Happy holidays! Here’s some shame!
Dave Dameshek dishes out holiday gifts to the most shameful from Week 16 in the NFL.
Happy holidays! Here’s some shame!
Dave Dameshek dishes out holiday gifts to the most shameful from Week 16 in the NFL.
Joe Flacco’s playoff Hail Mary against the Broncos helped propel the Ravens to a Super Bowl title. Dave Dameshek explores the outcome had Flacco’s pass fell flat. Animation courtesy of Bindledog.com.
The good news is summer has arrived. The better news is the start of the 2013 NFL season is less than 90 days away. While we wait, some of us are biding our time with fun little distractions like the NBA and/or Stanley Cup playoffs … but always looking to spin it forward to pro football.
However things turn out between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, you can be sure David Stern and ABC television execs are relieved the conference runners-up, the Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers, aren’t still playing. Over in the NHL, the league was no doubt pleased with a final that includes 1/3 of the “Original Six,” not to mention a final four that also included the defending champion Los Angeles Kings and the star-laden Pittsburgh Penguins.
As promised, it leads us to this question: which NFL conference championship games and ensuing Super Bowl would be the most captivating to us fans in February of 2014? I’m glad I asked …
This was the most popular reply after I tweeted for suggestions (follow Dave on Twitter @Dameshek) … and it’s a tough one with which to argue. On the AFC side, it’s the last prime-time showdown (probably) between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, the two guys who defined pro football’s first decade in the new millennium. The NFC title game features Round 3 of the NFL’s newest “best rivalry.”
Every Super Bowl comes with pressure, but for these teams — who’ve combined to lose the last two Super Bowls and who’ve both played two straight conference championship games — another loss in the big game would be positively devastating.
In the AFC, it’s not quite Darth Vader vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi or Aaron Rodgers vs. Brett Favre (seeing as how those rivals were in the same place at the same time), but Peyton Manning v. Andrew Luck — in the Dome Peyton Built, no less — would be pretty compelling stuff. In the NFC, the Jints face yet another brutal title game on the road as they pay a visit to Soldier Field to face one of 2013′s most potent offenses in snowy Chicago.
If you think two brothers coaching against each other in the big game caused a ruckus, imagine what’d happen if the Brothers Manning went head to head for all the marbles. Sure, seeing it in their hometown last year might’ve been even better, but Peyton (and his one ring) visiting Eli (and his two rings) with the Lombardi on the line wouldn’t be too bad.
Forget the Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium — it’d be trumped by the events in the same joint two Sundays prior, when both the stadium’s residents host the championship games on the same day. Throughout the concourses and parking lots, potbellied guys in blue No. 56 jerseys and green No. 12 jerseys would be high fiving one another while just this once, Mike Lupica would be accurate in portraying New York as the only place that matters.
Two weeks’ worth of cracks about New York’s football teams playing each other in New Jersey notwithstanding, Eli vs. The Sanchise Geno Smith shooting it out for bragging rights would be fun for fans in the five boroughs and beyond.
Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning waging war a mile high to become king of the AFC mountain is the stuff of Shakespeare (assuming the Bard digs pigskin), while Michael Vick — the forefather to this generation’s running QBs — takes on RG3.
Fans couldn’t complain about a Broncos-Eagles Super Bowl, but we can’t miss the opportunity to see sophomore superstars Luck and Griffin go head to head.
For those fans who follow the game’s history, this would be the ultimate final four. On the AFC side, the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers and thrice-victorious Raiders resuscitate their 20th-century postseason rivalry, while in the NFC another Dallas-San Francisco title-game chapter is written for the first time since Troy Aikman and Steve Young.
A showdown between the Steelers and the five-time champion Niners, arguably the NFL’s two greatest Super Bowl-era dynasties, would be great, but better still is the fourth Super Bowl installment of Pittsburgh and Dallas (the NFL’s version of Celtics-Lakers) battling it out — again — for the Lombardi. By late Super Sunday, the Steelers would have seven rings, or the Cowboys would have a sixth.
(By the way, Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tony Romo trumps any soap opera or reality show imaginable.)
If that last final four was for the league’s “haves,” this one’s for the “have nots” — specifically, some of the longest-suffering fanbases in the NFL. (Sorry, Arizona Cardinals fans, we only have four spots.) On one side, we have Cleveland visiting Buffalo, the home to some of pro football’s most loyal fans; and in the NFC, two North foes tangle in the Vikes’ dome, which has been rendered exponentially better by the football gods on the eve of the game when a blizzard breaks the baggy roof and dumps 10 inches of fresh powder on the field.
In MetLife, it would be the Vikings (0-4 all time in the Super Bowl) against the Bills (0-4 in Super Bowls) — not exactly a legendary showdown, but the teams and their fanbases — accustomed to chilly conditions — are a perfect fit in what could be a frigid event. By NFL rules — and moral decency — someone has to win … even if the final score is 5-4.
The defending champs have to go on the road to play the AFC’s most complete team, while the Niners pay a visit to the toughest place in the NFL for a visiting team to win.
What, you didn’t enjoy the last Super Bowl? It had everything: Big plays, an exhilarating comeback attempt, and a convenient (albeit extended) bathroom break in the third quarter. In other words … Harbowl II!
The 2013 offseason (and AFC East) champion Dolphins visit Arrowhead Stadium, in the same city that on Christmas Day of 1971 Miami and Kansas City played the longest game in NFL history. The NFC title is a rematch of the teams in the 1960 NFL Championship Game, this time with the game’s best QB going against Chip Kelly’s revolutionary offense.
Andy Reid going against the Eagles about an hour away from Philly would be nice … and would extend the Christmas holiday with the green-and-red color scheme. You might have noticed we didn’t take the opportunity to match the Chiefs and Packers, which would be a rematch of the first Super Bowl … but that one’s better saved for the golden anniversary Super Bowl game in the 49ers’ new stadium, especially since it’d pit former San Francisco QB Alex Smith against Bay Area kid Aaron Rodgers.
That’s still two years away, though. We’ve still gotta figure out the best matchups for February of 2015 in suburban Phoenix.
Rank catches up with Baltimore Ravens WR Torrey Smith to talk about the state of the Super Bowl champions and this weekend’s Wrestlemania. Before that, Shek, Rank, Around The League scribe Dan Hanzus and Handsome Hank talk about the worst injuries in sports history, Matt Flynn in Oakland; Carson Palmer in Arizona, March Madness, and Black Tie gives a shout out.
Download: DDFP 143: Flynn, injuries & Torrey Smith
Shek and an under-the-weather Rank welcome Around The League scribes/podcast stalwarts Marc Sessler and Dan Hanzus along with England’s No. 1 Dolphins fan, Handsome Hank, for a heated debate. Some of the topics discussed included South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, the scourge of Valentine’s Day, the best jersey for a Baltimore Ravens fan to own, the 2013 NFL playoff seedings, and if Shek should tuck in his button-down shirts.
Welp … close enough for me! Let’s face it: The confetti’s been swept, the parade is over, and Ray Lewis is playing a leisurely game of Mahjong (probably.)
Point is, the 2012 season is in the rearview mirror. Teams, players and prospective players have already turned their focus to next season. So while those guys set their draft board, practice Wonderlic tests, and prep their answers to questions about fake girlfriends, I say it’s high time we get to the business of doing what we do best: Recklessly speculating about the future. Specifically, it’s time to share the first installment of the 2013 NFL Playoff Projections — or Pro-SHEK-tions, if you please.
Be forewarned, Baltimore Ravens fans: No past achievement “they’re the champs ’til someone beats ‘em” jive here. The following is how I believe things will stack up in January of 2014, regardless of where they finished this past season. They say the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and — as of Monday morning — no one has done anything. (Well, except the New York Giants … who proved the veracity of the aforementioned cliché by cutting Ahmad Bradshaw, the guy who scored the Super Bowl-winning TD 53 Sundays ago.)
So here they are, the seedings for the 2013 NFL playoffs, the accuracy of which I absolutely, positively guarantee*.
*Unless I change my mind.
1. Houston Texans — They’ll be on a mission to finish stronger than they did in 2012; loads of talent on both sides of the ball and the AFC South isn’t exactly a juggernaut division.
2. Denver Broncos — Those “easiest strength of schedule” projections are based on last season’s records, but Andy Reid’s Chiefs and Mike McCoy’s Bolts will both be more competitive in ’13. Still, Peyton Manning is a regular-season winning machine, and will do enough to claim the West again.
3. Cincinnati Bengals — Ironically, the biggest question mark is Marvin Lewis; if 2012 first-rounder Dre Kirkpatrick catches on, Mike Zimmer’s defense could be (even more) dominant; Andy Dalton is barely above average, but has a young and talented receiving corps, led by the sublime A.J. Green.
4. New England Patriots — Hey, Bill Belichick, that knocking you hear is the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. If that o-line can’t hold up, the Pats’ drop from the top will come sooner than later.
5. Kansas City Chiefs — The preseason QB battle here will be interesting, but KC fans shouldn’t wring their hands if Matt Cassel winds up with the gig. Remember, he won the division just two years ago. Otherwise, this collection of dynamic guys is gonna take off with Reid, who’ll be coaching with a chip on his shoulder.
6. Miami Dolphins — That’s right, I just typed it! While other rookie QBs (rightly) got more attention, Ryan Tannehill had a nice, little season while throwing the ball to one of the NFL’s lousiest groups of pass catchers. Mike Wallace and/or Greg Jennings and/or Dwayne Bowe will change that in 2013. And that defense is legit.
Close, but not cigar
Baltimore Ravens (the dreaded Super Bowl hangover plus a still-aging D equals a step back); Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck is great; the defense is not); Pittsburgh Steelers (the o-line has a chance to be fantastic, but lots of questions almost everywhere else); Buffalo Bills (love the coaching moves, but need an upgrade at QB to be a threat in the AFC East).
1. Green Bay Packers — Aaron Rodgers remains the best quarterback in the world and the defense has added some nice pieces to the puzzle. They play in a division in which the one-man Vikes and elderly Bears figure to fall back in 2013. The key to making a Super Bowl run will be fixing that dreadful offensive line.
2. San Francisco 49ers — It doesn’t matter if it’s Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith or Dameshek under center, the Niners’ o-line is dominant enough to keep this team relevant. The good news is that John Harbaugh’s younger brother has the most complete team in the league. The bad news is that this team is in one of the league’s toughest divisions. (Remember when the NFC West was a punchline?)
3. New Orleans Saints — Not thrilled with the hire of the overrated Rob Ryan as coordinator of a shaky defense, but is there any chance Sean Payton and Drew Brees don’t look at the 2013 season as the opportunity to reap their vengeance on all who dare get in their path?
4. Dallas Cowboys — In a league of trends and copycats, it feels like it might finally be Tony Romo’s turn to follow in the footsteps of Eli Manning and Joe Flacco and get over the hump. They’ve got plenty of dynamic players, but of course, that’s never been the issue. If they can just beef up Romo’s protection (easier said than done, I know … but I’m a glass half-full guy), Jerry’s ‘Boys will make their long-awaited return to relevance.
5. Seattle Seahawks — Much like the Niners, with whom they now have the NFL’s “next great rivalry” (sorry, Steelers and Ravens, you had a good run at the top), the ‘Hawks are loaded just about everywhere you look. Even if Russell Wilson suffers a sophomore slump, a great defense, o-line, and the highly underrated Marshawn Lynch are enough to steady any team.
6. St. Louis Rams — In 2011, when everyone was picking them to win the division, I told you they’d start 0-5 … and they did. In 2012, when everyone was picking them to stink, I told you Jeff Fisher would right the ship and get ‘em winning … and he did. In fact, Fisher’s team went 2-1-1 against the 49ers and Seahawks. Sam Bradford has slipped through the cracks, but he’s still a young, big-armed guy who’s main problem has been the lack of viable pass catchers to target. If/when Les Snead addresses that this offseason, Chris Long, Janoris Jenkins, and the rest of the Rams will be ready to step up in the brutal NFC West.
Close, but not cigar
Atlanta Falcons (2012′s No. 1 seed out of the playoffs? Those two WRs are tough to stop, but they’re mediocre elsewhere. Plus, the NFC South will be greatly improved, with Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers ready to bust out and Doug Martin’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to build on some legitimate glimmers of hope in the middle of 2012); Detroit Lions (they’ll finish second in the NFC North, but outside the playoffs); New York Giants (Hakeem Nicks would be one of the five best WRs in the NFL if he could ever stay healthy … but he can’t); Chicago Bears (Marc Trestman has a detailed plan in place, but how is he gonna replace Brian Urlacher and other aging pieces?).
So … how’d I do? Agree or disagree with my Pro-SHEK-tions? Speak now or … don’t. Either way.
Shek & Rank welcome Super Bowl champ Brendon Ayanbadejo (@brendon310) to discuss winning the Lombardi Trophy, what the Ravens did during the blackout, the Niners’ playcalling and Flacco’s strategy to tackle Ted Ginn on the game’s last play. The fellas then talk with draft guru Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) to talk about his upcoming mock draft on NFL.com, where the Chiefs might go with the first pick, Sam Bradford’s future with the Rams and why Peyton Manning might actually be an underdog. Plus, a new Black List with thoughts on Kobe Bryant vs. Dwight Howard and a trampoline-inspired “shout out” from Black Tie (@TundeSMD).
Download: DDFP 130: Flacco’s orders
Shek and Rank are joined by Around The League hero @DanHanzus and Handsome Hank to talk about all things Super Bowl XLVII including the food in New Orleans, the mid-game blackout, and where this year’s championship ranks among the best and most exciting Super Bowls of all time.
Download: DDFP 129: Super Bowl XLVII Recap
Dave Dameshek and Adam Rank jump into the DeLorean one last time after the biggest game of the season: Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
Shek and Rank honor the classic divisional round playoffs with an equally spellbinding edition of the podcast. Highlights include Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo (@Brendon310) discussing his tweet about the New England Patriots’ “gimmick” offense, driving to the stadium with Ray Lewis, why Joe Flacco succeeds in January, and the response a gay player would receive from his teammates. NFL personnel guru Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) breaks down another postseason Peyton Manning choke, the emergence of Colin Kaepernick, and who to draft first in 2013. Around The League’s Dan Hanzus (@DanHanzus) talks about where last weekend’s games ranked all time, who was at fault for the Denver Broncos’ loss, the Atlanta Falcons’ near-collapse, and the most annoying people in commercials inspired by Black Tie’s (@TundeSMD) weekly shout out.