2011 NFL Week 5 Remix by Lloyd Vance

Oakland Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was overcome with emotion as his team, “Just Won One” for the late Al Davis.  The Raiders defeated the Houston Texans 25-20 in a bittersweet win

(Philadelphia, Pa) — The 2nd quarter of the NFL season began with a wild weekend filled with upsets, furious finishes, unbelievable comebacks, teams rising, teams falling toward the “parity” packed middle, downtrodden teams (1 or fewer wins) slipping toward preparing for the 2012 NFL Draft and further distinctions between contenders and pretenders.  As hard as it is to believe the NFL season is moving closer to being half over.  But the important thing for everyone is to enjoy the wackiest and quickest league around while it is lasts.  Week 5 of the 2011 NFL Season should have been titled, “Moving Week”.  Because this is the time of an NFL season where teams start to distinguish themselves as they move towards season-defining November and December games.

I love this time of the year, because separation starts between the good teams, middle of the road teams, bad teams, and wretched teams, that are “Believing in Later”, looking towards the draft in April.  As we get closer to the mid-point of the NFL season boundaries will become clearly defined between these different levels of teams.  That is not to say though that there will be some games where a surprise upset unfolds.  One of the bigger parts of this time in the NFL schedule is that byes (weeks 4-10) are crucial for resting injured players, making personnel moves, and overall reflection for teams to see where they stand post training camp/early season as they prepare for a playoff run or the draft. Continue reading

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Huddle Up Week 1: The Ravens and Texans make an Opening Week Statement By Jason King

There were some intriguing games in Week one of this new NFL season.  Packers/Saints, Lions/Buccaneers, and Cowboys/Jets were all exciting non-divisional games.  The two divisional games of importance were the Colts/Texans and of course Ravens/Steelers.  Neither was close as the Ravens and Texans both handled business respectively.

The Ravens/Steelers rivalry has been one of the NFL’s best over the last four years.  In that time frame no Ravens/Steelers regular season game was decided by more than 4 points.  Yesterday afternoon that changed.  It was clear from the very beginning of the game that the Ravens wanted to make a statement.  They demolished the Steelers 35-7.  Baltimore put their stamp on this win by forcing seven Pittsburgh turnovers.  They also ran all over the “vaunted” Steelers defense piling up 170 yards rushing yards (5.5 YPC).  Joe Flacco was 17-29 with 224 yards passing and 3 touchdowns.  He beat Ben Roethlisberger for the first time in his NFL career.  Flacco needs to thank his defense for that.  Baltimore’s blitzkrieg pressured Big Ben all day long forcing him into five turnovers (3 INT and 2 fumbles lost).  They never letPittsburghget into any rhythm offensively. Baltimoremade a statement loud and clear that the collapse in last season’s playoffs is behind them.  It’s only the first week of the season, but this was a big game psychologically for the Ravens.  Roethlisberger had won seven straight starts against the Ravens, but that run is now over.  The Ravens have to be feeling confident about themselves.  It is still early, but this was a great win for the Ravens.  On the other side, you can bet Mike Tomlin will have his team prepared for next week’s game against the Seahawks. Continue reading

AFC South and AFC West Preview by Jason King

 

The AFC South and AFC West are looking for their first team, other than the Indianapolis Colts, to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl — last time Oakland Raiders in XXXVII.  Right now, you would have to think both divisions are up-for-grabs in 2011, especially with Peyton Manning iffy (neck) for the start of  the 2011 NFL regular season.

AFC South Preview

 The AFC South belongs to the Indianapolis Colts.  Since the division was created in 2002, the Colts have won 7 division titles (2 straight) and the Titans won the other two.  The Colts have been in the playoffs for 9 straight years.  Could the Houston Texans win their first AFC South division title?  Could the Colts be in for their first losing season in 9 years?  Is Chris Johnson the best player in the division?  There are a lot of questions to be answered in the AFC South this season. Continue reading

A Glimpse At The 2011 NFL Season According To A So-Called Expert: Matt Lombardo

The temperatures have plummeted suddenly into the sixties, leaves are beginning to turn and there’s a certain crispness in the air that can only be broken by the perfect spiral of soaring pigskin. That’s right, the greatest time of the year, football season, is upon us again. Despite a 136-day lockout, the excitement around the NFL is at perhaps its highest levels ever.

As the opener draws closer by the minute, the time for me to sit idly by in hopes of avoiding making a Super Bowl prediction is rapidly drawing to a close. Preseason predictions are rarely worth the paper they’re printed on, but in this upside down world of teams sprinting through a nonexistent offseason, the Lombardi Trophy is truly anyone’s game this season.

Some teams have positioned themselves better than others with free agent acquisitions to finish their journey with confetti falling for Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Meanwhile, some teams stood pat in an effort to draw on existing team chemistry to propel them to glory once again. All of these stories, subplots and themes for the upcoming season make for a wild ride for the next six months. Continue reading

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 111510 (Part 2)

In Part 2 of this week’s Taking It to the House NFL Podcast — QB David Garrard’s game-winning Hail Mary Pass to WR Mike Thomas was a total stunner as the Jags defeated the Houston Texans

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast 111510 (Part 2)

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance reviews Week 10 of the 2010 season with host Mark Gray including the Jacksonville Jaguars stunning win over the Houston Texans on a last-second game-winning Hail Mary Pass from QB David Garrard to WR Mike Thomas

Taking It to the House NFL Podcast – Week 9 Preview

 In the NFL Week 9 Preview Podcast — Chargers’ offensive machine quarterback Philip Rivers leading his team against the Houston Texans

 Taking It to the House NFL Podcast – Week 9 Preview

NFL Insider Lloyd Vance and Host Mark Gray give you their “Pick 6” for Week 9 including the San Diego Chargers will be looking to get further back in the AFC West race as they travel to Houston looking for a win against the Texans

Colts’ M*A*S*H Unit Gets Ready for Texans’ Rematch

Former Colts’ reserve running back Mike Hart and the rest of the team’s backups will need to step-up as injuries are mounting in Indy

With an eye on getting “revenge” on the Houston Texans in a crucial Monday Night Football AFC South grudge match at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Indianapolis Colts (4-2) are dealing with a slue of injuries.  Right now it is “Next Man Up” time in Indy and superstar quarterback Peyton Manning has to be looking around the team’s lockerroom and saying, “Who are these guys?”

There is no doubt that injuries are a huge part of life in the NFL.  Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles have suffered 6 concussions on their roster in 2010 and the Packers also have resembled a M*A*S*H unit at times – lost franchise RB Ryan Grant in Week 1 and it was downhill from there in terms of injuries.  But after seven weeks of play, the Colts should be crying more about the “injury bug” than probably any other NFL team.

Here is a list of some of the injuries and to say the least many of the players listed were considered core team members when the season started.  TE Dallas Clark (Wrist – I/R), WR Austin Collie (right thumb injury  – 4 to 6 Weeks), RB Joseph Addai (Shoulder – Indefinite), Safety / Special teams co-captain Melvin Bullitt (knee – I/R), safety Bob Sanders (bicep – indefinite), OT Charles Johnson (foot – questionable), LB WR Anthony Gonzalez (ankle – should be back for WK8), RB Donald Brown (hamstring – should be back for WK8), rookie LB Kavell Conner (foot – I/R), and too many others for GM Bill Polian and Caldwell’s liking – had 18 players listed on their Week 5 Injury Report.

And to make matters worse for their in Week 8 game, punter/kickoff specialist Pat McAfee will be serving a team-mandated 1-game suspension resulting from his Oct. 20 arrest on a public intoxication incident. Free agent Jeremy Kapinos, formerly of the Green Bay Packers, will step in this week to do the punting duties and veteran Adam Vinateri will handle the kickoff duties.

Colts’ head coach Jim Caldwell said of the team’s many injuries, “I call it the ‘Gideon Principle’ in this league.” He added, “At some point in time, you get pared down to the absolute bare minimum. So you see who can stand tall and who can function in their present circumstances.”

So far this season, Manning (passing numbers 171-254, 1916 yards, 67.3%, 13 TDs, 2 INTs, and a rating of 103.4) has looked like he is in the running for an NFL-record 5th MVP award.  But now he will need non-household players like TE Jacob Tamme, TE Blair White and RB Mike Hart to help out in the starting line-up.  The Colts’ 2nd teamers will also have to help out wherever the coaches need their services including special teams and filling-in for injured starters.  Even former Pro Bowl safety Antoine Bethea has been called upon to help out on special teams as the Colts need help from everyone.

The Colts will surely be looking to show not only the AFC South, but the entire league that after a bye week, they are ready to put up more of a fight against the surging Texans (4-2).  In Week 1, the Texans out-physicaled the Colts in a dominating home victory — improved to 2-15 all-time vs. Indianapolis.  The breakout star of the game was unheralded, at the time, running back Arian Foster who rushed the ball 33 times for 231 yards and three touchdowns.  Houston out-rushed Indy 257-44, setting a franchise record for most rushing yards in Texans’ franchise history and most rushing yards allowed in Colts’ franchise history.

Texans QB Matt Schaub only had to throw 17 times as Houston dominated up front.  The one bright spot for the Colts from their Week 1 loss was that they were able to move the ball against the Texans’ defense — currently ranked 32nd in the NFL.  Despite poor O-line play at times, penalties, and dropped passes, Indianapolis put up 463 total yards.  And their last three drives of the game showed that they were coming back after being down 20-10 after three quarters. Produced two touchdowns and another drive where WR Pierre Garcon fumbled inside the Texans’ 10.  We will see this time if Manning and his backup crew can overcome the Texans attacking defense – Houston will be without LB DeMeco Ryans (Achilles – I/R) – to get a playoff implication type win. 

Caldwell said of the challenge of playing through so many injuries, “My job is to win, plain and simple… I have to deal with the here and now, what we have to play with. The guys we have, have plenty of talent. We have more than enough to get it done.”

The biggest keys for the Colts, in my opinion, will be their ability to run the ball with Hart and company – ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing at only 94.8 yards per game – and stopping the run on defense (ranked 26th as Indy has allowed an average of 137.3 yards per game).

 

 

Lloyd Vance is a Sr. NFL Writer for Taking It to the House and Sports Journey Network , who is also an award-winning member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)