Welcome to The 3-4, a website dedicated to NFL analysis, predictions and recent events. We wrote 32 extensive team previews and will be writing about all things football throughout the year. We will be scouting players off game tape, evaluating them, predicting NFL and NCAA games, and much more! If you would like us to write about something in particular, let us know!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Insight Bowl Update and Prediction

Missouri Vs. Iowa- Insight Bowl 10 PM ET

In order for Missouri to win versus a strong front seven from the Iowa Hawkeyes ( NFL Draft prospects- Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard, and Karl Klug), Blaine Gabbert will have to stand in the pocket with poise and release the football in a quick and timely manner. Newly named All-American Tight End, Michael Egnew (who led all tight ends in receiving categories) and versatile slot receiver T.J. Moe will be heavily counted upon by Gabbert as safety valves when pressure arises. Look for both Moe and Egnew to have high reception totals.

Also freshman running back, Henry Josey and junior running back, De'Vion Moore, will need to get some production in order to keep the Hawkeyes honest in their defense. If Missouri can establish a running game (90 yards+ rushing), then the deep part of the field should open up for downfield threat, WR Jerrell Jackson. Jackson has the speed to beat defenses deep, and hasn't exactly had the opportunity in 2010. Maybe in this bowl game, Missouri opens up the playbook and goes long to Jackson. 

The Hawkeyes were picked by some experts to win the Big Ten and possibly earn a bid to a BCS Bowl game. However disappointing losses throughout the season, culminating in the recent suspensions/departures of key players, have characterized this failed season. Kirk Ferentz still however has the talent to win this game nonetheless. 

In my opinion, the Hawkeyes best WR was Marvin McNutt, who seemed to make the big play whenever need be. Ricky Stanzi will no doubt be heavily reliant upon McNutt as he will be without Iowa's all time receiving leader. 

3rd string running back Brandon Wegher is also out for this game, as he has transferred as well. What now seems the only possibility of success is if the strong defense of Iowa can force turnovers that lead to points. Missouri's defense is centered around playing against pass heavy teams, and in this matchup, with 3 key tailbacks out for Iowa, it appears this will play directly into Missouri's strengths. This combined with Blaine Gabbert's efficiency as a passer does not bode well for the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

The player to watch for Iowa will be Adrian Clayborn, who played like a madman in last year's bowl game versus the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Clayborn and the front seven have to force Gabbert into bad decisions and turnovers if they expect to keep this one close.

The3-4's Pick: Missouri

Monday, December 27, 2010

MNF: Saints Preview

Players To Watch:

DT Sedrick Ellis – The New Orleans defense has greatly improved this year, and has a great pass defense to go along with their ability to create turnovers. Their stout pass defense starts up front with Ellis, as the 3rd year big man is a nightmare to block and doesn’t give opposing QBs much time to operate in the pocket. Ellis has 6 sacks this year and is getting better with every game, making neither the run nor the pass attracting options for his opponents. Matt Ryan is an elite QB, but still is only in his 3rd year, so pressure will be key to rattling Matty Ice.

WR Marques Colston – Drew Brees likes to spread it around to numerous targets, but if there is one go to guy its Coltson. He’s a big play receiver averaging over 12 yard per catch with 7 touchdowns. Because of the lack of a running game, defenses have keyed on Saints passing gaming, and this has resulted in more interceptions for Brees. Look for Brees and Colston to try to establish a rhythm early, because mistakes against the Falcons will kill a football team.

RB Reggie Bush – He has missed a large chunk of games with a broken leg, but Bush has been disappointing in the games he has played in. While Bush’s statistics are never going to be exceptional, he remains an integral part of the offense. He can always break a big gain and is a threat catching out of the backfield. Bush will need to elevate his game, and deliver his best game of the season in order to give Brees the options he needs to limit his mistakes. Look for Bush to make his impact felt through screens and dump passes and end up with a big game.

Key Matchup – QB Drew Brees v. CB Brent Grimes – Grimes has the 2nd most interceptions in the last 2 seasons of any player, and the Falcons will be looking to him to rattle the Super Bowl MVP. Brees will have to be more perfect than usual if he wants to beat a tough Falcons team, so he can’t give the gifted Grimes any opportunities to pick the ball.

Why the Saints Will Win – They took the Falcons to overtime the first time around, and the Super bowl champions haven’t given up hope for the division title. Atlanta’s season has been extremely impressive, but most of their wins are close. Eventually the Falcons will be on the wrong side of a close game, and the Saints are just the team to be able to come into the Georgia Dome and hand Matt Ryan a rare home loss. Both offenses are among the best in the league so look for a shootout, but the Saints will come away with the win.

Prediction: Saints 38, Falcons 34

MNF: Falcons Perspective

Players To Watch:

WR Roddy White - White has really become a go to target for QB Matt Ryan when the game is on the line, he has showed that he can be clutch, and the 6'0" speedster has definitely put himself into the conversation of top receiver in the NFL. Much like WR Andre Johnson, White has gone about his business quietly but has still been ultra-productive notching a fourth year in a row with over 1,100+ yards receiving. Look for White to add to his NFL leading 106 receptions tonight.

DE John Abraham - Last year was the first time in Abraham's long career that he started more than 15 but was unable to get more than 10+ sacks (he had just 5.5). I thought that this was a sign that the 32 year old Abraham was simply getting old and would not be able to produce like we are used to seeing. This year, however, Abraham proved me wrong; he is back to his usual disruptive ways already registering 12 sacks. He has 4 sacks and 2 FF's in the last 4 games so watch for him to have a big game on MNF.

LB Curtis Lofton - A very underrated linebacker who has the job of roaming the middle of the field tonight. QB Drew Brees does a great job of passing in-between the numbers and exploiting matchups with linebackers. Lofton, who leads the Falcons with 107 tackles to go along with 3 forced fumbles 2 sacks and an interception, will have a tough test stopping the run and trying to slow down Brees.

Key Matchup - RB Michael Turner vs Saints front 7 - Even though QB Matt Ryan has really come on this year, Turner is the most important part of the Falcons offense. Turner is the Falcons work horse who just gets better as the game goes on. When the big 5'10" 244 lbs back has rushed for 50 yards or less this year the (12-2) Falcons are 2-2 with their wins only coming by a total of 8 points. The Saints defense allows 117 yards a game so look for Turner to have a big night.

Why the Falcons Will Win - The Falcons know how to get it done in front of a home crowd. The Falcons are undefeated this year at home, they seem to always have a flair for the dramatic and have the ability to win close games. I think that this game will come down to the very end and with the way the Falcons have been playing all year, I have no doubt they will be able to pull off another close victory.

Prediction: Falcons 34 Saints 31

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A.J. Green Scouting Report

WR A.J. Green, University of Georgia, 6'4" 210 lbs. (Underclassman)

Size/Ball Skills - 10 - Very lengthy receiver, Green possesses rare arm length, body movement, and strong hands to snag poorly thrown passes or contested passes. Elite ball skills and devastating on the 'back shoulder fade route'. AJ Green has ideal height for a franchise WR (6'4) and will use his size to go and catch passes across the middle of the field.

Speed/Quickness - 9 - A.J. Green has excellent speed to go along with superb height and ball skills. He really can take the top off defenses and act as a scheming nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.  Quickness is not overly spectacular but very good nonetheless; runs good routes as a result of his fluidity and smooth running form. Strider who can straight up burn people.

Production - 10 - Great production despite being suspended for the first four games of the year, AJ Green caught 6 or more passes, in 6 of his 8 games played this season; Green also notched 86 or more receiving yards in all but two games (6 of 8). In his freshman season with, now NFL starter, Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions), Green caught 56 balls for a whopping yards and 8 TDs. The following season ( sophomore yr), Green dropped off in all three categories ( 53 receptions, 808 yards, and 6 TDs), however with 4 less games in 2010, Green posted his career season high in TD receptions ( 9 TDs). 

Route Running - 9 - A much better route runner than one would expect, Green has a great understanding on how to break off routes in order to beat a zone. Excels over the deep middle with 'dig' and 'post routes'. 

Best Fit: A team in need of a legitimate number one threat at WR; Green's ability to separate from defenders makes him an elite prospect, and team's that struggle to get WRs open could really use a player like Green. Virtually any team could use a player like A.J. Green, so any team inside the Top 10 will draft him.

X-Factor: Will Andrew Luck declare for the draft? If so, then Green would be looking around the top 10. If not, then Green could easily bust inside the top 5. In all reality, there is no reason for doubt that he will not be the first WR taken in the 2011 draft. Green needs to stay in shape, bulk up his frame to somewhere around 218, run well, and be smart.

Where he will be picked: Early First Round (Top 10)

Where he should be picked: Early First Round (Top 10). I don't see teams passing on Green as they did in last year's draft with Dez Bryant, or in year's previous (2009 Michael Crabtree). Green is healthy, he is talented, and he has a world of potential.

NFL Comparison: Randy Moss, Tennessee Titans

Highlights from A.J. Green, Sophomore Season (2009)

Here is a ridiculous one-handed catch by A.J. Green

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Texas HS Football Prospect: Jonathan Gray (JR), RB, Aledo

Unbelievable is the ability and production from Aledo High School junior Jonathan Gray. Gray totaled over 6,000 yards rushing and 109 TDs his sophomore and junior seasons (59 this past season, and 50 last season). In this past weekend's state final, Jonathan Gray scored 8 of Aledo's 10 touchdowns en route to an impressive win over a very athletic La Marque team.

Here is a highlight tape from his sophomore season

Jonathan Baldwin Scouting Report

WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh University, 6'5" 230 lbs. (Underclassman)

Size/Ball Skills - 10 - Has unbelievable size, looks more like a tight end... Amazing ball skills... Goes up and gets the ball at its highest point... Deep threat... Will have a huge height advantage over every corner in the NFL.

Speed/Quickness - 7 - Long strider with surprising speed... Probably will run in the mid 4.5's in the 40... Not very quick.

Productions - 9 - Breakout sophomore year, established himself as a major deep threat and playmaker...19 games with at least one reception over 40+ yards... had a down year this year with a new quarterback.

Route Running - 6 - Gets by people because of his surprising speed...Runs a lot of a simple 'go' and 'curl' routes ... Does not get a lot of separation... lacks the quickness to make great cuts

Best Fit: On a team that is missing a deep threat and a player that can open up the middle of the field for an offense. Teams that are missing this type of weapon: Browns, 49ers, Giants, Rams, Patriots, or Seahawks.

X-Factor: If Baldwin comes out, teams will look heavily at his 40 time above all else. Anything above 4.6 and his stock will plummet, anything below 4.5 and many GM's will fall in love with him (just look at 6'6" Matt Jones, who played quarterback in college, he was amazingly drafted 21st overall because of his 4.41 in the 40.) Baldwin will draw comparisons to Calvin Johnson if he can light it up in the 40.

Where he will be picked: It is obviously still early, but I think he will end up somewhere in the late first round to early 2nd, it will be hard for GM's to pass up the height/speed combination he possesses.

Where he should be picked: 2nd-3rd round. I love Baldwin's playmaking ability, and I think he can be a good player, but I don't think he has the versatility or quickness of a guy like Vincent Jackson, I don't see him becoming a star receiver.

NFL Comparison: Roy Williams, Dallas Cowboys

Best Ironman Moments of the Decade (pt.4)

Click Here for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

1. Donovan McNabb Plays on a Broken Ankle
And here is the #1 ironman moment of the decade. Donovan McNabb's career has been full of people doubting him. He was famously booed when he was drafting by the Eagles, called out by T.O. for throwing up in the Super Bowl, scrutinized by the NAACP for being to much of a prototypical "white" QB, and most recently benched by Mike Shanahan during a crucial drive at the end of a game for allegedly being out of shape and not knowing the 2-minute offense. Not many pro-bowl quarterbacks have led their teams to a Super Bowl and 4 consecutive NFC Championship games, yet McNabb is still constantly being torn apart by his critics. There is one moment in McNabb's history, however that even his critics will agree was a tremendous demonstration of true toughness and grit. In a 2002 game against the Arizona Cardinals, McNabb was sacked on the 3rd play of the game, and immediately clutched his ankle in pain. He was taken back to the locker room to get it checked out, but refused x-rays and instead only had his ankle taped. He went back out onto the field and proceeded to throw for 20 of 25 for 255 and 4 touchdowns. It wasn't until after the game that it was discovered that McNabb's fibula was broken in 3 places. How any player could stand, let alone play on such a seriously injured ankle is amazing, and McNabb also had one of the best games of his career. The injury was serious enough to keep McNabb out for the last 6 weeks of the season, but for he risked his career by withstanding the pain for that game, and led his team to victory. The fans and the media will continue to nitpick everything McNabb does, but this play forever cements McNabb's legacy as one of the toughest players in the league.

Bonus Ironman Moment: Greg Jenning's 98 Yard Touchdown on Broken Leg
(Warning: Explicit Language)

It might be from a video game, but this an incredibly tough performance nonetheless. In the game Packers wide-reciever Greg Jennings caught a quick dump pass from Aaron Rodgers, and proceeded to run 98 yards for the touchdown...on a broken leg. He somehow evaded Darren Sharper at the end as well, completing the unbelievable play.

Week 15 2011 NFL Mock Draft (Bonus 2 Round Version)

Hey everybody, The 3-4 will post an updated mock following each of the following weeks through the rest of the 2010 NFL season and playoffs in order to update readers with draft stock of players and the needs of NFL teams.

Explanations for picks will not be written down, rather we encourage reader participation in commenting your thoughts/ideas/suggestions/problems with our decision making. Also if you see any of the writers for The 3-4 online, we have a new chat box for instant communication. Thanks again readers for your help and support as we are growing continually.

Round 1
1. Carolina (1-12) Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford
2. Cincinnati (2-11) Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn
3. Denver (3-10) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU
5. Buffalo (3-10) Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
6. Arizona (4-9) A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
7. Dallas (4-9) Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
8. San Francisco (5-8) Cameron Jordan, DE, Cal
9. Tennessee (5-8) Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue
10. Washington (5-8) Jake Locker, QB, Washington
11. Houston (5-8) Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
12. Minnesota (5-8) Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
13. Cleveland (5-8) Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
14. New England - from Oakland (6-7) Marcell Dareus, DE, Alabama
15. Seattle (6-7) Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
16. San Diego (7-6) Nate Solder, OT, San Diego Chargers
17. Indianapolis (7-6) Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College
18. Miami (7-6) Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
19. Tampa Bay (8-5) Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa
20. Green Bay (8-5) Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
21. St. Louis* (6-7) Julio Jones, WR, Alabama
22. Jacksonville* (8-5) Rodney Hudson, OG/C, Florida State
23. Kansas City* (8-5) Von Miller, OLB, TAMU
24. Chicago* (9-4) Demarcus Love, OT, Arkansas
25. New York Giants* (9-4) Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA
26. New York Jets* (9-4) Jeremy Beal, OLB/DE, Oklahoma
27. Baltimore* (9-4) Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado
28. New Orleans* (10-3) Drake Nevis, DT, LSU
29. Philadelphia* (9-4) Stefen Wisniewski, OG/C, Penn State
30. Pittsburgh* (10-3) Mike Pouncey, G, Florida
31. Atlanta* (11-2) Janoris Jenkins, CB, Florida
32. New England* (11-2) Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

Oakland -> New England: Richard Seymour 

Round 2
1. New England - from Carolina (1-12) Jon Baldwin, WR, Pitt
2. Cincinnati (2-11) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
3. Detroit (3-10) Rahim Moore, S, UCLA
4. Buffalo (3-10) J.J. Watt, DE, Wisconsin
5. Denver (3-10) Phil Taylor, DT, Baylor
6. Dallas (4-9) Marvin Austin, DT/DE, UNC
7. Arizona (4-9) Tyron Smith, OT, USC
8. Tennessee (5-8) Bruce Carter, OLB, UNC
9. Washington (5-8) Leonard Hankerson, WR, Miami (Fl)
10. Houston (5-8) Aaron Williams, CB, Texas
11. Minnesota (5-8) Jared Crick, DT, Nebraska
12. Cleveland (5-8) Justin Houston, OLB/DE, Georgia
13. San Francisco (5-8) Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada
14. Seattle (6-7) Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (Fl)
15. Oakland (6-7) Marcus Cannon, OG/OT, TCU
16. Indianapolis (7-6) Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois
17. Denver - from Miami (7-6) Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame
18. San Diego (7-6) Aldon Smith, OLB/DE, Missouri
19. Green Bay (8-5) Demarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma
20. Tampa Bay (8-5) Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama
21. St. Louis* (6-7) Orlando Franklin, OG, Miami (Fl)
22. Kansas City* (8-5) Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma
23. Jacksonville* (8-5) Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami (Fl)
24. Chicago* (9-4) Donta Hightower, LB, Alabama
25. New York Jets* (9-4) Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame
26. Baltimore* (9-4) DeAndre Mcdaniel, S, Clemson
27. New York Giants* (9-4) Joseph Barksdale, OT, LSU
28. New Orleans* (10-3) Travis Lewis, OLB, Oklahoma
29. Philadelphia* (9-4) Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pitt
30. Pittsburgh* (10-3) Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
31. Atlanta* (11-2) Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy
32. New England* (11-2) Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland
Carolina -> New England: Armanti Edwards
Miami -> Denver: Brandon Marshall 

*Draft order from walterfootball.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

MNF: Bears Perspective

Players to Watch:

QB Jay Cutler - The Vikings pass defense this 2010 season simply put has been "suspect". To my surprise, the Vikings are favorably ranked as the #10 best pass defense statistically in 2010, allowing just under 210 yards passing per game NFL.com. Moreover the defense has allowed only one 300 yard passer this entire season. Yet they still have managed to stumble to a 5-8 record with no real shot at the postseason. Now why is this? Well the Vikings and DE's, Jared Allen and Ray Edwards notably, have notched a miserable 23 sacks all season. Only 3 teams, the Bengals, Bucs, and Broncos have less sacks. Now to my point, Jay Cutler has been one of the most sacked man in the NFL (the Bears leading the NFL in sacks allowed with 47 this season alone). Something has got to give, and if the Bears want to get back on track, they will need to protect Jay Cutler.

RBs Chester Taylor and Matt Forte - Although afore mentioned protection of Jay Cutler will be necessary, due to the weather conditions, it is imperative that the Bears get the ground game up and running. One of only 9 teams averaging less than 100 yards on the ground, the Bears must keep the Vikings defense honest. In all reality, Martz should plan on at around 30 touches to Matt Forte and somewhere around 15 touches for Chester taylor.

DE Julius Peppers - Upgraded to questionable, the Ironman himself, Brett Favre, may have an opportunity to start versus "Da Bears". That being said, I can bet that Peppers is licking his chops. One of the most dominant down lineman this season, Peppers has tallied 8 sacks and ranks inside the top 20 in the NFL in sacks. If Peppers can really get after the QB and get a lot of hits on Favre/whichever QB is playing, the Bears will be in a great position to win the football game.

Key Matchup: Vikings QBs versus the Bears Pass Defense - Surprising as it may sound, I will talk about passing here. Last week Chicago had Tom Brady and the Patriots come into town in similar weather as tonight, and were absolutely torched through the air (as well as the ground). Nevertheless this week involves the Bears being the visitors to a homeless Vikings squad. Whichever QB comes out and starts tonight will need to be on top of their game versus a Bears secondary that allows just 225 ypg and has 16 interceptions on the year. UPDATE I just received a text update saying that will be Brett Favre, and Adrian Peterson is out, meaning Toby Gerhart will start. Gerhart will likely be counted upon to shoulder the load, however Brett Favre will need to be careful with the football and play mistake-free football.) 

Why the Bears Will Win - The Vikings have found ways to lose this season, and the Bears simply have found ways to win. The Bears have won 5 games by 5 or less points, and the Vikings have lost 5 games by 10 points or less this season. They Bears will be storming out of the gate after last week's utter disappointment on the national stage against the Pats. 

Prediction: Bears 31 - 27 Vikings 

MNF: Bears Preview

Players to Watch:

RB Matt Forte- The field is likely to be in terrible condition, and there are reports that there could be as much as 6 inches of snow on the ground by kickoff. Throwing the ball through the air is going to be a tough task, so look for the Bears to lean on Forte. He is a threat both on the ground and as a receiver, and rushes and screens are a good game plan to combat the elements tonight.

TE Greg Olsen- He’s been a major disappointment this year, and only has one catch in each of his last 3 games. Olsen was predicted to be a major part of Mike Martz’s offense, but Cutler has found Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett to be more reliable targets. Olsen will have to step up in this game if the Bears want to be successful in the passing game. Footing will be tough, but if Olsen can find open spots in the flats and middle of the field, he could have a big game.

LB Brian Urlacher- The undisputed leader of the team has put in another fine season, and has shown no ill effects from missing almost the entire season last year with a dislocated wrist. He’s played in harsh conditions before, and the Bears will need him to rise to the occasion. Tackling in the cold isn’t the easiest job in the world, but if anyone excels at doing so, it’s Urlacher.

Key Matchup: Jay Cutler vs. Vikings Secondary– After a rough first 2 seasons in Chicago, Cutler has finally shown why the Bears gave up 2 first round picks to get him. Cutler has cut down on the unadvised long passes and made smarter decisions. He will need to do the same in this game if the Bears want to win. His last game in the snow against the Patriots left a lot to be desired, and will need to limit his mistakes tonight. The Vikings secondary will be hungry for picks, something Cutler must be aware of.

Why the Bears Will Win-The Vikings will either be starting an injured Brett Favre or an inexperience Joe Webb. Neither QB is well-suited to be playing in this game, as conditions will be brutal. The Bears have a very good defense, and will be able to key in on stopping the run, and try to make the Vikings beat with their passing game. The Vikings season is over and their best weapon Adrian Peterson is out. The Bears on the other hand can NFC North crown with a win tonight, so they will be going all out tonight. Weather is the great-equalizer, but I expect a battle-tested Bears to win out in the end.

Prediction: Bears 17, Vikings 13

MNF: Vikings Perspective

Players to Watch:

QB Joe Webb - Hopefully we will be able to see rookie quarterback Joe Webb his first start in front of millions of people on Monday Night Football (Favre is now listed as questionable so he may end up starting). This will be a very daunting task for the young quarterback, but with the quarterback position up in the air, Webb has a chance to make an impression and possibly become the Vikings future quarterback. We will see if he can step up to the challenge. The one thing that Webb will bring is an unreal athleticism. Webb was going to be converted to a receiver when he was originally drafted, and has been featured as a return man this year. The Vikings should find ways to get Webb out of the pocket and allow him to use his athletic ability to make plays.

WR Sidney Rice - Rice was very close to being put on injured reserve this year, but came back in week 11 and has really impressed. It is surprising that Rice has been able to come in after not playing for so long and make plays. I expect him to continue to get better and help out his young quarterback.

DE Jared Allen - Remember when everyone was questioning what had happened to Allen after he started the season with 1 sack over 7 games? Well since then Allen has been on fire getting 8.5 sacks in the last 6 games. Look for Allen to have a huge game against QB Jay Cutler who has taken the most sacks in the NFL this year.

Key Matchup: Players vs. The frozen field - The game will most likely be played with snow falling and in below 20 degree temperatures. For a team that is used to playing in the friendly confines of a dome this will be a big test for them, especially because the Bears (who are the away team) are accustomed to this weather. Apparently the field is as hard as concrete so the tougher team is going to come out on top in this one.

Why the Vikings Will Win - The Bears are overrated. Yeah, they are 9-4, but 6 of those wins have come by 7 points are less and many of them against weaker competition. Last week RB BenJarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead were able to go over 100+ yards in snowy conditions against the Bears defense. So I think Adrian Peterson, who no one would confuse with the two Patriots undrafted backs, can have a big game. I think that the Vikings can rally around a guy like Webb who can create offense by himself and bring a different elements to the quarterback position. One thing is for certain, if the Vikings get an early lead look for Jay Cutler to revert back to his turnover friendly form and throw at least 2 picks.

Prediction: Vikings 17 Bears 10

Best Ironman Moments of the Decade (pt.3)

Click Here for Part I and Part II

4. Brett Favre's 2003 Season with Broken Thumb
Brett Favre makes his 2nd appearance on the list, which is no surprise considering how long he has played. Favre has constantly battled through injuries, playing in games most QB's would not. Favre has managed to play through a separated shoulder (non-throwing side), bruised hip, knee, elbow, and ankle, broken foot, and concussion among other things. Perhaps the most impressive of his 297 consecutive starts is his 2003 season, when he played 12 of the 16 regular seasons games with a broken thumb. Ask any QB which finger they would least like to be broken, and they will most likely say the thumb. The thumb is crucial to getting a good grip on the ball and throwing it properly. A broken thumb makes the QB's job extremely difficult, and there is an extreme amount of pain every time the ball is snapped into the QB's hands. Favre not only found a way to play through the pain, but also led the league in touchdown passes that year with 32. To be able to play through such an injury at such a high level is something Favre has been doing his whole career, but this time it was truly extraordinary.

3. Terrell Owens' Super Bowl XXXIX Performance
Love him or hate him, T.O. has been one of the
greatest receivers of our generation. He has been
called a cancer and shown the door by the 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys after they got tired of his antics. Owens statistically, however, might be one of the top 3 receivers of all time, but his lack of Super Bowl rings is used by critics to demonstrate that teams are better without him than with him. However, T.O.'s performance for the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX against the Patriots was one worthy of a ring, and no one can blame T.O. for the Eagles loss. Owens had 9 receptions for 122 and made a huge impact, but what makes Terrell Owens' performance one of the toughest is that he shouldn't have even been playing in the game. T.O. suffered a severely sprained ankle and fractured fibula in a December 19th game against the Cowboys from a now illegal horse-collar tackle by Roy Williams. Doctors told T.O. he would be out for the reminder for the year, and that even if the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, he would still need several more weeks of recovery time. T.O. shrugged off the doctors and boldly proclaimed he would play in the game no matter what. Critics were highly skeptical, but not only did T.O. stick true to his word, but delivered a performance worthy of Super Bowl MVP if the Eagles had won. T.O.'s career has been filled with many controversial moments, but this is one that he can truly be proud of and shows that T.O.'s toughness and desire to win is not to be questioned.

2. Steve McNair's 2003 Season with Numerous Injuries
While Favre's 2003 season is good for 4th on this list, it wasn't even the toughest performance by a QB that year. McNair's entire career is a definition of toughness, however this particular season was especially impressive. McNair sutained calf, ankle, finger, and knee injuries that year, and his name was practically written in Sharpie on the injury report. McNair would often not practice the majority of the week, but would suit up every game on Sunday with the exception of 2 games. Despite the numerous injuries, Steve McNair's 2003 season was capped off by an MVP and made it all the way to the AFC Divisional Playoffs. McNair's ability to play through injury every week and be recognized as one of the best players in the league is a true testament to his toughness and will forever be a part of his legacy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Ironman Moments of the Decade (pt.2)

7. Philip Rivers Plays With Torn ACL in AFC Championship

In 2007 season, Philip Rivers hurt his knee in the divisional playoff game against the Colts and had to be removed from the game. The Chargers ended up winning, but Rivers' status was uncertain for the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots. But sure enough when Sunday rolled around, Rivers was starting under center. The Chargers would ultimately end up on the wrong side of a 21-12 Patriots victory, however what Rivers revealed later in the week was truly shocking. Rivers had been playing on a partially torn ACL in his knee, and had undergone secret arthroscopic surgery earlier in the week just to be able to play in the game. The arthroscopic surgery was not a simple decision either, as doing so meant that he would need a more extensive operation in the off season, and his rehabilitation would be longer as well. It's not often that young quarterbacks such as Rivers would put their careers on the line on such a bold and courageous decision, and despite the loss, Rivers forever gained the respect of his teammates as one of the toughest players on the team.

6. Anquan Boldin's Quick Recovery From Jaw Breaking Hit

Anquan Boldin burst onto the NFL scene in 2003 with one of the greatest rookie receiving seasons of all-time. He's been one of the best receivers in the NFL ever since. He's had some trouble staying healthy, but nobody can doubt Boldin's toughness after this incident.
This brutal helmet-to-helmet hit in 2008 by safety Eric Smith left Boldin with a fractured sinusand knocked his upper jaw out of place. Doctors were forced to cut the jaw bones on both sides just to realign it properly and his jaw required 7 plates and 40 screws to hold in place. The hit was so brutal that Kurt Warner actually considered retiring after watching the play. These are exactly the sort of hits the NFL want to make sure have no place in the game of football. Boldin somehow miraculous missed only two games and was head-butting players in practice his first week back. To make a comeback from such a horrendous injury and essentially shrug it off as part of the game shows Boldin's amazing toughness.

5. Chris Simms Plays With Ruptured Spleen
Simms might be one of the least well-known players on this list, but what he went through during a 2006 game against the Carolina Panthers was nothing short of remarkable. The Buccaneers QB took many brutal hits that day, one of which resulted in the rupture of his spleen. Simms did not know the severity of the injury at the time, and kept on playing throughout the game, only sitting out briefly two times. Simms even led the Bucs on a go ahead drive late in the 4th, however the defense blew the lead and they ultimately lost the game. After the game it was determined that Simms' spleen had been ruptured and he was suffering from dehydration. He was immediately rushed to the hospital where he received emergency blood transfusions and had his spleen removed. He made a full recovery, but had to spend the next several days in the hospital. While losing a spleen is not life-threatening, rupturing one is and usually results in internal bleeding. The fact that Simms ruptured his spleen and still was able to stay in the game and almost lead his team to victory is unbelievable. Although he did not know it at the time, Simms was risking his life just by staying out on the football field in what was one of the largest displays of toughness is recent memory.