Monday, September 27, 2010

Ravens 24, Browns 17
Don't try and spin this game as a positive. Just don't.

Seneca Wallace flips the ball when no flip is expected.

Matt Roth jumps offsides on a third and four with the game on the line.

Stupid penalties.

Eric Wright can't cover. But why was he out there in 1-on-1s?

Rob Ryan keeps dialing up blitzes, but no one ever gets to the quarterback. The Browns have a third and two and Peyton Hillis, the Browns best player on Sunday, is off the field.

Yes, things looked better. But there are no moral victories in the NFL. The Browns have given great efforts in these games before.

You need to win to prove progress. That's it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Phil's Zach's NFL Picks, week 3
Phil is on vacation this week, so I am filling in as best I can.

Sunday games

1 p.m.
San Francisco at Kansas City
The overachievers vs. the underachievers. I don't want to be in the 49ers locker room if they go 0-3. 49ers.

Detroit at Minnesota
People actually are wondering if Brett Favre regrets coming back. As if his return has anything to do with the team's performance. It's always about Brett, and always about prolonging his time in the spotlight. Vikings.

Cleveland at Baltimore
The Browns won't score a TD on Baltimore's defense (I don't think). Ravens.

Buffalo at New England
If a team ever wants to pull a huge upset and shock people, it's Buffalo.

Atlanta at New Orleans
Drew Brees strikes a blow for undersized people everywhere. Saints

Tennessee at the Giants
These teams are coming off retched performances. Eh, NY is at home. Giants.

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers magic runs out. Steelers.

Cincinnati at Carolina
Nice to see TO and Ochocinco putting football first. Bengals.

Dallas at Houston
Matt Schaub is the best QB few talk about. I like Wade Phillips, and no one seems to realize his hands are tied. Texans

4 p.m.
Washington at St. Louis
The good news for Washington is if i get a 20-point lead this week, they have a better chance of holding it. Redskins.

Philadelphia at Jacksonville
Kevin Kolb's 15 minutes are up in Philadelphia. Really, time it. Eagles.

Indianapolis at Denver
Peyton Manning against THAT defense? Yeah. Colts.

Oakland at Arizona
If Oakland is as good as they've fooled some people into thinking, they have to win games like this. Raiders.

San Diego at Seattle
The Chargers are just better here. Chargers.

8:20 p.m.
Jets at Miami
Braylon Edwards' "punishment" only gives him time to Tweet about his movie prospects. Jets.

Monday, 8:30 p.m.
Green Bay at Chicago
Lovie Smith has to feel like the luckiest guy in the world. No way Chicago is this good. It stops now. Packers.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Braylon Edwards made a very irresponsible decision, after a number of other ones. I can't help but think that unless someone (or something) steps in, Edwards could end up hurting someone with his recklessness.

But the New York Jets have really hurt themselves here. To not even try to suspend Edwards for a game sends but one clear message: No matter how badly you screw up, we will have your back.

That may breed loyalty, but it also sends a message that there will be no discipline for big mistakes.

I don't have any sympathy for the Jets for what could come from that message.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Chiefs 16, Browns 14
So here's what I'm thinking.

The Browns never really improved last season. They were aided by the fact that they played sub-standard teams playing out the string.

This year, the Browns improved, but so did everyone else. The Browns went from an F to a D+, and that's not enough to beat confident teams with a singular vision.

I can't take credit for the point I'm about to express -- my brother actually made it first. Eric Mangini and Brian Daboll are running a more pass-happy offense, because that's what Mike Holmgren knows, and that's what he and Tom Heckert started building in the offseason.

But Eric Mangini's a run-first coach, and so you have a coach preaching a philosophy that isn't him. So that may be the problem.

Or at least I hope it is, because if it isn't, this is a horrid, horrid team and positives are harder to find than last season. At least then, we knew the Browns weren't good, but they were playing very good teams... the Vikings, Ravens and, at the time, the Broncos.

But the Browns just lost to the Buccaneers and Chiefs. Yes, they are each 2-0 now. But neither team is the Ravens, Steelers or Bengals caliber.

Rob Ryan's defense has played well in two games, but not well enough to cover for the offense.

- Seneca Wallace was... mediocre. No receiver help, an inconsistent offensive line and no real effort to run the ball killed any chances of winning.

And speaking of no chance of winning, the Browns are in Baltimore next week.


Phil's week 2 picks
Cardinals (1-0) @ Falcons (0-1)
Struggling against the Rams suspect secondary cannot make fans in the desert very comfortable.
Zach's thought: Matt Ryan over DA. Falcons

Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)
Don't bet on Cincinnati sweeping this series for a second straight year.
Zach's thought: I just figure Cincinnati has to be revved up here. Bengals.

Chiefs (1-0) @ Browns (0-1)
The biggest difference between these two teams is Kansas City is getting a whole lot more out of their recent draft picks.
Zach's thought: Things can't be that bad in C-town. Browns

Bears (1-0) @ Cowboys (0-1)
Chicago is a play away from being 0-1 while Dallas is a play away from being 1-0.
Zach's thought: Whoever plays less worse wins. Cowboys.

Eagles (0-1) @ Lions (0-1)
Both teams have quarterback issues. Taking Detroit with Stafford out of the lineup is hard to do.
Zach's thought: Vick whispers get louder. Eagles

Bills (0-1) @ Packers (1-0)
Losing Ryan Grant is a blow to Green Bay, but should still be able to win here rather easily.
Zach's thought: Trap game here, but I still like the Pack. Packers.

Steelers (1-0) @ Titans (1-0)
No Ben Roethlisberger, no chance here.
Zach's thought: Nate Washington has something to prove. Titans.

Dolphins (1-0) @ Vikings (0-1)
The schedule makers did Miami no favors, having them open the first two weeks of the season on the road with the second game being against a Minnesota team with 10 days rest.
Zach's thought: There may be something to the idea that Favre is done. Vikings.

Buccaneers (1-0) @ Panthers (0-1)
This game isn't on local TV? Oh darn.
Zach's thought: Jimmy Clausen... maybe. Panthers.

Seahawks (1-0) @ Broncos (0-1)
When in doubt, pick the home team. And yes, I'm in doubt here.
Zach's thought: Pete Carroll's Richard Simmons act will get old fast. Broncos.

Rams (0-1) @ Raiders (0-1)
The black hole should be able to rattle rookie QB Sam Bradford.
Zach's thought: The Los Angeles Memorial Bowl goes to the Raiders.

Patriots (1-0) @ Jets (0-1)
Upset Special. I hate using the term "must win" in week 2, but New York cannot afford to open the season with two straight losses at home.
Zach's thought: For people who think the Jets are awesome... they lost to the Bills last year. Patriots.

Jaguars (1-0) @ Chargers (0-1)
Opening the season on the road, against a revved up divisional team, in lousy weather gives San Diego a Mulligan for their week 1 performance.
Zach's thought: San Diego didn't look right. Chargers.

Texans (1-0) @ Redskins (1-0)
No team looked worse in victory last week than Washington.
Zach's thought: Good teams win these. I believe the Texans are a good team. Texans.

Giants (1-0) @ Colts (0-1)
Who are the quarterbacks for this game? I forgot....really wish the media would remind me.
Zach's thought: Will there PLEASE be a Sony commercial where Peyton Manning beats up Justin Timberlake? Colts.

Saints (1-0) @ 49ers (0-1)
Some free advice: if you are in an eliminator/survivor pool, take New Orleans this week.
Zach's thought: This looked like a good idea at the time. Saints.

Z: 9-7

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

5 things I think
1. The Reds drew 12,000 to a game this week. The first-place Cincinnati Reds, in the city where pro baseball was born, drew 12,000 to a game. All I can figure is the economy is so bad that sports fans in the city could only pay to support one team, and the Bengals seemed like the best bet for a winner when families were making out there budgets.

2. Speaking of the Bengals, Chad Ochocinco has a forgettable game Sunday against the Patriots, the Cincinnati gets smoked, and Chad is... on WWE Raw the next night. I seriously question his commitment to winning.

3. Speaking of WWE, Linda McMahon has closed the gap in the Connecticut Senate race. I'm a lifelong conservative, and 99 times out of 100, Republicans better represent my views. But this is one case where I'd vote Democrat. In the business McMahon is in, too many young men and women have died because they felt pressure to artificially enhance their bodies or because the lifestyle of a wrestler was too difficult for them to stay clean. McMahon and her husband don't hold all the blame for this, but they hold enough of it so that McMahon should not be elected senator.

4. Jake Delhomme was really hurt Sunday. If he can't play, it'll be another Cleveland season -- never sure who your quarterback is from week to week.

5. Teams have had seasons wrecked by poor special teams play. Ohio State fans need to keep that in mind.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Around the NFL. 32 Thoughts, one for each team
AFC East
Buffalo Bills: The Bills are stuck in a dryer and someone keeps pressing the "mediocre" button.

Miami Dolphins: Maybe they can convince LeBron to own part of the team if they promise to quit when they reach the playoffs.

New England Patriots: Randy Moss needs to clean that San Francisco Giants hat.

New York Jets: I haven't anything more hyped with less immediate results than that guy I promised I wouldn't rip on.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens: No one gets more excited about doing so little than Ray Lewis.

Cincinnati Bengals: Maybe Chad and Terrell were too busy tweeting to realize the regular season had started.

Cleveland Browns: Leading the league in change without difference.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger has to be wondering why he asked for a suspension reduction, since it's not like he'll be needed to beat the Browns in Week 6.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts: They preseasoned week 1.

Houston Texans: The uniforms still are ugly.

Tennessee Titans: Beating the Raiders at home is about as challenging as changing the channel.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Well, Tebow left, so season's over.

AFC West
Oakland Raiders: Tom Cable just used scowl number 9.

San Diego Chargers: Philip Rivers just called me to whine about this post.

Kansas City Chiefs: Steve Perry just called Todd Haley to get his hairstyle back.

Denver Broncos: Brady Quinn doesn't even put Brady Quinn in while playing Madden.

NFC East
New York Giants: Looking for a new head coach because yesterday's win wasn't convincing enough.

Philadelphia Eagles: Uniforms from 1960, offense from 2001.

Dallas Cowboys: It's not Wade Phillips' fault that Tony Romo flipped the ball to a running back to get gang tackled on the last play of a half.

Washington Redskins: Washington is way ahead of other teams. They already have made 15 percent of their season win total.

NFC North
Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre wants to watch Matlock.

Chicago Bears: Stealing a win at home against a bad team is no way to go through life.

Green Bay Packers: AJ Hawk and Brady Quinn have a lot of time to text.

Detroit Lions: Calvin Johnson wasn't allowed to catch his plane because he stopped to admire the cab ride to the airport.

NFC South
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: It's nice they brought in Jake Delhomme to mentor Josh Freeman.

Carolina Panthers: John Fox has realtors plugged into his cell.

Atlanta Falcons: Who was that guy dressed as Matt Ryan?

New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees just got a call from Philip Rivers, who whined about something.

NFC West
San Francisco 49ers: Mike Singletary hates all quarterbacks.

Seattle Seahawks: Pete Carroll just did a cartwheel after he got his mail.

Arizona Cardinals: Derek Anderson has a smile on his face that only comes when you leave the Browns.

St. Louis Rams: Fans of the Rams have been asked to be fans of the Rams.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Buccaneers 17, Browns 14
This game was up, then down. Then very down. Then depressing.

Peyton Hillis looked like he'd be getting a parade with his play early in this one.

Then, he fumbled twice.

Jake Delhomme looked sharp and was smart with the ball and moved the offense.

Then he threw an interception worse than any Derek Anderson or Brady Quinn ever made.

The defense was strong, not giving Josh Freeman anything easy and keeping an anemic Browns offense in the game.

Then it blitzed a few times too many and paid the price.

Josh Cribbs was a complete non-factor, and whenever that's the case, the Browns are in trouble.

Bad player decisions, odd coaching decisions (a 62-yard field goal with a timeout and five seconds? Three timeouts in your pocket and a rushed fourth down?)and generally sloppy play turned this game into one of the more discouraging losses in some time.

I felt going in that the Browns had to go 2-0 to have any shot at a decent season. Losing to a pathetic Tampa Bay team makes me think they may not have closed as much of the gap on the good teams in the AFC North as I thought.

A loss to Kansas City next week and the voices will start up again about Eric Mangini and his future. Mike Holmgren can see the schedule as well as we can. He has to know that more efforts like the one today will sap any momentum gained by a generally positive offseason.

Hillis' fumbles had two effects -- they killed a scoring chance and they removed him from the offense. I can't fault Mangini for benching him. But he was the Browns most consistent offensive player, and the team didn't look the same without him on the field.

Delhomme has no excuse for the Ronde Barber interception. He's falling down and just needs to hold the ball or throw it away. The pass was desperation, and there was no need for it. Cleveland was up 11, it was in Bucs' territory, it was first down and the half was almost over.

Barber's pick and the ensuing TD changed the game.

It's a bad loss to a bad team, and there are few answers that would inspire fans that today was an exception and not the norm.


Show of solidarity is bad taste
It's time to get something straight.

On a night in New Orleans, players on the Saints and Vikings stood on the field and raised a finger to each other.

Well, actually, not THE finger, but actually they raised their arms and made a No. 1 symbol. The meaning of this symbol will likely puzzle sociologists hundreds of years from now.

In the year 3017:

Gelbo: Then, these titans raised their fingers in salute!

Balkin: A sign to God?

Gelbo: No.

Balkin: A rememberence of the victims of tragedies?

Gelbo: No.

Balkin: A sign of peace?

Gelbo: That's two fingers.

Balkin: A sign of...

Gelbo: It was the symbol of unity between some rich guys as their labor contract was up.

Balkin: What a stupid society.

Here's my problem with this: Near the nine-year anniversary of 9-11, the five year anniversary of Katrina, we have this: something planned and organized to signify something meaningful. But labor contracts for professional athletes are not meaningful. They're boring. And to people who paid hard-earned money to see the display of greed and self-importance, I am sorry.

It'd be nice if players acted half as sincere about causes that actually mattered. It was a sign of solidarity, or it was supposed to be. But now, with thousands of Americans out of work, holding up one finger and looking serious was a sign of something else:

Six-figure (at least) professional athletes can get money, but not a clue.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Phil's Week 1 picks
Dolphins @ Bills
Buffalo named rookie running back CJ Spiller was named a starter, which might be the only exciting thing to watch for in the Bills offense.
Zach's thought: Bill Parcells leaving only tells me that football czars never last too long. Dolphins

Lions @ Bears
Upset special as the Bears have looked lost during the preseason games.
Zach's thought: But are they "lose to the Lions at home" lost? Bears.

Raiders @ Titans
Dating back to last season, Chris Johnson is going for his 12th straight game with 100 yards or more in rushing.
Zach's thought:Tiffin University's own Nate Washington starts his second season. For his sake, I thought he should have stayed in Pittsburgh. For my team's, I'm glad he bolted. Titans.

Bengals @ Patriots
The latest coming from New England is that Randy Moss is unhappy. Once a diva, always a diva.
Zach's thought: In Mike Zimmer I trust. Bengals.

Panthers @ Giants
Fast fact: Carolina is fielding the NFL's youngest team this season with the average player being 25 years old.
Zach's thought: Tom Coughlin is feeling heat from fans. He only pulled off the second-biggest upset in NFL history three years ago. Giants.

Falcons @ Steelers
Life without Ben Roethlisberger begins for four games.
Zach's thought: I despise the Steelers. Falcons.

Browns @ Buccaneers
This will be Cleveland's first time opening a season on the road since returning to the NFL in 1999.
Zach's thought: On paper, it should be easy. But paper is useless in week one. Browns.

Broncos @ Jaguars
Jacksonville sold this game out because fans wanted to see Tim Tebow, despite the fact he's only the backup QB.
Zach's thought: Pay to see a guy hold a clipboard? A 12-4 team doesn't excite the city, but Tebow does. Jaguars.

Colts @ Texans
Peyton Manning has had issues with the new rules during the exhibition games, but the feeling here is that he'll be ok on gameday.
Zach's thought: If the Texans don't develop into a contender this year, then the building process they've been working on for half a decade reads like a failure. Texans.

Cardinals @ Rams
Derek Anderson should be able to put up some big numbers against the Rams secondary.
Zach's thought: I could put big numbers against the Rams secondary. Cardinals.

Packers @ Eagles
Green Bay's secondary is hurting, missing two starters (Atari Bigby and Al Harris) out for the six games on the PUP list.
Zach's thought: We each have Green Bay in the Super Bowl. I see them winning week one. Packers.

49ers @ Seahawks
Rumors that Mike Singletary is suiting up to play is completely unfounded.....for now anyway.
Zach's thought: Does Singletary see Troy Smith as a potential starter, or did he pick him up because he just didn't like Nate Davis? Seahawks.

Cowboys @ Redskins
I guess Donovan McNabb and Mike Shanahan make the Redskins a sexy prime time television pick. Too bad the rest of the rest is lousy.
Zach's thought: This probably will be boring. Cowboys.

Ravens @ Jets
Baltimore sent a clear message with the signing of TJ Houshmandzadeh in that they are prepared to win now.
Zach's thought: Jets have overrated themselves. Some are buying it. Not me. Ravens.

Chargers @ Chiefs
Philip Rivers vs Matt Cassel seems to be a tad lopsided.
Zach's thought: Well, it's this vs. sleep. Chargers.


Thursday, September 09, 2010

Phil Prusa's NFL Preview
* indicates a wildcard team


1. Patriots (10-6)
It's getting thin at the wide receiver position with Randy Moss getting older and Wes Welker coming back from an ACL injury.

2. Jets (9-7)
Darrelle Revis finally signed after missing the entire training camp and preseason due to a holdout. Mark Sanchez also has to prove he can carry a team into the playoffs.

3. Dolphins (8-8)
Will Brandon Mashall be the offensive weapon that gets Miami over the hump, or does he prove to be more of a locker room distraction?

4. Bills (5-11)
At least Chan Gailey should be safe from the chopping block in his first year as Buffalo's head coach.

Division overview: Expect a three team horse race for the AFC East Title that nay not be decided until the final week of the season.


1. Ravens (12-4)
If you don't know who Ray Rice is now, you'll know him by the end of the season. Just need the secondary to be competent now.

2. Bengals (11-5) *
It's put up or shut up for Cincinnati and Carson Palmer. After wanting more offensive weapons to work with, the Bengals went out and signed Terrell Owens among others.

3. Steelers (8-8)
Ben Roethlisberger's 4 game suspension hurts, but not as much as the offensive line, which has resembled a revolving door lately.

4. Browns (6-10)
Would be a one game improvement over last year, yet may not be enough to save Eric Mangini's job. The rebuilding process is tough playing in the rugged AFC North.

Division overview: I'm not predicting it, but could we could easily have three playoff teams coming from this division in 2010.


1. Colts (12-4)
The Colts offensive should be just as good as ever, putting them into a 12 win or higher season.

2. Texans (10-6) *
My surprise wildcard team for 2010. Houston has been so close but not quite there for several years now and it's getting time to make that next step forward. If not, the team may have to re-evaluate the direction the team is heading.

3. Titans (8-8)
Vince Young at quarterback is a big question mark as to whether or not he can be a leader for Tennessee over the course of 16 games. He shown flashes, but not sustained success.

4. Jaguars (7-9)
Do they still have a team in Jacksonville? As of this writing, not one of their home games is sold out.

Division overview: Surprise surprise, I'm taking the obvious pick in Indy. However, the Texans getting a playoff spot may not be as popular.


1. Chargers (11-5)
With fewer weapons of offense this year, it seems like San Diego is a Phillip Rivers injury away from losing the season completely

2. Broncos (7-9)
Losing Elvis Dumervil for the year to the IR hurts, but losing LenDale White is a big blow as well. Who carries the rock in Denver this year?

3. Chiefs (7-9)
After giving Matt Cassel the reins on their offense, Kansas City needs to get more of a return on their investment.

4. Raiders (6-10)
Not quite "Just Win Baby," but slowly, the Raiders are taking steps to get out of the NFL gutter. Tom Cable has survived longer than I ever would have imagined as Oakland's head coach.

Division Overview: Barring disaster, the Chargers should have little trouble securing the AFC West Title.


1. Cowboys (12-4)
Can they become the first team to host the Super Bowl? There's little doubt Dallas can make the playoffs, but the real issue with Tony Romo and company is their play during the month of January.

2. Giants (10-6)*
Three years removed from their Super Bowl win, New York should be able to compete for a playoff berth, if not the outright divisional title. The secondary must stay healthy for a successful year, and that has been an issue of late.

3. Eagles (8-8)
The Eagles do not miss the playoffs because Kevin Kolb is the new starting quarterback. They miss the playoffs because the offensive is unable to protect him. Andy Reid's faith in Kolb should be rewarded if Philadelphia's management is patient.

4. Redskins (5-11)
Owner Dan Synder seems to be learning from his past mistakes, but past ghosts such as Albert Haynesworth will slow progress. Mike Shanahan has a major rebuilding job in his first year as the Redskins new head coach.

Division overview: Would not be a surprise if this division came down to the last week, though don't expect much from Washington this season.


1. Packers (11-5)
Aaron Rodgers proves he is the real deal and rewards the Packers faith in him this year. Green Bay's offense should be among the best in the NFL in regards to passing.

2. Vikings (10-6)*
Brett Favre's latest retirement fiasco had everyone groaning, but his return should solidify the Vikings as a legit contender in this division

3. Bears (8-8)
Big name free agents including Julius Peppers won't be enough to get this team back to the postseason for the first time since their Super Bowl XLI appearance. Lovie Smith's seat has never been hotter.

4. Lions (7-9)
Not quite a winning season, but Lions should get a spark with rookies Ndamukong Suh and Jahvid Best. At least Detroit have will have reason to hope.

Division overview: Green Bay vs Minnesota. The Brett Favre Bowl.


1. Saints (12-4)
Drew Brees has emerged as a legit NFL MVP player after leading New Orleans to their first ever Super Bowl title last year. Can the defense have a repeat performance from 2009?

2. Falcons (9-7)
Getting Atlanta to another winning season will be a great accomplishment, but Matt Ryan will be judged on whether on not he can lead this team to the playoffs. He may have to wait at least one more year.

3. Panthers (7-9)
Basically a reboot year for Carolina as Matt Moore is keeping the QB seat warm for rookie Jimmy Clausen. John Fox is in his final year, thus a lame duck coach.

4. Buccaneers (4-12)
One of the youngest teams in the NFL will have some growing pains in 2010. In only his second year as head Coach, Raheem Morris may face some job security issues if there is a feeling the team is uninterested once the losing begins

Division overview: Some are a lot higher on Atlanta than I am. I see it a one horse race with the Saints crossing the finish line well before anyone else.


1. Cardinals (9-7)
Ken Whisenhunt's latest gamble of naming Derek Anderson is starter is not that big a gamble when one considers the division they play in. Still, if Anderson falters, there may not be a safety net since the birds only have two rookie backup quarterbacks.

2. 49ers (8-8)
Good: San Francisco may host the best defense in the NFL. Bad: Alex Smith is still their starting QB and his career is past the point of salvage at this point in the bay area.

3. Seahawks (6-10)
This is the current state of affairs in Seattle: they cut TJ Houshmandzadeh after one year basically paying him 7 million in guaranteed money to leave town. Pete Carroll has a long road ahead as the new coach.

4. Rams (2-14)
Sam Bradford was named the starter the Rams despite he's a rookie. On the bright side, he doubles their win total with 2 victories this season! Wake up St Louis fans when baseball season starts.

Division overview: Worst overall division in the NFL. Yes, worse than the AFC West.



Packers 20 Ravens 13
The monkey officially gets ripped off Aaron Rodgers back on February 6th, 2011.


Montana negative on Rudy
As someone who always is hard on "inspired by a true story" films, I got a chuckle out of Joe Montana's comments regarding Rudy.

Here's the thing: Even if it was a "joke" carrying Rudy off the field, Montana seems like your typical pretty-boy star player by knocking it.

I have interviewed Rudy, and he was very honest about the fact that the movie is about the message.

Sometimes I wonder if guys like Montana ever received it.