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NFL Early Season Outlook: Pretenders and Contenders

Today we will play the game, Contender and Pretender. I will present a list of teams that I think are true contenders and teams that are pretenders. A contender is a team that can make the playoffs this year. A pretender is a team that has a good record but is not as good as their record shows. I will highlight certain teams but not every team, explaining myself further for some of my surprise picks. The teams that have no chance to make the playoffs will not be included in this list.


1. Cleveland Browns

2. Dallas Cowboys

3. Washington Redskins

4. Tennessee Titans

5. Atlanta Falcons

6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I did not put these teams in any particular order from the biggest to smallest pretender but I will explain myself as to why these teams make the list. The Browns may be 2-1 but I am not seeing a real playoff contender. The Browns are still trying to get their backfield situation figured out and are not sure if Monterio Hardesty might be a better option than Peyton Hillis. In addition, I do not see any clear cut lead wide receiver developing on this team. The Browns have a great deal of unanswered questions and do not seem to have an answer in sight. The Cleveland Browns also play in a division with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. Every year The Steelers and Ravens are in playoff contention and compete to win the division. I do not see this current Browns team overtaking either Ravens or the Steelers team anytime soon.

Moving on, the Atlanta Falcons were supposed to be looking at Super Bowl year. The Falcons were presented to the league and fans as a great “ground and pound” team. This year they have left the run game behind and have decided to chuck the ball all around the field. The Atlanta Falcons have one of the best runningbacks in the league in Michael Turner. The Falcons should be using Turner to dictate the flow of the game, instead Turner has become an afterthought. If the Atlanta Falcons do not return to a team that focuses on running the ball, they will be on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

The Dallas Cowboys have a great deal of talent on both sides of the ball but the team is suffering from a ton of injuries. This is the reason why I cannot see Cowboys accomplishing much this year. Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Miles Austin have to remain healthy for the Dallas Cowboys to make the playoffs. All of these players have already spent time on the sideline and have hardly been on the field together. The Cowboys need their star players tobe on the field for this team to make some noise this season and have a chance at a playoff berth.  If Romo, Austin, and Bryant continue to suffer injuries and miss time, the Cowboys chances at making the playoffs are slim.

The Washington Redskins are happy to have found a decent quarterback in Rex Grossman. I am sure all Redskins fans are hoping Grossman can take their team to the playoffs promised land. Unfortunately, I am not sure Grossman can accomplish the goal. I do like what Mike Shannahan is doing with the team though. The Redskins are moving in the right direction with the running game and defensively. I believe the Washington Redskins need at least another year to develop better team chemistry and need to add a true number one receiver before they are true playoff contenders.

Lastly, the Tennessee Titans are playing better than anyone thought they would play this year. Moreover, the Titans are winning their games through an air attack, rather than the ground attack they usually employ. I enjoy watching Matt Hasselbeck command their offense and the Titans defense is playing great through the first three games. However, I still cannot see the Tennessee Titans being a true playoff contender. The Titans just lost their star receiver Kenny Britt and their play-making runningback, Chris Johnson has not lived up to the hype. Johnson has not had a rushing game over 100 yards all season. Chris Johnson has to start being the explosive runner he was in the past years. Johnson has to be the cog that makes the Titans machine run. The Tennessee Titans do not have a real chance of making the playoffs without finding someone to step up and be a playmaker.


1. Baltimore Ravens

2. Pittsburgh Steelers

3. Houston Texans

4. Oakland Raiders

5. San Diego Chargers

6. Buffalo Bills

7. Detroit Lions

8. Green Bay Packers

9. New Orleans Saints

10. San Francisco 49ers

11. Chicago Bears

12. New York Giants

13. New York Jets

14. New England Patriots

Teams like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and the New England Patriots are in the playoffs every year. No real explanation needed here for those teams. The Packers are looking like a defending Super Bowl Champion and are fully healthy this year. Look for them to continue their streak of wins.

The New York Giants and the Chicago Bears are borderline contenders. I say borderline because the New York Giants have been decimated by injuries on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Somehow the Giants are still finding ways to win. If the New York Giants can find a way to win enough games until some key players return from injuries, the team could very well make the playoffs. The Chicago Bears on the other hand are the opposite of the New York Giants. The Bears have not had the injury bug claim the majority of their players this season. The problem with the Chicago Bears is the offensive system they run lends itself to leaving the quarterback open to being sacked. Jay Cutler spends more time tasting the grass on the football field than any other quarterback in the league. I am not sure that Cutler will make it through the NFL season without suffering significant injury. This is the reason that I am not completely confident the Bears can be a force in the playoffs. I do have confidence in the Chicago Bears defense though and that may very well be the reason they will be competitive this year.

The Buffalo Bills I mentioned earlier in the week. The Bills are definitely looking like the real deal and have the resiliency of a good playoff team. I love what the Bills are doing with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson, Scott Chandler, and Fred Jackson. The Bills have gone from a dismal shadow of a team to one of the most exciting shows on turf. The Buffalo Bills just need to be able to maintain their high level of play for a complete season before more start to believe in this team.

The Detroit Lions are also looking better than any other previous Detroit Lions team. I have jumped on the Detroit Lions bandwagon and am whipping the reins. Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson is just a joy to watch. Moreover, the Detroit Lions defense has stepped up its game. The Lions defense is now one of the most feared in football thanks to Ndamukong Suh and company.

The Houston Texans have started out the year on the right foot. The Texans have won 2 out of their first 3 games and they were able to compete relatively well with the New Orleans Saints in their one loss. The Texans are going to be tested over the next few weeks with games against Pittsburgh, Oakland and Baltimore. Depending on how well the Texans do during their upcoming schedule will if they deserve to be among the playoff contenders or if they are truly just pretenders.

Lastly, let’s take a look at the Oakland Raiders. This year I love how the Raiders are playing. In a league filled with pass-happy teams, the Raiders run the ball. The Oakland Raiders run the ball so much, that they even have receivers running the ball. As long as the Raiders play their game, I have confidence they can beat any team they face. We can only watch and wonder how far Darren McFadden can take them.

The season is barely under way, so there is always time for a turnaround of fortune for any team. Any team can start out hot in the first half of the season and then collapse in the second half of the season. A dark horse could emerge at any time to change the playoff picture of many teams. All we can do is watch and hope our favorite team makes the final cut. Only time will tell.


Summer Exercise Tips

Summer is the time of year where people exercise and are generally outside more often. People run, play sports or maybe just take a walk in heat that can be life threatening. We have to realize summer is in full swing and temperatures are rising. Around most of the nation the average temperature is in the 90’s. Moreover, some cities are seeing quite a few 100 degree days this summer. Since I am included in the group that loves to be outside in the heat, I wanted to share some tips about exercising in the heat.

Tip #1 When exercising in extreme heat, take breaks. Our body is built to resist heat in the summer and cold in the winter. However, extreme heat can cause our body to overheat and shut down. Warning signs are feeling dizzy or a headache in the heat. This is how our body tells us to stop, take a break from whatever activity we are doing. We are not superman/superwoman; sometimes our body needs a breather. I would recommend at least carrying a couple of 20 oz bottles of water for every couple hours someone spends outside.  A good rule is after 15 or 20 minutes of being out of extreme heat is to drink something and replace the fluids our body releases from sweating.

Tip # 2 Stay hydrated. I would recommend at least carrying a couple of 20 oz bottles of water for every couple hours someone spends outside.  A good rule is after 15 or 20 minutes of being out of extreme heat is to drink something and replace the fluids our body releases from sweating. Dehydration can cause all sorts of problems, including our body shutting down. When we are thirsty out in the heat we would be wise to quench that thirst.

Tip #3 Helpful supplies. We can take different items to make playing sports or exercising in the heat a more enjoyable experience. Personally, I always carry a towel with me to wipe sweat from around my body as I am exercising. Some people will use a head band or sweatband to serve the same purpose. A visor is also something nice to have to keep the sun out of a person’s eyes. A great deal of other items can also be helpful. We have to choose the supplies we find the most helpful.

These tips will help anyone to have a safe time exercising this summer. In addition, I hope everyone does the most important thing, which is to have fun.

The New Generation

The old generation is on it’s way out and soon we will call them legends and our focus will be on the rising stars. It is always good for any professional sport to experience “game changers”, so to speak. This keeps the league and sport exciting.While it is nice to see one team or the same teams win all the time. After a while, this makes the particular sports playoff and championship boring. When a new team has a chance to win or an unexpected team makes a playoff run, that is what makes sports exciting. I am glad to see the new generation coming to the forefront. I am excited to see how long this reign will last and how this all plays out.

The new generation has officially been ushered in. We are at the turning point where certain people fade out and other people rise up. This is happening in all sorts of professional sports but we can see it more clear in the NBA and the NFL. The old generation is retiring seeing that the game is changing and their time is done. Shaquille O’Neal sent a tweet yesterday that he is retiring. He is not coming back and has realized that he cannot contribute at a professional level anymore. O’Neal has been a great player and will go down as a legend for all he has accomplished. However, it has been painful to watch Shaq the last couple of seasons. O’neal spent a great deal of time injured and was hardly was worth having on the team. On the rare occasion when he was healthy, it was easy to see that Shaq had lost a step.

In addition, the Boston Celtics with a roster composed of older players, could not compete with the Miami Heat. The Miami Heat have three of the best players in the NBA, who are still in their prime. The Miami Heat are now taking on the Dallas Mavericks and once again, the newer generation of the NBA player is dominating an older generation. I know it has only been one game but it does not look good for the Dallas Mavericks after watching the game Tuesday night.

This NBA season we saw a young electrifying player in Derrick Rose win the MVP. He has redefined the point guard position by not just scoring but finding so many ways to create his own shot. Moreover, most of his shots are gravity defying dunks and layups. Derrick Rose led the Bulls all the way to the Eastern conference finals, similar to another young player.

Kevin Durant has not been in the league that long and already has been a scoring champion. This year Durant, along with a team composed of players in their early 20’s led his team to the Western Conference Finals. The Oklahoma City Thunder was definitely the youngest team in the playoffs but overcame many challenges. Age did not matter and neither did playoff experience as Oklahoma piled up playoff wins. They proved they are a team on the rise and in the next few years could be winning a NBA title as well.

In the NFL, we finally see that Brett Favre is retiring. Randy Moss, Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens are all at the end of their times of dominance. Peyton Manning while an elite quarterback cannot overcome the lack of talent at key positions. Meanwhile, we have Aaron Rodgers and the Packers winning the Super Bowl Title. Matt Ryan has become an elite quarterback with a team who is on the brink of becoming great. Phillip Rivers is proving he can will his team to become a playoff contender. Matt Ryan, Jahvid Best, and Calvin Johnson are bringing the lions from laughing stock to contention. The point is it is the time of the “New Generation” in sports. The time of the changing of the guard is upon us

Remembering Our True Heroes!

We think that we cannot live without sports. We sit, watching our favorite team and cheer them on. We go through ups and downs when our team wins and lose. People have Super Bowl and College football parties. We love our sports and some fans are so passionate they show their support in some crazy ways.

All this is good and I am a fan like no other. I love a good game on television while having my favorite tailgating meal. However, some things are just more important than any sports event. Some life changing events will make people stop and reflect on life rather than which team we choose to support on any given day. One event was resolved on Sunday after 10 long years. The event I speak of was the day Osama Bin Laden orchestrated the attacks on our own United States soil.

It was an earth shattering event for so many people. People lost their lives and we realized as a nation we are not the invincible giant we thought we were. Sunday night they finally found the mastermind of the attacks was finally dead. Osama Bin Laden finally had justice delivered to him for all the pain that he caused the people of this great nation. Many families can now have a little bit of rest and satisfaction in their hearts because they know Bin Laden is not still out there.

They know that Osama Bin Laden can never again plan another attack against their loved ones and this country. Every person can take pride in the fact that our military is one of the greatest in the World. A celebration is happening around every city in the United States because we have achieved a glorious victory for the American people against terrorism. While there is the NBA playoffs going on as well as the NHL playoffs, most people will have their focus on more important places. In addition, the NFL draft just happened and people were rejoicing for their team or hating the draft picks. Now the talk is all about something very different.

Just like on the day of the attacks where people came together due to sadness and sorrow. Today people are coming together for happiness and joy. It is definitely a great thing to experience and watch. Some say NBA action is fantastic, but Sunday’s events make any sports event seem small. A truly great event happened on Sunday and we should take a few moments to reflect on what life is truly about. It is about more than sports, life is about the people. It is about every person in our life. It is about every person we pass by on the street. We just need to recognize how wonderful each person is and be thankful for the good times we share with them.

Oh Cleveland Let Us Count Your Losing Ways!

Well the Cleveland Cavaliers have done it again. They have become the talk of the NBA. The Cleveland Cavaliers have even managed to set a record all of this the year after Lebron James left. So should Lebron think twice and look back to coming back to the Cavaliers?

Of course not because Cleveland is accomplishing all this moving in the wrong direction. They are not only the worse team in the NBA but also the worst team in NBA history at an astounding 8-45. After their recent defeat to the Detroit Pistons, even Byron Scott, the coach of the Cleveland Cavalier admitted, “That was the worst effort I have seen all season, the team didn’t come to play, I have no problem with losing but I have a problem when players do not even try.” This to me sounds like a team that has gotten demoralized, a team that has given up.

The question at this point is not if they are going to win, because we all know they finally got over the losing hump with a 126-119 victory over the Clippers recently. Then Cleveland went back to its old losing ways by losing to the Washington Wizards at their home. The Wizards were sporting a 25 game road losing streak and had not won a game on the road all year before the Cleveland game. Now that Cleveland has started back to its losing ways, the question is how many games will they actually win the whole season?

The whole World knew when Lebron James left the Cavaliers to go to the Miami Heat to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh there would be challenges. No one could of predicted that the Cleveland Cavaliers would go from winning close to 70 games every year to becoming the team that breaks the NBA record for losses in a single season.

What does Cleveland have to do to turn their misfortune around? There are many guesses but no one seems to have an answer. Only time will tell when Cleveland will find the winning formula, and I hope for Cavaliers fans they find it soon. Until then even you can audition for the Cavaliers. See …


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