Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year

A Look Back At 2013

The year that was 2013 summed up in some photos . . .

The Republicans shut down the U.S. government in October.

Barack Obama sworn in for 2nd term as President of the United States of America.

A total miscarriage of justice in Florida.

Baltimore Ravens won the Super Bowl in February.

The Boston Marathon bombing in April.
The bearded wonders known as the Boston Red Sox win World Series.
Chicago Blackhawks win another Stanley Cup in June.
A memorable NBA Finals between the Spurs and Heat.
Denver QB Peyton Manning shattered the NFL record books in 2013.

Monday, December 30, 2013

NFL Football - Week Seventeen Review

The NFL Playoffs are set.
After a nail biter of a final week, the twelve teams are ready to go at it in the NFL Playoffs next weekend as the final spots were filled on Sunday in the league's final weekend of the regular season.
The Green Bay Packers (8-7-1) pulled out a road win in Chicago, 33-28 as quarterback Aaron Rodgers hit wide receiver Randall Cobb for a 48-yard touchdown pass with just 38 seconds left in the game to give the Packers the NFC North division title for the third straight season.
The Bears (8-8) blew an eight point fourth quarter lead as Rodgers (318 yards passing with two TD passes and two interceptions) led two scoring drives in the final twelve minutes of the game. Chicago running back Matt Forte' rushed for 110 yards and scored twice on the ground while QB Jay Cutler threw for two scores in the loss.
Saints QB Drew Brees
The New Orleans Saints (11-5) also punched their playoff ticket with a 42-17 blowout victory against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers as QB Drew Brees, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week (381 pass yards) had four TD passes and also ran for another score. The win by the Saints eliminated the Arizona Cardinals from wild card playoff contention.
The Cardinals lost their game anyway, 23-20 to the visiting San Francisco 49ers (12-4), who were already in the NFC playoffs.
Arizona (10-6) rallied back from 17-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter when QB Carson Palmer threw a 34-yard TD pass to WR Andre Roberts with 3:20 remaining. From there, the teams exchanged field goals with 49ers' kicker Phil Dawson nailing the game winning 40-yard field goal as time expired.
The Carolina Panthers (12-4) won the NFC South division title with a 21-20 road win against the Atlanta Falcons as QB Cam Newton hit tight end Greg Olsen for a seven-yard scoring pass in the fourth quarter to make the difference.
The Philadelphia Eagles (10-6) outlasted the host Dallas Cowboys, 24-22 on Sunday Night Football to clinch the NFC East division and gain the final playoff spot. Dallas finished 8-8 and lost out on a playoff spot in the final game for the third straight season.
Eagles QB Nick Foles had two touchdown passes and 263 passing yards while running back LeSean McCoy won the NFL regular season rushing crown as he ran for 131 yards in the win. Dallas QB Kyle Orton, filling in for injured starter Tony Romo, passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions, including one picked off by Brandon Boykin, which sealed the win for the Eagles.
In the AFC, the only question was which one of four teams would get the final playoff spot?
It all came down to a 41-yard field goal attempt by Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop to determine whether the Pittsburgh Steelers or San Diego Chargers would get the sixth spot.
Chargers' QB Philip Rivers celebrates after win got his team into the NFL Playoffs.
Succop missed the kick and as a result, the San Diego Chargers (9-7) defeated the visiting Chiefs, 27-24 in overtime as Nick Novak made a 36-yard field goal and then the San Diego defense stopped Kansas City (11-5) on downs to win the game and get the final wild card playoff spot.
San Diego needed to win and have the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins lose their games, which did happen and propelled the 'Bolts to the playoffs and knocked the Ravens, Steelers and Dolphins out.
Chargers' QB Philip Rivers had three touchdown passes and running back Ryan Mathews rushed for 144 yards to overcome a Chiefs team that was playing basically the entire second unit as the starters
were rested because KC had already locked up the number-five spot in the AFC playoffs.
Pittsburgh (8-8) did their part earlier in the day, winning at home, 20-7 against the Cleveland Browns, who fired Head Coach Rob Chudzinski following the game. Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger threw a TD pass and Le'Veon Bell (90 yards rushing) scored a rushing touchdown to lead the way.
The New York Jets (8-8) stunned the host Miami Dolphins (8-8) and kept them from making the playoffs with a 20-7 victory led by a defense that intercepted Miami QB Ryan Tannehill three times.
The Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) secured the number-three AFC playoff seed with a 34-17 thrashing of the visiting Baltimore Ravens (8-8) that eliminated the defending Super Bowl champions.
Bengals' QB Andy Dalton overcame four interceptions by running for a score and passing for two touchdowns in the win. The Bengals defense intercepted Baltimore QB Joe Flacco three times (including a pick six INT) and limited the Ravens to just 222 yards in total offense.
The New England Patriots (12-4) rolled past the visiting Buffalo Bills, 34-20 behind running back LaGarrette Blount, who had two scoring runs while going for 189 yards on the ground. The Patriots totaled 267 yards rushing for the game, which was played in a driving rain storm.
Denver smashed the host Oakland Raiders, 34-14 as QB Peyton Manning added to the records he has broken this season with four more TD passes (55 for the season) and also broke the NFL record for most passing yardage in a single season by passing for 266 yards in the first half to break the previous record (5,476 yards) held by Saints' QB Drew Brees by just one yard (5,477 yards). The Broncos (13-3) have the home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

                                               Elsewhere around the NFL  . . . . . . 

The Seattle Seahawks (13-3) locked up home field advantage in the NFC playoffs with a 27-9 beatdown of the visiting St. Louis Rams as their defense held the Rams to just 13 rushing yards and 158 total yards of offense for the game . . .  The New York Giants (7-9)  finished a dismal season with a 20-6 home win against the Washington Redskins (3-13), which finished the season with eight straight losses . . .  The Tennessee Titans (7-9) handed the visiting Houston Texans (2-14) their 14th consecutive loss, winning 16-10 behind Chris Johnson, who scored a TD and gained 127 yards rushing in the win . . .  The Indianapolis Colts (11-5) prepared for the playoffs by whipping the visiting Jacksonville Jaguars, 30-10 . . .  The Minnesota Vikings beat the Detroit Lions, 14-13 in a game that saw both teams' Head Coaches (Jim Schwartz - Detroit and Leslie Frazier - Minnesota) fired following the season finale . . .    Other Head Coaches fired following Week 17 - Mike Shanahan - Washington . . . Greg Schiano - Tampa Bay . . . and Houston's Gary Kubiak, who was actually fired earlier this month.



Saturday, December 28, 2013

NFL Football - Week Seventeen Preview

For several teams around the NFL, it all comes down to the final game of the season as far as playoff
hopes are concerned.
The AFC has four teams (Miami, Baltimore, San Diego and Pittsburgh) vying for the sixth and final playoff position while the NFC is even more jumbled as the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals fight for a spot along with either Green Bay, Chicago, Dallas and Philadelphia as six teams go at it for the final three playoff spots.
There are just three of the 16 scheduled games on Sunday that have no impact at all on the playoff picture, so this week is crucial for those teams looking to play on in January.
The following offers a look at the biggest games along with the Heftyinfo picks for the final week of the regular season.

Carolina Panthers (11-4) at Atlanta Falcons (4-11) - The Panthers are looking to clinch a first round playoff bye week, but the Falcons would love to spoil that.

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) - The Bengals have a shot at getting a first round bye with a win and some help while the Ravens are in the same position to get the sixth and final playoff spot.

Houston Texans (2-13) at Tennessee Titans (6-9) - Remember the Titans? They, along with the Texans, would rather forget this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars (4-11) at Indianapolis Colts (10-5) - The Colts appear to be locked in for the third or fourth playoff seed in the AFC, but with some breaks, could get a bye week.

Cleveland Browns (4-11) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8) - Someway, somehow, the Steelers are still in playoff contention. Once upon a time, the Browns were 3-2 this season. Take the Steelers!

New York Jets (7-8) at Miami Dolphins (8-7) - Can the Jets spoil the Dolphins' post-season hopes? Not likely.

Detroit Lions (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (4-11-1) - This should be the final game for Lions Head Coach Jim Schwartz after another monumental collapse this season.

Buffalo Bills (6-9) at New England Patriots (11-4) - The Patriots are gearing up for the playoffs and should roll in the season finale.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-11) at New Orleans Saints (10-5) - The Saints are undefeated at home this season and with a win on Sunday, will make the playoffs. Saints roll!

Washington Redskins (3-12) at New York Giants (6-9) - Two of this year's biggest disappointments finish up the season.

San Francisco 49ers (11-4) at Arizona Cardinals (10-5) - Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians should be a lock for his second consecutive NFL Coach of the Year Award. Just getting to where they are now has been a huge accomplishment for the Cards... The 49ers are playoff bound.

Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7) - The Chargers need a win at home and some help to reach the playoffs for the first time in four years. The Chiefs may rest their starters as they are locked in at the number-five spot for the AFC playoffs.

St. Louis Rams (7-8) at Seattle Seahawks (12-3) - The Seahawks should win this game and secure home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Denver Broncos (12-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-11) - Broncos' QB Peyton Manning adds to his already record setting season in this game as the Broncos roll and clinch home field for the AFC playoffs.

Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) at Chicago Bears (8-7) - This game should light up the scoreboard and may very well come down to the final possession of the game. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns for the Packers and that gives them the edge here.

Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) at Dallas Cowboys (8-7) - Hard to believe the Cowboys will win this one without QB Tony Romo. The Eagles are looking like they are peaking at just the right time of the year.

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Seventeen     . . . . .    (Home teams are listed in BOLD; The Lock of the Week pick is listed in BOLD CAPS.)

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

Last Week's Record:  12-4

SEASON RECORD:  154-85-1

Lock of the Week Record:  14-2

Monday, December 23, 2013

NFL Football - Week Sixteen Review

Eight teams have punched tickets to the NFL Playoffs so far and with just one game remaining in the regular season, it will be interesting to see what happens for the teams still remaining in the mix.
As for this past week's games, the New England Patriots (11-4) destroyed the host Baltimore Ravens, 41-7 as they scored 21 points in the final two minutes to cement the blow out victory that clinched the AFC East division title.
Patriots' running back LaGarrette Blount scored two rushing touchdowns and the defense registered two scores as well. Baltimore (8-7) blew a golden opportunity as Miami (8-7) lost earlier in the day at Buffalo.
The Bills (6-9) shutout the Dolphins, 19-0 as the defense dominated, limiting Miami to only 103 yards in total offense, including just 14 yards rushing.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Diego Chargers kept pace for a possible playoff berth in the AFC by winning their games.
The Steelers (7-8) survived with a 38-31 win over the host Green Bay Packers (7-7-1) as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score while the defense scored a touchdown and came up with two turnovers in the win. The Packers blew a late chance to tie the game as they were thwarted near the goal line on an incomplete pass as time expired.
The host San Diego Chargers (8-7) beat the Oakland Raiders, 26-13 as kicker Nick Novak made four field goals and running back Ryan Mathews ran for a touchdown while QB Philip Rivers threw for another score to pace the win, which kept alive playoff hopes for the Chargers.
Back in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers knocked off the visiting New Orleans Saints, 17-13 as QB Cam Newton threw a 14-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Domenik Hixon with 23 seconds left in the game to push the Panthers (11-4) into first place in the NFC South. Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly had 24 tackles in the win, earning him Heftyinfo NFL co-Player of the Week.
The Saints (10-5) lost their second straight game and now must win next week to make the playoffs.
The Dallas Cowboys (8-7) pulled off a last second win at Washington, 24-23 as QB Tony Romo threw a 10-yard TD pass to RB DeMarco Murray to make the difference and keep alive the Dallas playoff hopes.
On Sunday night, the Philadelphia Eagles (9-6) crushed the visiting Chicago Bears, 54-11 as they racked up 514 yards in total offense, including a whopping 289 yards on the ground.
League leading rusher LeSean McCoy scored twice while gaining 133 yards on just 18 carries and QB Nick Foles threw two TD passes while the Eagles' defense sacked Chicago QB Jay Cutler five times and returned an interception for a score.  The Bears (8-7) blew the chance to wrap up the NFC North title and will face the Green Bay Packers next Sunday in Chicago to determine the division winner.
The Arizona Cardinals (10-5) kept alive their own playoff chances with a surprising 17-10 road win against the Seattle Seahawks as QB Carson Palmer connected with WR Michael Floyd for a 31-yard scoring pass with just over two minutes left to play to get the win.
The Cardinals' defense limited the 'Hawks to just 89 passing yards in the game and 192 total yards for the game. Seattle (12-3) lost at home for the first time in nearly two years but has already clinched a payoff spot.
The Detroit Lions, once upon a time with a 6-3 record and in control of the NFC North, lost at home, 23-20 in overtime to the New York Giants. The loss eliminates the Lions (7-8) from the playoff race. The key point of the game was an interception thrown by Lions' QB Matthew Stafford that resulted in a touchdown return for score by New York safety Will Hill that tied the score at 20-20 with 4:57 remaining in regulation.

Peyton Manning sets a new standard.
The Denver Broncos (12-3) clinched the AFC West division title with a 37-13 road win over the Houston Texans as quarterback Peyton Manning, the Heftyinfo NFL co-Player of the Week, had four touchdown passes in the rout, giving him 51 TD passes for the 2013 season, which is a new NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single season.


                                         Elsewhere Around the National Football League . . . . .

The Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) clinched the AFC North and also kept alive hope for a first round playoff bye with a 42-14 home win against Minnesota as QB Andy Dalton had 366 passing yards to go with four touchdown passes . . .  The Indianapolis Colts (10-5) got a 23-7 road win at Kansas City (11-4) as RB Donald Brown ran for a score and also caught a TD pass from QB Andrew Luck in a likely first round AFC playoffs match up in two weeks . . .  The New York Jets (7-8) beat the visiting Cleveland Browns, 24-13 as QB Geno Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score . . .  Tennessee (6-9) won at Jacksonville, 20-16 as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a 30-yard TD pass to WR Nate Washington in the fourth quarter to make the difference in the game . . .   The St. Louis Rams (7-8) won at home 23-13 against Tampa Bay behind stellar defense that limited the Bucs to only 170 yards in total offense . . .  The San Francisco 49ers (11-4) clinched a playoff spot in the NFC with a 34-24 home win over Atlanta on Monday Night Football as Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore scored rushing touchdowns and linebacker NaVorro Bowman returned an interception 90 yards for the clinching score in the final regular season football game played at Candlestick Park.

Friday, December 20, 2013

NFL Football - Week Sixteen Preview

With some computer technical issues recently here at Heftyinfo, this week's NFL Football Preview will be brief with capsule previews and the picks for the games.

Miami at Buffalo - The Dolphins have been on a roll ... can they keep it going?

Minnesota at Cincinnati - The Bengals get some "home cooking" this week.

Indianapolis at Kansas City - This game might be a playoff preview ... take the Chiefs.

Tampa Bay at St. Louis - The Rams are a different team at home.

Cleveland at NY Jets - Will this be the last time Rex Ryan coaches the Jets at the Meadowlands?

Dallas at Washington - The Cowboys MUST WIN this game or else.

New Orleans at Carolina - The battle for first place in the NFC South... take the Panthers because the Saints struggle on the road.

Tennessee at Jacksonville - If the Jaguars win this game, they are in second place after starting 0-8.

Denver at Houston -  Broncos win this game and Peyton Manning could break TD pass record in this one.

Arizona at Seattle - The Seahawks will not let the amazing Cardinals win this one.

NY Giants at Detroit - The Lions can't lose to the hapless Giants, can they?

Pittsburgh at Green Bay - The Packers are still alive in the NFC North.

Oakland at San Diego - The Chargers should win this game, but will likely be eliminated from the playoff race this week.

New England at Baltimore - The Ravens refuse to give up and want a chance to defend the Super Bowl crown.

Chicago at Philadelphia - The Sunday night "prime time" game should be a good one. Take the Eagles.

Atlanta at San Francisco - Why bother? 49ers roll!

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

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

Last Week's Record:  8-8


Lock of the Week Record: 13-2

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Who Really Cares?

People... it's Duck Dynasty... Who cares?

There are far more important issues to get into rather than some ZZ Top looking wannabe expressing his idiocy on people choosing to live the way they want in the "Land of Freedom" we call the United States of America.

Get a grip!

Monday, December 16, 2013

NFL Football - Week Fifteen Review

There were several key games played this weekend around the NFL with playoff implications, with some surprises along the way. The following offers a look at the bigger games, including three disappointing losses for the top teams in the AFC.

San  Diego 27, Denver 20 - The Chargers (7-7) shocked the host Broncos on Thursday night behind solid defense and a balanced, ball control offense that allowed them to hold the ball for nearly 39 minutes as quarterback Philip Rivers threw a pair of scoring passes to wide receiver Keenan Allen. Chargers' running back Ryan Mathews gained 127 yards on the ground and also scored a TD to lead the way.
The Chargers defense limited Denver (11-3) to their lowest point total for the season and also their lowest yardage total (295, including just 18 rushing yards) in a single game this year.

Miami 24, New England 20 - The Dolphins (8-6) held on for the home victory as the defense intercepted Tom Brady's pass attempt on fourth down in the end zone. The Patriots (10-4) held a 20-17 lead following Brady's second TD pass of the game with four minutes left.
Miami QB Ryan Tannehill (312 pass yards) came through in the clutch with his third TD pass of the game with a 14-yard strike to Marcus Thigpen to make the difference.

Pittsburgh 30, Cincinnati 20 - The host Steelers dominated this game with big plays on special teams (blocked punt to set up TD and a punt return TD) and a defense that limited the Bengals to just 57 yards rushing in the win.
The Bengals (9-5) blew a big chance to move up to the second spot in the AFC playoff race with the loss as QB Andy Dalton had two touchdown passes in the loss.

Chicago 38, Cleveland 31 - The Bears (8-6) marked the return of QB Jay Cutler as a starter back from injuries with the road win that put them back into first place in the NFC North.
Cutler overcame two interceptions (including a pick six) with three TD passes and RB Matt Forte' ran for 127 yards to pace the offense and Zach Bowman had two interceptions on defense, including one for a touchdown.

Green Bay 37, Dallas 36 - The Packers overcame a 26-3 halftime deficit as QB Matt Flynn threw four TD passes in the big win that kept them in the NFC North race at 7-6-1. Dallas slipped to 7-7 and remains in second place in the NFC East, one game behind Philadelphia.
Packers' RB Eddie Lacy (141 yards) scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard run with 1:31 remaining in the game. That play was set up when Cowboys' QB Tony Romo (two TD passes and two INT) was picked off at midfield.
Jamaal Charles scored five TD in rout of Oakland.

Kansas City 56, Oakland 31 - Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week, scored FIVE touchdowns (four receiving and one rushing) to go with his eight receptions for 195 yards in the rout of the host Oakland Raiders.
Kansas City improved to 11-3 and tied Denver in the AFC West division while also clinching a playoff spot with the big win.

Minnesota 48, Philadelphia 30 - This may have been the shocker of the day Sunday afternoon when the host Vikings (4-9-1), playing without running backs Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart, rode the legs of Matt Asiata for three running scores to go with two TD passes and a rushing score from QB Matt Cassel, who threw for 382 yards. The Eagles (8-6) had a five game win streak snapped despite 428 yards passing from QB Nick Foles.

Baltimore 18, Detroit 16 - The Ravens (8-6) survived the road game on Monday Night Football thanks to six field goals, including the go ahead 61-yard field goal with 38 seconds remaining in the game, by kicker Justin Tucker. The Lions (7-7) fell out of first place in the NFC North division with their fourth loss in five games.

                                                          Elsewhere Around the NFL .  .  .  .  .  .  .

The Seattle Seahawks (12-2) rolled to a 23-0 shutout win at New York as their defense limited  the Giants to only 156 yards in total offense, including a paltry 25 yards rushing for the game . . .  The San Francisco 49ers (10-4) won a big game over Tampa Bay, 33-14 on the road to keep pace in the NFC West as the defense stifled the Bucs, limiting them to 183 total yards . . .  Carolina (10-4) rolled at home over the New York Jets, 30-20 behind balanced offense and a defensive score . . .  The St. Louis Rams ambushed Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, 27-16 as RB Zac Stacy ran for 133 yards and a TD in the win. The Saints (10-4) dropped back into a tie for first place in the NFC South with Carolina . . .  Arizona (9-5) won 37-34 in OT on the road at Tennessee after blowing a 17-point lead late in the fourth quarter on a 41-yard FG by Jay Feely. Cardinals' RB Rashard Mendenhall scored two rushing touchdowns in the win . . .  The Indianapolis Colts (9-5) romped to a 25-3 home win over the hapless Houston Texans (2-12), who lost for the 12th consecutive game as Colts' QB Andrew Luck threw two TD passes . . .  Buffalo (5-9) won on the road in Jacksonville, 27-20 as QB E.J. Manuel passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in the win . . .  The Atlanta Falcons (4-10) held off the visiting Washington Redskins, 27-26 by stifling the potential go-ahead two-point conversion attempt in the closing seconds. Washington QB Kirk Cousins (383 pass yards) had three TD passes in the loss. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

NFL Football - Week Fifteen Preview

Week Fifteen kicks off with the final Thursday Night Football game on NFL Network for the 2013 season with the San Diego Chargers (6-7) taking on the Denver Broncos (11-2) in the Mile High City.
The Broncos are led by quarterback Peyton Manning, who has the inside track for the league's Most Valuable Player Award this season, throwing 45 touchdown passes with three games to go. If Manning connects for six more scoring passes, he will break Tom Brady's record of 50 set during the 2007 season.
San Diego QB Philip Rivers has had a good year as well, completing a league leading 70 percent of his pass attempts while throwing for 26 touchdowns and only nine interceptions. However, the Chargers have lacked the things necessary in crunch time to win consistently and thus their 6-7 record. They have lost by eight points or less in six of their seven defeats this season.
Meanwhile, this Sunday afternoon in Cleveland, the Chicago Bears (7-6) will have Jay Cutler back at quarterback after missing all or part of the past five games after sustaining an ankle injury against Detroit in early November.
While Cutler has been out, backup QB Josh McCown has done a very good job, amassing eleven TD passes with just one interception for an impressive 109.8 QB rating. So, are the Bears better off with McCown or Cutler starting this week against a formidable Browns' defense that ranks in the top ten in the league?
The New England Patriots, minus All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski (torn ACL and MCL) will travel to face the red hot Miami Dolphins, winners of two straight road games and right there with the Baltimore Ravens for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot with their 7-6 record.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a real good chance to clinch the AFC North division title this week when they face the Pittsburgh Steelers (on the road) on Sunday night while the second-place Baltimore Ravens (7-6) travel to play the Detroit Lions on Monday Night  Football.
A Bengals win, combined with a Baltimore loss, clinches the division for Cincy, which would be their first division title since the 2009 season.
Heftyinfo went 13-3 last week with the picks and is looking to stay hot down the stretch of the 2013 NFL season. The following capsule style previews are below along with the predictions for Week Fifteen.

San Diego (6-7) at Denver (11-2) - The Chargers are certainly capable of pulling off the upset win on the road, but they won't because there is too much at stake for the Broncos in this game.

Washington (3-10) at Atlanta (3-10) - A battle between two of the bigger disappointments in the NFL this year.

Chicago (7-6) at Cleveland (4-9) - The Browns play defense, so Bears' QB Jay Cutler better be ready to go in his return from injuries.

Arizona (8-5) at Tennessee (5-8) - Surprise, surprise! The Titans win this one.

Houston (2-11) at Indianapolis (8-5) - The Colts should dominate this game.

New Orleans (10-3) at St. Louis (5-8) - Drew Brees and company made a statement at home last week vs. Carolina... now can they do it again on the road?

New England (10-3) at Miami (7-6) - Tom Brady and the Patriots once again will find a way to win this week.

Philadelphia (8-5) at Minnesota (3-9-1) - The Eagles control their own destiny and they aren't about to let the Vikings ruin that.

Seattle (11-2) at NY Giants (5-8) - The Giants have nothing to lose and that makes them dangerous... just not as dangerous as the mighty Seahawks.

Buffalo (4-9) at Jacksonville (4-9) - Jags playing much better football over the past month or so.

San Francisco (9-4) at Tampa Bay (3-10) - The 49ers have to keep their momentum going.

NY Jets (6-7) at Carolina (9-4) - The Panthers will win this one in a big way and eliminate the Jets from playoff contention.

Kansas City (10-3) at Oakland (4-9) - The Raiders would love to play spoiler the rest of the way this season.

Green Bay (6-6-1) at Dallas (7-6) - The loser of this one is OUT of the playoff hunt in the NFC.

Cincinnati (9-4) at Pittsburgh (5-8) - The Bengals should win, but the Steelers are tough at home and Big Ben Roethlisberger is having a decent season. Beware!

Baltimore (7-6) at Detroit (7-6) - The loser of this one could be in BIG trouble as far as playoff hopes are concerned.

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

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

Last Week's Record:  13-3

SEASON RECORD:  134-73-1

Lock of the Week Record:  12-2

Monday, December 9, 2013

NFL Football - Week Fourteen Review

The big Sunday Night Football showdown was no contest as the New Orleans Saints crushed the visiting Carolina Panthers, 31-13 behind a big game from quarterback Drew Brees, who had four touchdown passes while throwing for 313 yards.
The win gave the Saints (10-3) sole possession of first place in the NFC South with three games left in the regular season. Carolina dropped to 9-4 as their eight game winning streak was snapped.
The wintry weather played a big part in many of Sunday's NFL games.
There was a winter wonderland around the rest of the league in several games that saw wild finishes in three games in particular.
The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) survived at home against the Minnesota Vikings, 29-26 as the two teams combined to score FIVE TOUCHDOWNS in the final two minutes of the game, which had six lead changes in the final quarter.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco hit wide receiver Marlon Brown with a 9-yard scoring pass with four seconds left to go to win the game.
The Miami Dolphins somehow managed to hold off the host Pittsburgh Steelers, 34-28 as Steelers' WR Antonio Brown stepped on the sidelines while heading for a winning touchdown as time ran out after taking the last of several laterals on the game's final play.
Dolphins' QB Ryan Tannehill had three TD passes to offset Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger's three touchdown passes in the win, which improved Miami to 7-6 and right there with Baltimore for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot. The Steelers dropped to 5-8 and are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Another exciting finish took place in New England where the Patriots (thanks to a questionable pass interference call in the end zone against a Cleveland defender) were able to knock off the feisty Browns, 27-26 as QB Tom Brady threw a one-yard TD pass to WR Danny Amendola with 31 seconds left in regulation. That score followed a TD pass from Brady to WR Julian Edelman and a successful onside kickoff as the Patriots (10-3) rallied from 12 points down in the final minute of play to win.
The Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) beat back the Indianapolis Colts, 42-28 behind three TD passes from QB Andy Dalton, who also ran for a score. Colts' QB Andrew Luck threw four TD passes in the loss, but the Colts (8-5) still clinched the AFC South division title as Tennessee lost their game later in the day.

The strangest game of the day had to be in Philadelphia where a blizzard wreaked havoc on the teams through the first half until Eagles' running back LeSean McCoy (pictured right), the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week, took over and scored two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter while going for a team record 217 yards on the ground in a 34-20 win against Detroit.
Lions' return man Jeremy Ross scored touchdowns on both a punt and kickoff return in the defeat. In addition, the Lions (7-6) fumbled the football SEVEN times in the snow and cold as they were outgained 478-228 by the Eagles, who improved to 8-5 with the win.
The San Francisco 49ers (9-4) won a defensive game in thrilling fashion, 19-17 against the visiting Seattle Seahawks (11-2) as kicker Phil Dawson made a 22-yard field goal with just 26 seconds remaining to provide the difference. 49ers' RB Frank Gore (110 yards rushing in the game) set up the winning kick with a 51-yard run.
The Kansas City Chiefs (10-3) snapped a three-game losing streak by destroying the Washington Redskins, 45-10 on the road. Running back Jamaal Charles scored twice and had 151 rushing yards and the KC special teams scored on a punt return and kickoff return as well.

The Denver Broncos (11-2) continued to roll along with a 51-28 thumping of the visiting Tennessee Titans, who slipped to 5-8 with their fourth loss in the last five games.
Denver kicker Matt Prater made NFL history with 64-yard field goal.
Denver QB Peyton Manning had four more TD passes (giving him 45 for the season) as the Broncos gained 551 yards in the game. Broncos kicker Matt Prater made NFL history with a record breaking 64-yard field goal at the end of the first half.

The San Diego Chargers (6-7) kept slim playoff hopes alive and eliminated the visiting New York Giants (5-8) from contention with a 37-14 home win as QB Philip Rivers had three scoring passes and Chargers' RB Ryan Mathews scored a rushing TD and gained 103 yards for the game.
The Arizona Cardinals rolled past the St. Louis Rams in the desert, 30-10 to improve to 8-5 and stay alive for the wild card playoff spot in the NFC as four different players scored, including linebacker Karlos Dansby, on a 23-yard interception return.
Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby made three field goals and QB Matt Flynn hooked up with tight end Andrew Quarless for a two-yard scoring pass to lift the host Packers (6-6-1) to a snowy 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
New York Jets' rookie QB Geno Smith passed for a touchdown and ran for another in a wild 37-27 home win over the Oakland Raiders. The Jets (6-7) are still in the hunt for the sixth and final AFC playoff spot while the Raiders (4-9) were eliminated from the post-season.
Tampa Bay (4-9) won for the fourth time in five games with a 27-6 win over the visiting Buffalo Bills. Buccaneers' QB Mike Glennon threw two TD passes and RB Bobby Rainey scored on an 80-yard run on the first play from scrimmage.
The Jacksonville Jaguars sent the visiting Houston Texans (2-11) to their 11th straight loss last Thursday night by a 27-20 score behind a pair of touchdown passes from QB Chad Henne and 103 yards rushing from RB Maurice Jones-Drew. It was the fourth win in five games for the Jags (4-9). Meanwhile, the Texans fired Gary Kubiak, who had been the team's Head Coach since 2006, following the game.
The Monday Night Football game was held in frigid Chicago, where temperatures at kickoff time were hovering around zero degrees, but the Chicago Bears offense was red hot in a 45-28 dismantling of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Bears (7-6) never punted the ball in the game while amassing 491 yards in offense as QB Josh McCown threw four TD passes and ran for another score. The Cowboys (7-6) were able to run the football for 198 yards in the game (146 yards for DeMarco Murray), but were limited to only 130 yards passing despite three touchdown passes by QB Tony Romo in the loss.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

College Football Top Ten

Heftyinfo College Football Top Ten                            (Week ending December 7)

1. Florida State (13-0)
2. Auburn (12-1)
3. Alabama (11-1)
4. Michigan State (12-1)
5. Stanford (11-2)
6. Ohio State (12-1)
7. Baylor (11-1)
8. Oklahoma State (10-2)
9. Missouri (11-2)
10. South Carolina (10-2)

Friday, December 6, 2013

NFL Football - Week Fourteen Preview

The Sunday Night Football showdown between the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints (both are
9-3 and tied for first place in the NFC South) headlines this weekend's action around the NFL.
The Saints were destroyed last Monday night in Seattle while the Carolina Panthers won their eighth consecutive game to catch the Saints. The game will be in the Super Dome, where the Saints are very tough to beat, especially when quarterback Drew Brees is flinging the ball all over the field.
Carolina's defense is among the best in pro football and has been a big reason for the resurgence of the Panthers in the division race. Plus QB Cam Newton is playing to the team concept this season and it has paid dividends for the team.
The winner of this game will have the inside track for the division crown, but these two teams will go at each other again in two weeks in Carolina, so there is no comfort level no matter the outcome on Sunday night in the Big Easy.
There are some other key matches going on elsewhere, including the Cincinnati Bengals hosting the Indianapolis Colts (both at 8-4) in a AFC battle that could very well decide the number-three seed in that conference come playoff time.
Likewise in the NFC where the Detroit Lions travel to Philadelphia to face a surging Eagles team that is deadlocked with the Dallas Cowboys atop the NFC East division. The Lions (7-5) lead the NFC North by one game over the Chicago Bears, who will be facing the Cowboys (7-5) on Monday Night Football in the Windy City.
And out in the NFC West, the Seattle Seahawks (11-1) will travel down the coast to face the San Francisco 49ers (8-4) in a division battle that could see the 'Hawks lock up the crown with a win.
All in all, it should be another exciting week in the NFL, so here goes another preview and predictions for the games as the schedule dwindles down to the final four games of the season.

Indianapolis (8-4) at Cincinnati (8-4) - The Bengals are tough at home and the Colts have been struggling on the road in recent weeks.

Buffalo (4-8) at Tampa Bay (3-9) - The loser of this game moves up the ladder in the position for the NFL draft.

Kansas City (9-3) at Washington (3-9) - The Chiefs are looking to snap a three game skid. The Redskins are done this year.

Minnesota (3-8-1) at Baltimore (6-6) - The Ravens NEED this one and cannot let the Vikings steal one on the road.

Cleveland (4-8) at New England (9-3) - Tom  Brady facing one of the league's better defenses at home should make for a good game, but the Patriots have no excuses not to win this one.

Atlanta (3-9) at Green Bay (5-6-1) - This game got bumped from "prime time," so that tells you something about what's going on with these teams.

Oakland (4-8) at NY Jets (5-7) - This ain't the "Heidi Bowl" going on here. Two teams going nowhere as the season winds down.

Detroit (7-5) at Philadelphia (7-5) - Two of the league's better quarterbacks go at it in a huge NFC game that could determine playoff positioning.

Miami (6-6) at Pittsburgh (5-7) - The loser of this one can kiss the post-season goodbye.

Tennessee (5-7) at Denver (10-2) - It's supposed to be bad weather in Denver so does that mean a bad game for Peyton Manning? Nope ... take the Broncos.

NY Giants (5-7) at San Diego (5-7) - Fact- Giants QB Eli Manning  has never beaten the Chargers in his pro career. Meanwhile, 'Bolts QB Philip Rivers is having a solid season.

St. Louis (5-7) at Arizona (7-5) - The Rams would love to play spoiler for any chances the Cardinals may have for a "wild card" playoff spot.

Seattle (11-1) at San Francisco (8-4) - The 49ers will not let the Seahawks have their way like earlier this season. Should be a close game that goes down to the wire.

Carolina (9-3) at New Orleans (9-3) - The Saints are a different team at home and the Panthers are due for a loss.

Dallas (7-5) at Chicago (6-6) - It's Mike Ditka night in Soldier Field where the Bears will be retiring his uniform number and honoring "Da Coach" ... Do the Cowboys stand a chance? Da' Bears!

The Heftyinfo picks for Week Fourteen    . . . . .        (Home teams are listed in BOLD; Lock of the Week pick is listed in BOLD CAPS)

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

Last Week's Record:  11-5

SEASON RECORD:  121-70-1

Lock of the Week Record:  11-2

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Mandela Dies At Age 95

                                      R.I.P Nelson Mandela

Monday, December 2, 2013

NFL Football - Week Thirteen Review

There was a lot of action around the National Football League this weekend, including three Thanksgiving Day games to get it started.
The Denver Broncos, led by five touchdown passes from quarterback Peyton Manning, survived on the road against Kansas City, 35-28 as they overcame a 14-point first half deficit.
Broncos WR Eric Decker had four TD catches in big win.
Broncos' wide receiver Eric Decker, the Heftyinfo NFL Player of the Week, had four touchdown catches to go with eight catches overall for 174 yards in the win, which improved the Broncos to 10-2. Chiefs QB Alex Smith passed for 293 yards and two scores in the loss.
The red hot Carolina Panthers (9-3) won for the eight consecutive game, beating the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 27-6 as the defense limited the Bucs (3-9) to just 206 total yardage in offense while QB Cam Newton threw for a pair of touchdowns.
The Philadelphia Eagles (7-5) kept pace with the Dallas Cowboys by winning at home against Arizona, 24-21 as QB Nick Foles had three TD passes and the Philly defense forced three turnovers. The Cardinals (7-5) mounted a comeback behind three scoring passes from QB Carson Palmer before falling short.
The New England Patriots (9-3) won in comeback fashion for the second straight week as they beat the Houston Texans, 34-31 on the road, sending the Texans to their 10th straight loss. New England QB Tom Brady passed for 371 yards and two scores in the win.
San Francisco (8-4) beat down the visiting St. Louis Rams, 23-13 behind solid defense and efficient offense, which included 275 passing yards by Colin Kaepernick.
The Indianapolis Colts (8-4) won a big showdown game in the AFC South, 22-14 over the visiting Tennessee Titans (5-7) as Titans' QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off three times. Colts' kicker Adam Vinatieri made five field goals to help provide the difference in the game.
The Thanksgiving Day games saw the Detroit Lions (7-5) roll past the Green Bay Packers, 40-10 as Lions' QB Matthew Stafford had three TD passes and Reggie Bush ran for 117 yards and a rushing touchdown to go with 65 receiving yards.
The Lions outgained the Packers (5-6-1) in total offense by a count of 561-126, including outgaining the Packers 241-24 in rushing yardage.
The Dallas Cowboys (7-5) overcame early mistakes and a 21-7 deficit to defeat the Oakland Raiders, 31-24 behind three rushing scores by running back DeMarco Murray and 225 passing yards and one scoring pass from QB Tony Romo.
The night cap on turkey day saw the Baltimore Ravens (6-6) hold off the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, 22-20 as the defense stiffened on a potential game-tying two-point conversion play in the final minute.
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker kicked five field goals to help make the difference and spoil the comeback attempt by Steelers' QB Ben Roethlisberger, who threw for 257 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

                                       Elsewhere Around The National Football League . . . . . 

Two huge receiving days were spoiled with losses as the Chicago Bears blew a ten-point lead in the final quarter, losing at Minnesota, 23-20 in OT. Bears WR  Alshon Jeffery had 249 yards on 12 catches and two TD in the loss, which included a missed 47-yard FG on SECOND DOWN in the OT session. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson (211 yards) took over, going for 51 yards in OT and then Vikings kicker Blair Walsh made good on his 34-yard FG to win it moments later . . .  The Cleveland Browns lost a tough one late to Jacksonville, 32-28 as Jags' QB Chad Henne hit Cecil Shorts III for the game winning pass with only 40 seconds remaining. Browns WR Josh Gordon (10 catches for 261 yards and two TD) became the only player in NFL history to record two consecutive games with 200-plus yards receiving . . .  The New York Giants (5-7) won at Washington, 24-17 on the Sunday Night Football game behind two running scores by Andre Brown . . .  The Cincinnati Bengals (8-4) maintained a two-game lead in the AFC North with a 17-10 road win against the San Diego Chargers (5-7) as QB Andy Dalton hooked up with WR A.J. Green on a 21-yard scoring pass in the third quarter to break the 7-7 deadlock . . .  The Miami Dolphins (6-6) smashed the host New York Jets, 23-3 to stay even with Baltimore for the final wild card playoff spot in the AFC as QB Ryan Tannehill had two scoring passes and the Miami defense limited the Jets (5-7) to only ten first downs and 177 yards of total offense, including a meager 78 passing yards  . . .  The Atlanta Falcons (3-9) finally got a win as kicker Matt Bryant drilled a 36-yard FG in OT to beat Buffalo, 34-31. Falcons' RB Steven Jackson rushed for two touchdowns while Bills' RB C.J. Spiller scored one rushing TD and had 149 yards on 15 carries in the loss . . .  The Seattle Seahawks (11-1) blasted the visiting New Orleans Saints, 34-7 on Monday Night Football as the defense dominated, holding the powerful Saints offense to only 12 first downs and 188 total yards in offense. Seattle QB Russell Wilson passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns in the win.