Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Welcome one and all to the sports blog that keeps on giving. The place where it is recognized that men lie, women lie, and numbers lie. However, real facts never lie. That's what, it is Tha Weatha Report. Today it is time to take a look at the landscape of the NBA. What does the forecast have in store? Let's jump right into it.

Eastern Conference

- Atlantic Division: This division is a two horse race between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. The sexy pick is the Knicks, especially after their opening day Christmas day win over the Celtics. However, a lot of factors are commonly overlooked when discussing that game. The missing Paul Pierce not playing being the main one. Simply put, after being swept last season by the Celtics the game meant more to New York than it did to Boston. Even with all that being said, a win is still a win and the Knicks now own one over their division rivals. That one victory did nothing to change my mind on which team is going to win the division. Boston is a better defensive team, has a better back court, and has more depth. Not to mention that the front lines cancel each other out. All of that adds up to Boston winning with the division in a close race. 

- Central Division: This division belongs to Chicago and it is not even a close race. Simply put, Chicago is the second best team in the Eastern Conference and some people have them being the best. The more intriguing thought is which team is the second best. That goes to the Indiana Pacers. Adding David West to a young core that is continuing to improve will do wonders for this team. They won't provide much competition for Chicago, but they are working their way up the ladder with shrewd personnel moves. 

- Southeast Division: If Chicago is the second best team in the conference then Miami is the clear cut favorite and the obvious best team in this division. As with the Central Division, the issue is which team is the second best. Last year Atlanta beat Orlando in 6 games in the first round of the playoffs, and with the uncertainty surrounding the Magic I have Atlanta being the second best team in this division. 

Surprise Team: The Milwaukee Bucks are my pick for the surprise team in the Eastern Conference. I believe a healthy Andrew Bogut and a steadily improving Brandon Jennings is a combo that could possibly squeeze the young Bucks into the bottom half of the playoff brackets out East. If Stephen Jackson stays focused and motivated and the Bucks improve their defense, a 7th or 8th seed is not out of the question. 

Eastern Conference Playoff Teams

1. Miami
2. Chicago
3. Boston
4. New York
5. Atlanta
6. Orlando
7. Indiana
8. Philadelphia 

Those are the 8 teams I have representing the East in the playoffs. As mentioned earlier, it would not surprise me to see Milwaukee squeak into one of those two bottom spots, especially if Philadelphia stumbles. 

Eastern Finals

Miami vs Chicago = Miami winning in 6 games

I am forecasting a rematch in the Eastern Conference Finals and with a similar result. Miami is on a mission this year and I look for them to beat Chicago in 6 once again. 

Western Conference

- Northwest Division: This is another division with a clear cut team that is head and shoulders above the other teams. The Oklahoma City Thunder, in my opinion, are the best team in the division and the Western Conference as a whole. The Nuggets look poised to finish second in this division as they continue their post Melo improved play. 

- Pacific Division: Maybe you heard a couple of things about this division in the off season? If not, you had to be hiding under a rock. Between the trade that didn't happen, the NBA commissioner who wasn't really a commissioner for a time period, to the trades that did happen, this division was the talk of the post lockout frenzy. After the dust settled we have Chris Paul in a Clippers uniform, and an unhappy Kobe Bryant wondering where CP3 took that detour. Even after all that, I still think the Lakers will win the division in a tight race with the Clippers. Until further notice Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and a returning from suspension Andrew Bynum is a better triumvirate than CP3, Blake Griffin, and Chauncey Billups/DeAndre Jordan. 

Southwest Division: This division is a two horse race. Two teams that for various reasons have been either overlooked or written off. The San Antonio Spurs are considered by some to be too old while the Dallas Mavericks, the defending NBA champions no less, have been considered to have lost too many key pieces. As the great Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. Do not be so quick to write those Spurs off just yet. Remember, that lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in last year's playoffs was without a healthy Ginobili. This year, I have the Spurs winning the division with the Mavs finishing second. A healthy Ginobili, Duncan, and Parker have enough in them for another run. 

Western Conference Playoff Teams

1. Oklahoma City
2. San Antonio
3. Los Angeles Lakers 
4. Dallas Mavericks 
5. Los Angeles Clippers
6. Denver Nuggets 
7. Memphis Grizzlies
8. Golden State Warriors

These are my 8 Western Conference playoff teams, which also includes my surprise team. I believe the Golden State Warriors, under first time head coach Mark Jackson, will find a defensive identity and sneak into the playoffs. The team can score with anyone. If Jackson can get the team to play some defense, then they can surprise some people. 

Western Finals

Oklahoma City vs San Antonio = Oklahoma City Thunder 

The forecast is calling for a changing of the guard. This year, the San Antonio Spurs will formerly hand over the torch to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The youngsters will take out the veterans and go to the NBA Finals. 

NBA Finals

Miami Heat vs Oklahoma City Thunder = Miami Heat

That's right, I'm still firmly on the Miami Heat bandwagon. I believe that what transpired last year was a much needed humbling experience and it will help the Heat come through and win the championship this year. 


Kevin Durant: He will be the best player on the best team in the Western Conference. He'll win the scoring title as well and make huge leaps as far as moving without the ball and on his defense.

Defensive Player of the Year

Josh Smith: The 7th year man is already a tour de force on the defensive end. This year he gets the credit he deserves. 

Rookie of the Year

Kemba Walker: There will be plenty of rookies getting playing time this season. Kemba Walker will be the one to stand out. He will score and play adequate defense for a team that is in dire need of a face to lead it. Kemba Walker will be that player. 

That's it for this edition of Tha Weatha Report. Please take the time to check out the YouTube page. Just look up Tha Weatha Report. You can find me on twitter at @WeathaManRuck. Please feel free to leave your thoughts and comments as well. Remember, men lie, women lie, and numbers lie. True facts will NEVER lie!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Nation: How Do They Rebound?

Welcome one and all to the gift and blog that keeps on giving, Tha Weatha Report. In this edition we will examine what one of the marquee MLB franchises, The Boston Red Sox, need to do in order to make their way back to the playoffs and the World Series. Needless to say that The Nation had an interesting season and in order to prevent another "interesting" season from occurring again we will outline what I think are necessary moves. However, first let us hit the quick news drizzle. 

News Drizzle

1. I have spoken a ton of words on the Penn State scandal, and there isn't much more to say. Last words from me: Everyone lost in this scandal, and the focus should be on making sure the children that were the victims get all the assistance that they unfortunately need and deserve. 

2. The news that Wilson Ramos has been kidnapped in his native Venezuela should make all the athletes here in America appreciative of what they have. For the most part the athletes in the U.S. do not have to worry about such dangers, but let us all pray for the safe return of Ramos. Let us also pray that Venezuela and the other Latin American countries can find a way to prevent these crimes from occurring again. 
*Note* Ramos has been found safe and sound which is great news

3. When Pacquiao-Marquez III was signed, I wrote my opinion in this very space. I'm not excited for this fight, but I will predict that Pacquiao wins the fight easily. He's too big and too fast for Marquez. 

4. UFC's foray into network television will be a good fight. I see Junior dos Santos winning in a hard fought contest over Cain Velasquez. 

The Main Storm: The Nation

On the heels of the news that Jonathan Papelbon is taking his Red Sox record of 219 saves to the south and to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Boston Red Sox now have another item to add to their off-season list. Let's take a look at the questions that Boston has to ask themselves, and the potential answers to those questions. 

Q. Who is going to manage this team next year and beyond? 

A. A place like Boston comes with plenty of media scrutiny. The job of managing the Red Sox means being placed in a fishbowl. A fishbowl that anyone rarely comes out of unscathed (see Francona, Tito). It is best that the person who takes the job is someone who has plenty of managerial experience or at a minimum some coaching experience in the major leagues. You would not want to place a rookie manager in the position of trying to erase the memories of the September collapse while trying to learn on the job. 

Even with the loss of Papelbon, the roster of the Sox is littered with established stars who have been doing their things for a while. With that factor, it would be best to have a manager who can massage egos and who can gain the respect of the players. Add this to the fact that the September collapse was not just a "regular" collapse. Oh no, this collapse had plenty of drama and intrigue. Players drinking alcohol in the clubhouse, the manager losing his own focus and losing the players. Players not getting along and not supporting each other. The sum of all of this is that Boston needs a man who can come in, clean house, and get the players back to performing like the team that had the best record in baseball for a majority of 2011. 

So after all that has been said, is there a manager out there that is the right fit? In a word, yes. The early reports have Boston leaning towards the Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin. Which would not be a bad move at all considering he has been known to have a good re pore with players. However, I believe a good fit would be Sandy Alomar Jr. While he does not have managerial experience, he does have plenty of playing experience and some coaching experience. Alomar played catcher in the major leagues for 20 years, racking up numerous All Star appearances and a Gold Glove. 

Would Alomar be able to relate to the stars that the Red Sox have? I believe so. He was a star himself. Maybe not the status of his younger brother Roberto, but a star nonetheless. Players would instantly respect him due to his stature and his family's stature in the game. Alomar has been coaching in the Indians organization since 2008 so he has a few years of experience. Is it a manager that can come in with rings? Not quite. I'm sure the Red Sox would rather have a nice selection of managers who have established themselves and who were available, but there is a good choice out there. That choice, in my opinion, is Sandy Alomar Jr. 

Q. How do the Red Sox fix that pitching staff? 

A. John Beckett, John Lackey, John Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka were supposed to be one of top pitching rotations in all of baseball for the 2011 season. Injuries, inconsistent play, and generally poor attitudes combined to ruin that once promising staff. Buchholz and Matsuzaka ended the season on the DL. Lackey went 12-12 with a 6.41 ERA. Hitters going for an over .300 batting average, and giving up over 200 hits in just 160 innings. Overall, all of the pitchers that the Red Sox paraded out to the mound during the season, especially the end of the season, all had their struggles. 

Dice-K is progressing nicely in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, recently making almost 40 throws from short distance and reporting no elbow pain. He could provide a boost for the team after the All Star break next season. Buchholz's back will reportedly be 100% for spring training next year. If he is fully healed and back healthy then he could be a stabilizing force for the Sox. 

Due to the large contract and uneven performance, it will be hard for the Red Sox to trade Josh Beckett. So assuming that he will be there right now the rotation of the Red Sox is made up of Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, and John Lester. If the three are healthy, both mentally and physically, then that is a top 3 of the rotation that would make many major league team jealous. So that means the Red Sox need to find two starters that can be plugged into the back end of the rotation to help stabilize the pitching staff and team. So, where do they find those starters? 

Signing the premier starter on the free agency market, CJ Wilson, is probably out of the question for the Sox. The money and years that it will take to sign Wilson is not going to be met by Boston. The Lackey and Dice-K signings will do enough to scare off Boston from committing big money and years to another free agent pitcher. Boston's technique will probably fall in line with finding free agency bargains like Paul Maholm and Aaron Harang. They will use this technique to strengthen the bullpen as well. Look for the Red Sox to go with Daniel Bard as the closer now that Papelbon has moved on.

I believe that if the Red Sox fix their pitching woes, they will be fine. The offense performed well in 2011, finishing second in all of baseball in hitting. Pitching is the name of the game in Boston. If they fix it, they'll be able to erase the misery of their monumental 2011 collapse. If not, they'll be looking up at the rest of the division in 2012. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

NFL Week 1: The Aftermath

Welcome one and all to the blog that keeps on going despite being weighed down by the sickness known as the Texas Crud. I've been under the weather the last couple of days, but I feel good enough to throw a few lines together and give you my thoughts on what's going on in today's world of sports. Today, we'll discuss week one of the NFL. Plenty to talk about, so let's dive right in.

Hail Storm

1. What a game between Michigan and Notre Dame. I did pick Michigan to win so I wasn't surprised that they won, but I was surprised with how it happened. Remember, these are 18, 19, 20, and 21 year old kids and it is really a shame that someone had to lose. Now we see how The Irish rebound and go from here. 

2. Novak Djokovic won the U.S. Open as I guessed he would. No surprise there. Serena Williams suffered another emotional meltdown in her finals match. Also no surprise. Serena is the best women's tennis player in the world, but anyone else notice that when things don't go her way she throws a fit like a three year old? 

3. If I'm the Boston Red Sox I don't panic. They will be in the playoffs just like the Yankees will and the Rays will be sitting at home. Red Sox have just enough offense to get in to the final round. Now making it to the World Series? Well, that's a totally different story. 

4. Looks like the NBA will not start the season on time. The league is shooting themselves in the foot. Wake me up when they get their act together. 

The Wait Was Well Worth It

Remember how scared we all were that there will be no football this year? Well, that seems like light years ago as the first week of the NFL season provided no shortage of exciting plays and action. Some teams are looking good, others are looking bad, and others appeared to not realize that the preseason is only four games and not five. Some of the intriguing story lines coming out of week one:

1. The Ravens destroying the Steelers is not as big of a surprise as you might think it is if you actually think about it. The Ravens started looking at this game as soon as last season ended. The entire organization knows that the Steelers are their version of "The Evil Empire" and in order to go anywhere and win anything of any significance, they must go through their evil step-brothers in Pittsburgh. Baltimore was so jacked up for this game that of course they were going to come out like a ball of fire. Pittsburgh on the other hand knows that they are in Baltimore's head. This game did not mean as much to them as it did the Ravens. In the Steelers' view, Baltimore still has not won anything because Pittsburgh measures their success in the playoffs. In my opinion, while I predicted Baltimore to win this game, it will mean absolutely nothing if they do not make strides in the playoffs. Yes, that does include going through Pittsburgh in January.

2. Man, who would have known that the team most affected by the lockout would be the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning could not meet with the team's trainers until the lockout was over, which slowed his recovery from off-season neck surgery. That resulted in the nerves in his neck not fully regenerating and having to have another surgery to try and stimulate the growth. Not only did this end Manning's consecutive games streak but it also essentially ended the Colts' season. Kerry Collins is a capable backup, but he needs one thing to be successful. A stable and secure pocket to throw from. Without that, he's useless. The Colts will win games with Collins, because they have plenty of talent at the other positions. However, the playoffs are out of the question with old man Collins under center. Paging Brett Favre anyone?

3. In my NFL division previews I wrote that the Buffalo Bills would have an improved season. That their offense would be much improved, but that their biggest strides would be made on defense. So count me amongst those as not surprised at the beating that they put on the defending AFC West champion, Kansas City Chiefs. What surprised me the most? That so many people were surprised that Buffalo dominated the Chiefs for all four quarters. Did anyone see Buffalo last year? Did anyone notice the talent that they have assembled? If they did, they should not have been surprised. I still do not think Buffalo will have a winning season, as I have them going 7-9. But believe me when I say, that they will be a force to reckon with each and every week.

4. Another week, another Tony Romo story. Let's get something straight. There are a majority of teams in the NFL (San Fran, Washington, Miami, Seattle, just to name a few) that would trade a good number of draft picks for Romo to be their starting QB. However, he does seem to be plagued by making bone-headed decisions at the absolute wrong times. I'm not sure if he can lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, but until he learns to play within himself for all four quarters, he will continue to receive the criticism that he rightfully deserves.

Week 1 Duds

These are the players who are asking for a redo of week one:

Donovan McNabb: Really? Really? I mean, really? 7-15 for 39 yards. How in the world does a quarterback play for all four quarters and only have 39 yards? McNabb is doing nothing to disprove that he is done as a starting quarterback. Keep this up and Christian Ponder will be the one handing the ball to Adrian Peterson in a couple of weeks.

Tony Romo: He had a good game for 3 quarters. But that fumble at the goal line and the ill-timed interception earn him a spot on this infamous list.

Steelers, Colts, Falcons, Chiefs: No explanation needed.

Week 1 Studs

Tom Brady: God bless you if you had this man on your fantasy team(s). 32-48 for 517 yards and 4 TDs. Was Brady playing a video game? He reminded me of Bo Jackson in those old Tecmo Bowl video games. Simply unstoppable.

Drew Brees: In a losing effort Drew Brees put the NFC South on notice that the Saints are planning on making me look like a genius for picking them to win the division. 32-49, 419 yards, and 3 TDs.

Aaron Rodgers: The Super Bowl winning QB picked up right where he left off after last season in opening up the season right. 27-35, 312 yards, 3 TDs.

Ted Ginn Jr: He basically iced and won the game for the San Fransisco 49ers. A 102 yard kickoff return for a TD. 59 seconds later, a 55 yard punt return for a TD. Not a bad opening week.

Teams With The Best Chance to Go 0-2

Atlanta Falcons: Some people have this team going to the Super Bowl. Not this guy. This team has talent, but I think they will start 0-2. The man, the myth, and the Atlanta legend known as Michael Vick is returning to the Georgia Dome. Think he'll be jacked up for this game? Both teams want to win for their respective QBs. The Falcons want to prove that Vick is long forgotten and Matt Ryan is the man to lead them to the promise land. The Eagles want to prove that Vick is not only a changed man, but the QB that is one of the best in the league and is going to lead them to the Super Bowl this year. Should be intriguing.

Kansas City Chiefs: Sorry Chiefs fans, but not only will Kansas City fall short in their quest to repeat as AFC West champs, but I will not be surprised to see this team go 6-10. You heard it here first. Look for Matthew Stafford and MegaTron to have a field day against that secondary that will be minus Eric Berry, who is lost for the season with a torn ACL.

Carolina: Cam Newton did not arrive on the scene, he BLASTED on the scene. The man had the best debut of any rookie NFL QB in history. However, that feel good story is going to meet a harsh reality when the Packers come to town. Mr. Newton, meet Mr. Clay Matthews. He'll be your chaperone for the evening.

Predictions for Week 2

Last week, I went 11-5. Not bad. Here are my picks for week 2.

Arizona vs Washington - Arizona

Oakland vs Buffalo - Buffalo 

Cleveland vs Indy - Indy 

Tampa Bay vs Minnesota - Minnesota 

Baltimore vs Tennessee - Baltimore

Green Bay vs Carolina - Green Bay 

Seattle vs Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh

Jacksonville vs N.Y. Jets - J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!!! (I had to)

Kansas City vs Detroit - Detroit

Chicago vs New Orleans - New Orleans

Dallas vs San Fran - Dallas 

San Diego vs New England - New England 

Houston vs Miami - Houston 

Cincy vs Denver - Denver

Philadelphia vs Atlanta - Philadelphia

St. Louis vs N.Y. Giants - Giants 

So, there you go. I guess we will see how many I get right.

End of the Storm

Well, that's it for this edition of Tha Weatha Storm. Next time I will take a look at the world of college football. Hopefully everyone had at least a decent week in the world of fantasy football as my four teams went 2-2. Share the page with your friends, go and "Like" the Facebook page, "Tha Weatha Report", and keep reading and sharing your opinions. Until next time fellow sports fans...

Monday, September 5, 2011

NFL Division Previews: AFC North

Welcome again to Tha Weatha Report. Our NFL division by division previews continue with a look at one of the brutal divisions in football. No one questions anyone's toughness in this division as the boys from the AFC North bring the lumber each and every Sunday. The king of the division looks to continue to make one team look like their court jesters. Another team is trying to finally be the David to their own personal Goliath. One team appears to be on the rise after impressive play in the preseason from their second year quarterback. The other team in the division had a quarterback apparently retire rather than play with them, and add that to the fact that they are breaking in a rookie quarterback and a rookie offensive coordinator. Might be a long season in that city and locker room. Before we break down these teams and this division let's hit the Hail Storm.

Hail Storm

1. I find it interesting that so many people are calling for Georgia to fire Mark Richt. The man is 96-35 in 10+ seasons as the Bulldogs' head coach. His main goal is to win the SEC East. If Georgia beats South Carolina on Saturday then they are on target. How about everyone calm down and let's see how the season plays out before you want to fire a winning coach. 

2. I'm going to guess that no one sent LSU the memo that Oregon was supposed to run them ragged inside of the Cowboys' Stadium. Never bet against the Mad Hatter. Les Miles has a knack for pulling victories out of his hat. 

3. Also seems like the Pac-12 didn't realize that the season was starting. USC looked sluggish, Oregon State lost to Sacramento State, Oregon loss, UCLA was handled by Houston. We won't even talk about how Eastern Michigan almost beat Washington. Those schools out West need to get it together. 

4. Basketball? Remember that sport? Do you think that they actually plan on attempting to end the lockout? Nah, me neither. 

5. An unfortunate goodbye to Lee Roy Selmon. NFL Hall of Famer formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers passed away on Sunday after having suffering a stroke on Friday. He was 56. 

AFC North: No Guts, No Glory

It seems that if you want to play and thrive in the AFC North, that you have to have your big boy pads on. These teams hit, hit, and then hit some more. This division is not for the weak at heart, that's for sure. However, it seems that this division is very top heavy with Pittsburgh and Baltimore battling it out for supremacy with Cleveland improving and Cincinnati doing what only Cincinnati can do. Let's take a look at each time and how I think they'll finish. 

Baltimore: You have to figure that the window for the great Ravens' defense is closing right? Ray Lewis cannot possibly play forever...right? Ed Reed's body seems to be breaking down. Count me in as one of those individuals that believes this could be the year that Baltimore overtakes Pittsburgh and actually wins the division. I believe that Baltimore has the talent on defense to actually match Pittsburgh. Ed Reed has at least one more good year in him, Ray Lewis has never really slowed down, and I look for big things from the Ravens' first round pick Jimmy Smith. The rookie from Colorado is expected to inject new blood and life into a defense that has no plans on slowing down. Haloti Ngata is still a dominating interior defensive lineman, and the Ravens' hope that last year's second round pick, Terrence Cody, can live up to the potential he showed at the University of Alabama. Terrell Suggs is another familiar face that will help the Ravens field another dominating defensive group. 

The story with Baltimore used to be one that consisted of a great defense and an offense that did just enough to not lose a game. Now the page has been turned and another chapter has begun to unfold in Charm City. Joe Flacco has proved to be a more than capable quarterback since being drafted in 2008. He's started every game since entering the league and his numbers have improved every year. This year should be no different. Complete with weapons such as Anquan Boldin and Ray Rice. The weapon that I am most excited about in Baltimore is Lee Evans. Acquired from Buffalo, Evans provides Baltimore with a deep threat that they have not had in recent seasons. Ricky Williams has been brought in to relieve Ray Rice from time to time which is also a good pickup. I'm expecting a good season from Baltimore. 

Cincinnati: Then you have the Bengals. A team that just a couple of years ago won the division, and even swept the division. Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and (apparently) Carson Palmer are all gone. Rookies AJ Green and Andy Dalton are now in. The Bengals have decided to rebuild and are hoping that Dalton and Green will grow together over the next few years. 1000 yard rusher Cedric Benson is still there, hopefully for Cincy fans he can manage to avoid the off the field issues that have clouded his career. A rookie quarterback, rookie starting wide receiver, and a rookie offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden. Needless to say, I feel that it will be a long season on the offensive front for the Bengals. Hopefully Marvin Lewis has perfected the art of patience. 

On the defensive side of the ball the Bengals won't be much better. They do have a few talented individuals on that side of the ball. Leon Hall, Taylor Mays, Rey Maualuga, and Carlos Dunlap are players that have talent and high ceilings of potential. The majority of the defensive side of the ball has the same issues as the offensive side of the ball for the Bengals. Youth. Cincinnati is a very young team. In the NFL, a youthful team equals a rebuilding team. A rebuilding team equals a not so very good team. Look for the Bengals to struggle mightily. 

Cleveland: On the other side of the youth movement you have the Browns. A team that seems to now have a bright future with the way Colt McCoy has played this preseason. Taking a look at the offensive side of the ball gives a clear picture that the youth movement is not only in full swing in Cleveland, but that the youth is starting to catch on and is prime to produce. Colt McCoy is in his 2nd year and as mentioned earlier, has played extremely well this preseason. Peyton Hillis is in his fourth season and is coming off of a season where he rushed for almost 1200 yards. Josh Cribbs is the old man on offense in his seventh season and is one of the most dynamic players in football. The Browns have already said that they will make a concerted effort to put the ball in his hands on more occassions this season. The offensive line is strong with Alex Mack and Joe Thomas as the anchors. In all, the offense seems to be heading in the right direction. 

The defense does not have the play makers that the offense does. However it is also a young group that is improving season by season. Work still needs to be done through the draft and free agency to acquire play makers, but the defense will be better than anticipated. Led by defensive back Joe Haden, the Browns defense will be looking to just take the next step forward in their growing process. Look for an above average season from this unit. 

Pittsburgh: The current kings of the division reside in the Steel City. An organization that is run as well, if not better, than any organization in all of sports. Led by a more mature (it appears) Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu the Steelers look to keep their stranglehold on the AFC North. The offensive will be just as good, if not better than last year when they averaged almost 25 points a game. A finally healthy Big Ben, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward, Antonio Brown (who has had a great preseason), and Mike Wallace will come together to be apart of a good unit that will score and move the ball well. Mendenhall has to continue his maturation as a running back which should continue under the coaching of Mike Tomlin. The concerns about his fumbling are unfounded as he only had two fumbles the entire 2010 regular season. The offense will be good. 

The defense will also be good. Pro Bowlers litter position after position on that side of the ball for the Steelers. Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley, James Farrior, and on and on and on. I have heard rumblings concerning will age be a downfall of this unit. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn or an ocean front property in Montana to sell you. This unit will be good. 

So Who Wins It?

Here is how I see the records playing out: 

Baltimore: 12-4

Cincinnati: 3-13

Cleveland: 7-9

Pittsburgh: 12-4

As you can see I have Baltimore and Pittsburgh ending with the same record, but I'm going to say that Baltimore wins the tiebreaker and takes the division. No fear Steelers' fans they will still take one of the Wild Card spots. The Browns will continue their improvement, and Cincinnati will be preparing for the draft by mid-November. Just my opinions. 

End of the Storm

That's it for today's edition. Next time we will continue our NFL preview. See you next time.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

NFL Division Previews: NFC North

NFL Division Previews: NFC North

 Welcome once again, to Tha Weatha Report. So far we have examined a couple of the NFL divisions, and now it is time for us to take a look at the NFC North. This division has some intrigue, and a team that is considered one of the up and coming teams in the league. Before we take a look, we will hit up the Hail Storm.

Hail Storm

 1. Watched the Andre Berto fight Saturday night. I honestly was not impressed. I think he takes too much punishment to stand in front of some of the heavy hitters of the division. I would like to see him improve his defense. However, a knockout is a knockout.

2. I think the NASCAR controversy over some of the drivers going to see President Obama and others turning the opportunity down has been blown out of proportions. Some of the drivers are turning down the White House visit due to scheduling conflicts. This is a busy time for NASCAR, having conflicts shouldn't be surprising. 
3. Usain Bolt is a freak of nature. He is simple unbeatable. Plain and simple. 

4. I'm predicting Novak Djokovic to take the U.S. Open tennis tournament. He's been on a roll all year, and this is his favorite tournament. All of that adds up to a victory for The Joker. 

5. Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball. I have not seen a man in a zone like this since Pedro Martinez's hey day. Amazing. 

NFC North

The NFC North is the division that produced the Super Bowl champs from last season, however most people forget that the Green Bay Packers did not win the division. That honor went to the Chicago Bears. The same Bears that were just a few plays from going to the Super Bowl themselves. While you have these two teams at the top, there is a young team in the Motor City that is coming on strong and fast with a defensive line that most teams would kill for. Anchored by young studs, the Detroit Lions are trying to erase the recent years of futility by building from the lines out. At the same time there is a team in Minnesota that is trying to pull a playoff run out of an aging quarterback. Seems to be deja vu in Minnesota.

Chicago: The Bears were on their way to the Super Bowl before they ran into the buzz saw known as the Green Bay Packers. The playoffs also produced a controversy when Jay Cutler suffered a new injury that had fans and players around the league questioning his toughness and dedication. I'm not going to get into all that. In my opinion, Cutler is tough. He plays the most violent sport and the toughest position in that sport. If he isn't tough then he's fooled a ton of people over the years. 

Chicago needs to worry about preventing a similar injury to Cutler. That offensive line is leaky, and that's being generous. Keeping the quarterback upright is the key. If they can protect Jay Cutler then the Bears might have a shot. Roy Williams is a new edition that needs to step up his game. Right now Williams is going down as a waste of talent and a bust. He needs to rehab his image by having a big year in Chicago. I'm not counting on it. Marion Barber has been brought in to provide an option when those short yardage situations present themselves. Together they will try to execute Mike Martz's offense and produce a playoff team. 

Lance Briggs wants out of Chicago, but he isn't going to get his wish. Chicago's defense will be good once again, but if the offense struggles and sputters along how much pressure can the defense take before it cannot protect the team? It will be up to the defense to keep the team in games. If the defense fails, then the team will fail. 

Detroit: The Lions are building something special up in Michigan. The defense is continuing to be built up with young studs on the line. Ndamukong Suh is destroying quarterbacks one week at a time. Nick Fairley will be healthy soon and should team up with Suh to produce a dominate Defensive Tackle pair. The secondary should be continue to improve, but I think it will still be the weak link of the defense. It will be up to Suh and friends to put plenty of pressure on the QB to prevent the secondary from getting burned. 

The offense is what really has fans of the Lions excited. Most people expect that if Matthew Stafford can stay healthy, then the Lions are poised for a breakout season. As Lee Corso would say, not say fast my friends. Matthew Stafford has indeed shown flashes of brilliance. However, due to injuries Stafford has yet to play 16 games combined in his career. He has thrown more interceptions (21) than touchdowns (19) in his career. I am convinced that Stafford will be a good NFL quarterback. I just need to see evidence before I anoint Detroit as the next playoff team. The loss of rookie RB Mikel Leshoure to a season ending injury will be a devastating blow to this team. Calvin Johnson aka MegaTron is still there, and as long as you have him you have an impact player. The team has the young talent and is improving, but the key is that they are young. 

Green Bay: The defending Super Bowl champs made improvements to their team, but not by necessarily going out and signing free agents and through trades. The team improved just by getting their players healthy. That is the story of the off season for Green Bay. Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews are both healthy and will anchor a defense that has the potential to be dominating. I am looking for B.J. Raji, the third year nose tackle, to continue his improvement. He went from one to 6.5 sacks in years one and two. 

Green Bay's offense is ran by Aaron Rodgers who finally made it out of Brett Farve's shadow by bringing the Lombardi Trophy back to Lambeau Field. Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley are healthy and will provide Rodgers with a healthy running back and tight end. The running game will be the key to the offense for the Packers. If Grant can stay healthy and return to his 2008 and 2009 forms where he rushed for over 1000 yards in back to back seasons, then Green Bay's offense could be one of the most potent ones in the league. 

Minnesota: The Vikings are one of those enigmas that you can't really read. Stop me if you've heard this before. The Minnesota Vikings are relying on an aging quarterback to have one last bullet in his pistol and to lead the team to the playoffs and hopefully beyond. Instead of it being Brett Favre, this year it is Donovan McNabb. The Vikings are hoping that McNabb's year in Washington was an aberration and that McNabb still has one more good year in him. McNabb has plenty of talent around him with Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, and Adrian Peterson as key personnel. However, the offensive line is overrated and that will hinder the Vikings' firepower. 

The defense is average at best and is also aging. The Vikings essentially have the same personnel that they've had the previous two seasons, and this team might have hit their ceiling already. It is clear that this team is in transition and will become Christian Ponder's team sooner rather than later. 

So Who Wins It?

This is my predictions for the teams records: 

Chicago: 9-7

Detroit: 7-9

Green Bay: 12-4

Minnesota: 9-7

As you can see, I have Green Bay taking the division easily. I have Detroit making a one game improvement which is on par with the progress I think Detroit is making. Chicago and Minnesota will both finish above .500 but clearly not the records that they would like to have. 

End of the Storm

Thanks for reading and taking the time to digest what I think about the NFC North. Next time we will take a look at the AFC North which has, arguably, the NFL's most intense rivalry. Until next time, stay blessed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Predicting The AFC East

Welcome one and all to another edition of Tha Weatha Report. Last time we took a look at the NFC East, and in today's edition we will tackle a division that has, arguably, the NFL's biggest rivalry. Of course I'm talking about the AFC East. We'll take a look at each team, I'll put on my Ms. Cleo hat and try to predict the records and the winner of the divison. So without further ado, let's dive right in shall we?

Hail Storm

1. Arian Foster took to Twitter to say that people asking about his health for Fantasy Football reasons are sick. So, we are supposed to care for any other reason? Sorry that average people don't take the time to be concerned about the health of millionaires for other reasons besides our FF teams. Get over yourself Mr. Foster. 

2. Put me down as someone who thinks that Peyton Manning will be ready for the start of the NFL regular season. He seems to care more about the consecutive start streak than any other record. 

3. Usain Bolt false started and was DQ'd from the event in South Korea. Some people are calling for the rule to be changed. The rules are the rules, stop trying to change it because someone with some clout violated it. 

4. Cannot wait for college football to start this week. Might just have to put together a little column about what I expect this season. 

5. I don't see Chris Johnson being signed in time for the first game. Tennessee needs to pay the man! They originally told him they would pay, now it's time to practice what they preached. 

AFC East: Who Takes It?

Ever since the New York Jets hired Rex Ryan as head coach, the AFC East has gotten an infusion of new energy. Ryan has managed to make his press conferences must see tv, as well as made it known that he is gunning to wrestle the division's stranglehold from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. So, will the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS do just that? 

Each team in the division has their own set of story lines that they are dealing with. Buffalo has a young defense that is on the rise and are still trying to figure out if Ryan Fitzpatrick is indeed the answer at QB. The regime down in Miami knows that it is now or never for them. Chad Henne and Tony Sparano are on their last legs. If they don't string together plenty of wins, then they both might be looking for new jobs in 2012. For New England everything is measured in Vince Lombardi trophies, and there has been a considerable drought in that category. Since their last Super Bowl victory, the Patriots are a pedestrian 5-5 in the playoffs with the latest flame-out coming last season with a 28-21 loss to their divisional rival Jets. Albert Haynesworth and Chad OchoCinco are just two players brought in to change this. The Jets are incorporating Plaxico Burress as well as trying to back up the talk of their brash head coach. Plenty of stories to go around. 

Buffalo: I am high on the young defense that the Bills have started to build up. Led by their first round pick Marcell Dareus, the young Defensive Tackle stud out of Alabama, Buffalo believes that it is heading in the right direction. I agree. I look for Dareus to build off of his impressive preseason showing and have a good rookie season. A good season for him will equal a good bounce-back season for Shawne Merriman who is looking to regain the form that made him an All-Pro and produced the nickname "Lights Out". A good season for him will then equal a good season for the secondary as well. See how it all connects? I also expect a big season from Nick Barnett. The former Packer will make his presence known all season. 

The offense is going to be good as well. In my opinion, Ryan Fitzpatrick is the answer for the Bills at QB. The seventh year pro out of Harvard threw for 3,000 yards last season with 23 touchdown throws. Add in a young and very talented receiving corps led by Mr. "Why So Serious?" Stevie Johnson who produced 82 receptions for 1,073 yards last season, and you have the recipe for an offense that is going to put some pressure on opposing defenses. The key to the offense is if the Bills can get a steady running game. Which, I think they will be able to do. The Bills drafted C.J. Spiller in 2010 and he never got his feet under him. I believe that Spiller is more effective in space. However, the Bills running game is very effective when Fred Jackson is trusted with the ball. Last season he produced 927 yards with a 4.2 yards per carry average. Lately there has been rumblings that Jackson feels slightly disrespected by not being treated like a number one back. It's clear that he is and should be that back for Buffalo. An improved season is in store for Buffalo. 

Miami: The Dolphins began training camp with the cloud of Kyle Orton looming over camp. Orton was supposed to be brought in and he was going to lead Miami back to the playoffs. There was only one problem. The Dolphins could not complete the trade for Orton and now they have to make Chad Henne feel as if he is the unquestioned starter. Even with Matt Moore waiting in the wings to take over if/when Henne falls flat on his face. A rocky start could be a foreshadowing of things to come for Miami. While the team does have talent at some of the skill positions (Brandon Marshall, Reggie Bush, Cameron Wake, Jake Long), it all comes down to the play at the QB position. Inconsistent play by Henne or Moore (if he replaces Henne) will doom the Dolphins and Sparano. The offense has some weapons. Henne has Brandon Marshall and Devone Best as viable wide receivers. The Dolphins have to find a way to best use Reggie Bush's talents to their advantage. Find a way to get him out in space and let him do his thing. The signing of Larry Johnson could either be a shrewd move or a worthless signing. Be on the lookout for Daniel Thomas. The rookie running back out of Kansas State could turn out to be the between the tackles runner that the Dolphins need. 

Miami's defense is not in bad shape. I like the two young corner backs that Miami has in Vontae Davis and Sean Smith. They are young, with both players going into their third year, but both are full of potential. Vontae Davis recently went on record as saying that he and Smith were the best CB tandem in the league, and not the duo of the Jets. Big talk, but I believe that these two could go a long way towards backing it up. I also like their linebacker corps led by Cameron Wake. The same Cameron Wake that recorded 14 sacks last season. The one area on defense that I'm not confident in is the defensive line. That line has to step up and take some pressure off of the secondary and the LBs. 

New England: The Patriots really need no introduction. They are the class of the NFL. The team that everyone else measures themselves to. Yes, the Packers are your reigning NFL Super Bowl Champions, but the Patriots are the model franchise in today's NFL. This is the team that essentially rescued Corey Dillon and Randy Moss from the scrap heap and rejuvenated their careers. Now they are hoping to do the same with Albert Haynesworth. We won't recount Mr. Haynesworth's "adventures" in D.C. because I'm sure it is well known. The Patriots also traded for Chad OchoCinco. Ocho (can I call him that?) had a down season last year and is looking to conform to the "Patriots Way" and show the world that not only can he be a productive receiver but that he can be a big part of a winning organization. One thing is for sure, the offense will not be a problem. Tom Brady is healthy, the receiving corps is in good shape (sans Wes Welker's recent neck injury), and Bill Belichick is arguably the best coach in the game. The only concern is the running game. New England has to get consistent production out of that position whether it's from Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk, or BenJarvus Green-Ellis. If they can get consistent production, the offense might just be unstoppable. 

The defense is another story however. The secondary is not exactly filled with good cover guys. I would call it average. Last year the Patriots gave up almost 210 yards through the air which was 18th in the league. If that's not average, I'm not sure what is. The defensive line is depending on Albert Haynesworth to return to his Tennessee Titans form and to pretend the Washington Redskins years didn't happen. Kind of like how Randy Moss erased those Oakland Raiders years when he got to New England. Or kind of like how Corey Dillon managed to erase those Cincinnati Bengals years. Seeing a trend? Seems that Belichick has the magic touch when it comes to getting the best out of retreads. I'm not going to bet against him on this one either. If the d-line comes through and the secondary is average, then the biggest hole could be the LBs. This crew is devoid of known play makers and will be put to the test each week. 

New York Jets: The Jets seem to make plenty of news, and that seems to be the way Rex Ryan wants it. Whether it's Ryan saying that he needs other teams to beat New England or if it's going out and signing Plaxico Burress the Jets seem to always be in the headlines. What makes the Jets so intriguing is that they always seem to back up the talk...to a degree. Ryan hasn't managed to get the team to the Super Bowl but they've been close two years in a row. Mark Sanchez continues to evolve and improve as a young QB and he'll need to take the next step in the maturation process if this team is to win. This could be the year that the Jets win because of Sanchez and not in spite of him. He has plenty of weapons. Burress provides that red zone target that has been missing, Santonio Holmes is an impact receiver, Shonn Greene in the backfield, and they added the veteran Derrick Mason to add even more punch to the receiver corps. Last year the Jets averaged almost 22 points a game. This year, I wouldn't be surprised if that number goes up. 

A Rex Ryan defense is going to always show up. They are going to blitz, put tons of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, and generally keep their opponents in check. I do not expect anything different this year. I expect the defensive back Kyle Wilson, the second year pro out of Boise State, to step up and showcase good cover corner skills. Keep an eye on the Jets' first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson at the DT position. I think he will have a big impact on a weekly basis. I'm also interested to see if Rex Ryan can turn Aaron Maybin into a good LB. The former Buffalo Bills first round pick has been labeled a bust after he failed to record a single sack in his two seasons in Buffalo. If Ryan can resurrect his career it will be a diamond in the rough type of find. The defense only gave up 13.5 points a game last year. Don't be surprised if the number stays the same, or even goes lower. 

So Who Wins?

Looking at the schedules, this is how I have it playing out: 

Buffalo: 7-9

Miami: 4-12

New England: 12-4

New York: 11-5

I have New England winning the division by a mere game over the Jets. I predict that it'll be a tough season in Miami, but in Buffalo there will be tons to build on for the future. I think New England's offense is too strong and they'll get enough out of their defense to take the division. However, I do have them splitting their division games against the Jets with each team winning on their home fields. As always, feel free to express your thoughts and opinions in the comments below, or go to the Facebook page to express your thoughts and opinions. 

End of the Storm

Once again thanks for taking the time to read this edition of Tha Weatha Report. Next time we will be looking at the NFC North. The Lions are up and coming but the defending Super Bowl champs aren't quite ready to give up the crown just yet. Until next time, stay blessed, keep living and enjoying life, and keep enjoying sports! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NFC East: Who Will Be The Beast of the East?

Who Will Win The East?

It's....the most wonderful.....of the year! It's football season folks. The lockout is over, the game is back on, and the water cooler talk will commence in September. I know I speak for the majority when I say let the good times roll. Today, we will examine one of the toughest divisions in the NFL, the NFC East. However, before we dive into that. You know what it is, time for the Hail Storm!

Hail Storm

1. Danica Patrick is moving to NASCAR. Count me in the crowd of, "who cares?" Not saying she isn't marketable. What I'm saying is that she hasn't won anything. Come wake me up when she actually wins a race. 

2. Terrelle Pryor was drafted by the Oakland Raiders. I actually love the move...under one condition. As long as they take the time to develop his QB skills. If, as Oakland is known to do, make a bad move and rush him under center then it is a wasted third round draft pick and he'll have to make it in the NFL at another position. 

3. Not sure how the controversy with the LSU football program is goign to turn out. I think that LSU was an overrated team in the preseason to begin with. This has the potential to derail their season even more. 

4. I have Anderson Silva winning his UFC fight in the third round by TKO on Saturday. You heard it here first. 

5. I'm tired of the NBA and their lack of movement in the lockout. If they want to ruin all of their momentum, then go right ahead. If they lose time and they lose fans, I hope they realize that it's their own faults. 

Beast of the East, NFC That Is

One team won the vaunted "Having the Best Offseason" award, one team has a quarterback decision to make, one team is trying to finally earn the "America's Team" nickname, and one team is just trying to overcome a litany of preseason and training camp injuries. The NFC East is definitely a hot bed of discussing this preseason. The Philadelphia Eagles went out and signed just about every free agent that was available (slight exaggeration). The Washington Redskins are recovering from the failed Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb experiments and are trying to find their starting QB. The Dallas Cowboys are trying to rebound from an awful season that saw a mid-season coaching change and the season ending injury to Tony Romo. Then, you have the New York Giants. This is the same team, that if it wasn't for bad luck they wouldn't have any luck at all. Their secondary has been decimated due to injuries. At this point, they just want to make it to the regular season with enough people to field a complete team. So, who do I think wins it? 


I honestly L...O...V..E...the moves that the Eagles made. I think Cullen Jenkins is a huge upgrade to their defensive line. Putting pressure on the QB with the front four is a huge deal. Especially when you have three shoutdown corners like the Eagles do. I've heard the argument that "You only start two corners". Blah blah blah. In today's NFL, the Nickel package (3 CBs) is pretty much a starting defensive lineup. However, the move I love the most is getting Vince Young to backup Michael Vick. The reason being is that Michael Vick has played all 16 games in a season once. ONCE! The odds are stacked against him playing the entire season. Because of that you need a backup that you can bring in and not have to alter your game plan. Who better than a mobile quarterback who has a winning record such as Young? If Vick goes down, I do not believe that the Eagles will miss a beat. The biggest problems the Eagles have are their lack of impact linebackers and believing their own hype. The Eagles only have to look within their own division and the Washington Redskins to see a team that has won the "Offseason" award and then bomb where it counts. The Eagles have to get consistent and good play from their LB corps and keep listening to Andy Reid to have a good season. 


Mike Shanahan wants us to believe that he hasn't figured out who his starting QB will be. Oh, and I have an ocean front property in Idaho for sale. John Beck is going to start for this team. This team will rise and fall with his play. So far this preseason I've actually been impressed with the running game of the Redskins. That comes as no surprise giving Shanahan's track record of producing 1000 yard rushers. Unfortunately for him and the Redskins fans, this is a QB driven league at this point. The good teams get good and consistent play from their QB. The bad teams...well...they don't. Simple as that. The key to this team is the play of their QB. Even if Shanahan goes with Rex Grossman, it still comes down to how consistent the main man under center is. And by consistent, I mean consistently good. 


In Texas there is a team with so much talent and so much potential that we should be talking about a Super Bowl caliber season. Instead, we're talking about a team who is hoping to rebound and just have a winning season. I know that Jerry Jones doesn't want to hear that, but that's just the facts of life. Tony Romo is looking to stay healthy this season and lead his team back to the playoffs. He has Felix Jones in the back field who has the potential to turn any run into a touchdown. Dez Bryant who has the potential to turn any catch or return into a touchdown. Jason Witten who is potentially one of the top five TEs in the league. So what's missing? Ah, the defense. The Cowboys will need their secondary to show up every Sunday for them to have a chance to win their division. We all know that Dallas has an explosive offense when things are clicking. How they stop their opponents is what will determine their wins and losses. 

New York

The Giants have to be ready for the start of the regular season. Injuries, injuries, and more injuries have been the mark of their preseason. So, what is the key to their season? New York has to find a way to weather the storm and put a competitive secondary and defense out on the field. Eli Manning has to rebound from his terrible 2009 season. 30 or so turnovers from your QB is not going to produce a playoff team. If he rebounds, that will go a long way to producing a successful season. Getting productive play out of their defensive line will go a long way towards masking the injuries in the secondary. If the d-line fails to get consistent pressure on opposing QBs....well, at least the New York faithful have that other team in New York.

Who Wins?

Looking at the team's schedules here is how I have it broken down. 

Redskins: 7-9

Giants: 7-9

Eagles: 13-3

Cowboys: 11-5

That's right, I have the Eagles going 13-3. Quote me. I have the Eagles winning the division with the Cowboys likely getting one of the Wild Card spots for the NFC. I think the play of Michael Vick, their defensive line, their secondary, will be enough to get the Eagles to the playoffs. I believe they will get just enough from their linebackers to put them over the top. I believe the Giants have lost too much to be a huge factor this season. I believe the Redskins are two seasons away from being a force. The Cowboys will be there until the end, but ultimately they'll have to settle for a Wild Card spot. Disagree? Use Facebook or the comments section to voice your opinions. After all, this is what makes the NFL the new America's past time. 

End of the Storm

 Thanks for taking the time to read this edition of Tha Weatha Report. Stay tuned as next time we will examine the AFC East and who I predict to come out of that tough division. As always, support the "movement" and go to Facebook and "like" the page. Tell your friends and coworkers. Until next time, stay blessed, keep living and enjoying life, and keep enjoying sports!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is This What It Has Come To?

Ben Margot/AP

Welcome one, welcome all to another rousing edition of Tha Weatha Report. Today, we will address the recent violence that occurred during the San Fransisco 49ers vs Oakland Raiders game. I'll vent my thoughts and suggest some ways to prevent travesties such as this event from occurring again. A lot has transpired in the world of sports since we last sat down and talked, so let's jump straight into the Hail Storm!

Hail Storm

1. Pat Summitt is one of my favorite sports personalities ever. She is a helluva coach, and is the one female coach that I always thought could coach a NBA team and be successful. Prayers and thoughts go out to her and her family and I'm sure she will fight her recent diagnosis of dementia head on. Don't bet against her, she usually comes out on top. 

2. Seems like the Miami Hurricanes need to clean up shop really quickly. I don't know if the NCAA is going to come down hard on them, but the potential is there for that program to be crippled for a long time. 

Pathetic Lack of Common Sense

So, fans of San Fransisco teams are displaying their complete ignorance. Not all fans mind you, I'm a 49ers fan myself. I've been a die hard San Fran fan for as long as I can remember. I can fondly think back to watching the twilight years of Joe Montana, watching Jerry Rice and John Taylor terrorize secondaries, Tom Rathman, Roger Craig, and Ken Norton Jr. Anybody that knows me knows that I'm a glutton for punishment because I have never abandoned my team. See, that's what makes a fan....a fan. Someone who will side with their team through thick and thin. Through the good and the bad. You see, being a fan is like a marriage. You are committed. A true fan takes an internal vow to support their teams no matter how dumb their decision making is or how much a transaction is disliked. That is what makes a true fan a fan. 

However, there are always a few idiots (make no bones about it, because that is exactly what these thugs are) who take being a "fan" to a totally different and negative level. I'm not sure when being a "fan" consisted of shooting or beating people into unconsciousness, I must have missed that email or team meeting. Let's get one thing clear and straight: Being a man or even a fan does not mean that you can beat up a person who likes or supports a team that is your team's rivals. Being a man and fan means that you can appreciate someone's opposing point of view and respect that person's opinion. Is it any wonder why people are choosing to stay home and enjoy baseball, basketball, and football games from the comfort of their own couches, homes, and HD televisions? Would you go to a stadium if you couldn't even take your children? Or if you feared being shot, stabbed, or pummeled because you happen to be a fan of the visiting team? Or home team even?

The thugs that engage in this activity need to be caught, arrested, and locked away. There is no excuse, no viable reason to buy a $70 ticket to a preseason game and leave with bullets piercing your organs and on a stretcher or laid out in a bathroom because idiots decided to jump you in the bathroom to send a message. What message are they sending? The message that we, as true fans, receive is that these thugs are cowards and are willing to give all fans a bad name because they don't have the common sense to realize that it is just a game. A GAME! At the end of the day, we are all human beings. All apart of the human race. We all have the same blood, sweat, and tears inside of us. We are all someone's brother, sister, father, mother, cousin, uncle, and aunts. We should be able to go and enjoy a game in peace and return to our homes in the same conditions that we left. 

So, how do we fix this issue? The owner of the 49ers, Jed York, is going to recommend suspending the 49ers vs Raiders annual preseason game. In my opinion the thugs win in that scenario. Maybe it will do some good to suspend it for a year or two. However, more security is needed. Better alcohol distribution is needed. Let's not keep feeding individuals with alcohol during the game. Let's police these individuals while their tailgating. Have plenty of security patrolling the parking lots before the game to ensure that fans are not out of hand. Have plenty of security cameras in the parking lots to hopefully deter thuggish activities. Increase the police presence inside of the stadium before, during, and after games. Don't tell me that it will cost money to accomplish all of this, all NFL teams are bringing in millions upon millions of dollars. They can afford to spend a little change to ensure the safety of their fans. After all, the fans are the ones who enable those teams to make their money in the first place. 

What do I know though? I'm just a concerned fan. However, I'm not just a fan I am a man. I am a human being. Someone who values human life. Someone who realizes that while I am a passionate fan, that it is just a game. At the end of the day we all go home to our families and resume our lives. It is NOT a life or death situation. We, as a race...the human race, needs to wake up. We need to start valuing not just other's lives, but our own lives as well. A 3 hour game is not enough to throw your life away. Someone saying that your team sucks is not enough to take another human's life. In essence, we need common sense to prevail. That right there, is the greatest team that we all can put our support behind. 

End of the Storm

  Thank you for taking the time to read this edition of Tha Weatha Report. Stay tuned because the rest of this week will be devoted to previewing each division in the NFL. Who I pick to win each division might surprise you. Remember to pass the word along and to go to Facebook and "like" the page "Tha Weatha Report". All support is appreciated and will never be forgotten. Until next time, stay blessed, keep living life, and keep enjoying sports! 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Merril Hoge: Tim Tebow: Lebron James:

Welcome one, welcome all to another edition of Tha Weatha Report. I hope you brought your umbrella, because it's going to be raining sports opinions in this edition. Today's column is going to address the growing controversy that surrounds Tim Tebow. Specifically, the criticism that Merril Hoge tossed out there, the response by LeBron James, and how it all relates to Merril Hoge's career. So, let's dive right in and get this party started.

Quick Hail Storm

1. I think I have officially lost hope in Tiger Woods. I will jump back on his bandwagon when he puts together a string of good showings in tournaments. Until then, the man needs to get healthy between the ears instead of worrying about just his body's health. 

2. Dan Uggla is the most unlikely person to have a 30+ game hit streak. However, the Braves are not complaining. If Atlanta is going to overtake the Phillies in the NL, they will need Uggla to be a consistent force in the middle of their lineup. 

3. Carlos Zambrano is, and always has been, a loose cannon. His latest incident might be the last straw though. Quitting on your team in the middle of a game is an unforgivable offense and I would be very surprised if we see Zambrano pitching for the Chicago Cubs ever again. 

4. Congrats to Dennis Rodman, Chris Mullins, and others on their induction to the NBA Hall of Fame. Well deserved!!

Tim Tebow, Merril Hoge, and LeBron James Are Tied Together

A couple of weeks ago Merril Hoge went on ESPN and gave a scathing indictment on the likelihood of Tim Tebow being a successful starting quarterback in the NFL. Hoge said that Tebow had a "marginal skill set". He also took to Twitter to express his opinions. 

"Sitting watching tape of Bronco offense from last year!" Hoge wrote. "Orton or Tebow? It's embarrassing to think the Broncos could win with Tebow!!"

Tell us how you really feel why don't ya. Now, I've been asked what I thought about Tim Tebow and his shot at becoming a NFL starting quarterback. First off, I always caveat my opinions by saying that I have had a strong dislike for Tim Tebow since his days at the University of Florida. The reason? I'm a Florida State fan. Tim Tebow defeated the Seminoles plenty of times. However, I do respect his abilities and what he has done on the field of play. He was one helluva quarterback in college and he was the best player in the nation at one point. Every time I said Tim Tebow wouldn't or couldn't accomplish something, he managed to prove me wrong. I said he wouldn't win the Heisman. Check. I said that he would never win the National Championship. Check. I also said that he would never get drafted in the first round. Check. So, do I think he can ever be a successful starting NFL quarterback? If he continues to work hard, I'm sure he will. 

However, right now the man is not ready to start. I agree with Hoge's assessment that as of this season Tim Tebow is not ready to start for the Denver Broncos. Oh, but the story doesn't end there. Who came to Tebow's defense? LeBron James himself. His tweet is why I'm writing this column today. 

"Tim Tebow will succeed in the NFL. He's a hard worker, a student of the game, a natural born leader and most of all a WINNER!" James tweeted. "Guys get on that TV and act like they was all WORLD when they played. How bout encouraging him and wishing him the best instead of hating!!"

I think LeBron should've been in a gym somewhere instead of worrying about Tim Tebow, but that's another column for another day. I do not think Hoge was "hating" as LeBron put it. I think Hoge was giving his honest assessment which came from hours of analysis. However, it did make me wonder what kind of career Merril Hoge had. 

The only thing I knew about Hoge before this was that he has worked for ESPN for years and that his career was cut short due to concussions. After doing some research I can say that I was surprised at what I found. I did not realize that his concussions were as serious as they were. The man once had to be resuscitated after sustaining a concussion. He was forced to retire due to brain damage. He had to learn to read all over again. Extremely serious stuff here. Before the concussions Merril Hoge played eight seasons and was a fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers before ending his career playing five games for the Chicago Bears. 

Was he "all WORLD" as LeBron put it? No, he wasn't. He was a good fullback that did his job. Below are his career numbers pulled from NFL.com.

Rushing Receiving Fumbles

G GS Att Yds Avg Lng TD Rec Yds Avg Lng TD FUM Lost
1994 Chicago Bears 5 5 6 24 4.0 8 0 13 79 6.1 11 0 -- --

1993 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 13 51 249 4.9 30 1 33 247 7.5 18 4 -- --

1992 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 11 41 150 3.7 15 0 28 231 8.3 20 1 3 3

1991 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 16 165 610 3.7 24 2 49 379 7.7 25 1 3 0

1990 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 -- 203 772 3.8 41T 7 40 342 8.5 27 3 -- --

1989 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 -- 186 621 3.3 31 8 34 271 8.0 22 0 -- --

1988 Pittsburgh Steelers 16 -- 170 705 4.1 20 3 50 487 9.7 40 3 -- --

1987 Pittsburgh Steelers 13 -- 3 8 2.7 5 0 7 97 13.9 27 1 -- --

TOTAL 825 3,139 3.8 41 21 254 2,133 8.4 40 13 6 3

 As you can see, the numbers are not Hall of Fame caliber but he was a fullback so that has to be taken into account. In any event, while Hoge wasn't a Hall of Fame player, he still was a NFL player. He has been an analyst for ESPN for 15 years. I trust his analysis. Do I believe that Tim Tebow gives the Denver Broncos the best chance to win this year? No, I do not. I believe that's all that Merril Hoge was trying to say. Could he have chosen his words more carefully? Sure, but that's the beauty/downfall of the age of technology. As soon as you hit "send", you open yourself up for criticism. Hoge was doing his job, now it is time for Tebow to go out, do his, and prove Hoge wrong. 

Thanks for reading this edition of Tha Weatha Report. As always, tell your friends and spread the word. Go and like the Facebook page and keep giving me feedback, ideas, and constructive criticism. Thank you and keep enjoying life and sports!!