Sports Outside the Beltway

NY Giants and NY Jets both to open 2010 season at new Meadowlands

New York, New York.

Both the New York Giants and New York Jets wanted to open next season in the new Meadowlands Stadium. Both will.

The NFL said Monday the Giants will play on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 12, and the Jets will host a Monday night game the next day.

Opponents have not been announced; the full league schedule usually is released in early April.

“After extensive discussions with both teams, we have come up with what we believe is a unique approach for celebrating the opening of the new Meadowlands Stadium,” commissioner Roger Goodell said.

The issue became somewhat contentious when the Jets announced on their Web site that a coin toss conducted by the league would determine which team opens the $1.7 billion stadium. The teams split the cost on the replacement for Giants Stadium, which they both called home since 1984.

But the league never confirmed such a decision until Monday, when it said Goodell did flip a coin for which team would play Sunday.

The Giants won.

I expect there to be sore feelings between the franchises but what the heck for? So you didn’t get to play the first game. I’d be more concerned about making the Super Bowl in 2010 if I were the Jets. Something the team hasn’t done in 41 years.


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?


Still waiting- Indianapolis beats NY Jets 30-17

The Jets quest for its first Super Bowl appearance in 41 years is over.

Four-time MVP Peyton Manning threw three touchdown passes and the Indianapolis Colts rallied from an 11-point, first-half deficit to beat the New York Jets 30-17 Sunday in the AFC championship game.Ind-NYJ

The Colts (15-2) are now headed back to Miami for the second time in four years and their fourth Super Bowl in franchise history.

“We talked about being patient against these guys,” Manning said. “We knew it would be a four-quarter game. They have an excellent defense.”


The Colts will face either New Orleans or Minnesota in two weeks.

“It’s very special,” said Manning, MVP when the Colts beat Chicago in the Super Bowl three years ago. “It’s great to win this championship here at home in front of the best fans in the world.”

Fans counted down the final seconds, streamers and confetti hung in the air, flash bulbs popped incessantly and when the official announcement was made, fans roared.

“The guys have always been a very confident bunch and they do a great job of hanging in there,” Caldwell said.

“Peyton had just an outstanding game,” Caldwell said. “He’s one of those guys that can adjust to different situations. … A real champion.”

Manning finished 26 of 39 for 377 yards. He became the first player in league history with seven 300-yard postseason games. That broke a tie with Kurt Warner and Joe Montana.

The Jets’ magical run ended with their first road loss in six games.

New York (11-8) built a 17-6 lead and took advantage of trick plays. But rookie Mark Sanchez and the Jets were shut out in the second half.

“Today wasn’t our day. There’s no question,” Ryan said. “You have to give credit to the Colts. Obviously they’re the cream of the crop right now.”

Caldwell became only the fifth rookie coach to reach the Super Bowl. Only two others — San Francisco’s George Seifert and Don McCafferty, of the Baltimore Colts — have won it.

I watched this game all the way through. The Jets were the team I rooted for when growing up and I was cheering them on today. When the Jets went up 17-6 I became excited but that ended when Manning drove the Colts 80 yards for a touchdown in about a minute’s time just before the first half ended. How were the Jets going to stop this guy?

The Jets defense failed like it has some so often during the team’s history. Now when will the Jets get their fans hopes up again like they did this year? Since Super Bowl III, the team has made it to the AFC Championship game just three times. The Jets always get a lot of attention, because they are out of New of course, but almost always disappoint. I’m 49, and not willing to place any bets that this franchise will go to the Super Bowl again before I die. My hopes have been crushed too often to be optimistic.


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.


Seattle Seahawks to name Pete Carroll head coach

A press conference will announce the hiring at 6 p.m. From ESPN-

The Seattle Seahawks confirmed Monday they have agreed to terms on a contract with Pete Carroll to become their next head coach.Pete Carroll

“We are excited to add Pete as our coach,” said CEO Tod Leiweke in a statement. “He brings a great passion for winning and a positive attitude that is contagious. We now turn our full attention to the hiring process for a general manager.

“Our intended structure is for Pete and the new GM to work in a collaborative capacity on football matters.”

Carroll is jumping ship at USC just in time. The school is facing NCAA sanctions in the not too distant future.

How will Carroll do with the Seahawks? He’s had two chances in the NFL already, with the NY Jets and New England Patriots. Carroll’s combined record over 4 years with those teams was 33-31, hardly spectacular.

I think Carroll is in for a even rougher time in the NFL. It isn’t a for a successful college coach to transition to pro ball. For every Barry Switzer, there’s at least three Steve Spurriers, Rich Brooks, and Bobby Petrinos. Jeffri Chadiha at ESPN pretty much says what I’m thinking also-

What those other coaches eventually learned is that there is a substantial difference between leading grown men and leading boys who are becoming men. Like Carroll, most of those coaches came from places where they had dictatorial power and a gift for nabbing hordes of talented players who could elevate their programs. The NFL is different. It’s easy to suffer through lousy personnel moves that haunt your franchise for years and even easier to end up with players who don’t respect you.

Carroll should know this last fact better than anybody. He never became a top head coach because the perception was that he was too soft. As much as his hypercaffeinated, rah-rah nature excited college kids who gravitated to his affable personality, it had an opposite effect in the league. The players didn’t merely see a players’ coach. They saw a pushover, which is the last thing an NFL head coach can afford to be.

Seattle will still be struggling in 2013 and again looking for a new coach to lead them out of the wilderness.


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.


Arizona releases K Mike Nugent

The return of Neil Rackers made Nugent expendable. From AP-

The Arizona Cardinals have released kicker Mike Nugent and added defensive end Jason Banks to the active roster.


Nugent was signed because Neil Rackers has been bothered by a groin injury. He was released by Tampa Bay on Oct. 5 after he missed two field goals in a 16-13 loss to Washington.

I think it is safe to call Nugent a draft bust. Few kickers get that label, then very few are selected in the 2nd round of the NFL draft(#47 selection 2005 draft by the NY Jets) and go through 3 teams in less than 5 seasons of pro football.


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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