Road to the Super Bowl: Contenders will rise and pretenders will fall, who will be left standing #nflplayoffs

After nearly six months of NFL games the playoffs has arrived and all that remains are the serious contenders for the NFL title. Although there may still be a few more poser among the six teams remaining, at the end of the weekend their true colors will shine bright as only four teams will inch closer to representing their conference and ultimately celebrating a NFL championship in the Big Easy.

in a rodg we trustSix out of the head coaches remaining in this single elimination tournament are entering unchartered waters as they each attempt to build a legacy similar to one time Super Bowl Champion Packer Head Coach or four-time Super Bowl  winning Coach Belichick of the New England Patriots. Each of these franchises quarterbacks all have compelling stories: Peyton Manning’s (Denver Broncos) fused neck; Russell Wilson’s (Seattle Seahawks) small stature and 3rd draft selection; Colin Kaepernick (SF 49ers) youth and inexperience; Joe Flacco’s (Ravens) clutch gene missing an unaccountedbrady manning for; Aaron Rodgers (GB Packers) will his arm hold up to three games of 60+ passes due to a deficient  running game; Matt Schuab (Houston Texans) will he finally get the monkey off his back and shake off the bug of inconsistency; Matt Ryan (Falcons)will he finally win a game when it counts the most; and last but not least Tom Brady (NE Patriots) will he be forced into another shootout.

Although each of these quarterback will get their fare share of headlines this weekend do not be fooled by their gold boy looks and smiles because the outcomes of each of these games will ultimately won on the defensive side of the ball. The Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots bend but don’t break defenses have been serviceable during the regular season but they both know that the playoffs is a different beast all its owntalib and johnson. Both former Super Bowl Champion teams will rely heavily on their secondary to produce turnovers. The Patriots corner back Aquib Talib will be left in man coverage against the Texans All-Pro wide receiver Andre Johnson. Green Bay’s Charles Woodson will certainly test the youth and inexperience of 49ers quarterback Kaepernick.

The Seahawks, 49ers, and Broncos each have a number of game breakers on the defensive side of the ballseahawks each team will certainly keep the offensive coordinator and the quarterback up the night before game day. The secondaries of the Seahawks and the 49ers play most games in man coverage which gives the defensive coordinator the luxury of blitzing at a high rate. The Broncos led by All-Pro linebacker Von Miller dominate the line of scrimmage giving opposing quarterbacks very little time in the pocket.

The Atlanta Falcons certainly have their fare share of talent on the defense including a stud at linebacker in Sean Witherspoon and free safety Will Moore in the secondary. Unlike their dirty bird defenseplay-off peers the Falcons often gets overlooked but this weekend they will have an opportunity to cast their embarrassing loses to cellar dwellers into the sea of forgetfulness. As the epic battle of titans grows near tune be sure you have your pop corn ready, because this weekend its going down and it promises to be a good one Also be sure to join me Saturday 1030 EST for my NFL Playoff Primer for this weekend’s games. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark.

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Listen to internet radio with eat drink sleep sportz on Blog Talk Radio

New York Jets – Rex Ryan, writing checks that his Jets cant cash #jets

A year ago before his highly anticipated match up against crosstown rival the New England Patriot the ever enigmatic Jets head Coach referred to himself as a future Hall-of-Famer while also dawning a make shift Hall of Fame coat presuming that a bust of his image was a foregone conclusion. Not one to bite his tongue Rex Ryan finally appears to be at a lost for words as his Jets will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row with major changes and firing within the organization on the horizon. < Rex Ryan = ‘alligator mouth, hummingbird a-$ – ti’> rex hall of fame

The dismal play of the offense is unacceptable, Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez appears to have completely lost his confidence after throwing 3 interceptions in a game for the fourth time this season. After leading the Jets  to two consecutive AFC Championships expectations for him to take the next step as an elite quarterback appeared to be virtual certainty. But the Jet front office failed to retain any of the play-makers who made those playoff runs possible (Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, Jerricho nfl bust o meterCotchery). The front office’s decision to go in a more affordable direction would not have been a problem had they not drafted so horribly. From 2010-2012 the Jets have drafted twenty players which has only produced 2 starters, 11 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and 10 sacks combined this season (http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/nyj/draft.htm).

Bad player evaluations has led to wasted draft selections, poor player development, and an aging defense has truly been a recipe for disaster. The future of the Jets franchise is unknown as the front office continues to make bonehead moves like signing Mark Sanchez to an extension guaranteeing him 8 million next year and who can forget the Tebow-bania that has now been reduced to a whimper with him being a permanent fixture on the tebow gqsideline with clipboard in hand. An off-season filled with hype and shirtless runs in the rain are reasons why this once proud franchise has become the laughing-stock of the league. In order to change the fate of New York’s ‘other’ NFL team wholesale changes are in order. The lack of leadership and cohesiveness is so clear that a blind man can see it.

At this point it may be given that the general manager and the president of football operations may be sporting new NFL apparel next season. Although the http://www.firerexryan.com continues to gain steam the chances of him returning for another year may hinge on how the Jets finish the season. The Rex Ryan era has been anything short of boring from Superbowl predictions, to self-appointed Hall-of-Fame enshrinement, Rex Ryan has certainly ensured that the Jets were always relevant. Those antics are tolerable as long as you are collecting W’s but now those wins have now been replaced with embarrassing loses, in-game spats with players, and division amongst Jets players in the locker-room.

jet fans brown bagsAlthough the future of the Jet franchise is unknown the downward trend guarantees that the Jets will be preparing for more than just the NFL draft once the regular season comes to an end. Have we seen the last of Rex as Jets head coach? Is Mark ‘I throw picks for fun’ Sanchez still the franchise quarterback? Have we seenjest fans the last of Tim Tebow in the Big Apple? No matter what happens the J-E-T-S jets jets jets off-season promises to be a compelling one. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Memphis Grizzlies: Playoff fixture, Title Contender – Mo Betta Blues #memphisgrizzlies #grindhouse

Once upon a time there a pro basketball team in Memphis that always came in a distant second to Coach Calipari and his Memphis Tigers which had come within a free throw of winning a national title. Five years and four playoff appearances later the Fedex Forum are now always sold-out and the city of Memphis are fully behind this resurgent franchise that continues to show the nation and the league that they ain’t your daddy’s griz grindhouseGrizzlies.

When the Grizzlies traded the cornerstone of their franchise Pau Gasol many believed that Memphis had been bamboozled getting two broom sticks, a rusty nickel (Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, and Aaron McKie), and a vertically challenged little known big man and second round pick Marc Gasol. Although the janitorial appliances yielded little fruit as many expected the lesser known Gasol has become the franchise’s new cornerstone, ‘whose the dummy now?’

griz front courtWith his frontcourt mate, Zach Randolph fully recovered from a knee injury the Grizzlies embody the toughness and swagger of their two big men who can’t out jump an ant but constantly outwork and out hustle their more athletic counterparts. The toughness of this team is further fortified by defensive stalwart Tony Allen who was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team.

When Lionel Hollins was named coach at his disposable he had a collection of former lottery pick prema-donnas who only seemed to be concerned with their stat line and not with winning games. However, Hollins quickly cleaned house disregarding draft selections and only putting the players on the floor who exhibited toughness, hustle, and selflessness. Promising first round lottery picks Xavier Henry, OJ Mayo, Darrell Author found themselves riding the pine while second round after thoughts logged major minutes in the clutch.

It may have taken a while for young stars point guard Mike Conley and swing-man Rudy Gay to buy in the success the Grizzlies are experiencing can be largely attributed to the growth and maturity of these two. As early as high school Rudy Gay has only shown glimpses of the dominant that everyone knows that he is gay n conleycapable of. Gay has slowly come into his own become a match up nightmare that is reliable in the clutch.

Once only known as the robin to former number pick Greg Oden, Mike Conley has become more than just a facilitator finally living up to his early first round draft selection. Early in his career Conley was viewed as an offensive liability in the clutch due to a poor free throw shooting and a non-existent jump shot. Although he may never get selected to an All-Star due to the deep stable of talented point guards in the Western Conference his play during the NBA playoffs has left no doubt that he belong in the discussion of elite point guards.

force to be reckoned withAlthough the Grizzlies were on a 3-game losing streak there is no doubt in the minds of many that come playoff time this team would certainly be one to be reckoned with. Often lost in the discussion of NBA title favorites the Grizzlies have already logged impressive wins over the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunders, and the New York Knicks. See a pattern, although the Memphis Grizzlies may never make a grindhouseSportscenter highlight, do not be surprised if the Larry O’Brien trophy calls the House of Blues its new home. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Anthony Denmark is a writer for eatdrnkslpsprtz.com. Follow him on Twitter@eatdrkslpsprtz2, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

Dwight Howard – ailing back, 4th quarter liability, questionable work ethic = Max contract?? #dwightmare

Last night Dwight Howard record his fifth consecutive double-double, but what did it matter if the Los Angeles Lakers continued their losing ways with a dismal 2-8 road record. Although Dwight has already been voted to his 6th consecutive All-Star game the question must be asked, has he reached his ceiling? Have we alreadysuperman rises seen the best of what he has to offer? For nearly nine seasons fans have witnessed Superman run like a gazelle and dish out punishment leading the league in rebounding and block shots.

But after off-season back surgery fans have only seen glimpses of the dominant force who clearly is not operating at 100%. Although his early return may be for the good of the team in the long run Dwight is only doing himself and the Laker franchise a disservice. Dwight is currently averaging career lows in a contract year and after a disastrous last season which ended with his exit more than his performance will be used to determine who enters the Dwight-sweepstakes and what will be the final asking price this summer.

d12Yes, Dwight is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds but have anyone ever left you so unimpressed because the player was truly capable of doing more especially judging by his performances in season’s past. Although D-12 may never be considered a mediocre player averaging twenty points per game does not automatically make you elite or does it automatically give you entry into the NBA Basketball Hall of Fame.

When compared to the other big men who dawned the purple and gold Dwight ranks in a distant seventh at best when compared to the other Laker big men:

  1. Wilt Chamberlinlaker big men
  2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  3. Shaquille O’Neal
  4. George Mikan
  5. Bill Walton
  6. Pau Gasol
  7. Dwight Howard

The big men ranked ahead of Dwight were dominant big men who took pride in their craft whose games and skills expanded and improved each year while they were in the NBA. Although Dwight’s legacy has yet to be determined in its entirety an ailing back and a continued lack of maturity may end up being his demise.

Each year in the league his current teammate Kobe Bryant added something new to his repertoire in his questdunking dwight for greatness. Since coming into the league straight from high school what new has Dwight Howard added to his game beside the occasional dunk and swat. Those who are great are always working on their games, its apparent that the same cannot be said about Dwight Howard who seems to be more concerned with becoming an actor and promoting his new Adidas shoes.

d12 decisionDwight will certainly become a wealthy man because of the game of basketball but once he can no longer run faster or jump higher than his peers what legacy will he leave. In the NBA there are many tells of ‘shoulda, coulda woulda’s, if Dwight does not grow up he will end up on that list and not in the Hall of Fame. As the season progresses he future with the Lakers and his play will be watched closely. Will he be a Laker next year? Another True Hollywood Story, stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Los Angeles Lakers: From first to worst? Another true hollywood story #lakernation

Last night the Los Angeles Lakers reached a new low as they were run out of the arena by the Cleveland Cavaliers bringing their abysmal road record to 2-7. At the start of the season the Laker faithful envisioned a return of the Showtime Lakers but so far this season it seems like Kobe has been the only one who is showing up for games while his peers look like their just collecting checks. The personnel on the court clearly do not fit the system that D’Antoni wants to run and with the front office already strapped for cash the question many will ask is what do they do now?

An 82-game season has already cost the Lakers their starting point guard Steve Nash the first quarter of thed12 brick season, due to age and nerve damage in his shin his return continues to be unknown. In his quest for the big stage among the stars of Hollywood Dwight Howard has consistently folded under pressure, proving to be liability and deflecting blame for his poor play in crunch time. (9-21 from the stripe against his former team the Orlando Magic).

Too make matters worst the wear and tear of 16 year pro career in addition to his yearly commitment to the Spanish National Team has finally caught up to Pau Gasol who is currently collecting DNP (do not plays) due to arthritis in his knees. Although he has struggled to assimilate into D’Antoni’s offense the contributions of a career 18 pt 10 reb has certainly been missed.

laker best losersWith the Laker front office having large contracts and no desirable assets outside of Kobe Bryant it looks like a long season of unmet expectations appears to be in store. As the frustration continues to mount expect there to come a time when Kobe reaches his breaking point like he did back in 2007 when he demanded to be traded.  Although Phil Jackson is somewhere laughing at the current state of the Lakers it is critical that this team exhibit some resilience or they risk missing the playoffs all together.

If the Lakers went from title favorite to not even sniffing the playoffs a once proud franchise would be in a phil chipcomplete state of embarrassment and total disarray. At this rate its safe to assume that Gasol and Metta World Peace have played their last season in a Laker uniform as their contracts are likely to be bought out at season’s end. The fate of Dwight Howard remains unknown but judging by Coach D’Antoni’s man crush it appears that the Lakers are committed to making Dwight their franchise player.

Despite failing to meet expections the Lakers have been anything but boring so far fire dantonithis season. As D’Antoni’s former team the New York Knicks continue to thrive his Lakers continue to lose using the same broken system that cost him his job in New York. Who would have imagined that the Lakers would have to settle with the Knicks sloppy seconds. If only the Lakers front office had a reset button the season may have turned out so different. As the drama and suspense continues stay tuned. I know I will – A. Denmark

New England Patriot Dominance and NFC Parody – in search of a NFC King #superbowl

Parody in the NFL has become a widespread phenomenon that has infected the entire NFC. The only team that appears to be immune to its elixir are the New England Patriots who continue to widen the gap of dominance over their AFC counterparts. NFC division leaders New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and Atlanta Falcons have all been remarkably inconsistent all season suffering loses to unacceptable opponents and conference cellar dwellers.

The regular season is nearly over and no dominant team from the NFC has separated themselves from the packNFL Playoffs 2013 as a prohibitive favorite to represent the conference for the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Unlike the NFC teams the Patriots continue to stomp on the throat of their opponents and it would not be considered presumptuous for their fans to start booking flights and making hotel arrangements to Bourbon street for another shot at another Super Bowl.

As the playoff picture begins to become more clear fans and odds makers alike have no clue who will contend. At the start of the season the Green Bay Packers were projected to have the best chance to win another Superbowl.

Green Bay PackersAlthough the play of the Packers has been impressive at times, the Packers have failed to overcome the injury bug as well as produce a serviceable running game. Last week against the reigning Super Bowl Champion New York Giants they were thoroughly dominated as the G-men defensive line made life for Aaron Rodgers a nightmare.

Led by Eli these same New York Giants have also been remarkably inconsistent recently ending a 4-game no touchdown pass drought. Despite holding onto a slimColin Kaepernick San Francisco 49ers lead in the division over the resurgent Washington Redskins there chances of repeating and potentially missing the playoffs all seem like unsurprising outcomes. Their NFC Conference Championship foe the San Francisco 49ers are still breaking in quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has been both electrifying and riddled with mistakes all alike.

The Falcon continue to prove pundits right with two embarrassing loses to two teams with records below .500.Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Despite an 11-2 record has their ever been a team with such an impressive record that everyone presumes will make an early playoff exit like they have done in times past The last three Super Bowl winners were NFL wildcards which means teams like the dangerous Seattle Seahawks and the talented but inconsistent Chicago Bears may serve as more than just first round exits during the postseason.

As the season progresses the Patriots eventual crowning as AFC Champion seems like a certainty. However, history has shown us that the Super Bowl Super Bowl 48 New OrleansChampion may come from the NFC for the fourth time in five years. Although the Patriot’s eventual foe has yet to be determined their challenger promises to be compelling none the less. Will the Giants and Falcons shake the bug of inconsistency? Will the 49ers led by their unproven quarterback prove pundits wrong and return to the site of their last Super Bowl run in 1990? Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark

Lin-who? Lin-what? Lin-plz?: New York Knicks, a contender to remember? #nyknicks

148 days and $25 million dollars ago fans of the New York Knicks was unsure of what the future held for their promising franchise. The anxiety felt by the Madison Garden faithful was understandable due to the many questionable off-season moves the Knicks front office had made in the past. With those memories still fresh in the minds of many, the Knicks front office decision to part ways with Jeremy Lin a break star who had become a global icon and over-night sensation. But eighteen games into this season the decision to pass on Lin-sanityfelt so good looks like a brilliant move that has not only saved the franchise millions but also gave them the flexibility to sign point guard Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd at bargain prices and also retain their two 3-pt marksmen, JR Smith and Steve ‘discount-double-check’ Novak.

After two convincing wins over the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat the Knicks are entering themelo defense jokes unchartered territory of expectation. Projected to finish no better than fifth in the Eastern Conference the New York Knicks currently sit in first place. What makes the Knicks ascension so impressive is that the Knicks have yet to play a game with their full arsenal of players ( Shumpert out with knee & Stoudamire out with knee). Coach Mike Woodson has done a remarkable job of instilling a tough defensive mentality in players who used to be only concerned with scoring. Although Carmelo my never contend for defensive MVP the effort that he has begun to exert on the defense has set a tone of unselfishness and sacrifice required of a star if he wants to contend for a NBA title.

jr smithOnce only known for scoring it appears that Carmelo has finally came into his own as the leader of this franchise. His growth as player may largely be attributed to future Hall-of-Fame point guard Jason Kidd who became a Knick this off-season. With Melo out due to a laceration on his shooting hand Coach Woodson continues to build depth and solidify a solid second unit that will become an asset during the playoffs.

At this point it appears that the entire Knicks franchise has bought into the Woodson philosophy but everyone will hold their breath to see if Amare Stoudamire and Imam Shumpert follow suit. As the season progresses the expectations for the New York Knicks will continue to mount. It has been nba titlenearly four years since Madison Garden was home to an NBA Champion. They have the star in Carmelo, the defensive stalwart in Tyson, the bench and defensive minded coach to contend for a title. As the season continues NY loyalist will prepare to be disappointed but hope to be proven wrong. Stay tuned… I know I will. –  A. Denmark