What Happened to Todd Gurley?

Kaleel Weatherly

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Wednesday February 1, 2017

todd gurleyLos Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley got off to a great start in the NFL, but fans are wondering what happened to the 22-year-old running back. Why didn’t he have a great sophomore season? What happened to him?

Well, when the then-St. Louis Rams selected running back Todd Gurley with the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, they thought they were getting an Adrian Peterson-type runner.

Coming out of Georgia, Gurley’s running style was similar to Peterson’s. He possessed a rare blend of power, speed, agility, and quickness. Jeff Fisher, who was the Rams’ head coach at the time, wanted the offense to be centered around the ground game.

Fisher wanted a running back who could run the ball 20-25 times a game. Gurley definitely fitted the bill. In his rookie season with the Rams, Gurley showed the NFL how lethal he could be. He ran for 1,106 yards to go along with 10 touchdowns, and he won the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award for his efforts.

However, the one-time Pro Bowler experienced the proverbial sophomore slump in 2016.

He couldn’t find rushing lanes or break off long runs. Indeed, the Rams kept feeding defenses a heavy diet of Gurley, but he didn’t make many big plays. The young runner ran for 885 yard to go along with six touchdowns and only averaged 3.18 yards per carry.

Now, Gurley should shoulder some of the blame for his sophomore slump. However, the Rams did not surround him with enough talent. It’s hard to be a successful running back in the NFL when your offensive linemen cannot create rushing lanes for you.

The Rams’ offensive line was mediocre at best. This unit didn’t carve out enough space for Gurley. Also, the passing game struggled throughout the entire season. Both Case Keenum and rookie quarterback Jared Goff lined up under center for the Rams in 2016, but neither performed well.

Goff couldn’t win a game for Los Angeles and threw for 1,089 yards to go along with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Keenum only racked up 2,201 passing yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. To make matters worse, Los Angeles’ receivers and tight ends couldn’t get open and struggled with drops.

Kenny Britt was the best receiver on this team in 2016, catching 68 passes for 1,002 yards and five touchdowns. Opposing defenses knew the Rams wanted run the ball with Gurley, so teams keyed in on Los Angeles’ rushing attack.

The Rams need to surround him with talented players. Because of Gurley’s sophomore slump and the offense’s lack of production, Los Angeles fired Fisher after five seasons with the franchise. The Rams went 31-45-1 during Fisher’s tenure with the team.

Now that they hired Washington’s former offensive coordinator Sean McVay to be the team’s new head coach, fans can expect Gurley to return to his old form.

Washington had the third-ranked offense in league last season. It also had the second-ranked pass offense. The 31-year-old head coach can come in and galvanize the Rams’ pass offense.  That is great news for the 22-year-old running back because a successful pass game will take a lot of pressure off of him.

Gurley should be back in vintage form in 2017.

Whoever Gets the Ball Last Will Win Super Bowl LI

Kaleel Weatherly

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Monday January 30, 2017

super bowl 51Super Bowl LI is now set. The Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots to battle for the NFL’s richest prize, a Super Bowl victory. While both teams have high-octane offenses, this game will come down to which team gets the ball last.

Atlanta’s offense, led by quarterback Matt Ryan, has been lethal throughout the entire regular season and postseason. For example, the Falcons had the third-ranked pass offense and the fifth-ranked rushing offense in the regular season. This team can light up the scoreboard with ease.

The 31-year-old quarterback is the favorite to win the NFL’s Most Valuable Player of the Year Award. He threw for 4,944 yards to go along with 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions in the regular season.

However, Ryan has an outstanding supporting cast. Julio Jones is considered one of the best receivers in the NFL. He possesses a combination of superb route-running skills, size, and speed. In 2016, he hauled in 83 passes for 1,409 yards and six touchdowns.

For the most part, Ryan always looked in Jones’ direction when the team needed a big play. It’s clear that Jones is Ryan’s go-to receiver. Atlanta’s rushing attack, led by running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, is dangerous as well.

Freeman and Coleman combined for 1,581 rushing yards and 19 rushing touchdowns in 2016. They both have a rare blend of power, speed, and agility.

Indeed, New England’s defense has done a great job of limiting big plays and creating turnovers. But there are too many weapons on the Falcons’ offense to take account for. The Patriots are only surrendering 16.5 points per game in the postseason. But they haven’t played a team who has an offense like Atlanta.

New England defeated the Houston Texans and the Pittsburgh Steelers to reach Super Bowl LI. Houston’s defense is what got that team to the postseason. Pittsburgh has a great offense, but it does not have as many game-changers like the Falcons.

The Patriots will have a tough time containing Atlanta’s offense. But the Falcons’ defense will also struggle against New England’s offense. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gets better as the years go on.

After serving a four-game suspension due to his involvement in DeflateGate, the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback returned to the field and dominated. New England went 11-1 with Brady under center this season.

This year, Brady has thrived with receivers like Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell. When tight end Rob Gronkowski went down with a season-ending ruptured disk injury, many thought New England’s offense would suffer.

Well, it didn’t. New England had a top-five offense in 2016, and Brady threw for 3,554 yards, 28, touchdowns, and two interceptions. Along with Brady’s strong play, running back LeGarrette Blount ran for 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns.

Atlanta had the 25th-ranked defense in 2016, but this unit has been playing well in the postseason. However, the Falcons’ secondary is inexperienced, and Brady will look to take advantage of that.

Both teams are great on offense, and Super Bowl LI will be a shootout and a close game. Neither defense will be able to stop the opposing offense from scoring. This means that whichever team gets the ball last in the fourth quarter will win the game.

 

The Capitals – The NHL’s Most Complete Team

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Tuesday January 24, 2017

capsThe Washington Capitals have been the league’s hottest team for nearly a month. A potent offense, strong special teams, and the impenetrable Braden Holtby between the two posts have made the Caps on top of many league analysts’ power rankings. Last night against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Capitals would score six goals and only allow one on a power play.   The goal scoring has been distributed by every line and even with defenseman John Carlson out the defense has remained to stand tall.

Before the season started, the Capitals were stronger on paper and even deeper than the previous season and it’s starting to show. With the addition of former Montreal Canadien Lars Eller, the third line center position was filled by a player that would easily be a first/second liner on most squads around the league. Eller has also shown his value for the Capitals for his penalty-killing ability and sacrifice.

Philip Grubauer, the Caps backup goaltender to Braden Holtby, has fulfilled his role magnificently. Grubauer has gone 9-0-2 this season and has given his team confidence when Holtby needs the night off. With a dynamic duo in the net it is much harder for a team to steal two points away from Washington.

Both special teams have been impressively efficient as well. The penalty killing has been strong, consistent, and clutch in crucial segments of a game. The power play has found its mojo with clean tape-to-tape passes and rocketing shots from everywhere on the ice. As of now, it is very hard to see the power play start to recede when the chemistry between all the players is this synchronized.

Last year’s Vezina winner Braden Holtby has been close to perfect ever since he was chased out of the net weeks earlier. Rebound control, flexible leg pad saves and watching the puck through screens have been executed tremendously by Holtby, getting in his opponent’s heads and frustrating them endlessly. Holtby will be a Vezina candidate again and most likely the favorite to win it if he keeps this performance going.

Last year’s Presidents Trophy winning team ended in yet another disappointing postseason for this snake-bitten D.C franchise. Will this year be different or will it be another premature exit with the Stanley Cup just out of reach? I am a strong believer in this year’s team to go all the way judging by their play over the last month. If they can bring this consistency and momentum into the spring it’s hard to see any team beating them, even those birds from Pennsylvania.

 

Capitals Pummel Habs On Historic Night For Ovechkin

Nick Colletti

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Tuesday January 10. 2017

MONTREAL, QC - JANUARY 09: Washington Capitals Left Wing Alex Ovechkin (8) meeting Washington Capitals Goalie Braden Holtby (70) to celebrate his goal, the fourth of the game making the score 4-1 Capitals during the Washington Capitals versus the Montreal Canadiens game on January 9, 2017, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire)

Hockey history took place last night at the Bell Center in Montreal, the successor of the hallowed Montreal Forum. The Capitals, winners of five straight, skated on enemy ice in hostile territory looking to keep their impressive winning streak alive. The Caps would claim victory and another coveted two points, but it would be Alex Ovechkin who stole the headlines.

The Capitals’ captain scored his 544th NHL goal tying the legendary Maurice “Rocket” Richard’s all time goal record, in Montreal no less. It would be the future Hall of Famer’s 19th regular season goal and now the superstar is only 1 point shy from his 1,000th career point total. But it was an impressive team effort that helped the Caps claim the W in the end.

Nicklas Backstrom got the party started with a dirty goal off a Carey Price rebound in the slot that gave the Capitals the opening tally. No red lights would be ignited until the third period, due to the Capitals impressive defense and Braden Holtby’s exceptional performance in the crease. Unfortunately Holtby would have his shutout streak ended when Tomas Plekanec followed through on a rebound amidst a pile of humanity in the slot. Habs fans erupted and Montreal finally had life, but their momentum would dissipate very quickly.

Evgeny Kuznetsov broke the tie off with a deke past a Montreal defender and then chipped the puck past Price to quiet the Bell Center and their passionate inhabitants. The goal would only be the beginning of an offensive clinic by the road team that prevented the Habs from making any real comeback effort. Kuznetsov would register another point as he aggressively forced a turnover behind Price’s net and gave a beautiful feed to Brett Connelly who beat Price and scored a very valuable insurance goal. The scoring wouldn’t end that night as the man of the hour tied Richard’s career goal record with a Howitzer on the point. Ovechkin is now only 1 point less than a 1,000 and has a chance to earn that last point at home against their fiercest rival in the Pittsburgh Penguins. 4-1 would be the final score for the road squad in what can be a very loud and fierce environment for the visitors. The Capitals have won six straight and look sharp in all facets of the game. The schedule that looms ahead looks daunting, but Caps fans should be confident that their team is starting to play their best game at the right point of the season. Every game is winnable and every playoff game is winnable if they can stick to their game and not compromise it for any opponent.

NFL Week 15 Predictions

Dan O’Brien

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday December 15, 2016

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Los Angeles Rams 9 @ Seattle Seahawks 42

 
Seattle is the sort of team that I hesitate predicting will win. Their performances over the past couple of weeks have been filled with minimal offense and an absent defense in games that the Seahawks from four years ago would not have lost. It’s clear to me that Seattle has problems when Russell Wilson doesn’t perform miracles to get offensive production and when they go away. However, with all of their problems in the past couple of weeks, they’re still atop the NFC West and they are in a much better position than the LA Rams. The LA Rams have a running back that isn’t producing like he was last year and a wide receiver that got a massive contract performing like a massive flop. But not to be outdone, the LA Rams find a way to make a bad situation worse by firing their head coach with three weeks left in the regular season. This shows that the owner and general manager were so tired of seeing despicable losses only matched by atrocious attendance rates at home games that they fired their coach after promising him more money no more than two weeks ago. Seattle has problems, but they can be solved through good coaching in a game with a large audience and a good win to get them on the right track at the right time. Seattle is a dominant team at home and I can’t find any reason that the LA offense should succeed. Their quarterback has started for only a month, their offensive weapons going against Seattle’s defense are the equivalent of bringing a fist to a gun fight, and their head coach just got fired. I see Seattle playing angry and destroying the LA Rams at home to show the league that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

 
Miami Dolphins 24 @ New York Jets 17

 
The Dolphins find themselves in a very peculiar spot as their season is nearing its end. Unlike most seasons where there would be lots of regret for what could have been as well as wondering for when things would be different, the Dolphins have reasons to look up. They are 8-5 and have a good shot at making the playoffs, something that hasn’t been thought of by Dolphins fans in a long time. Their quarterback is injured and will likely be out for the rest of the season, so they’re going to need a lot of help along the way if their playoff dreams are going to turn into reality. Luckily, they face the New York Jets, or as like to call them the New York Mess, and that’s about as much help this late in the season as you’ll get. Divisional games are more competitive and the New York Jets have won some games, but if you need overtime to get a win against San Francisco, I’d say your season is about to expire. New York will play better than usual, but Miami will use its running game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

 
Cleveland Browns 17 @ Buffalo Bills 27

 
These two teams are some of the biggest surprises in the NFL. Buffalo has remained competitive throughout the entire season and surprisingly they have a chance to make the playoffs. The Browns have looked less like a team and more like a cautionary tale, and yet even they can find a way to surprise by remaining winless only weeks from the end of the regular season. Buffalo hasn’t been this optimistic since the 1990’s when they had numerous Super Bowl runs, but no Super Bowl rings. Cleveland hasn’t been this upset since LeBron made his announcement to take his talents to South Beach, but Cleveland might be better served taking this hump of trash called the Browns out to the landfill. In one of the easiest and least surprising picks of this week, I choose Buffalo to keep their hopes alive and well, while the Browns will keep their winless streak alive and haunting.

 
Detroit Lions 17 @ New York Giants 24

 
The Detroit Lions are playing at the New York Giants and both teams are fighting for a lot. Detroit could really use a win here as their schedule gets tough and they’re trying to win the NFC North. That said, the Giants are coming off a dominant win against the Cowboys and don’t plan on losing their hold on a Wild Card spot. If the Lions lose this game, then good performances by the Vikings and/or the Packers could jeopardize their hold on the NFC North title. If the Giants lose this game, then the Buccaneers and Redskins could take the two Wild Card spots and keep the Giants out of the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. This could very easily be a back and forth game where a single play could define who wins this game. The Giants defense should give a recently injured Matt Stafford trouble and I have the Giants winning at home 24-17.

 
Philadelphia Eagles 10 @ Baltimore Ravens 24

 
The Baltimore Ravens are currently flying under the radar, but have shown the ability to play tough in games this season. They won games early on and then lost four in a row to lose the headlines that they were getting. However, they’ve only lost 2 of their last six and those were to Dallas and New England in competitive games. Baltimore is a much better team at home than they are on the road and they have what Philadelphia doesn’t, which is momentum. The Eagles have only won 2 of their last 8 games and are currently on a 4-game losing streak. They are going to go into Baltimore with no playoff spot in sight and have to fight a team that hasn’t lost at home since early October. I think the Ravens will fly high and the Eagles will eat crow as Baltimore plays physical defense, forces mistakes, and stakes a legitimate claim to a playoff spot.

 
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 @ Cincinnati Bengals 17

 
Late in the season is the time of year that Pittsburgh plays some of its best football. Pittsburgh does have concerns, such as maintaining a lead in the AFC North, especially since Cincinnati isn’t a bad team and will try to pull an upset. That said, there are reasons that Pittsburgh should perform well since Big Ben is under center, Le’Veon Bell is running and Antonio Brown is serving as a deep threat. This is the sort of game where Pittsburgh might struggle early on to get some points on the board, but their resilience will lead them to a win as they fight to hold on to the AFC North title.

 
Indianapolis Colts 13 @ Minnesota Vikings 27

 
Indianapolis and Minnesota are both coming into this game to stay relevant in the playoff picture. Indianapolis has Andrew Luck as a reason to be optimistic about the future, but not much else. Minnesota will be at home and Adrian Peterson will be making a much-anticipated return. Everybody is highlighting a major win by the Colts recently as a reason to believe they can make it to the playoffs. Unfortunately, that win was against the Jets and they lost the next week to the Texans. I just don’t see the Colts overcoming the surging Titans and the resurgent Texans to win the AFC South title. I don’t see how they can overcome the tough Minnesota defense with so much on the line. Lastly, I don’t see how they can hold Adrian Peterson who has been waiting on the sidelines for much of this season. Minnesota will be fighting for a win from the first minute and will fight to stay afloat in the NFC North.

 
Green Bay Packers 35 @ Chicago Bears 7

 
Green Bay has been playing surprisingly well over the past three weeks, but they’re going to need keep winning if they’re going to have any chance to win the NFC North. The past three weeks have shown a resurgent Aaron Rodgers and a Green Bay defense that is showing much more promise. That said, they have an easy game this week followed by two difficult games, both against the other NFC North opponents. If Green Bay is to have any hope to overcome Minnesota, let alone overcome Detroit for the NFC North title, they need to win this gimme of a game. Green Bay has players who have played in tough situations like this and I anticipate they go into Chicago and make a statement about their season not being over.

 
Tennessee Titans 17 @ Kansas City Chiefs 31

 
This game should be very interesting to watch, as Tennessee is fighting to win the AFC South and Kansas City is nipping at Oakland’s heels for the AFC West. Tennessee is much better than people are accustomed to, with Marcus Mariota showing promise in his second year and DeMarco Murray being one of the best rushers that no one is talking about. However, if there’s one team that is not getting recognized for how well it’s performing, it’s Kansas City. They have won consistently and have won a large percentage of games from the last year and a half. I would even go so far to say that I believe Kansas City is the third best team in all of the NFL so far, behind only New England and Dallas. Tennessee and its weapons will fight hard, but Kansas City isn’t an easy place to play and with so much on the line, the Chiefs will rise up to win at home.

 
Jacksonville Jaguars 13 @ Houston Texans 24

 
This AFC South matchup is a game between two teams with very different reputations. The Jaguars have found ways to consistently lose and stay irrelevant this season, while the Texans have found ways to inconsistently win and barely star relevant this season. Houston is not the team it seemed to be early on the season and much of that can be attested to J.J. Watt re-injuring his back. Even with all of their struggles, the Texans are still relevant and can win the AFC South, showing how open the division is as a whole. The Jaguars might show some signs of life, but the Texans will be able to bring out the win and keep their playoff chances just barely alive.

 
New Orleans Saints 20 @ Arizona Cardinals 27

 
This matchup on Sunday is a very interesting game as both teams have reasons to be successful, but are having disappointing seasons. The Saints have Drew Brees and Sean Payton, both of whom have had vast amounts of success in the past. Nowadays, both of them are fighting for relevancy in their division, even though they have both been to a Super Bowl. The Cardinals have Carson Palmer, David Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald, but can’t turn those weapons into consistent wins. Both of these teams have their problems, but I see the Saints as the team that end up screwing themselves out of a possible win. Arizona wins a game at home that adds a W to their schedule, but does nothing in regards to playoffs.

 
San Francisco 49ers 13 @ Atlanta Falcons 42

 
The Atlanta Falcons find themselves in a surprising situation, the sort of situation they wouldn’t have expected to be in about a month ago. While they had a sensational start to the season, they go back and forth between winning and losing and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won 5 in a row, tying the Falcons for the NFC South lead. The Falcons have shown some problems over the past month, particularly on defense, but there is no reason that the Falcons should lose this week, especially to the 49ers. The 49ers have been playing so badly that no one’s paying attention to Kaepernick and his protest. The Falcons win a decisive game at home to fight off the surging Buccaneers and remain atop the NFC South for one more week.

 
New England Patriots 31 @ Denver Broncos 17

 
The Denver Broncos are not the team that they were last year and that cannot be understated. The argument can be made that some of the losses they had could have gone the other way and things could have been drastically different. That said, last year’s Denver team didn’t make excuses because they were too busy winning a Super Bowl. Now, it looks as though Denver will be watching the Super Bowl from home instead of playing in it, as they’re 3rd in their division and not playing up to early expectations. New England does have severe problems, such as a slightly injured Tom Brady and an absent Rob Gronkowski. Overall, New England does get challenged by Denver’s defense early on, but produces enough offense to grab the W out of the Mile-High Stadium.

 
Oakland Raiders 27 @ San Diego Chargers 17

 
Like many times this season, San Diego will put up a respectable fight and will keep things relatively close for the first three quarters. Then the 4th quarter officially begins and the Chargers’ chances of winning officially end. San Diego has reasons to be successful in this game, especially since it’s with a divisional rival that has playoff implications on the line. However, San Diego just doesn’t know how to win this season and Oakland has a lot of reasons to win. With the explosive offense that has been creating headlines all season, Oakland will have a fight for three quarters, but pull away late in the game to put another win in their column, bounce back from last week’s loss to the Chiefs, and fight with the Chiefs for the best playoff spot.

 
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 27 @ Dallas Cowboys 24

 
This pick is a very difficult pick to make for various reasons. First, any upset pick is one that is likely to go the other way. Second, it’s difficult to pick the team going against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks in a row. I’m happy I got it right last week with the Giants beating the Cowboys, but the main reason I’m making this pick is because I think Tampa Bay is underrated. This is not to say I think they’ll make a Super Bowl run, but they’re just now getting on people’s radars because of winning 5 games in a row. Dallas has reasons to be successful, but Tampa Bay has momentum and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Cowboys fold under the pressure fighting a tough Tampa Bay team. Tampa Bay will win a very close matchup with Dallas that has Cowboys fans wondering is it too late now to say sorry to Tony Romo and have him start again.

 
Carolina Panthers 20 @ Washington Redskins 31

 
The final game this week is going to be an interesting one due to the ramifications it could have in the NFC playoff picture. If Washington were to win, they keep fighting for a wild card spot and sincerely hope that the Giants or Buccaneers lose in order to create an opening. Carolina has no realistic chance at making it to the playoffs, but if they win, they push Washington further away from a playoff spot. Many people will watch this game and the Redskins of old would have folded under the pressure like they have done for so long. The Redskins would find any way and every way to lose in previous years, but things are different now. I see an ability for the Redskins to win close games that I’m not accustomed to seeing. I think Carolina will fight to win and to try to salvage what is left of this season, but Washington will pull away with a win that makes Cam Newton want to put on his flashiest suit to distract from his flat-lining season.

NFL Week 14 Predictions

Dan O’Brien

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday December 8, 2016

Football: Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott (4) with New York Giants QB Eli Manning (10) after game at AT&T Stadium. Arlington, TX 9/11/2016 CREDIT: Greg Nelson (Photo by Greg Nelson /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) (Set Number: SI541 TK1 )

Oakland Raiders 27 @ Kansas City Chiefs 30

This game could be a match between two very dominant, yet decidedly different offenses. The Oakland offense is the sort of offense that ends up on a lot of highlight reels and gets mentioned daily on radio talk shows. There are explosive players with young faces that light up TV screens through plays that get more talked about than the game itself. These players don’t always make every catch and could use some work on fundamentals, but they sure do know how to make the 80-yard catch that gets shown in every sports highlight reel the next day. The Kansas City offense is much less talked about, but could be just as scary. While the Oakland offense is likely to make mistakes that lead to a 3rd and long catch for a touchdown, the Kansas City offense is likely to be consistently good enough to have multiple 15-play drives down the field to get into the end zone. This game will be thrilling to watch and will play a key part in who wins the division, who gets a wild card spot, and who goes home early. Oakland will look explosive as its young team is one of the best in the AFC and maybe the NFL, but Kansas City plays great at home through good coaching and leadership from Alex Smith to win the home game.

Washington Redskins 24 @ Philadelphia Eagles 17

Washington is a team that has not been talked about much lately, but they have reasons to be successful. In the past, Washington has played like a team with weapons that can match up against tough opponents. However, they have also played like a team that plays down to average opponents and can even lose to bad opponents. This is a key divisional matchup with pride on the line for Philly and a potential playoff spot on the line for Washington. The Eagles have been playing like they forgot how to fly and Washington can win a much-needed game to assist them in their attempt to reach the playoffs in two consecutive years. Philadelphia will play tough at home in a divisional game late in the season, but Washington will find a way to win and keep playoff hopes alive.

Houston Texans 14 @ Indianapolis Colts 31

Indianapolis is a team that can perform well, but hasn’t been playing consistently well enough this season to have a lead in the awful AFC South. However, Indianapolis has leaders on its team like Andrew Luck who can help win tough games, like a late season matchup with a divisional opponent in a meaningful game. This game will play a major part in determining who will win the AFC South and I just can’t see the Texans getting out of their slump to win a game like this. I predict the Colts will follow up their massive routing of the Jets last week with a decisive win to stake their claim to the AFC South title.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 @ Cleveland Browns 10

Cincinnati has legitimate problems when it comes to sustaining success. For the past couple of years, Cincinnati was the team that always had reasons to get into the playoffs with high hopes, but would end up squandering it and wasting an entire year not meeting its true potential. This year has been different, but unfortunately it has gone worse. People aren’t afraid of Cincinnati like they were in years past and this team will play with a chip on its shoulder. The fact that Cincinnati is almost out of the playoff picture and there’s nearly a month left in the regular season is astounding. Cincinnati plays angry and wins against a winless opponent, showing a fire that could have won them close games earlier in the season.

Denver Broncos 23 @ Tennessee Titans 20

Denver is a team that has a very solid record because of strong defensive play and occasionally good play by Trevor Siemian. However, Denver appears to not be playing quite as well as they were earlier in the season. Tennessee is a team that typically is associated with Jacksonville and Cleveland as consistently underperforming year after year. However, Tennessee is showing potential under Marcus Mariota as he is showing growth at a great time in the season. Due to Denver’s strength on defense as well as how much they need to win this game to help get to the playoffs, they will win a surprisingly close, but crucial victory.

Arizona Cardinals 24 @ Miami Dolphins 31

Miami has played decisively good football for the past two months, especially when it comes to home games, as they haven’t lost at home since October 9th. However, their winning streak came to an end last week in a brutal loss going away to Baltimore and some people might lose faith in their ability to win late in the season because of that loss. The Dolphins have reasons to win, whether it be the dominant play at home along with the unusual motivation they have due to the rare opportunity they have to get to the playoffs. Arizona played well last week to beat a Washington team that I predicted would bring the team one win closer to a playoff spot. Arizona showed sparks of life, but I don’t see how Arizona could sustain success to defeat a playoff-motivated Dolphins team that is coming off a brutal loss and looking for revenge.

Chicago Bears 14 @ Detroit Lions 27

Divisional matchups tend to be some of the closest games on a weekly basis, especially when it comes at the end of a season. These games can have a massive impact on who plays in the postseason and who watches it at home, but they always have a more competitive nature than a typical game. Chicago has not had a good season and it doesn’t take John Madden or Jon Gruden watching hours of tape to figure that out. There has been no consistently good quarterback and there isn’t enough talent throughout the rest of the team offset the often-substandard play behind center. Detroit started out the season in surprisingly good fashion, barely edging out Chicago to avoid being worst team in the division. They have come back decisively to gain the division lead from the faltering Vikings, the dysfunctional Packers, and the abysmal Bears. Chicago will put up a better fight than usual, but the Lions have too much momentum with an underappreciated Matthew Stafford to lose and they will start to solidify the divisional title with a win.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 @ Buffalo Bills 21

Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in football in danger of not making the playoffs. This is due to a competitive matchup between them and the Baltimore Ravens atop the AFC North as well as a strong AFC West unlikely to get less than all of the wild card spots and assured of at least one of them. The Steelers have played exceptionally great on offense, so great that their atypically average defense has not held them back. Pittsburgh is a gritty team that knows how to play tough games against divisional opponents, but can play tough against anybody. Ben Roethlisberger is one of the best clutch quarterbacks in the game and knows how to win in the winter unlike most quarterbacks. The Bills will play tough with a wild card spot slowly becoming unattainable due to their inconsistency, but the Steelers under Big Ben will not come up short as they win a crucial game with the playoffs on their mind.

San Diego Chargers 24 @ Carolina Panthers 31

Carolina and San Diego are two teams that are technically still in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, the odds that either one of them make the playoffs are about as realistic as seeing a double rainbow go over a blue moon with a unicorn riding its trail. These two teams are like the innocent kids in a horror movie. It’s not a matter of if they don’t make it, it’s just a matter of when. San Diego has wasted a legitimately decent team that might have been in contention in one of the toughest divisions in football had a couple games gone differently through better 4th quarter play. Carolina had a lot of reasons to look up at the beginning of this season, but now they’re just looking back at the season that could have been a good follow up to a Super Bowl qualifying team last year. This game could be close, with both teams fighting for the technical chance to be in the playoffs, but more realistically for the shreds of dignity they have coming out of this season. San Diego has played good games, but they haven’t figured out how to win close and competitive games and that won’t change this week as they fall to Carolina.

Minnesota Vikings 24 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 3

Minnesota was a team that looked like it could win before the season started and looked like it would dominate based on strong early season play even with injuries to the starting quarterback and running back. However, they have been playing like the Minnesota that they were expected to play like immediately after the injuries happened. They have become a team that relies too much on defense and does not have enough success on offense to match. The past two months have not been good for them as they have lost close games due to a low scoring offense, even as their defense would keep them in most of these games. If Minnesota is to make a legitimate run at the divisional title, they need to win consistently over the next month and a strong showing at Jacksonville will show that they have the potential to do that.

New York Jets 14 @ San Francisco 49ers 20

This game between New York and San Francisco is an interesting matchup because while most teams are thinking about the next month and whether their season will go further than that, the Jets and 49ers are more likely to be thinking about next season. Both teams could be thinking about next season for numerous reasons, whether that be looking towards draft picks or just to try anything to forget this abysmal showing. There are not a lot of positives to say about either one of these teams, but at least with these two facing off, this game could be quite competitive. I was thinking of putting the Jets down as my favorite to win here, but I remembered something I saw when I watched them this past week. I didn’t see players fighting for something, I just saw a bunch of guys trying to get off the field, get a paycheck, and then go home. I don’t see them fighting to win and I don’t see them fighting for their coach, so I’m putting the 49ers to win because I still think there’s a passion for them to want to win based on recent performances.

Atlanta Falcons 35 @ Los Angeles Rams 13

Atlanta is without a doubt one of the top teams in the NFC due to their explosive offensive production that is rarely limited. They had a tough loss by one point to the underrated Kansas City Chiefs, but that should not be held against them. If Atlanta plays to their full potential at the end of the season, they should win the division and might even get a bye if they are able to overcome the Seahawks and Lions. The Los Angeles Rams showed some signs of life early in the season and Jared Goff has had a good game or two, so they have some things to build from next season. That said, there just isn’t enough there to save them from early elimination from playoff contention this season as they will fall to the Falcons who will dominate in a comeback performance.

New Orleans Saints 28 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31

Tampa Bay is a team that people should really start paying attention to because of their performance in the past two months. They’ve won 6 of their last 8 and those two losses came against the Atlanta Falcons and the Oakland Raiders. There are no guarantees that Tampa Bay can sustain this success as teams bring their A-game to the last month of the season. However, if Tampa Bay keeps winning the way they do, then they have a good opportunity to get into the playoffs as a wild card spot. This game will be a close one and will have implications throughout the division and all of the NFC. I see New Orleans putting up a big fight, but I just don’t see them beating the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, especially since they have so much momentum.

Seattle Seahawks 24 @ Green Bay Packers 10

Seattle can be a very difficult team to get a good read on. One week, Russell Wilson will play good enough to look like one of the top quarterbacks in the league. The next week he’ll play as though he’s a rookie 2nd string quarterback who has never played on turf before. This is alarming, but if there are two things that the Seahawks are known for, it’s physical defense and winning close games late in the season. Aaron Rodgers has been playing better than before, though it was hard to get much worse, and Green Bay will show signs of life at home. However, Seattle has too much on the line in this game and will go to Green Bay, pressure Aaron Rodgers into making mistakes, and win this game.

Dallas Cowboys 23 @ New York Giants 24

I have a major upset pick this week and it is that the New York Giants will beat the Dallas Cowboys in a close, yet essential matchup this week. There are many reasons for Dallas to win this game, whether it be the best offensive line in football, the best running back in football, or the best rookie quarterback in football. That said, there are also reasons for New York to win this game. New York has a tough schedule over the next month and has nothing secure when it comes to the playoffs, giving them a lot of incentive to play well. Landon Collins has been exceptional for the New York secondary and Olivier Vernon is playing like the player that New York paid him to be. I predict that Dallas gets some early scores, but New York gets some clutch catches from Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. to keep them close. The New York defensive leaders play their best football, even with Jason Pierre-Paul out, to match their offense and ensure that Dallas doesn’t score any more points as New York edges out Dallas and shows the true potential of their team when everything comes together.

Baltimore Ravens 13 @ New England Patriots 24

Baltimore might be thinking very highly of itself this week based the performance they had last week. They beat a good Dolphins team at home and many might think that Baltimore could win against this New England team because of their recent success. However, Baltimore has only won two road games this season and those both were early in the season against the Browns and Jaguars. New England has problems because of Tom Brady being shaken up and Rob Gronkowski being out the rest of the regular season. That said, New England will likely have some snow, the Ravens have lost of problems with consistency, and are an awful team when it comes to away games. The New England Patriots win a winter game against a physical Ravens team that makes enough mistakes to cost themselves a potential win.

The Plugs w/ Melissa Ferris, Host of “Girl Chat Sports”

img_0363Melissa is based in Las Vegas, NV, but was born & raised in Seattle, WA. She is now the host of “Girl Chat Sports”, which was was founded in January 2015. Aimed at the Female Sports Fan, Girl Chat Sports developed from a personal sports blog to a weekly LIVE interactive Online show. We caught up with Melissa to talk about the NFL, and her Seattle Seahawks after their 40-7 thrashing of the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers last Sunday night. We then asked her why her favorite NBA team is the Chicago Bulls. Melissa talked about the former NBA team Seattle Sonics, now Oklahoma City Thunder, and her fondest memories of the Sonics having grown up in Seattle. Lastly, we touched on what a great fan base Seattle has, and how it feels to have all their teams being successful as of late. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NFL Week 13 Predictions

Dan O’Brien

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday December 1, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 1: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys hands off the ball to teammate Ezekiel Elliott #21 against the Minnesota Vikings during the game on December 1, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Dallas Cowboys 28 @ Minnesota Vikings 13

The unexpected rise of Minnesota has been followed by an unexpected fall. The play that they have had in the past month has been mindboggling in comparison to what they were doing previously. They looked to be one of the conference’s best, but now look like they won’t make it out of the division and into the playoffs. The Vikings still have a great defense, but that’s not getting them through the tough games they have to face every week and I don’t expect this week to be any different. The Dallas Cowboys have been utterly dominant in nearly all of their games, with their one loss coming by a one-point loss to a New York Giants team in week 1. I favor the Cowboys and I just don’t think that Minnesota will be able to solve their problems to win this game or to make it into the playoffs.

Detroit Lions 27 @ New Orleans Saints 20

The Detroit Lions are an interesting team because of how drastically different they are now from early in the season. They started out the season 1-3, even losing to the Chicago Bears, and looked as though they could even compete with the Chicago Bears for the NFC North team to be the quickest to go down south. They have won 6 of their last 7 and they have a very good opportunity to win an NFC North that has been very different from preseason expectations. The Lions have a lot of momentum while the Saints have a lot of inconsistency. Matthew Stafford is playing better than expected and he leads the Lions over the Saints as they fight for a place in the playoffs.

Los Angeles Rams 14 @ New England Patriots 20

Typically, a matchup like this would look exceptionally favorable for the New England Patriots, especially at home. However, there have been some atypical aspects to this season for the New England Patriots, whether it be performing better on the road than at home as well as losing Rob Gronkowski for the season. The New England Patriots at home are no joke and have dominant performances as the winter months arrive, but there are reasons the New England Patriots should take this game more seriously. The Patriots are dealing with no Rob Gronkowski as well as a sub-100% Tom Brady and they very easily could overlook the L.A. Rams who have the potential to play spoiler. The L.A. Rams have some surprisingly good plays and show that they have some long-term potential, but Tom Brady gets a needed win to help the Patriots get a great seed for the playoffs.

Denver Broncos 45 @ Jacksonville Jaguars 10

This game has the makings for an absolute slaughter, since Denver is coming back from a close loss that will be discussed for a long time. The Denver Broncos might not make it into the playoffs, but they will fight in games like this to make sure that doesn’t happen. Denver’s defense will show its true colors with big plays and maybe even a defensive score, showing they can be successful, even with an injured Trevor Siemian sitting out. Expect this Denver team to stake their claim to get in the playoffs, even with two legitimate teams ahead of them in a division with about as many total losses as the Cleveland Browns.

San Francisco 49ers 33 @ Chicago Bears 17

This week is a week with many teams fighting for playoff spots, whether that be in the form of wild card spots or at the top of a division. This game has nothing like that. If this week is a five-star restaurant with all of the competitive games to be watched, this game is the dumpster out back where the remains get dumped. This could be an ugly game since both teams combine for only 3 wins, a feat that would likely have a team stuck in last place in a division, 3rd if they were lucky. Although the Bears could get a slight boost by playing at home, the 49ers have some momentum off a competitive game last week that was decided in the last minutes. I give the 49ers the edge in this competition that resembles a race between a tortoise and a snail, due to it being slow, ugly, and absolutely uncalled for.

Houston Texans 17 @ Green Bay Packers 27

This game would have been very exciting and very different early in the season, since both teams had many reasons to shine early on. However, both of these teams have lost most of their shine and are showing signs of rusting. The Houston Texans have not met early expectations with this season, only having 3 wins in the last 7 weeks, all of which came against weak AFC South opponents. The disappointing play along with the severe injury to JJ Watt are reasons enough to worry, but they have more to worry about with the Titans playing better and the Packers showing signs of life. Aaron Rodgers, even with all of his team’s faults, has been playing better recently and will lead his team to a win to keep his team alive for the playoffs, while the Texans are at risk of being lassoed away from the divisional title.

Kansas City Chiefs 30 @ Atlanta Falcons 27

Like many games this week, this game could really go either way. Both teams here are sensational with great records and this game is an opportunity to get one step closer to a playoff spot. The Atlanta Falcons have one of the most explosive offenses in all of football right now, but their lack of a tough defense is certainly a cause of concern. The Kansas City Chiefs have rarely lost this season and I don’t think that will change with this game. The Atlanta Falcons have a strong performance, but are simply outplayed by the Kansas City Chiefs who are fighting tooth and nail to get out of their division and into the playoffs.

Miami Dolphins 20 @ Baltimore Ravens 13

This game is very interesting to analyze because Miami has a 6-game winning streak, but Baltimore is no joke and going into Baltimore is no cake walk. The Ravens have a great defense that has not gotten the attention it has gotten in previous years because of a lack of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but still has leadership in the form Terrell Suggs. That said, the Ravens do have problems with consistency as well as having powerful weapons winning decisive games. The Dolphins have typically been a team that turns high preseason expectations into a disappointing season, but this season is something different. The Miami Dolphins have momentum and could quite potentially make it out the division in a Wild Card spot. Their running game will help them fight for it as they beat the Ravens in a tough game.

Philadelphia Eagles 16 @ Cincinnati Bengals 7

The Cincinnati Bengals have had a surprising season so far, but in a much more somber and disappointing tone in comparison to the surprising success of other teams. They are playing so badly that only a few wins separate them from the winless Browns. They aren’t playing for a realistic opportunity to get into the playoffs, but rather to not completely disappoint their fan base. The Eagles have not been playing well recently, as Wentz has lost much of the momentum that he had early in the season. Although he started out with high praise through the beginning months of the season, that high praise has turned into low expectations. That said, the Eagles play a physical game and a defensive battle to hold onto whatever shred of hope for a playoff berth they might have.

Buffalo Bills 17 @ Oakland Raiders 31

Oakland has many things going for it going into week 13. They have a five-game win streak, a lead in one of the most competitive divisions in football, and a reasonable expectation to get into the playoffs. Through an explosive offense that is being led by young players, the Oakland Raiders are one of the highlights of the NFL. This week is a great opportunity to show dominance on a sufficient opponent, while making a statement for the entire league to witness. While the Buffalo Bills are fighting for a wild card spot, they haven’t been playing consistent enough against good opponents to appear playoff ready. The Oakland Raiders appear ready for the playoffs and are already on a voyage to win the AFC West. They win this game with lots of home support and begin to be talked about in the same manner as the Patriots and Cowboys have been this season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 @ San Diego Chargers 24

The Buccaneers have had some very good games, even though they have been under the radar and those wins have not gotten a lot of coverage. The last two weeks, they faced both the Seahawks and the Chiefs and won both of those games. This is not to say that the Buccaneers are going to the Super Bowl to go against the Patriots. They probably won’t even make it to the playoffs as they won’t catch up to the Falcons and there is no space for them in a wild card spot. It should be noted that they could get go on a 4-game win streak with a win here, which is a rare sight to Bucs fans, and they will win a close, yet entertaining matchup with San Diego.

New York Giants 20 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 24

New York has been playing great football in the past month and a half, having one of the longest win streaks that they have had in nearly a decade. There has been good defensive play from them so far this season and many Giants fans that were used to close defeats in prior seasons are slowly being accustomed to close wins. Their efforts have not gone unnoticed and they might even be rewarded with a playoff spot if they win enough games in the next month. However, the Pittsburgh Steelers, though they have their problems, are an incredibly difficult opponent at home, especially in December. The Pittsburgh Steelers will squeak out a win and keep playoff hopes in their grasp, while the New York Giants get dealt their first loss and will need to bounce back to get into the playoffs.

Washington Redskins 27 @ Arizona Cardinals 16

The Arizona Cardinals do not appear to be an awful team on paper, as they are 2nd in their division and they are near .500. However, they are 2nd in a division where the only legitimate contender to go to the playoffs and be threatening is the Seattle Seahawks. They also only have four wins and they have all been against the worst teams in the league. Overall, there are many reasons that Cardinals should be disappointed and this game will serve as another reason. The Washington Redskins will come in fighting for a wild card spot and will win against a hopeless Arizona team.

Carolina Panthers 17 @ Seattle Seahawks 20

The Seattle Seahawks are coming back from a tough loss and are going to face a challenging team, all of which seems alarming. That said, there are reasons that Seattle should be excited heading into December. They are atop their division and have no realistic threat of losing that, barring devastating injuries or a strong, but late surge by another team. Last week was disappointing and shocked the league, but Seattle will be at home and this home field advantage is one of the best in the league. Carolina will play to win to fight for relevancy and respect, but Seattle will play to forget last week and a decisive win will do just that.

Indianapolis Colts 30 @ New York Jets 20

The New York Jets are coming off a loss to New England, yet it was much closer than was expected, which is encouraging. However, this is still a team that doesn’t have a franchise quarterback, which is one of the most important things to have in this league, along with 11 players on your side of the field and a turf field to play on. The Indianapolis Colts certainly have their problems, with Andrew Luck not improving steadily as he typically did. However, they have reasons to believe they can make improvements as an organization next year, knowing what is wrong and how to fix it. The New York Jets have a lot to fix and I don’t see them duplicating the toughness and competitiveness that they produced last week against a hated divisional rival.

The Plugs w/ Pro Boxer SETH ‘Killa Bee’ BILLUPS

img_0341This was Seth’s 3rd appearance on the show & it didn’t disappoint! We caught up with Seth to preview his upcoming fight on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at the ABC Sports Complex in Springfield, Virginia. We then touched on some upcoming pro boxing bouts, such as the controversy behind the WBC/WBO Super Lighweight Title fight between rising star Terrance Crawford (29W-0L, 20 KO’s) & John Molina (29W-6L, 23 KO’s), which is on Saturday, December 10 @ Century Link Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. We also touched on Seth’s fellow Philadelphia native & current WBC World Welterweight title holder, Danny Garcia (33W-0L, 19 KO’s), who takes on Keith Thurman (27W-0L, 22 KO’s) on March 4, 2017 for Garcia’s WBC title and Floyd Mayweather’s vacated WBA Super World Welterweight Title . Seth then gave his thoughts about the controversy behind Andre Ward’s victory by unanimous decision over Sergey Kovalev for the Light Heavyweight Title on Nov. 19.   We lastly touched on UFC 206, the main card getting cancelled, & Becker’s issues with how the UFC resolves those problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 6-10 this Wizards Team is Disappointing!

Anthony Fennell

WGMU, Sports Blogger

Thursday December 1, 2016

at Verizon Center on November 28, 2016 in Washington, DC. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

With a much needed win Monday night against the Sacramento Kings in overtime, the Wizards moved their record through the first 16 games at 6-10. Even with the win the team looked sloppy and completely out of sync.

John Wall the leader of the team had a career high in turnovers, the team missed a substantial amount of free throws, especially some key ones down the stretch. Additionally, one things that has also plagued this team has been there underwhelming frontcourt who have under produced on both the defensive and offensive end for most of the year.

For a team that has had a fair amount of success over the last five years and extreme promise for this season it has been disappointing and frustrating thus far to watch this team overall.

At this point in the season, I can’t help but ask, “What has happened to the old, fun and exciting Washington Wizards?!” A team that was great on the defensive end during their playoff runs, played basketball with a unique level of passion, energy, excitement and swagger.

There was a demeanor that they would lock you down defensively and beat you up and down the floor with quick and easy highlight real dunks, layups and three point baskets. Making basketball fun to watch in DC, the Wizards of the past made one be proud to call themselves a Washington Wizards fan.

However, the product that has been given to such a dedicated fan base has been less then tolerable and acceptable. If things don’t improve in the coming weeks, a change in either personnel or management must come about.

Up next for the Wizards are the Oklahoma City Thunder who are led by the absolutely dominant Russell Westbrook, who has been dropping triple doubles at ease. The hope is that the Wizards will steal one on the road tomorrow in OKC.