What to look for in the NFC Championship game.

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nfl

Vikings @ Saints

Vikes

QB Farve has brought the passing game that has been missing from the team for years. Prior to this season, the team had the D, the O line, and the running game of an NFL Champion. The one thing they didn’t have was a championship quality passing game. Farve has not only provided the passing, he has helped the receivers develop. WR Rice has gone from “great potential” to one of the best receivers in the league in 1 year. In 08 Rice caught 15 balls. In 09 he caught 83 with a 15.8 yard average for 8 TDs. The rookie that the Vikes drafted Harvin who didn’t have an NFL position. Not only did he become a WR, he caught 80 balls for a 13.2 average and 6 TDs. That didn’t happen by accident. Farve didn’t help them develop out of a desire to be a good team leader. He did it to win a championship. The Vikes have a key injury on O. WR Harvin is questionable for the game. I think he will play.

The problem was that as the passing game developed, the running game withered. RB Peterson is one of the most skilled backs in the league. After his season of 1760 yards, a 4.8 yard average and 10 TDs, he fell to 1383 yards, a 4.4 yard average and has not had a 100+ yard game in the last half of the season. So what is the problem? There are actually a couple of problems. First, there is not nearly enough push by the O line up the gut. The guards are not able to slide off double teams and get to the second level. The line is too often pushed back into the backfield allowing the backs to be hit before they get to the line of scrimmage. The second problem is leakage around the edge. The TEs are receivers more than blockers. In the Dallas game the OLB got to the runner off the edge by pushing past the TE. Those problems are not the kind of thing you can solve in a week.

The D has been solid all year ranking 6th in yards and 10th in scoring D. After holding the Bengals to 10 points in week 14, the D had a pair of bad games allowing 26 and 36 in consecutive weeks in losses to the Panthers and Bears. But they turned it on again and have allowed just 10 total points to the Giants in week 17 and to the Cowboys last week in the Divisional round. The Cowboys were one of the best offenses in the league. The Boys scored just a field goal against the Vikes D. The key to the D is the line. The Williams boys at DT are the best pair in the league. They crush the run and push the O line back into the QB. The DEs Edwards and Allen are as good as any pair in the league. The D has 48 sacks, 23 fumbles forced and 11 picks this year. The D does have injuries as well. Pat Williams and Edwards are both questionable with injuries. The Vikes need both to slow down a great Saint O. CB Sapp is also questionable.

The key to this game may be if the Vike LB can drop off enough to clog the seams and prevent the quick seam pass. The Saints live off of quick passes to the short seam and run after the catch. No catch no RAC.

Saints

The Saints have the top O in the league. They are 1st in yards and points, 4th in passing yards and 6th in rushing. QB Brees is as good a QB as there is in the league. He is under the radar because this is the first time in a while that the team has made it this far. The Saints have 3 WRs, a TE and a RB that each have more than 40 catches. Brees’ favorite receiver is whoever is open. WRs Colston (70 catches) Henderson (51) and Meacham (45) are all dangerous. TE Shockey (48) stretches the D down the middle and RB Bush (47). Bush is perhaps more dangerous as a receiver than a runner. He can take a 1 yard pass out of the backfield and take it to the house. Shockey is questionable as is pro bowl C Goodwin. If Goodwin can’t go it would be a problem for the O. His replacement Leckey struggles to handle big active DTs.

The team has 3 RBs with more than 300 yards. Bush (390, 5.6 average) is Mr. Outside and RB Thomas (793, 5.4) is Mr. Inside. RB Bell (654) can do both. The O line has done a good job blocking the run and the pass. Every lineman can get outside to block the sweep and screen.

The D has been as good as necessary but that is all. They rank 20th in points allowed, 25th in yards, 26th in passing yards and 21st in rushing yards. The D depends on the O to score more points. The loss of DE Grant early in the year hurt the pass rush. DE Smith gets double teamed often. The one weapon the Saints have in the DB is S Sharper. He is a ball magnet and played with Favre in Green Bay. Farve must know where Sharper is. MLB Vilma heads up the second line of defense. If the Vikes can take advantage of a below average Saint D, they can win.

The Bottom line: The Saints are the 3.5 point favorites with an over/under of 52. The Vikes have and outstanding D and an O the equal of the Saints. Despite their D, I think the Saints win but I am not willing to put my money on that. If the game was in Minnesota, I would probably pick the Vikes. I would bet the over as the only pick here.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,nfl draft,NFL Playoffs,NFC,Championship game,Vikings,Saints,Bengals,Brees,Favre,Colston,Bush,Grant,injury report,odds,over/under
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  • Author:
  • Published: Jan 21st, 2010
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on The NBA: First half season review

The NBA: First half season review

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nba

Game of the week–LA 87 @ Cleveland 93

The Cavs trailed for 3 quarters but the 4th quarter is LeBron time. LeBron scored 37 with 12 in the last period to make the difference. Bryant had 31It was an outstanding game. Varejao adds so much energy and rebounding and that was critical in this game. He hit 2 free throws with 20 seconds to go after forcing a fowl going after a miss on a free throw by LeBron. This is the kind of game that the Cavs would have lost a couple of years ago. They have now swept the Lakers in their 2 games.

Top NBA teams are struggling with injuries.

The top teams from last year are all struggling with injuries.

Cleveland (33-11) leads the Eastern Conference but will not have G Mo Williams for up to a month. They traded for Shaq but Coach Brown has not figured out yet how to make a square peg fit into a round hole. He is not playing enough minutes to have the impact the Cavs expected. The Cavs need to find a way to stay in front of Boston and Orlando to keep the home floor advantage in the East. There are problems on both ends of the court. On O the team is depending too much on LeBron and the others are going to have to make up for the loss of the scoring of Williams. They will particularly miss Mo’s 3 pointers. The D has allowed twice as many 100 point games as they did last year at this point in the season.

Boston (27-13) has been playing without Garnett for too long. They hope to have him back this week. That is going to help them get back in the run for the top spot in the East. Boston has lost games they should have been able to win like recent losses to Detroit, Chicago and Dallas.

Atlanta (27-14) has crept up on the big three by winning most of the games they should be able to and pulling off a few upsets. But after a really nice win over Phoenix, they lost at home to Oklahoma City. Just like last year, their problem has been consistency of intensity.

Orlando (27-15) has had a tough January so far. They are only 3-6 since the first of the year. That included a couple of tough road trips and a costly loss at home to Toronto. Despite a win over Atlanta in that run, they fell behind the Hawks due to the losses on the road. Road trips tend to even out over the season. Orlando has more talent that the Hawks and should overtake them.

Charlotte (21-19) has been one of the hottest teams in January. They have gone 9-1 including wins at Cleveland and Miami. They have moved up to 5th place in the East. Their only loss was a bad game at New York. If the Bobcats can stay hot, they have a chance to move higher in the final rankings. Don’t bet on that though. Starting on the 25th they have a 6 game west coast road trip that will bring them back to reality.

Miami (21-20) went 3-3 in a January west coast trip and is 5-5 in January. They took a bad loss on Wednesday to the Bobcats 104-65. The team has been very inconsistent. They are also playing Wade 37 minutes a game which may be too much. They need his scoring as well as his assists.

Western Conference

Los Angles (32-10) has the best record in the league but the team has been up and down in intensity. Bryant has been playing hurt because the team isn’t close to the same without him. He looks healthy now and playing again at a high level. However, his accuracy on 3 point shots has suffered due to a finger injury. The Lakers have a 2 games in the loss column advantage over the Cavs going into the game last night between the two conference leaders. They are 7-3 in January but lost to the Clippers 102-91. Including last night, they are on a 7 game road trip to the east cost. That will be key to their ability to stay on top.

Dallas (28-14) is 5-3 so far in 2010. They had a nice win at Boston and are in a 5 game east road trip. They have to find a way to beat the Lakers. They have already lost to LA twice this month. Despite the team trying to build to beat LA, they don’t match up well. They have missed Howard. He has only played 21 game so far. He is critical to the team’s success.

Denver (27-14) is hot. They are 7-3 in 2010 including a nice win at home against the Cavs 99-97. The key is that the Nuggets are winning the close games which is something they had trouble doing last year. They have 10 players averaging 10 or more minutes a game. That helps. Billips is averaging 18.8 points per game. That helps too. He has been the best addition this team has had in a long time.

San Antonio (25-16) has gone 6-5 in 2010. They are currently 4th in the West but because they have so much talent and experience in the playoffs, they are always a threat to get to the finals. When you have a player the quality of Ginobili coming off the bench, you are really good. Despite the age of the roster the team has been pretty healthy this year. That could be trouble for the rest of the league in the playoffs.

Portland (26-17) has suffered the loss of C Oden. He was the first pick in the 07 draft but seems very brittle. His entire career is threatened by his injuries. Even so they have been one of the pleasant surprises in the league this year. They have gone 5-4 in January. Roy and Aldridge have picked up the slack. Roy is scoring 23 a game with 5 assists and Aldridge is pulling down over 8 rebounds a game. They are too inexperienced to know they shouldn’t be doing this well. That makes them dangerous.

Phoenix (25-18) has been a surprise. They failed to make the playoffs last year but are 1 win up in the standings for the 6th spot. There was a lot of trade talk involving Stoudemire last off season but he is back and playing well putting up 21 points a game. The key is that he has been able to play nearly 35 minutes a game. Nash, Richardson, Frye and Grant have all been contributing and have been healthy so far.

Your fantasy football doesn’t have to be over. Run a pro football franchise all year long for free at . Tell them Coach Smith sent you.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He is a regular contributor on Cleveland Sports Radio http://www.sportstalkcleveland.com/ Monday morning at 11. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NBA,NBA Playoffs,Cavilers,Celtics,Hawks,Magic,Bobcats,Heat,Lakers,Maverics,Nuggets,Spurs,Suns,Trail Blazers,LeBron James,Bryant
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  • Author:
  • Published: Nov 26th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Happy Thanksgiving—The NFL Provides the Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving—The NFL Provides the Turkeys

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nfl

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

What we learned from last week.

QB Vince Young has turned the corner—Not yet.

Looking at the 4 straight wins of the Titans, many would assume that Young is now an NFL quality QB. Young has given the O a shot in the butt however it is more from his ability or his threat to run than from his passing. Against the Texans he had 116 yards passing.

He has improved his mechanics. His footwork is much better. He is planting his feet before he throws and is not throwing as often off his back foot. That has improved his accuracy. He has been over 50% in every game and over 60% completions in two.

Unless he continues to improve his passing, defenses will adjust to the Young led O and stop this version of the team as well.

The Browns find their O but have lost their D—Not yet.

You and I could move the ball against the Lions even if you were having a bad day. The O of the Browns Sunday means nothing. However, we did see indications that QB Quinn can throw deep but he must work on accuracy.

The Bengals will play up to their competition or down to the Raiders.

This is a team that is just starting to learn how to win again after being the joke of the NFL. It will take them a couple of years to get used to putting their foot on the throat of a weak opponent and winning the game.

The Turkeys served up by the NFL

GB @ DT – UCH! Forget the tradition. Detroit won’t be a competitive team any time soon. Put some team in that won’t make us lose our dinner.

OK @ DA Couldn’t the NFL have found a more accomplished team to match against the Boys than the Al Davises?

NYG @ DV The Broncos are hanging on for dear life and the Giants D will force them further down into the muck. Giants win even without a running game.

Indy @ HO This is the last chance for the Texans to prove they are better than a 500 team. To do that they have to beat the Colts. They are not better than a 500 team. They will lose and end up with a new coach next season.

PT @ BA This is the battle of reserves because these teams are really beaten up. The Steelers called me early this week asking if I would play backup QB because Roethlisberger was banged up last week and Batch was out with a bad wrist. They also could be missing S Polamalu and G Kemoeatu.

The Ravens will also be struggling with injuries to C Birk, LB Lewis and S Reed. Look for the Steelers to win IF big Ben plays.

Game of the Week—NE @ NO The Saints get the first real test of the season. The key will be how well a bad Pat D backfield deals with the passing of Brees. The Saints should win but this is the type of game that the Pats seem to steal.

Stinker of the Week—SE @ STL Ram QB Bulger is hurt and the O line is not good enough to create running lanes against air. Seattle is no gift to football fans.

Please take a moment this holiday to think about those that are on the other side of world risking their lives to make us safe. May the men and women of our military stay safe.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL Football,NFL Draft,Young,Titans,Browns,Bengals,Raiders,Davis,Packers,Lions,Cowboys,Al Davis,Giants,Broncos,Colts,Texans,Steelers. Ravens,Patroits,Saints,Seahawks,Rams
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What did we learn from the weekend?

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FOOTBALL

College Football

USC @ Washington I don’t think the Trojans are going to want to play Ohio State again any time soon. Every time they do they lose the next game on the road. Washington is better but USC lost the game Washington didn’t win it.

Florida State @ BYU I was wrong about BYU. Florida State is a young team that hasn’t figured out how to win consistently but is always dangerous because of their speed. They jumped out on BYU and never looked back. That eliminates BYU from the national championship discussion.

Tennessee @ Florida The Vols have one of the great D coordinators in the history of college football—Wayne Kiffin, the father of head coach Lane Kiffin. WK did an outstanding job of keeping the Florida O under control despite a lack of O from Tennessee. It will take LK a while to get the guys he needs for O but the D will keep them in a lot of games.

Texas Tech @ Texas The TTk system is good but it really helps to have a great QB and top WRs. TTk stayed with Texas for awhile but don’t have the depth this year to compete.

# 19 Nebraska @ # 13 Virginia Tech While all the experts picked VT to cover, I thought Nebraska would cover and possibly win. They came very close and should have held on.

#23 Georgia @ Arkansas Georgia is over rated and as predicted came back in the 4th quarter to win. But they are not as good as most thought they were.

The Pros

CL @ DV The Tan’s right tackle is the worst blocker I have ever seen start in the league. I have 2 for Mangini. 1st, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING SIGNING AND STARTING RT ST. Clair? Second, how do you like your rookie C Mack that can neither block nor snap the ball in the shotgun formation? Check out my complete analysis of the 1st through the 3rd quarter on tomorrow. I didn’t watch the 4th quarter because I just couldn’t take any more.

NO @ PH QB Kolb wasn’t quite as bad as he has been before but still threw picks that cost the Eagles any chance of a win. Look for the Eagles to start him again with the same result—another loss.

NE @ NJ Coach Rex Ryan’s D did a job on the Pats. The Pats are not as good on D as they were with Seymour. On O the Pats are not better. Part of the problem is the lack of WR Welker. He is out with a bad knee. But for the first time ever, I saw QB Brady not stepping into a throw when the pressure got around him. That is not like Brady at all. This was the first time he had a lot of pressure since coming back from his injury. He may get over it. If the Pats are going to be champions, he is going to have to ignore the rush.

The Jets are looking good on O and the D has played nothing short of outstanding football. I will have more on this tomorrow.

SD @ BA On Saturday the Charger NT Williams was put on IR. That hurt the D against the run in the game against the Ravens. The two headed monster of Rice and McGahee ran right up the gut against them. The Chargers just can’t score TDs. They kicked field goals regularly from inside the red zone. Unless that changes, the Chargers won’t go far in the playoffs.

CR @ AT Delhomme didn’t look bad but Atlanta is just a better team. The QB had just one turnover.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .

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