Tag Archives: sports

What Are You Doing, Sullivan?

Image result for marc-andre fleury free useThe 2016-2017 Pittsburgh Penguins postseason run has been a bumpy ride. The Columbus Blue Jackets battered the Pens throughout the first round and the Washington Capitals, clearly the better team for most of if not all of the series, couldn’t close out Pittsburgh in game seven. The defacto key to both series? Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury outplayed two Vezina winners in Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby and handedly so. While Bobrovsky struggled to contain the Pens’ blistering offense, Fleury posted save percentages of 97 and 98 in the first two games, stopping 70 of 72. In one of Fleury’s best postseason performances, he thwarted 49 of 51 Columbus rubber pellets in the series-clinching game five win.

In round two, Holtby watched from afar as his teammates peppered the Penguins’ end for seven games and watched with frustration as Fleury continued to bail his teammates out. Holtby, on the other end and with little to do, failed to execute. In the second period of game four, Holtby gave up two goals on four shots. That is laughable and he, more than anyone, cost his team the series.

On the opposite side, we have a goalie that surely stole a series against a superior opponent, including a game seven shutout on the road. Fleury was as much a fluid gymnast in front of the net, contorting his body in every shape and form, as he was a magician, making pucks disappear before hitting twine. He has been the Penguins best player this postseason and is a virtual guarantee to win the Conn Smythe if they win Lord Stanley’s cup. The Penguins’ offense that was first in goals and third on the powerplay during the regular season has been on and off during this year’s run and it hasn’t mattered. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the best postseason goalie. Pekka Rinne is the only other candidate you could even make an argument for.

A goalie is the most integral part to playoff success. Goalies can steal a game or, a la Fleury, a series.

And never in my life have I seen the best postseason goalie in a calendar year get benched. Until today.

In an unprecedented move, coach Mike Sullivan will be starting Matt Murray in tonight’s game four. There’s no logical reasoning for this.

If anything has hampered the Pens during this series, it’s been the team’s inability to score. The Pens should have won game one, but went 0/5 on the powerplay, an ongoing problem. Injuries knocked Bryan Rust and Justin Schultz out of game two and there’s no timetable for their return. In three games, the once mighty Pittsburgh offense has scored three goals. The defense that has played quite well without headmaster Kris Letang completely flopped in game three, to an embarrassing level. Only one of the goals scored on Fleury on Wednesday could be attributed to him. The utter incompetence of the Pens defensemen that game was the singularity of that trainwreck and everyone who watched that game knows that.

Except Mike Sullivan. Mike Sullivan appears concerned with how to allow less goals rather than score more than one. That is the only rationale I can come up with at this point.

Look, Mike Sullivan is a wizard. I love him and he’s already on his way to being one of the best coaches in franchise history. Of all the issues this team currently has in front of them, goaltending has been the least of them. It has been since day one. It still is. Patrick Roy could have played goal for the Pens on Wednesday. It would not have changed the outcome.

So, to bench Fleury, your best player this postseason run, because of a historically bad period from your defense, makes not even a minute of sense. Matt Murray has always been Sullivan’s favorite and that will most likely never change, but head coaches are not afforded the graces of favoritism. One goalie has played the best postseason of his career. The other hasn’t played a full game since April 6. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this one out.

On the other hand, Sullivan is a genius and even he couldn’t figure out this “conundrum.”

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How the Golden State Warriors Became the Most Marketable Team in Professional Sports

The Golden State Warriors were an afterthought, a non-story. From 1977 to 1985, the Warriors didn’t make the playoffs. From 1994 to 2005, Golden State didn’t even come close to a winning record as they became the basement manager of the Western Conference. The days of Rick Barry, Jamaal Wilkes and Nate Thurmond were long gone. Their huge upset of the highly favored Washington Bullets in the championship series in 1975 was a fairy tale that Golden State fans would tell their children before they went to sleep. The Warriors were a dusty, blemished medal lost in the pile of what-ifs and has-beens you could find in your local antique store. During owner Chris Cohan’s 16-year tenure at the helm, Golden State made the playoffs once and broke the .500 barrier twice. When Silicon Valley icon Joe Lacob and his investors purchased the Warriors from Cohan for what was then a record $450 million, experts were scratching their heads. As Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos, described in Bruce Schoenfield’s New York Times piece, the Golden State Warriors were “the little engine that couldn’t.”

What Lacob, now the majority owner of the Warriors, has done is brought the franchise not only stability, an attribute every franchise strives to reach, but the ability to continually adapt itself to both its sport and its fan base.

There is more discussion about the Golden State Warriors right now then there is about any team in professional sports and not just because the NFL season concluded in February. Even during Carolina’s impressive Super Bowl run and the emergence of Denver’s suffocating defense, the world’s spotlight was on Golden State. The Washington Capitals this year have had one of the most dominant regular seasons in NHL history, amassing 116 points and 55 wins, a total that could reach 59 by season’s end, putting them just three games back of the all-time record of 62 set by the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings (The Capitals ended the year with 56 wins and 120 points). They, too, have gone almost completely unnoticed.

The Golden State Warriors have overshadowed every team in sports. Philip Rossman-Reich put it best when he said Golden State holds “an unmistakable allure that keeps people and the media tuning in in a way that has not been seen in the NBA for some time. No one puts on a show quite like the Golden State Warriors.”

It’s not just the show the team puts on, but how they put it on. Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post said, “The norm is for victory hogs to inspire a level of envy that seeps into dislike. But hate Golden State? What? do you hate dessert, sunshine and the laughter of children, too?”

Rossman-Reich echoed this sentiment, saying, “The Warriors have their detractors, but the narrative with them seems to be one of ‘Why don’t you appreciate this team more? Why are you hating?’ rather than ‘This is jut the way the NBA goes and the way the culture is now.'”

That’s the frame the media has given Golden State. The Warriors are well-liked because there’s so little not to like. As Nicolas Dawidoff of The New Yorker claims, “But the defending NBA champions are the sport’s best and most entertaining team not because of a single player but because they have an intricate approach to basketball that’s as pleasing to old-school coaching purists as it is to people fitted out in new blue-and-gold Curry shirts.”

Stephen Curry is the team’s best player and one of the most marketable players in professional sports right now. He leads the league in jersey sales, further promoting a brand that’s so fresh and new it feels like it was created in a cauldron full of athletic prowess, statistical perfection and revolutionary ideology. Tradition establishes branding, but what tradition did Golden State have the last 20 years aside from their historical record of losing? None, so Golden State has done the only thing they could do: create their own.

There are some who will call the Golden State Warriors a bandwagon team because of the increased fan base and perhaps they are, but it’s hard to argue a team that wiped the slate clean and formed not only a team of extraordinary athletes but one of sports’ best marketing campaigns and branding accomplishments aren’t worth admiring.

Lacob has put together the preeminent team of professional sports, a team that astounds not just in its play but in its selflessness. Earlier this year, Draymond Green said that the Warriors nearly lost a contest “due to my selfish unselfishness” in his pursuit of a triple double. That is a quote that, if said before, has not been said in a long time and one can imagine won’t be said again for years. In few situations has a player ever been so selfless that he viewed it as a negative. Green’s quote says something not just about himself as a player but about the team as a whole, that they sometimes are so driven for the perfect shot and to orient their teammates into the scheme of things that they sometimes overthink.

As rare a quote as it might be, the idea that such a quote could come from someone donning a Warriors uniform shouldn’t surprise anyone. As Marty Fukuda of Entrepreneur pointed out, not only is the team known for its high-character team members, the Warriors have a bias towards homegrown talent. They have grown the core of their team through the draft and have avoided the hassles and endless discussions over free agent signings. The Warriors have developed their assets and promoted from within, giving players the incentive to continue to put forth their best.

Their crisp ball-movement has led to a strong team philosophy, pushing the brand to the forefront. As NBA legends continue to doubt their performance and claim it is a a result of the defenses in today’s game, the Warriors continue to set records and reach yet another echelon of performance. Robert O’Connell of The Atlantic wrote, “He (Curry) and the graceful, jump-shooting Warriors diverge from the brawny historical models of great players and teams, and there’s the sense among some in the sport’s establishment that they have not so much mastered the game as solved it, bringing about a basketball revolution that is not wholly welcome.”

Even Phil Jackson, one of the best coaches of all time, continues to question how sustainable the Golden State movement is. Despite the fear that some hold about what Golden State is doing to the sport of basketball, O’Connell commented, “That perspective makes enough sense on a radio show or in an article. Turn on the Warriors, though, and your skepticism get tested…A neat little aesthetic trick of the Warriors’ marksmanship is that, no matter what the statistics teach you to expect, the shots still look daunting…In the middle of all this, Curry doesn’t seem anything like an avatar of basketball’s decay.”

Visionaries shape the industry and right now, the Golden State Warriors are a franchise of visionaries.

The NFL might be the most effective sports league at getting their product front and center, but the Warriors have proven they’re the most effective franchise. The Golden State Warriors, despite being relevant for only a few years now, have one of the largest Twitter followings in the NBA behind only a handful of long-tenured and big market franchises: the Lakers, Celtics, Bulls and Heat. The amount of coverage and exposure this team has gotten this season is hard to quantify. During Golden State’s long vacation in the basement of the NBA, Golden State might have had to pull teeth to get someone to run a news release. Now, publications can’t get enough of them. Brewer has called the Warriors “appointment television” and it’s hard to disagree with that. Golden State is drawing the fan base of not just the NBA, but sports fans in general. The revenue streams that the Warriors have coming to them in the future are going to be the biggest in the sport. The media rights to broadcast Warriors’ games will climb exponentially, as will naming rights and sponsorships in the coming years. For now, the club’s merchandising is writing the paychecks. With the product that the Warriors are putting on the court, setting historic marks at every turn and as Dawidoff says, “no high-school softball team displays more happiness than the Warriors,” it’s hard to see that hype dying off. They might be the most entertaining franchise in sports for the manner in which they play the game as much as the attitude they bring with them. Rossman-Reich commented, “they are just an unreal team laying waste to the NBA record books at will. And no matter who you are cheering for, they give you your money’s worth every time in their dominance.”

He acknowledges there’s something special about this team and that fans attend not just for how legendary this team is becoming, but for the entertainment that pairs with that. Andy Liu of Golden State of Mind agrees, saying, “out in the open, on the open court that the Warriors completely dominate and destroy opponents on, the Warriors shimmy, celebrate, smile and play the game of basketball the way five-year-olds do: for fun.” Nothing makes a ticket price look more reasonable than a team who desolates opponents and portrays the joy of a five-year-old. With all the questions this team has answered over the last couple of months, one of the most meaningful ones might be who doesn’t want to watch the Warriors? Those who don’t must hate dessert, sunshine and the laughter of children, too.

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The Power of Art

I’m graduating college in a week, which means more blogging and more features. The hope is I churn a feature out each week. This should be one of many over the ensuing weeks.

Since fourth grade, I’ve played the euphonium. Participating in band was a way to connect with people, I was told. My father played trombone. It was a way for us to connect.

By junior high, I was committed and for a bit, considered if music was a profession worth pursuing for myself. I earned a seat in numerous honor bands, participated in one of the finest music programs in the state at North Hills and furthered my love and knowledge of music. During my senior high years, we put together some stunning performances. We were an ensemble of young teens who all had a committed vision of excellence and perseverance. We channeled our passions through it, our hope through it, our dreams through it. We were pressured day after day to do better and despite my doubts, we reached another echelon each and every time.

But despite all this, I was ready to move on after high school. By senior year, I had stopped practicing entirely, my attention and dedication pulled to other areas of my life. I thought it was time to let it go. Had it not been for a scholarship my school had offered for my musical talent, I’m not sure I would have stuck with it. Looking back, that was a foolish thing to think.

Now a senior in college, I’ve played for 13 years and I may have played my last concert two Saturday’s ago.

I put my horn back in its case and gazed at it a little longer than I usually do because I know I may not see it again for months if not years. As a journalism professional with a gradually expanding social circle and vastly expanding list of responsibilities, some of my hobbies have started falling to the wayside. Sadly, the euphonium has become one of them.

I do not say music because it hasn’t and never shall.

Since I’m a movie critic, you should expect a reference to a movie. Well, here it is. The Hope Is a Dangerous Thing scene from The Shawshank Redemption is one of my all-time favorite excerpts. Here, I could go on a ten-minute tangent discussing how criminal it is that The Shawshank Redemption didn’t win an Academy Award but that’s for another time. Instead, I’m going to talk about these snippets of dialogue:

“That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you.”

“You need it so you don’t forget, forget that there are places in the world that aren’t made out of stone, that there’s something inside that they can’t get to, they can’t touch. It’s yours.”

“What are you talking about?”


At our most weathered and most tortured, at our most basic form, the arts still remain. A deaf man can still hear the music. A blind man can still see the art. A paralyzed man can still feel the dance. The arts inspire as much as they transform, as much as they remind us of what we once were and what we still can be. They are a universal language, a doorway to the soul.

They make you believe.

They make you feel.

They make you hope.

Sports has become a universal language. The arts, as well as sports, transcend linguistic barriers. Sports, as I explained in my We All feature, have the ability to overcome racial, social, economical, political and religious divides, unifying a diverse group to one aim. When Landon Donovan scored in the 2010 World Cup, the United States erupted. There were no detractors. There was no debating. There was a roar, a roar bellowing in the soul. It was a roar that roared, “Yes” and so much more than that. This raucous sound wasn’t a brick of sound. It was a tidal wave so large it’s immeasurable.

The same could be said when Manchester City scored two goals in four minutes to capture its first English Premier League title since 1968.

Sports, as well as the arts, convey the things that words sometimes can’t. In select moments, you will feel a chill on your back, an epiphany full of an aura that can only be described one way: heavenly. It is the most joyous of feelings, a feeling that will last only seconds but carries with it a mass of emotion. It reverberates inside of us. It is a feeling that replicates the vivacity of a child, unbound and free. It is a chant of ecstasy, a concussion of jubilation, a pulse-pounding ricochet contained in our hearts. It is the commanding presence of the brass, the force of the winds and strings and the crash of the percussion. It is genuine beauty, untouched and unsoiled, in its purest form. It is euphoric.

Most of all, it is an affirmation as much as a confirmation of what we already know, that we’re capable of anything and that no matter how many times we’re torn apart, you can’t separate the arts, the eternal flame, from the man.

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: AFC West



GET: TE Owen Daniels, DT Vance Walker, G Shelley Smith, S Darian Stewart, DE Antonio Smith, TE James Casey, C Gino Gradkowski

LOSE: TE Julius Thomas, DT Terrance Knighton, G Orlando Franklin, WR Wes Welker, C Manny Ramirez, LB Nate Irving, S Rahim Moore, S Quinton Carter, TE Jacob Tamme

RE-SIGN: TE Virgil Green

DRAFT: 1st round: OLB Shane Ray, Missouri     2nd round: OT Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State     3rd round: TE Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State     4th round: C Max Garcia, Florida     5th round: CB Lorenzo Doss, Tulane     6th round: DT Darius Kilgo, Maryland     7th round: QB Trevor Siemian, Northwestern     CB Taurean Nixon, Tulane     LB Josh Furman, Oklahoma State

SUMMARY: Denver may not get the championship it thought it would with one of the sport’s greatest leaders. Peyton’s playoff struggles have continued despite all of John Elway’s best efforts and even longtime Peyton fans such as myself are starting to wonder where Peyton’s ability to win in the clutch has been his whole career. For a quarterback this precise, this dedicated, this detailed and this close to performance perfection, come playoff time, the wheels of Peyton Manning run for the hills. In other words, I don’t expect the Broncos to win a Super Bowl anytime soon. Peyton finished fourth in passing yards last year and Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders both finished top-five in receiving. The Broncos finished the year second in points per game behind Green Bay with 30.1. The Broncos defense second against the rush and ninth against the pass.

With all that said, this team’s chances to win the Super Bowl are slim to none. Peyton’s shown no ability to win playoff games and when he has to shoulder a team, he can’t do it. He was on better teams during Indianapolis’ heyday and couldn’t do it then and I doubt age has made him better at the postseason stage. Will the Broncos dominate? Of course. I expect them to win the division, hands down, but during the playoffs, they’re a whole different team.

Losses on the offensive line are going to hurt the Broncos and Peyton’s delicate. If he takes too many hits and misses games, they could miss the playoffs and their hold on the AFC West.

If you’re smart, you’ll avoid matching your players in fantasy against the Broncos defense. DeMarcus Ware, Von Miller, T.J. Ward and Aqib Talib? No thanks. On offense, go all out. Peyton should be elite during the regular season as always and Thomas and Sanders will thrive as well as new slot receiver Cody Latimer. I’d also suggest taking TE Owen Daniels. Peyton loves tight ends and so does Gary Kubiak’s offense. Avoid C.J. Anderson. He’s a running back for a passing team and one above-average season does not make you a top-ten pick. Don’t waste yours.


Week 1: vs. BAL   Week 2: @KC   Week 3: @DET   Week 4: vs. MIN   Week 5: @OAK   Week 6: @CLE   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: vs. GB   Week 9: @IND   Week 10: vs. KC   Week 11: @CHI   Week 12: vs. NE   Week 13: @SD   Week 14: vs. OAK   Week 15: @PIT   Week 16: vs. CIN   Week 17: vs. SD


GET: G Orlando Franklin, WR Jacoby Jones, CB Patrick Robinson, WR Steve Johnson, DE Mitch Unrein, OT Joe Barksdale, OT Chris Hairston

LOSE: RB Ryan Mathews, LB Dwight Freeney, WR Eddie Royal, G Chad Rinehart, G Doug Legursky, S Marcus Gilchrist, C Nick Hardwick, RB Ronnie Brown, CB Shareece Wright, LB Jarret Johnson

RE-SIGNS: CB Brandon Flowers, OL King Dunlap, DE Ricardo Matthews

DRAFT: 1st round: RB Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin     2nd round: ILB Denzel Perryman, Miami     3rd round: CB Craig Mager, Texas State     5th round: OLB Kyle Emanuel, North Dakota State     6th round: DT Darius Philon, Arkansas

SUMMARY: Philip Rivers finished yet another great chapter in his career last year and was paid like one of the better quarterbacks in the league this offseason. While he certainly struggled early in his career, the last few years have been a huge career resurgence for Rivers. He finished eight in passing last year despite a struggling receiving corps. Malcolm Floyd was the team’s top receiver and had only 856 yards, 39th in the league. The need for a running back was also a huge concern. Ryan Mathews wasn’t there and Branden Oliver, an unknown commodity, ended up leading the team in rushing. One of those spots had to be filled in and so, the Chargers moved up in the draft to select RB Melvin Gordon from Wisconsin, one of college football’s most explosive play makers. Big things are expected from him and I don’t expect to be disappointed. Improvements on offense should be expected across the board. Don’t expect San Diego to remain 30th in rushing. They lost two of their starting offensive linemen but should still be feared with King Dunlap, Orlando Franklin and D.J. Fluker.

On the flip side, San Diego was fourth against the pass, although that stat may be bloated since the team allowed nearly 2,000 yards on the ground. Their front seven isn’t scary.

Defensive struggles aside, the Chargers are poised to fight for a wild card spot.

As for fantasy, Rivers, Gordon and Antonio Gates are all great pickups. Malcolm Floyd has been going especially late in all the drafts I’ve done this year.


Week 1: vs. DET   Week 2: @CIN   Week 3: @MIN   Week 4: vs. CLE   Week 5: vs. PIT   Week 6: @GB   Week 7: vs. OAK   Week 8: @BAL   Week 9: vs. CHI   Week 10: BYE   Week 11: vs. KC   Week 12: @JAC   Week 13: vs. DEN   Week 14: @KC   Week 15: vs. MIA   Week 16: @OAK   Week 17: @DEN


GET: WR Jeremy Maclin, S Tyvon Branch, G Ben Grubbs

LOSE: WR Dwayne Bowe, DT Vance Walker, WR Donnie Avery, DT Kevin Vickerson, OT Jeffrey Linkenbach, TE Anthony Fasano, WR A.J. Jenkins, C Rodney Hudson

RE-SIGNS: LB Tamba Hali, LB Josh Mauga, S Ron Parker, WR Jason Avant, TE Richard Gordon

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Marcus Peters, Washington     2nd round: G Mitch Morse, Missouri     3rd round: WR Chris Conley, Georgia     CB Steven Nelson, Oregon State     4th round: OLB Ramik Wilson, Georgia     5th round: OLB D.J. Alexander, Oregon State     TE James O’Shaughnessy, Illinois State     6th round: DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Southern Miss     7th round: WR Da’Ron Brown, Northern Illinois

SUMMARY: The Chiefs didn’t perform to the level I thought they would last year and improvements need to be made if they want to get past San Diego. The Chiefs were second against the pass last year behind Seattle, a very impressive stat, until you look at how they got destroyed on the ground (28th). There’s no excuse for this, not when you have Justin Houston, last year’s sack leader, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali in you linebacking core and Dontari Poe at nose tackle. The team was heavily injured last year and I’m sure that played a factor, but the defense has to step up. As always, this team will lean heavily on the defense. If the defense struggles, so will the Chiefs. The Chiefs have a capable offensive line and the signing of Jeremy Maclin was huge, but the fact remains the receiving corps for this team are extremely thin. The drafting of Chris Conley was huge and hopefully an impact can be made. The Chiefs drafting two corners in the first and third round only boost their strong secondary but I still find myself wondering where the offense from this team is expected to come from. Charles and Maclin are two people.


Week 1: @HOU   Week 2: vs. DEN   Week 3: @GB   Week 4: @CIN   Week 5: vs. CHI   Week 6: @MIN   Week 7: vs. PIT   Week 8: vs. DET   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @DEN   Week 11: @SD   Week 12: vs. BUF   Week 13: @OAK   Week 14: vs. SD   Week 15: @BAL   Week 16: vs. CLE   Week 17: vs. OAK


GET: WR Michael Crabtree, LB Curtis Lofton, DT Dan Williams, S Nate Allen, RB Roy Helu, OT J’Marcus Webb, QB Christian Ponder

LOSE: LB Sio Moore, CB Carlos Rogers, LB LaMarr Woodley, CB Tarell Brown, S Tyvon Branch, DE Antonio Smith, WR James Jones, TE David Ausberry, RB Darren McFadden, C Stefen Wisniewski, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, G Kevin Boothe, QB Matt Schaub, WR Vincent Brown

RE-SIGNS: S Charles Woodson

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Amari Cooper, Alabama     2nd round: DE Mario Edwards Jr., Florida State     3rd round: TE Clive Walford, Miami     4th round: G Jon Feliciano, Miami     5th round: ILB Ben Heeney, Kansas     OLB Neiron Ball, Florida     6th round: ILB Max Valles, Virginia     7th round: OT Anthony Morris, Tennessee State     WR Andre Debose, Florida     CB Dexter McDonald, Kansas

SUMMARY: Fun fact: the Oakland Raiders had more passing yards than Seattle. Just something you probably didn’t know.

For a rookie campaign, Derek Carr was serviceable. He surpassed 3,000 yards, had a 58.1 completion percentage and had a 21:12 TD:INT ratio. However, his yards per attempt was the lowest in the league at 5.46, more than .6 yards behind Blake Bortles. Carr also had the whole offense to carry because as expected, Darren McFadden was unreliable and the Raiders finished dead last carrying the rock.

I wasn’t a fan of the Raiders taking Amari Cooper. I don’t deny the upside of the Alabama prospect but this team needs defense and a running back badly. Andre Holmes is an upcoming receiver and James Jones had the talent required. This team needs defense and should have stuck with that. They took Mario Edwards Jr. in the second round and I imagine he will start. A tight end in the third round made no sense to me. Overall, just a real head scratching draft for Oakland.

Expect the same from Oakland this year. Should be an improvement with Murray at running back and Cooper and Crabtree at receiver. As for the defense, it’s Khalil Mack, Charles Woodson and if he can stay healthy, D.J. Hayden. I’m avoiding everyone from Oakland in fantasy, even Cooper.


Week 1: vs. CIN   Week 2: vs. BAL   Week 3: @CLE   Week 4: @CHI   Week 5: vs. DEN   Week 6: BYE   Week 7: @SD   Week 8: vs. NYJ   Week 9: @PIT   Week 10: vs. MIN   Week 11: @DET   Week 12: @TEN   Week 13: vs. KC   Week 14: @DEN   Week 15: vs. GB   Week 16: vs. SD   Week 17: @KC

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Karma: The Story of Tiger Woods

During the first decade of the 21st century, few if any athletes were as dominant in their sport as Tiger Woods was at golf. At 21 years old, he won the 1997 Masters by a record 12 strokes, reached the number one world ranking in June and through the 2000s, held the sport’s best player recognition with a vice grip. He won the Masters and the PGA Championship four times, and the U.S. Open and the Open Championship three times. He became the youngest player to achieve the career Grand Slam (Masters, U.S. Open, Open Championship, PGA Championship) and the quickest to achieve 50 tournament wins.

Tiger Woods was seemingly unstoppable, unable to be teetered to even above-average play. Dominance was established in the gentleman’s sport and his televised intensity and heart won over fans. Record-shattering and award-accumulating, no one could even touch Tiger’s shoes. From August 1999 to September 2004, Tiger was number one, a total of 264 weeks, more than five years. Vijay Singh overtook Woods that September but there was no question, no shadow of a doubt, who the best was. After regaining the ranking in June 2005, he blossomed under it for another five years.

There was no debate. One could argue Phil Mickelson if their fandom biased them, but there was never a different answer to the question, “Who is the best golfer in the world?” It was in concrete and would not crack under the ground-breaking force of earthquakes, the weathering of tsunamis, the devastation of hurricanes or the raw violence of tornadoes.

Tiger Woods was so phenomenal that he was a symbolic model more than he was an athlete. His continuous ability to clean up perfectly after a missed shot, bounce back after missing a par or make an insane putt at the most crucial time in a contest formed the quintessential embodiment of supremacy and athletic evolution. His execution was sublime and yet never failed to astonish nor seemed to plateau.

His swing, which experts claimed was unorthodox and put excessive strain on his knees, never caused significant problems for him. After missing months from knee surgery, he won the 2008 U.S. Open in dramatic fashion, many saying he did so on one leg. The undisputed god of golf could not be crippled.

Woods was matchless to the point that experts began debating if he was bad for golf and in an attempt to diminish him, began “Tiger-Proofing” the courses, adding yardage to try to eliminate Woods’ powerful swing.

To my knowledge, no athlete has ever been so good, so beyond his competitors, that the sport changed the rules in an effort to lower him. The rules of basketball were never changed to deter Michael Jordan nor the net shrunk to stop Gretzky. Woods was that good.

Woods was so absolute, the sport was beneath him. Woods stood on the golf world for a decade with forceful posture and no one could push him off.

No one, of course, except for his wife.

The day after Thanksgiving in 2009, Tiger Woods crashed his Cadillac Escalade near his home and suffered minor injuries. Reports came out that the back window had been smashed by a golf club. Woods claimed his wife had broken it to help him get out of the vehicle, a bogus explanation that only lit a fire under the heels of the paparazzi and media.

The phrase “field day” had never reached such a pinnacle since the birth of the new century. In the following weeks, more than a dozen women claimed to have had an affair with Woods.

And like that, one of the greatest athletes of all-time was gone.

Woods was blessed beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. His perfection had become assumed, his character beloved and his passion unquestioned. Woods was legendary, untarnished and unscathed. He was the 21st century’s first champion, unparalleled and unequaled.

However, like Icarus in the infamous tale of long, long ago, Woods dared to push the world and more importantly, his creator, to the brink. Like that, in the blink of an eye, his talent was gone. Woods was able to escape every sand trap, rough and injury that had tried to catch him, but he could not avoid the grasp of karma.

Karma is unavoidable. Some may debate its existence, but there can be no explanation for Woods’ dramatic dissent except for the power of karma. Woods had tweaked his swing and form in the past, minor variations that could hardly be seen by even the most avid golf fanatics. His putting was game-changing year after year. Once his disloyalty to his wife was revealed, all that Tiger Woods had come to epitomize was gone.

Most importantly, his game, the skill that brought such grandeur to greens across the country, vanished.

It was as if the soul of Tiger Woods’ astounding ability was its own individual and upon hearing of its owner’s misdeeds, walked out the door for good, never to be seen again.

Woods has been searching for it ever since like a pirate pursuing a city of gold. It is a myth, a legend, something that has no evidence to prove its existence.

That is what makes Woods’ exploration all the more unnerving. He knows it exists. He saw it with his own eyes for ten years. He grasped it in his hands, pumped his fists with the same blood in his veins as he has now. The golden fleece, Poseidon’s trident, use whatever mythological symbol you want, Woods had it. Karma stole it from him and he’s been determined to get it back ever since.

But he can’t.

Weeks ago, 15 years after winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by a record 15 shots, Woods signed an 80, his worst score as a pro in 19 starts in the national championship that he’s won three times. During his miserable outing, there was a cheater banner literally flying over his head. He finished with a four round total of 302 (+14) at the Memorial, the worst 72-hole total of his career. He played the course by himself and had to pick up his own flag.

The undisputed face of golf, a crowned king, has become a novice at the sport he ruled over with such authority. His aptitude was innate, practiced and refined to leagues beyond leagues of merit.

Golf fans no longer care about Tiger Woods. Had Woods played a sport with less esteem like football, organized by a league that consistently excuses misdeeds off of the playing field, Woods would have suffered still, but nowhere near the loss that he has. Golf is the gentleman’s sport, pursued by those of all social standings with moral codes very much intact. Woods did not simply cheat on his wife. He cheated on the very foundation of golf. It was as if a famed ruler had spit in the face of the very country he represented.

Golf has had an identity crisis ever since the woods were torn down and now Jordan Spieth’s recent exploits may have finally given the sport the resurrection it has been searching for.

But Woods will not give in. Like a gold trophy long blemished, golf has been unable to unbolt it from the wall it adorned for so long. In a recent news conference, Woods has said he has no plans to retire. This, despite the fact that his last major victory was at the 2008 U.S. Open, that he’s dropped to 241st in the world golf rankings and that he’s gone more than a year and a half without a top-10 finish.

The persistence once admired has become a flaw. His quest for perfection has become a plight on his play and his hard-headed ego remains unconfrontable.

That is how the legend of Tiger Woods will end. The ball has been in the sand trap for five years and we are helpless as we watch Tiger swing and swing and swing with an uncontrollable rage, missing again and again. At first it was just desserts, then it was a comedy sketch, but now, it’s just sad.

It’s time to put the tiger down. No more roars will come from its jaws. No more will its coat adorn a fancy jewel or have the luxury of drinking from pure silver. No longer can it hunt an elusive prey. No longer can it jump the ravine to model in front of its innumerable visitors.

The tiger must decide if it will submit to the needle or continue to try to cover a distance it cannot cover as it falls into the depths below. Either way, no one’s watching.


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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 15

Top 5

1. WR Odell Beckham, Jr. 12 receptions for 143 yards, 3 TDs, Fmb vs. WAS

2. WR Dez Bryant 6 receptions for 114 yards, 3 TDs vs. PHI

3. RB Jeremy Hill 25 carries for 148 yards, 2 TDs vs. CLE

4. RB DeMarco Murray 31 carries for 81 yards, 2 TDs vs. PHI

5. QB Drew Brees 29/36 for 375 yards, 3 TDs, 137.8 QBR vs. CHI

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Tom Savage fumbles on handoff to Foster on first NFL play

2. Eagles fail to catch opening kickoff, Cowboys recover

3. QB Johnny Manziel 10/18 for 80 yards, 2 INTs, 27.3 QBR vs. CIN

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 17/42 for 185 yards, 2 INTs, 34.3 QBR vs. BUF

5. QB Colin Kaepernick 11/19 for 141 yards, 6 sacks, 81.2 QBR vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

Honestly, I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t watch a whole lot of the game but the Steelers got the win off another fine performance from Ben, who’s second in the league in passing yards. They’ve got Kansas City at home today and if they win, they clinch a playoff spot and keep in mind the AFC North is still up for grabs. Let’s go Steelers!

Game of the Week: Broncos @ Bengals

The only other game I was considering choosing her was Colts @ Cowboys, but I’m going with the Monday Night game because the last few weeks these teams have struggled. The Broncos have struggled because Peyton Manning hasn’t been himself recently. I should know. He tanked in the playoffs and my team lost because of it. The Bengals have struggled all year, as the Bengals defense that was one of the best in the league last year has disappeared after the departing of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who went to coach the Vikings. The Bengals defense hasn’t been the same since then. While the Broncos have clinched the AFC West, it’s crucial they put up a solid performance against a solid team to give themselves some confidence going into the final week of the regular season. The same goes for the Bengals, who are on the verge of losing control of the AFC North with the Steelers and Ravens close behind. I’m taking the Broncos because Cincinnati’s defense has just fallen so far this year.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 14

Top 5

1. QB Derek Carr 22/28 for 254 yards, 3 TDs, 140.2 QBR vs. SF

2. RB Le’Veon Bell 26 carries for 185 yards, 2 TDs, 6 receptions for 50 yards, TD vs. CIN

3. WR A.J. Green 11 receptions for 224 yards, TD vs. PIT

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 150 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. CLE

5. WR Julio Jones 11 receptions for 259 yards, TD vs. GB

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Colin Kaepernick 18/33 for 174 yards, TD, 2 INTs, 5 sacks, 54.4 QBR vs. OAK

2. 49ers lose to Raiders

3. QB Brian Hoyer 14/31 for 140 yards, 2 INTs, 31.7 QBR vs. IND

4. QB Peyton Manning 14/20 for 173 yards, 2 INTs, 56.9 QBR vs. BUF

5. Eagles held to 139 total yards vs. SEA

Steelers Recap

I didn’t watch much of last Sunday’s game because I didn’t expect a win. Pittsburgh disappointed vs the Saints and the game was at home, only irking more further. Cincinnati was on the rise and Pittsburgh was on the decline. However, Le’Veon Bell certainly was not, putting up 41 fantasy points in standard leagues with the stats I listed above, earning the number two spot on my top five this week. A playoff spot is still in the cards, but the team’s losses to poor teams may get the better of them this year. It’s against the Falcons this week, who nearly pulled off a comeback against the hottest team in the league, the Green Bay Packers, so don’t be surprised if the game is close. It’s a must-win for Pittsburgh so I’m taking them, but don’t be blown away with Matt Ryan’s Falcons leave with a win.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Eagles

It’s the only game this week that pops out to me and it’s a game that matters in the NFC playoff picture. I’m rooting for the Cowboys to miss the playoffs again, #MerryDALmiss, and after the Cowboys were throttled at home, I’ll take the Eagles this time.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 11

Top 5

1. Eight RBs had over 100 yards this week, five over 150 and two over 200. Also, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set the NCAA record for rushing yards in a single game (408), proving the point he’s been trying to make all year: running backs still matter.

2. WR Mike Evans 7 receptions for 209 yards, 2 TDs vs. WAS

Evans (21) is the youngest player ever to have a 200-yard receiving game and the first rookie with seven catches for 100 yards and a TD in three straight games.

3. RB Jonas Gray 37 carries for 201 yards, 4 TDs vs. IND

4. RB Jamaal Charles 20 carries for 159 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. SEA

5. RB Le’Veon Bell 33 carries for 204 yards, TD vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. Steelers’ safety Mike Mitchell goes ballistic on Twitter. I wrote a post about this.

2. RB LeGarrette Blount walks off the field in the middle of the game vs. TEN

3. QB Eli Manning 22/45 for 280 yards, TD, 5 INTs, 36.6 QBR vs. SF

4. QB Robert Griffin III 23/32 for 207 TD, 2 INTs, 73.3 QBR vs. TB

5. NFC South Standings: Atlanta 4-6, New Orleans 4-6, Carolina 3-7, Tampa Bay 2-8

Steelers Recap

Overall, the Steelers’ performance on Monday night was frustrating. The offensive fluidity fans had seen just a few weeks ago was gone. The team looked uncoordinated and unorganized. The fact that the Steelers had to come back to win this game was exactly the opposite of what Steelers nation wanted to see on Monday. They, like myself, wanted to see a dominant win against a struggling team. Instead, the Steelers gave the Titans boatloads of confidence going into their next game, while Tomlin needs to start re-evaluating the team depth chart and playbook. Le’Veon Bell and the offensive line were excellent during the second half but against the Titans front seven I think it’s important not to give them too much credit. The fact that Bell ran for over 200 yards and we still almost lost is pretty sad. This bye week could not be more well-timed. They need a break to recuperate some players but they also need to silent these off-the-field issues immediately. Mitchell’s tirade was a catastrophe on so many levels and I’m very happy they cut Blount almost instantaneously, but his actions need to be a reminder to the whole team that this is a team effort and if you’re not happy with your role, then get off the field.

Game of the Week: Dolphins @ Broncos.

I have the Broncos for this game but the Dolphins are surging and looking like a top-ten team right now. Their defense is excellent as I expected and if it weren’t for the lack of play-makers on offense, this team could probably threaten New England. It’s important Denver get’s back on the right track after dropping two of their last three. Expect a close one and don’t be surprised if an upset occurs.

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Tim Sports Report for 2014 NFL Week 10

Top 5

1. RB Marshawn Lynch 21 carries for 140 yards, 4 TDs vs. NYG

2. QB Aaron Rodgers 18/27 for 315 yards, 6 TDs, 145.8 QBR vs. CHI

3. FS Jaiquawn Jarrett 10 tackles, 7 solo, sack, 2 INTs vs. PIT

4. WR Jordan Matthews 7 receptions for 138 yards, 2 TDs vs. CAR

5. RB Justin Forsett 20 carries for 112 yards, 2 TDs vs. TEN

Worst of the Worst

1. QB Andy Dalton 10/33 for 86 yards, 3 INTs, 2.0 QBR (lowest I’ve ever seen) vs. CLE

2. QB Cam Newton 25/40 for 306 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 9 sacks, Fmb, 71.5 QBR vs. PHI

3. Bears crushed vs. Packers 55-14.

Became first team in NFL history to allow 50 or more points in two consecutive games. Have lost five of last six.

4. Jets get 3rd and 46 after two personal conduct penalties and Vick sack

5. Steelers commit four turnovers in upset loss vs. NYJ

Steelers Recap

Had the Steelers beat the Buccaneers and the Jets, they would be 8-2, tops in the AFC. Instead, they’re 6-4.

Antonio Brown had a bad game, fumbling the ball twice. Ben had two interceptions and the running game wasn’t there, only gaining 36 yards. It was just a bad game overall against the Jets last week, but it’s important they get back on track against the Titans this week before their bye next week. Let’s get it together Steelers.

Game of the Week: Lions @ Cardinals

Drew Stanton’s going to feel the added pressure of being Arizona’s starting quarterback for the remainder of the season after Carson Palmer suffered a season-ending knee injury. It’s a tough test for Stanton, facing the Lions d-line. I took the Lions because I figured it was about time for the Cards to lose, but the Cards won last night and sit at 9-1, the best record in the NFL. Seems safe to assume Bruce Arians is looking at coach of the year.

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2014-2015 NFL Preview: NFC East



GET: S Malcolm Jenkins, CB Nolan Carroll, RB Darren Sproles, QB Mark Sanchez

LOSE: WR DeSean Jackson, WR Jason Avant, S Patrick Chung, DE Clifton Geathers, QB Michael Vick

RE-SIGNS: WR Riley Cooper, WR Jeremy Maclin, S Nate Allen

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Marcus Smith, Louisville     2nd round: WR Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt     3rd round: WR Josh Huff, Oregon     4th round: CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida     5th round: DE Taylor Hart, Oregon     S Ed Reynolds, Stanford     7th round: DT Beau Allen, Wisconsin

SUMMARY: The Eagles had a great turnaround in Chip Kelly’s first year. LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing, Nick Foles led a solid pass attack without Jeremy Maclin and was partially responsible for giving DeSean Jackson his best career year. With that said, the defense was not so good. In fact, the Eagles had the worst secondary last year, dead last in the league, nearly 300 yards per game. Guess what? The Eagles did basically nothing to fix it. Signing veteran Malcolm Jenkins will help and I think Cary Williams is one of the better younger corners in the league but Bradley Fletcher and Nate Allen? Who are they? I follow football pretty closely so if I don’t know your name, that’s a pretty bad sign. The linebackers are great, especially the two inside guys, DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks. The offensive line could use some work, too. They gave up 46 sacks last year, good for eighth worst. The departure of DeSean Jackson was the right move and I think that it will end up better for this team. Maclin and Cooper should be able to hold the fort along with the two rookies they drafted this year and Zach Ertz is ready to become a top ten tight end. However, Foles is overrated and I do expect some struggles from him this year. Also, if McCoy were to suffer a season-ending injury this team can say goodbye to the playoffs because the backup is Darren Sproles. All in all, suspect defense is something the whole NFC East has so looking at the best offenses, the Eagles look to be the front runners. Keep in mind they face the NFC West, so whoever wins this division won’t have a big number in the win column.


Week 1: vs. JAC   Week 2: @ IND   Week 3: vs. WAS   Week 4: @ SF   Week 5: vs. STL   Week 6: vs. NYG   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: @ ARI   Week 9: @ HOU   Week 1o: vs. CAR   Week 11: @ GB   Week 12: vs. TEN   Week 13: @ DAL   Week 14: vs. SEA   Week 15: vs. DAL   Week 16: @ WAS   Week 17: @ NYG


GET: WR DeSean Jackson, DE Clifton Geathers, CB Tracy Porter, OT Bruce Campbell, S Ryan Clark, QB Colt McCoy, LB Akeem Jordan, DT Jason Hatcher, OL Shawn Lauvao, LB Adam Hayward, WR Andre Roberts, LB Darryl Sharpton

LOSE: WR Josh Morgan, C Will Montgomery, C J.D. Walton, DE Darryl Tapp

RE-SIGNS: S Brandon Meriweather, CB DeAngelo Hall, WR Santana Moss, LB Brian Orakpo, LB Perry Riley

DRAFT: 2nd round: OLB Trent Murphy, Stanford     3rd round: OT Morgan Moses, Virginia     G Spencer Long, Nebraska     4th round: CB Bashaud Breeland, Clemson     5th round: WR Ryan Grant, Tulane     6th round: RB Lache Seastrunk, Baylor     7th round: TE Ted Bolser, Indiana     K Zach Hocker, Arkansas

SUMMARY: Robert Griffin III. They gave up a lot for him but since being drafted, RG3 has become more of a media symbol than an NFL quarterback. Spending almost the entirety of last season on the bench, Redskins fans had to watch their team struggle all year long. RB Alfred Morris proved to be a solid back once again, giving the team a fifth place finish in the rushing category. The defense was as suspect as I expected it to be, finishing 17th against the run and 20th against the pass. Kerrigan and Hall were the only true playmakers on defense because once again, Brian Orakpo missed the majority of the season. He’s got to stay healthy or be released. This team needs playmakers bad and they’re not going to get any by paying someone millions to sit on the IR list every year. Ryan Clark will provide some much needed veteran leadership at the safety position but more still needs to be done. The offense added DeSean Jackson to fly opposite of Pierre Garcon and with Alfred Morris in the backfield this really is the ideal offense. The only missing piece is RG3. An average year will not cut it. He must reincarnate himself into the hero this city saw when they drafted him. If he’s not up to the task, the team will stall despite a superior lineup.


Week 1: @ HOU   Week 2: vs. JAC   Week 3: @ PHI   Week 4: vs. NYG   Week 5: vs. SEA   Week 6: @ ARI   Week 7: vs. TEN   Week 8: @ DAL   Week 9: @ MIN   Week 10: BYE   Week 11: vs. TB   Week 12: @ SF   Week 13: @ IND   Week 14: vs. STL   Week 15: @ NYG   Week 16: vs. PHI   Week 17: vs. DAL


GET: DT Henry Melton, NT Terrell McClain, DE Jeremy Mincey, QB Brandon Weeden

LOSE: DE Demarcus Ware, DT Jason Hatcher, DE Jarius Wynn, C Phil Costa, S Danny McCray, DT Corey Irvin, WR Miles Austin

RE-SIGNS: DE Anthony Spencer, K Dan Bailey

DRAFT: 1st round: OT Zack Martin, Notre Dame     2nd round: OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State     4th round: OLB Anthony Hitchens, Iowa     5th round: WR Devin Street, Pittsburgh     7th round: DE Ben Gardner, Stanford     ILB Will Smith, Texas Tech     S Ahmad Dixon, Baylor      DT Ken Bishop, Northern Illinois     CB Terrance Mitchell, Oregon

SUMMARY: The Dallas Cowboys defense was terrible last year. In fact, they set records they were so bad. The third most yards allowed in NFL history and the sixth worst ppg allowed. Ever. Remember, that was when they had Demarcus Ware, and a healthy Morris Claiborne and Sean Lee was there for a little bit if I recall. Basically, this defense is in shambles and nothing mind-blowing was done to fix it. With that said, this team is all offense and with He Who Shall Not Be Named behind center, there is no clear direction to this team at all. Hopefully, DeMarco Murray will play a bigger role this year and Dez Bryant and Jason Witten will get to catch some passes. If not, this team could be worse than the Giants.


Week 1: vs. SF   Week 2: @ TEN   Week 3: @ STL   Week 4: vs. NO   Week 5: vs. HOU   Week 6: @ SEA   Week 7: vs. NYG   Week 8: vs. WAS   Week 9: vs. ARI   Week 10: @ JAC   Week 11: BYE   Week 12: @ NYG   Week 13: vs. PHI   Week 14: @ CHI   Week 15: @ PHI   Week 16: vs. IND   Week 17: @ WAS


GET: RB Rashad Jennings, OT Charles Brown, S Quintin Demps, DE Robert Ayers, WR Trindon Holliday, LB Jameel McClain, WR Mario Manningham, CB Walter Thurmond, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, C J.D. Walton, OL Geoff Schwartz

LOSE: WR Hakeem Nicks, DE Justin Tuck, TE Brandon Myers, S Ryan Mundy, G Kevin Boothe, RB Andre Brown, G Chris Snee, LB Keith Rivers, OT Linval Joseph

RE-SIGNS: CB Trumaine McBride, S Stevie Brown, FB Henry Hynoski, K Josh Brown, LB Mark Herzlich, LB Jon Beason, QB Curtis Painter

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Odell Beckham Jr., LSU     2nd round: C Weston Richburg, Colorado State     3rd round: DT Jay Bromley, Syracuse     4th round: RB Andre Williams, Boston College     5th round: S Nat Berhe, San Diego State     OLB Devon Kennard, USC     6th round: CB Bennett Jackson, Notre Dame

SUMMARY: The Giants starting tight end, David Fells, did not play last year and has never had more than 400 yards in his seven year career. That, my friends, is how much the Giants franchise cares about this season. They really don’t. Look at this team and it just looks bad. The offensive line still has gaping holes that have failed to be addressed and now Victor Cruz is the only aerial threat with the departure of the hobbled Nicks. Rashad Jennings looked great in Oakland last year but it’s hard to see him doing that again behind this line. I loved them picking up RB Andre Williams from Boston College. Fantastic year last year and he should be a great backup if Jennings is to go down. I think Eli Manning’s best years are behind him and I don’t see any rebound and that’s what’s really going to keep this team from progressing. That and one of the worst linebacking cores in the league.


Week 1: @ DET   Week 2: vs. ARI   Week 3: vs. HOU   Week 4: @ WAS   Week 5: vs. ATL   Week 6: @ PHI   Week 7: @ DAL   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: vs. IND   Week 10: @ SEA   Week 11: vs. SF   Week 12: vs. DAL   Week 13: @ JAC   Week 14: @ TEN   Week 15: vs. WAS   Week 16: @ STL   Week 17: vs. PHI

AFC North   AFC West   AFC East   AFC South   NFC North   NFC West   NFC South

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