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NFC North Preview: 2013 NFL

200715_27If you’ve been keeping track at all, the NFC North has only won one Super Bowl title in the past 12 years (Green Bay, Super Bowl XLV) and Chicago, Detroit and Minnesota have only one championship between them. What they do have on their sides is raw star power.

The North has a real gem in the league’s top receiver, Calvin Johnson, superstar running back Adrian Peterson, who superseded his position last season in the field, and without question its top notch quarterback in Aaron Rodgers.  If those players weren’t enough, the league also has Julius Peppers, Clay Matthews, Jared Allen and Brandon Marshall. The NFC North is certainly a force to be reckoned with in terms of talent.

While Green Bay might be the favored for the 2013 season, there are so many possibilities with the way that this season could end up.   There are probably four possibly playoff teams and on the flip side, at least three that could totally tank.

Here’s a peak at the NFC North Division:

Chicago Bears-

With the hire of new head coach Trestman, a sea change in approach for the Bears has been launched.  Trestman got rid of former coach Lovie Smith’s defense-first philosophy and implemented a CFL-honed offensive stylings.  Things should go better for Cutler this year, but with so much change, anything is possible. The Bears will be quite formidable with the football, especially with Martellus Bennett.  While defense last year was a top 5 set, Trestman has his work cut out for him this year.  Things look very good for the Bears in 2013.

Detroit Lions:

The Lions should be pretty middle of the pack this season.  Hopefully somewhere between their 2012 and 2011 seasons. The players to watch are Stafford, Johnson and Bush, and especially Ryan Broyles.  The offensive line and defense are still worrisome.  While this seasons seems markedly improved over last year’s, playoff potential still seems questionable.

Green Bay Packers:

Thought Green Bay won a second straight division title, last season was annoying for the Packers. They couldn’t match up against the NFL’s elite, ending in a 45-31 playoff loss to San Francisco.  While they are down a couple decent players this year, like Jennings, the Packers seem to be better poised.   GB added a few superb run-game players, and Rodgers will be that much more of a threat. Green Bay once again seems to be the the team to beat in this division and an almost expected Super Bowl contender.

Minnesota Vikings:

Adrian Peterson totally ran the show last year.  While he is a phenomenal player, the rest of the team needs to pull their weight if they want to keep ahead of the Bears and the Lions and beat the Packers in order to become Super Bowl contenders.  Things are stacking up well for the Vikings, if Ponder and Cassel can keep the team in line and quit with the excuses.  The Vikings are capable to go the distance this season, but there is not much room for error.

What do you think of how the teams are looking in the NFC North for 2013?

 

 

Big Ten Football Preview 2013

Last year’s Big Ten league was pretty terrible.  Only four teams ranked, and the two that did (Michigan and Nebraska) were ranked 24 and 25, and the second best team, Northwestern, finished 17.  Ouch.  In fact, the Big 10 hasn’t won a national championship since Ohio State in 2002. So, let’s review the teams for the upcoming 2013 season.

1.) Ohio State

Urban Meyer had  an awful year last year with a 12-0 record.  He is not known for keeping his players in line, either at his previous post as Gators head coach and the Aaron Hernandez shenangians or with his current Buckeye players.  He really needs to step up, but with players Braxton Miller as QB and Carlos Hyde as RB, they have a shot at ending the SEC’s reign.

2.) Michigan

The Detroit native, Devon Gardner, will start his junior year season as the starting QB after only playing a little last season, and at WR for parts of his first two years. Brady Hoke has done an excellent job recruiting high quality talent, such as newbie running back Derrick Green, to support his pro-style offense, and the go away from the spread offense of previous coach Rich Rodriguez.  They’re looking good this year!

3.) Northwestern

While the Wildcats were the second best team of the Big 10 last year, they still weren’t particularly noticeable.  They still have the very talented senior running back, Venric Mark and the equally thoughtful coach, Pat Fitzgerald. This year, the Wildcats have a huge advantage as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State will play on their home grass.

4.) Nebraska

The Huskers have had a rough go of it lately. Every season they have huge expectations, and the last two seasons have been particularly bad, specifically when Wisconsin creamed them 70-31 in the title game.  This year isn’t shaping up too great either with another year of Martinez.

5.) Penn State

Under penalty last year for the Sandusky scandal, The Nittany Lions should do well this year under Bill O’Brien. Unfortunately, they are still ineligible for the postseason for three more years.  The team is made up of high quality tight ends, like Breneman

6.) Michigan State

The Spartans defense looks stellar again this year, as they did last year.  Their offense game, on the other hand, needs a ton of help.  They lost a key player in RB Le’Veon Bell.  Their passing game needs a ton of help too.  On their side is a weak schedule in their favor which might propel them into a quality bowl.

7. )Wisconsin

The new coach, Gary Andersen, hails from Utah State, after previous coach Bret Bielema departed for Fayetteville. The Badgers will continue on with the power running game, but the new OC has big plans to improve the passing game.  The Badgers are blessed with an easy schedule, they don’t play Michigan, Michigan State or Nebraska, so they’ll lack the game play to somehow get into the Rose Bowl for a fourth year.

 

8.)Indiana

The Hoosiers had the most passing yards per game in the Big Ten last .  Indiana has an abysmal track record, with  having played in one bowl in the last 20 seasons, but this year they have an advantage with  an easier schedule than 2012. Head Coach Kevin Wilson has his choice this year of starting QB with Cameron Coffman, Tre Roberson, and the rising sophomore Nate Sudfeld.

9.)Purdue

The Boilermakers have high hopes with new coach from Kent State, Darrell Hazell.  Hopefully he is able to work some magic on this team, who have only had one double digit win since 1979.  Ouch.  A lot of things are not on Purdue’s side, like a challenging schedule and an inexperienced backfield.

10.) Minnesota

Last year was pretty lackluster for the Gophers with only a 6-7  season with a loss to coach-less Texas Tech in a pre-New Year’s Day bowl. Minnesota takes on terrible opponents in the non-con schedule , so there is a good chance they could be 4-0 heading into conference play.

11.) Iowa

Coach Ferentz is back again and his team is just above .500 since 2005, if the fluke 2009 Orange Bowl season was toss out that is. An unnamed QB starts this year and they have a tough schedule.  The 2013 season is not shaping up well for the Hawkeyes.

12.) Illinois

Senior QB, Nate Scheelhaase is expected to have another stellar season, Heisman-worthy, even.  The team, though, might be a different story.  Scheelhaase, is a run-first, pass-last type of guy.  Good news for Illinois, though, is that they move tot he West division next year.

So there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2013 Big Ten Football.

Top 10 Rookies to Watch this NFL Season

There is electricity in the air!  The NFL Draft is well in the past, training camp is inching ever nearer, and a clearer picture is being painted of NFL Football Rookies rankings for 2013.  The group of rookies from last year, were incredible, to say the least, and it’s exciting to think what they could do in the upcoming year.

Clearly these rankings can change as training camp/offseason news is made, rosters are creates and injuries happen.

As stated before, last year’s Rookies saw the most rookie quarterbacks land in the top 12 positions by season’s end, and three rookie running backs end up scoring loads of touchdowns which ranks them among the top 10 rookies over the past 10 years.

Top 10  Football Rookies For 2013 by Tickifieds

1. Montee Ball, RB, Denver

If Ball becomes a starter, he will come upon tough defense to halt the pass during most of the game.  He’s one to watch.

2. Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay

While Lacy looks great on paper, he has some not great points of interest.  He recently had toe surgery and it’s pretty well known that he has attitude issues. These points make for not such a great team player and might not do as well this season.  The Packers also the have Johnathan Franklin in their back pocket too.

3. DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston

Head coach Gary Kubiak, made a comparison between Hopkins and former Broncos WR Rod Smith. He will work closely with Johnson, and act as his protégé, as he hopes to outshine fellow defense WR Andre Johnson.

4. Zac Stacy, RB, St. Louis

Stacy was a a fifth-round pick for the Rams in the 2013 NFL Draft, but Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson and still the frontrunners.

5.  Robert Woods, WR, Buffalo

Woods will be going through a lesser version of what fellow teammate Hopkins takes on. Unfortunately, Stevie Johnson cannot compare to Andre Johnson, and Woods’ outcome is linked to Manuel’s most likely.

6. Markus Wheaton, WR, Pittsburgh

Since Mike Wallace left for Miami, the Steelers had an extra wide receiver spot to fill. They already have starters in Brown and Sanders, but they plan to use Wheaton in the slot and in the backfield.

7. Andre Ellington, RB, Arizona

Ellington has been compared to fellow Clemson player C.J. Spiller.  He is a great addition Mendenhall and Williams with regards to speed and cutting.

8. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City

There is a plan in place by the Chiefs move Kelce out and line him up in several spots, but he has direct competition with free-agent signee Anthony Fasano and Moeaki.

9. Johnathan Franklin, RB, Green Bay

Franklin had the potential for being a top-three rookie running back had Lacy not been selected in front of him.

10. Aaron Dobson, WR, New England

Dobson has the oppotunity to start this season, across the way from Amendola.  This is special thanks to Welker and Lloyd moving on.

Check out tickifieds for all your football tickets needs!

World Cup Qualifier: Team USA

While not as popular in the United States, Soccer (or Football to the rest of you) is a worldwide phenomenon.  The men’s national soccer team (USMNT) competes in international association football competitions through CONCACAF or the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football,  and are governed by the United States Soccer Federation.   Spain, Germany and Columbia currently hold the top three rankings in the world, according to the FIFA World Rankings and Team USA is ranked 22.  The World Football Elo has them ranked a bit higher at 20th in the world.  The USMNT have competed in the last six FIFA World Cups and also acted as world host for the 1994 Championships.

The USMNT participates in competitions all over the globe including the FIFA Confederations Cup, FIFA World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup as well others they are invited to.   The highest ranking that the US team has ever acheived was way back in 1930 World Cup where they earned the 3rd place finish.   They participated in a handful of other competitions until 1950 then afterwards, Team USA didn’t qualify for the World Cup again until 1990.

In the most current qualifications round, Team USA topped their third round qualification group by winning four matches with only one draw and one loss in 2012.   Just last month, on June 2, the Team USA took on 2nd-ranked Germany during a sold out competition at the RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., in the Centennial celebration. This win was particularly notable as this was the first win over a top 2 ranked team a win against top-ranked Spain in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.  Four days later, on June 6 of this year,  the Team USA won against Jamaica.  Team USA continued on it’s winning streak against Panama on June 11th to an audience that was the seventh largest crowd to date to see the team play a World Cup Qualifier on US land.   Also of note, the USA vs. Panama game drew the second largest TV audience on ESPN for a US World Cup Qualifier in history. Since then, they have also won matched against Honduras and Guatemala.

On September 10, USA will take on Mexico in Columbus, OH and on October 11, USA will play Jamaica in Kansas City, MO in the World Cup Qualifier matches.

Find your tickets to the USA World Cup Qualifier games on Tickifieds!

2013 MLB Playoff Picture

Pittsburgh Pirates playoff chances

Are the 2013 Pittsburgh Pirates for real or will they fade down the stretch?

Now that the 2013 MLB All Star game is complete, many teams have decided to throw up the white flag and “wait til next year”.  Others are gearing up and looking to acquire a few pieces of the puzzle for a playoff push.  The best indication of where you team fits on the above spectrum is to see who is buying and who is selling come the MLB trade deadline on July 31st.  Although MLB baseball tickets are not necessarily a big seller on the secondary ticket market, knowing which teams tickets will be in demand come time to chase the pennant can reap huge rewards.  With that in mind we decided to breakdown the 2013 MLB playoff picture.

American League

The American League is filled with tight races in each of the 3 divisions.  In the American League East, The Boston Red Sox currently have a 1.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays.  However, the AL East is far from a two pony show as the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees are also both within striking distance (not to mention in wildcard contention).  The only team seemingly out of it is the Toronto Blue Jays – currently 12.5 games out (9 games in the wildcard).

In the AL Central, the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians are in a heated race.  The Tigers are currently ahead by 1.5 games but a lot of things can change depending on what happens at the trade deadline.  The rest of the AL Central including the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox are pretty much out of it and are expected to be sellers at the trade deadline.

In the American League West, there is also apparently a 2 team race for the division crown.  The pesky Oakland A’s currently have a 2 game advantage over the Texas Rangers.  However, the Texas Rangers are expected to be big players in the trade deadline frenzy.  Rumor has it that they are close to landing Chicago Cubs ace Matt Garza.  The rest of the west, including the Anaheim Angels, Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros are out of it and will likely be gutted for prospects.

Still in it, to win it:  Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s, Texas Rangers.

Count them out:  Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Chicago White Sox, Anaheim Angels, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros.

National League

The National League playoff picture isn’t quite as complicated as it is in the American League.  The National League East is already seemingly locked up by the Atlanta Braves.  The Braves currently have a 6.5 game lead over the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals.  While 6.5 games is far from insurmountable, the Phillies nor the Nationals are not likely to add any significant pieces to make a playoff push. In fact, the Phils may actually be sellers.

In the NL Central we actually have a really interesting pennant race.  The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates thus far have been the 2 best teams in the MLB.  The Cardinals have a slim 2.5 game lead but the young, upstart pirates show no signs of fading down the stretch.  The Cincinnati Reds are also a strong team sitting 13 games above .500 but are 4.5 games back.  The Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, however, are done and will be unloading talent and salaries before the trade deadline.

Lastly, in the weak NL West the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angles Dodgers and perhaps the Colorado Rockies are still deciding who deserves a change to lose in the first round this post season.  The Dodgers are just 1.5 games behind the Dbacks and are likely the only team willing to add payroll and talent.  The San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are certainly on the wait till next year path.

Still in it, to win it:  Atlanta Braves, St, Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies

Count them out:  Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres