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Joe Anello

2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap posted by Joe Anello

It was an eventful and unpredictable NFL Draft, even after the craziness that ensued in round one Thursday night. Friday night showcased rounds two and three, while Sunday wrapped up the draft with rounds four through seven. Let’s run through the major storylines that came out of the 2013 NFL Draft!

*Pardon for the delay. This is what happens when life throws the draft, C2E2, and the impetus to change jobs all in one weekend.


-After slipping through the first round despite several reported landing spots, Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o became a San Diego Charger. The Chargers traded picks 45 and 110 to the Cardinals for pick number 38, allowing them to move up for Te’o. At that point in the draft, the drama-laden linebacker had great value. The Chargers run a 3-4 scheme, but he can still be a valuable inside presence for them.


-On the very next pick after Te’o was selected, the New York Jets saw a “franchise” quarterback fall right into their laps at number 39 overall with Geno Smith. Smith increases the QB count on the Jets roster all the way up to six, which includes Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow, Greg McElroy, and David Garrard. Yeah… someone’s gonna get cut. The obvious cut is Tebow. But then who? Do you cut the veteran Garrard, whom you just brought in? Or do you take the massive cap hit and release Sanchez? Or are you giving up on the idea that McElroy can be anything? The drama is ratcheted up in New York, and I’m gonna love every minute of it.

Continue reading "2013 NFL Draft: Rounds Two - Seven Recap"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

The 2013 Divisional Round is completed! The best weekend in football lived up to the hype, with crazy finishes (double overtimes) and historic performances. Let’s not put off this any longer. It’s time for The Final Drive!

(12-6) Baltimore Ravens 38

(13-4) Denver Broncos 35

After the Ravens were forced to punt on their opening possession, this game got crazy… fast. Trindon Holliday took that punt return back 90 yards for the first score. A 59-yard pass to a streaking Torrey Smith (who was torching Champ Bailey deep most of the day) from Joe Flacco tied the game up. On Denver’s ensuing drive, a pass from Peyton Manning tipped off the hands of Eric Decker into the arms of Corey Graham, who boomeranged it to make the score 14-7 Ravens. Manning took the ball right back and marched his team 74 yards in 11 plays, ending with a pinpoint pass to old friend Brandon Stokley on the side of the endzone. 14-14. Were you still breathing at this point? A score from both teams in the second quarter kept the game tied at 21 going into halftime. And the drama did not subside in the start of a crazy NFL weekend.

Denver Head Coach John Fox will (and should) catch a lot of flak for not even attempting to try to get in field goal range with two timeouts and 20-plus seconds left on the clock. (As we would see later in the weekend, that’s not an impossible feat to accomplish.) Fox got extremely conservative in the offensive play-calling, leaning on the run too often when he had one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time on the field. (Though doesn’t Peyton have full authority to change those calls at the line? Hm.) Not going for a third down conversion late in the fourth allowed the Ravens to get the ball back with just enough time to make something happen. And they certainly did.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

Alright everyone, it’s my favorite football weekend of the entire season! At this point we have the eight best teams left in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy, including the two greatest QB’s of our era in the AFC and a crazy Saturday night rematch in the NFC. I have stumbled out of the gates with my picks, currently standing at 1-3 after the wild card round. I owe that to every favorite covering last week and my apparently desperate need to pick against almost all of them. This week shall be different! I hope. Let’s get to The Opening Drive of the Divisional Round! (As always, point spreads are obtained from


(11-6) Baltimore Ravens at

(13-3) Denver Broncos

4:30 PM ET, CBS

This is the first of two AFC rematches that were completely one-sided in the first go-rounds. The Broncos slapped around the Ravens 34-17 in week 15, part of their 11-game winning streak to end the regular season and claim the one seed. In that game, Peyton Manning had very pedestrian numbers, but was bolstered by ground game that featured 45 carries, the most of any Manning team in his career. Their 163 yards pounded a then-short-staffed Raven defense. This game will be different, in that Baltimore is much healthier now. Ray Lewis is back, as is linebacker Danel Ellerbee. Still, the Raven corners are average at best, so they’re not going to be able to contain Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Wild Card Round posted by Joe Anello

Wild Card weekend in the NFL is a wrap! Note that this late posting is a testament to the dangers of kitties. (When you’re allergic to them.) There were bad offenses, great defenses, and ugly injuries to be found in the four match-ups, so let’s get through all the stories in The Final Drive!

(13-4) Houston Texans 19

(10-7) Cincinnati Bengals 13

The first half was a show of ugly offense, with three field goals by the Texans and only a pick-six by the Bengals to account for all the points on the board. Houston suffered because of failed third down conversions and a drop from Andre Johnson at the goal line, forcing them to settle for kicks. Andy Dalton threw a costly interception, but it was essentially wiped away as Leon Hall picked a Schaub pass and ran it back 21 yards to take a momentary lead. But the Bengal offense didn’t score at all in the first half. They barely improved.

In a trending theme of Saturday passing statistics, Cincinnati had -6 net yards passing at halftime. That prompted a “U-G-L-Y. You ain’t got no alibi. It’s ugly.” from Mike Mayock at halftime. (You have no idea how much Microsoft Word just hated that sentence.) When the Texans came out in the third quarter and mounted a touchdown drive, it practically was an insurmountable lead. The Bengals had no chance.

On a key drive in the fourth quarter, (while they were only down six), the Bengals were closing in on the redzone when they had to burn a timeout (play-calling disaster). On the ensuing play, they lost five yards due to a false start penalty. Then they went for it on fourth down (and failed), meaning the six point lead held.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Wild Card Round"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Wild Card Round posted by Joe Anello

It’s that time of year. The NFL Playoffs are upon us, and with it come the unmitigated disasters that are my picks against the spread. (Which means I’m not picking winners or losers, but I’m predicting if a team will win by or keep it closer than the designated spread. Odds are grabbed from We’ve got some stellar match-ups as well, so without any further BS, it’s time to start the playoffs with this Wild Card edition of The Opening Drive!

(10-6) Cincinnati Bengals at

(12-4) Houston Texans

4:30 PM ET, NBC

In typical playoff fashion, the Wild Card round starts with what is most likely to be the most lackluster match-up of the weekend. This solid Bengals team (that apparently no one outside of Cincinnati believes in) heads to Houston to face a Texan squad that was in near free-fall the last month of the season. It’s not exactly thrilling drama (even though it is a rematch of last year’s playoff game), but this I think game is going to very tight. The Bengals can’t explode offensively and the Texans haven’t been lighting up the scoreboards lately. They’d prefer to get Arian Foster going anyway, which means a slower paced game, full of that exciting clock management stuff. Cincy has a shot at getting passes completed on the outside if A.J. Green can handle the one-on-one match-up with corner Jonathan Joseph. I believe he can, so Andy Dalton has to be able to find him consistently in order to free up the running game and the underneath passes to tight end Jermaine Gresham.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Wild Card Round"

Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Preview: Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears posted by Joe Anello

You know the rivalry. It’s the Green Bay Packers versus the Chicago Bears in a December game. It’s been 13 weeks since these teams met on the first Thursday nighter of the season, and each have had ups and downs in that time, especially the Bears, who now are fighting for their playoff lives.


(9-4) Green Bay Packers at

(8-5) Chicago Bears 

The Offense

The Bear offensive line doesn’t need this news, but Clay Matthews will be back on the field. The man who terrorized J’Marcus Webb in the first match-up will be on the outside again, giving the Packers their pass rush back. Like always, Webb will need help if they’re going to keep Matthews off the stat sheet. But Mike Tice should know how to offset this disadvantage: run the ball. Give Matt Forte and Michael Bush (who will be limited if he plays with a rib injury) about 30-35 carries and get the front seven off Jay Cutler’s case. This way Cutler can get freed up for play-action throws to Marshall, which are less likely to be into triple-coverage or be sat on by an opportunistic defense (that is missing defensive back Charles Woodson).   

Brandon Marshall made news this week by daring the Packers to give him single coverage. Let me tell you something Brandon: it won’t happen. Once. You’re the best/only consistent passing option on this offense, so you’re getting bracket coverage on every play. What would be nice is if the other Bear receivers could beat single coverage on the outside. Alshon Jeffery is the most likely option, but he’s still reaching for his potential. And is anyone really going to count on Devin Hester? I’m not.

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Preview: Green ..."

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: Week 12, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

With Thanksgiving taking up time with travel, family, and friends, I decided to forgo the now-typical Thursday posting of The Opening Drive. But don’t worry, week 12 in the NFL still has a few games worth checking out this weekend!

(6-4) Seattle Seahawks at

(4-6) Miami Dolphins

Wait, am I liking Seattle on the road? That’s a switch. Miami’s been disappointing in its last few outings, so another loss essentially eliminates them from the postseason picture. If Seattle can pound on Miami’s front seven with Marshawn Lynch, Russell will likely see his receivers in single coverage on the outside against lesser corners. That’s a recipe for success.

(9-1) Atlanta Falcons at

(6-4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Game of the day. Tampa Bay’s offense has been nearly dominant as of late, and they’re matching up against an Atlanta defense that can’t halt the run with any regularity. Doug Martin could be in line for a ridiculously awesome fantasy stat line today. Get him in your starting line-up. I really like the Bucs are home here.

(8-2) Baltimore Ravens at

(4-6) San Diego Chargers

I appreciate everyone thinking the Ravens are weak enough that they could travel across the country to San Diego... after a Sunday night game… against the always physical Steelers… and lose. Wait, I may have just talked myself into taking the Chargers. Wait, I’m taking the Chargers? Screw that noise. They’re terrible.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: Week 12, 2012"

Richard Kagan

Pack Got Robbed With Officials' Blunders posted by Richard Kagan

I don't like the Green Bay Packers.  I like it when they lose a game.  I like it when they get outplayed.  But last night, they got out offiialed.  They lost to the Seattle Seahawks, but it was the replacement ref's who handed the game on a silver platter.  Seattle's Qb threw a Hail Mary pass to the end zone that was well covered by Pack defenders.  But Seattle wide receiver Grady Tate pushed off one of the Pack players in a blatant offensive interference call that was never meted out.  Pack defender M.D. Jennings appeared to intercept the ball and had possession but landed on the ground as Tate tried to wrestle the ball from him.  The Ref saw this play and awarded the Seahawks a game winnning TD with no time left on the clock.  The Packers were stunned and left the field as a team, as if in protest.  But after several minutes, The Refs reappeared on the field to have the extra point play, a mere formality.  This seemed like an insult to GB who played hard, and overcame a fierce pass rush by the Seahawks to earn the win.  But that was negated by the Refs who handed the game to Seattle.  In this game the players stats don't matter.  The Ref's call at the end, negated any of that, it stole a game away from Green Bay.  As much as I like to see them lose,  I don't like to see them lose that way.  That was a seriously botched call.Continue reading "Pack Got Robbed With Officials' Blunders"

Richard Kagan

Bears Get Blitzed in Green Bay posted by Richard Kagan

The Green Bay Packers trounced the Chicago Bears 23-13 on Thursday night at historic Lambeau Field.  The Pack sacked Bears' QB Jay Cutler 7 times and forced him into throwing 4 interceptions.  Earlier in the week, Cutler gave Green Bay poster material by intimating that the Packers might have trouble covering the Bears improved wideouts.  Well, that's like adding fuel to the fire in this often heated rivalry.  Former Broncos star receiver Brandon Marshall, now on the Bears, was held to two catches for minimal yardage.  The Bears netted under 180 yards in the game, and the final score could have been worse.  The Bears were outmatched on the field.  The Bears defense got to Aaron Rodgers too, but not enough.  Right now, the Packers looked like the better team and Chicago needs to regroup only two games into the regular season.  Matt Forte left the game with an ankle injury.  One hopes it is not serious.Continue reading "Bears Get Blitzed in Green Bay"

Joe Anello

Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: Packers, 23, Bears 10 posted by Joe Anello

Plenty went wrong in the Bears’ 23 - 10 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night. Jay Cutler made bad decisions. The offensive line provided him no protection. His wide receivers were never open. The Packers weren’t without their struggles, but they overcame them. The Bears did not. I’m not going to break down every crappy play, but there’s a lot to be upset about coming out of their second game of the season.

(1-1) Green Bay Packers 23
(1-1) Chicago Bears 10

It was a defensive struggle in the first quarter, with both defenses getting pressure from their stars. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers made their presence known, each tallying takedowns in the period. It was knotted at a whopping 0-0 when the first quarter ended, but in the second the Pack came alive. (Kinda.) An early field goal gave them the 3-0 lead, but it was a fake field goal pass to back-up tight end Tom Crabtree that snapped the game open and gave Green Bay an insurmountable 10-0 advantage. The play call was absolutely brilliant and it worked to perfection. As much as I’d like to yell and scream about the lack of awareness, it was just too well executed to properly defend.

After that Chicago’s offense never managed to pull its head out of its ass and put together any legitimately threatening drive. The offensive line was a catastromegafuck. Matthews was seemingly let loose on every single play and he made the most of it with 3.5 sacks on the night. Sure Dom Capers moved him around some, but there’s no way the line should have been that unaware of from what direction the Packers’ best pass-rusher was coming. J’Marcus Webb was routinely beat off the edge. Chris Spencer was beat inside. Gabe Carimi committed an idiotic personal foul penalty. Roberto Garza forgot about the play clock. Pick your lineman. He had his issues. Jay never had time to throw the ball and was always dancing around in the pocket while trying to look downfield. (And then he promptly threw it at a Packer.)

Continue reading "Joe's 2012 Gameday Review: Packers, 23, Bears 10"

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NFL Preview Week: Top 10 wild cards for the 2014 season (Shutdown Corner)

One year ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were a joke, the Houston Texans were a Super Bowl contender, the Carolina Panthers were (at best) a middling team and Chip Kelly was an intriguing fascination, but also as the proverbial college coach coming to the big, bad NFL. How much our opinions changed of them in short order. Four months from now, most of what we know will be unwritten or rewritten. There will be some out-of-left-field developments, some behind-the-scenes contributors and some unexpected changes to the NFL landscape. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] We're here to try to predict those. Call them the "wild-card" factors — the either-or propositions around the league that could sway a team (or teams) from 6-10 to 10-6, from putting their coaches on the hot seat to putting the team in the postseason derby. Here's our list of the top 10 for the 2014 NFL season: Rob Gronkowski — The New England Patriots have the best all-around tight end when he's healthy (Jimmy Graham is the better receiver of the two), as the classic "Y" player in this offense who can be as devastating as a run blocker as he is a seam splitter and red-zone threat. But Gronkowski has been saddled with injuries the past two seasons and is coming off a torn ACL last season, and he did not play a snap in the preseason so we're left to speculate his availability for Week 1 and for the remainder of the season. The Patriots are just a different animal offensively with Gronk on the field, and healthy. Tom Brady had an up-and-down 2013 season, with his lowest full-season completion percentage since 2003. But Brady was markedly better with Gronk in the lineup from Weeks 7-14:   Games Completions Attempts Passing yards Touchdowns Interceptions Completion % Yards/attempt 7 (with Gronk) 182 284 2205 13 5 64.1 7.76 9 (without Gronk) 198 344 2138 12 6 57.6 6.22 2013 total 380 628 4343 25 11 60.5 6.92 Brady trusts Gronkowski more than anyone not named Julian Edelman, and the relationship and symmetry with Danny Amendola appears stronger in Year 2. Watch for the development, too, of two bigger targets outside in Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright, along with two excellent screen/short passing game options in running backs Shane Vereen (who missed half the season with a wrist injury that affected his ability to catch the ball) and rookie James White. But Gronk is the biggest X-factor. His mere (healthy) presence can make the Patriots' offense a top-five unit again, and that means this could be another Super Bowl team. Referees calling things tigher — Book it: The greater emphasis on calling pass interference, defensive holding and ilegal contact from the preseason will linger into regular season. There's no throwing on the brakes, so to speak — not when refs have been instructed to call these pass-related infractions much tighter. To ask them to go back to the other enforcement of the rules would be disingenuous and pointless. Now, could we see a settling in back toward the norm by midseason? Sure, or after defenses complain. That's also bound to happen. It will be a major talking point if, say, the Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks opener is marred by a maelstrom of yellow flags because the world will be watching on Thursday night. If that happens, then everyone's radars — which already have been atuned after the preseason madness — will be up for the rest of Week 1. It very well could be the takeaway talking point after the first slate of games. The Seahawks are the team believed to be the one that could be the most affected by stricter enforcement of these penalties, but there are others. The Tennessee Titans, Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams and others will feel the effects with how handsy they get on opposing receivers. Teams will have to adjust. There might be a leveling off of the flags at some point, but expect the preseason flurry to carry over into the early part of the season. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Carolina hold off Green Bay rally

Brett Favre shines but cannot prevent the Green Bay Packers suffering their worst NFL start in 17 years. [read full article]

From BBC Sport

Raiders QB Matt Schaub out again with sore elbow (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

Cowboys, Patriots top Forbes NFL franchise value list; Bills, Rams on bottom (Shutdown Corne

Want to buy an NFL franchise? Better liquidate grandma's AT&T stock. Forbes has come out with its annual list of the NFL's most valuable franchises , and there are some familiar names at the top. The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots top the list, coming in well above the exorbitant $2 billion that the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers were recently sold for. [ Smack talk season is back at Yahoo Sports: Sign up and play free Fantasy Football! ] The Cowboys, which Forbes estimates will generate a combined $8.6 million in revenue for the team over the next five years with its massive JerryWorld stadium and fans the world over, are tops at a whopping $3.2 billion. The Patriots check in at a still-impressive $2.6 billion — not bad for a franchise Robert Kraft bought back in 1994 for a measley $172 million. The average franchise now is valued at $1.43 billion, the highest figure in the past 17 years that Forbes started tracking NFL team finances. That average took a massive boost of 23 percent from one year ago, which was the biggest one-year increase percentage since 1999. With reports out that the for-sale Buffalo Bills are garnering offers well north of $1 billion, it might surprise you to find out that they came in 31st of the 32 teams at a value of $935 million. But if that same trend of value increase continues, the Bills' new owner likely can feel better about their purchase in the golden-egg-laying NFL. Bringing up the rear on the list: the St. Louis Rams, whose stadium issues loom as a concern, at $930 million. Oft mentioned as a possible Los Angeles candidate should Rams owner Stan Kroenke seek to move the team folliowing the expiration of the Edward Jones Dome, that value could skyrocket with the right stadium situation and league support — i.e. hosting a Super Bowl down the road. Here's the list in its entirety: Forbes rank NFL franchise Estimated value 1 Dallas Cowboys $3.2 billion 2 New England Patriots $2.6 billion 3 Washington Redskins $2.4 billion 4 New York Giants $2.1 billion 5 Houston Texans $1.85 billion 6 New York Jets $1.8 billion 7 Philadelphia Eagles $1.75 billion 8 Chicago Bears $1.7 billion 9 San Francisco 49ers $1.6 billion 10 Baltimore Ravens $1.5 billion 11 Denver Broncos $1.45 billion 12 Indianapolis Colts $1.4 billion 13 Green Bay Packers $1.38 billion 14 Pittsburgh Steelers $1.35 billion 15 Seattle Seahawks $1.33 billion 16 Miami Dolphins $1.3 billion 17 Carolina Panthers $1.25 billion 18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $1.23 billion 19 Tennessee Titans $1.16 billion 20 Minnesota Vikings $1.15 billion 21 Atlanta Falcons $1.13 billion 22 Cleveland Browns $1.12 billion 23 New Orleans Saints $1.11 billion 24 Kansas City Chiefs $1.1 billion 25 Arizona Cardinals $1 billion 26 San Diego Chargers $995 million 27 Cincinnati Bengals $990 million 28 Oakland Raiders $970 million 29 Jacksonville Jaguars $965 million 30 Detroit Lions $960 million 31 Buffalo Bills $935 million 32 St. Louis Rams $930 million     - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Packers defense looks good, but faces loss of Raji (Yahoo Sports)

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From Yahoo Sports

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