Tag Archives: ray lewis

BST&N’S 2013 NFL Predictions From The Playoffs To Individual Awards


It’s almost here, but if you weren’t excited enough about the NFL returning in a couple weeks, here are a few more reasons. It’s time to make some predictions that will inevitably have clear cut outomes and boggle the minds of some while sparking some pretty intense debates. I think I have them all right, though. Here are my picks for all eight division winners, the four Wild Card teams, each conference’s championship matchup, the Super Bowl, league leaders and major award recipients.

AFC East (2): Patriots – Nine straight division titles when the team has been quarterbacked by Tom Brady? Yeah, make it 10 for New England. While they undoubtedly will be transitioning on the field this season, they are still fairly high above the other three teams in the division. Plus, their quarterback never runs into butts.

AFC North (4): Bengals – Get used to hearing “Dalton to Green” and get used to seeing the Bengals in the postseason (even if it is just for one game) for the third straight year. Cleveland will probably finish fourth.

AFC South (3): Colts – The Colts made an unbelievable turnaround in 2012 and it seems to me they are not done improving. Eleven wins last season was good, but I see them hitting at least 12 this year, including making a push to overtake the Texans late in the year with a huge win over them in Week 15.

AFC West (1): Broncos – Obviously. This one will probably be the biggest division win by any team this season. I say 14-2 for Denver with San Diego the closest to them at 7-9. Welker…and Decker…and Thomas might play a role in their success as well.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

Peyton Manning wil lead the Broncos to another division title.

AFC Wild Card (5): Texans – Houston has three of the best players in the league in Arian Foster, Andre Johnson and J.J. Watt. The supporting cast is not bad either and Matt Schaub obviously has what it takes to lead a team to the postseason. I just think the Colts will steal the division from them sooner or later and Houston will wind up in the five-spot.

AFC Wild Card (6): Ravens – Though their defense is gong to look quite different, the Ravens should be able to get enough out of Joe Flacco to back in to the playoffs as the conference’s No.6 seed. From there, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were bounced immediately as I’m a little wary that Flacco might have nothing left to motivate him.

NFC East (3): Redskins – As long as RG’s knee can hold up for 16 games, the Redskins are poised to repeat as NFC East champs. He will be an x-factor for them this season, leading them to big wins over the Packers, Falcons and Giants and clinching this division before the final night of the season.

NFC North (4): VikingsAdrian Peterson will carry them to the division title in 2013. That’s really the only way I see that happening for the Vikes, who will have to contend with the Packers and maybe even the Lions or Bears. Green Bay finishes a very close second, but will be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in.

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The “Patriot Way” & Rob “Yo Soy Fiesta” Gronkowski (Video)

If Gronk could spike the "Patriot Way" he probably would.

If Gronk could spike the “Patriot Way” he probably would.

Date: February 6, 2012

Time: Sometime in the wee hours of the morning

Location: Indianapolis

Superbowl party goer #1: “This after party is awesome!”

Superbowl party goer #2: “Yeah I know, I wish the Patriots had won the game though. I can’t stand Eli Manning.”

Superbowl party goer #1: “Hey look! Isn’t that Gronk? Why is he dancing without a shirt on? Isn’t his ankle all busted up?”

Date: February 4, 2012

Time: Once again, early in the morning

Location: Las Vegas

Superbowl party goer #1: “This after party is awesome!”

Superbowl party goer #2: “Yeah I know, I wish the Patriots were playing today though. I can’t stand Ray Lewis.”

Superbowl party goer #1: “I think Belichick had something to do with the lights going out during the game. If he can’t play in the Superbowl, nobody can!”

Superbowl party goer #2: “Dude, you’re totally right that makes so much sense! Hey look, isn’t that Gronk? Why is he dancing without a shirt on again? Isn’t his arm all busted up? DID HE JUST DDT HIS BROTHER?!”

Deja vu right?

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The Best Move The Red Sox Never Made: A-Rod

A-Rod Faces Media

A-Rod Faces Media

I don’t spend much time defending the New York Yankees. As a Boston Red Sox fan, I readily yell “Yankees S***!” at Fenway Park. I think the Yankee organization is actually evil incarnate: that those who wear pinstripes to play baseball are inherently the devils of the diamond. I think that Aaron Boone has an unmentionable middle name, and that Johnny Damon looks like Jesus, acts like Judas and throws like Mary.

It is safe to say that I think that the Yankees’ reported thoughts about voiding Alex Rodriguez’ contract are deplorable. I understand that A-Rod hasn’t been the player he once was. I get that he is on a newly released list of PED users. I understand that he makes upwards of $20 million a year. But even with all of these elements in place, I don’t think the Bronx Bombers have the right to void Rodriguez’ contract.

But this isn’t about me trashing the Yankees: this article is about me praising them. In the 2003 offseason I was fuming. I had just watched every game of what came to be a miserable campaign for the Red Sox. They took a run at the ALCS and failed in spectacular fashion; largely due to certain individuals with certain unmentionable middle names. It was clear that Boston needed some help to put their team over the top. To me, there was one prize — through the free agent market or otherwise — that the Sox should chase coming into 2004: Alex Rodriguez.

The guy had just finished an MVP season. Mind you, I do not mean to say MVP-type season, like the Jacoby Ellsburys of the world: I mean “MVP” like he actually won it. A-Rod had the best numbers in the game in 2003: .298/.396/.600 slash lines with 47 home runs in 161 games played. He was the best all-around player, creating plays on defense (at shortstop!) as well as offense.

It is true that he was accused of and admitted to using PED’s between 2001 and 2003. It’s a fact that he openly regretted his signing with the Texas Rangers to the media. Still, to use a turn of phrase coming out of Terry Francona’s newly published book, he was a very “sexy” player.

Ravens Shock Patriots, Return To Super Bowl

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the game for the Ravens.

Tom Brady sits on the ground following the interception that sealed the AFC Championship game win for the Ravens.

Remember when Tom Brady in the postseason was as sure as death or taxes? His 9-0 start to his postseason career had people all over New England thinking that this late-round diamond in the rough could never do any wrong. Three championships in his first four seasons.

None in his last eight.

Maybe it was payback. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever it was, Joe Flacco outplayed Brady, the Ravens defense outplayed that of the Patriots and as banged up as Baltimore  had been this year, it was the home team and favorite that felt the blows when it mattered most. Oh, and Ray Lewis, with the help if his good friend, God, has lived to play another day – and for the Super Bowl.

From the moment the coin hit the ground in favor of the Ravens and they deferred to the second half – stealing the Patriots’ bread and butter on their home field – it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. They committed fewer penalties, made less mistakes and completed a higher percentage of their passes. Most importantly, their zero turnovers, compared to three from the Patriots, were nothing less than huge. They were the team that executed better on Sunday.

Like it did towards the end if the regular season, the Patriots offense struggled to capitalize when their defense set them up with good field position and scored just 13 points – their lowest total of 2012. As the league’s No. 1 offense, the fewest points they had scored this year before yesterday were 18 in the Week 2 loss to the Cardinals.

The windy conditions at Gillette Stadium forced both teams to play conservatively and cost the Pats a couple chances at field goals they would normally attempt.

Their opening drive looked promising, but Wes Welker couldn’t haul in a deep pass from Brady when he had his defender beat by a couple if steps. They then almost caught the Baltimore special teams off guard, however, as Ryan Mallett snuck into the punt formation and forced the Ravens to burn a timeout.

A quick three-and-out by Baltimore gave New England the ball back, but only after a holding penalty called on Aqib Talib backed them up to their own 21. They had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Stephen Gostkowski and took a 3-0 lead on their 32nd straight red zone possession that resulted in points.

The next Baltimore drive ended quickly as well, but came at a cost as Talib hurt his thigh while breaking up a pass on third and long. Some production from last week’s star Shane Vereen on the ensuing drive and a 15-yard personal foul penalty called on Lewis were for not as Brandon Lloyd ended up dropping a tough catch on third down.

Flacco then missed an open Dennis Pitta down the field and New England couldn’t convert following a 28-yard punt return from Welker as Paul Kruger influenced the Brady pass. The Pats D allowed just one completion in the first quarter and the Ravens went 0-for-3 on third down. New England led the Ravens 3-0 after one quarter of the AFC Championship game for the second consecutive year.

As the second quarter began, Flacco would lead a 90-yard drive in his first Title Game win to put the Ravens on the board with a two-yard run by Ray Rice. Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower both missed tackles on the back as he then walked into the endzone on second down. Pitta had an 18-yard reception on third and four and Flacco took advantage of Talib’s absence, hitting Torrey Smith on a 25-yard pass to the New England 15.

Brady would answer right away, however, aided by another personal foul penalty, this time on Dannell Ellerbe. A 24-yard pass to Welker set the Pats up in good position and Brady found him again from a yard out to make it 10-7 Patriots with 4:18 left in the opening half.

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2013 AFC Championship Preview: Ravens @ Patriots

Tom Brady is going to cut Ray Lewis' last shot of another ring short on Sunday - 6:30 - CBS

Tom Brady will cut Lewis’ last shot of another ring short on Sunday – 6:30 – CBS

The stage is set for a repeat of last year’s AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium. This is the first time two teams have met in a conference championship game in consecutive seasons since 1994 (DAL & SF). The past three of four games between the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens have been decided on the final play. This tidbit is a testament to how intense the battle will be come Sunday night at 6:30. Add in the fact that this is the “last” chance for Ray Lewis; spectators can count on his aggressive play all game.

After losing their most dominant force on offense last week, Rob Gronkowski, spirits remain high in the Patriots locker room. The team has been here before and knows how to execute without one of if not the best tight end in the NFL. While Danny Woodhead is not Gronk, he too was lost early on against the Texans but it did not matter. Shane Vereen was the standout player last week, filling in for Woody, totaling three touchdowns and 124 all-purpose yards.

It has become evident year after year that on both sides of the ball, Belichick implements a system that utilizes each cog to the best of their abilities. Bill will not put a player in a position to fail by deciphering the strengths of each individual. Whether it’s putting Hernandez in open space or Welker underneath, Belichick’s 37 years in the NFL has reined superior with the Patriots. After passing Montana for the most postseason victories (17) as a quarterback, Brady is looking to reach his sixth Super Bowl in his thirteen-year career. Let’s take a look at three keys to victory against some feisty road warriors, the Baltimore Ravens.

1)   Disrupt Joe Flacco: Why are the Ravens traveling to Foxboro on Sunday to compete for a Super Bowl birth? Because of the time Flacco had in the pocket and his strong arm. There is no denying that was some of the worst coverage by Denver’s defensive backs in that Hail Mary. Regardless, Flacco was able to stand tall and deliver long balls all day against the Broncos.

In the playoffs, Joe Flacco is 8/12 for 324 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on throws deeper than 20 yards downfield. During the regular season, Flacco completed 37% of those tosses with 7 TD. Furthermore, he had the most attempts without an interception (81) of any QB. What does this mean for the Patriots? It’s two-fold.

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Beating the Ravens Will Be No Easy Task for the Patriots

For the second consecutive year, the Patriots will host the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship in Foxboro. Last year the Patriots barely got by the Ravens to advance to the Super Bowl, and although the Ravens don’t seem to be as good as they were last year, and the Patriots seem better than they do last year, I think this year’s AFC Championship game will be even tougher than last year’s.

Tom Brady Ray Lewis

Over the past week the term “Team of Destiny” has been used by many analysts and sports talk radio hosts regarding the Baltimore Ravens. The term makes most people feel nauseous, as it should, but if you think about it the Ravens really are playing like they are the team of destiny.

A win in Foxboro on Sunday would avenge the loss of year. Last year was no ordinary loss. The Ravens had a chance to win the game when Joe Flacco threw what would be a touchdown to Wide Receiver Lee Evans. That pass which was in Evans in hands was knocked out by Sterling Moore at the very last second. The Ravens as we all know then tried to tie the game with a 32 yard field goal. The easy field goal was missed by Kicker Billy Cundiff.

To lose a game like that is something teams don’t forget. Sure, this year is a different team for the Ravens, but those players who were on the field last year surely haven’t forgotten about this. Every player has been fighting all year to get back to where they got last year for a chance at redemption.

Along with the storyline for avenging last year’s loss, throw in Ray Lewis, who is playing in his final season. Every player on the field knows how important it is to show up and win for the team leader, to extend his career one more game. Although Ray Lewis is one of the best motivational speakers and teammates, you have to wonder when the “Lets win one for the Gipper” speech gets old and starts to fade for players. They won one for “the Gipper” (In the case Lewis) in the Wild Card round against the Bengals, and then they went out and won ANOTHER one for the Gipper against the Denver Broncos.

On Sunday the Ravens won’t be the only team trying to avenge a loss. The Patriots haven’t forgotten about losing to the Ravens in week 3 on primetime. That game was an even closer game than the AFC Championship game last year with the Ravens defeating the Patriots 31-30 by kicking a game winning field goal as time expired. In that game, the biggest story was the replacement officials.

Here’s a recap of that game: http://boston.sportsthenandnow.com/2012/09/24/patriots-vs-ravens-recap-five-reasons-the-patriots-lost-sunday-night/

Of course there’s a lot to play for in the AFC Championship. Most of the sports media will be hoping for a Ravens win to create better storylines, but the Patriots will try to stop that, and make things harder on the media by making them report on meaningful stories pertaining to football. With everything on the line on Sunday, and with the recent history between these two teams, this game will be no walk in the park for the Patriots.

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