Thursday, December 18, 2014

NFL - Week Sixteen Preview

The final two weeks of the 2014 NFL regular season (along with the Christmas Holiday) are here and football fans everywhere are excited for the action that will take place.
Along with the final Thursday and Monday night games taking place this season, there are also two Saturday games on tap as the Philadelphia Eagles (9-5) take on the Washington Redskins (3-11) in D.C. while the San Diego Chargers (8-6) travel to face the San Francisco 49ers (7-7), one of this season's more disappointing teams.
There are four spots (three in AFC and one in NFC) sewn up thus far for the post-season with eight spots still up for grabs.
A short capsule style preview of the bigger games follows along with the Heftyinfo predictions for the upcoming weekend.

Philadelphia (9-5) at Washington (3-11) - The Eagles really need this game... and should win in a rout.

San Diego (8-6) at San Francisco (7-7) - The Chargers are pretty well banged up on BOTH sides of the football, but the 49ers are a mess right now. Take the Chargers in a tight one.

Baltimore (9-5) at Houston (7-7) - Believe it or not, the host Texans are still in wild card contention and they will beat the Ravens, a team that struggles on the road.

Detroit (10-4) at Chicago (5-9) - Jay Cutler on the bench? The Lions would destroy the Bears with or without him.

Atlanta (5-9) at New Orleans (6-8) - Saints can just about clinch the putrid NFC South with a home win here... but they have lost four straight in the Big Easy... Saints by a field goal in OT.

Kansas City (8-6) at Pittsburgh (9-5) - The Steelers will put the Chiefs away this week.

New England (11-3) at NY Jets (3-11) - Rex Ryan's final home game as Jets Head Coach... Patriots roll!

Green Bay (10-4) at Tampa Bay (2-12) - The Packers are angry after a loss last week and will NOT be caught off guard looking ahead to next week's showdown with Detroit.

Buffalo (8-6) at Oakland (2-12) - The Bills can clinch a winning record for the first time in over a decade and stay alive in the AFC playoff chase with a win.

Indianapolis (10-4) at Dallas (10-4) - Colts win a squeaker on the road.

Seattle (10-4) at Arizona (11-3) - Great Sunday night match up here ... Seahawks are better on both sides of the ball and will take over first place in the NFC West in this one.

Monday Night Football 

Denver (11-3) at Cincinnati (9-4-1) - The Broncos should win this one because they are in a bigger battle (with New England for home field advantage in AFC) than the Bengals, who control the AFC North for now.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Sixteen  . . .     (Home teams are listed in BOLD type and Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Jacksonville over Tennessee
Philadelphia over Washington
San Diego over San Francisco
Miami over Minnesota
Houston over Baltimore
DETROIT over Chicago
Carolina over Cleveland
New Orleans over Atlanta
Green Bay over Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh over Kansas City
New England over NY Jets
St. Louis over NY Giants
Buffalo over Oakland
Indianapolis over Dallas
Seattle over Arizona
Denver over Cincinnati

Last Week's Record:  12-4

SEASON RECORD:  153-70-1

Lock of the Week Record:  13-2


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

NFL - Week Fifteen Review

Tom Brady and Pats clinched another division title.
Three teams clinched division titles in the AFC this past weekend as Denver, New England and Indianapolis won their games.
The Arizona Cardinals (11-3) are the first NFC team to clinch a playoff spot as they topped the host St. Louis Rams, 12-6 in a Thursday night game that had all field goals accounting for the scoring.
The Broncos (11-3) went into San Diego and earned a 22-10 win against a listless Chargers team that now faces an uphill battle to get a wild card spot in the AFC with the loss. Peyton Manning had a TD pass and Broncos kicker Conner Barth nailed five field goals to provide the final margin as Denver wrapped up their fourth consecutive AFC West title.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers threw for a score but had two costly interceptions, including one in the Denver end zone late in the fourth quarter as the Chargers (8-6) attempted to rally back.
The New England Patriots (11-3) drilled the visiting Miami Dolphins, 41-13 as they clinched the AFC East by dominating the second half with Tom Brady throwing for two touchdowns and the defense shutting out the Dolphins after a close first half.
Indianapolis (10-4) beat visiting Houston, 17-10 despite being outgained by the Texans as QB Andrew Luck threw for two scores in the defensive struggle to wrap up their second consecutive AFC South title.

                      Several other games saw teams take a step closer to a post-season spot  . . . . .  

The Dallas Cowboys (10-4) won on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles, 38-27 as Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week  Dez Bryant (pictured right) caught six passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Dallas blew an early 21-0 lead as the Eagles fought back and took a 24-21 lead in the third quarter before the Cowboys turned it around to win the game. Dallas running back DeMarco Murray scored two touchdowns, but suffered a broken bone in his hand and may not play in Week 16 against Indianapolis.
The Detroit Lions (10-4) won a struggle at home against Minnesota, 16-14 as kicker Matt Prater drilled three field goals, including the game-winner from 33 yards late in the fourth quarter. The usually reliable Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed three field goals in the game, including having a 26-yard try blocked.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore (both 9-5) made strides in the AFC North with wins as the Steelers beat Atlanta, 27-20 as RB Le'Veon Bell scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and DB William Gay took an interception back for another score to offset a pair of TD passes by Falcons QB Matt Ryan.
Meanwhile, the Ravens had their hands full with visiting Jacksonville, but did get a 20-12 win as their defense limited the Jaguars to four field goals while getting a blocked punt for a touchdown. In the second half, the Ravens shut out the Jags and QB Joe Flacco had a TD pass to help clinch the win.
Cincinnati (9-4-1) crushed the host Cleveland Browns, 30-0 to avenge a loss last month as they roughed up rookie QB Johnny Manziel (80 yards passing with two INT and sacked three times) while RB Jeremy Hill rushed for 148 yards and scored twice to pace the rout.
The Seattle Seahawks (10-4) won for the seventh time in eight games as they limited the San Francisco 49ers to 245 yards in offense in a 17-7 home win that also eliminated the 49ers from playoff contention. Seattle QB Russell Wilson threw a TD pass and RB Marshawn Lynch ran for another touchdown in the win.
The New Orleans Saints (6-8) whipped the host Chicago Bears, 31-15 on Monday Night Football as QB Drew Brees threw for three scores and had 375 yards passing while Bears QB Jay Cutler was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions.

                                                 Elsewhere around the NFL . . . . . . .

The Buffalo Bills (8-6) surprised the visiting Green Bay Packers, 21-13 without scoring an offensive touchdown. Marcus Thigpen took a punt back 75 yards for a touchdown while the defense got a safety and kicker Dan Carpenter made four field goals. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers suffered through a miserable game, completing just 17 of 42 passes and was intercepted twice in the loss, which dropped Green Bay (10-4) behind Detroit in the NFC North race . . .  The New York Giants knocked off the Washington Redskins, 24-13 with Eli Manning throwing three TD passes to Odell Beckham, Jr. for the win . . .  The New York Jets held off the Tennessee Titans, 16-11 as QB Geno Smith threw for a score and Chris Ivory added a TD run . . .  The Kansas City Chiefs (8-6) kept alive their fading playoff hopes with a 31-13 rout of the visiting Oakland Raiders behind two TD passes from QB Alex Smith and a 81-yard punt return for score by De'Anthony Thomas . . .  The Carolina Panthers won for the second straight week with a 19-17 home win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as kicker Graham Gano made four field goals to go with a TD pass by backup QB Derek Anderson, who was starting in place of Cam Newton, who was injured in a car accident earlier in the week.

Friday, December 12, 2014

NFL - Week Fifteen Preview

There are three teams (all in the AFC) that clinch their respective division titles this week with a win.
The Denver Broncos (10-3) will wrap up the AFC West with a road victory against the San Diego Chargers while the New England Patriots (10-3) can do the same in the East division with a home win against the Miami Dolphins.
The same holds true for the Indianapolis Colts (9-4) in the AFC South as they will be at home against the Houston Texans.
In the meantime, many teams are still battling it out for playoff positioning and to move even closer to wrapping up a division crown.
The Sunday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the visiting Dallas Cowboys (both are 9-4) will pretty much determine the winner of the NFC East. The Eagles crushed the Cowboys two weeks ago (on Thanksgiving Day) 33-10 as their defense shut down the high powered Dallas offense.
A battle in the NFC West between the surging Seattle Seahawks (9-4) and the slumping San Francisco 49ers (7-6) in the Great Northwest should decide each team's playoff hopes. The 'Hawks can all but wrap up a post-season spot with a win while the 'Niners have to win out to have any chance at all for getting a wild card berth.
The following capsule previews offer a look at the week ahead with the Heftyinfo predictions following up.

Pittsburgh (8-5) at Atlanta (5-8) - This game could be a high scoring affair with two teams that can throw ball around the field.

Washington (3-10) at New York Giants (4-9) - Two disappointing teams finishing up the schedule.

Miami (7-6) at New England (10-3) - A must win game for the Dolphins ... Patriots should wrap up the AFC East with a win here.

Oakland (2-11) at Kansas City (7-6) - The Chiefs will be ready for the Raiders this time around.

Houston (7-6) at Indianapolis (9-4) - C-O-L-T-S ...  Colts!!!

Jacksonville (2-11) at Baltimore (8-5) - Ravens roll!

Green Bay (10-3) at Buffalo (7-6) - Packers should win, but the Bills are tough at home.

Tampa Bay (2-11) at Carolina (4-8-1) - The Panthers can actually take over first place in the weak NFC South with a win this weekend.

Cincinnati (8-4-1) at Cleveland (7-6) - It's do or die for the Browns, so ..... Heeeere's Johnny!

Minnesota (6-7) at Detroit (9-4) - Lions better be ready. Both teams have good defenses.

New York Jets (2-11) at Tennessee (2-11) - Yawn.

Denver (10-3) at San Diego (8-5) - The Chargers usually get it rolling in December... they will need to do so this week with the Broncos in town.

San Francisco (7-6) at Seattle (9-4) - Another low scoring game just like two weeks ago ... with the Seahawks winning again.

Dallas (9-4) at Philadelphia (9-4) - Winner of this game should be in great shape to make the playoffs.

New Orleans (5-8) at Chicago (5-8) - Two teams with bad defenses on Monday Night Football. Saints in a squeaker.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Fifteen  . . .     (Home teams are listed in BOLD type and Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS)

Arizona over St. Louis
Pittsburgh over Atlanta
NY Giants over Washington
New England over Miami
Kansas City over Oakland
Indianapolis over Houston
BALTIMORE over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Buffalo
Carolina over Tampa Bay
Cleveland over Cincinnati
Detroit over Minnesota
NY Jets over Tennessee
San Diego over Denver
Seattle over San Francisco
Philadelphia over Dallas
New Orleans over Chicago 

Last Week's Record:  12-4

SEASON RECORD:  141-66-1

Lock of the Week Record:  12-2


Monday, December 8, 2014

NFL - Week Fourteen Review

Last Thursday night, Week Fourteen in the NFL got off to an exciting start as the Dallas Cowboys (9-4) went into Chicago and dismantled the Bears, 41-28 behind three touchdown passes by quarterback Tony Romo and 179 rushing yards and a touchdown by running back DeMarco Murray.
The exciting action continued on Sunday as the Indianapolis Colts (9-4) overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the host Cleveland Browns, 25-24 as QB Andrew Luck found wide receiver T.Y. Hilton for a one-yard scoring pass with only 32 seconds remaining to win it. The Browns' defense scored twice in the loss as they were held to just 248 yards in offense.
The Arizona Cardinals (10-3) snapped a two-game losing streak with a 17-14 home win against the Kansas City Chiefs as QB Drew Stanton hooked up with WR John Brown for a score and kicker Chandler Catanzaro made three field goals to provide the margin of victory. It was the third straight loss for the Chiefs, despite two touchdowns by RB Jamaal Charles, one a 63-yard run to go with a TD catch.
The Seattle Seahawks (9-4) again served notice they are the defending Super Bowl champions as they limited the host Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) to a paltry 139 yards in total offense en route to a 24-14 victory, their third in a row. Seahawks QB Russell Wilson ran for a score and also passed for two more touchdowns to pace the offense.
Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell scored three TD against the Bengals.
Pittsburgh used a 25-point barrage in the fourth quarter to overwhelm the host Cincinnati Bengals, 42-21 as BIG PLAYS were the reason for the win. Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week Le'Veon Bell ran for 185 yards and scored three touchdowns (two rushing and one receiving) while Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger (350 yards passing) connected with WR Martavis Bryant for a 94-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter to put the game away. Bengals QB Andy Dalton ran for a score and had two TD passes in defeat.
The Baltimore Ravens (8-5) kept pace with the Steelers and Bengals in the highly competitive AFC North division with a 28-13 win in Miami as their defense suffocated the Dolphins in the second half, limiting the 'Fins to just a field goal. Running back Justin Forsett and QB Joe Flacco each had rushing touchdowns while Flacco also had two TD passes in the comeback win.
The Detroit Lions throttled the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 34-17 as QB Matthew Stafford had three TD passes to go with 311 passing yards to help the Lions improve to 9-4 in the NFC North.
The Denver Broncos (10-3) continued to emphasize the running game as RB C.J. Anderson had three rushing scores against a tough Buffalo defense in a 24-17 win against the visiting Bills. Broncos QB Peyton Manning passed just 20 times and had less than 200 yards and NO touchdown passes for the first time in four years.
The Sunday Night Football Game went the way of the New England Patriots (10-3) as QB Tom Brady (317 passing yards with two passing TD) hooked up with WR Julian Edelman on a 69-yard scoring pass midway through the final quarter in a 23-14 road win against the San Diego Chargers (8-5), who saw their three-game win streak snapped. The Chargers were shut out in the second half and had just 216 yards in total offense in the game.
The Green Bay Packers (10-3) rode the arm of QB Aaron Rodgers (327 passing yards with three TD) to a big halftime lead and then held on for a 43-37 Monday night home win against the Atlanta Falcons (5-8), who mounted a huge second half come back to make it a close finish. Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson caught two TD passes and had eight grabs for 146 yards as Green Bay finished with 502 yards in total offense.
Falcons QB Matt Ryan had 375 yards passing with four TD and wide receiver Julio Jones had eleven receptions for 259 yards and a score in defeat.

                                                Elsewhere around the NFL . . . . . . . 

The Oakland Raiders dealt the visiting San Francisco 49ers playoff hopes a serious blow with a 24-13 upset win behind three TD passes by rookie QB Derek Carr and a defense that had two interceptions and held the 'Niners to only 248 yards of offense . . . . .   The Minnesota Vikings beat the New York Jets, 30-24 in OT as QB Teddy Bridgewater threw the game-winning 87-yard scoring pass to WR Jarius Wright . . . . .  The Houston Texans bested the host Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-13 on three scoring runs and a defense that held the Jags to 262 yards in offense . . . . .  The St. Louis Rams won 24-0 at Washington for their second straight shut out, limiting the Redskins to a meager 206 yards in total offense . . . . .  The New York Giants (4-9) ended a seven-game skid with a 36-7 drubbing of the host Tennessee Titans (2-11) as kicker Josh Brown made five field goals and the defense scored as well . . . . .  The Carolina Panthers (4-8-1) won at New Orleans, 41-10 behind a huge day by QB Cam Newton, who had three TD passes and also added a scoring run to help end a six-game losing streak.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

College Football - Top Ten

The Heftyinfo College Football TOP TEN   (Week ending December 6)         

1.  Alabama (12-1)
2.  Oregon (12-1)

3.  Florida State (13-0)
4.  Ohio State (12-1) 
5.  Baylor (11-1)
6.  TCU (11-1)
7.  Michigan State (10-2)
8.  Mississippi State (10-2)
9.  Kansas State (9-3) 
10.  Georgia Tech (9-3)

Friday, December 5, 2014

NFL - Week Fourteen Preview

There are many key games for the playoff picture this weekend, particularly in the AFC where no less than five games feature teams going head-to-head that will impact the AFC Playoff picture this winter.
The Sunday Night Football Game is a huge game as the New England Patriots travel to face the San Diego Chargers. This is almost always a great match as these teams feature quarterbacks Tom Brady and Philip Rivers (both pictured left) and they are no strangers to facing off in the post-season in years past.
New England went on the road and surprised the Chargers back in 2006 season playoffs and ended the dream season for the 'Bolts with a stunning 24-21 win. The following season, the undefeated Patriots battled to a 21-12 AFC Championship Game win on their home field against the same team from San Diego.
This year, the Patriots are coming off a 26-21 setback in Green Bay last week and are not happy with the fact they and the Denver Broncos both have the same 9-3 records to top the AFC standings. The Chargers, meanwhile, have shaken off a mid-season slump (three straight losses) and have reeled off three straight wins, including last week's 34-33 last second upset win at Baltimore to improve to 8-4 for the season.
Prior to this game, the AFC West division leading Denver Broncos will host the surging Buffalo Bills (7-5) as Peyton Manning and company seek to knock off former Broncos' QB Kyle Orton and the Bills. Also going on will be the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens (both 7-5) squaring off in Miami. This game figures to be a smash mouth style game with both teams featuring tough defenses and solid running games. Baltimore has a slightly better air attack entering this game.
The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) will travel to take on the suddenly slumping Cleveland Browns, who have lost two of their last three and now sport a 7-5 record with some calling for rookie QB Johnny Manziel to get the nod over Brian Hoyer for the starting spot in this one. The Colts are red hot and riding the arm of QB Andrew Luck, who will be looking for his eleventh straight game with 300 or more passing yards in addition to having passed for over 4,000 yards to this point of the season.
In the AFC North, the Cincinnati Bengals are the top cats at 8-3-1 and will be hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5), a team that has lost two of it's last three games and will need this game to get back into the race in pro football's toughest division.
Over in the NFC, the big game will see the Seattle Seahawks, who suddenly have their mojo back on defense, traveling to face the high flying Philadelphia Eagles, fresh off their 33-10 whooping of the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.
Philly is 9-3 and tied with Arizona and Green Bay for the top record in the NFC. The Seahawks (8-4) have won three in a row and will look to continue their quest to overtake the slumping Arizona Cardinals (hosting Kansas City) in the NFC West.
The Cards will indeed face the Chiefs, who have also been in a recent slump, losers of two games in a row to drop to 7-5 and third-place in the AFC West division.
One other game with some marginal interest for playoff implications will feature the Atlanta Falcons (5-7) taking on the red-hot Green Bay Packers (9-3) in the Monday Night Football Game in Lambeau Field. The Falcons actually lead the NFC South division with that putrid record (New Orleans Saints are also 5-7) and will face a stiff test with the Packers in a road contest.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Fourteen  . . .     (Home teams are listed in BOLD type and Lock of the Week is listed in BOLD CAPS

Dallas over Chicago
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
St. Louis over Washington
Tennessee over NY Giants
New Orleans over Carolina
Minnesota over NY Jets
Baltimore over Miami
Indianapolis over Cleveland
Detroit over Tampa Bay
Houston over Jacksonville
Denver over Buffalo
Arizona over Kansas City
Seattle over Philadelphia
San Francisco over Oakland
San Diego over New England
GREEN BAY over Atlanta

Last Week's Record:  13-3

SEASON RECORD:  129-62-1

Lock of the Week Record:  11-2

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

NFL - Week Thirteen Review

Heading into the final month of the regular season and the division races are heating up around the NFL following the action last weekend.
Starting with the annual Thanksgiving Day games, the Detroit Lions overcame a sluggish start (falling behind 14-3 to Chicago in the first quarter) and rolled past the Bears, 34-17 as quarterback Matthew Stafford (390 yards passing) hooked up with wide receiver Calvin Johnson (11 catches for 146 yards) for a pair of scoring passes in the win. The Lions defense limited the Bears to only 13 rushing yards in the game.
The Philadelphia Eagles routed the host Dallas Cowboys, 33-10 as QB Mark Sanchez threw for a score while running back LeSean McCoy went for 159 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead the way as the Eagles took over sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
The night cap game was all Seattle as the visiting Seahawks defense dominated the San Francisco 49ers in a 19-3 victory. The 49ers managed just 164 total yards in offense and Seattle QB Russell Wilson had a TD pass while RB Marshawn Lynch helped pace the offense with 104 rushing yards.
Chargers QB Philip Rivers torched the Ravens D for three scoring passes.
The San Diego Chargers pulled off a last second 34-33 road win at Baltimore as QB Philip Rivers, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week, threw a one-yard scoring pass to WR Eddie Royal with 38 seconds remaining in the game.
The Chargers pulled off the huge comeback with the 21-point fourth quarter as Rivers (383 yards passing) had two of his three TD passes in the fourth and RB Ryan Mathews had a 14-yard scoring run to offset the Ravens offense, which had to settle for four field goals in the loss. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco had two TD passes.
New Orleans showed some life in a 35-32 win at Pittsburgh as QB Drew Brees had five TD passes in the win. The Steelers rolled up 538 yards in offense, including 435 passing yards for QB Ben Roethlisberger in the loss.
Indianapolis dominated the Washington Redskins, 49-27 behind four TD passes by QB Andrew Luck (370 yards passing) to improve to 8-4 for the season. The Colts totaled 487 yards in offense. Redskins QB Colt McCoy had three TD passes in the loss.
The Green Bay Packers defeated the visiting New England Patriots, 26-21 in the most anticipated game of the week. The defenses had their way in the second half as the teams combined for only ten points.
Both Aaron Rodgers and New England QB Tom Brady threw for a pair of scores and Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby provided the difference in the final score by making four field goals.
The Atlanta Falcons surprised the visiting Arizona Cardinals, 29-18 as QB Matt Ryan had two TD passes to offset a "pick six" interception. Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant made five field goals in the win.
The Cincinnati Bengals survived a scare at Tampa Bay, 14-13 as the Buccaneers mismanaged the clock in the final seconds and were penalized for having 12 men on the field while driving for the possible go-ahead score.
The Buffalo Bills blew out the visiting Cleveland Browns, 26-10 as kicker Dan Carpenter made four
field goals in the final quarter. Browns highly touted rookie QB Johnny Manziel (pictured right) had a rushing touchdown in his first real action.
St. Louis crushed the visiting Oakland Raiders, 52-0 as three different players had rushing touchdowns and QB Shaun Hill threw for a pair of scores while the defense added another score with a "pick six" interception return.
Houston throttled the visiting Tennessee Titans, 45-21 behind six TD passes from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and nine receptions for 238 yards from WR DeAndre Hopkins, who had two TD catches as well.
The Jacksonville Jaguars overcame a 21-0 deficit to beat the visiting New York Giants, 25-24 as their defense scored twice on fumble recoveries and QB Blake Bortles had a TD strike in the biggest comeback in franchise history. The loss was the Giants' seventh in a row.
The Minnesota Vikings blocked two punts for scores and QB Teddy Bridgewater threw for two touchdowns in an easy 31-13 home win against the Carolina Panthers.
The Sunday Night Football game went the way of the Denver Broncos as rookie running back C.J. Anderson rushed for 168 yards and QB Peyton Manning threw for two touchdowns while kicker Connor Barth made five field goals in his Broncos debut in a 29-16 road win against the Kansas City Chiefs. The win kept Denver (9-3) one game ahead of San Diego in the AFC West division race.
In the Monday Night Football game, the Miami Dolphins overcame a very sluggish performance for a 16-13 road victory against the New York Jets as kicker Caleb Sturgis made three field goals, including the game winner from 26 yards in the final minutes. The Jets ran for 277 yards in the loss.