Thursday, January 27, 2011


As the confetti and streamers fell down for Auburn at the University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 10, it marked the end of the season but there were still two undefeated teams in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivison--Auburn and TCU.

The National Championship Game itself was good, but who is to say that TCU could not hang with Auburn or Oregon?

Sadly, with the way that college football is currently, we may never find out unless a non-automatic qualifier starts in the top ten of the preseason polls, goes undefeated, and is at least one of two undefeated teams at the end of the regular season.

The Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) does not use a playoff to determine its champion much like the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Although another game was added in 2006, there can still be a small possibility of split national champions in the major polls.

The best way to combat this is a 16- or, most preferably, a 32-team playoff. So here are some simple solutions to make this work.

1. Include every conference

- How can you determine a champion without opening access to all 11 FBS conference champions? Many people think a playoff regardless of conference affiliation is the best thing, but isn't that the same as denying the non-AQ's in the current format? In this way, conferences like the Sun Belt would have the opportunity to play for a national title, something which is impossible for them now. 2010 TEAMS THAT FIT THE CRITERIA (11 teams): Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, UConn, Wisconsin, UCF, Miami (Ohio), TCU, Oregon, Auburn, FIU, Nevada.

2. The final regular season Top 25 of the BCS, AP, and Coaches polls are in

-Have you ever heard of a team in the top 25 missing the NCAA basketball tournament? I don't think so. This is why a playoff 32 teams is perfect, because the tournament would still have the quality, yet not be too watered down. REMAINING 2010 TEAMS THAT FIT THE CRITERIA (18 teams): Stanford, Ohio St., Oklahoma, Arkansas, Michigan St., Boise St., LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma St., Alabama, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Utah, South Carolina, Mississippi St., West Virginia, Florida St., Hawaii

3. Filling out the bracket (if necessary)

-This is where if you are a bubble team you are sweating bullets. You have to hope that a double-digit win team gets included if they didn't meet the first two standards. Maybe you include a conference co-champ, or the top teams from the BCS not already selected to the tournament. I'd pick Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh, and Troy for their performances in 2010, but a committee can finish the puzzle.

4. Location, location, location

-Now that the 32-team filled is set, the fun part begins for the venues. The first round should be played at the highest seed's house, but after that, they should play the game at the most prestigious bowls. The top five (Cotton, Fiesta, Orange, Rose, Sugar) will have an even chance at their spots in a five-year span with two hosting quarterfinals, two more hosting the semifinals, and the winning bid hosting the title game. The other 10 bowls will have a permanent spot. VENUES: Sun, Capital One get the last two quarterfinal spots. Alamo, Chick-fil-A, Gator, Holiday, Independence, Liberty, Outback, and Pinstripe are second round destinations.

5. Don't forget the bowl games!

-Although this note is about making a playoff in college football, people (like myself) still love bowl games. The remaining teams over .500 that were not selected for the tournament will get to play in the remaining 19 bowl games. They won't advance if they win but it still keeps a tradition alive. Think of it as the college football version of the NIT.

There you have it. A great solution to the system we have now.

It may not be perfect, but it keeps the integrity and rivalries intact, while finding a clear cut champion.

As Auburn quarterback Cam Newton took in the experience of winning a national championship...

Non-AQ teams like Boise State and TCU wonder will they ever get the chance to do the same.

Thursday, January 20, 2011



Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Jets

ANALYSIS: Both teams survived close games against their bitter rivals last week, but Pittsburgh needed to come from behind to win against Baltimore. Ben Roethlisberger passed for 226 yards and two touchdowns as he now heads to his fourth AFC Championship Game. The Steeler defense must continue the momentum they had last week in the second half. If they can do this, their "stairway to seven" could become a reality.

It has not been pretty for the Jets, but they sure will take another win in the playoffs. New York did not let up against the Patriots and finally defeated their biggest tormentors on their to their second straight trip to the AFC Championship Game. Mark Sanchez's three passing touchdowns last week made him the first player to beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in a postseason. Can he add Big Ben to his mantel?

PREDICTION: Steelers 24, Jets 21

KEY MATCHUP: The Steelers' defense vs. The Jets' defense (If you thought last week's Ravens/Steelers game had a lot of defense, then how about a game with two of the top three defenses in the NFL? To quote Bart Scott, "Can't wait!")


Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

ANALYSIS: Two things can be said about the Bears after last week's game against Seattle. 1) The Bears' defense is dominant and 2) Jay Cutler seems like he becoming more trustworthy. Cutler torched the Seahawks for 274 yards and two touchdowns as the Bears dominated from start to finish. Can the Bears continue to shuffle to Dallas?

Brett who? Aaron Rodgers is making Packer fans a little less worried about the future of their franchise by continuing to show up and show out in big games. Rodgers threw for 366 yards and three touchdowns in Green Bay's rout of Atlanta last week. It also does not hurt when Tramon Williams has three key interceptions in the playoffs either. All the Packers need to do is beat their hated rivals to get one step closer in bringing a title back to Titletown.

PREDICTION: Packers 27, Bears 24

KEY MATCHUP: Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler (Both QB's are playing lights out football right now so it will come down to who wants it more. Although Cutler has Matt Forte, Rodgers has the better set of receivers and that will be the difference.)

Friday, January 14, 2011


Merriam-Webster defines the phoenix as a bird that "burned itself to ashes on a pyre, and rose alive from the ashes to live another period." After a season that saw him come from hell and back, it is safe to say Michael Vick can be compared to the mythical bird.

This season, Vick reached career highs in passing yards, touchdowns, and quarterback rating en route to being named as a starter to the Pro Bowl and winning the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.

Michael Vick rebuilt his fan base in just three short years with performances such accounting for six touchdowns on Monday Night Football against the Washington Redskins on Nov. 15 and engineering the Miracle at the New Meadowlands on Dec. 19.

Yet, there will forever be people that oppose the re-existence of Vick in the NFL or even society.

A former Facebook "friend" of mine commented on one of my statuses saying "I would love to see him seriously's disturbing to see how many people still support a piece of shit like that."

Fox News correspondent Tucker Carlson went one forward and said in December that Vick should have been executed for killing dogs.

Now granted, as I have said before, killing dogs is immoral and inhumane, but does it warrant the execution of one's life?

One word: No.

The man did his time and he deserves a chance to walk in a straight and narrow path. Whatever Vick did, let God handle that. Plain and simple. Man is not perfect.


People make mistakes, but they learn from them.

So far, Vick is heading back to the popularity where he was at before his jail sentence, but this offseason will be the toughest test.

One social mess-up could ruin this comeback story and it nearly happened last year with a club shooting during a birthday party in his honor.

However, having faced the lowest of lows, one can only hope that this instance is a minor hiccup. Vick is finally reaching all of his potential as an NFL quarterback and if he continues his progression, we could be seeing him hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy one day.

After going to jail in 2007, chances looked bleak on if Michael Vick would be a starter and the face of an NFL franchise again.

However, after a marvelous 2010 season. Vick has given supporters and Eagles fans hope for the future.

Thursday, January 13, 2011



1. New England Patriots

2. Atlanta Falcons

3. Pittsburgh Steelers

4. Chicago Bears

5. Baltimore Ravens

6. Green Bay Packers

7. New York Jets

8. Seattle Seahawks


New England Patriots vs. New York Jets

ANALYSIS: No Moss? No problem! Tom Brady still put up great numbers while throwing to a diminutive group of receivers and two rookie tight ends. The fact that Brady only has four interceptions and has not thrown a pick in nearly three months is even more eye-popping. On the other side of the ball, the Patriots recorded 38 takeaways and led the league with 25 interceptions. With a turnover differential of +28, it is easy to see why the Patriots are considered favorites in this year's playoffs.

As Rex Ryan stated, it's personal. Well, after a 45-3 beatdown on Monday Night Football on Dec. 6, I would sure hope so. The good thing for Ryan and the Jets is that they won their last "it's personal" game, a 17-16 thriller against the Colts. Mark Sanchez must continue to practice ball control and limit New England's possessions, much like he did against the Colts.

PREDICTION: Patriots 24, Jets 14

KEY MATCHUP: Tom Brady vs. Mark Sanchez (Let's put aside The Hoodie, Rex, and Revis Island for a minute. Brady is going to get his, so it is imperative that Sanchez keeps the Patriot offense on the sideline. If he does that, he will be the first quarterback to beat Brady and Peyton Manning in the same postseason.)

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens

ANALYSIS: For the people that thought Ben Roethlisberger's suspension would make the Pittsburgh Steelers struggle early, well they were wrong. At 12-4, the Steelers held off the Ravens and won the AFC North. They did it in the typical Pittsburgh way: the best scoring defense, the best run defense, and a commitment to ball-control offense. Roethlisberger only threw five interceptions in 12 games while the Steelers allowed teams to reach the 100-yard plateau twice.

The Baltimore Ravens started slow against Kansas City in the Wild Card Round, but their defense unnerved the young Chiefs squad late en route to a 30-7 win. Ed Reed overcame the disappearance of his brother to deliver one of the best hits of the 2010 season on Dexter McCluster. The Ravens will need more of those hits and then some, because it is a heavyweight fight when these two teams collide.

PREDICTION: Steelers 14, Ravens 10

KEY MATCHUP: The Steelers' defense vs. The Ravens' defense (As always, defense is key here. Whichever defense can limit the big plays of the other team's offense will win this game. Simple.)


Atlanta Falcons vs. Green Bay Packers

ANALYSIS: When at home, Matt Ryan is as close to unbeatable as you can get. So it is only fitting that the Atlanta Falcons would have home-field advantage through the NFC portion of the playoffs. Ryan does not fold under pressure either, he engineered five fourth-quarter comebacks and six game game-winning drives this season. Also having weapons such as Michael Turner, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez do not hurt either.

The Green Bay Packers are not your typical No. 6 seed, just ask Michael Vick. The Packers hit him often and hit him hard. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were in control throughout most of the the game, relying on little used rookie James Starks. Green Bay must do a better job on containing the pass against Ryan though. Giving up 292 yards like they did against Philadelphia will not cut it.

PREDICTION: Falcons 27, Packers 24

KEY MATCHUP: Matt Ryan vs. Aaron Rodgers (Both quarterbacks are the future of the NFL, so which one performs better will win this game.)

Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks

ANALYSIS: The Bears are finally back in the playoffs, and you have to thank their defense for putting them there. Chicago's defense ranks ninth overall and second against the run, and big free agent acquisition Julius Peppers showed why the Bears got him. Peppers recorded eight sacks, tying him for the team lead. If Jay Cutler can limit the mistakes, we could see the Bears in the NFC Championship Game.

One down, three to go. The Seattle Seahawks delivered the shot heard around the world (and a tremor felt away from Seattle) when they upset the the New Orleans Saints on Wildcard Weekend. Marshawn Lynch broke nine tackles on his way to clinching the game, but doing so on the Bears' run defense will be even tougher. Seattle has two things going for them: 1) they beat Chicago in Soldier Field on Oct. 17 and 2) Jay Cutler's inconsistency -- and that may be just enough.

PREDICTION: Seattle 17, Chicago 16

KEY MATCHUP: Good Jay Cutler vs. Bad Jay Cutler (Ok, not really a matchup, but hear me out. If Cutler performs well, the Bears will avoid the upset. However, if he does not, all bets are off and we could see a 7-9 team hosting the NFC Championship Game.)

Friday, January 7, 2011


It looks like in Andrew Luck's case, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Luck stunned the sports world on Jan. 6 by passing up on the NFL Draft in order to get his architectural design degree.

What did he pass up?

Well, the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, a lot of possible guaranteed money, and the opportunity to finish his college career on a high note, but this is not your typical athlete and Stanford is not your typical college.

Luck excelled on and off the field at Stratford High School and was named co-valedictorian of his senior class. Then he went to Stanford, which ranks third in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and is doing the same on the gridiron and the classroom.

Is he taking a risk for staying in school?

Yes, but you cannot knock a kid for wanting to continue getting his education either.

This decision however, will be seen as good or bad depending on the following college football season and his NFL career. There are two great examples, one for each side.

The good? Peyton Manning chose to forgo the 1997 NFL Draft to stay at Tennessee. He did not win the Heisman or the National Championship, but he was the No. 1 pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. In 13 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, he has started every game, was named MVP four times, and won Super Bowl XLI.

The bad? Matt Leinart passed on the 2005 NFL Draft in order to give USC another title, and if it was not for Vince Young's epic drive in the Rose Bowl, USC would have won again. The move proved costly for Leinart, he slipped to the No. 10 pick in 2006, never became a starter at Arizona, and was released and became a backup for the Houston Texans this year.

On the field, this decision will be judged, especially if Luck does not have any luck with his professional career. However, regardless of what the decision would have been, he still would have made the right decision off the field. Stay committed to your education so you can have something to fall back upon.

As the axe helmet stickers show, Luck has been the cutting edge of all college QB's this season.

Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh have brought Stanford from
Pac-10 doormat to title contenders in a short amount of time.
However, can Luck still perform well in Harbaugh's departure to
the NFL?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011



1. New England Patriots
2. Atlanta Falcons
3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Philadelphia Eagles
5. Indianapolis Colts
6. New Orleans Saints
7. Baltimore Ravens
8. Chicago Bears
9. Green Bay Packers
10. New York Jets
11. Kansas City Chiefs
12. Seattle Seahawks


Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets

ANALYSIS: Some things are always bound to happen, one of those things is Peyton Manning playing in January for the playoffs. For the ninth straight year, the Colts are in the postseason, but this is the first year that they have not won 12 games since 2002. Through his team's struggles and injuries, Peyton Manning is having another good season with 4700 passing yards and 33 touchdowns for the league's fourth-best offense.

The Jets must once again try to stop this offense, a task that outspoken coach Rex Ryan relishes. New York's third-ranked defense might have faltered down the stretch, but it performs best in must-win games. In order the unit to be effective, Mark Sanchez must manage the game well and put a 58.6 quarterback rating in December behind him.

PREDICTION: Colts 28, Jets 21

KEY MATCHUP: Peyton Manning vs. Rex Ryan (One does things quietly, the other is loud. Quiet Peyton got the best of loud Rex and his defense last year. The question is though, will Peyton and has group of receivers challenge Revis Island?)

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Baltimore Ravens

ANALYSIS: From Kickoff Weekend to now, The Kansas City Chiefs showed everyone that they are a tough team with a bright future. They draw comparisons to the New England Patriots from the early 2000s by forcing timely turnovers and a run-oriented offense to help the quarterback. Jamaal Charles became the first running back since 2007 to run for six yards a carry. Behind the best running game in the NFL, Matt Cassell returned to his 2008 form by throwing 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Playing on the road in January is nothing new to this Ravens squad. This will be the six straight road playoff game since John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco arrived in 2008, and they proved to be up for the challenge. Flacco is looking to be the first quarterback in NFL history to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons. Finally the Ravens have a decent passing game to help the run. Do not forget the defense, however, it is still a top-10 squad.

PREDICTION: Ravens 21, Chiefs 10

KEY MATCHUP: Jamaal Charles vs. Baltimore's run defense (The Ravens defense was not as dominant this year, but it is still stingy. Jamaal Charles will need to use every bit of his speed to reach the 100-yard plateau.)


Seattle Seahawks vs. New Orleans Saints

ANALYSIS: At 7-9, the Seattle Seahawks have made the playoffs. I repeat, at 7-9, the Seattle Seahawks have MADE the playoffs. If you thought all the naysayers had a field day with the 2008 Arizona Cardinals, then imagine what will be thrown at this year's Seahawks. Do not take the record for granted though, a team like Seattle is dangerous if taken lightly. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 3000 yards again, and if healthy, he is still as good as any quarterback in the league.

The New Orleans Saints defeated the Seahawks 34-19 on Nov. 21, but they have been known to play down to weaker opponents this season. Nevertheless, New Orleans still boasts a top-10 offense and a top-5 defense along with being the defending Super Bowl champions. Drew Bress has thrown an interception in 12 straight games, but he still finds ways to distribute the ball. Eight Saints caught at least 30 passes and Brees threw for 4620 yards and 33 touchdowns.

PREDICTION: Saints 31, Seahawks 27

KEY MATCHUP: Seattle's will vs. New Orleans' mentality (This is the ultimate trap game for New Orleans. The Seahawks have nothing to lose as the NFL's first 7-9 playoff team and a team like the Saints can overlook this for the next game. New Orleans must stay focused or they will be upset.)

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Green Bay Packers

ANALYSIS: Out goes Donovan McNabb, in comes Michael Vick. The results stay the same for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick's reincarnation as a better and smarter quarterback fueled the Eagles to a 10-6 record and allowed him to throw for 3000 yards for the first time in his career. Philadelphia has a lot of speed to fly around the field as DeSean Jackson only caught 47 passes but gained 1056 yards, an average of 22.5 yards a catch.

The Green Bay Packers' regular season began with a 27-20 win in Philadelphia and they will be looking to do the same in the playoffs. With Ryan Grant sidelined in the opener, the Packers depended on Aaron Rodgers' arm. Rodgers came within 78 yards from another 4000-yard season, but still managed to throw for 28 touchdowns.

PREDICTION: Eagles 28, Packers 24

KEY MATCHUP: Vick vs. the Green Bay defense (In Week 1, Vick passed for 175 yards and ran for 103 yards in a loss to the Packers. How Green Bay plans to contain him will go a long way to determine who wins this game.)