Huddle Up Week Six: 49ers Improve to 5-1; Look Poised For Playoff Berth by Jason King

 In the first six weeks of the NFL season, there have been 31 fourth quarter comebacks, the most through six weeks in NFL history. The 49ers, Falcons, and Patriots all came back from fourth quarter deficits to win games on Sunday.  The Dream Team got off the ropes with a win against the division leading Washington Redskins.  All of that and more in this week’s Huddle Up.  

First, to the game everyone should be talking about.

 In the game of the week, the San Francisco 49ers traveled to Detroit to take on the Lions.  They escaped with a 25-19 win.  That was their third win in the last four weeks in the Eastern Time Zone.  The last team from the West coast, to win three games in four weeks in the East coast, was the 1996 San Francisco 49ers. Continue reading


2011 NFL Season: First Quarter Awards by Lloyd Vance

2011 NFL Draft first overall pick, Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton, has lived-up to expectations and more that is why he is Taking It to the House’s Top Rookie of the First Quarter

NFL’s Best Team

Green Bay Packers –  Don’t give me all that talk about heavy is the head that wears the crown.  I think this year’s Green Bay team is better than last year.  QB Aaron Rodgers is playing at a Tom Brady/Peyton Manning level and he has weapons to spare — so much so that deep-threat receiver James Jones has been an afterthought.  The 4-0 Packers also have one of the NFL best defensive units too as Clay Matthews, BJ Raji, Charles Woodson and company are flying to the ball. Packers numbers through four games are 148 points scored (1st in NFL), 97 points allowed (24.2 per game average), and +6 in turnovers (5th in NFL)

Honorable Mention: Detroit Lions (We knew they would be better after closing 2010 with 4 straight wins, but this team has shown they mean business.  Can’t wait for the their Thanksgiving Showdown with the Packers); Buffalo Bills (3-1 for the upstarts from Western NY), NY Giants (have overcome so many injuries to be tied at top of NFC East), and the Baltimore Ravens (Absolutely dominant on defense and now have a more mature Joe Flacco at quarterback).

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Huddle Up Week 4: Comeback Sunday by Jason King

Although it was only the second Sunday with no division games since 1970, yesterday was filled with quality football and memorable comebacks.  The most fascinating comeback of the day came from Calvin Johnson and the Detroit Lions. 

 Everyone is now officially on the Lions bandwagon.  They overcame a 24-point deficit (the largest deficit overcome in franchise history) to defeat the Dallas Cowboys 34-30.  Tony Romo’s two third quarter pick sixes helped the comeback tremendously, but Matthew Stafford put the team in position to win the game with a gutsy fourth quarter performance.  He was 10 of 17 with 121 yards and 2 touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

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2011 NFL Week 2 Remix by Lloyd Vance

After their comeback 38-35 win over the Oakland Raiders, everyone is talking about the hard-charging undefeated Buffalo Bills (2-0)  and their heady former Harvard quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick

Now that the glitz and glamour of the opening week of the 2011 NFL Season is over, Week 2 brought the league’s standard weekly journey.   And to be honest with you, everyone seemed to be glad that this week’s schedule only had two game-days with 15 games on Sunday and the usual one game match-up on Monday Night Football.

After a Week 1 that had some great performances, including Carolina Panthers rookie Cam Newton demolishing the league’s Rookie Record Book, NFL Universe wasn’t sure if Week 2 could live-up to the hype of opening week.  But to no one’s surprise, Week 2 was even better, in my opinion.  I think not having the “Butterflies” of opening games helped players concentrate on their tasks and it helped in having crisper and closer games. 

There were 9 games where the final score had a margin of 10 points or less, including a thrilling overtime win by the Dallas Cowboys 27-24 over the San Francisco49ers.  Unfortunately there were also four serious blowouts, where the final score margin was greater than 14 points, including a shutout by the Steelers 24-0 over the hapless Seahawks.  The worst of the bunch had be the Detroit Lions’ coming-of-age franchise record 48-3 thrashing of the battered Kansas City Chiefs. Continue reading

Huddle Up Week 2: Tony Romo and the Buffalo Bills Answer the Bell by Jason King

On of the star’s of 2011 NFL Week 2 was Tennessee Titans WR Kenny Britt. So “Huddle Up” and checkout Taking It to the House’s Jason King’s review of Sunday’s action
Huddle Up: An Exciting Sunday of Games
For the first time since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970, there were no division games yesterday.  It didn’t take away from another exciting weekend of football.  There were great games across the board. 
The Super Bowl champs sweating out a 30-23 victory over the must see Carolina Panthers, behind another 400 yard passing performance from Cam Newton.  The upstart Buffalo Bills overcoming a 21-3 halftime deficit to beat the feisty Oakland Raiders 38-35. 
Even the Detroit Lions recording their biggest win in franchise history, beating the Kansas City Chiefs 48-3.  The two “best” games of the weekend also lived up to their billing as the Patriots beat the Chargers 35-21 and the Falcons concussed Mike Vick on their way to a 35-31 victory over the Eagles.  Continue reading

2011 NFC Preview By Matt Lombardo

Last season the Green Bay Packers besieged by injuries mounted a late charge in the regular season to enter the playoffs as the NFC Wild Card and later marched to Dallas where they hoisted the Lombardi Trophy. The Packers toppled NFC favorites Philadelphia, Atlanta and Chicago, who all figure to be contenders in this year’s race, en route to their first Super Bowl Championship since 1996.

The NFC can best be described as a whole, as a conference on the rise. Each division boasts teams that on paper will be much improved from a year ago, and the stalwart favorites all improved in the offseason, be it by making bold additions or simply by taking advantage of the continuity necessary to build on early this season after a lockout wiped away all offseason activities.

Here is a division by division look at the NFC entering the 2011 season. Continue reading

Huddle Up: The Year of the Lions? By Jason King

 The Detroit Lions haven’t been to the playoffs since 1999.  Since then all three of Detroit ’s other professional teams have won championships. We have seen two United States Presidents since the Lions last played into January.  The average price for a gallon of gas was $1.13 in 1999.  I don’t want to go as far as saying hell will freeze over before the Lions get to the playoffs again, but I’m sure it feels that way to Lions fans.The Lions won the NFL championship in 1957.  In the 54 years since then,  Detroit has been to the playoffs only nine times.  The Arizona Cardinals own the longest drought in the NFL, not winning a championship in 64 years.  Still, the Lions are one of only four teams never to appear in a Super Bowl.  The other three are: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Cleveland Browns.

Few fans have suffered like Lions fans.

This could be the year their fortunes change.  The NFC is stacked.  Seven teams won 10 or more games and 14 of the 16 teams in the conference won at least six games last year. The Lions were 6-10 and won their last 4 games.  They gained a lot of momentum at the end of last season and seemed to buy into what Jim Schwartz was teaching.  It looks like the Lions could be ready to take that next step.

They looked razor sharp in their preseason rout of the Cincinnati Bengals 34-3.  Matthew Stafford looked healthy as he led the Lions to touchdowns on his only two series.  He was 6-7 with 71 yards and 2 TD passes.  The 26-yard TD pass to Calvin Johnson made Lions fans everywhere feel good.  Johnson ran an out route and Stafford threw a pin-point pass right at the pylon where only Johnson could catch it.  If they stay healthy this could be one of the most dynamic quarterback/wide receiver combinations in the NFL over the next 10 years.

The defense is a work in progress.  They looked good in the game against the Bengals, even intercepting rookie QB Andy Dalton on his first pass attempt.  Once again, they were playing the Bengals, nonetheless they looked impressive.

It’s only one preseason game but if the Lions can overcome some early injuries (DT Nick Fairley, RB Michael Leshoure, and LT Jeff Backus being the most prominent) and address their issues in the defensive secondary they could compete in a tough NFC.  One thing is for sure, the Lions are finally headed in the right direction.

Huddle Up

1. Cam Newton could make a big impact on the Carolina Panthers franchise:  The ovation Newton got when he came in the game was astounding for a preseason game.  Panthers fans are excited to see what Newton can do.  It will be interesting to see what effect he will have on that community.  He looked pretty good in the game.  He made some good throws and already looks like he has the respect of his teammates.

 2. The Bears don’t play by the same rules as everybody else.  They apparently didn’t get the memo that the new kickoff rules state that ALL kickoffs are at the 35.  They disregarded this and kicked their first two kickoffs from the 30.  Roger Godell please fine them heavily, especially since this was a premeditated act of disobedience.

3. Mario Williams needs time to adjust to his new role.  Slow up before calling him the next DeMarcus Ware.  Wade Phillips will have that defense a lot better than it was last year.  He got off to a good start, as they set a franchise preseason record with seven sacks in their preseason opener against the Jets. How quickly Williams finds his place could be a key to the Texans season.

4. The 49ers need a quarterback.  Jim Harbough must have been kicking himself watching the 49ers preseason opener on Friday night.  He probably thought “I should have stayed at Stanford because Andrew Luck is 10 times better than any quarterback I have on this roster.”  Seriously, Alex Smith looked horrible and Colin Kaepernick looked worse.  I expect Alex Smith to play better once he learns the system, but that could take a while.  There is hope, as 7 wins could win the NFC West again.

5. The Patriots put up 47 points in a preseason game which is a franchise record.  15 Patriot regulars sat out the game including Tom Brady, Wes Welker, Jerrod Mayo, Albert Haynesworth, and Chad Ochocinco.  Bill Bellichick really is a mad scientist.  He’ll run up the score in the preseason!!!

6. I get the feeling that a lot of teams will regret passing on Ryan Mallett in the April draft.  I don’t know if he will make his mark in New England , but we could look back at this draft 15 years from now and say Mallett was the best quarterback.

7.  Boy, the Colts need Peyton Manning to be healthy.  He is the most valuable player to his team PERIOD.  And nobody else is even close.  The Colts not having Manning would be just like the Cavaliers without LeBron James, from first to worst.  They would struggle to win 3 games.  It’s just another reason for Colts fans to be grateful for No. 18.

8.  First preseason games are meaningless.

9.  Greed is ruining college football.  These greedy bastards don’t give a damn about the integrity of student-athletes or collegiate athletics.  All they care about is money.  All we hear about are: scandals, recruiting violations, conference realignment, or adding more meaningless bowl games.  The play on the field is secondary.  Texas A&M president R. Bowen Loftin said, “We’ve made no decision about terminating our relationship with the Big 12.” “This is all about what is best for Texas A&M, along with … visibility for us and our athletes and financial resources. That’s what it’s all about. I think anybody in my shoes would have exactly the same kinds of concerns.”  Key words are “visibility for us…and financial resources.”  Now we hear about the scandal at the University of Miami .  The landscape in college sports has to change.

10.  Its only one game, but the new kickoff rule is going to change the NFL.  Yes it will prevent scary injuries seen in recent years on kickoffs, but it will also result in more touchbacks.  Who this helps and hurts most are still to be determined and I think judgments on this matter need to be reserved for a season or two at least.


Jason King is a contributing writer at Taking It to the House and can be reached at