first place to the Green Bay Packers (who just beat the Vikings 24-21), the Lions are still in a good position to get into the playoffs.  And they have an outside chance to take the division if they can get a little luck.

The Lions have five games remaining, the next three at home:

Thanksgiving:  Bears – Yeah, I know.  The Bears have played decently the last two weeks and have an outside shot at slipping into the playoffs.  But they just don’t have the defense needed to get there.  Lions will (and really need to) explode and I see a 45-19 win.  (I predict this because I am no fan of the Bears…and even less a fan of Bears fans).

12/7 – Buccaneers –  I have never liked Tampa Bay.  Most of it stems from when they were part of the old NFC Central.  Whenever the Lions needed a win to stay alive for a playoff run, it always seemed the Bucs were in the way.  Lions should easily win this game, 24-7.

12/14- Vikings – A young team and the Lions handled them relatively easy with a 17-3 win back in October.  But that was when Matt Cassel was the QB.  Teddy Bridgewater, though it not showing in the win/loss column, can move the team and get them into the end zone.  But the overall inexperience of the team and lack of a running game, Lions will prevail 28-14.

12/21 – @ Bears – Ah yes…Soldier Field, perhaps one of the best places to play a football games.  Too bad it’s always filled with the worst fans in the league.  Lions have showed some moxie with three come from behind wins and I think with riding a 3 game win streak, Lions will pull another win out with their 4th come from behind win…and Calvin Johnson will win it with a last second TD…and he will complete the process to preserve a 28-27 thriller.

12/28 – @Packers – The last time the Detroit Lions won at Lambeau Field was December 15th, 1991.  Matthew Stafford was three years old.  While every fiber in my being would love to see the Lions end this streak on this day, funny things always seem to happen the Lions when in the Land of Cheese.  But the loss here puts the Lions at 11-5 and hosting a wild-card game at Ford Field.

Granted, this a best case scenario.  And with Green Bay’s schedule, they could be 1 game back with the Lions when they meet.  Packers have the Patriots and Falcons at home (I see a split here), on the road against the Bills and Buccaneers (maybe another split with a loss to the Bills).

That would have Green Bay with a 10-4 record playing an 11-5 Detroit Lions.  Again, best case scenario but it would have the Lions in the driver’s seat.

Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Seattle Seahwaks and Detroit Lions: Interesting Day of Football

If you would have told me at the start of the season that this weekend was a pivotal one for both of these teams, I probably would not have believed you.

Let’s start with the Seattle Seahawks…only because if they win against the Kansas City Chiefs, they will become the biggest fans of the Detroit Lions as they take on the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals.

The Seahawks seemed to have righted themselves after a rocky start.  I think it was a wake-up call when they traded Percy Harvin to the Jets.  It allowed the team to get back to what they are:  a team that needs to establish run and play solid defense.  Hang around until the 4th quarter and then take over the game.

I have found it very interesting over these past few weeks listening to sports talk shows, mainly the Danny, Dave and More show on 710 ESPN radio here in Seattle.

There is an understated sense of panic about these Seahawks.  At the start of the year, the Hawks changed the focus of their team and got away from what had made them so successful last year when they build the offense around Percy Harvin.  There is no denying that Harvin is a special talent.  But to paraphrase a famous line from Bull Durham, “million dollar talent but a .10 cent head” sums him up perfectly.

I applauded the quick reaction taken by the Seahawks when it just wasn’t working with Harvin…they cut their losses and got back to being the team they were last year, giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch as well as letting Russell Wilson take command of the team late in games.  It’s no surprise the Hawks are 3-1 since the departure of Harvin.

We must also take into consideration the considerable amount of talent that left the building after the Super Bowl.  Many of the second team players on the squad last year could have started on a lot of teams.  And every player in the NFL wants to be a starter.

Also, did everyone expect all other teams not to improve?  Arizona already had one heckuva defense as well as the Rams.  The Cardinals are winning because Bruce Arians is one helluva coach and they made some very smart moves to improve the offense.

The Seahawks have a very tough game ahead of them in Kansas City, one I would consider a must win.  Both teams are set up similarly, with great running backs (Hawks with Lynch and Chiefs with Jamal Charles).  Both teams have quarterbacks that make few mistakes with the ball, Russell Wilson of the Hawks and Alex Smith with Kansas City.

So what is it going to take for the Hawks to win?  First and foremost, they have to take the crowd out of the game.  Opening drive needs to be a long, sustained drive with seven points on the board.  The defense needs to keep the Chief offense off the field.  Smith loves to throw to his running backs and tight-ends so it would be wise to cover them.  They are a “move the chains” team and while they do take their shots down the field, that would play into Seattle’s strength, allowing the secondary to make some big plays.

As for the Lions against the Cardinals, all I can say is this is going to be one heck of a game.  The Lions appear to have shed the image of not being a good road team.  They did play flat against the Falcons in London for 3-1/2 quarters but came alive to win that game.

We may have caught a break with the injury to Carson Palmer…but ex-Lion Drew Stanton has the backing of Bruce Arians has he convinced the team to go after him in free agency.  Arians has so much confidence in Stanton, he feels that he should be a starter in the NFL.

No player wants to see a teammate get hurt but many times, it’s the only way to get your shot.

Lions will need to put the game in Stanton’s hands by stopping the run game and putting the Cardinals in 3rd and long situations.  Stanton is only completing 49% of his passes so the more pressure put on him, the better off the Lions will be.  But they will need to contain him since he can run.

I imagine that after tomorrow, I am going to be pretty hoarse…I’ll be nervous and jittery as I cheer on my two hometown teams.  But my heart will be mostly with the Lions.

Enjoy tomorrow everyone…this is what NFL football is about!

Detroit Lions – This Could Be The Year

Stafford:  Calm and Cool.  But more heat is on the way.
Stafford: Calm and Cool. But more heat is on the way.

Ok, maybe the Kool-Aid is tasting a little better these days…but the way the Detroit Lions are winning has got to make folks stand-up and take notice.

This streak they have been on started back on October 12th against the Vikings with a 17-3 victory.  Granted, the score should have been more lopsided but a win is a win and even better against a division opponent.  Plus they won without Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush. They played in Minnesota, a place where they have won only for the second time in 17 tries.  And any win on the road is a good one.

But perhaps the most amazing game of this 4 game win streak was the amazing 24-23 victory over the New Orleans Saints.  I don’t think it matters what record the Saints have, they are a very good defensive team and even without Jimmy Graham at full strength, they have a damn good passing attack with Drew Brees throwing to Marques Colston and Kenny Stiles.

The Saints had the Lions by the throat but Matthew Stafford and company had some different ideas on how the game was going to end.  Stafford tossed two TD passes in a space of 3:38 with the game winner going to  Corey Fuller.

Everyone thought that was a great game…until the Lions took on the Atlanta Falcons in London.  The Falcons jumped all over the Lions putting up 21 first half points.  The Lions looked lost and I am pretty sure that all Lions fans were all thinking the same thing:  “Same old Lions.  Have a great comeback win against a good team and then lose to pretty bad team the next week.”  We’ve all seen it before, can’t sustain a win streak.

But then something amazing happened.  The Lions took the 2nd half kick-off 76 yards in a 7 minute drive that ended with a Matt Prater field goal. The Lions vaunted #1 defense in the NFL woke up and started to play like it.

After the ensuing kick-off, the Lions forced a three and out, making the Falcons punt. Falcons played some good defense in this series but then on 3rd down and 10, Stafford floats a pass to Golden Tate for 15 yards and a first down.  Tate had some other ideas and with a great run, went 59 yards for the touch down.  At this point, it’s Falcons 21, Lions 10.

On the Falcons next possession, after Falcons made some headway into Lions territory, cornerback Cassisus Vaughn picks off Ryan and returns it 45 yards to the Atlanta 7 yard line. Falcons defense stiffens and the Lions fail to punch it in, settling for a Prater 20 yard field goal.  Falcons 21, Lions 13.

Lions defense forces the Falcons to punt and the Lions put together another 7 minute plus scoring drive with Stafford hitting Theo Riddick for a 5 yard TD.  Lions go for 2-point conversion and fail but close the gap to Falcons 21, Lions 19.

Forward to 1:38 left in the game, Lions start their final drive on their own 12 yard line.  Stafford works the Lions down to the Falcons 25 yard line to have Prater come in to kick a 43 yard field goal only to see him miss it…but wait, a flag is thrown, penalty on the Lions for delay of game…dead ball foul and 4 seconds are put back on the clock. Prater lines up for a 48 yard field goal and kicks it through, sealing the win.

And then yesterday’s game against the streaking Miami Dolphins who came into Detroit on a 3 game win streak of their own. It did look from the onset the Lions were going to run away with the game with the defense setting the tone.

But the Dolphins are a surprising team and actually took the lead after blocking a Matt Prater kick with 4:19 left in the game and kicking a field goal to go up 13-10 with 1:22 left in the game.

But Stafford and Golden Tate, and Calvin Johnson  having a field day, Stafford located Theo Riddick with 43 seconds left on the clock for a 5 yard TD.

Each of these last three games would have been ones the Lions would have lost last year…somehow finding a way to implode.  But not this team.

Gone are the stupid penalties that kept shooting themselves in the foot.

Gone is the panic when playing from behind.

What I see on this team is a lot of unity and team first mentality…and that could take these guys all the way too the Super Bowl.

The Lions aren’t looking ahead but we can…and they aren’t going to have an easy time of it. At best, the Lions could go 5-2 over the next seven games.  I say that since Carson Palmer is injured and out for the year for Arizona and the two losses would be against the Patriots and Packers.

They should beat the Bears twice as well as the Vikings, giving them a 5-1 division record and a 12-4 record. At worst, they go 3-4, giving them a 10-6 record and with a split with the Bears and a win over the Vikings, still gives them a nice 4-3 division and a possible wild-card, depending on what Green Bay does.

But like the Lions, we have to take these games one at a time…and this weeks focus will be on giving as much positive energy to our boys in blue to defeat the Arizona Cardinals.

Go Lions!

Lions, Browns – Wouldn’t That Be a Cool Super Bowl?

So after witnessing the Cleveland Browns over the Cincinnati Bengals and seeing the Detroit Lions playing meaningful games in November, I have to start wondering if this is the year that all current NFL teams will have made a Super Bowl.

Both teams have a lot of history being the two dominate teams in the 1950’s.  From 1952 to 1957, the Lions and Browns faced each other 4 times for the NFL Championship with the Lions winning 3 out 4.

Since then, the Lions have been snake-bit.  They haven’t been to a championship game in 56 years.  In those years, the Lions 11 playoff appearances winning only once.  That’s about all the re-hash I’m going to do since I am trying to only look forward with these guys.

Browns fared better since 1957…They appeared in 23 playoff games winning 7 of them including their last championship in 1964.

They also had a very dark period in their franchise when Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens.  For three long years, Cleveland was without a football team.

But the NFL did a real smart move in rewarding a franchise to Cleveland but unfortunately, while keeping all of the Browns history, they were nothing more than an expansion team for a few years.

So here we sit with the Lions at 6-3 in first place atop the NFC North and Cleveland, also with a 6-3 record, in 2nd place in the AFC North.

I don’t know about anyone else but right now, I am conflicted.  I want both teams to be in the Super Bowl but I don’t want the Lions to be the last ones in.  The perfect scenario would be to see them in this years Super Bowl…and while I would be rooting for the Lions to win it, it really wouldn’t break my heart if the Browns took it…provided the Lions went back the following year to get theirs.

But it would be the best of everything to finally see two long suffering teams finally get their chance at the golden ring.

Sorry Browns fans…Go Lions!

Seattle Fans – Relax About The Seahawks

Hawks may not be dominating like last year, but they are 5-3 and winning
Hawks may not be dominating like last year, but they are 5-3 and winning.

Over the past few weeks, I have heard, mostly from media but fans as well, saying the Seahawks aren’t the team they were last year.

Know what?  Those people are absolutely correct in their assessment.  This isn’t the same team as last year.  They aren’t as deep as they were and other teams around them have improved as well.

But to disparage this year’s version isn’t right.  We have 16 games on the schedule and each team that we play is going to give us their best shots.  They get up just a bit higher when they know they are facing the defending Super Bowl Champions.

Here’s what I know:  The Seattle Seahawks are going to be just fine this year.  No, I am not predicting they will repeat as Super Bowl Champs (though I would love to see that happen).  But I will say they are primed to start playing the best football they can….Starting with the New York Giants who seem to implode each week.  But do not ever count a Tom Coughlin team out of it until the game is over.

Which brings me to a point I really want to make.  Those of you who think the win over the Oakland Raiders is diminished because we didn’t beat them by 4 touchdowns, you don’t know football.  The Raiders came to Seattle with nothing to lose and played with a lot of pride and skill…and they are just hoping to get off the snide.  It would have been their Super Bowl if they had gotten their first win of the season against the Champs…don’t you think they put forth their best effort knowing who they were playing?

Besides, there is no difference between a win by 6 points or a win by 60 points.  They both count the same in the win column.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder…what if last years team finished 11-5, still went to the Super Bowl, played Denver and won 17-8 instead of 43-8?  Would we still be having this conversation?