Sports Outside the Beltway

Baltimore Ravens acquire WR Donte Stallworth

He didn’t play a down in the NFL during 2009 because of his being suspended by the NFL. From AP-

The Baltimore Ravens say they have signed wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth to a one-year contract.

Stallworth was recently released by the Cleveland Browns after being reinstated by the NFL following a one-year suspension. He was suspended for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy for a DUI vehicular manslaughter charge.

Stallworth served 30 days in a Miami jail for striking and killing a Miami construction worker with his car while driving under the influence of alcohol.

I thought the sentence was a travesty of justice at the time it happened and still believe so. Stallworth got special treatment because he is a pro athlete. If I had killed someone while DUI, my sentence would involve years in jail.

From strictly a football point of view, the Stallworth signing is a good move by Baltimore.


NFL considering mandatory echocardiograms

The NBA has required this test for its players since 2006. From ESPN-

Between the time of Bears defensive end Gaines Adams’ death last Sunday to his funeral Friday, the NFL’s Cardiovascular Committee began discussing the possibility of subjecting all players to a heart scan called an echocardiogram, starting with potential draft picks invited to the NFL scouting combine next month.

NFLPA medical director Thomas Mayer told ESPN that the medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Adams stated the enlarged heart that led to his death could have been detected by an echocardiogram.

But, as Mayer pointed out, the process is complicated.

Is the fear of legal liability going to influence a doctor? Are cardiologists going to agree on whether a player has an enlarged heart or an athlete’s heart? Does that mean he’s systematically finished as a football player?

More likely, a questionable echocardiogram could lead to more sensitive tests, such as a cardio catheter procedure.

As a person who had major cardiac surgery less than 18 months ago, I see mandatory electrocardiograms as a good idea. Putting the policy into place will be complicated, but it shouldn’t be used as a reason not to do this. My heart condition, a bicuspid heart valve and ascending aortic aneurysm was very serious, and till as little as two weeks prior to my operation, nobody knew I had those conditions. Some heart problems in addition to a enlarged hearts, show few or little warning signs.

I would also add that a large amount if not majority of NFL players, are grossly overweight. Heart testing is for their own good.


NFL Divisional playoff predictions

I was 1-3 last weekend. Maybe I should invest in a new crystal ball.

Arizona at New Orleans- A 3-game losing streak to close the season makes the Saints look vulnerable. I got to go with the team I chose to go to the Super Bowl. Arizona 41, New Orleans 35

New York Jets at San Diego- The Jets with their rookie Quarterback play their second playoff game with him under center. The Jets have only been to one Super Bowl, number three where led by Joe Namath they upset the Baltimore Colts. No upset will happen this year. San Diego 28, Jets 17.

Baltimore at Indianapolis- Baltimore has a good defense but Peyton Manning will prove too much for it. Indianapolis 27, Baltimore 17.

Dallas at Minnesota- Wade Phillips finally notched a playoff victory last weekend. The Cowboys got their first post season victory in 14 years. The Vikings are trying to ride 40-year-old Bret Favre’s back to the Super Bowl. Father time will lose tomorrow. Dallas 24, Minnesota 20.


January 10th NFL Wildcard playoff game predictions

My predictions were way off yesterday. So I have re-calibrated my crystal ball and are ready to do some football prognosticating again.

Baltimore at New England- Yet again another regular season rematch. The Patriots beat the Ravens on week four, 27-21.

The big news in the buildup to this game, was the year ending knee injury Wes Welker suffered during last Sunday’s season finale. The loss of the Conference’s most prolific wide receiver is certainly a blow to New England.

But it’s one I think they will overcome. Baltimore will double cover Patriots WR Randy Moss but Tom Brady will use his other targets to move the football down the field. My prediction- New England wins 27-17.

Green Bay at Arizona- These two teams met one week ago, with the Packers winning 41-16 in Arizona.

The Packers have also won 6 of the last 7 times these teams have met. This is essentially a show of two high performing quarterbacks, Green Bay’s Andre Rodgers(4,434 yards and 103.2 passing rating) versus Arizona QB Kurt Warner who has a lifetime 98.99 post season passing rating.

The basis for why I pick Arizona to win 38-34

1 Green Bay isn’t at home where they almost always have the advantage at playoff time
2 Arizona hasn’t lost two games in a row all
3 I chose Arizona to make it to the Super Bowl.

Let’s see if I get at least one prediction right this weekend.


AFC and NFC playoff picture rundown

Someone got their abacos out and did all the playoff calculations. Here they are-

Baltimore, the Jets, Denver, Pittsburgh and Houston can also make the playoffs if they tie this week with various other things happening. Jacksonville and Miami cannot make the playoffs with a tie.


Baltimore clinches a playoff spot:
1) BAL win

NY Jets clinch a playoff spot:
1) NYJ win

Denver clinches a playoff spot:
1) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
3) DEN win + NYJ loss or tie + HOU win
4) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + PIT loss or tie
5) DEN win + BAL loss or tie + HOU win
6) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss
7) PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
8.) PIT loss + BAL loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
9) PIT loss + HOU loss + JAC loss + NYJ loss
10) MIA loss or tie + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie


Pittsburgh clinches a playoff spot:
1) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + NYJ loss or tie
2) PIT win + HOU loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
3) PIT win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Houston clinches a playoff spot:
1) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + BAL loss or tie
2) HOU win + NYJ loss or tie + DEN loss or tie
3) HOU win + BAL loss or tie + DEN loss or tie

Jacksonville clinches a playoff spot:
1) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + HOU loss
2) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + DEN loss + NYJ loss
3) JAC win + PIT loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
4) JAC win + PIT loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + NYJ loss
5) JAC win + NYJ loss + DEN loss + HOU loss + BAL loss

Miami clinches a playoff spot:
1) MIA win + NYJ loss + BAL loss + HOU loss + JAC loss or tie

Unlike the AFC, the NFC playoff picture is pretty clear. All that needs to be determined is seeding and who will win the Eastern Division.


New Orleans — South division and a first-round bye.
Minnesota — North division.
Arizona — West division.
Philadelphia — playoff spot.
Green Bay — playoff spot.
Dallas — playoff spot.

Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Carolina, Atlanta, San Francisco, NY Giants.

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage:
1) NO win or tie
2) MIN loss or tie

New Orleans clinches home-field advantage.

Minnesota clinches home-field advantage:

1) MIN win + NO loss

Minnesota clinches a first-round bye:
1) MIN win or tie
2) PHI loss or tie

1) MIN win + PHI loss or tie
2) MIN tie + PHI loss


Arizona clinches a first-round bye:
1) ARI win + MIN loss + PHI loss

Philadelphia clinches East division:
1) PHI win or tie

Philadelphia clinches a first-round bye:
1) PHI win + MIN loss

1) PHI win
2) PHI tie + MIN loss or tie

Dallas clinches East division:
1) DAL win

Dallas clinches a first-round bye:
1) DAL win + MIN loss + ARI loss or tie

In the AFC I predict the Ravens and Broncos to make it.


Get out your slide rules- AFC Wild Card picture time

Yesterday I expressed disbelief that some how the Miami Dolphins could some how still be in the playoff picture after their loss to Houston made them 7-8. Before I write anything more, I’ll break down how the AFC stands at this moment.sliderule

Division Champions that receive first round byes- Indianapolis 14-1, San Diego 12-3
Division Champions- New England 10-5, Cincinnati 10-5. As of this moment the Patriots are the #3 seed.
Out of the playoff picture entirely- Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee

While those five teams can not make the post season, more than one of them can play the part of spoiler this weekend.

Wild card contenders- Denver, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers all at 8-7. Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-8.

Next week’s games involving wild card contenders

Bengals at Jets
Chiefs at Broncos
Ravens at Raiders
Texans at Patriots
Steelers at Dolphins
Jaguars at Browns

Remarkably not one AFC playoff contender is playing an out of conference team to finish the 2009 schedule. San Diego who has clinched a playoff spot and Tennessee who is out of the picture are both playing NFC teams next weekend.

Last night before going to bed I scoured ESPN and South Florida media websites looking for an article with an AFC playoff picture explanation. None were available.

This morning the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and ESPN all had articles up on the playoff picute. Not surprisingly the Post and Herald focused on Miami. ESPN just summarized how the standings are at this moment and projected the first round of the playoffs as if play ended today.(The Jets and Broncos would qualify) What a lot of good that is.Cray X1E

Maybe ESPN didn’t have enough bandwith free to post all the possible playoff scenarios. Perhaps they needed a Cray super computer to do the calculations, or even if they had one available the power drain of using it threatened to blackout the entire Northeast.(ESPN is based out of Conecticut.)

Bottom line so far as I am concerned The Miami Dolphins are alive but their chances are slim and the New York Jets are in control of their own destiny.

For Miami to make the post season all of the following needs to take place-

Bengals beat the Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars
Dolphins beat Steelers

Neither the Herald or Post made mention of Denver. Therefore I assume whether Denver wins or loses next Sunday, it has no impact on Miami’s playoff chances.

All of which could plausibly happen. The Raiders or Browns winning would be considered upsets. Right now I have as much confidence in those teams winning as I do in Miami beating Pittsburgh.

Like ESPN, I won’t list all the playoff scenarios. I don’t think OTB’s owner James Joyner would appreciate me crashing his website and I’ve been kicked off one blog already this year.


Snow delays kickoffs of Ravens-Bears and Eagles-49ers games

What’s a little bit or a lot of snow when there is a important football game to be played? From ESPN-

Kickoff for the Ravens game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday was moved to 4:15 p.m., because of a snowstorm expected to hit Baltimore this weekend.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning in Baltimore, predicting snow accumulations of 10 to 20 inches. They expect it to begin snowing late Friday and continue through early Sunday morning.

The NFL approved the change on Friday after the City of Baltimore recommended the move, according to the Ravens’ Web site. The game was originally scheduled for 1 p.m.

Safety concerns was the reason given for the time change. I guess that is meant for the fans, not the players. Snow falling while a professional football game is taking place is hardly unique.

Update- Another NFL game has been postponed. The Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers will be kicking off late in the afternoon also.

The revised article brought up an issue I hadn’t thought of. That two NFL teams had to fly into the snow packed Northeast. The Chicago Bears original flight to Baltimore, scheduled for Friday night, was canceled.


NFL changes return to play concussion rules

Nearly 1/5th of NFL players surveyed said they hidden or downplayed the effects of a concussion. From AP-

NFL teams now have new, stricter instructions for when players should be allowed to return to games or practices after head injuries, guidelines that go into effect this week.

In the latest step by the league to address a hot-button issue, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to the 32 clubs Wednesday saying a player who gets a concussion should not return to action on the same day if he shows certain signs or symptoms.

Those include an inability to remember assignments or plays, a gap in memory, persistent dizziness and persistent headaches.

The old standard, established in 2007, said a player should not be allowed to return to the same game if he lost consciousness.

Wednesday’s memo also says players “are to be encouraged to be candid with team medical staffs and fully disclose any signs or symptoms that may be associated with a concussion.”

The new guidelines sound good in practice(I think they were overdue. A player not able to think clearly has no business being on a football field.) but I doubt they will be adhered to. Coaches are under pressure to win and most NFL players aren’t inclined to challenge these people who have authority over them. A person is also more likely to press on and shrug off any ill feelings they have. I know I have for maladies large and small, including a slight concussion I suffered six years ago after an auto accident.


Cleveland Brown QB Brady Quinn fined by NFL

No, it wasn’t for lousy play. From ESPN-

Browns quarterback Brady Quinn has been fined by the NFL for his chop block on Baltimore’s Terrell Suggs.Browns lose to Baltimore Ravens, 16-0

A league source tells ESPN’s Michael Smith that an MRI exam showed Suggs suffered a severe MCL sprain from Quinn’s chop block on Monday night. There is no definitive timetable for Suggs’ return, but he is expected to miss at least the next couple weeks, the source said.

Quinn said he received a letter from the league on Wednesday but would not disclose the size of his fine, saying only that it was “a good amount.” Quinn insists he was not trying to hurt Suggs and has apologized to him and the Ravens.

The Ravens were fuming over the hit, during the Ravens’ 16-0 win on Monday night, as it could cost Suggs significant playing time while Baltimore attempts to remain in playoff contention.

IMHO, the Ravens are justified in being angry about Quinn’s block. It was a chop block and he deserves to be fined for it.

I think you will agree with me when I say- This has been a flat out awful year for the Cleveland Browns.


Shooting blanks- Baltimore Ravens beat Cleveland 16-0

Would you believe this was the defensively Baltimore’s first shutout since 2006. From AP-

For 30 minutes, the Ravens were inefficient, unproductive and disorganized.Ravens Browns Football

In 17 seconds, they changed all that.

Ray Rice scored on a 13-yard run on Baltimore’s first possession of the third quarter and safety Dawan Landry returned an interception of Quinn 48 yards for a touchdown on Cleveland’s next play as the Ravens overcame a horrendous start and routed the lowly Browns.

Baltimore’s second PAT attempt was blocked. They scored a field goal later in the game.

The Browns continue to be a horrendous offensive team. They have scored SIX offensive touchdowns over their last 15 games. Whether it’s Derek Anderson of the sub-40 passer rating or the hugely disappointing Brady Quinn(Don’t Cam Cameron look like a genius now for passing on Quinn in 2007), Cleveland can’t do anything offensively. The team is 1-8 so far for 2009 and any prediction for two wins at year end is looking overly optimistic.


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