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  • Published: Aug 18th, 2013
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on Can The Browns Breakthrough In The Tough AFC North?

Can The Browns Breakthrough In The Tough AFC North?

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Cleveland Browns

Cleveland Browns (Photo credit: zoonabar)

In 2013, the AFC North enters the season as possibly the toughest overall division in the NFL. The division boasts the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the all-time Super Bowl leaders and a popular Super Bowl sleeper pick in 2013. Oh, they also have the Cleveland Browns, who are young and improving, but still waiting for a true breakout season. So can 2013 be the year they start to contend for the playoffs?

Whenever a team is forced to start a rookie quarterback and running back, they are in for a somewhat long season. Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson did a pretty good job in 2012, but they did not have enough help to get them anywhere. With a year under their belt, things could be better for them, with Richardson particularly being seen as someone who can do a job for your team in fantasy football 2013.

After an off-season full of changes at the management and coaching level, the team seems to be quickly adjusting to the new way of doing things. They also have a young core that continues to grow, thanks to quite a few high draft picks in a row. New head coach Rob Chudzinski, along with his coordinators Norv Turner and Ray Horton, hope that their changes in the offseason and during camp will result in a few more wins.

While the Browns will be better, so will the rest of the division. Cincinnati made several improvements to their team, especially offensively, that should put them in the playoff and Super Bowl discussion. Baltimore, even if they have a true Super Bowl hangover, will still be solid, while Pittsburgh is, well, Pittsburgh. Despite an 8-8 season a year ago, the Steelers have had the Browns’ number for quite a few years now, so that will be a tough match-up.

While the other three teams in the division seem to have their quarterback for the foreseeable future, the Browns are still unsure about Weeden. At times, he looked good as a rookie. Other times, he looked like a guy who has already peaked. His play will probably end up determining whether or not the Browns can get into that 8-10 win range, or if another last place finish is in their future.

"Welcome to Big 40 College Football"

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It isn’t that bad yet but nothing is out of the question. What we seem to have is a Conference game of musical chairs. Every NCAA team wants to be sure it gets a seat in a better conference (and of course the money that goes with it). Every NCAA Conference seems to be wooing schools in other conferences to come join them.

* The Big 10 may not be able to count (there are 11 teams) but now they want to go to 12 or maybe 14 or 16.

*The PAC 10 (they can count) is looking to move to 12 or maybe 14.

*The Big 12 is just trying to hold on to their teams but would like to take in 2 more as well.

*The Big East and ACC are hiding under a blanket hoping other conferences won’t find them there.

The Big 10

According to the rumors floating around, the league has invited Missouri, Nebraska, and Rutgers to join the league. They have been courting Notre Dame for years but the Irish have their own TV deal with NBC and think they are too good to become a member. Nebraska is not likely to leave their rivalry with Oklahoma but both Missouri and Rutgers are likely to join.

But that leaves an odd number of teams at 13. If those two join look for the league to recruit either UConn, West Virginia, Pittsburgh or Syracuse to get to 14.

The Big 12

If Missouri leaves the league will be 1 short. TCU would be the most likely candidate to replace the Tigers. But if the Big 10 goes to 14, the Big 12 will want to follow. That would bring TCU, SMU, and either Rice or Houston to the fold. TCU, SMU and Rice were all part of the Southwest Conference that got raided by the Big 12.

SEC

If both the Big 10 and Big 12 got to 14 teams, the SEC will be forced to follow. There are rumors that the SEC is trying to lure Florida State and Miami out of the ACC to join their league. That would gut the football aspects of the ACC and force them to steal teams from the Big East or Conference USA.

Pac 10

The Pac 10 will want to expand as well to keep up with the other leagues. The most likely to join it are Utah and BYU. If they decide to go to 14 they would look at Utah State and either Wyoming or Colorado State.

That leaves a number of leagues with not enough teams and would undoubtedly lead to more raiding. The Big East would probably disappear unless they can raid Conference USA for teams like Memphis and Marshall. The ACC would go after South Florida (Big East) and UCF (USA).

The bottom line is that no league is safe as long as the big 3 are sniffing around for more teams. It will change the landscape of college sports and not for the better. Bigger conferences will lead to more bowl games. After all, the NCAA was thinking about having 96 team in the Basketball Championship Tournament. So what is wrong with having 48 bowl games?

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 afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

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The Steelers are having off field problems with their players.

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Star QB Ben Roethlisberger is in his third scrape since joining the team as a rookie. First there was the motorcycle accident that cost him a chunk of the preseason and slowed him early in 06. At the time he was not wearing a helmet. Most teams have included in their contracts a prohibition of “dangerous” activities for key players. Those conditions usually include riding motorcycles.

Then last year he was accused of sexual battery by a woman in Las Vegas. The woman was a worker at a casino and reportedly was asked by Roethlisberger to come to his room and fix a TV. She claims that Roethlisberger prevented her from leaving the room and forced her to have sex. The woman in that case did not go to a hospital or immediately inform police of the incident. According to reports, the woman decided against filing a criminal complaint but did file a civil suit against the QB. While Roethlisberger insisted he had done nothing wrong, there was a confidential settlement, presumably including a payment of some sort, with his accuser.

Again this off season, a 20 year old college student has accused Roethlisberger of sexual assault that reportedly occurred in a ladies bathroom in a bar in Milledgeville Georgia. The QB has a home in the area. This time the accuser both reported the alleged attack immediately and got treatment in a local hospital. The police took a report and are investigating. The police have requested a DNA sample from Roethlisberger.

Reportedly, there was video tape coverage of everything that happened or did not happen in the area of the bathroom. However, that tape mysteriously got taped over before it could be viewed by local police despite the fact that the bar security guy told a local TV station that they do not recycle tapes. Another twist to the story is that Roethlisberger was accompanied to the bar by 3 lawmen including 2 off duty Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol officers and a local deputy sheriff that was on duty at the time. It was the latter that took the original complaint from the accuser.

Steelers WR Santonio Holmes has been accused of assault by a Florida woman. She claims that he threw a glass of alcohol in her face on March 7 at the Rain Night Club in Orlando. While Orlando police refused to take a report, she has filed a civil lawsuit. Art Rooney 2 issued the following statement: “We are disappointed to learn about the recent incident involving Santonio Holmes in Florida. While we are continuing to gather the facts, I cannot comment further until we have more information and have spoken to Santonio and his representatives.” Reportedly Holmes offered the woman some money but nothing was paid to her at the time. Now the suit asks for 15K which is not a lot of money given his income.

We don’t have much more information about this incident but the issues that the Steelers are facing point out two things. First, every team in the league is more worried about their players doing something stupid in the off season than getting hurt in the off season OTAs. Of course that does not apply to Mangini allowing a player to run a contact drill without shoulder pads like he did with RB Davis last year.

The Steelers have been known as a high character and tight discipline team. We have not seen this from Pittsburgh before. So why now?

Frankly, it has nothing to do with Pittsburgh. The entire world has very little discipline or good judgment. Just look at the pinheads we send to Washington. A regular part of any sports broadcast could be devoted to the police blotter. Sports, politics, movies and music stars all seem to be lacking judgment. So what is the common factor? Youth.

The combination of a lot of money and a lack of age and experience can be a dangerous. Every pro league has this problem. Not only are very young rich men likely to put themselves in questionable situations but they are targets for anyone looking for a quick buck. As the economy gets worse, players are going to have to realize that more and more non-players are looking for just that kind of opportunity. There are also a gaggle of money hungry ambulance chasing lawyers that will talk accusers into filing a suit.

Players have to show better judgment than to put themselves in a situation where they are alone with women or in a position to be accused of inappropriate behavior. I can not understand why at his age he would be going to a college bar and inviting co-eds under 21 back to a VIP room for free drinks. What part of that seemed like a good idea at the time? If he showed that same kind of decision making on the field, he would be a 3rd string QB.

All pro leagues need to do a better job reminding players not to put themselves into these kind of situations. Unions need to be reminding players as well. DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA and his counterparts in the other player unions need to not only make annual presentations to the rookies but also to the vets. Parents should have taught their kids better as well.

None of us know what happened in any of these cases or who is telling the truth and who is not. Thank God in the US everyone is innocent until proven guilty. But the leagues, teams and the players take PR hits any time something like this happens. Given the future financial struggles of pro sports, no team can afford to lose even a few fans due to accusations of bad behavior.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think and thanks for checking our site out.

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.

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 afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: Roethlisberger,NFL,DeMaurice Smith,Holmes,Steelers. lawsuit,Georgia,sexual assult,NFLPA,off season,preseason

What happened to Brown QB Anderson?

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In business competition is necessary to insure the best performance. Anywhere there is no competition like in education, the results seem to decline with time. But a QB competition for the starting spot on an NFL team nearly always ends in disaster.

Anderson rode into the stadium on a white horse to pick up the pieces of Charlie Frye that were scattered all over the field after the first half of the Steeler game to open the 07 season. We found out later that Frye had been traded away between the 3rd and 4th quarters of that game.

He ended 07 with a slightly above average QB rating but there were signs of trouble for anyone that was watching. In the last 5 games of the 07 regular season he threw 7 TDs but 8 picks. When the pressure was on to make the playoffs with a win over the Bengals, he threw 4 picks and lost the game. He got his pro bowl status only after a gaggle of higher rated QBs backed out of the post season exhibition. The league had figured him out even if the Browns leadership had not.

But compared to the dismal QB play the team had suffered through since home town hero Bernie Kosar was released, Anderson looked like the second coming of Otto Graham. He was given a new deal and the team thought it was set at QB.

What happened to Anderson was simple. He was the victim of a pair of drive bye QB competitions. He developed a stiff neck looking over his shoulder at QB Quinn who the team had traded back into the first round of the 07 draft to take. Coach Crennel told the media he had “flipped a coin” to decide who would start at QB.

In the early games of 08, Anderson’s interception problems continued. When the bye came in week 5 he had thrown 3 TDs but 6 picks. For the rest of that year he and Quinn traded injuries and starts. The season was such a disaster that HC Crennel was fired and 5 minutes later Mangini was named the new football Czar.

The beginning of the 09 season was a disaster. It was a pre-planned 4 alarm fire because no one including the new HC knew who was going to start at QB. Quinn and Anderson split snaps during training camp and starts in the preseason. In game 4 in order to keep the Vikes guessing who would win the horse race for QB, Mangini didn’t play either one. That was a mistake but not as much as just picking one and giving him the best chance to succeed by giving his choice as many reps as possible prior to the first game.

Mangini proved to be a lot more patent than his predecessor. He started his choice–Quinn–for the first 2 games before pulling the plug. Anderson went in and continued to complete a high percentage of his passes. Unfortunately for the Browns he seemed to find defenders as often as he did his team mates. After the bye in week 9, Quinn was back and Anderson was an after thought. He did come back only when Quinn was hurt to play toward the end of the season but everyone in Cleveland knew his time there was over. He is not a has been. He is a “never was.”

Anderson is not the first QB to be ruined by a QB controversy. When there is an open competition, the locker room is automatically divided between the two guys. Some back each one. That is a formula for disaster. One of my favorite players of the “new” Browns, QB Kelly Holcomb, was also ruined by a QB competition. In 02, the Browns made the playoffs but starting QB Couch was hurt. Holcomb came in and threw for 429 yards against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in the wild card game. He ended up in that game with a 107 QB rating and the season with a 92.9 QBR. That was the beginning of the Couch/Holcomb QB competition and the end of both QB’s careers.

New football Czar Holmgren said that he will not allow a QB controversy but both Quinn and newly arrived former Seahawk Seneca Wallace both believe they will be the starter. We will have to see what happens.

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

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.

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 afternoons at 1 Eastern. He has also published several novels on

and edits .

Technorati Tags: NFL,Free agent,Anderson,Browns,Vikes,Steelers,Holcomb,Mangini,Wallace,Quinn,Crennel,Holmgren
  • Author:
  • Published: Dec 12th, 2009
  • Category: NFL Football
  • Comments: Comments Off on What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

What to look for in the NFL for week 14.

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nfl

Saints @ Falcons The Saints are undefeated and were rolling until they had a lucky win over the Redskins. If the Saints play the same way they did last week, the winning streak could end. Otherwise if QB Ryan is not playing for the Falcons, this game will be over quickly.

Packers @ Bears Both teams are struggling to overcome injuries. The Pack will be missing NT Pickett and might be without DE Jolly and LB Barnett. The Bears lost MLB Urlacher early in the season. In addition they may be without WR Hester, OT Pace, LB Briggs and DL Harris.

The Bears have not gotten the production out of QB Cutler that they expected. Part of that is his fault but part is due to a lack of a running game, below average protection, and drops by a lesser group of receivers that he had at Denver.

The Pack has playoff hopes and must win this game to keep their wild card chances alive. The D has been playing well particularly in their win last Monday against the Ravens. They still have to play at Pittsburgh and Arizona. They need this game in case they lose one or both of those games. Packers will win but it could be ugly.

Broncos @ Colts The Colts looked good against Tennessee last week after struggling to pull out a win over the Texans the week before. The Colts seem to play up or down to the competition but are still perfect. They have clinched their division and have only home field to worry about now. They have an easy schedule the rest of the way.

The Broncos are a game behind the Chargers in the division. Their 6-0 start is a distant memory since they have lost 4 out of the last 5. The win last week against a very weak Chiefs team was little help. The Broncos have an easy schedule after this game but need to stay close to top of the division but at 8-4 they are in good shape for a wild card. The big question for them is will QB Orton be playing? If not, it will get ugly for them quickly. Either way, the Colts should win at home.

Chargers @ Cowboys Both teams need this game to stay on top of their division. It should be a very fun game to watch. The Chargers are up by 1 game and the Boys are tied with the Eagles. Both have injuries. The key for the Boys will be containing the passing game of the Chargers. The visitors must pressure Boy QB Romo to slow down a good O. The Chargers should win if LB Merriman is healthy enough to play. Otherwise it’s a tossup.

Eagles @ Giants The Birds need a win to keep pace with the Boys. The Giants are a game behind both and need to win out to insure a shot at the post season. Giant QB Manning is limping on a bad foot but the O seems to play better at home.

The Eagles won 40-17 in their earlier meeting. But they had Westbrook then and he is sidelined with a concussion. After a disaster in week 10 against the Chargers, the Birds have won 3 straight. They looked very good last week against the Falcons.

While the Birds need this game but the Giants need it more. But the O fails the Giants who are struggling to run the ball this year and the Eagles win on the road.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Bengals @ Vikings This is a key game for Cincy. It is a chance to prove that they are a contender not a pretender. A win over the NFC North leader will clinch the AFC North for Cincy. But even more important is the ability to prove that they are among the very best in the league. The key for Cincy will be run blocking. If they can manage to run the ball against the Vikes, it will slow down the pass rush and allow the Bengals to balance their O.

The Vikes have looked solid except for a bad game last week at the Cards. The last 4 game are critical for the Vikes if they want to get the 2nd seed and a bye week in the post season. The game should be close but I can’t see the Bengals pulling it out. The Vikes win by a field goal.

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 Playoffs,Saints,Falcons,Redskins,Packers,Bears,Ravens,Cardinals,Steelers. Ravens,Broncos,Colts,Titans,Texans,Chargers,Cowboys,Romo,Eagles,Giants,Bengals,Vikings,Westbrook

Around the NFL for 11/14/09

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SF 10 CH 6

People around Chicago are wondering what is wrong with QB Cutler. The answer is two fold. First, the protection is bad to terrible. Second, he does not have anything close to the receivers he did in Denver. WR Hester is a KR trying to become a WR and he is the Bears top guy. The next best WR is Bennett but he is averaging less than 4 catches a game. Too many of the passes are going to RBs both because Cutler doesn’t have anyone getting open down field and he doesn’t have enough time to wait for them to uncover. TE Olsen is the best option that Culter has to go down field. The D is doing its job but they won’t win many games scoring 6 points.

The 49ers are no offensive juggernaut either but Coach Singletary has them playing hard every snap. He has just enough talent to be dangerous to team’s playoff hopes. QB Smith is showing a few hints of getting it but only time will tell if he ever becomes worth the 1st overall pick.

GAME OF THE WEEK—NE @ IN

The Pats and the Colts have had the best non-division rivalry in the league over the last few years. They meet again in Indy. Given the Colts’ injury problems in the defensive backfield, QB Brady will probably be throwing a lot. The Pats’ running game has been below average. RB Taylor is hurt and Maroney is not producing the long runs he has in the past. But Brady is hot and nearly back to his pre-injury production. The Pats’ D has struggled more than usual but at 6-2 they have a 2 game lead in the AFC East.

The Colts are depending on QB Manning because their running O has not developed. He doesn’t have his #2 WR Gonzalez who is on IR. No problem. TE Clark and WR Wayne have 60 and 59 catches receptively. WR Collie has 32 catches and Garcon has 23. The Pats DBs will struggle to keep all those targets covered.

I think the Colts will win in a very close game.

CN @ PT

The Bengals squeaked out a win at home. They will not win this one. The key will be if Cincy can protect QB Palmer. The running of Benson will keep this close because Pit can’t run much. Cincy has lost a couple of key defenders and Pit has S Polamalu who was out for the first game. Pittsburgh wins in a close game and takes control of the division.

DA @ GB

The Boys are coming off a big win last week at Philly. The Pack got embarrassed at Tampa last week. So of course the Pack will win. The Pack needs this win badly to stay in the NFC North race. The Boys can’t seem to stand prosperity. They seem to take a step forward to make room for a couple of steps back. The Pack O line is a problem but the Boys will struggle to slow down the passing game. Everything here points to a Boy win and that is why they won’t.

PH @ SD

Both teams need this game badly. Both are 5-3 but trail in their divisions. The Eagles looked really good up to last week and their loss to Dallas. They should get RB Westbrook back and the O is not the same without him. He has provided the spark that ignites the Eagle O with his running and pass receiving. The Eagle D may be missing CB Brown and NT Bunkley both of whom have missed practice time this week. They will need both.

The Chargers have not been able to run the ball at all. Since the Eagles will start blitzing coming down in the hotel elevators, the Charger O line had better be playing its best. The Eagle D will harass QB Rivers all day and the Birds should win.

MUST WIN—Denver at Washington

The Broncos were 6-0 at their bye. But they have lost both games since and scored only 17 points total. They have to win at the Redskins because there is a no win policy in the nation’s capitol. If the Broncos lose they will have wasted their great start. The D has played well even in the losses. It has been the total disintegration of the O that has caused the problem. Denver wins and gets 2 games up on SD.

Stinker of the week (decade?)–Chiefs @ Raiders 

Anyone that bets on this game deserves to lose money no matter who they picked to win.  Pres. Obama will need bail out any company that has to advertise on this game because no one in their right mind will watch it.

 

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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