Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL may change overtime rules for playoffs

No sudden death for sudden death? From AP-

An NFL spokesman said Saturday the league could change its overtime format for playoff games at a meeting next month.

Under the new format, both teams would get the ball at least once unless the first team to get the ball scores a touchdown, Greg Aiello said. If the first team to get the ball makes a field goal and the other team ties the game, action would continue until a team scores again.

Under the current rules, the first team to score wins.

“There have been various concepts that have been discussed in recent years, but this one has never been proposed,” Aiello said.

The competition committee will discuss the new concept with teams and players at league meetings March 21-24 in Orlando, Fla., when it could come to a vote. At least two thirds of the teams would need to agree to the changes for new rules to be adopted.

It is my prediction that the NFL does make some kind of change. Personally, I’m ambivalent on the issue. I believe the statistics show that the teams who lose the toss win slightly more often in regular season games. What the playoff record, I don’t know. Honestly, who says life or sports has to be fair?


Cincinnati Bengals LB Rey Maualuga arrested for DUI

The 2009 2nd round draft pick started 15 games this season. From AP-

Police in northern Kentucky have arrested Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga on charges of drunken and careless driving.

Covington police spokesman Spike Jones says Maualuga hit a parking meter and two parked cars early Friday with his 2003 Pontiac. There was minor damage.

The 23-year-old is being held without bond at Kenton County jail, and no attorney is listed for him.

The Bengals’ 2009 second-round draft choice from Southern Cal started the first 15 games of his rookie season before breaking his left ankle.

What I find interesting in this story is the car, Maualuga was driving. How many recent 2nd round picks drive 7-year-old cars?


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.


January 9th NFL Wildcard playoff game predictions

Did you know the Super Bowl was played on this day in 1977? Two Super Bowl games, III and IX were played on my birthday or January 12th. Now the NFL is just getting around to their postseason on these days.

I stopped making football prognostications early in the 2008 season. Today I will carefully dip my big right toe back into those waters.

New York Jets at the Cincinnati Bengals- My childhood team against the team that because of connections my father had, I got to watch play a Super Bowl.(XVI where San Francisco beat the Bengals 26-21)

Forget that the Jets won 7 of the last 8 times these teams have met. The Bengals were almost always awful at the time of those encounters. The Jet defense is statistically the best in the NFL. Then how come did they only finish 9-7? Because they have a young error prone quarterback. The Jets killed Cincinnati last weekend. The reason- the Bengals had nothing to play for and went through the motions in a stadium they never won in even once.

The Bengals are home this week, and their defense isn’t too shabby either. Jet QB Matt Sanchez will have a rough day(He was a very underwhelming 8 for 16 last weekend) My prediction- Cincinnati 21-10.

Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys- Like the first playoff game this weekend, this is a rematch of a game played last weekend. Dallas defeated Philadelphia 24-0.

Dallas also won the other time these two teams met during the 2009 NFL season. Dallas has a very strong offense, second in total yards for the entire NFL. They also haven’t won a playoff game in 14 years and Coach Wade Phillips is 0-4 in the postseason.

Philadelphia is very opportunistic as seen by their plus 15 turnover ratio, 2nd best in the NFL. Also they are much better than their 6th seeding. If they had beaten Dallas last weekend, they would have received the bye this weekend.

The Eagles have never lost a wildcard game and today will be no different. My prediction- Philadelphia 34-27.


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.


Cincinnati Bengal WR Chris Henry dead at age 26

Update- Henry passed away this morning. RIP.

He has been on injured reserve since breaking a arm in a November 8th game. From ESPN-

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry is “battling for his life” after falling out of the back of a pickup truck Wednesday during what police described as a domestic dispute with his fiancee.Chenry reported Henry was on life support, according to a source.

Henry was found in the road about eight miles north of downtown Charlotte “apparently suffering life-threatening injuries,” according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. Police spokesman Robert Fey said officers were stationed near the 26-year-old Henry’s hospital room. He had no information on Henry’s condition, but said he was alive.

“We ask everyone to pray for Chris,” agent Andy Simms of PlayersRep Sports said in a statement. “We also ask that you respect the privacy of Chris’ family. Chris is indeed battling for his life tonight, and our thoughts and prayers [are] with him during this extremely difficult time.”

Police said a dispute began at a home just before noon and Henry jumped into the bed of the pickup truck as his fiancee — whom they did not identify by name — was driving away from the residence.

This story is very sad. Please do say a prayer for Henry and his family.


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.


Cincinnati Bengals sign RB Larry Johnson

His off the field problems have led to him being suspended twice in the last year. From ESPN-

Former Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson signed a one-year contract Tuesday morning with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Because NFL veteran contracts are guaranteed at the start of the regular season, Johnson will collect $4 million from the Chiefs and earn an additional $255,290 from the Bengals, the veteran minimum for the remainder of this season.

Money was not an issue for Johnson to sign with the Bengals. It was the opportunity to continue playing this season that convinced him to sign.

Absolutely money was not an issue with Johnson. As a sign it wasn’t, I expect Johnson to cut me a check for the $255,290 before the end of November.


Tipped- Denver Broncos beat Cincinnati 12-7 on miracle play

The hapless Bengals can’t ever get a break. From AP-

Brandon Stokley caught the deflected pass, turned and looked upfield. Nobody stood between him and the end zone.


In the time it takes to sprint the length of the field, Stokley ran Denver out of a crushing loss and into franchise lore. His 87-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left on Sunday provided a 12-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, who are going to need a long time to recover from this one.


Down to desperation, Orton threw a sideline pass that was nearly intercepted. The next play was a throw to the other sideline for Brandon Marshall, who was blanketed. Cornerback Leon Hall cut in front, went up for the ball and tipped it into the air.

The carom went to Stokley, who couldn’t believe his luck as he headed for the end zone, running sideways a few steps to kill time before finally crossing in.

Here’s the Youtube video of the play. One of the announcers compares it to John Mackey’s catch in Super Bowl V.

Unbelievable is right.


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