Inside Pulse » Mark Sanchez A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:03:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Mark Sanchez Tattoos & Touchdowns [Podcast]: New York Goes Tebowing (NY Jets, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, NFL) Tue, 27 Mar 2012 12:00:42 +0000 With Peyton in Denver, Timmy T is on bended knee in… NY?×120.jpg

]]> 0 With Peyton in Denver, Timmy T is on bended knee in... NY? With Peyton in Denver, Timmy T is on bended knee in... NY? Inside Pulse no 28:33
In Stores Now: McFarlane SportsPicks NFL Elite Series 2 Thu, 28 Jul 2011 13:44:10 +0000 A lot of new McFarlane Sportspicks have started hitting the stores this week, the first we will take a look at will be NFL Elite Series 2.

-Anquan Boldin (GameStop Exclusive)
-Aaron Rodgers
-Darren McFadden
-Jared Allen (Target Exclusive)
-Maurice Jones-Drew (Toys R Us Exclusive)
-Mark Sanchez
-Troy Polamalu
-Tony Romo

Collector Level:
BRONZE Mark Sanchez (White Pants)
BRONZE Tony Romo (Thanksgiving Day Uniform)
BRONZE Darren McFadden (White Jersey)×120.jpg

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Official Images of McFarlane SportsPicks NFL Elite Series 2 Fri, 29 Apr 2011 15:08:42 +0000 Here are the images of NFL Elite Series 2. The Elite series will only show up at WalMart, GameStop & Toys R Us.

-Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings)
-Anquan Boldin (Baltimore Ravens)
-Maurice Jones-Drew (Jacksonville Jaguars)
-Darren McFadden (Oakland Raiders)
-Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers)
-Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)
-Tony Romo 5 (Dallas Cowboys)
-Mark Sanchez 2 (New York Jets)

Two of the figures will be exclusives, with GameStop getting Boldin, Toys R Us getting Jones-Drew. These are due in stores in June.×120.jpg

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Wild Weekends: Two Champions, But Only One Can Be King Wed, 26 Jan 2011 22:47:05 +0000 The season may end in a warm weather city, but it took a long Sunday in the cold to determine which two would be taking the trip to football’s version of Paradise.

The Green Bay Packers became the first six-seed in the history of the NFC to make it through three road playoff games in route to the Super Bowl. And at who’s expense that final win came from will be a part of the Packer history and lore for years to come. It happened at Soldier Field and against the Bears. After that sentence, if you’re a Packer fan, not much more needs to be written; for Bears fans it’s still too much to take in.

On that note, I do have one message for any Bears fans (NFL players have the right to bitch) who are still planning their version of the assassination of Jay Cutler: if it weren’t for Cutler’s injury, your boys would’ve never been in the game. That is the simple truth of Jay Cutler’s injury that has been hidden behind a mass of speculation, interviews, and twitter messages. The fact is, Jay Cutler did absolutely nothing on Sunday to put the Bears in a position to win the NFC championship, and neither did Todd Collins. And considering third-string option Caleb Hanie was the only guy left, I and the rest of the Packer Backers in Wisconsin thought that the trip to Dallas was signed, sealed, and delivered to Lambeau. Unfortunately Hanie turned in the Brady Performance in the final quarter and a half of the game very nearly completing a comeback for Chicago. Hanie’s big day ended up turning me into a ball of loose nerves for the final seven minutes of the game. Not even B.J. Raji’s INT return touchdown could seal things up or bring me back to a more comfortable state viewing the game.

Look at Hanie’s numbers and then tell me that Cutler would’ve mimicked them if he’d played the whole second half. If you do this with a straight face and actually mean it, not only are you delusional, but I may want to check into your mental state as a concerned citizen. My advice for Cutler would be to focus more on how you played in the first half than that you didn’t play in the second half because that is what you should be really upset about. Forget about the fans Jay, at least when it comes to his situation. Jay Cutler’s was a scenario that once again showed the “no-win” situation that athletes are put in in regards to fan reaction after the fact. I loved Urlacher’s comments about “guys sitting at home” because he was right. Unfortunately, all of the Bears who rightly came out and defended their quarterback shouldn’t have let these comments get to them the way they did. I will give leeway to the fact that they were likely more incensed at losing a shot at the Super Bowl and this was their way of releasing that anger without having to (for a moment anyway) deal with the reality that they won’t be playing in that billion dollar stadium. When it comes to fans and sports, the “guys sitting at home” are always going to bitch and moan about this or that (at least with Golf the fans seem to have the power to officiate the events themselves from home), but that’s because they have no alternative. These people are not actually on the field or playing or even in the stadium, so there’s no possible way that the two perspectives, fan and player, are going to come to a compromise. My way of thinking about Cutler in terms of Sunday’s game is that if he had come back in, the odds were well past 90% that he would either have gotten hurt worse than he was or would continue to struggle helplessly against the Packer D as he had during the first half.

Of course, the Packers didn’t come out of this one completely smelling like roses. The second half, like the first half of their game against Chicago three weeks before, saw Green Bay completely rely on their defense to finish the job as their offense sputtered home. Aaron Rodgers’ interception throw to Urlacher inside the five during the third was not only avoidable, but inexcusable. And then for Rodgers to even make a joking comment about his “tackle” on Urlacher to end the play did get me a bit pissed; not only because it was a terrible play all around, but it wasn’t even a tackle so much as Rodgers slapping Urlacher in the knee and that being enough to trip up Urlacher before he found daylight. That pick was what did in Rodgers on Sunday and Green Bay suffered a much longer and harder second half than was necessary. Up until Urlacher’s pick, the Pack had dominated the game in every way possible—running, passing, punting, defense, ball control, you name it. After the pick, Chicago had life. If Rodgers takes the sack and Green Bay settles for a field-goal, it’s a three score game and Chicago may have collectively given up hope. And even though they didn’t do anything with the turnover, the fact that they forced it and where they forced it, meant that they weren’t done yet.

Kudos to Packer punter Tim Masthay for his booming punts—including a sixty-five yarder—that neutralized Devin Hester to the tune of only 16 yards on punt returns for the game. And, more importantly, not once did Hester even have a chance to break one of his returns open for a potential big return or score. That in itself gave Green Bay an edge during the course of the game and should’ve earned Masthay a congratulations from everyone on special-teams.

The build to the game almost ended up topping the game itself. You see I am a Wisconsin native and still live in Wisconsin, and this was it as far as the states of Wisconsin and Illinois were concerned for the week leading up to the game. It was more than a spectacle or an event, it was something almost indescribable. It had the feel of a Super Bowl without being the Super Bowl. And when consider the historical significance of this game itself—two most storied teams in NFL history battling for a spot in the Super Bowl, the longest and best rivalry in NFL history, the two teams with the most championships in NFL history, nearly fifty hall-of-famers between the two, and they were meeting in the post-season for only the second time ever—it might as well have been the Super Bowl in Wisconsin and Illinois. The whole week was an unbearable countdown that seemed to never end. I work at a gas station off of I-43 that goes into Illinois, and the entire week was nothing but Packers & Bears merchandise, “Go Pack!” chants, and general talk about the game. From the perspective of Packer fans during game week, the most important question was who we were going to face in Dallas once we got through with the Bears. Yes we were a confident bunch during those days of waiting, but Packer fans have a right to be confident these days. It’s not just what they’ll be playing for in less than two weeks, but just with how the season has gone for Green Bay: injuries piled on top of each other, concussions to Rodgers, a rushing attack that was never seen as the answer to the problem of replacing Ryan Grant for the season, and all those close losses. And yet, here they stand, one win away from immortality, one more win and the trophy that bears the name of the most famous Packer coach will be theirs once again.

There was another game Sunday and it had its own intrigue to it. Ben Roethlisberger and his Steelers won their third AFC title in six years and Big Ben is primed to take his place alongside Manning and Brady as the best QB’s in the game; a win in Dallas would guarantee that standing. It went from suspension to Super Bowl for Big Ben this year, something that nobody realistically believed would happen. And because of that, it was not only fitting, but necessary that Big Ben be the guy to seal the deal for Pittsburgh. And that’s what he did with a roll-out on third and six that netted the final necessary completion to run out the clock. It was quite the gamble as an incompletion would’ve not only given the Jets one more shot (a safe running play would’ve too), but would’ve saved them around forty-five seconds, something crucial when you’re the one battling the clock. It was a moment of redemption for Big Ben who deservedly had to live through two scandals involving the attempted sexual assault of a female that were just under nine months apart. His image took that same turn off the tracks that Tiger Woods’ did for his sexual escapades, but not to the same degree. Quick side note: it’s interesting that Tiger got castrated by the media, sponsors, and fans for his rampant adultery (legal, but morally wrong) and Big Ben gets a much softer treatment by those same people (and I don’t remember any sponsors saying good-bye to him) for two incidents of him nearly raping a woman (not only illegal, but incredibly wrong morally). Anyway, this was a win that Big Ben deserved as a football player, not as a human being. I’ve always believed in the notion that all “the bullshit” leaves the moment the players step onto the field/court/ice. And I am sensitive to a guy legitimately trying to repair his image, as my support of Michael Vick would indicate. Maybe it was the suspension that did the job for Big Ben. Remember, he wasn’t really punished the first time around and while an entire football season passed before the second incident happened, it happened. We’ll have to wait until the off-season to see if Big Ben appears in the headlines for the third straight year for the same deplorable reason. For now it’s going to be two weeks where he is going to hear many questions fashioned around those two incidents as well as his “comeback” from the suspension. He’d better talk straight about everything because being able to face what you’ve done when it’s brought back into your mind after months of not having to hear about it or deal with it would be a real sign that this man isn’t going to be any trouble for his team off the field anymore.

At the beginning of the year, Pittsburgh seemed vulnerable without Big Ben for those first games and there were questions about Pittsburgh’s defense considering its slide last season. As it turns out, Troy Polamalo’s being there was the answer as Pittsburgh’s defense not only recaptured the dominance it had just two seasons ago, but likely surpassed it. And the offense produced without Big Ben and continued to when he came back. Rashard Mendenhall became almost the lynchpin for the offense as his almost workman-like rushing numbers and effectiveness is what took a big chunk out of Big Ben’s load and helped the Steelers become one of the most balanced offenses in football during this past season. It showed in the playoffs as their running built them a lead, and Big Ben’s arm provided the necessary completions to maintain the lead long enough to win.

And as for Mendenhall’s “moment” with Big Ben after one of the final kneel down’s: enough has already been said about it and it was funny to see on T.V., so I’ll just leave it at that.

For the Jets it was a reversal of halves, not a reversal of fortune. This year it was in the first half, not the second, where they gave up 24 unanswered points and sealed their fate.

None of blame should rest on Mark Sanchez’s shoulders. Let’s be honest here: the man played a good game, that’s it. Sanchez wasn’t flashy or remarkable, but he did what he was supposed to do. He didn’t throw an interception and had a passer rating over 100. And the only play that could even be deemed a mistake for Sanchez was William Gay’s fumble return touchdown for Pittsburgh after the ball was knocked out of Sanchez’s hands mid-throw. That shit just happens and I’m not going to fault Sanchez for not avoiding someone he couldn’t see.

The Jets fate may have ended up being in the hands of some higher force, call it fate or destiny or whatever, but when LaDainian Tomlinson couldn’t punch it in on fourth and goal at the Steeler goal-line, it was sealed in stone that the Jets weren’t going to play for the big one this year. There was still half the quarter to play and the Jets managed a safety a few plays later to get the ball back, but if you look back at what led up to that goal-line stand and who had the ball at that all-or-nothing moment, you’ll see that nothing the Jets could’ve done in those final seven and a half minutes would’ve mattered.

The Jets had first and goal at the two—four shots max. to net half as many yards. The play calling on those four plays also showed that maybe the Jets as a whole had finally hit the wall: a run to Greene, a run to L.T., and two passes(!). To be playing against a defense as physical as Pittsburgh’s, to have them backed up against their own end-zone, and to then put the ball in the air couldn’t have seemed dumber to me. I do agree that pushing it up the gut is just as much an uphill battle against this D, but it is the safer play call in that situation with the fourth run up the gut being the charm looking like a more plausible outcome to that series of plays. So, you have two weird calls and then L.T., not Shonn Greene gets the ball on fourth and goal. It was the Jets attempt to create something storybook: the Jets scooped L.T. up when the Chargers made it clear that they didn’t want him anymore, he played very well this season for New York after a few very subpar years in San Diego (and I’m not just talking about stats), so he deserved to be the guy in that position with the ball. I get that, but the reality is that L.T. hasn’t been that guy for years and wasn’t that guy this year. He played very well this year in comparison to his last two in San Diego, but that really was it; he didn’t show any flashes that would make one believe that the L.T. of old was back or that he was going to be of all-pro caliber, so why risk it like that with everything that was on the line for that play?

Finally, I’d like to address one more thing: the generally negative reaction to these two games from some who watched them. This is one mindset that I just don’t get. Were these people expecting two different match-ups than we got on Sunday? It was the Packers vs. the Bears and the Steelers vs. the Jets. These were rematches as both games had already been played at least once during the regular season with Green Bay and Chicago playing twice being in the same division. The Packers lost the first meeting with Chicago on a last-second field goal and aided the Bears with 18 penalties then won the second meeting to clinch a playoff berth on the strength of their defense bashing around Jay Cutler (sound familiar?), and the Jets edged Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh by five—the same margin as Sunday’s game—a little over a month ago. These were going to be wars of attrition and that’s what we got. If you were expecting Cutler and Rodgers to light it up like they did last weekend you were dreaming. If you expected either Big Ben or Sanchez to have a career defining day, you were very unrealistic. It’s almost as if this group of fans completely ignored the hitting power, ability to create takeaways, and overall excellent play of these four defenses entering Sunday. The message was there and those who were able to see it by Saturday night were guaranteed a fun day of hard-hitting football on Sunday. I was one of those people, and I’m not alone in that sentiment.×120.jpg

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McFarlane SportsPicks NFL 2011 Line-Ups Tue, 18 Jan 2011 14:49:34 +0000 It’s that time of year again, time for us to wait with baited breath to find out who will be in next year’s assortments of NFL figures from McFarlane. This year, instead of doing a NFL Legends assortment, McFarlane has decided to add the Legends to the regular NFL assortments, making 5 full waves of figures being released for the 2011/12 season. Not to mention 3 2-packs & 2 full assortments of Playmakers (only one listed).

NFL Elite 2 (June 2011)
-Tony Romo 5
-Mark Sanchez 2
-Troy Polamalu
-Darren McFadden
-Anquan Boldin
-Maurice Jones-Drew
-Jared Allen

NFL 2-pack #20 (July 2011)
-James Harrison & “Mean” Joe Greene 2

NFL 2-pack #21 (July 2011)
-Brian Urlacher 2 & Dick Butkus

NFL PlayMakers 2 (July 2011)
-Peyton Manning
-Adrian Peterson
-Tom Brady
-Ben Roethlisberger
-Eli Manning
-Aaron Rodgers
-LaDainian Tomlinson
-Reggie Bush
-Miles Austin
-Matt Ryan
-Tim Tebow
-Rashard Mendenhall

NFL Series 26 (July 2011)
-Adrian Peterson 4
-Eli Manning 4
-Ray Lewis 3
-Wes Welker
-Brandon Marshall
-Terry Bradshaw
-Jerome Bettis 2 (STL Rams re-paint)

NFL Series 27 (September 2011)
-Tom Brady 4
-Larry Fitzgerald 2
-Miles Austin
-Aaron Rodgers 3
-2011 Draft Pick (TBD)
-Heath Miller
-Eric Dickerson
-Marcus Allen (KC re-paint)

NFL 2-pack #22 (September 2011)
-Terry Bradshaw 2 & Howie Long

NFL Series 28 (November 2011)
-Ben Roethlisberger 3
-Clay Matthews
-Dez Bryant
-Drew Brees 2
-Michael Vick 2
-Andre Johnson
-Barry Sanders 2

NFL Series 29 (January 2012)
-Peyton Manning 6
-Matt Ryan 2
-Philip Rivers
-Ken Stabler
-Troy Polamalu 4
-Tony Romo 6
-Sam Bradford

So there you have it, seems like a good mix of new Players (Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford, Clay Matthews, etc.), big time names (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Ray Lewis, etc.), and a few that seems almost overkill (Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu). McFarlane will have images up soon, and we will be sure to get them up right away!×120.jpg

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NFL Preview: New York Jets Wed, 08 Sep 2010 10:00:45 +0000 For the past 7 months, the New York Jets have been under the microscope, but not because of a solid lineup, not because of riding on the victories of the past season, but because of one man.

Darrelle Revis.

He has had nearly as much press as Brett Favre in this past offseason, and that alone says something. He and Favre had the same “Will he, or won’t he?” angle going, with neither man’s status being certain. The difference? If Favre said no, he might retire. If it were Revis, he would be SWAMPED with offer upon offer. There is probably no team in the NFL today who wouldn’t want a cornerback like Revis at their disposal, as he is one of the best in the game today.

Okay, enough with the hype…time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

That, my friends, is the question: Are the Jets worth all the hype they get? Head coach Rex Ryan has already made the bold prediction that the Jets will be “future champions”, which in itself is a bold prediction, but when you look at the division they play in, it’s an even more ballsy claim. Of course, they share a division with the vaunted New England Patriots, but they also have two teams with plenty of potential in them in Buffalo and Miami. As I have said before, I would keep a close eye on the AFC East division, as it will be one of the more exciting to watch, and the Jets are part of the reason for that.

Revis is obviously the face of the Jets’ defense, but he’s not the only one who opposing offenses need to be cautious of. On the other side, you have Antonio Cromartie, the former San Diego standout. This makes throwing the deep ball against the Jets ill-advised, and it also forces teams to think more about the run. Between these two alone, you have 41 pass deflections, 9 interceptions, and 87 tackles….that adds up to trouble for receivers. You add in Calvin Pace, Bart Scott…and even Jason Taylor is a threat, and he’s used sparingly. In a nutshell, the Jets may have had the best defense in the league, both statistically and on paper…and this year’s not looking much different.

On offense, Mark Sanchez proved he could hang with the big boys in the NFL. In fact, the “Sanchise” is in position to build upon his numbers from last year, now that he is more comfortable and confident in his role, and has a much deeper receiving core. You have Santonio Holmes, whose Super Bowl-winning catch proved he had something: clutch ability. Granted, he’s not an Andre Johnson or a Randy Moss, but he has a knack for making the big play when he needs to. You also have Braylon Edwards, who was a big fish in a little pond in Cleveland. If he can improve on his ability to hang on to the ball (or lack thereof), he could be productive. Then there’s Jerricho Cotchery, who could crack the 1,000 yard barrier IF he remains healthy, and if Ryan moves him to the slot, where he would make an excellent slot receiver. Sanchez also has a decent outlet in Dustin Keller, who is not known best for racking up yardage or touchdowns, but he could make for an unexpected red zone target. Sanchez has better tools than last year, but it would seem that the Jets are looking to run more with Shonn Greene. With 304 yards and 2 touchdowns near the end of last season, the Jets saw enough in him to name him the starter…on a squad that was ranked first in rushing yards!! However, I don’t buy the hype. I may be wrong on this, and it wouldn’t be the first time, but I don’t think Greene will meet expectations. Why? One: he has a tendency to fumble when it counts. (See: Slaton, Steve for similar case.) Two: if New York was truly high on him and totally trusted him, why would the have picked up LaDainian Tomlinson? Granted, LT hasn’t had good productivity as of late, but it could be VERY interesting to see where this goes…a former stud behind a much better O-line than he’s used to…as opposed to a seemingly rising potential stud. It will be very interesting to see where Ryan takes this rushing game.

The Jets’ main problem, once again, is their division. They have a fairly strong schedule, which could hurt them when it comes down to those wins and losses that determine who makes it into the playoffs and who doesn’t. However, it’s not only so much the strength of their schedule so much as it is the weakness of others in their division. Miami, in my opinion, has a softer schedule, and even one win over the Jets could put them over the Jets when it’s all said and done. They also have to contend with the Patriots, which is never an easy task. Rex Ryan may have dubbed his team as future champions, and if he can wind up winning the AFC East, which is a BIG if, he might not be too far off from the truth…we’ll just have to see what happens. My opinion? It won’t happen, but the Jets will have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

My Projected Record: 9-7

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Wild Weekends: Heading to Miami Thu, 28 Jan 2010 03:05:47 +0000 The journey has now reached its final destination; for this year anyway.

This past Sunday saw this year’s special two book their trips to Miami the first weekend of February as the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints took home their respective conference titles. The wins not only propelled the Colts to their second Super Bowl in four years and the Saints to their first in franchise history, but also guaranteed that this year’s Big Game will be noteworthy before the opening kickoff. This will be the first Super Bowl contested between two dome teams, Jim Caldwell will become the first rookie head coach to coach in the Super Bowl since George Seifert (Super Bowl XXIV), and this will be the first Super Bowl to feature both one-seeds since Super Bowl XVIII.

Favre becomes subject of tragedy as Saints head to their first Super Bowl

Once again, it was a Brett Favre interception that lead to his opponent clinching a Super Bowl berth; except this time the interception prolonged the game—sending it into overtime—instead of directly leading to the game’s conclusion.

Favre’s interception came on a 3rd down play where Favre running the ball for five or so yards would’ve kept Minnesota in Ryan Longwell’s range (in terms of career longs) for a potential game winning field-goal. A penalty moments before for too many men in the huddle set up the play by putting Minnesota in a position where they needed yards and couldn’t simply run the ball forward.

The game was a statistical mismatch as it was Minnesota’s offense and not the home-town Saints’ that produced the big numbers. Minnesota out-gained New Orleans by 218 yards, the biggest differential for a losing team in a playoff game ever.

Favre went 28/46 for 310 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, with his second INT being the final pass of the game for Minnesota, and possibly of Favre’s career.

Drew Brees was able to keep up with Favre going 17/31 for 194 yards with three touchdowns.

Mistakes were aplenty as the Vikings committed five turnovers (three fumbles and two interceptions) along with three fumbles they didn’t lose. Bernard Barrian, Percy Harvin, and Brett Favre all lost fumbles in the game. Favre’s may have been the most costly fumble as it came on a handoff plays after Reggie Bush fumbled away a punt inside the New Orleans 20 with under two minutes to play in the first half.

Adrian Petersen finally transformed into Adrian Petersen after nearly half of his season was subpar. Petersen scored three times and ran for 122 yards on 25 carries in the game while also gaining 14 yards on two catches.

Colts win AFC in game of halves

It took 24 unanswered points and a dominating second half, but Peyton Manning lead the Indianapolis Colts to another Super Bowl.

With the notion that Manning couldn’t win a big playoff game left the minute he reached his Super Bowl, it still brought about joy and amazement when he shook off a slow start as if it were nothing, and dispatched of the Jets’ defense as if it were just that.

The number one defense in pro football was sent down a peg in the final thirty-two minutes of football, a period of time that saw the Colts score 24 unanswered points and end the Jets’ miracle run.

Manning finished 26/39 for 377 yards with three touchdowns, all coming in those final thirty-two minutes.

Manning’s favorite receiver throughout the playoffs continued to be Pierre Garcon. Garcon, who paid tribute to his family and all others of his native Haiti by displaying the Haitian flag below the AFC Championship trophy during the post-game presentation.

Garcon finished with 151 yards on 11 catches with a fourth quarter touchdown.

Like Joe Flacco last year, Mark Sanchez was a rookie quarterback playing in the AFC title game, and he didn’t play all that bad. While others may have expected more, Sanchez’s 17/30, 257 yard, two touchdown, one interception performance should be seen as a sign that this guy is going to be nothing but good for the Jets in the future.

The Colts defense of course deserves their share of the credit for this win. Possibly more impressive than shutting out the Jets for the final thirty-two minutes of the game was the Colts’ domination of Shonn Greene. Greene, a rookie himself and the player to rush for the most yards in his first two career playoff games, was held to only 41 yards rushing on 10 carries.

Thomas Jones didn’t prove any more effective against the Colts’ D in this one as he was only able to gain 42 yards on 16 carries.

While some wanted Manning/Favre, and some probably wanted the upstart and fun Jets to shock the world, I’m perfectly fine with a Colts/Saints Super Bowl. For me, it comes down to the fact that this will be a 1 v. 1 matchup as far as records go, and as far as most kinds of power rankings go. Not only that, but in a championship setting, it shouldn’t be a rarity that the best teams play against each other. I’m aware that parody and upsets are a way of life in sport, especially where the post-season is concerned, but at the same time, how is it even sensible for the two best teams facing off to be considered something weird or out of the ordinary? Luckily for me, I know the answer and it’s the same old story as far as this country and sport is concerned: the story suddenly becomes the gauge for who’s the best, and if you have the best story, you’re the best. That’s why the Cardinals were such a big story last year, not because they were the best team (they entered the playoffs 9-7 and on a winning streak), but because their run with an aging legend in the making made them the talk of the town. And I think that’s great, because when you don’t have the best teams in the title game, you may need a little story to add some excitement, but when it’s the two top dogs in the battle, then that is the story, and that is all there needs to be for there to be a story. And that is what I’m hoping to hear over the next week and a half: talk of this being a good thing for the NFL, a good thing for the Super Bowl, and a good thing for football. Because even if you don’t realize it, this is good for football. As much as people love the underdog and love a Cinderella story, it is the dominant teams and the dynasties that resonate the most in people’s minds, and those are the teams that sports need (baseball-Yankees, basketball-Lakers, hockey-Red Wings) to maintain some sense of tradition until a new force comes along. For an example, see the change in perception for the Patriots from the late 90’s to the 2007 near unbeaten season alongside the change in perception for the Cowboys during the same time period.

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Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em Week 8 Mon, 02 Nov 2009 18:31:35 +0000 By Ryan Lester,

There were some unusual heroes on Sunday. There always are. Let’s take a look at them and see if they are worthy of your fantasy rosters.

Mark Sanchez, QB, New York Jets
If Sanchez got dropped due to his poor play prior in recent weeks, it’s time to pick him up. Jerricho Cotchery is healthy, Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller are coming on, and he has shown toughness by running for 3 TDs already.
Ruling: Get ‘em.

Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions
He’s useful for 2 QB leagues, but he shouldn’t be considered in standard leagues. He barely put up a decent score against the Rams, and that was only because he ran one in.
Ruling:  Don’t Get ‘em.

Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans
Same deal as VY. Only in 2 QB leagues. He was efficient, but wasn’t much of a fantasy performer this week.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Ryan Moats, RB, Houston Texans
Obviously Moats made a name for himself rushing for 126 yards for 3 TDs against Buffalo. He added 25 receiving yards. At the very least, he earned RBBC status, and he could be given a shot to take Slaton’s job going forward.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Leonard Weaver, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Weaver had a season high 8 carries for 75 yards and a score. He was used because Brian Westbrook was out with a concussion. Westy should be back next week, meaning Weaver will go back to blocking duties.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Justin Fargas, RB, Oakland Raiders
He’s likely gone in most competitive leagues, but if he’s available in yours, you may want to consider him. He isn’t sexy, but he just seems to do enough to be productive.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Maurice Morris, RB, Detroit Lions
Morris played well this week with 82 total yards and a two-point conversion. If Kevin Smith (ankle) is unavailable this week against Seattle, Morris is worth grabbing. Otherwise, he’s just an insurance policy.
Ruling:  Don’t Get ‘em (unless Smith is out)

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
Maclin  had 47 yards and a TD against the Giants. In his last four games he’s had a monster effort, a dud, a decent game, and this weeks solid performance. The way the Eagles can score in bunches, it’s definitely worth having Maclin.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Sam Hurd, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Hurd scored a TD this week, but is not worth owning. Austin Miles is the primary option. Roy Williams returned to action. Patrick Crayton is ahead of him on the depth chart, and Jason Witten still gets plenty of looks. They also have a good ground game. A lot would have to happen for Hurd to get value.
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Spencer Havner, TE, Green Bay Packers

Havner caught a pair of TD passes from Aaron Rodgers, after catching one last week as well. I still cannot bring myself to endorse the converted Linebacker.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Dustin Keller, TE, New York Jets
Keller was very active in the passing game this week with 8 catches for 76 yards and a score. You’ll have to wait a week to use him as he’s on bye next week, but if you just lost Owen Daniels, Keller is a nice option to replace him. Hopefully he’s available in your league and you have a good waiver priority.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Kevin Boss, TE, New  York Giants
Boss caught three passes for 70 yards and a score in the loss to Philly. He’s a good one-week fix at the very least, with San Diego on deck.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Daniel Fells, TE, St. Louis Rams
Fells scored against the Lions, which is his third TD of the year. He just doesn’t have enough catches (13) to trust.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

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Get ‘em or Don’t Sweat ‘em Week 1 Tue, 15 Sep 2009 11:00:17 +0000 By Ryan Lester,

There were some unusual heroes on Sunday.  There always are.  Let’s take a look at them and see if they are worthy of your fantasy rosters.

Kevin Kolb, Philadelphia Eagles
– Kolb gets his chance next week to show what he can do against the big boys.  Good thing for him, he faces New Orleans, who isn’t known for their strong D.  You can take a shot on him in 2-QB leagues.  Rely on your McNabb backup for next week though.  Hopefully, knowing McNabb’s track record you protected yourself.
Ruling:  Get ‘em in 2 QB leagues, otherwise Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets – Pretty impressive debut for the Jets Rookie.  He’s in a good situation with a good line, and a solid D.  He may not wow you, but he could be steady as the season rolls along.  Clearly his debut went better than Stafford, who I feel should be learning on the sidelines. Considering he played a pretty tough Houston D, I’d say his 272-yard effort was worth taking notice in deep leagues.  If you have a bad backup QB, I’d think about swapping him out for Sanchez.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Mike Bell, New Orleans Saints
– Bell had a huge 28 carry, 143 game against Detroit.  Pierre Thomas should be back soon.  Bell could be the starter again next week, but Philadelphia is a much different animal than Detroit.  He’s probably worth grabbing and stashing, or holding on to as he was snatched up when people saw the cake matchup, but I wouldn’t use him next week.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Kenny Britt, Tennessee Titans
– Britt had a nice game with four catches for 85 yards, including a 57-yard grab.  Pittsburgh’s run defense was tough though, limiting the Titans to 86 yards and 25 carries.  Take away Chris Johnson’s 32-yard run and they mustered up 2.25 yards per carry.  That’s not going to happen every week, and Kerry Collins isn’t going to throw the ball 35 times too often.  Justin Gage and Bo Scaife were his favorite targets.  Nate Washington was limited and Jared Cook missed the game.  The odds of Britt repeating this performance regularly seem quite slim.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Michael Clayton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Clayton turned in a nice effort in a loss to Dallas with five catches for 93 yards.  I don’t think it’s the norm that Tampa passes 42 times in a game.  Unless you have an obvious drop, give him a whirl, but I wouldn’t dump someone you were high on coming into the year from one big game in a shootout.
Ruling: Don’t Sweat ‘em.

Mark Bradley, Kansas City Chiefs
– The Chiefs are a bad team.  They are going to have to pass a lot this year.  Bradley will see his share of targets.  He actually led the team with 7.  He finished with four catches for 73 yards.  He’s worth a spot on your bench.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Isaac Bruce, San Francisco 49ers – The old man still has it.  He led the Niners with 8 targets, catching four for 74 yards, including a 50-yard gain.  There are worse WRs on fantasy teams.  If you have one of them, grab Bruce.
Ruling:  Get ‘em.

Laurent Robinson, St. Louis Rams – Those Rams are smelly.  No doubt.  They are going to have to turn to the air.  Sorry S-Jax owners.  Robinson led the team with 10 targets.  He caught 5 for 87 yards.  I’m a little on the fence because I don’t see him scoring often.  I suggest you follow him a couple of weeks to see if this was a fluke.
Ruling:  Don’t Sweat ‘em.

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NFL Divisional Breakdown AFC East Wed, 12 Aug 2009 15:00:21 +0000 I have no opening this week. So instead I’ll share one of my new favorite quotes “Failure is just success rounded down.” Remember that when you’re team is in the crapper by week 5.

New England Patriots
Better than ever? I think that might be a little too optimistic.

Head Coach: Bill Belichick
Offensive Coordinator: N/A
Defensive Coordinator: Dean Pees
Special Teams Coordinator: Scott O’Brien
Chairman/CEO: Robert Kraft

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Tom Brady
HB: Laurence Maroney
FB: Sammy Morris
WR: Randy Moss
WR: Wes Welker
LT: Matt Light
LG: Logan Mankins
C: Dan Koppen
RG: Stephen Neal
RT: Nick Kaczur
TE: Ben Watson

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Richard Seymour
DE: Ty Warren
DT: Vince Wilfork
LB: Derrick Burgess
LB: Tedi Brusci
LB: Jerod Mayo
LB: Adalius Thomas
CB: Terrence Wheatley
CB: Leigh Bodden
FS: Brandon Merriweather
SS: Patrick Chung

Special Teams
K: Stephen Gostkowski
P: Chris Hanson

Position Battles:
RB: This is going to be a RBBC so it won’t be so much who starts, but who gets the bulk of the carries. Maroney, Fred Taylor, Green-Ellis, and Faulk will all see plenty of time.
CB: In classic Pats fashion I can’t figure this one out. Shawn Springs was signed so I figure he’ll get a chance to win the job. Darius Butler is a rookie with a chance to see some playing time. But I think Wheatley holds onto the job he won for one game last year before getting injured like the rest of the team.

Rookies to Watch:
Belichick is not exactly fond of rookies, so for rookies to get much time is a surprise. However, Jerod Mayo’s success last year might make it easier on Rooks this year. Patrick Chung has the best chance to take advantage of this. He was a good safety in college and should make for a smart, Belichick system safety for a few years. Darius Butler might get a chance to make his biggest mark in the return game. He did some returning for UConn and could do that for the Pats.

Season Expectations:
I’m a little bit hesitant on this coming season for the Pats. Yes they get Brady back and Randy said the offense could be the best it’s ever been. But I just don’t have full trust in any QB coming back from the knee injury Brady suffered. Even if he says he’s fine and doesn’t think about the knee anymore, it’s still back there in his mind. I believe it will affect the way he plays this year, although he’s good enough that it might not matter. I expect him to want to get the ball out of his hands as quickly as possible this year because of the knee, which means Welker and the RBs will probably be targeted more often than Moss on deeper routes. They’ll still chunk it up to Moss for his yearly 10 TDs but he won’t have the high number of catches he’s used to. The defense on the other hand, could be one of the best in the league. The entire front 7 could probably have an easy case for going to the Pro-Bowl especially with the addition of Derrick Burgess. Pressure on the QB was the team’s biggest problem last year and Burgess fixes that in a heartbeat.

Buffalo Bills
T.O. is in town and he still likes Trent Edwards, this could be the start of another train wreck.

Head Coach: Dick Jauron
Offensive Coordinator: Turk Schonert
Defensive Coordinator: Perry Fewell
Special Teams Coordinator: Bobby April
Owner: Ralph Wilson

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Trent Edwards
HB: Marshawn Lynch
FB: Corey McIntyre
WR: Terrell Owens
WR: Lee Evans
LT: Langston Walker
LG: Andy Levitre
C: Geoff Hangartner
RG: Eric Wood
RT: Demetrius Bell
TE: Derek Fine

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Chris Kelsay
DE: Marcus Stroud
DT: Kyle Williams
DT: Aaron Schobel
LB: Keith Ellison
LB: Paul Posluszny
LB: Kavika Mitchell
CB: Terrence McGee
CB: Leodis McKelvin
FS: Donte Whitner
SS: Bryan Scott

Special Teams
K: Rian Lindell
P: Brian Moorman

Position Battles:
RB: Marshawn Lynch will be sitting on the sidelines for the first three games of the year which means the backups will be running the show. Dominic Rhodes, Fred Jackson and Xavier Omon will be in line for carries during that stretch, and they hope after that stretch also.
DE: Schobel is slated in at one end and if Maybin would have been to camp on time he probably could have been slated in on the other end. But with Maybin’s hold out it opens up a spot on the line. Kelsay started the first preseason game, but he doesn’t have the strongest grip on the position.

Rookies to Watch:
Maybin will help the defensive line a ton when he gets into camp. He can be a force on the edge and with Stroud and Schobel already on the line, there aren’t enough blockers to double them all. They also have a couple O-Line rookies that started the first preseason game. Eric Wood and Andy Levitre. Wood was a highly rated center in the draft process, but he was playing RG during the game. I think long term he has more value as a center, but getting him work while someone else handles the blitz calls can only help him.

Season Expectations:
Trent Edwards will be the big question mark this year. He’s shown touches of brilliance in his career and he’s going to need to come through with more for this team. The addition of Owens makes this offense very threatening and if they continue to run the no huddle they will cause havoc on the rest of the division. But they’ll only be as good as Edwards makes them. He’s got all the toys to play with this year, good running game and very good receivers, with great depth at each of those positions. The O-line is young and definitely showed some holes early and they will have to improve to give Edwards a chance. The defense should be pretty good. They are solid on the back 7 and the front line has a couple really good players. If Maybin gets into camp and can get some playing time even as just a 3rd down pass rusher it will help the secondary and the defense as a whole. They’ll need a lot of things to go right for them to make a lot of noise, but they should be a solid team all year.

New York Jets

Head Coach: Rex Ryan
Offensive Coordinator:
Defensive Coordinator:
Special Teams Coordinator:

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Kellen Clemens
HB: Thomas Jones
FB: Tony Richardson
WR: Jerricho Cotchery
WR: Chansi Stuckey
LT: D’Brickashaw Ferguson
LG: Alan Faneca
C: Nick Mangold
RG: Brandon Moore
RT: Damien Woody
TE: Dustin Keller

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Marques Douglas
DE: Shaun Ellis
DT: Kris Jenkins
LB: Calvin Pace
LB: Bart Scott
LB: David Harris
LB: Vernon Gholston
CB: Lito Sheppard
CB: Darrelle Revis
FS: Kerry Rhodes
SS: Jim Leonhard

Special Teams
K: Jay Feely
P: Reggie Hodges

Position Battles:
QB: The rook Mark Sanchez or the young veteran Kellen Clemens who has had the rug pulled out from under him so many times it’s not fair. Sanchez could have used another year at USC, so a year under Clemens would be great for him.
WR: Cotchery is solid if not spectacular and after that you’ve got a bunch of fodder. Stuckey and Brad Smith are the best candidates to hold down the other starting job but that still leaves a lot to desire. Maybe newly acquired Aundrae Allison will sneak in and get the starting spot.
OLB: Vernon Gholston was selected in the first round last year to give them a pass rush off the outside. A holdout kept him from making much of an impact and he’s in a battle with Bryan Thomas for the starting job this year.

Rookies to Watch:
Hopefully you’ll be watching Mark Sanchez hold a clipboard, he had better weapons surrounding him at USC that he does here so to throw him out there could be brutal and would only hurt his development. Shonn Green is the player to keep an eye on. Jones is over 30 and starting to decline. Green in the future of the Jets at RB, he had a solid college career and will be a solid, but not eye popping pro.

Season Expectations:
Where they are good, they are really good. Where they are bad, they are really bad. When you pick up a castoff of the Vikings WR corp and he is immediately one of your top 2-3 WR, that’s not a good sign for your WR depth. But then you look at the positives, this offensive line is one of the best in football. Mangold is one of the best centers in the league, Ferguson is becoming a great LT, Woody can play any position on the line well. It’s just a great unit. And that is how the Jets are going to have to win games this year. Just like the Ravens did last year, they are going to have to run the ball a ton with many different backs and just wear down opposing defenses. The QB battle will deliver a capable QB but the WR’s are not game breakers who you can rely on to win games. And that’s why the defense is going to be so important this year. The Jets are going to have a hard time coming back in games. If you can get them down 14-17 points or more, they’re going to have to start throwing and that is not their strong point. Luckily for them, Rex Ryan is a defensive genius and they’ve got good players scattered around the defense. It’s going to be an up and down year for the Jets, but at least this time the team will be to blame, not a certain old QB.

Miami Dolphins
Why are they in the AFC East and not South? You could move Baltimore over to the East and Indy up to the North.

Head Coach: Tony Sparano
Offensive Coordinator: Dan Henning
Defensive Coordinator: Paul Pasqualoni
Special Teams Coordinator: John Bonamego
Owner: Stephen Ross and Wayne Huizenga

Offensive Starters (Projected)
QB: Chad Pennington
HB: Ronnie Brown
FB: Lousaka Polite
WR: Ted Ginn Jr.
WR: Davone Bess
LT: Jake Long
LG: Justin Smiley
C: Jake Grove
RG: Shawn Murphy
RT: Vernon Carey
TE: Anthony Fasano

Defensive Starters (Projected)
DE: Kendall Langford
DE: Jason Ferguson
DT: Phillip Merling
LB: Jason Taylor
LB: Channing Crowder
LB: Akin Ayodele
LB: Joey Porter
CB: Will Allen
CB: Eric Green
FS: Gibril Wilson
SS: Yeremiah Bell

Special Teams
K: Dan Carpenter
P: Brandon Fields

Position Battles:
Only a couple here.
WR: Ginn is going to play but the other starter is up for grabs.
CB: Will Allen and Eric Green are penciled in as starters, but Vontae Davis has a lot of talent and might make a case for playing time.

Rookies to Watch:
Vontae Davis has as much talent as any CB in the draft and while he’s not going to be a superstar, he’ll be a solid DB. Pat White will give them another threat out of the Wildcat formation.

Season Expectations:
They had a great year last year and it would be hard to repeat that success. Pennington had a huge year but the receivers don’t exactly fit his strengths. The defense is aging and might not have enough for another year in them. The O-line is one of the team’s strengths and it really helps their other strength, the running game. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are a good double whammy out of the backfield. Add in Pat White to the Wildcat formation and it’s an offense that can cause problems but they don’t have the consistent offense to make a serious run. The defense has playmakers, but position by position they don’t match up talent wise with teams in the rest of the division or the league in general. Of course, the same things could have been said last year and look what they did.

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