Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Tough Truth

There has been no player in college sports that has been as awe-inspiring as now former Boston College linebacker Mark Herzlich. From the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year to being diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in 2009, then to his triumphant return to the college game this past fall, his journey has been one of legends. On a personal level, watching this guy play the game has been nothing short of fascinating.

However, on a football level - the truth is more than evident: Mark Herzlich could have been literally one of the most dominating players in the NFL, had things not taken an awful turn.

Not many on the national stage understand what watching Herzlich play in 2008 was like. On Chestnut Hill, he was our All-American linebacker who played sideline to sideline better than any player in the country. Herzlich led one of the top defenses in the land, black paint covering his face, he intimidated ACC offenses up and down the Eastern seaboard. It wasn't just all that, it was how hard he played the game and how great he was at the same time. Loose ball, he was on it. Tipped pass, it was him. Tackle for a loss, Herzlich. When the Seattle Seahawks selected comparative Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry 4th overall in 2008, I was sold - not only was Herzlich going to be the 3rd consecutive player from Boston College to be selected in the top ten, he'd no doubt be an instant hit! Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan [3rd in 2008], Green Bay Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji [9th in 2009], next was supposed to be Herzlich. At 6'4", 238 lbs., Mark Herzlich was simply the most impressive defensive player in the country headed into his senior season on Chestnut Hill.

Then in the Spring of 2009, it all came to a very abrupt halt. With a tumor in his left femur, diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Ewing's Sarcoma, football was appropriately pushed to the back burner. A For Herzlich, it without a doubt had to be a crushing blow. Put aside the promising football career at the highest level, his life was at risk. However, despite what he had to be thinking in private, Herzlich never seemed to lack confidence in his recovery. After doctors told him he'd most likely not return to the field, Herzlich responded:

"Obviously, I'm not going to play this year because of the chemo. But I'm going to spend a lot more time in the film room and will do more mental learning. I really want to come back next year and pick up where I left off."

Mark Herzlich spent the 2009 college football season on the sidelines cheering on his teammates and being an inspiration to everyone watching him recover. As Boston College fans dawned gold t-shirts encouraging everyone to "Beat Cancer" with Herzlich's signature face paint on the front of them, Herzlich became a hero for his toughness and courage. In early October of 2009, Herzlich announced to everyone that his body was 99% cancer-free, and the return to the field he spoke so strongly of, would actually be possible.

This fall, Mark Herzlich did exactly what he said he would, returned for his senior season just 21 months removed from finding out he had cancer. With a titanium rod inserted in his left leg, face paint and all, Mark Herzlich was back to playing football. I've never been more impressed with any athlete in my life, ever. Herzlich fought as hard to beat cancer in 2009 as he did to win the 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year, showing us all exactly what courage was.

Yet as good as the story was watching him play in the 2010 season, I've come to the very honest conclusion: He isn't the same player who took the field in 2008, flat out, and what should I have expected? The guy had cancer! Watching him play opposite All-American teammate linebacker, Luke Kuechly, it was obvious. He was good, but not the player we saw in 2008. He is no longer a top-ten NFL Draft selection, he may not even be a selection period. As much as we want him to be the same player, the player we loved to watch two years ago, he isn't. He's lost more than a step, and it's that titanium rod in his leg that is to blame, a constant reminder of what the horrible disease took from him. I wrote this for a reason, I want a team to take a flyer on Mark Herzlich, I want this kid to get a shot in the NFL, he deserves it, more than anyone else.

I'll end with this, Mark Herzlich may never disrupt an NFL backfield as we thought he surely would, yet what Mark has done over the past two years is bigger than any sack in any professional game could have been. Mark Herzlich has taught thousands of people watching him exactly what it means to be courageous in the face of adversity. Yes, Mark Herzlich actually is a role model and an athlete.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conference Championship: Pick 'Em

After Atlanta(1) and New England(1), two of the best home teams in football, were stunned last weekend in their own buildings, everything opened up. Chicago's defense now looked even nastier. Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay looked and felt like the next Super Bowl champs. Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh now look more and more likely to reach their 3rd Super Bowl in six years. As for the Jets, knocking off Peyton & Tom was just for starters, another Super Bowl winning quarterback looks to be the main course. Tuning up for the Conference Championships later this afternoon, let's go!

Last Weekend: 0-4
Playoff Record: 2-6
Regular Season: 138-110-7

Get After It!

Green Bay At Chicago Splitting the season series, these two NFC North rivals are sure play a close one at Soldier Field. The Bears are coming off a convincing win at home against Seattle last weekend. Their defense looks as sharp as they have for most of the season. You know the usual suspects, Peppers, Urlacher, Briggs, and Tillman lead that hard-hitting Bears defense. For the Packers, they couldn't be higher. Blowing up the Falcons last weekend, both Aaron Rodgers and the Packer defense looked very, very, Super Bowl ready. However, in the two games against Chicago this season, Rodgers has been sacked twice while throwing two interceptions. If Green Bay cannot run the football at all, making them a one dimensional offense, that Packer line better be ready to protect Rodgers against an 'ears pinned back' Julius Peppers Bears led defensive line. The Packers may win a close-low scoring game but I don't buy giving the home-team points in a Conference Championship game. Bears +3.5

New York (Jets) At Pittsburgh Ben Roethlisberger is eight quarters away from becoming a 3x Super Bowl winning signal caller. The Steelers quarterback knows how to win and is one of the best in the league at extending plays. If their young core of receivers, Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace, and Emmanuel Sanders play like they did against Baltimore, Roethlisberger and the Steelers will be headed to North Texas. Then there is the Jets, they attack offensive lines and really get after quarterbacks. The Jets are playing it one way, keep the game close, play tight defense, be in the game in the closing minutes, and it's gotten them this far. Rex Ryan's defense will have to be able to stop the run, in particular Steeler running back Rashard Mendenhall - a 1,200 yard, 13 touchdowns rusher. The 'x-factor', as cliche as it sounds, is Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. In New England last week, Sanchez played interception free, completed 16 of 25 passes, and threw three touchdown passes, exactly what the Jets needed from him. I like the the Steelers to pull this one out late, they've got that championship pedigree, but the Jets keep it close. Jets +4

For all of you reading at home, the Packers & Steelers are headed to North Texas but with all four of these teams being virtually equal - expect games seperated by a field goal or less. . .

Want more Lynchy? Follow us on Twitter @LynchyRightNow on The RightNow Podcast.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quick Snap: Jets Shock

You had to know they'd come out tough, not this tough. The Jets got in Tom Brady's face very early and stayed in it. With a 28-21 win in Foxboro the New York Jets walked the walk, every last step. While Monday is going to be all about how the trash talking was worth it, focus more on what the J-E-T-S went out and accomplished:

[1] The Jets avenged that 45-3 beatdown they were served earlier this season.

[2] Their defense went out and sacked Tom Brady five times, disrupting the games toughest offense to plan for.

[3] Mark Sanchez had a confidence building day for the books - 16 of 25 for 194 yards and three touchdowns.

[4] Shonn Greene got going. The Jets running back who played very well in the 2009 postseason came up huge averaging close to five yards a carry on Sunday afternoon.

[5] Beating a second-straight Super Bowl winning quarterback in their place, really proves this team can do what they've said they could do all along.

The Jets gameplan seemed to be a simple one, drop back every defensive back and stay away from blitzing something which Rex Ryan wasn't used to doing, but it worked. Tom Brady had no one to pass to, he seemed frusterated and concerned as every moment passed and at the end of the game, the Patriots are going home. Wow.

Quick Snap: Bears Advance

For a fleeting second the Seahawks had an opportunity, unfortunately that was when they woke up this morning. The Bears executed near flawlessly against Seattle earlier today. Quarterback Jay Cutler completed more than 50% of his passes while staying interception free on the afternoon, a must have if the Bears plan on reaching the Super Bowl. Chicago's dissection of the darling Seahawks was nothing short of masterful. Consistently placing the Seahawks in terrible field position situations, rushing the ball as a team 45 times for 176 yards, completing big plays which included pass plays from Jay Cutler of 58, 39, and 26 yards, and lastly playing that defense they've become known for. Since early November the Bears have played great football (aside from the 36-7 beat down from New England), heading into the NFC Championship game against a familiar opponent, the Packers, Chicago has gotten their defensive minded team right to the cusp of the Super Bowl. Impressed.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quick Snap: Packers Roll

Uncle! Uncle! Uncle! The Falcons are still begging from Atlanta to Wisconsin. After Aaron Rodgers put on a passing clinic against the top-seeded Falcons on Saturday night, they've served notice;

By all accounts, they're doing the damn thing.

After knocking off the NFC East champs a week ago, the Packers went into the Georgia Dome and ripped it up - with ease. Putting 48-points on Atlanta in their place, you've got to give them credit because Rodgers and 'The Pack' are peaking at the right moment. His cast of receivers are second to none. Between the veteran Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, the Packers receivers go get the ball. No pocket break-down is too hard for Rodgers to escape and find Jennings, Driver, and Jordy Nelson. Have Packers fans realized that Rodgers has more than replaced Brett Favre and he's actually a top flight signal caller in this league? His 31 of 36 performance in Saturday night's Divisional Playoff game is mind-numbing. And that defense? Raji, Matthews, Hawk, Woodson, and newcomer Tramon Williams, they're getting after it!

Quick Snap: Steelers Win

Well, that was interesting. When the Ravens and Steelers meet, it isn't just a hard faught game, it's a physically brain pounding fight. Pittsburgh outscores Baltimore 24-3 in the second half to rebound from a 21-7 halftime deficit. The tale of two halves this game was. Baltimore comes out and gets all the turnovers in the first half and the good field position that comes with them. In the second half, Flacco & Co. make it their turn with the turnovers. For the most part, it seems to be the same principal in the postseason:

Keep the game close, rely on your quarterback to put you in position to win the game in the final quarter.

In this game, that continued to be true. The 2X-Super Bowl winning Steeler quarterback completed 19 of 32 passes with the most important completion coming on a 58-yard strike with just about two minutes remaining to put the Steelers in position for the go ahead touchdown. Even more impressive, that stingy Steeler defense. Forcing two fumbles and intercepting a Joe Flacco pass, the Pittsburgh defense really put it to the Raven offense in the second half, ball game!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pick 'Em: Divisional Round

Wild Card Weekend: 2-2
Regular Season: 138-110-7

Playoffs - Divisional Round

Baltimore At Pittsburgh Saturday 4:30 PM [EST] You either love these games or you despise them. The class of the AFC North squares off in Pittsburgh later today for what is sure to be a tight one. They split their season series with the Ravens winning by three way back on October 3rd and the Steelers paid 'em back with a 3-point win of their own in early December. With points being at a premium it's going to be the quarterback who avoids costly turnovers and the running game that puts in work. Toss up. Ravens +3

Green Bay At Atlanta Saturday 8:00 PM [EST] Despite what is going on in Foxborough tomorrow afternoon, this is the game of the weekend. Two high-powered offenses led by young and talented quarterbacks with great coaches on each sideline. When these two teams met on November 28th in Atlanta, the Falcons closed the door late and the Aaron Rodgers fumble on the goal line earlier in the game proved to be the difference maker. The Green Bay defense is going to slow down Michael Turner who peeled off 110-yards in their last meeting. Falcons win in a close one for sure. Falcons -2

Seattle At Chicago Sunday 1:00 PM [EST] This game is going to go one of two ways; (1) The Bears defense really flexes their muscles and bring Seattle back to earth. (2) The Seahawks hang tough and prove they might just belong in the postseason. I like the Seahawks with ten points, the Bears offense is not an offense that fears me and the Seahawks are playing with house money. With a Packer win on Saturday night and the Seahawks with an upset, your NFC Championship would be taking place in the upper Northwest. Seahawks +10

New York (Jets) At New England Sunday 4:30 PM [EST] After all the talk is done, we're left with the facts: Mark Sanchez is going to go have to win in New England and that I just can't get past. Sanchez is 'okay' and that may just be about all I can say for him. Brady and the Patriots are going to take a two-touchdown lead into halftime and Rex and his band of misfits won't be able to come back on the road against the MVP. I completely expect this game to be over much quicker than it was a month ago. Patriots -9

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Way To Wrap

First, congratulations to the both the Oregon Ducks and Auburn Tigers, Monday night was worth the more than a month long lay-off.

With the nation's top two offenses averaging close to 50 points-per-game squaring off in Glendale, Monday night's National Championship was supposed to break the scoreboard. Four hours later, Auburn kicker Wes Byrum drilled a game winning 22-19 field goal right through the uprights - ball game.

Led by 6'5", 298 lb. NFL ready, defensive tackle Nick Fairley the Auburn defense held Oregon's high-powered offense to under twenty-points for the just the second time this season. Oregon super-back LaMichael James (1,682 regular season yards) was stifled to just 49 yards on 13 carries. From wire-to-wire, Oregon's offense ran into the teeth of an SEC powerhouse defense that just wouldn't bend. The safety punishing LaMichael James in his own endzone right before the half. Stuffing the Ducks on 4th and goal at the end of a 10 play 72-yard drive. Forcing Oregon to punt in back-to-back drives to start the final quarter. Time and again, the Auburn defense showed up and wrote the story of the BCS National Championship, the fifth straight winner from the SEC Conference. It may have been the Heisman Trophy winning Cameron Newton which led the Tigers to close wins in Starkville and Tuscaloosa, but it was their defense which delivered in Arizona on the games biggest stage against the games most explosive offense. Tip your cap to Gene Chizik and Auburn for "doing what they do" in the National Title game and letting the celebration begin at Toomer's Corner. War Eagle.

A Few Last Words:

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck just made a huge mistake in my opinion. For every Sam Bradford and Peyton Manning, quarterbacks who weren't hurt by choosing to return to the college game rather than jumping to the NFL early, there is 10-15 cases of a players stock plummeting by doing that same thing. Andrew Luck's hype was at a pinnacle in the post-Orange Bowl media circus. Coming off his sophomore season there was no signal caller within thirty-miles of Luck's game. However, his return to Palo Alto for his junior season has warning signs written all over it. A new head coach coming in, Harbaugh is headed to the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers. The risk of injury, Sam Bradford being the exception and not the 'norm.' His development taking a step back, see Washington quarterback Jake Locker. I'm sure that a degree in architectural design from a school as good as Stanford is a desirable thing for anyone, but hands down, lock it up, #1 guaranteed pick, well that's not something you just pass up for one more dinner at the student union.

Michigan's moving in the right direction. Choosing former Wolverine defensive coach (1995-2002) Brady Hoke, was absolutely the best choice for athletic director Dave Brandon and the Michigan fans. With fans rabid for this program to be great again, Brandon was poised to pin down exactly the guy fit for the position in Ann Arbor. With Michigan alum and former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh headed to the NFL, rumours began swirling around fellow alum and current LSU Tiger Les Miles. Miles was considered previously in 2007 when this position came open but ultimately the school chose Rich Rodriguez. So three years later, with a 1.25 million dollar Michigan buy-out written into his current LSU contract, it should have come as no surprise that Miles may bolt the 'Bayou in favor of his Alma Mata. The holdup? Brandon had other plans in mind. The one time CEO of Domino's Pizza turned Michigan AD hadn't been around the first time Miles' name had been floated about in 2007, and didn't care. After making quick work of Rodriguez' tenure in Ann Arbor, Brandon wanted someone both familiar with the program, knew what it took to recruit here, with experience in turning around programs, and ultimately, someone who could win in the Big 10. Enter Brady Hoke: Hoke was on this staff for eight seasons, he watched Charles Woodson become a Michigan legend, he turned around both Ball State and most recently at San Diego State, but more importantly he was on that 1997 National Championship winning Wolverine staff. You don't get much more Michigan than Brady Hoke, and that was everything Rich Rodriguez was not.

Finally . . .

I don't want to forget Andy Dalton and TCU. The Horned Frogs have the unfortunate luck of being the only team this side of Auburn with a similar unblemished record and no National Title to pair with it. Behind senior quarterback Andy Dalton the Horned Frogs took their 12-0 record to Pasadena and the Rose Bowl while standing toe-to-toe with a 1-loss Wisconsin Badgers team, and came out 13-0. Beating the Badgers on New Year's Day in the Rose Bowl was exactly what TCU needed to earn some respect as a non-automatic qualifier in a BCS Bowl Game. Yet at the end of the day, I'm still feeling a bit dissatisfied with the NCAA football season. The Horned Frogs held the country's fifth highest scoring program to their lowest point total of the season, just another day in the life of an undefeated team. While I agree that Auburn is good enough to be the National Champions and well deserving, can you argue that they'd stomp TCU? Could you argue that TCU and Gary Patterson wouldn't put together a gameplan to slow Cam Newton? Can you argue that Andy Dalton, a player that was sacked only eight times this season, would become just another quarterback for Nick Fairley and the Tiger defense to torment? At the very least, send the Horned Frogs an invite to play Auburn in the near future.

Wrapping up another incredible college football season, a National Championship game that was everything we expected, a Heisman winner as controversial and dominating as the one we had, and excitement heading into 2011. Roll Tide.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Pick 'Em: Wild Card Weekend

Woooooooooo! Regular season in the books! It's been a wild one, and LynchyRightNow completed the regular season just 28-games over the .500 mark. We're entering Wild Card Weekend, it's Saturday football, followed by Sunday football, my head is about to spin off.

Get After It!

Week 17: 5-11
On The Season: 138-110-7

Saturday, January 8th

4:30 PM ET New Orleans At Seattle Line down to 10-points with weather being very SeattleESQUE - rainy. Earlier this season the Saints beat up the Seahawks 34-19 in the 'Bayou. This time however, the game is headed to Washington where Seattle has the crowd on their side. Brees threw for nearly 400 yards in their last meeting, I expect more of the same. Saints -10

8:00 PM ET New York (Jets) At Indianapolis Peyton Manning put this team on his back to make sure they got into the postseason despite all their injuries. Too many questions and too much drama surrounding the Jets, they're more bark than bite just as I thought. Peyton leads the Colts to victory late, and the Rex show is over. Colts -3

Sunday, January 9th

1:00 PM ET Baltimore At Kansas City I've heard Ray Lewis say it more than once, they take personal pride in stopping with Kansas City can do, run the football. With the way the Chiefs played last week, I don't have a good taste in my mouth and firmly think John Harbaugh has something to prove this week, just like his brother did earlier this week. Ravens -3

4:30 PM ET Green Bay At Philadelphia I put cash money on the Packers to go all the way at 10-1 odds, and I feel good about it. The Packer defense can get after it just like both New York and Dallas did, their offense can put points on the board and hang with Philadelphia, Goodell's fears of Michael Vick in a Super Bowl end here. Packers +3

You ready?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Power Up: Postseason Power Rankings

1. The New England Patriots The Patriots are 4-1 against the other AFC playoff teams with the lone loss coming in week 2. Winners of eight consecutive, finishing the season 14-2, the Patriots are the clear cut #1.

2. The Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan and Hall of Famer Dan Marino are the only two quarterbacks in the history of the game to win 33 games in their first three seasons as a starter. So it should be no surprise that Ryan has the Falcons in position with home field advantage and a bye week.

3. The Green Bay Packers Their win against Chicago last week and the Giants the week before has really got the Packers rolling. The Packer defense is getting all the hype this week and if any of these Wild Card teams are going to do it on the road, it's the Packers.

4. The New Orleans Saints They're defending champs, playing on the road against the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. Pierre Thomas moved to the IR with fellow running back Chris Ivory, not a good sign for next week but the Saints will survive in the greater northwest this afternoon.

5. The Pittsburgh Steelers There is one glaring problem with the Steelers reaching the Super Bowl this season, the top-seeded Patriots own them. Other than that, the Steelers will be playing at home in the postseason with a defense that is always amongst the tops in the league and a quarterback with two rings on his hand.

6. The Indianapolis Colts On reputation alone, I think Peyton Manning comes out and torches the J-E-T-S, he's got something to prove. Playing at home the Colts are going to be sharp and this team is amazingly under the radar, they find a way to win.

7. The Baltimore Ravens I'm not sold on Joe Flacco and I've made no attempt to hide that. The Ravens defense is excellent, but we've known that for years. If this team is going to take the next step, it must be through that offense scoring points, you won't beat the Patriots, Colts, or Steelers by kicking field goals and playing defense.

8. The Philadelphia Eagles Philadelphia was forced to rest Michael Vick because of how their offensive line has struggled at the end of the season. The Giants and Cowboys did an excellent job exposing how to attack a player who looked untouchable prior to the last fourth of the season.

9. The Chicago Bears Nooooo. I refuse to believe Jay Cutler is going to put a team on his back and reach the Super Bowl. Whoever they play next week will get a really tough defense but you won't have to worry about the Martz/Cutler project, bank that.

10. The New York Jets Stop talking. You're going into the postseason on the heels of losing 3 of their last 5 and backing into the tournament. Why talk about Brady & Manning, Rex? You can't talk about them, till you can beat them.

11. The Kansas City Chiefs K.C. looked terrible against Oakland in the final week, not a way to enter the playoffs. Playing at home is the only thing going for the Chiefs, Ray Lewis looking over at Matt Cassel isn't the way you want to start things off.

12. The Seattle Seahawks He may be nuts, but Ole' Pete Carroll is in the tournament and thats more that can be said for 20 other NFL teams. Let's be honest though, this is a team who got outscored 112-54 in the three weeks leading up to the Rams game.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Patriot Games: Regular Season Wrap

With 'The League' wrapping up this past Sunday, we wanted to cast our ballots for all the regular season awards. With the New England flavor spread throughout the last eight weeks of the season, the postseason awards will be no different.

My Ballot:

Coach Of The Year: Bill Belichick. The Patriot head coach wrapped up his fourth 14-win season on Sunday putting him in a league of his own. Even more impressive is his ability to coach up a very young defense and four weeks into the season trade away a talent like Randy Moss without missing a beat. No debate, Belichick did a tremendous on-the-field job in 2010.

General Manager(s) Of The Year: Nick Caserio, Bill Belichick, and Floyd Reese. The Patriot brass hit homeruns with 1st-round selection now Pro-Bowl defensive back Devin McCourty and 2nd-round selection tight end Rob Gronkowski. Didn't flinch at trading Randy Moss. Hit a solid-double with Danny Woodhead after the season-ending injury to Kevin Faulk. I marvel at what the Patriots front office has put together this season.

Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Quarterback Sam Bradford. He's one of six quarterbacks to take every snap under center this season, and he's a rookie. Bradford has transformed a team which won one game a season ago into a team competing for division championships and playoff spots. The former Heisman Trophy winner lost both Donnie Avery and Mark Clayton, two of his top receivers, and still had a great year.

Defensive Rookie Of The Year: Ndamukong Suh, the Lions 1st round selection (2nd pick overall) proved to be worth every bit of hype he was drafted with. Recording 10 sacks in his rookie season, Ndamukong Suh became the focal point of the Lions defense. The 23-year old rookie put his speed and power on display every week and closed out the season with a five tackle, one sack, and a forced fumble performance against division rival Minnesota.

Offensive Player Of The Year: Falcon receiver Roddy White was selected to his third straight Pro Bowl this week (1st as a starter) and it was well deserved. Roddy White was huge reason why the NFC #1 seed Falcons earned home field advantage by going 13-3 in the regular season. White caught more receptions (109) than any receiver in the league, finished 2nd in receiving yards, while hauling in nine touchdown receptions and becoming the favorite target of quarterback Matt Ryan. In a three week stretch earlier this season White recorded 27 receptions for 388 yards and four touchdowns, against defenses in Baltimore, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay.

Defensive Player Of The Year: Defensive end Julius Peppers gets my vote. When I watch the Bears defense this year, with a healthy Brian Urlacher in the middle, one thing stood out ~ 9-Year veteran Julius Peppers. All season long Peppers forced opposing offenses to pay attention to where he was on the field. Double-teaming him off the edge, opening up the middle for linebackers like Urlacher and Lance Briggs to step in and make plays. Applying pressure so defensive backs Charles Tillman and Chris Harris could combine for nine interceptions. Leading a defense that allowed just 276 points all season, Peppers was dominating in 2010. From the mouth of Brian Urlacher "he pretty much eliminates one side of the field all game long."

Comeback Player Of The Year: Seattle receiver, Mike Williams. All due respect to the quarterback of the Eagles, and I'm sure he would agree, you've got to tip your cap to this kid Mike Williams. His former college head coach Pete Carroll gave him an opportunity upon being hired in Seattle, and Williams hasn't taken it for granted. After a disappointing first three years in the league, a stretch which saw him play for three different teams and subsequently getting cut by all three, Williams played himself out of the NFL in 2007. When Williams got the call from Carroll in early 2010, he came to Seattle healthier than he's ever been, in better shape, and ready to prove he could play in this league. This season Williams caught 65 balls for 751 yards giving the Seahawks a number one option through the air. On the heels of their NFC West division championship, the Seahawks awarded the 6-5 receiver with a three- year contract extension. That defines comeback, and he's a kid you can feel good about now.

NFL Most Valuable Player: ho hum, Tom Brady. The Patriot quarterback has been the undisputed MVP since his Week 13 carving up of the Jets secondary. In that game Brady completed 21 of 29 passes resulting in 326 yards passing and four touchdowns. Currently Brady is in the midst of 335 consecutive passes without an interception, his last coming in Week 6 against the Ravens. Throwing a touchdown pass in each of his 16-starts Brady has led the NFL this season with 36 scores and just four interceptions all season. His team is 14-2 with home-field advantage throughout the postseason and are currently sitting in the driver's seat to North Texas and the Super Bowl. If your vote reads anything other than Tom Brady, QB New England, you should have your vote stripped away.

We're going to post our Postseason Power Rankings & our Pick 'Em: Wild Card Weekend later this week, till then . . Get After It!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pick 'Em: Week 17

Last Week: 10-6
On The Season: 133-99-7

1:00 PM (EST)

Carolina At Atlanta Matt Ryan & the Falcons have a second opportunity to clinch home-field advantage throughout the postseason. For a team that plays so well in the A-T-L (6-1 in 2010) the Falcons know how important this game is. Falcons turn it on against a Carolina team itching to end this miserable 2-13 season. Falcons -15

Pittsburgh At Cleveland A Steeler win promises they won't travel to New England till the AFC Championship and a loss means the NHL's Winter Classic probably was the last game we'll see at Heinz Field till next season. Mangini's last game in Ohio, Hillis & Co. come to play, these AFC North matchups are no cake walk. Browns +6

Minnesota At Detroit This is how it comes to end for future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Injured, on the sidelines, watching 3rd string quarterback Joe Webb lead the Vikings into Detroit. Final season numbers: 11 TD's, 19 INT's, & 1 embarrassing off-the-field issue. That being said, a win would make Minnesota 4-2 under interim head coach Leslie Frazier, hopefully removing the 'interim' tag. Vikings +3

Oakland At Kansas City Someone within the Chiefs organization has to respect how incredibly efficient Matt Cassel has been, more so how Charlie Weis has had an effect on his game. Cassel has thrown only five interceptions in over 400 attempts with a completion percentage north of sixty. Impressed yet? To the game . . .Oakland is playing without 1,000 yard running back Darren McFadden who gashed the Chiefs in the Raiders week 9 overtime win. Chiefs -4

Miami At New England It's going to be interesting to see how the Patriots play this one. They've sewed up the division and home-field throughout but won't play again for two weeks. Belichick watched Wes Welker go down with a serious injury in Houston last season in the same type of game, are they willing to risk it for a tune up? I doubt it. Because Brady, Welker, and the rookie TE's won't play past the first half at most, expect Miami to come up the East Coast and keep it close. Dolphins +6

Tampa Bay At New Orleans If the Saints win today they'll head into the playoffs winning 9 of their last 11. With an opportunity to win the division if they get help from Carolina in Atlanta, New Orleans has to go out and take care of business against a banged up Buccaneers team. They're back at home for most likely their last time this season and have already abused Tampa's defense once this season. Saints -8

Buffalo At New York (Jets) I'm not sure what the Jets plan is for the postseason. They aren't the same team as last season, their quarterback is probably mending a season full of injuries while trying to stay on the field, and the off-the-field issues have become a joke. I'm going to stick with the Bills even after they gave up against New England a week ago (34-3), come on even the Jets got smoked by Brady in similar fashion. Bills +3

Cincinnati At Baltimore With both the Ravens & Steelers playing 1:00 games, scoreboard watching is going to be tough. Baltimore has to open it up against the Bengals and get some help from Mangini. If there was ever an afternoon where you were going to put fear into opposing teams by pulling out all of your weapons, it's this afternoon Joe Flacco. Ravens -10

4:15 PM (EST)

San Diego At Denver Not yet Tebow, but soon. The rookie quarterback has raised a few eyebrows in his solid performances at Oakland then against Houston last week. It's an encouraging sign when the rest of his teammates are getting behind him when the Broncos have nothing to play for. With the postseason moving on without San Diego for the first time in a while, Rivers and Turner will go up to Denver and get a win to improve to 9-7. Chargers -4

Chicago At Green Bay I've said it before and I'll say it again, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are the scariest team in the NFC. Their defense is littered with big-time players all over the field. Charles Woodson & Nick Collins in the secondary. Pickett, Raji, & Jenkins up front. Clay Matthews & A.J. Hawk in the middle. Ask New England what they thought of the Packer defense, that's how you know they're for real. Chicago isn't winning this game. Packers -10

Dallas At Philadelphia Giving Michael Vick the week off is a great idea. Philadelphia can't be pleased about the pounding he's taken in recent weeks. The Cowboys loss to Arizona wasn't pretty on Christmas day and the offseason couldn't come quick enough for Jerry Jones. Kolb is going to play well in relief while the Cowboys might be forced to go ahead with 3rd string quarterback Stephen McGee. Eagles -2

Tennessee At Indianapolis With Houston planning on keeping Gary Kubiak, Jon Fox being fired in Carolina earlier this week along with 'Niners head coach Mike Singletary, and Magini rumoured to be out in Cleveland, that leaves Titans coach Jeff Fisher as the only remaining question mark. With the Colts having something to play for at home, I expect Peyton comes out and torches Tennessee and begins preparations for the postseason. Colts -10

Arizona At San Francisco Is there a worse game on the slate? Honestly, I think I could care less who wins this game. Any college basketball on today? Arizona may have stole one from Dallas on Christmas, quarterback John Skelton has just 1 touchdown pass in four games under center, for a team that is supposed to be a passing offense. They're 1-6 on the road, make it 1-7. God, the NFC West is tough to handle. 49ers -6

New York (Giants) At Washington Am I crazy in saying Tom Coughlin has to go? This team doesn't respond to him and continues to have the same problems every week. Couldn't the Giants use a shake-up at this point? After they win a game which means nothing when the Packers clinch the playoff spot they earned by dropping the Giants last week, Giants ownership should really think about Coughlin's seat. Giants -5

Jacksonville At Houston Jones-Drew out, Garrard out, Jacksonville packs it in. The Texans will win this game and finish a very dissappointing 6-10 while Gary Kubiak keeps his job, again. This week seems more and more like the week we fire every underachieving NFL head coach, except Kubiak of course. Texans -4

Sunday Night 8:20 PM (EST)

St. Louis At Seattle What will be more of a shock on Monday morning, Sam Bradford leading the Rams to the postseason in his rookie season or a 7-9 Seattle team hosting a playoff game next week? One of those two things is going to happen and I still can't believe it. I'd love to see Bradford go out and torch Seattle on the road however in all liklihood, the Rams are 2-5 on the road and the Seahawks are above .500 at Quest Field. Seahawks +3

Saturday, January 1, 2011

And So It Went . .

With 2010 fading fast in the rear view, let us take a look back. LynchyRightNow will explore our Top Ten Stories of 2010. From the birth of 'Who Dat Nation' in 'Nawlins to the stunning blow to Geno Auriemma's Lady Huskies in Palo Alto, last year was an amazing one.

Let's Get After It!

Sunday, February 7th - The New Orleans Saints win Super Bowl XLIV. As cornerback Tracy Porter sprinted down the sidelines with minutes remaining, Peyton Manning's intercepted pass under his arm,
New Orleanians everywhere stood up! From Sean Payton's gutsy onside-kick call to quarterback Drew Brees record setting game, the Saints victory was one for the ages. For the millions watching at home to the thousands in Miami's Sun Life Stadium, the New Orleans Saints victory over future hall of famer Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts was flat out exciting. Images of Drew Brees and his son with confetti raining down on them are going to be trapped in Super Bowl lore forever. Denying Manning of another Super Bowl ring, winning for the people of New Orleans who were devastated by Hurricane Katrina just years earlier, these Saints were historic. 'Who Dat Nation' came alive and we kicked off the year in a fantastic way.

Friday, February 19th - Tiger Woods holds a public apology press conference for his marital indiscretions. It's not an on-the-field story, I respect that, but was anything bigger than the scandal that rocked Tiger Woods' personal life in 2010? Exactly. The ridiculousness that was his public apology to his fans, his family, his sponsors, his fellow golfers, and his wife, instantly became the most absurd thing I'd ever witnessed. On February 19th every major news channel carried the press conference of a golfer apologizing for cheating on his wife countless times. Think about it for a second, not a world leader with breaking news, a golfer, was captivating the nation on every major news medium, discussing something which has absolutely no affect on our lives what so ever. Around-the-clock coverage focused on a gossip story about infidelity, coverage normally reserved for oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, terrorist attacks on 9/11, and earth shattering hurricanes slamming into the 'Bayou. Yes, Tiger Woods press conference is on this list.

Monday, April 5th - Butler's miracle run ends; Duke wins fourth National Title. The Butler Bulldogs run in 2010 was a memorable one. The 5th seeded Bulldogs from the West Regional were THE STORY of the 2010 NCAA Tourney. Names such as Shelvin Mack & Gordon Hayward became household last March as the Bulldogs took out such NCAA powerhouses as Syracuse and Michigan State in their path toward the National Title game. Their Final Four ticket punching performance against a very hot Kansas State team in the regional final was astounding. Hayward poured in 22 points to lead the Bulldogs as Shelvin Mack hit three crunch time 3-pointers. Then there was the holding off of Tom Izzo's Spartans, as Gordon Hayward ripped down a rebound with seconds remaining to earn a 2-point victory and put them in the title game. Could it happen? Could Butler win the National Title? Unfortunately a last second half-court shot wouldn't fall against the Duke Blue Devils, and Butler's miracle run had ended. The only team which Butler allowed to score over 60-points in the tourney (61-59 final), defeated them. How fascinating was 2010? The Butler Bulldogs run through the NCAA Tournament is a mere afterthought, that's how fascinating it was.

Sunday, April 11th - Phil Mickelson's shot on 13 at Augusta. With Tiger lurking, Lee Westwood and Anthony Kim playing strong, it was going to take a gutsy performance from Phil Mickelson to pull on his third green jacket. Shooting a final round 5-under 67 was exactly what Phil Mickelson accomplished to do just that. However, it was his shot on the 13th hole which defined his 2010 Masters victory. A creek before the green, ball lying on pine needles, two trees looking right at him, while the branches shade the course, Mickelson opted to smash the ball onto the green in one crazy/gutsy/mind numbing swing, and he did it. No protecting his slim lead, no laying up and playing it safe, just raw "I'm going to win this thing" attitude. Think we're going to watch The Masters in April of 2011 and not see this replay again and again? Think Phil isn't amongst the favorites to win this thing each of the next five years, at least? With a shot like that, Mickelson etched his name into golf history and did his part to make 2010 even better.

Thursday, June 17th - The Lakers defeat the Celtics; Winning their 16th Championship. When they're the best two teams in The Association, the drama is at an all-time high. Redeeming their 2008 Finals loss to those
very same Boston Celtics, the Lakers and Kobe Bryant raised the franchises 16th Championship to the rafters in June. With Celtics big-man Kendrick Perkins out due to injury, game 7 of the NBA Finals saw Pau Gasol pull down 18 rebounds and add 19 points to lead the Lakers to the victory. The Lakers were forced to win the final two games of the series to lock up number sixteen and they did just that. Kobe Bryant won his fifth NBA Championship and placed himself amongst the Laker greats by winning one right through the rival Boston Celtics. 2010 In the NBA yet again reminded us why these two franchises are more special than any other and why we love it when they're playing on the games greatest stage.

Tuesday, July 6th - The Decision, Lebron James joins the Miami Heat. Immediately after the NBA Finals wrapped, the LeBron James' free agency sweepstakes went into full swing. It was the will he, won't he drama of the summer. Would he remain in Cleveland? Would he become a New York legend? Would he join Dwyane Wade on South Beach? Was Chicago putting together a package to lure LeBron? What was the games greatest player prepared to do with his foreseeable future? Then on July 6th, in a surreal hour-long Worldwide Leader broadcast live from the Greenwich, Connecticut Boys & Girls Club, LeBron James made his 'Decision.' As LeBron James sat across from Jim Gray and uttered the words "this fall I'll be taking my talents to South Beach . ." he instantly became a villian in the city of Cleveland, a hero in Miami, and created a team that would be relevant for years to come. You may not have liked it, it may have made your stomach turn, either way it was the biggest story of the summer and proved yet again how quickly things can change in professional sports.

Saturday, October 9th - South Carolina 35 Alabama 21. Yes, it was the biggest season shaping moment in college football. As the Gamecock fans rejoiced in Columbia, South Carolina when the clock clicked zero, the entire college football landscape changed in 2010. The Gamecocks stunning upset of #1 ranked Alabama opened up both the SEC and the future BCS National Championship game. The defending champion Crimson Tide left Columbia knowing they would no longer be the preeminent favorites, they had cracks in their foundation which had seen them win 19-straight, and that each team going forward believed they now had a shot at beating Nick Saban's powerhouse. For teams like Oregon, TCU, Boise State, Oklahoma, and Auburn to move their way into the top slot, October 9th had to happen. When Steve Spurrier knocked off Alabama, it did just that, made what we have shaped out this season possible. When both LSU & Auburn, fellow SEC monsters, beat Alabama later that season, it had Columbia to thank for planting the seeds that the Crimson Tide could be beat. And you thought I was reaching with this one, didn't you?

Monday, November 15th - Michael Vick v. The Washington Redskins. So much has been said on both sides of the coin about one Michael Vick. Yet on November 15th, Michael Vick smashed his way into NFL history. The Eagle quarterback led Philadelphia to a 59-28 win over division rival Washington. However, that's not even close to the impressive part. Vick used his legs, rushing for eighty yards on eight carries scoring two touchdowns. Vick used his arm, throwing for 333 yards on twenty completions scoring four touchdowns. For those of you counting along at home, that's six touchdowns which Vick accounted for on Monday night, November 15th. The NFL hall of fame requested Vick's game worn jersey from that record setting night. A guy who spent 18-months in Leavenworth Federal Prison, will now be able to go Canton, Ohio and see his jersey hang in the Hall of Fame for the rest of his life. You want 2010 headlines, how is that not one of them?

Saturday, December 11th - Cameron Newton wins 76th Heisman Trophy. Do we even know how long Cam Newton and Auburn will be able to celebrate his Heisman Trophy? For much of the fall we witnessed the Auburn quarterback rip up his opponents on the field. We saw him make dazzling plays that were only worthy of a Heisman Trophy winner. Then we saw him be at the epicenter of controversy. Had his father taken money or requested money for his sons services? How much of this was Cam aware of? What else did they do? Was his past actually in his past? Unfortunately, for Cameron Newton, an amazing season at Auburn will forever be overshadowed with controversy. If Reggie Bush can be erased from Heisman history, why can't Cam? On Saturday night, December 11th I went away thinking one thing, was this for good? Will 2010 eventually be left void of a Heisman winner? We'll find out at some point.

Thursday, December 30th - Stanford ends Connecticut's 90-game win streak. A late entry, however it's soooooo worthy. Women's basketball doesn't become the story all that often, but in December of 2010 it absolutely was. When Geno Auriemma's Lady Huskies went past the late John Wooden's UCLA men's 88-game winning streak, that was impressive. When Jeanette Pohlen, Stanfords senior guard, scored 31-points leading the Lady Cardinal to a 12 point victory over UConn on Thursday night, well that was just stunning. Not only had Connecticut won 90-straight games, they'd won those 90 games by something like 30 points per, and it stll didn't make Stanford flinch. Pohlen led the Cardinal by hitting five three-pointers while her teammates helped hold UConn's star Maya Moore to just 5 of 15 from the floor. Palo Alto errupted as Stanford not only held off UConn in the final minutes but increased their lead to twelve points and made Auriemma's team look human. Anytime a streak of that length is snapped in such convincing fashin, well yes it's on the list!

With two undefeateds in Auburn and Oregon squaring off for the National Championship of college football on January 10th, will 2011 open as exciting as 2010 finished off? We can only hope, till then . . .Now You Know!

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from LynchyRightNow.