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2013 NFL Preseason Power Rankings

If you live in the Chicago area like me and your baseball teams have long fallen out of contention, the start of NFL season can’t come quick enough.  Fortunately, many NFL training camps are set to open in late July and early August.  While a majority of teams have lots of roster questions that need to be answered, many teams are clearly in the running to compete for a Super Bowl, while others will likely be in rebuilding mode.

With that in mind we thought it would be appropriate to break down the top NFL football teams heading into the preseason.  Although a lot can happen (e.g. injuries) between now and the start of the season, below are the teams ranked in order of likelyhood to win Super Bowl XLVIII.

1). San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers nearly won the Super Bowl last year behind 1st year starting QB Colin Kaepernick.  All they did to up their chances was load up on draft picks and sign Ed Reed.  The 9ers have to be the favorite heading into the 2013 season.

2).  Denver Broncos

The Broncos are clearly the class of the AFC.  The stout Denver defense coupled with the addition of Wes Welker and another year  of Peyton Manning should make this team scary good.

3).  Seattle Seahawks

I wasn’t much of a believer in the Seattle Seahawks heading into last season but Pete Carrol has certainly turned around the franchise with the help of Russell Wilson.  Should the Niners suffer a significant injury or falter in anyway expect the Seahawks to be right there with them.

4). Green Bay Packers

You can never count out any team that has all world quarterback Aaron Rodgers.  The NFC is going to be tough this year but the GB Packers should more than be able to hold their own against elite competition- especially if top draft pick Eddie Lacy pans out.

5).  Atlanta Falcons

Call me a doubter of the Atlanta Falcons but I really don’t feel they deserve a spot in the top 5. They do have a high power offense but their defense needs to improve if they are going to go anywhere in the playoffs.

6).  Houston Texans

The Texans really came on last year in large part due to the emergence of defensive lineman JJ Watt.  This young team is certainly on the upswing but still may be a year or two away from getting that ring!

7).  New England Patriots

The Patriots have been the model of consistency over the past decade or so.  As long as Tom Brady is running the show you cannot count out the Pats.  It will be interesting to see what is in the plans for the newly signed Tim Tebow.

8).  Baltimore Ravens

Although the Ravens are the defending Super Bowl Champs, it hard to see the repeating after losing key defensive players like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.  Anquan Bolden also bolted for San Francisco.  Regardless, the Ravens still have Joe Flaco and

9).  Indianapolis Colts

Many thought the Colts were in for a long rebuilding process after parting ways with Peyton Manning.  That proved not to be the case as quarterback Andrew Luck led them into immediate playoff contention.  If Luck continues to progress this team could be scary!

10).  Chicago Bears

Call me a homer but I like what I see out of new head coach Marc Trestman.  The Bears have never had much of an offense in my lifetime and I am starting to believe things can be different for the Monsters of the Midway.

The best of the rest…

11).  New Orleans Saints

12).  Washington Redskins

13).  New York Giants

14).  Cincinnati Bengals

15).  Minnesota Vikings

16).  Miami Dolphins

17).  St. Louis Rams

18).  Pittsburgh Steelers

19).  Tampa Bay Buccaneers

20).  Dallas Cowboys

21).  Carolina Panthers

22).  Kansas City Chiefs

23).  Detroit Lions

24).  San Diego Chargers

25).  Philadelphia Eagles

26).  Tennessee Titans

27). Cleveland Browns

28).  Oakland Raiders

29).  New York Jets

30).  Arizona Cardinals

31).  Buffalo Bills

32).  Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 NFL Week 1 Schedule

New York Jets

Will Mark Sanchez be able to quiet critics and hold off Tim Tebow? The answer may lie in the Jets ability to institute the Wildcat offense.

After college football’s opening weekend this past weekend, it’s now the NFL’s turn to kick off the 2012 season.  After a long offseason filled with OTAs (Organized Team Activities), mini camps, training camps, and preseason games both fans are players are eager to play in games that count.

The NFL will start things off with a special Wednesday night game (September 5th, 2012) between the NY Jets and Dallas Cowboys.  The game will be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey and will feature two of the more popular teams in the NFL.  Both teams are looking to rebound from disappointing 8-8 seasons in 2011 in which neither team qualified for the playoffs.  All the hype coming out of Jets training camp surrounds the quarterback position.  Jets QB Mark Sanchez inked a new deal but fans and media alike are not sold on his abilities.  If Sanchez stumbles out of the gate be prepared for the second coming of Tebow mania.  The Jets are expected to debut a new hybrid offense in which Tim Tebow will see the field as a running back in a variation of the “Wildcat” offense.  The “Wildcat” formation consists of a direct snap to the running back is named after the Wildcats of West Genesee High School.

Week 1 will also include a double-header of Monday Night Football (MNF) games.  Game 1 will be a matinee (kickoff at 6:00 PM) between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals at MT Bank Stadium in Baltimore.  Game 2 will begin at 9:15 PM and will feature the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers at the newly named O.co Coliseum in Oakland California.

Below is the complete 2012 NFL Opening Week Schedule.

2012 NFL Week 1 Schedule

Wednesday, 9/5/2012
Game Time Location
Giants vs Cowboys 7:30 pm MetLife Stadium
Sunday, 9/9/2012
Bears vs Colts 12:00 pm Soldier Field
Titans vs Patriots 12:00 pm LP Field
Jets vs Bills 12:00 pm MetLife Stadium
Saints vs Redskins 12:00 pm Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Vikings vs Jaguars 12:00 pm Mall of America Field
Chiefs vs Falcons 12:00 pm Arrowhead Stadium
Browns vs Eagles 12:00 pm Cleveland Browns Stadium
Lions vs Rams 12:00 pm Ford Field
Texans vs Dolphins 12:00 pm Reliant Stadium
Packers vs 49ers 3:25 pm Lambeau Field
Cardinals vs Seahawks 3:25 pm University of Phoenix Stadium
Bucs vs Panthers 3:25 pm Raymond James Stadium
Broncos vs Steelers 7:20 pm Sports Authority Field
Monday, 9/10/2012
Ravens vs Bengals 6:00 pm M&T Bank Stadium
Raiders vs Chargers 9:15 pm O.co Coliseum

Week 1 also means that the fantasy football season is starting.  My main money league just switched to a dynasty format and we had out first draft last weekend.  It’s a uber competitive 16 team league with individual defensive players and a unique scoring format (PPR, bonus for 100 yards rushing/receiving, 300 yards passing, etc.).  I was out of town for the draft which meant I was forced to take my chances with auto-pilot.  I had the 9th pick in the draft and was able to snag my top target Cam Newton.  Cam Newton is a beast in this league as, in addition to impressive passing game, he also racks up mega points with his rushing ability.  He is also young which bodes well for a dynasty league in which you get to keep your entire starting lineup from year to year.  Below is my complete roster…what do you think?

Position Player
QB Newton, Cam(QB) CAR
RB Brown, Donald(RB) IND
RB Sproles, Darren(RB) NO
WR Johnson, Steve(WR) BUF
WR Marshall, Brandon(WR) CHI
TE Celek, Brent(TE) PHI
DL Dareus, Marcell(DL) BUF
LB Fletcher, London(LB) WAS
LB Lofton, Curtis(LB) NO
DB Harper, Roman(DB) NO
K Akers, David(K) SF
Bench Sanchez, Mark(QB) NYJ
Bench Tebow, Tim(QB) NYJ
Bench Redman, Isaac(RB) PIT
Bench Bennett, Earl(WR) CHI
Bench Cobb, Randall(WR) GB
Bench Briggs, Lance(LB) CHI
Bench David, Lavonte(LB) TB
Bench Bell, Yeremiah(DB) NYJ
Bench Watt, J.J.(DL) HOU

2012 NFL Playoff Matchups to be Decided Sunday

One of the biggest sales days for NFL tickets is on the final Sunday of the regular season as the playoff teams and their match-ups will be decided.  Without the seedings for the 2012 NFL playoff set in stone, fans are reluctant to buy tickets for games that might not take place (even though refunds are typically given).  However, marketing professionals of event tickets would be wise to start promoting playoff tickets as soon as possible.  Although the rush of fans trying to secure tickets doesn’t happen until after the action has commenced, the search engines are already out crawling and ranking webpages for keywords that have yet to gain popularity.  You can be one step ahead of the competition if you start targeting these keywords and building links ahead of time.

The easiest way to stay ahead of the competition is to know your playoff scenarios and tie-breaker rules.  To save you some time we have provided you with the latest information on where the teams stack up for the 2012 NFL Playoffs

AFC Playoffs

Teams that are in:  New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers

Teams still alive: Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans, and the NY Jets.

Team Notes:

New England Patriots (12-3) – Will have at least 1 home playoff game as they have clinched a 1st round bye. Can clinch home field advantage in the AFC Championship game with a win over buffalo.  
 
Baltimore Ravens (11-4) – The Ravens need a win to secure a 1st round bye and home field advantage.  If they lose they will be a Wildcard team and not get a home game (at least in round 1).
 
Pittsburgh Steelers (11-4) – They need a win this week and a Ravens loss to secure a home playoff game.  If that doesn’t happen they will be a Wildcard team and play on the road.
 
Houston Texans (10-5) – Will have at least 1 home playoff game as the AFC South Champs.  A win in week 17 team will help secure home field for a possible second round match-up.
 
Denver Broncos (8-7) – Will win the AFC West and get a 1st round home game if they win or Oakland loses on Sunday.
 
Oakland Raiders (8-7) – Could get a home game with a win on Sunday and a Denver loss.  Otherwise, they will have to hope for a wildcard berth if both the Bengals and Titans lose.
 
Cincinnati Bengals (9-6), Tennessee Titans (8-7) and New York Jets (8-7) – The Bengals control their own destiny.  A win and they are in.  If not, the Raiders, Titans and Jets have an opportunity to sneak in.  None of these teams can get a home game.
 

NFC Playoffs

Teams that are in: Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons

Teams still alive: New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys

Team Notes:

Green Bay Packers  (14-1) – Have a bye in the 1st round but have clinched home field advantage through the NFC Championship game.  
 
San Francisco 49ers (12-3) – The 49ers need a win (or a Saints loss) to secure a 1st round bye.  Regardless, they will have home field advantage in the first round.  
 
New Orleans Saints (12-3) – They need a win this week and a 49ers loss to secure a 1st round bye.  If that doesn’t happen they will still have home field advantage in round 1.
 
Detroit Lions (10-5) and Atlanta Falcons (9-6) – Both teams are locked in as wildcard teams and will not have a home game unless they meet in the NFC Championship game.
 
New York Giants (8-7) and Dallas Cowboys (8-7) – These two teams are playing each other on Sunday and will determine who’s in and who’s out.  The winner goes to the playoffs as the NFC East Champs with a 1st round home game… the loser goes home.  A true do or die game between these two rivals.
 

No matter what happens on Sunday ticket sales are expected to be big following the games.      If you are looking to buy or sell tickets to the NFL playoffs be sure to check out Tickifieds!

 

NFL Playoff Picture (Week 10)

Jim-harbaugh-49ersJust past the midway point, the 2011-12 NFL Playoff picture is becoming to be a bit more clear.  Outside of the undefeated Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, no teams are separating themselves from the pack (no pun intended). In the NFC, the San Francisco 49ers are 2nd best record wise at 7-1 but many football analysts still aren’t true believers in Jim Harbaugh’s squad.  They have only 1 quality win (over Detroit 25-19) and lost to a rather mediocre Dallas Cowboys team.  The Niners will face a big test this Sunday against the 6-2 NY Giants.  The Chicago Bears (5-3) and New Orleans Saints (6-3) have also played well at times but will need to show they can consistently win.  With little chance of catching the packers, the Bears have a huge game against the NFC North rival Lions.

In the AFC, the surprising Cincinnati Bengals (6-2) and Houston Texans (6-3) find themselves atop the division standings.  The New England Patriots are right there sitting at 6-3 but their defensive has come into question and Tom Brady has not looked himself the past few weeks.  Bill Belichick will look to get the Pats back on course this week against the Jets.  The opposite can be said of traditional AFC powerhouses the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) and Baltimore Ravens (6-2).  Both have looked better of late after starting off the season slow but the NY Jets and Buffalo Bills are ready to overtake them should they slip up.

In a league full or parity, we find a large group of teams bunched around the .500 mark.   The second half of the season looms large as many teams will be jockeying for a playoff spot.   If the season were to end today, here is who would be and who would be out of the 2012 NFL Playoffs.

AFC Playoff Race

Seed Team Division Record
1
Cincinnati
North 6-2-0
2
Houston
South 6-3-0
3
New England
East 5-3-0
4
Oakland
West 5-4-0
5
Baltimore
North 6-2-0
6
Pittsburgh
North 6-3-0
Outside Looking In…
7
N.Y. Jets
East 5-3-0
8
Buffalo
East 5-3-0

NFC Playoff Race

Seed Team Division Record
1
Green Bay
North 8-0-0
2
San Francisco
West 7-1-0
3
N.Y. Giants
East 6-2-0
4
New Orleans
South 6-3-0
5
Detroit
North 6-2-0
6
Chicago
North 5-3-0
Outside Looking In…
7
Atlanta
South 5-3-0
8
Dallas
East 4-4-0
9
Tampa Bay
South 4-4-0

Top Weekend Events 10/28 – 10/30

Hello Wednesday and happy weekend before Halloween!

While, once again, the top weekend events list is dominated by college football, a few other events did manage to make the list.

First and foremost being the UFC Fight taking place between BJ Penn and Nick Diaz in Vegas.  This will the Diaz’s first fight since 2006.  His supporters say that he has transformed from a mediocre boxer to one of the best strikers in the division.  The fight was originally supposed to be between Diaz and Georges St- Pierre until St-Pierre sprained his knee.  This fight has had so many ups and downs already, that it should prove to be a very interesting event.

In other non-NCAA related football happenings,  Corey Smith will be playing in Jacksonville, FL.  The country singer has shown up on the top events weekend list before.  His booze-driven lyrics are very popular with the college-aged crowd.  He’s one to watch.    Of the oddball singers to appear on this list is Roger Hodgson, the British musician and songwriter and former co-front man of the band Supertramp.  He has been performing solo since 1984.

The top college football game this weekend is Auburn vs. Ole Miss…two strong Southern teams will take on each other.  While neither is in any contention for the SEC championship title (who can compete against the LSU tigers anyways?), it should still be a fun game.  There’s still a slim possibility of the the Auburn Tigers getting ranked, if all the cards and starts align. 

Obviously, Big-Ten teams always draw a huge crowd and fans flock to see the games.  This is a pivotal game for Illinois, as this could set the tone for the remainder of their season, particularly since they lead the Big Ten in rushing yardage per game.  Penn State is still expected to come out ahead in this game though.

 

Top Weekend Events 10/28/2011 – 10/30/2011

1.)   UFC 137 Penn vs. Diaz, Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV – Saturday, October 29

2.)    Auburn vs. Ole Miss, Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, AB – Saturday, October 29

3.)    Penn State vs. Illinois, Beaver Stadium, University Park, PA – Saturday, October 29

4.)    Georgia vs. Florida, EverBank Field, Jacksonville, FL – Saturday, October 29

5.)    Corey Smith, Florida Theatre, Jacksonville, FL – Friday, October 28

6.)    Roger Hodgson, Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, Montreal, QB – Saturday, October 29

7.)   Steelers vs. Patriots, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA – Sunday, October 30

8.)     Michigan vs. Purdue, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI – Saturday, October 29

9.)    Oklahoma State vs. Baylor, Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK – Saturday, October 29

10.) Minnesota vs. Iowa, TCF Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MB – Saturday, October 29

Have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!