Sports Outside the Beltway

NFL Draft 2010 – Round 1 #24- Dallas (From Philadelphia through Denver and New England)- WR Dez Bryant writes- Pick Analysis: The Cowboys halt Dez Bryant’s free fall by nabbing him with the 24th selection. Though Bryant has been roundly labeled as a potential character risk, his exceptional talent is undeniable and he gives the Cowboys an all-star caliber pass catcher. With Roy Williams under performing, Bryant could become a key contributor early in his rookie season.


Bryant is an extremely talented receiver that has legitimate downfield speed as well as the ability to adjust to off-target throws. He missed the final 10 games of 2009 for lying to an NCAA investigator and his ability to control and handle the off-field issues that could come up have to be in question. He is extremely competitive to the ball when he is the target but sometimes shows a lackadaisical attitude when on the back side of plays or when asked to block. He needs to be more precise on his route running and not round off his breaks on the hard cuts. He could easily be the first receiver taken off the board if he can impress the personnel people in interviews.


NFL owners pass change to playoff Overtime rules

Why is a playoff game subject to a different set of rules than a regular season game. From ESPN-

The NFL owners voted to change an element in the overtime rule, giving the team that loses the coin toss at the start of overtime to get a possession if the coin-toss winning team scores a field goal with the first possession.

The proposal passed 28-4. As it is written, the rules change applies just for the postseason, but the owners also decided to discuss adopting the changes for the regular season at their next meeting, in May in Dallas.

The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals voted against the proposal.

The competition committee recommended the change in a vote of 6-2, and commissioner Roger Goodell supported the plan. He was able to secure enough votes to get the proposal passed on Tuesday, a day before the expected Wednesday vote.

The reason for the change was the increased accuracy of kickers since 1993. In 1994, the NFL moved kickoffs from the 35 to the 30, which created better field position for the teams that won the coin toss and received the kickoffs.

Statistics examined by the committee showed that since 1994, teams winning the coin toss win the game 59.8 percent of the time. The team that loses the toss wins the game 38.5 percent in that 15-year span.

“We’ve had this discussion for a number of years,” competition committee co-chairman Rich McKay said. “We feel this year’s proposal gave us the opportunity to [install] a pretty good rule. Statistically we felt it needed to be changed. It wasn’t creating the fairest result as far as field goal accuracy, field goal distance and drive starts.”

Under the new rules, both teams will get one possession whoever leads at the end of it is the winner. If both are tied, then whoever scores first wins. Then doesn’t that defeat the new rule, I mean the team that won the toss gets the first 2nd crack at scoring!

The NFL has used the same rule for over 50 years to decide playoff games. No matter how you finesse matters, the stats are never going to come out 50-50. If teams don’t like it being decided by a coin toss, go for two points instead of playing it safe late in the game when the team kicks the tying extra point.


NFL Nose Tackle Jason Ferguson suspended for eight games

This won’t be of help as the Free agent looks to sign with another team. From ESPN-

Free agent Jason Ferguson, a veteran nose tackle most recently with the Miami Dolphins, has been suspended for the first eight games of next season for violating NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello confirmed on Sunday that the discipline was handed down late this week but could offer no further details. Ferguson was also suspended for violating NFL drug policy in 1999, sitting out four games after an anabolic steroid showed up during a urine test.

The player’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, did not return a call Sunday seeking comment.

Ferguson was sidelined with a season-ending quadriceps injury in November and underwent surgery a month later. The 35-year-old had been in on 23 tackles in nine games for the Dolphins last season.

So far as I know, Ferguson wasn’t in the Dolphins plans for 2010. I’m fairly certain that is guaranteed now in light of his suspension. Defensive Tackle or Nose Guard is another position Miami is in need of help at.


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?


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.


Buffalo Bills hire Chan Gailey as head coach

He becomes the third man to lead the team since last September. From ESPN-

The Buffalo Bills have hired former Dallas Cowboys and Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey as their new coach.

The team announced the hiring at a news conference at its facility in Orchard Park, N.Y., Tuesday afternoon.

The Bills were said to be impressed with how Gailey has brought teams to the playoffs with quarterbacks such as Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart and Jay Fiedler. In fact, Bill Cowher — whom the Bills had been courting to replace the fired Dick Jauron — highly recommended Gailey to the Bills.

Cowher planned to make Gailey his assistant head coach/offensive coordinator if he came back. Gailey has coached in four Super Bowls and has had his teams go to the playoffs in 11 of his 15 NFL seasons.

The 58-year-old Gailey fits the profile set by newly hired general manager Buddy Nix, who preferred hiring someone with head-coaching experience. Gailey has run college and pro teams, including a two-year stint as coach of the World League of American Football Birmingham Fire in 1991-92. He also coached Troy State (1983-84) and Samford (1993).

Gailey was coach of the Cowboys in 1998-99, following Barry Switzer, reaching the playoffs in both seasons but failing to win a playoff game. He was dismissed after the 1999 season, and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has acknowledged his mistake in firing Gailey.

He went 44-33 at Georgia Tech from 2002 through 2007 and led the Yellow Jackets to a bowl game in all six seasons at the helm. But he went 0-6 against rival Georgia and he was fired after finishing 7-5 in his final season.

Gailey has extensive pro and college head coaching experience, and was offensive coordinator of both Kansas City and Miami in the NFL during the last ten years. Will he be successful in Buffalo? I won’t hazard a guess, but just say that the Bills are in need of a great deal of rebuilding.


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 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.


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