2011 NFL Week 3 Remix by Lloyd Vance

The Baltimore Ravens (2-1) look to be back near the top of the AFC and rookie WR Torrey Smith was one of the stars from  Week 3 of the 2011 NFL Season

As the calendar changes to autumn, the NFL moves closer to the first quarter marker of the 2011 NFL season.  Week 3, which I dubbed “Separation Sunday”, definitely helped continue the 12-week process of sorting out which teams are contenders and pretenders before November and December’s playoff push.   T

One thing is apparent, no one in their right mind could have predicted the wacky start to this season.  Week 3 had an NFL record 9 games that were decided by 3 points or less.  The capricious world of the NFL was never more on display than this week as the Buffalo Bills coming off a  4-12 season impressively beat the New England Patriots 34-31 in Orchard Park, NY.  The win ended the Patriots’ 15-game regular-season winning streak over their AFC East rival.  The Bills also became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games after trailing by 18 points or more.  Unbelievably the Bills were the last team to win in 2010, but this is a whole different season. Continue reading

Steelers remain unbeaten without Big Ben after beating Titans

The Steelers (safety Troy Polamalu pictured) continued to show that they are not a one-man gang as they outworked the Titans in a 19-11 win to stay unbeaten

When the NFL announced that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was going to suspended for the first 4 games of the 2010 season, there were a ton of people that immediately predicted demise for the league’s cornerstone franchise.  Well everyone that hit the panic button, you better re-think your thoughts on the Steelers.  With Big Ben only 2 games away, the Steelers have re-emerged as the surprise leader of the AFC North at a perfect 2-0, after a solid thumping of the Tennessee Titans 19-11.

Despite losing backup starter QB Dennis Dixon (left knee injury) in the second quarter, the Steelers stayed the course and played tough blue collar football all-day (ran the ball and played tough D).  Right from the start, the Steelers established themselves against the Titans.  Rookie receiver Antonio Brown scored on an 89-yard kickoff return to open the game, and that play proved to be a catalyst as the Steelers forced seven turnovers (3 INTs and 4 fumble recoveries) on their way to victory.

The seven turnovers were the most allowed by the Titans since 2000 and the Steelers also added four sacks as quarterback Vince Young (7-for-10 for 66 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs and a one fumble lost) was under duress during his time on the field.  After a strong Week 1, V.Y was befuddled and never got in rhythm before Titans head coach Jeff Fisher said he had seen enough and sent in veteran Kerry Collins after Young had his 3rd turnover.

The Steelers defense – ranked in the Top 5 against the run every year since 2004 –also shutdown Tennessee running back Chris Johnson.  Pittsburgh stopped CJ2K’s 100-yard rushing streak at 12 games and the 2009 NFL’s rushing champ finished with just 16 carries for 34 yards — longest carry of the day was 11 yards.  It was the third time the Steelers have held Johnson to less than 100 yards.  In CJ’s defense, he did have an electrifying 75-yard + touchdown run called back on a weak holding penalty.

For most of the game the Steelers were content to protect backup quarterback Charlie Batch – expect the team to bring back QB Byron Leftwich who was cut earlier — by running last week’s hero RB Rashard Mendenhall (69 yards on 23 carries) and letting the Titans turn the ball over.  The player of the game for the Steelers had to be former Defensive MVP LB James Harrison, who had three sacks, forced a fumble and recovered one too.  Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said of the win, “You come into a hostile environment versus good people it’s going to require a lot. We were far from perfect today but the guys really hung together and gave an outstanding effort”. 

The charismatic head coach added, “We made enough plays in enough areas to get out of there. I like what the team is doing in terms of working together, fighting the adversity and uplifting each other.”  Tennessee did try to make it interesting at the end of the game by scoring a late touchdown — 58 seconds left in game – and a two-point conversion plus recovering an onside kick.  But in the end, the Steelers stayed tough and finished the job.

Next up the Big Ben-less Steelers are the surprisingly undefeated Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-0) in a game where someone’s “0” has got to go.  Other 2-0 teams after two weeks of play are the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Green Bay Packers, and Miami Dolphins.

  

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)

A Glimpse at the 2009 NFL Season according to a so-called expert

Troy_Polamalu

Taking It to the House’s Lloyd Vance is predicting a big year for Safety Troy Polamalu (Defensive MVP pick) and the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers

Once again it is time for me to get out my crystal ball and see if I can prognosticate the upcoming NFL season. As all of my friends can attest to, I have never been totally right or wrong and I have never gotten the Super Bowl match-up or champion completely right.

The 2008 NFL season was evidence that in the league’s almost 90-year history that nothing is predictable. I am still looking for the person that could have predicted events like the long downtrodden Arizona Cardinals going to the Super Bowl led by retread quarterback Kurt Warner, New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady getting hurt on the first series of the Pats’ first game of the season and rookie quarterbacks Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) and Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons) leading their respective teams to the playoffs. 

Maybe this year I will be the envy of my doubters — Big V, I am specifically talking to you.  However you know I will probably have to eat some crow later this season from the predictions that I am about to make.

My annual reading of the NFL’s tea leaves is all in good fun, so with the season almost ready to kickoff –Thursday September 10th with the defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers hosting the Tennessee Titans — we can all rejoice and say “Hallelujah” as the 2009 NFL Season is finally here.

NFC

NFC East

New York Giants 11-5

Philadelphia Eagles 10-6

Dallas Cowboys 8-8

Washington Redskins 6-10

NFC North

Chicago Bears 10-6

Minnesota Vikings 10-6

Green Bay Packers 7-9

Detroit Lions 3-13

NFC South

New Orleans Saints 10-6

Atlanta Falcons 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10

Carolina Panthers 5-11

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals 11-5

SF 49ers 9-7

Seattle Seahawks 6-10

St. Louis Rams 5-11

Division Champions: Cardinals (Bye), Giants (Bye), Saints, Bears

NFC Wild Cards: Eagles, Vikings

AFC

AFC East

New England Patriots 12-4

Buffalo Bills 9-7

Miami Dolphins 7-9

New York Jets 6-10

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers 12-4

Baltimore Ravens   10-6

Cincinnati Bengals   6-10

Cleveland Browns   4-12

AFC South

Houston Texans 11-5

Indianapolis Colts 10-6

Tennessee Titans 8-8

Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

AFC West

San Diego Chargers 11-5

Denver Broncos 8-8

Oakland Raiders 7-9

Kansas City Chiefs 4-12

Division Champions: Patriots (Bye), Steelers (Bye), Chargers, Texans

AFC Wild Cards: Colts, Ravens 

Playoffs

AFC Wild Card Round: Colts over Chargers, Texans over Ravens

NFC Wild Card Round: Eagles over Bears, Vikings over Saints

AFC Divisional Round: Patriots over Colts, Steelers over Texans

NFC Divisional Round: Giants over Eagles, Vikings over Cardinals

NFC Championship: Giants over Vikings

AFC Championship: Steelers over Patriots

Super Bowl XLIV:   Steelers over Giants

Awards

NFL Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Offensive MVP: Minnesota Vikings Running back Adrian Peterson

NFL Defensive MVP: Pittsburgh Steelers Safety Troy Polamalu,

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year:  Minnesota Vikings WR/KR Percy Harvin

**Also keep an eye on Denver Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno and Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Miami Dolphins Cornerback Vontae Davis

** Also keep an eye on Houston Texans LB Brian Cushing and Washington Redskins DE/LB Brian Orakpo

NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Pittsburgh Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall

** Also keep an eye on Jacksonville Jaguars WR Tory Holt

NFL Breakout Player:  Pittsburgh Steelers LB Lawrence Timmons

First Pick of the 2010 NFL Draft: Florida DE Carlos Dunlap

 

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

Are We Talking About Hair ???

(Philadelphia, Pa) — Apparently the upcoming NFL Owners’ Meetings in West Palm, Florida will resemble many American households from the 1960’s as hair length and style take center stage.  The Kansas City Chiefs have put forth before the owners a proposed rule that would require players to wear their hair in a way (“tuck” it) so that it doesn’t obscure the name plate on the backs of their jerseys.

Sure they are saying that it is a safety issue and that they are not telling players to “cut” their hair due to CBA language that forbids such edicts –The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA expressly prohibits the imposition of discipline based on facial hair or hair length… ACLU would be on the phone quicker than lightning. 

But you cannot tell me that the “Father Knows Best -esque” bureaucratic NFL does not want to rein players in that look unsightly in their opinion.  The NFL is running a VERY dangerous course by forcing player appearance, they already dictate everything with uniforms down to towel length and socks not being pulled up so apparently “hair” is the next step.  I will be interested to see what will happen if the rule passes and a respected veteran like Steelers safety Troy Troy Polamalu doesn’t want to “tuck” his hair.

I personally really don’t care how many tattoos a player has or if his hair is down to his waist.  The key matter in player evaluation is whether the guy can bring the “wood” on the field or not.  I like that some guys have the unusual “forget image” attitude that they are willing to express themselves in a sport where uniformity has gotten out of control.  Plus as Dolphins running back Ricky Williams learn if you play with long hair, it is okay for an opponent to use it against you.

It will take 24 positive votes from the 32 franchises for the measure to pass and if it does look for some fun “barber” fireworks come training camp time.