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Friday, October 28, 2011

Sportaholic Tennessee Titans vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview

The Tennessee Titans and the Indianapolis Colts come into this weekend’s game losing by a combined 87 points to their opponents last week. Both teams took one on the chin as they were just pummeled and were only able to produce 14 points between the two. Tennessee’s 41-7 loss marked their worst lost of the season and to top things off it was at home. The Titans look to rebound against Indianapolis who is still winless and getting desperate just to get a W on the board at this point after one of the worst losses in their franchise history. The Colts season continues to tank without their all everything QB Peyton Manning. I think most people expected them to be bad but lord have mercy not this awful. The joke I can keep hearing in Nashville is “Yeah we lost but at least we didn’t get beat as bad as the Colts did” I guess you have to just roll with it here in Tennessee.

This marks the 2nd straight home game for the Titans and a chance for them to get back on track after losing their last two in unceremonious fashion. The Colts come into the game ranked 27th in the league in passing yards per game and 29th in points scored per game. And that’s just their offense. Those numbers would be unheard of it number 18 was still leading them. If you go just by the numbers the Titans should dominate this game but of course games are not played on paper. Tennessee has enough problems of their own after being exposed by Texans. Houston ran their offense to near perfection on the Titans who put up little to no resistance. Coming into that game its was suppose to be an AFC South showcase between the two prohibitive favorites but Tennessee failed to get the memo. I saw several red flags in that game that puzzles me still to this moment. If your going to talk about Titans ineptitude, then you have to start off with the enigmatic RB Chris Johnson. Sports talk radio in Nashville has been going crazy with reports that Johnson has been seen out partying this week even as the Titans are in turmoil. I could care less about the partying and even more about those reporting it. Johnson has been doing the same things he always did but when you sign a $53.5 multi million dollar deal then everyone feels they should have an opinion on your lifestyle. Johnson does have to start producing on the field because a lot of people are starting to lose faith in the former All-pro back. He doesn’t seem to have that spunk that has carried him to greatness in his NFL career, I will agree to that much.

Another puzzling aspect from the Houston loss was the Titans defense. Arian Foster did everything he wanted and more in gaining 234 yards of total offense and 3 TDs. Foster’s 234 outdid the entire Titans offensive unit who were only able to muster up 148 yards of offense. That’s just pathetic and when you add what Ben Tate did with his 104 yards on 15 carries then you get the picture that I’m painting here. The Titans defense could never get the key stop that they needed and showed poor tackling as both backs continued to burst through the front 7 of the defense. Now with all due respect, the Texans do have one of the best offenses in the league as they are ranked 7th in the overall in total offense even without stud WR Andre Johnson but the Titans usually have a good showing against them. This was one of the first times I can remember saying without a doubt that the Texans were most definitely better than the Titans.

For the Titans to get back on track they have to get back to the things that made them successful and get off to that 3-1 start. Matt Hasselbeck in those 3 wins was able to spread the ball around and the receivers were able to get open to provide him with passing lanes. The defense was playing with a bend but don’t break mentality and were getting considerable more pressure on the QB. Neither of those things are happening right now and as a result they are on this two game losing skid. The Colts should provide sweet relief for the Titans as they had even a worse loss than Tennessee did. Curtis Painter, the man anointed with the misery of taking over for Peyton, was only 9-17 for 67 yards and one touchdown. The Saints passed for 321 yards and ran for another 236. the 62 points they scored was the highest allowed in the Colts team history. Indianapolis’s defense has been a joke ranking near the bottom in most defensive categories. I hate it to say but Chris Johnson and the offense really has a chance to do some damage if they are focused but that remains to be seen.

Now lets take a look at the 3 key factors of the game:

1. Which team comes out and strikes first? Before you could blink your eye in both games featuring the Titans and the Colts last week it was over. The Texans went up 20-0 by halftime on Tennessee and New Orleans was up 21-0 after the first and 34-7 at halftime. One of these teams will put up points early and gain confidence. The Titans have every reason to get off to a hot start as they are at home and after taking all those boos from last week they should be motivated from the first snap of the game. Curtis Painter and the Colts offense have been getting better each week but they no where close to what the Titans should be able to bring to the table. Even with that being said, if the Colts can find a way to accumulate points early and gain some traction then they could make this one a game. Watch out for who draws first blood and see how the momentum goes from there.

2. Which Titans offense will show up? The Titans have every reason to be successful on offense this Sunday. As I mentioned above, the Colts statistically are ranked near the bottom of every major defensive category. Matt Hasselbeck and his receivers should be able to find open lanes and even Chris Johnson should get loose as Indianapolis hasn’t’ stopped anyone on the ground this season. Now if Tennessee gets back into their bad habits of poor blocking, Hasselbeck trying too do to much and buy too much time, and Johnson running east-west instead of north-south then they could become their own worst enemies. Football is a cruel sport and can teach you a cruel lesson if you don’t play up to your potential. If the Titans play the way that they can on offense then they should have no problem disposing of the Colts.

3. Home field disadvantage? This game marks the 100th game in LP field for the Titans. Their record is 62-37 all time here in Nashville. You couldn’t tell that by the way the fans voiced their displeasure at last Sunday’s game. How will the fans in this one if the Titans come out flat like they did against Houston? That remains to be seen but in most games the LP faithful are some of the best fans in the league. If they come and cheer as they usually do, they can make this an even harder game for the lowly Colts. Curtis Painter will be baptized by fire with his first start in Nashville and I’m curious to see how he performs. Also, how will they react if Chris Johnson has another no show game like he did last week.

Final Prediction: This is a game the Titans can’t lose after being manhandled at home by Houston. The Colts are dangerous in a sense because they are desperate for a win in any conceivable way, so they will pull out all the stops. As long as the Titans play their game and don’t get into their bad habits they should win this will with ease. No Peyton Manning equals no wins so far for the Colts and I’m sure the Titans would like to keep it that way.

The Pick: Titans 31 Colts 17


COLTS: Seek 6th consecutive win against Titans…Since realignment in ’02, Colts have 42-13 (.764) record vs. AFC South…In 4 career starts, QB CURTIS PAINTER has completed 60 of 108 passes (55.6 pct.) for 813 yards with 5 TDs vs. 2 INTs & 87.5 passer rating…RB JOSEPH ADDAI has 3 rush TDs in past 3 vs. Ten. Rookie RB DELONE CARTER (4th round, No. 119) had career-high 89 rush yards last week. Carter has rush TD in 2 of past 3 games…WR REGGIE WAYNE (817) needs 3 receptions to surpass Pro Football HOFer STEVE LARGENT (819) for 20th-most catches all-time. WR PIERRE GARCON is averaging 102.3 rec. yards per game in past 3 games vs. Titans (307 total). Has 3 TD catches in past 2 against Ten…WR AUSTIN COLLIE has 3 TD catches in 2 career games vs. Ten…DE DWIGHT FREENEY (98.5) needs 1.5 sacks to become 26th player with 100 career since stat became official in ’82. Freeney has 13 sacks in 16 career games vs. Titans. DE JAMAAL ANDERSON registered 1st sack as Colt last week…LB PAT ANGERER leads team with 79 tackles…TITANS: Dating back to 12/19/10, club has won 3 of past 4 at LP Field…QB MATT HASSELBECK has 90+ passer rating in 4 of 6 games this season. In only start vs. Colts (w/ Seahawks on 12/24/05) Hasselbeck completed 17 of 21 passes (81 pct.) for 168 yards with 2 TDs vs. 0 INTs & 131.7 passer rating…RB CHRIS JOHNSON has 100+ rush yards in 2 of past 3 vs. Colts (113, 111). Johnson (35) needs 2 rush TDs to surpass STEVE MC NAIR for 3rd-most rush TDs in franchise history (EARL CAMPBELL, 73; EDDIE GEORGE, 64). Johnson (4,866) needs 134 rush yards to reach 5,000 career. Tied season-best with 6 rec. last week…WR NATE WASHINGTON has 90+ rec. yards in 2 of 3 home games this season…TE JARED COOK is averaging 17.7 yards per catch this season (13 rec., 230 yards). Cook has TD catch in 2 of past 3…CB JASON MC COURTY leads team in tackles (51) & INTs (2) in 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sportaholic College Football Weekend Setup 10/27/11

College football’s Armageddon is on hold until next week (LSU vs. Alabama) so all eyes will be on a few intriguing games on the slate this weekend. USC vs. Stanford pits two projected 1st round grade QBs against each other with the Trojans Matt Barkley and Stanford’s Heisman front-runner and assumed # 1 pick Andrew Luck. Michigan State follows up their big upset by traveling to Nebraska to play the Cornhuskers. Hopefully they won’t have a let down after last weeks thrilling upset of Wisconsin. The world’s largest outdoor cocktail party (Wish I was there) is going down in Jacksonville with Florida vs. Georgia. Many are saying this is the game that will make or break Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt future in Athens. Oklahoma takes an undefeated Kansas State team that really hasn’t been tested but certainly will as the Sooners should come to town angry after being upset by Texas Tech. And last but not least Wisconsin takes on a revitalized Ohio State team that is capable of springing the surprise if the Badgers are still sulking from last weeks noble lost to Sparty.

So as you can see even with the two SEC goliaths taking a break, there are still plenty of good games on the docket. The national championship picture is clearing up every week as top teams are being upset more than Lindsay Lohan’s dwindling fan base. It’s usually this time of the year where the best teams separate themselves from the rest. Can Andrew Luck have his Heisman moment in Los Angeles Coliseum this weekend? Can the agitated teams that were upset last week (Oklahoma and Wisconsin) pull it together and get back on schedule? Or will teams with nothing to lose like K-State and The Ohio State topple the favorites? Makes for an interesting weekend so let’s look at the prime time match ups and break them down.

# 6 Stanford vs. USC – Well USC here is your chance to take down the conference favorite on your home turf. The Cardinal just haven’t t been the Andrew Luck show. They have a huge offensive line that help them put up a school record 446 rushing yards against the Washington Huskies last week. They also have probably the best set of tight ends in the country as well. If you worry too much about Luck then you will end up getting bulldozed by the Cardinal run game. And just when you try and stop it, Luck hits you over the top with a deep play action pass. From everything that you read and hear about Luck then you know he is as good as advertised. The Cardinal are also the third ranked team in the country in the red-zone so you know they will be efficient inside the 20. The Trojans led by Matt Barkley are having an up and down year but are 6-1 and nothing would be better than to take down Luck and Cardinal. Barkley can make all the throws and has dangerous weapons at his disposal especially with the electrifying Robert Woods at WR. Check out Woods numbers this year: 17 catches (a school record) for 177 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener against Minnesota,14 catches for 255 yards (five shy of the school record) and two TDs against Arizona and he topped that off 12 catches for 119 yards and two TDs in a 31-17 win over Notre Dame. I see this one predicated by the dynamic QBs of both teams and turning into a high scoring affair, but the Stanford defense will make the necessary stops against Barkley and Woods and that should win them the game.

The Pick: Stanford

Florida vs. Georgia - The world largest outdoor cocktail party is always a grand event here in the south. I personally have never made one but from some of the Georgia and Florida alums I know they say it everything you think it is. In other words a lot of drunken people before the game even starts and there will be no shrotage of characters in attendance. These two teams come into battle with a small chance of still taking the SEC East title. Someone has to win rather it be one of these two or South Carolina. I know what your saying because I’m thinking it at this moment. Who ever wins the East will just be the LSU vs. Bama winners’ punching bag in the SEC championship. Yeah I know but like I said someone has to fill that role. The Gators welcome back Senior QB and leader Jeff Brantley back into the fold. He has been out the last couple weeks after being twisted up pretzel style by that ferocious Bama defense. The offense has been one dimensional since his departure as Charlie Weis has been reluctant to trust his two freshman QBs. As a result the Gators have dropped their last two games. The Bulldogs on the other hand have been on a roll since losing their first two of the season to Boise St. and S.Carolina. Andy Murray isn’t having as big of a statistical year as he did last year but he still is effective and one of the better QBs in the SEC. You can tell he misses stud wide out A.J. Green but the emergence of freshman Isaiah Crowell has given him a nice security blanket iso he doesn’t’ have to wing it every play. Florida’s defense has gone flat after dominating in their first four games. Provided they played LSU and Bama in consecutive weeks but their front seven was suppose to be one the best in the country, they just haven’t lived up to that billing this year. Georgia’s defense is stout up front and will provide a stiff test for the Florida speed demons Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. I see this one shaking out to a battle of field position and the QBs needing to make some plays to help their team out. If that is the case then I have to go with the Bulldogs. And plus this is the game that defines Mark Richt’s season and I think everyone in Athens knows that so luck for the “Dawgs to come out with extra motivation.

The Pick: Georgia

#9 Oklahoma vs. #8 Kansas State: So I like everyone else just thought the Sooners would roll through the Big 12 and eventually meet and winner of the SEC for the national championship. So much for that as the Sooners allowed Seth Doege, Alex Torres and the Red Raiders to roll up 41 points and shock everyone in Norman. I could tell from the beginning of that game that Texas Tech wasn’t going for any of that Boomer Sooner mess. What can you say about the job that Bill Snyder has done once again in Manhattan? He has the Wildcats undefeated and a chance at doing something special this year if they can pull an upset or two. QB Jordan Webb has proved that he can make plays with his arm as well as his feet and leads this current version of the Wildcats. Even with all that is being said about K-State this one isn’t hard to predict. Bob Stoops and the Sooners should be fired up after last week. Landry Jones Ryan Broyles, and Kenny Stills will attack a so-so Wildcat defense and should have a lot of success with their no huddle attack. K-State will have to play ball control to stay in this one but I don’t even know if that will be enough. The odds makers aren’t buying the K-State Kool-aid either as they have them at -13.5 in the books. Ouch.

The Pick: Oklahoma

Game of the Week: Stanford vs. USC – Call this one the battle of the Pac-12 super QBs as Luck and Barkley do battle in Los Angeles. This game could define the college career for Barkley if he can topple the heavily favored Cardinal. Luck has received more pub then the Occupy Wall Street movement but Barkley could still his joy with a win in this one. I can’t wait to see those two guys do battle in the NFL.

Most Intriguing Game: Wisconsin vs. Ohio State – This one has all the makings of a major let down game for the Badgers. They were seconds away from remaining undefeated and in the thick of the NC picture all to have it taken away by Kirk Cousins arm and the Hail Mary pass that beat them. Ohio State get an added benefit of OT Mike Adams and RB Dan “Boom” Herron in addition to having the bye week to prepare for this one. And to top it off this one is in the “Shoe. Watch out Wisconsin.

Under the Radar Game: Michigan State vs. Nebraska – I’m not 100% sure I can call this one under the radar but I couldn’t fit it into the breakdowns. I haven’t’ been sold on the Huskers every since they were handed that beat down from Wisconsin. And the Huskers are missing their best defensive player in T Jared Crick. The Spartans just beat the very team that whooped on the Huskers so there is no way they beat Michigan State right?

Coach better get it right game: Florida vs. Georgia – Dear Mark Richt, this is the game that you need your team to go above and beyond for you as this should determine if your still employed by the University of Georgia in the future. So to your players like Andy Murray, Isaish Crowell and Richard Samuel please go out and represent for your coach. Sincerely,

The Sportaholic.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sportaholic NFL Power Rankings Week 7

Another week in the books for the NFL and a few things are starting to be clear about this season. QBs rule the NFL universe as this week saw multiple QB changes, some good (Tebow’s last 5 minutes, Christian Ponder) and some not so good (Tebow’s first 3 ½ quarters, John Beck, Carson Palmer’s debut with the Raiders). This is a QB driven league so we all know that you only can go as far as your QB can lead you. Speaking of QBs, Ndaumkong Suh continues his assault on QBs The way he and Cliff Avril of the Lions twisted up Matt Ryan should have put him out the game. The Lions are fast becoming the nastiest team in the league.

Tough day for Palmer and Boller
How about that 2 minute drill by San Diego against the Jets? I will never understand what was going on in Norv Turner’s mind with that one. Plaxico finally annoucned that he out of the pen and ready for some football with his 3 TD standout game on the Chargers. I will Carson Palmer a pass on that terrible display of football we seen against the Chiefs. He was thrown out way to early but the Raiders with Kyle Boller playing so bad. What did Tim Tebow have to wait until the last minutes of the game before he found his rhythm? I mean he had everything he needed and more that game with the Dolphins holding a Florida Gator tribute. That has to be the stupidest scheduling of an event in recent memory but that’s Miami for you. I have never heard Reggie Bush get mad except for that time he found out Kim Kardishian was dating Miles Austin, but he was plenty angry with his team after that fiasco against the Broncos and Tebow.

Murray just shed the St.Louis D to pieces
How bad are things in Indianapolis right now? Peyton Manning should win MVP for NOT PLAYING at this point. Get shell-shocked 62-7 on a primetime Sunday night against the Saints. I know the offense should suffer but when Drew Brees throws more TDs then incompletions than something is terribly amiss here. I remember watching this weekend and saying to myself what wrong with Chris Johnson? The newly minted $53.5 million dollar man just can’t kick it into high gear and for intensive purposes looks like he is stuck in a rut. He picked a bad time for his game to go down as the Titans got it handed it to them by the Texans. While CJ was laying an egg in Nashville, Demarco Murray was running like his hair was on fire in Dallas. 253 is 253 yards I don't care if the Rams have the worst run defense in the league. And to think that the Dallas coaching staff is still saying that its Felix Jones job when he gets back from injury, my question is why? He is explosive when healthy but thats the thing with him, he is never healthy. If Murray follows up his record breaking game with at least half of those yards agaisnt Philly, I say he has earned a starting role.

This guy is not human.
 I am fully convinced now that Cam Newton just isn’t human. That amazing run he had against the Redskins confirmed it for me. Christian Ponder looked way better in his first start then Donovan McNabb did in his previous 6 starts so that means the writing is on the wall for McNabb. It’s sad to see his career fade out the way is. Aaron Rodgers as always was money in that game and I just can’t see him not winning the MVP this year with the way he is playing.

Now time for the rankings:

1. Green Bay Packers (7-0) – Consistency is one of the greatest attributes a QB can have and right now Aaron Rodgers in the most consistent QB in the league. Each week he seems to out do himself from the last and he is the main reason there is talk of an undefeated season in Green Bay. Now I don’t believe it will happen but that doesn’t stop the chatter. Minnesota showed some fight in this game with Ponder starting instead of McNabb but they let Rodgers and that deadly offense have the ball last in hope of stopping them and that’s just something you don’t want to count in against the Pack. Green Bay will continue to roll but someone will eventually beat them. We shall see who that team is but until further notice they remain at the top spot.

2. New Orleans Saints (5-2) – As I stated above, I understand that the absence of Peyton to Indy puts the offense at a disadvantage, everyone knows that but what is the defenses excuse? New Orleans made this a laugher early and NBC probably wouldn’t have cared if they called a mercy rule on this one. Drew Brees just keeps rolling although he wasn’t able to get over the 350 yards passing for the first time in awhile. The Saints are playing defense again with crazy man Gregg Williams mixing and matching his blitz schemes. Sean Payton didn’t even high to be in the booth for this one. I have to put the Saints at # 2 for their thrashing of the Colts.

3. New England (5-1) – The team that everyone loves to hate had a bye week so we don’t get to talk about some super human type of performance from Tom Brady and Wes Welker. Don’t you Pats haters worry to much they take on Pittsburgh this weekend which is sure to be one of the weekends top match ups

4. San Francisco (5-1) – It stills feels funny writing about the Alex Smith led 49ers. They are 5-1 and they have a chance to win their next three games against Cleveland, Washington, and the New York Giants. This team has luxury of playing in the worst division in the NFC West so they have every reason to run away with this thing. Alex Smith leading a team to a division title, that’s just a funny sentence.

5. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – That had to be one of the worst MNF games in recent memory. The Ravens not getting a first down until the 3rd quarter was get atrocious. There is no way you can defend yourself for that kind of offensive performance. Joe Flacco has looked great in some games this year and flat out horrible in others. Ray Rice couldn’t find any running lanes and none of the Baltimore receivers could get open. Just an ugly display of football but the Ravens are known to have a let down game or two in them a year. So I will keep them in the top for now but if we get anymore performances like Monday, then there out.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Music City Meltdown for Titans

You can call this one the Music City Meltdown. This was suppose to be a game that would shape the race for the AFC South crown as the Titans and the Texans had rose to the top of division without Indianapolis and Peyton Manning in the way this year. Instead it turned into an epic blowout that announced that Houston is the top the team in the division until further notice. Tennessee was so thoroughly dominated in their 41-7 loss to the Texans that its hopeless at this point to put any argument to who is the best team in the AFC South. This one got ugly before you could really sit back and relax as Houston jumped out to a 20-0 lead at halftime on the overwhelmed Titans.

Tennessee seemed helpless to stop the Houston offense as they marched up and down the field to the tune of 518 yards of total offense (3rd most in Houston history). Arian Foster was a force as he racked up 115 yards on the ground and added another 119 yards receiving and 3 TDs in all. He had his way all game as he just bull rushed the Titans defensive line and linebackers. In my preview article of this game ( ) I stated that it would be a long game if the Titanse couldn’t contain the former University of Tennessee product and I was right on the money with that prediction. He became the first player in Houston history to rush for over 100 yards and receive for over 100 yards in the same game. Foster’s 234 total yards was actually more than what the Titans finished with as a team at 148 yards. Matt Schaub had a relative easy day as he could just sit back and rely on Foster and Ben Tate in the run game and then pick apart the Titans secondary with play action fakes. It was just a clinic as Schaub was efficiently (18/23 296 yards 2 TD passes 147.7 QB rating) able to find numerous holes in the back end of the Titans D. The tight ends of Owen Daniels and Joel Dressen just undressed the middle field openings and the two combined for 6 catches 102 yards and 1 TD. Foster’s 78-yard TD catch seemed to open the flood gates as the crowd was taken out the game from that point. The Titans defense was annihilated on the ground as they gave up two 100 yards games to Foster and the aforementioned Ben Tate who finished with 104 yards on 15 carries good for 6.9 yards per carry.

Another shocking development from this game was the play of the Titans offense, which had looked so potent before the bye. Matt Hasselbeck completed less than 50 percent of his passes going 14/30 for a lowly 104 yards and 2 Ints. He seemed flustered and could never get into a rhythm as the Texans sacked him twice and seemed to mix coverage enough to confuse the vet. He had one of his Ints returned for a 38-yard TD by Bruce McCain of the Texans. Chris Johnson looked dismal yet again as he only finished with 18 yards on 10 carries for 1.8 yards per carry average. Counter that effort with Javon Ringer’s as he finished with 31 yards on just 3 carries. It’s getting harder each week to defend Johnson as most have figured he would eventually turn it around. As I watched the game unfold there were a couple of plays where it seemed that CJ just didn’t want to kick it into high gear as we are so accustomed to. One play in particular was at the beginning of the game when Hasselbeck found an open Johnson sneaking out of the backfield. Johnson caught the ball in open space and seemed to skip for a second and then try and to put the after burners on only to be caught for a 17-yard gain. That one really puzzled me as in years past no one would even lay a hand on Johnson in the open field. He either doesn’t have the burst he used to or he is just flat out not giving the effort he use to. The fans must have noticed as well as he was showered with boos throughout the game. “It’s just a situation I got to continue to say I can’t do nothing but keep working hard, running hard and doing what I can do for this team,” Johnson said.

The Titans coaching staff deserves some of the blame as well. I didn’t see any halftime adjustments from the team. Houston came out and executed its same game plan and the Titans just let them do it. Coach Munchak and DC Jerry Gray have to do a better job at adjusting to what team are doing or at least try something different to see what works.. The fact that Houston was able to roll up 222 yards on the ground is just astonishing. “Obviously, we’re not happy with the product we put on the field (Sunday),” Munchak said. “It’s on all of us, coaches, players, that’s not us. That can’t be us and we’ve got to improve The Titans coming into this game were ranked in the top 10 of rushing defenses. The fact that Houston out gained the Titans 518 to 148 in total yards is also jaw dropping. This was a very disheartening loss anyway you look at it for the Titans They gave up their chance to take the division by the throat and allowed Houston to flex their muscles on their home field. You could tell by all of the boos that the LP faithful were in an uproar over the lackluster performance. Even Houston's kicker was able to lay a big hit on Marc Mariaini on a kick return for goodness sakes.

Tennessee may get a breather next week as they welcome the winless Indianapolis Colts to LP field next week. The Colts also had a day to forget as the New Orleans Saints dropped 62 points on them. The Titans have to find a way to get back into rhythm after this disappointing performance and hopefully the Colts are just the remedy they need. The Titans fall to 3-3 and into 2nd place in the division. The season is still early so they all the reason to turn it around. Hopefully this doesn’t become a repeat of last year’s 1-7 effort after the bye when they were 5-3. To prevent that meltdown from happening again they have to start with a W next week against the Colts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sportaholic Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans Preview

Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans Preview:

Fresh off their bye week the Titans are up for a big divisional game against hated rival the Houston Texans. This of course is the biggest game of the year so far in the AFC South as the Texans at 3-3 are a game out of first place looking up to the Titans at 3-2. For all those interested this game will give the winner the upper hand for top spot in the division for the rest of the year. The Colts are out of it minus Peyton Manning and as a result are 0-6, Jacksonville has turned to rookie Blaine Gabbert at QB and at 1-5 are out of it as well. So this game pits the two teams that have a chance at taking the South. Both teams are coming off of loses as Tennessee was bombarded and overwhelmed against the Pittsburgh Steelers a couple of weeks ago. Houston has lost its last two games after starting the year 3-0.

The Titans vs. Texans game does have a history of getting ugly as evidenced by the Cortland Finnegan-Andre Johnson fight last year (Unfourunately Johnson is out of the game, so we won’t get a chance for fireworks from those two.). These two teams have been developing bad blood between each other over the last few years as both teams have made some vicious hits and cheap shots at one another. This is a simmering rivalry that most of the country doesn’t know about. Just think about it, the Titans originated in Houston as they are originally the Houston Oilers. Former Oilers owner turned Titans owner Bud Adams moved his team to Nashville in 1999 and that has always given fans from Clutch city a reason to hate the Titans franchise. Another nugget added to this game is the edition of Derrick Mason to the Texans via trade from the New York Jets. Mason was an all time favorite in Nashville during the Steve McNair/Eddie George era and was openly courted to come back during this off season. Titans DL Sen’Derrick Marks has added more fuel to this fire as he called out Houston Eric Winston and Wade Smith for cut blocks he said injured him the last couple of seasons. "I don't like it,'' Marks said. "I don't see that as being a good football player, as being a good offensive lineman." As you can tell this one may get out of hand if the refs don’t stop it.

This is the season that everyone was saying that the Texans would get it right. They have always had the talent but have never been able to get over the hump and make the playoffs. If the Titans defeat the Texans this Sunday they in essence would have a 2 ½ game lead because of division tiebreaker when it comes to the playoffs.

The Texans seem to never able to win the big game. That possible 21/2 game margain make this a mega game of magnitude for the divison. Matt Schaub and Gary Kubiak have been known to get there but can’t pull out the win they wasn’t suppose to.

So all that has been said lets breakdown what will be the key factors in Sunday’s tilt:

1. Can the Titans shut down Arian Foster? Foster in my opinion is what makes the offense go in Houston. The absence of Andre Johnson makes him that much more pivotal in this game. Last week he was limited to 49 yards on 15 carries and of course the Texans lost that game. The last game they won against Pittsburgh he rushed 155 yards as the Texans controlled the line of scrimmage and allowed Matt Schaub to hit open receivers on play action fakes. That’s the difference last year’s leading rusher can make if he is on his game. The Titans must control him for a chance to win this one. That means a big game is needed from LBs Barrett Rudd, Wil Witherspoon, and Akeem Ayers. Houston zone blocking scheme has been well documented and the Titans will need to pay attention to every move Foster makes. If they can contain him, it will make the game much easier.

2. Can the Texans line get pressure on Matt Hasselback without Mario Williams? The Texans had been devouring QBs until the loss of their stud DL/LB Mario Williams went down with a torn pectoral muscle. He provided the Texans with that ever so important edge rusher and no one on that team has been able to replace his presence. Matt Hasselbeck has proved that if you can give him enough time he can get the ball to the right place. Houston LBs Brooks Reid, Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans along with that Texans defensive line will have to find a way to get Hasselbeck dirty because he will pick them apart if he has the time.

3.Chris Johnson will either explode or do nothing: Johnson has a history of being either a stud or a dud against Houston. Last year Johnson had a 130 outburst against the Texans in their first meeting in the second meeting he had just 5. He has to get rolling at one point or another so why not against a team that he hits and misses on? I can see CJ doing exactly what his track record says and that means either showing up and showing out or doing nothing. Coach Mike Munchak stated that the Titans emphasized the run game more than anything during the bye so that should bode well for him.

4. How will the Titans respond coming off their bye week? Last season if you can remember back last year, the were 5-3 going into the bye week and then the wheels came completely off. They were 1-7 after the bye and the chaotic turn of events led the dismissal of Jeff Fisher and Vince Young. Now of course Mike Munchak and Matt Hasselbeck are in the respective positions of Fisher and Young so last year shouldn’t have anything to do with this year’s team, but then again most of the guys that were on that 2010 version on still on this team. Will the past rear its ugly head as the Titans begin to start their second half of the season or will they thrive under new leadership?

TEXANS: Dating back to 11/28/10, Hou. has won 3 of past 4 vs. AFC South…In past 5 vs. Titans, QB MATT SCHAUB has completed 133 of 206 passes (64.6 pct.) for 1,449 yards with 11 TDs vs. 1 INT & 101 passer rating. In 3 road games this season, Schaub has completed 64 of 105 passes (61 pct.) for 823 yards with 6 TDs vs. 1 INT & 100.6 passer rating…In past 6 vs. AFC South opponents, RB ARIAN FOSTER is averaging 121.2 rush yards per game (727 total) with 7 rush TDs. Foster aims for 4th straight game with at least 100+ scrimmage yards (166, 184, 101)…WR KEVIN WALTER had 7 catches for 79 yards (11.3 avg.) with TD in last meeting vs. Titans. WR JACOBY JONES had 32-yard TD rec. last week, 1st TD catch of season. WR DERRICK MASON (940) needs 1 catch to surpass HOFer ART MONK for 11th-most rec. all-time…TE OWEN DANIELS has 415 career yards vs. Titans, most vs. any team…Defense is tied for AFC-best with 17 sacks (NYJ, 17)…DE TIM JAMISON had career-high 2 sacks last week…CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH registered 3rd INT of season last game…S GLOVER QUIN had career-best 3 INTs vs. Titans on 11/28/10…TITANS: Club has 13-9 (.591) record after bye…Titans have 7-2 record at home vs. Texans…Seeks 3rd consecutive win at LP Field this season…At home in 2011, QB MATT HASSELBECK has completed 57 of 78 passes (73.1 pct.) for 669 yards with 3 TDs vs. 1 INT & 106.2 passer rating. Has 90+ passer rating in 4 of 5 games this season…For career, RB CHRIS JOHNSON averages 91.7 rush yards per game against AFC South (1,652 in 18 games). Johnson (5,972) needs 28 scrimmage yards to reach 6,000 career. Has rushed for 100+ yards in 3 of past 4 games vs. Hou. (197, 151, 130). Averages 5.9 rush yards per carry vs. Texans…WR NATE WASHINGTON had TD catch in last game against Texans. WR DAMIAN WILLIAMS aims for 3rd consecutive game with TD reception…TE JARED COOK is averaging 18.9 yards per catch this season (11 rec., 208 rec. yards)…CB JASON MC COURTY leads team in tackles (39) & INTs (2) in 2011. CB CORTLAND FINNEGAN registered 1st INT of season last game. Finnegan had 99-yard INT-return TD vs. Texans on 9/21/08.

Sportaholic SEC Game Of The Week: LSU vs. Auburn

LSU vs. Auburn preview:

One of most underrated rivaries of the week happens to come to Death Valley as LSU continues its quest for its 3rd BCS title as they face the Tigers or War Eagles (whatever they want to be called) of Auburn. LSU defense looks for payback from last year when Cam Newton ran over them and beat them 31-24 This rivalry is probably the most intense from the 1988 “Earthquake Game”, where Auburn was number #4 in the nation and they rode into “ Death Valley” and with 1:47 left to play LSUs Tommy Hodson found TE Eddie Fuller on a cross pattern for a TD to win the game 7-6, and the crowd eruption was so intense that it registered as an earthquake on the seismograph located in LSU’s Howe-Russell Geoscience Complex. In 1994 Jamie Howard blowing a 23-9 LSU lead in the 4th quarter by throwing 5 fourth quarter interceptions with 3 for Tds ( which still to this day makes me sick to my stomach) , to 1999 when Auburn beat LSU 41-9 and then Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville on his birthday after the Auburn win lit cigars and stomped them on the “Tiger Eye” ( Auburn has not won in the valley since), to 2001 when LSU beat Auburn on December 1 (it was scheduled for Sept 15th but because of the 9/11 attacks it was postponed) and the 2007 game when LSUs Demetrius Byrd catches the game winning td with one second remaining. On Wednesday starters Tyrann Mathieu, Spencer Ware, and another starter were suspended for the game because of failing a drug test and Auburn starting sophomore Clint Moseley this look to be another exciting chapter to the series.

Clint Mosely
Offense vs. Offense: Auburn will have services of soph. Qb Clint Mosely making his first SEC start in Tiger Stadium; he has to rely on RB Micheal Dyer and his offensive line to give him time. The LSU offense has been getting some life as of late with Jordan Jefferson playing, Jarrett Lee improving as QB, and Miles showing no fear in going for it on 4th down again. Even with LSU missing Spencer Ware it still has Alfred Blue and Michael Ford running the ball can wear down Auburn’s defense and then open up the passing game with Russell Sheppard and emerging star Odell Blackmon can put up an offensive explosion in Death Valley –Edge LSU

Defense vs. Defense LSU once again, but has to be aware of Mosley, he is a gunslinger so is not afraid to throw the ball and without Mathieu he will take advantage of it. Sam Washington and the D look to bring the heat to Mosley all night and have to and Morris Claiborne has to step up and be a leader on this LSU secondary. Auburn’s talented DE Corey Lemonier is a beast with 5 sacks and 7 tackles proves to be someone the LSU offensive line might want to key on all night... - Edge LSU

Intangibles- LSU has won big games at home but has to stay focused with Mathieu and Ware out and Bama looming Les Miles has to be the pillar of strength- Edge LSU

Winner and why- LSU has gotten better every game offensively and defensively, but the main thing LSU hasn’t made dumb mistakes, hasn’t “given up “the big play”, stayed healthy, and remained focused. They will have to be focused and prepared because the War Eagles are getting better and ready to make a statement. LSU is going have a fight, and it’s a rivalry game, Auburn will play hard, but LSU will pull it out. Score LSU 35 – Auburn 24

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

T.O. to Tennessee Titans?


Its been reported that Terrell Owens could make his way to the music city once he is fully recovered from a torn ACL he sustained during the off-season. In a story from Yahoo! Sports, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak indicated some interest in Owens. Munchak was reportedly even excited to speak about the possible acquisition of the for former All-Pro receiver.

From 104.5 The Zone FM in Nashville, via John Glennon at The Tennessean:

"A lot is going to depend for us on how we are producing at that (wide receiver) position three weeks or two weeks from now, and how we're doing (overall)," Munchak said. "All those things will factor into it. But I'm sure whenever you've got a player that has his capabilities, everyone's going to know exactly where he's at. If he has a way of helping our team win, then for sure you're going to take a look at him."

The Titans of course have been in need of an explosive receiver to take the place of injured WR Kenny Britt who was on his way to a career year. The one million dollar question at this point is does Owens still have it? I questioned my listeners on “The Sportaholic Radio Show” on this very subject just last week and received a mix response. I personally think he still has something left in the tank and also that this would be the perfect team for him to land on. The Titans have everything that T.O. needs to succeed, a veteran QB who will stand up to him when he needs to, strong leadership in the locker room, and a team that can win now. Owens has been a model citizen for his previous two teams, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Buffalo Bills because he knew his reputation preceded him and if he wanted to play for a contender again some day he had to tone down his act. He is a long way from being perfect as evident by his Batman and Robin gimmicks with former Bengal Chad Ochocinco but his production was great last year as well as he played 11 games and had 72 receptions for 983 and 9 TDs. Who couldn’t use those type of numbers on there team?

As I stated above, I think if this is carefully thought out by both sides that this could work. The Titans have a need for a big physical receiver who can make plays on the outside and who better to fit that bill then T.O. Yeah he is getting a little older and coming off a major knee injury but Owens isn’t your everyday 37 year old man. This guy is a freak of nature and he could pay big dividends for a small price tag at this point in his career. As with Owens, there is always a chance that he could lead a team mutiny (See: Dallas Cowboys Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers) but he has matured over the years and I just don’t see Owens going that route at this stage of his career. This is just like last year when the Titans landed Randy Moss last year from the Vikings. Even though he didn’t pan out as expected, the Titans got him at a low price and didn’t really lose anything in the deal.

In summarizing, T.O. in Tennessee could work provided all parties are on the same page. Matt Hasselbeck has proved he can deliver ball as long you protect him so you have to think he would welcome Owens into the fray. He would add yet another dimension to the Titans offense and could soften the blow of losing Britt. If Chris Johnson ever decides to join the party this year it would make for one of the better offenses in all of football.  Mike Munchak seemed almost over zealous in his speaking of Owens so you can tell he is on board. The only question now is will Owens himself decide to come to Nashville. From all the researched I’ve collected it sounds like the ball is in his court. Tennessee get your popcorn ready if he decides to come.

Do you think Owens would be a good fit in Nashville? Why or why not?

Sportaholic World Series Preview: St.Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers

The Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals will do battle in the 2011 World Series. If you thought this would be your championship match-up raise your hand…… Yeah, that’s what I thought. Going in to this season the notion of thinking was that Philadelphia and Boston were 1 and 1A, but after the Red Sox monumental collapse thanks to beer, fried chicken and video games that didn’t even make it to the playoffs. The Phillies with their four aces of Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt and Lee rolled through the regular season obtaining the best record in the major leagues at 102-60 only to get ousted in the opening round by a Cardinal team that needed Atlanta to basically disintegrate before our eyes and give up a 9 game lead to allow the Cards to play in October. This has been a unpredictable year as evident by the teams who made the playoffs.

I know its all about when your team gets hot but the Cardinals have took it to another level after barely making it in. St. Louis does a lot of things well and you have to if your managed by the legendary Tony La Russa. This team had plenty of chances to cave in but they stuck to their guns and the results could be all that they asked for. They had so many setbacks with the Adam Wainwright injury to start the season and the elephant in the room known as the Albert Pujols contract negotiation. This is a team of resolve as they have proved all season that when you think their done, then they become their best.

The Rangers on the other hand probably have been the most consistent team in baseball all year. Led by their sluggers of Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz they are have been dominant at teams especially in this post-season run. Cruz has been red hot as he belted a ALCS record 6 homers and 15 RBIs. He carried the Rangers past Detroit but he is but one of Texas’s big bats in that lineup. The Rangers go about seven deep in their lineup with Ian Kinsler, Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Cruz, Elvis Andrus, and David Murphy. This is the Rangers second straight trip to the World Series. Last year the Giants were the team that got hot at the right time and were able to take down the Rangers big bats with superior pitching. Is that an omen for them this year, guess we will have to find out.

Now lets take a look at who has the advantages in the major categories of pitching, offense, defense, coaching and intangibles

Pitching: St .Louis ace Chris Carpenter has been a mixed bag in the post-season so far. He pitched a gem going 9 innings while giving up no runs in the NLDS against good friend and perennial Cy Young candidate Roy Hallady to get the Cards past the Phillies. He didn’t fare as well in last start against Milwaukee as he gave up 3 runs in just five innings against the Brewers. If he is on his game, he can be the difference maker in this series as he is one of the best pitchers in the game when he is on. The rest of St.Louis’ staff consists of decent starters in Jamie Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, and Jake Westbrook. None of these guys have the shut down capability that Carpenter does which makes so important to the Cardinals. The bullpen struggled for most of the season until they seemed to settle in their roles. Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel were added at the trade deadline and have stabilized the pen. Mark Rzepczynski also deserves credit but the biggest difference was when Jason Motte was promoted to closer. He throws hard and has no fear so of course he is perfect for the closer role.

Texas has had its share of problems with their starting pitching but has been able to overcome them all year for the most part. C.J. Wilson is this staff’s ace but he has struggled in the playoffs this year. He has a 8+ ERA in the postseason and seems to have gotten worse each start. He gave up three homers and six earned in just five innings in game 1 of the ALDS against the Rays. Wilson has to be the counter to the Cardinals ace Carpenter for the Rangers to at least challenge for game 1. Behind Wilson the Rangers have young but sometimes wild Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, and Matt Harrison. The Rangers just like the Cards shore up their bullpen at the trading deadline. They added Mike Adams from San Diego and Koji Uehara from Baltimore and both have more than pulled their own weight. Alexi Ogando is another interesting relief pitcher who was a starter in the regular season but moved back to the pen in the playoffs. He can go extended innings if needed. Netfali Feliz is as good as they come at closer and has a number of filthy pitches to throw.

Edge: Cardinals. The Cards have the best pitcher in this series with Chris Carpenter and their bullpen is just as good if not even better than the Rangers. The most intriguing thing about Texas’s rotation is that none of their starting pitchers won a game in the ALCS. Think about that one for a second

Hitting: St. Louis has arguably the best hitter in the game with three-time MVP Albert “The Machine” Pujols who of course will be the star of their lineup but a few other players have emerged as well for the red birds. David Freese was named NLCS MVP after hitting for a .545 average with three home runs, three double and nine RBIs. Lance Berkman is always a threat with his power and switch hitting ability. Matt Holliday is one of the better hitters as well in the national league but he hasn’t been hot so far this postseason.

The Rangers counter with a loaded lineup from top to bottom. There are no easy outs with these guys. They will bash you from 1-9 with reigning AL MVP Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and most notably this postseason Nelson Cruz. The thing about this team is that they also can hit for average and do the little things that make their hitting even that much more effective. Any of their guys can get hot at any moment and with all the good hitters they have, they are always protected.

Edge: Rangers. While both of these teams are great hitting clubs, (The Rangers had the best average in baseball at .283, were second in hits (1,599) and were third in runs (855).St. Louis, with a pitcher at the bottom of every lineup, was fifth in baseball in batting average (.273), runs (762) and hits (1,513). Those numbers led the NL.While the Rangers were second in the majors in homers (210) and the Cardinals (162) were 13th, the Rangers' second-best slugging percentage (.460) was only four spots ahead of St. Louis (.425).) you have to with Texas with the way they have just been obliterating balls here of late. They absolutely crushed the Tigers pitching staff and I don’t see them getting cold all of a sudden.

Defense: Both of these teams play decent defense. St. Louis is led by perennial gold glover Albert Pujols who has lost a step at first base but can still get the job done. Matt Holliday is an underrated defender outfielder and David Freese has gotten better each year at his position of third base.

The Rangers have a lot of depth in the outfield led by Josh Hamilton. He has good range and a good arm. Elvis Andrus proved this year that he is one of the best at shortstop and should dominate that positon defensively for years to come. Nelson Cruz just like Matt Holliday for the Cards is an underrated defender.

Edge: Push. Both teams are above average defensive teams but neither really has an advantage in this department.

Series Prediction: This should be a well played neck and neck series. You would think that the Rangers should run away with them as they have better hitting, better fielding and are an overall better team then the Cards. But you can’t count the resilient red birds as they have been on the cusp of elimination to many times this year and have a way each time to come out on top. If they can get two or even three great starts from Chris Carpenter than they have a puncher’s chance, on the other hand as long as the Rangers continue to do what they did just to get here, then they should take down the Cards. I have to go with the Rangers in 6 because it seems that their lineup is just too strong and they can overcome the Cardinals in every other department.

Rangers in 6.